Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Brownie Quest..... in less than 24 hours!

Recently I facilitated an adult session on how to plan a journey event/sleepover/camp out.  The heart of the lesson was how to "properly" address earning a journey in a very short period of time.  Someone asked why this was something they should learn.  There are a number of reasons why.  The first one that comes to mind is the fact that for many things (mainly the Bronze, Silver and Gold awards), earning specific journeys are a prerequisite.  Another reason could be that your troop simply does not have the luxury of being able to do all three journeys in two (or in a Cadette's case, three) years- not all of us meet weekly, so there's a lot we have to cram in during our few meetings.  However, this is not a recommended method to earn all of your journeys- this is a "band aid solution" if you need to squeeze in one for whatever reason.  Many of the journeys are designed to go hand in hand with the supplemental badges (in the badge activity sets), so they are great to do during the span of several meetings.  But, going back to those pesky prerequisites, we understand that this needs to be done.

So, what happens you need to squeeze in one more journey?  Have a sleepover!  Or a long day.... or a camping trip (take your pick!).  This is South Georgia in November though, so the weather is very unpredictable, so sleepover it was!  Here's how we did Brownie Quest:

Drop off, Friday, 5:15-5:45 PM
Pick up, Saturday, 11:30 AM

5:15-5:45 PM, arrivals.  Check in, parents turn in permission slips and scouts receive name tags (name tags color coordinated by patrols)
5:30-6, stragglers check in
6-6:45, Dinner- dinner activity- explain healthy eating habits (why we have no soda or junk food at the sleepover)
7-8:35, Journey activities
                7-7:45 Activity 1/2/3
                7:50-8:35 Activity 2/3/1
                8:40-9:25 Activity 3/1/2
9:25-9:45, clean up from journey activities, set up snack table
9:45-10:00, Late night snacks
10:00-10:30, Clean up, get out sleeping bags
10:30-? movie
?  lights out

7:30 AM, wake up
8:00, breakfast
8:45, clean up breakfast, prepare for Take Action workshop
9:00-11:00, Take Action workshop and planning
11:05, clean up
11:30, depart

Dinner menu/activity: healthy foods and drinks, discuss importance of, ect.

Patrol activity 1: team games- Brownie Blob, human knot, blind fold tent

Brownie blob- girls stand in a tight circle with arms around each other.  A path is outlined that they have to walk across (path can be marked with masking tape for first try, second try should be “blind”).  However, they have to work as a team so that while walking this path, they never break apart/separate.  The point of this exercise is to highlight basic leadership skills.

Human knot- girls stand in a circle and put their arms/hands in front, into the circle.  They then must grab someone’s hand.  They cannot grab their neighbor’s hands, and they cannot grab the same person’s hands (so they should be holding two different hands).  Once this is done, they then must figure out how to “undo the knot.”  They cannot let go of hands.  The girls can end up standing backwards, sideways, ect. As long they do not let go.  The point of this exercise is to highlight communication skills.

Blind fold tent- girls are broken into smaller teams (recommended 2-4 per team).  One person volunteers to be the “eyes,” while the others will be the “builders.”  The builders will be blindfolded.  The eyes can instruct the builders on what to do, but may not physically participate.  The builders will be given a sheet and 4 chairs that they will have to make into a tent-fort, under the direction of the eyes.  The point of this exercise is to highlight communication and leadership (apply what they learned in the previous two games).

Patrol activity 2: Family circle map, family member’s key roles (expanded into community)

Family circle- this activity, the girls will essentially create a depiction of their immediate family circle.  They will then use personal observations to describe what everyone’s role is.  For example- Mom cooks dinner, Dad mows the lawn, sister sweeps the floors and brother cleans the toilet.  In this example, each family member has a role that is important- without one, the others cannot function.  This will then be brought over into the Saturday activity regarding community mapping (this will essentially set them up to better understand it).

Patrol activity 3: The great elf adventure- adopt an elf and decorate it, discuss needs and wants of the elf.  Discuss clothes for the weather, healthy food options, good sleep habits, good hygiene habits and good study habits.  Relate this all back to the Elf about how you can make the Elf happier by living a good life.

Take Action workshop (for further questions, consult the Challenge to Change workbook- this is what we used)

1: Community mapping- learn about community resources, identify community needs and wants.  Assist girls in mapping out what our community has to offer (ie: library, United Way, state park, ect), and then identifying what each “resource” can potentially “provide” to the community (ie: library has books and research material, United Way has access to volunteers and grants, and the state park has natural resources). 

2: After the community mapping, discuss issues within our community.  Ie: lack of famer’s market, lack of clothing resale stores.  Assist girls in identifying the root of the issues behind these problems.

3: Choose and plan Take Action project based on community needs/issues.

4: Take action- set a date to do together OR give the girls a way to complete it on their own OR leave it to the troops to complete the project on their own.  On a Girl Scout’s honor, they have not completed the badge until they complete the Take Action project. 

***Take Action project will then be completed by the girls, on their honor, after the sleepover (individually or as a troop)

Brownie elf outline copies (from Making Friends
Crayons or markers
Large sized construction paper
Scissors (SU storage)
Oversized paper pads
Water cooler
Masking tape
Large, top sheets (to be returned)

Ranch dressing
Chicken nuggets (to be baked)
Orange Juice
Apple Juice
Grape Juice
Triscuts and/or Wheat Thins
Paper bowls 
Paper plates 
Bleach (for cleaning floors and sinks)
Paper cups (for backup)
Vanilla yogurt (large)
Strawberry yogurt (large)

Trail mix (late night snack)

I am sure that many of you have questions about the Take Action component.  The Challenge to Change workbook is a great method to assist girls in learning how to properly choose and execute a take action project.  I highly recommend it!  In the end, our group choose to do a project regarding endangered animals in our area.  They want to create a Facebook page (that they will contribute to through us adults), create awareness signs to put out and create educational pamphlets to distribute.  We only just had our sleepover a few says ago, so I can't say yet how well the afterwards of the take action will work out (so far so good though!).  

