Oh Drama

So the troop drama continues. According to our Service Unit manager, we were never forgotten; my coleader never responded to her. Okay, well, whatever. My coleader quit anyway and took her three kids and three neighbor kids with her anyway. Go figure. I’ll never know what happened, I guess.

We have been adopted by my SU leader’s multilevel troop so my girls get to stay together. yay, but one of my nieces doesn’t handle change or new people well, ouch. Well, we’ve been to one meeting she didn’t like, but the other niece and my daughter both have made new friends already, yay, so hopefully she will adapt soon. It was a rough meeting for new girls anyway, they were finishing up cookie business and financial badges. This week will be something new, so it should be better.

Even if I’m not planning and running meetings anymore I’ll still chronicle the troop activities here since this is about troop ideas and not showing off or taking credit.

**sigh** I just want it to run smoothly again…

The Girl Scout Way

The good news? Troop communication issues have been resolved. One leader quit, and the only reason I hadn’t heard from the other was that she had been out of town on a trip that had been planned well in advanced. She had trusted her coleader to take over for the week. A meeting was cancelled; a leader walked away. I’m now officially the coleader.

The bad news? There isn’t any! At least, not for the troop. I was in a car wreck last night, but that’s not a troop matter.

Before the wreck, we had a very good troop meeting and earned the Girl Scout Way badge for all the girls. It’s an easy badge to earn across multiple levels as the requirements are all the same.

Our first, get to know you meeting was a Girl Scout birthday party, so there was one step right there, step two, I think.

We started the meeting by learning the Girl Scout salute and making the Girl Scout Promise. It’s a very important tradition, part of the final step.

The we moved on to silly songs. We all shared the titles of our favorites, then one of the girls, the only one brave enough to go first, sang hers. After that, I taught them make new friends, and they had completed the first step.

Enough talking, really, for our girls, even if some of the talking was singing. I’d been standing in front of them quite long enough, so it was time for a craft.

The plan was to make bracelets. I bought pony beads and baker’s twine from the dollar tree. While leaders were cutting length of twine and was tying off a loop in the middle, I had girls passing out ten beads to every girl. I used the daisy petal colors to represent the law. The packs I bought only had a lavender, no dark purple, so I subbed a dark blue for that one.

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To start, you fold the twine in half and tie off a loop large enough to fit over a bead. Slipping the loop over a pencil helps keep the bracelet steady as you string the beads, especially if you held the pencil between your knees. As you string the beads, this is what it will look like.

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Separate the two strings hanging from the pencil and slide one end through the bead.

Fold the string around the bead and pinch the two ends together so that the opening is clear.

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Feed the other string end through the bead going in the opposite direction as the first so that if you pull both ends, the bead slides up the bracelet into place, against the loop or the last bead.

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Then tie half of a knot to hold the bead in place while you string the next one.

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String the first nine beads in order. Once you have the pink bead in place, for make the world a better place, measure the left over string around you write. Slide both strings through the loop you know where to tie off the light purple bead. Keeping the string pinched just below the loop, pull it off your wrist and tie a single knot, like you did to make the loop, so that it lands where you have it pinched, just pull the ends all the way through. String the light purple bead up against this knot the same way you strung all the other, except instead of tying half a knot next to it, tie it off securely and trim the excess.

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Now you have a bracelet. The purple bead, sister to every girl scout, slips through the loop to keep the bracelet on. Just like your girl scout sisters help you keep the law.

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I prefer this to other traditional camp style friendship bracelets because you can take it off and wear it when you want, rather than wearing it once until it breaks or you cut it off.

That was the plan. Our strings were cut a little short, so the girls put the purple bead up against the pink one, tied it off, and called it a key chain. It worked, and they all said they could hang them from their backpacks.

This not only reviewed the law for the girls, but it satisfied the third badge requirement, celebrate sisterhood. So that’s one, sing; two, celebrate the birthday; three, celebrate sisterhood; and five, enjoy traditions.

I had some girls pass out the snack, and while they did that, we moved on to the next activity. To take traditions a step further and organize meetings a little better, we set up a caper chart.

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I glued the ribbon from the bunting to the depth of the pan, starting halfway up one side, all the way around, and halfway back up the other so that there is plenty of glue and string to hold the weight of the pan and chart.