Overall, though, the sleepover was a success!  The girls had a blast and they got to earn a journey!  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Brownies, year 1, meeting 4

In the course of Girl Scouting, there are so many important moments.  Most will agree that the single most important moment is when a scout receives her Gold Award (from experience, I can tell you, that really is a big deal!). But, before the Gold Award, there are plenty of other important moments as well.  When a new scout comes into scouting, they are often "brought into" scouting through an investiture ceremony.  The short is that this ceremony welcomes the new scout into the sisterhood of Girl Scouting.  Many leaders also hold at the beginning of the year a rededication ceremony, where returning scouts reaffirm their commitment to scouting.  Often times, we hold these two ceremonies simultaneously, as they hold near identical meanings (and because we often have a mixture of new and returning girls).

First order of today's meeting was to practice for our investiture and rededication ceremony.  I found a cute ceremony online that I adapted for our girls, but more on that later.  Once we had our practice out of the way, we continued work on the badge My Family Story (the one that we sent supplies home with the girls at our previous meeting so they could created family trees).  The abbreviated version- we went over our family trees and the remaining requirements for the badge (sorry, preggo brain has forgotten them, but this is why I always keep the badge pamphlets with me at meetings!).

Now, onto the important part of the meeting!  The ceremony began with the girls standing outside in the hall, and knocked on the door.  We asked who was there, and they responded some Girl Scouts.  We opened the door and asked them what they wanted.  Their response was, to become Brownie Girl Scouts!  They then filled in, and we sang the Brownie smile song (a classic!).  First, we gave all of our returning girls their Brownie insignia tab and pin.  We saved our new girls for the end and read a poem to them about becoming a Girl Scout.  After everyone had their pins, we also used this as a chance to hand out our first batch of earned awards.  We finished off by reciting the Girl Scout promise (a little backwards, but it worked for us).  It was very touching to look at the troop and see all of them wearing their new Brownie pins.  Some of our girls have been with us since the very beginning.  I hope that all of them will stick with us to the end and one day, we may have the honor of giving them their Gold Award.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Brownies, year 1, meeting 3

I love that my scouts want to try and so everything.  I'm the same way, I wish I could do and try everything, but with limited amounts of time and resources, we have to pace ourselves.  During our end of the year planning meeting last year, I felt like the girls wanted to try and do two years worth of programming in a year!

Last week we worked on the My Best Self and Snacks badge, which lead us right into the start of week's badge, My Great Day.  Before we did our sit down activity, we played a little game.  I call it the human blob.  The girls stand in a tight circle, shoulder to shoulder, and put their arms around each other.  Without letting go or breaking the circle, they have to work together to walk across a predetermined patch.  It sounds simple and easy, but it's really quite complicated!  The whole point of the exercise it to teach them about good communication skills and basic leadership concepts. Yes, in scouting we are teaching our girls to be the leaders of tomorrow.  Therefore, this exercise, in essence, allows them to hone in on specific leadership and communication skills.  It took them a while to get the hang of it, but eventually they seemed to get it.  I know we'll do this exercise again in the future as it's such a great learning tool!

After our little game, we sat and asked, what's your routine like?  I used my daily schedule as an example- get up with my daughter, get her on the bus, accomplish a slew of things around the house, errands, filling orders for my Etsy shop (if I had any that day), get my daughter off the bus, help her with homework, then some rest time (hahaa!), cook dinner, clean up from dinner, get my daughter in bed, and then, maybe, some TV or a book before bed.  We all have some sort of a routine, so the girls were asked to put it onto paper.  Even at school they have a routine.  Putting it on paper gave them all a chance to realize that they do have some form of a routine and how important it is in their daily lives.

We're going to be finishing up this badge later on, but to end the meeting, we gave the girls some materials to take home (thank you back to school clearance and coupons that stocked up our troop for pennies!).  Each girl was given two, large pieces of construction paper and a box of crayons.  We explained to them what a family tree was.  They were asked to make a family tree and go at least as far back as their great grandparents.  They will then have to bring this back for our next meeting when we will then work on the badge My Family Story.

Brownies, year 1, meeting 2

This whole being pregnant and being a leader thing is NOT easy.  I laid down last night around 8 to read a book, thinking I could get in a few chapters.  Instead, my husband woke me up at 9:45 to tell me to put away the Kindle safely.  My troop wore me out!  And, I completely forgot a few things we needed for the meeting.  For example, I forgot the list of how to earn Brownie Bucks and the new food pyramid (luckily I had a "back up" I could use in the badge pamphlet).

The start of our meeting today, we wrapped up the requirements for the badge Making New Friends (which we started last week).  After that, we began work on the Healthy Habits badge. We normally have snack time at the end of the meeting, but as a change today, we did snack time first since it had a hidden agenda there.  I purposely signed my daughter up for snacks this week to make sure we would have a good, healthy and teachable snack.  Ok, I know, many people hear healthy and automatically think something that tastes like cardboard.  The chef in me says shame on you!  It is very possible to have tasty, yet healthy foods.  To simplify it for the girls, our snack was 100% fruit juice (no junk added) and "natural" granola bars (meaning no processed sugars in them- the ones I bought have honey, dried fruit, some nuts and oats in them and are very yummy!).  We also got a chance to learn about a balance meal, the food groups and other healthy eating habits.

Our next activity was very fun, and a little bit silly.  We had each girl come up one at a time and we asked them each where a specific organ in their body was.  Some we knew they wouldn't know (for example, where is your large intestine, or where is your esophagus).  Once we had asked all of our girls where these organs were, we then asked them about some common pains they have felt before.  We related it back to those body parts, and what to do if it hurt.  Of course there was that old mom saying- if your stomach hurts, try pooping first.  Yeah, we went there, but we know it holds true so often!

In the end, we covered good hygiene practices, how long we should be sleeping at night and a few other things along those lines.  Our hopes was that they would keep all of this in mind until our next meeting, but the next badge we would be working on worked into this one as well (which all of these will work into our upcoming journey sleepover).

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Brownies, year 1, meeting 1

You'll have to excuse me for a moment while I turn into a Mom here for just a moment..... my little girl is a Brownie this year!!!  Yes, I had already seen her in her Brownie vest back in May at our investiture, but it didn't really hit me until today.  On top of that, I have some exciting news- we recently found that I am having another Girl Scout!  I know my awesome membership representative is silently thinking something along the lines of oooo yay, a new member, more numbers for us!  Let's face it, girlie #2 will be in Girl Scouts one day just like her big sister and mom!

So, new year, "new" troop.  Sadly, we had one girl move out of state, and another had to transfer to another troop that met at a different time.  However, we did gain two scouts from a troop that disbanded, and two completely new scouts.  I had no doubt in my mind that our four new scouts would fit with our special group of girls (they fit in perfectly- you would have never known they were new!).  Like all first meetings of the year, it took us a while to get back in the habit, but once we got started, the girls were quick to remember.

Our first order of business after our openings- a new kaper chart!  We all loved our Daisy kaper chart, but it was obviously a kaper chart for Daisies, with Daisy kapers.  We're Brownies now, so we need a Brownie kaper chart!  We all know that we all need to help clean up and set up, so those we did not list specifically.  We also are no longer in need of one person each to pick out a song, a grace, lead us in the pledge, promise and law, and start the friendship squeeze.  Instead, we have someone to lead our opening, and someone to lead our closing.  We still have our snack person, but no specific snack helper.  Also listed on our new kaper chart is pet rock duty and elf shop duty (more on those two later).  We also have a "general" spot for helpers, and one blank spot.  The girls haven't decided yet what to list as their last kaper, but hopefully they will decide soon.

Well, what do you do when you have new scouts in your troop, and not everyone knows each other?  You go grocery shopping!  Ok, you don't actually go to the grocery store, but you do get to play a fun game.  The premise is that as you go around the circle introducing yourself, you then have to say, "and I am buying _____ at the grocery store."  The item you are buying has to start with the same first letter as your name.  For example, when it was my turn, I said, "hi, I'm Lindsay, and when I go to the grocery store, I am going to buy some limes."  Here's the hitch- you also have to list what everyone before you is buying, and their names.  So if you're last to go, you need to pay close attention!  It's a fun game, and a great way to learn new peoples names.

Ok, back to that kaper, elf shop duty.  Back in May when we had our planning day, the girls found the Brownie Elf paper doll at the back of the guide book.  They asked that we find something to do with it this year.  I told them I would come up with something, and that I did!  After I flipped past the Elf and another page of clothes, I found a few pages of items with prices on it, and a few pages of pretend money.  Oh, and more thing, the girls voted to do the money manager badge at our planning meeting.  After some copies were made, a quick shopping trip to the back to school section at Target, so came the Elf Shop.  All of the girls were given a Brownie Elf, the Brownie uniform, a pouch to store them in, and were started out with 17 Brownie Bucks (what we're calling the pretend money).  Then we had a discussion about needs vs. wants, and things that the girls would need to "provide" their elves with.  For example, even though it's still blazing hot here, it will get cold eventually, so they'll need to buy a sweater, warms socks, or a hat for their elf.  We then got on to food, and our elves need to eat just like us.  However, we need to feed our elves good, healthy good before they eat "junk" food.  The Brownie Guide book provided us with the perfect example- Girl Scout cookies and broccoli.  We need broccoli, but want the cookies (unless it's Girl Scout cookie season, at which point it's ok to tell our customer that they need the cookies).  We also touched on how the girls would earn Brownie Bucks, but said we would go over that in detail at our next meeting.

Next order of business, the pet rock.  Yes, I know at first glance this may sound cheesy, but it actually is one of those "bigger picture" sort of things.  That's about all I'm going to say because it's also one of those secretive things we like to do in my troop.  Don't worry, it's really, really cool!

Well, that was our first meeting!  It went really well, and, we actually finished ON TIME!  Shocker, right?!

One more thing- Zumba!  The weekend following our first meeting, we got to participate in a special Zumba class that was put together just for our Service Unit.  One of the local Zumba instructors is certified to teach Zumba to kids, and she did an amazing job.  The girls had a blast, and I hope we get to do it again!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

How to do a journey in a day!

Confession time- when I have blonde moments, they are pretty massive (and usually a tad embarrassing).  I will be the first to preach about how much I love Google Drive, yet this blondie forgot to use it for you all!

So, with that being said, I finally uploaded some files that many of you have emailed me about (please, keep emailing away!  I love helping you and your girls out!).

First file, my original plans from our Daisy-Brownie sleepover (not included were the pages we read during the sleepover)
Not listed- I took the Brownies and the Daisy and split them up in to two patrols each (so four patrols total), and we told them that once they transplant their take action, to please rinse and recycle their plastic bottles.

Second file, a little how-to guide that you may find useful
Not listed- sample kaper chart (for those who don't know what a kaper chart is, it's like assigned "chores" during GS events.  We used in ours things like help set up for breakfast, clean up after snack, clean bathrooms, mop).

In addition, check what resources your council may have.  For example, I found on my council's website a handy form that can help you budget for any event and a helpful checklist to help you keep track of needs (mainly GS required things, ie: adult to girl ratio, extra insurance for specific activities, and more).  And of course, Google!  I'm not the only leader blogging out there.  So many other awesome leaders have shared their own resources with us (that's what Girl Scouting is all about, sharing!).

Hope that helps!

End of the year trip, second year Daisies

Guess who's Daisies were among the top earners in their Service Unit?  If you guessed mine, you deserve a Thin Mint (if you have any left).  Seriously, my girls ROCKED cookie sales this year! I do, in part, credit the planning we did.  It kept them focus and on the goal at heart.  Our end of the year trip was 100% paid for by their cookie funds.  The parents had to pay nothing.  Yes, you read that correctly, our parents were on the hook for zero dollars!

Our fun filled day started out with a trip to the Birthplace in Savannah.  If you ever have a chance to visit, plan in advance so you can reserve a spot at one of their programs (they have them for all levels).  It was SO much FUN!  The girls got to play a few games and took a mini-tour of the house.  After the tour, they got to go to the carriage house to do a few arts and crafts.  They wouldn't let us adults in though (it was a surprise).  It did give me a chance to slip into the gift shop to buy some Birthplace pins and patches (still using cookie money).