I had prepared a chart before the meeting by gluing bunting to a pizza pan, both from the dollar store, and just left the spots empty, and reviewed what  I had girls help me with throughout the meeting. I also mentioned that we would need to start taking attendance and collecting dues. Together, we made a list of capers to fill in the blanks. They came up with:

  1. take attendance
  2. collect dues
  3. lead the opening promise
  4. pass out art supplies
  5. pass out snacks
  6. lead the closing
  7. odd jobs
  8. clean up

Once we had the list, I passed out foam gift tags, also from the dollar store, and cut them in half so they’d fit the chart better. They all wrote their names on their tags and affixed a piece of magnetic strip to the back.

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It’s a little crunched from the accident, but it’ll be ok.

I had planned to rotate the name each meeting, but they have opted to randomly pull from a bag each week, so we’ll see how that goes. Girl led, right?

We closed with a friendship, singing the second verse of make new friends before spinning out of the circle.

It was a good meeting and we all had fun. It’s going to be a good year.

New Year, New Troop

That’s the pattern so far, and it still holds. Yay us. At least this time it’s because we moved out of state. Pretty good reason for a new troop, don’t you think?

The subject of this post? TELL ME IT ISN’T JUST ME or, alternately, YOU AREN’T THE ONLY ONE

So…I’m not sure how I feel about our experiences yet. Without wanting to be too hard on Girl Scouts, or any subdivision there of, communication really seems to be a struggle everywhere we go. I came to town fully ready to be a troop leader again, desperate to avoid another span of inactivity due to troop shortage. It was incredibly difficult to get word about anything. At first they seemed rather excited to have a parent so eager to volunteer. Then I heard nothing. Pushing, I found out they were waiting to see how recruitment would go. Would have been nice to know that. I really wanted to get started early enough to do fall product sales, which, if you ask me, is way to close to the beginning of the scout year to really do effectively, but, there you have it. They were ecstatic to have someone who not only was eager to volunteer but was desperate to jump in. Miscommunication regarding recruitment event location, barely finding another event in time to go (found while attempting to figure out what happened to the missed event), talk of only needing a coleader, no more talk at all, and voila, communication from my daughter’s troop leader about meetings!

What’s that? My daughter has a troop leader and it isn’t me? That would have been nice to know.  It’s a multi-level troop, as well, so I’m guessing they just never found me a co-leader? Again, would have been nice to know. I mean, with a multi-level, they could have put me in touch with the leaders, three are better than two when several grades are involved, right? Fine, at least we have a troop this year. Better late than never.

The leaders seem great. They’re new, willing to listen to my compulsive talking about my own learning experience and tidbits of advice they had barely said they would appreciate. That alone earns them points. I mean, obvious annoyance or even a “would you please just shut up and go sit down with the other moms,” would have not been entirely uncalled for. That said, and with full understanding of busy lives, man do I understand busy lives, once you tell me to consider myself a third leader, I’d at least like to be kept in the loop about upcoming troop meeting plans. I’m I asking too much? Maybe?

Anyway, it’s a slow start, too. First and third Thursday meetings, starting the third Thursday of a month with five Thursday and a last minute cancellation of the following first, and I have an upset niece who’s eager to dive in. Now, this I get. It was a late start, they had to finish training an all that, and starting on a week that would be followed by three off instead of two makes sense because you just want to get going rather than waiting another month. Thank you! I love the thought and wholly on board. The cancelled meeting I completely understand as well, no explanation needed, your personal life is your personal life and unexpected obligations come up. That’s just the way it is. My niece’s understandable frustration is not your fault, nor your responsibility. However, it is real and valid as well.

So, now here’s my plan:

  1. Make sure I haven’t missed anything myself that is contributing to the problem
  2. Track down the council meetings so I can get involved and hope to improve communication
  3. Give the busy ladies I’ve only met once the benefit of the doubt and try to get to know them better. I don’t even know how long they’ve known each other or how much they communicated with each other about the next meeting.
  4. See where I actually fit in troop leadership and step back if that works best for everyone.
  5. Organize Girl Scout stuff for my daughter and my two nieces, a fourth and fifth grade junior respectively, who have joined in the scouting journey this year. Just supplemental stuff to keep them active and interested in the off weeks.

End of Year Court of Awards

So, I have a really good excuse for this post being so late, as opposed to all those other times I just failed to write up the meeting. I had a baby on June 4, and our end of year meeting was on the 1, so there you go.