Next up, lunch time!  The girls opted to eat at Lady and Sons (Paula Deen's restaurant).  It was sooooo good!  We got there a little early, but it was ok since they have a waiting area for people about to be seated (by the way, make reservations in advance!).  While the girls were waiting, I left my trusty co-leaders with them so I could slip into the gift shop to buy them some patches and pins.

The next activity of the day was a trolley tour of the city.  It was fun, but it was also a nice break in the day (we had to leave our hometown at 7 AM and we didn't get on the trolley until nearly 3 PM).  A few girls did snooze for a bit, but I was not about to wake them!

So, what do you when have a troop of awesome girls who raised SO much cookie money?  Treat them Build-A-Bear, duh!  It was a surprise though.  I knew it was something all of them had wanted to do, but we simply said that after the trolley, we had a special activity for them to do.  We all pilled into our cars and made our way to the mall.  Once safely inside the mall, we had them close their eyes and we lead the way.  We then told them to open their eyes, and we (the adults) had to hold our ears.  I would have loved to let them get any bear they wanted, but we did have a budget.  They all got a bear and all opted for the Brownie uniforms.

Our day was finished off with a meal in the food court, and very quiet cars (they all slept on the way home!).  We didn't get home until 9:30, but, it was worth it.  The girls all had a blast!

We still had cookie money leftover too!  We used the leftovers buy the girls their Brownie vests (and all the necessary patches), re-register all of the girls and our troop product managers for next year, and saved the rest for a few activities for next year.  Ok, I have to brag just one last time- my girls ROCKED it!

Meetings 22-32

Boy did I manage to get behind in blogging!  The new scout year is just around the corner and I haven't finished blogging about this year, oops!  I'd hate to leave you all hanging, so you're about to get the Cambell's version. But fear not, I promise not to leave out important details!

Meeting 22
Today we continued on with our journey, Between the Earth and Sky.  Since we started our Blue Bucket of words activity, this was the first meeting where I did not have to remind the girls that were writing down positive words to stick in the bucket (spoiler alert: they wrote down a few funny things).  Once we read and discussed the latest chapter, we headed back out to our "old" garden to get some work started on it.  It was great being back in the garden!

Meeting 23
Today's meeting was very much last week's meeting.  The biggest difference was that our garden time was more aimed at getting out some nasty stuff we found.  Ok, time for a pet peeve of mine- so called "weed prevention" tarp.  Let's get real for just a moment here.  The stuff does not work and most of them can actually pollute the soil, which in turn can pollute the overall environment.  We happened to find this in the garden (we had finally gone deep enough to find this plastic ickyness).  So the majority of the day was spent ripping it all out.  It was a good lesson for the girls though.

Meeting 24
GIRL SCOUT BIRTHDAY!  Fact- on March 12, 2013, GSUSA turned 101 years old!  Crazy, right?!  Well, the even crazier part was what did today- a whole lotta relaxing!  No, really, we had a meeting where we kicked back and just relaxed.  Of course we had some cake first, and then we watched Brave (it's Girl Scouts, you have to throw in those good female role models wherever you can, right?).

Meeting 25
Today was much like 22 and 23- wrote out blue bucket words, read a chapter in our journey, discussed it, and worked on out garden.  I know, boring, but the girls really enjoy getting out there and getting dirty.

Meeting 26
Earth Hour (not to be confused with Earth Day) happens every year on March 29.  During Earth Hour, people, even whole towns and cities, pledge to "power down" for one hour (this usually begins around 8 or 8 :30 PM).  By power down, I mean go off the grid, as in turn off anything and everything electronic, or anything that uses electricity to charge its batteries.  Earth Hour may only be one simple hour observed every year, but it's a precursor to something much bigger!  As such, with Earth Hour just a few days away, we all talked about it and pledged to power down.  Most of the girls are already in bed that late at night, so with it being a Saturday, we decided to observe it as a troop earlier in the day.  It was a challenge, but most of the girls made it happen.  We discussed what we do while not using electricity.  We could read a book, play outside, play a card or board game, or even take a nap.  This discussion was also part of us working on the Global Action award (which is similar to the Global Action Theme badge from WAGGGS).  BUT, the even bigger picture here, we, as a troop, took the Forever Green pledge and committed to help the environment.  But, more on our project next year!

Meeting 27
Guess what we did today?  We finished up Between the Earth and Sky.  To celebrate, we held a classroom vacation!  Between the Earth and Sky depicted our favorite flower friends taking a fun trip around the country, many of the destinations being places most of us had not yet been to.  So help bring their journey to life, I helped the girls out by pulling up a bunch of photos of where they went.  We then reflected on the journey and the many lessons we took from it.  We finished up the day by finishing our garden.  Knowing that we may not meet at this school again next year, we planted several lovely perennials (grasses and flowers) so the school would have something lovely.

Meeting 28
Today was not Earth Day, but it was just a few days before.  Like our meeting before Earth Hour, we talked about the meeting and more things we can do to help the environment.  Ok, so, uhm here's there thing..... though I am not a natural blonde anymore, I still tend to have massive blonde moments, and don't remember what activity we did next.  In my old meeting planner I had written down "recycling activity," but I'm sure we did more than that (this is also what I get for being so behind on blogging!).