It was a simple affair, really, held in our usual meeting place. We had a veggie dip platter to finish up our snacks badge, made baking soda air fresheners to finish up our household elf badge, and then we had our court of awards.

I used a very simple idea I gathered from the Pinterest conglomerate: a ribbon with the badges attached.

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Each girl had a ribbon with all their earned awards. The journey patches are on one side, the skill badges on the other, and the “fun patches” are on the name badge itself. I also printed out little brownie elves to decorate the name badge a bit. (As you can see, my daughter earned a few council’s own badges as well, which are worn on the back with the fun patches, so her name tag is particularly crowded.) This not only prevented the patches from climbing up around the girls’ necks, but was a handy way of letting moms know where they go on the uniform once they get home without requiring a print out.

Now, not every girl made it to every meeting, so some of them were missing requirements for this badge or that, so I made up personalized badge requirement sheets that only have the steps they missed included. That way, they can finish up over the summer if they so desire.

And that’s it for our year. There are a few personal achievements I might take my daughter through over the summer, like the “My Promise My Faith” pin, or the Brownie Safety pin. It depends on what she wants to do. I’m telling you, nothing has helped me conquer my tendency to be a tad over-controlling concerning my daughter’s choices than Girl Scouts.

Brownies Connect and Take Action

All right, so I didn’t get around to blogging our second meeting for the Brownie Quest. Sorry about that, but here’s what we did on our second and third:

For the connect key, we used the activity from the leader’s guide. I know! Right? I used the leader guide! They are actually extremely useful in acquainting you with the journeys and giving you ideas whether you follow them or not, making them worth it, really, (though I do recommend passing them on to other troops in your service unit or community…)

Anyway, we talked about who we’re connected to and how, and then the girls made circle maps of the connection. I used a Martha Stewart circle cutter, scrapbook paper, and a hole punch to get everything ready for them so all they had to do was write their connections and tie them all together with their choice of ribbon from my stash.

my model project

my model project

my daughter's circle map

my daughter’s circle map

my daughter's map spread out so you can see it. she chose to illustrated each group.

my daughter’s map spread out so you can see it. she chose to illustrated each group.

I let them define each of their circles themselves (with the help of their junior partners who were still helping us out), and one girl had “animals” as her yellow circle. That girl’s gonna make a great veterinarian some day.

For our final meeting on the journey, I had hoped to take the girls to our local mission, but they were only available for educational visits during weekdays, and we aren’t out of school yet, so that wasn’t going to work as I didn’t have time to speak to the man in charge and arrange special treatment. I know, that’s what I get for waiting so long to set things up.

Anyway, I decided that what my girls needed from this journey was to really understand what a take action project is. Most of them weren’t really sure during our WoW journey. They enjoyed the activity, but I think the bigger meaning was kind of lost on them. So, dirty little secret, shhhhhh, but I made a leader’s call for my troop: since the Brownie Quest journey is all about learning what being a girl scout is about (discover, connect, take action), learning what taking action means satisfies the purpose well enough.

I found a great site about teaching girls advocacy.

UntitledI requested the advocacy cards they offer, but again, due to my tardiness, they did not arrive on time.

Anyway, we talked about the differences between the very important things we can do to meet immediate needs, service projects, and the ways that we can research and address the problems that create those needs. We talked about how even little girls can make a big difference, something none of my girls had any trouble believing. They’d already learned that much, yay!

To help them understand the concept of advocacy, one of the easiest ways to make a big difference and address deeper problems, I once again took advantage of my junior aids. Now, this was the fourth week they were with us. Only one of them needed to make up for a missed meeting, but they all showed up anyway. Pretty awesome girls, really. What I did was pass out cookies, two to each of my Brownies, but none to the juniors. Most of my brownies didn’t like this, one didn’t really care. Two of them were about to share their own. We talked about why it wasn’t fair, and what they could do about it. It took a little guidance, but eventually I got them past sharing their own to attempting to change the rules by talking to the rule maker (me.) With a little more guidance, my two most vocal got their two supporters to speak up and convinced one of the two quiet ones to speak up as well. The one that didn’t really care from the beginning declined to say anything, which I personally think was a nice illustration of the outside world. We then gave the juniors cookies.

It was a mostly talk/discussion oriented meeting, but the cookie advocacy activity broke things up nicely and kept them interested. I think it went well and satisfied the spirit of the journey. Next week we have our awards ceremony and end of year party.