Meeting 29
For today's meeting, we invited Emily Post, figuratively that is.  We had a manners lesson that started with all of us wearing skirts or dresses (me too!).  We learned about proper manners seeing as how we would be soon be visiting some important places in Savannah (our end of the year trip!).  We did have some really good blackmail leverage for the girls though.  They had asked that for their trip, we have lunch at The Lady and Sons (Paula Deen's restaurant in Savannah).  We just happened to mention to them that occasionally she was actually in the restaurant.  So, if they were acting up and using poor manners, it would embarrass Miss Paula to bits!  Ok, so the chances of her actually being there when we were, were slim, BUT, it was a good motivator for them to pay attention.  They learned the basics and more- chew with your mouth closed, don't talk with food in your mouth, use your silverware, and more I have forgotten by now.  However, the fun part came next- our semi annual "blind" taste test.  The one where I tell them I know exactly what each and every one of you are allergic too, and this ain't it, so you have to try it!  As usual, my kid ate everything without question, while the rest were a little iffy.  I was nice this time and got a few "normal" things this time. One of them was dried, candied strawberries,which was a hit.  The fun one though was my cupcakes.  It was chocolate based, but it also had in it coconut and zucchini.  Yes, I got my girls to eat a GREEN VEGETABLE!  Yes, I do have a bit of an evil streak in me.  I really do love sneaking in these taste tests because it gives the girls to broaden their culinary pallets.

Meeting 30
Remember our top secret project from last year?  We did one again this year, only better!  Well, not really better so much as it was different.  Random useless trivia for the day- one of the very few things our illustrious founder, Juliette Gordon Low, could not do was sew.  Hey, guess what my Daisies now know how to do?  SEW!  Ok, now I'm just bragging, but seriously, we taught them how to sew today so they could make small pillows as a part of their Mother's Day gifts.  That pretty much took up all of the meeting!

Next up is our end or year trip, but that I will make a separate blog for because it was AWESOME!

Meeting 31
The first part of today's meeting was spent finishing our pillows.  All the girls had left to do was stuff them and sew up the enclosure.  After that, we made some cute pinwheel looking flowers with toilet paper rolls that we attached to some mason jars.  The jars were used to make bath salts (epsom salt, a little baking soda and a few drops of essential oils of their choosing).  We finished that off with some pretty ribbon and tada!  All of their Mom's loved it!

Meeting 32
Today was not only our last meeting of the year, but it was our last meeting as Daisies!  We did two things today.  The first was a quick rehearsal for our bridging.  I purposely had put off learning the Brownie Smile song until the end of the year just so they could sing it at our bridging.  After that we did something very important- we planned out next year.  I put everything on a table for the girls (journeys, badges, supplemental badges) and told them to take some time and read it over.  After that, we spent a few minutes voting on what all they wanted to do, and so now we have our year one Brownie plan!

Our bridging wasn't anything grand, but it was special.  Our girls began all in their Daisy tunics, and for one last time, we sang the Daisy song (after the pledge and promise of course).  One by one, the girls took off their tunics and crossed our bridge where they received their Brownie vest and bridging certificate.  Once all of the girls had crossed, they gathered up to sing the Brownie smile song!

That's me and my new little Brownie! (And a preggo trying desperately not to bawl her eyes out!)

We had an extremely successful year two.  Something that I am extremely proud to say is that 100% of my girls are registered and will be returning next year.  Sadly though, one girl had to move, so she will be in a new troop in a new state next year (we will miss her dearly!).  I can't wait for next year!  The girls planned out a REALLY fun year!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Daisies, Year 2, Meeting 21

Confession time- I am jealous of everyone who gets to spend Thinking Day at any of the World Centers.  After seeing this year's celebration photos online, I felt a little bummed that I wasn't around. BUT, in a few years, I figure I can get sneaky and convince the girls to save for a trip during Thinking Day (I know, I'm terrible!).

Sticking with the theme, and having little party shakers, I downloaded a bunch of music from this year's focus countries for the girls to listen too.  We basically had a listening party before we prepared for our Thinking Day feast.  Everyone brought in foods from a country they had relatives/ancestors from.  But before we could eat, we had to sing a song we had been working on for literally the past 6 months:

It's a hard song, but hey guess what, MY DAISIES SANG IT!!!!!  We sang this song during our opening at Girl's World Forum with the fabulous Melinda Caroll.  I knew it would be a challenge, but I brought it back for the girls and they learned it.  They knew it so well that instead of having us call out the first line, they called it out and had their families repeat it!

Before we ate, our new girls received their WAGGGS pins.  It took everything in me not to cry! I'm so proud of them all though.  It was something they will remember for a long time, and because I promised I wouldn't make them sing Babala Gumbala again until next year (they have made sure I remembered every week before we sang a song).  As for that food, we tasted foods from Egypt, Turkey, Poland, Sweeden and a few others I have already forgotten (sorry!).  No surprise, they all came back for seconds.

Though the focus countries for next year's Thinking Day have not yet been announced, I can tell you that the focus MDG is number 2, achieve universal primary education for all.  After that, it leaves one more MDG for us to cover in 2015!

Daisies, Year 2, Meeting 20

Even though this week's meeting involved zero glitter, it still haunted us.  Glitter on my GS bags, glitter still on the floors, glitter everywhere.  I am never working with glitter again, and this time I mean it!

Today was a bit low key.  We read chapter 2 of Between the Earth and Sky and tied it into a field trip we were about to take.  With cookie season in full swing, and the girls working so hard, they deserved a break. Our schools had a 5 day weekend during President's Day.  We used that Tuesday off for a fun day out with the animals.  But, we had to establish ground rules because we most certainly were not going to act like animals in front of the animals.  And what a perfect opportunity to sneak in another money lesson!  We talked more about our goals and what we want to do with our cookie profits.  Disney is a very real goal for next year, but this year's tangible goal can have many fun things to do around it.  When we went to zoo, the girls were given an option- have a snow cone or ride on the train.  We couldn't afford to do both (they were the same cost).  So they all had to vote, BUT, the hitch was that they all had to agree.  No surprise, they choose snow cones.

It was a good lesson though.  Cookie booths had only just begun, but showing them that if they don't meet all of their set goals, they will have to pick and choose which activities they want to do.  I can let you on this much (because I am writing this after cookie season ended)- the girls knew that just for their basic goals, everyone needed to sell 150 boxes of cookies.  I can proudly say that my Daisies averaged 267 boxes per girl!  And our top earners sold over 600 a piece!  So yes, they earned enough to visit the birthplace, have lunch at Paula Deen's and more!

Daisies, Year 2, Meeting 19

As I write this post, cookie season is long over (thank GOODNESS!).  Cookie season this year was exceptionally stressful, but it was well worth it.

Last year we used a lot of cookie based recipes on our booth posters.  The girls loved that, so I made sure to print those out before today's meeting.  Being a little more than a week away from cookie booths, and just days before cookie delivery, we used today's meeting to prep all of our booth posters.  I'm that crazy leader who lets the girls dictate what they want to use for their materials.  Long story short, so much glitter everywhere!  And that glitter followed us around for all of cookie season.   Anyway, the girls made 2 tri-fold poster and 4 hand held signs. We ran out of time to do our cookies from home donation jars, but they told me what they wanted I did that once I got home (again, all the glitter, oh my goodness!).  Everything looked cute, but if I can, next year, I fully intend on discouraging the glitter (though knowing these girls, they will insist on more glitter).

SU Thinking Day Event

So, if Christmas is to celebrate the birth of Jesus, then Founder's Day (Juliette Gordon Low's birthday) is like Girl Scout Christmas.  With that being said, Thinking Day is to Girl Scouts what Purim is to the Jews (well, not really, but it was the closest analogy I could think of).  Thinking Day is a special Girl Scout holiday where all of us Girl Scouts and Girl Guides pause to remember and celebrate our Scouting/Guiding sisters world wide.

This year our focus countries were Venezuela (that we helped represent), Ireland, Jordan, Pakistan and Malawi.  Seeing as how we are in the middle of the Millennium Challenge, we have also added in the aspect for a focus MDG the past few years.  This year was the twin theme of MDG 4 and 5, reduce infant mortality and improve maternal health.  To make it easier on the troops, we split up the responsibilities   Take for example us and Venezuela.  My troop created the board/presentation.  Another troop made SWAPS and a third troop made food from Venezuela.  A few of the larger troops did all of it for one country or MDG, but most of us teamed up.  It went over fairly well.  We also had a station where the girls could make friendship bracelets to donate to the Sangam's store where they sell them to make money for programs.  We had so many activities, but the best part was in the end, we fulfilled the requirements to earn the WAGGGS Thinking Day patch which the girls can put on the front of their uniform!

Daisies, Year 2, Meeting 18

So much to do, so little time to do it!  Looking at today's meeting in black and white, you would think it was boring, but it was far from it!

Thinking Day falls in the middle of our cookie season.  So we held our SU Thinking Day event at the beginning of February.  Our troop was tasked with creating a board about Venezuela.  So it gave us the chance to learn about this country. Venezuela is such a beautiful country with a very rich and interesting history.  Like last year, I printed out several maps and a bunch of pictures.  We talked about what everything was and learned about the country.  Once that was done, I handed them over to the girls and let them go nuts with a board, some glue and a few markers.  It turned out really well.  Once they were done, I added the Venezuelan flag and national flower on the side of the board to stick out a little.  They did an amazing job!

Daisies, Year 2, Meeting 17

When the journeys were introduced, I was out of the loop of Girl Scouting.  When I finally got back in the loop and learned about them, I was honestly a little jealous that we didn't have them when I was scout!

Today we began our final Daisy journey, Between the Earth and Sky.  This is such a neat journey because it centers around a trip the flower friends take.  We purposely planned to do this journey right now because the girls are in the middle of cookie season.  They did the basic planning work for their cookie reward/end of the year trip, but since we don't have cookies in hand yet, it's a little hard for them to grasp what exactly it is they are working towards.  Listening to this story was exactly the boost they needed to keep them on track for their final goal (which as I write this months later, we are currently days away from our trip!).

The leader's guide and guidebook has several great activities that fit in with what we are doing.  The first one is really neat.  The leader's guide calls it the big blue bucket of words.  The original lesson intrigued me, but we changed it up a little.  But, first things first- our official club house. We were getting ready to talk about feelings and emotions.  This is touchy with any age group.  So we created Daisy's club house.  Daisy's club house has a few rules- this is a safe space, so anything we talk about stays in the club house.  We won't talk about it outside of our meetings because we want to trust each other (something we will build upon over the years).  After we had that established, we asked the girls, what are negative words that you have heard that can be hurtful?  I won't repeat them, but they came up with some very good answers.  We wrote them all down on the chalk board.  We took a good look at them and then erased them from our vocabulary.  We all promised that we would never use these hurtful words again, in and our of meetings.  With those sad words still in our heads, we then began talking about happy words, or as we named our own blue bucket of words, Words of Affirmation.  We all took a slip of paper and secretly wrote a happy word down, but we didn't read them.  We all folded it up and stuck it in the bucket.

I read my word out loud though, and this was the only time I did this.  I had a very good reason too.  We hadn't been out to work in our garden in a while.  Even though we walk past it every week when we walk to our meeting spot, sometimes we forget to look left.  The garden was our responsibility, and had gathered some weeds of the past few weeks.  It had also been trampled in one part.  We were very honest with the girls about it, but did not want it to dampen their spirits.  So my word of the week was perseverance.  Though it may seem like such a small word, when put into the context of our garden and take action project, it was such a big, positive word that lifted everyone's spirits.

We finished out the meeting doing some role playing and learning how to properly deal with play ground bullies.  Everyone was asked to act out some scenarios.  They did a great job and learned how to handle things without getting in trouble, getting peoples feelings hurt and where to go for help.

Daisies, Year 2, Meeting 16

Can I take a moment here to yet again recognize the awesome power of Girl Scouting/Guiding?  Seriously, thanks to my awesome "sisters" literally all over the world, today's meeting was a great success!  AND, today's meeting was extra special because we had two very special guests who came to visit all the way from New Jersey!

We started out the meeting reading our answered questions.  We heard back from ladies in India, Ohio, Australia and more!  The girls loved hearing about everyone from all over.  We did have Heather and her sister there, which was wonderful, but I did desperately wish to have a guest who was from another country. The girls learned about hearing about scouts and guides from all over.

I haven't done one of these in a while, but our next activity was definitely a "lesson learned" activity.  There's a neat little activity that teaches about water sanitation, that we did.  The lesson learned today..... yeah the Daisies weren't really "ready" for it just yet, BUT, with a bit of help, they did well.

So, the water exercise.  To set this up, you'll need a bottle of water with a little bit of dirt mixed in. You'll also need a charcoal filter (which you can get at a pet supplies store), a funnel, a measuring cup, cotton balls, coffee filters, baking soda, salt peter and a plain sponge.  If you Google this, you can find other ways to do this.  The key is figuring out the "easiest" or best way to teaching this to whichever age group you have.  This took up literally the rest of our meeting and we barely finished it.  The girls had fun though!

Friday, February 8, 2013

National Girl Scout Cookie Day!

In 1988, I joined Girl Scouts as a precious little Daisy.  Though I had a few years where I was in and out (thank you college travels and high school extra curriculars), somehow, I always ended up back in Scouting.  So here I am, all these years later, still involved in scouting as a leader and a volunteer.

I'm going to get very personal with you right now, but for a good reason.  I am 29, my husband 28.  He is active duty military, so isn't exactly rolling in the dough.  I work part time from home (but let's be honest, I'm not really making much money as well).  But, we own our own home (a nice one), we each have a car (good cars too), and hey guess what- we have NO debt!  We also have several investments and plenty of money in savings.  I admit, we do owe part of this to my husband's penny pinching ways, but I also owe a large part of this too...... GIRL SCOUT COOKIES!

Hear me out though, will you, please?

Goal Setting:
A lot of troops (traditionally speaking) have very ambitious goals!  We want to go to Savannah, Disney (Land and world), we want to go to NYC, England, India and more!  But, all these things cost money, so we need to learn.....

Money Management:
This plays a huge part into our goals, but ultimately, it's very important.  Money is tight in this day and age!  We have to learn about the profits we'll be making, how much things cost, so that plays right back into goals to learn how much we need to sell.  But that even then plays into.....

Business Ethics:
I think the word Ethics speaks for itself.  As Girl Scouts, we promise to live by the Girl Scout law, which in itself is like a code of ethics for Scouts.  All of us Scouts are selling cookies for whatever goal(s) we set.  We learn that we need to respect each other, but at the same time we're supporting each other!  We can't be selfish and hog all the cookies (though what happens with cookies in your house is out of our hands), we all still need to sell them.  But, selling cookies is so important.....

Money management, business ethics, decision making, people skills, and more!

I have a great story about people skills that you all can relate to.....

My precious little Daisy, my daughter, spent the first half of last year's cookie season talking to my butt.  We knocked on neighbors doors, people she KNOWS, yet she still talked to my rear end.  Even one of my closest friend's, whom we have known for years, she asked them to buy cookies while talking to my behind.  Seriously, my bum has never been talked to that much!  And then, booth sales started.  I secretly dreaded it because I was scared she would spend all the the booths talking to my dairy air again.  Much to surprise though, she didn't!  She began to get over her stage fright.  By the end of booth and cookie season, I thought, yay we're finally over the hump!  Now here we are, a year later.  The friends that I mentioned have since moved, so we got on Skype so Leah could ask them to buy cookies.  What did she do you ask?  She hid from the camera and took a good 15 minutes to ask them to buy cookies.  There it was, that secret dread again, as I thought oh boy, I better wear some comfy jeans as we go door to door because my toushy is going to get spoken to again!  The next day, it was bright and shiny out, so we put on our uniforms and hit the streets!  And guess what, SHE DIDN'T TALK TO MY FANNY!  Seriously, y'all have no clue how relieved I was!!!  We start booths here next week, so hopefully she'll do beautifully!

But hey, guess what, this is Girl Scouts,and we love earning badges!  Every level of scouting has special badges for us to earn that relate back to our cookie sales and financial skills.  For those of you who follow my blog know that last year my Daisies earned the Financial Literacy leaves.  They learned very basic money skills. We learned the basics about money, and then we planned a shopping list for the farmer's market when we needed food for another badge.  This year we took our basic knowledge of money and set some troop goals and budgeted for a big trip, which then translated to how much cookies cost, how much profit we make, so how many boxes do we need to sell to achieve our goals.

What else does cookies teach us you ask?  Selflessness.  Though this is something you can't really "teach," you can lead by example.  Many of us have programs in our councils that allow us to donate cookies to our military (quick story- a few years ago during a deployment, my husband remembers an entire palate of cookies being to delivered to where he was at the time).  I told the girls in my troop that I will buy one box of cookies from every scout who shows up at my door (and I have!).  What I did not tell them was that when they come to deliver and I pay for them, I will be donating them back to send off.  I'm hoping that leading by example, they might understand what it means to be selfless.

Oh, but yet there's more to learn.  COOKING SKILLS!  No really.  There are a lot of great recipes out there that use cookies (ok, so they may not be the most healthy things you can eat, but cooking with something fun gets their foot in the door!).  Both the bakers we use have awesome recipes already on their websites:


I have tried many of these recipes and can tell you that they are amazing!  They also serve as great marketing tools at cookie booths.  Oh hey, that's yet another thing the girls are learning about, marketing their "business!"

My awesome Daisies just made their booth materials this past week (sorry, I'm behind on posting about my meetings).  I know it's not the best picture, so I'll tell you all about their marketing materials!  They have several recipes featured, they are promoting donating cookies to the military and how selling cookies helps them out.  We haven't finished our goals poster yet (why we're selling them), but it's already off to a good start.

So now, I ask you, what DOESN'T Girl Scout cookies teach our scouts?!  There's so much I haven't mentioned yet!  The learning is literally endless.  Even as an adult, I'm still learning through cookies!

Oh hey, by the way, Girl Scouts are proud members of the 21st century, we've got apps!
For Android phones:
For iPhones:

Hey, did you know that some of the most successful women in the world were once Girl Scouts?  Hilary and Chelsea Clinton, Katie Couric, Dakota Fanning, Taylor Swift, Serena Williams, Mary Tyler Moore, Abigail Breslin, Gwenyth Paltrow, Lisa Ling, Mariah Carey, Sandra Day O'Connor, Barbara Walters, Sally Ride, Martha Stewart, Lucille Ball, Susan Lucci, Sheryl Crow, Laura Bush, Gloria Steinem..... impressive list, and that doesn't even begin to cover it!  Girl Scout cookies is the LARGEST Girl-led business in the world!  And really, the girls are running it.  Me, the adult, I'm just here to dot the I's and cross the T's (and lift a few heavy boxes).  The girls really do all the hard work and a good portion of the planning.

I felt bad having to tell the girls that according to policy, we couldn't go to Disney just yet (too far), BUT, next year, if they still want to, we'll go when they're Brownies.  I promised them that as their leader, I am open to anything (within reason of course).  My troop is full of ambitious girls, but trust me when I say they are not alone!  Because of scouting, I have literally been around the world.  Because of scouting, I have met some of the most amazing people.  Because of scouting (and my parents), I learned so of the most valuable lessons.......

Because of Girl Scout Cookies, I am where I am today.

So there you have it, Girl Scouting at it's finest..... all because of cookies!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Daisies, Year 2, Meeting 15

Our first meeting back of the new year, yay!  It really stunk being laid up for so long (Mr. Appendix, you will not be missed!), so getting back to Scouts was exactly what the doctor ordered!  Well, not really, he actually ordered me to take it easy, but puh-lease!  Me, take it easy?  If you could hear me laugh, you would have just heard me snort.

The first thing we did today was to help us out with our next meeting.  We were going to begin working on the GAT (global action theme) badge from WAGGGS.  One of the suggested activities was to invite a woman from another country to share her experiences of what it was like growing up/living there.  I personally do not know of any one who currently lives near us, so my solution to the plan was to reach out to the wonderful ladies I met over the summer at Girl's World Forum (and to all those who helped, again, thank you, y'all are AMAZING, as usual!).   I asked the girls to come up with questions for me to email out to everyone.  They came up with some awesome questions!

Where did you live growing up?
What was is like there?
Where do you currently live?
What is it like there?
What special food/foods did you eat growing up?
What is it like being a Girl Guide/Scout in your country?
What is your favorite thing about Girl Guiding/Scouting?
What is a special song or game you sing/play in your country?
If you could visit any place in the world, where would it be and why?
What has been your favorite Guiding/Scouting memory and why?
What was your favorite badge that you earned?

Ok, confession time..... I came up with that last question.  I have an ulterior motive though (you'll see in May why!).

The biggest part of our meeting was beginning work on Responsible For What I Say and Do.  We read Mari's story and discussed ways that we can be responsible.  So, what's a good solution for doing this?  A chore chart!  It's a very simple chart (brush your teeth, make your bed, clean your room, take a bath/shower and a few more along those lines).  We did leave a few blank spots in case parents wanted to add a specific chore, but, the girls have to be diligent every month and every day and do their chores.  At the end of the month, we'll give them a chart for the next month.  BUT, there's another hitch to our plan.  After this, we made money banks.  We took some old jars and covered them with cute paper and decorated them.  We asked the parents to help the girls earn money for their chores, but, it can only be change!  We told the girls that this money they are earning will help them pay for their pins and patches at our end of the year trip to Savannah.  We had to stress that they couldn't ask for more than a quarter per chore (our trip isn't until  May, so this is a great way to help teach them the importance of goal setting and saving money).  Oh, and in case you haven't figure it out, this activity also goes back to our financial literacy leaves we earned last year, so this was a great review!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Daisies Year 2, Meeting 14

Just a few days after meeting 13, my appendix decided it was high time to become a nuisance and burst.  Therefore, what should have been our end of the year meeting ended up being canceled. So instead, I will share with you all what we would have done in case anyone needs any ideas on meetings.

With Christmas around the corner, and the girls being restless to do something downright fun, we thought today would be a great opportunity for that.  But, this being our troop meeting, I couldn't just have a simple fun day, so of course I had to tie in the fun with something Girl Scouty- considerate and caring!  Our plan for the meeting was to read Zinni's story first, and then let the girls make Christmas presents for their family and friends.

It's no secret that we as troops are often hard up for money, so when we do crafting activities, we have to think outside of the box for ways to do amazing things with spending little or no money.  Thankfully, places like Pinterest, Stumbleupon, Crafster and more have great ideas for projects you can do with recycled materials.  Our first idea was to make little table ornaments with toilet paper rolls.  You can either decorate it with construction paper and pipe cleaners, or color them, whichever floats your boat!  Our next idea was to let the girls make whatever they want to make with popsicle sticks.  The most common one I've seen done is reindeer, but you can also make things like stars, Christmas trees, snowmen, toy soldiers and more.  The girls at least had options on what they could do.  Our last option, if we had enough time, was finger printed snowmen on an ornament.  The principle is that you take a simple bulb ornament (a plastic one) and let the girls dip their fingers in white paint.  They then make a whole finger print around the ornament.  Once it's dry, you can decorate with sharpies to give your snowmen the final touches.

We were planning on finishing up our meeting with a patch ceremony.  All of our new girls earned their blue center, plus we had a few journeys, petals and a lot of fun patches to hand out.  I'm a little bummed we had to skip out, but we're having another patch ceremony in the Spring (so we can have all the pomp and circumstance then).

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Daisies, Year 2, Meeting 13

When you have a group of first graders, how do you touch on the subject of religion while not offending anyone?  Case in point- within our troop, we represent approximately 6 different religions!

My Promise, My Faith is a pin that a scout can earn every year.  Last year when we introduced it to the girls, we tried touching on all the major religions and tied it all into one big lesson- it doesn't matter what your religion is, they all have the same core beliefs (be nice to everyone, be a good person, ect.).  This year we got a little more specific. The first half of the day we tried relating certain aspects of our religions back to pieces of the Girl Scout law.  We learned that as a whole, the Girl Scout law is represented in all our religions.  After that, we got into our religions and learned about special holidays we celebrate, and why they are so important.

This year's lesson was shorter than last year, but seeing as how it was the follow up, the girls already knew quite a bit.  We finished up by playing a few games and just having some fun!