Junior Aids and a New Quest

So I’m behind in posting. Not surprising, and I’m sure anyone who actually reads this will understand when I say this is the final week of my final semester for my Master’s degree.

Anyway, I thought having one Cadette around was an unmitigated blessing (it is, by the way), so I was actually a little nervous when I agreed to let a Junior troop earn their Junior Aid badge with us. I had nothing to worry about. It’s been amazing. First, three weeks ago, they led their badge activity and my girls earned their Brownie First Aid badge. Here’s what made it so amazing:

  • Their troop supplied the materials for the first aid kits
  • They have a troop dad who’s a cop
  • They have a troop mom who’s an EMT
  • I didn’t have to prepare a thing or arrange a visit from anyone
  • My girls had a blast (the most important factor, really)

They role-played 911 calls, built first aid kits (learning what everything that went into it was for and how to use it), learned basic first aid treatments, got to interview an EMT, and got to interview a police officer. It was an exciting meeting.

Last week we started our Brownie Quest journey. I’m modifying this journey even more than the last one, but I think it’ll work well. I did start with the Girl Scout Law scavenger hunt suggested in the leader guide. I used large gift tags, wrote a line of the law on each tag, and hid them around our meeting place. Our Junior Aids were back, so I had each Junior partner with a Brownie and, since we were missing two of our seven girls, it worked out for each group to find two tags.

We then read them off in order and talked about values. I went straight to the “Discover Me” star in the girl’s book, and had the Juniors help the girls talk through their answers or, at the very least, keep them on task. It was simply amazing how productive this was.

Look at them! Their on task!

Look at them! Their on task!

We then went around the table and each girl shared her favorite question on the star and how she answered it. They each chose a different question and really seemed to enjoy sharing.

Finally, we came to the really fun part. I came across this amazing project on Pinterest from the Brave Girls Club. The project is making an “I am…” self-portrait. I printed out the figures, faces, and words provided in a pdf and raided my personal stash of “I’ll use this someday” art supplies. I had a selection of 8.5×11 scrapbook paper in pretty designs that they used as a base, and then they had all sorts of ribbons, stickers, embellishments, glitter glue, and rhinestones to decorate their “portraits.” I absolutely LOVED the creativity the girls showed. I had decided against bringing paint, figuring that would complicate things just a bit too much, but then I forgot to bring markers, so they didn’t have any obvious solutions for hair. One of my girls didn’t worry about at all, a couple used ribbon, one used glitter glue. They all chose different words to add and different things to focus on.

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everyone working so nicely!

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my daughter working on her very expressive self-portrait

What’s more, the Juniors were fantastic. They helped guide the creativity without taking over; they helped cut things out, figure out how to glue things down…all in all, I seriously doubt this would have gone near as well without them and certainly would have been a lot more hectic with limited adults trying to help everyone at once. Just look at these beautiful portraits!

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The girls took their journey books home to look through and complete the family star before next meeting. I’ll send out a reminder later this week, and we’ll talk about their stars and complete the Discover Key at the beginning of the next meeting.

I Survived Cookies!

Okay, I wasn’t even cookie manager, so maybe I’m being a little dramatic. And I totally failed at the pre-sale thing, but let me tell you, a month and half of manning the cookie booth every weekend? That can wear you down. Let me check my math…2-21, 2-28, 3-21, 3-22, 3-28…okay, so it wasn’t a month and a half every weekend, and my husband even took her to the second, but three times in two weeks makes it feel like a month!

cookie booth for web

My daughter thought so, too, and was pretty much done this weekend. Too much, too close, I think. If it had been spread out more throughout the month, I think she would have kept up the enthusiasm. As it is, we’re both glad to be done. However, she did really enjoy the experience and is excited to do it again next year complete with sign making and decorations.

So what did I learn?

  1. Pre-sales may or may not be important, depending on your daughter’s goals. She still sold over two-hundred boxes.
  2. Two-hundred boxes may sound like a lot, and it is, but these cookies sell.
  3. Troop prep really shouldn’t wait until cookie information is everywhere and the packets are being handed out. A leader should be on the ball and start cookie prep and planning at the beginning of the year, at least if you want to add badge work or booth decoration. It needs to be on the calendar early! Time flies.
  4. I don’t want to be cookie manager! I didn’t want to before, but now I really don’t want to.
  5. I love this simplified, one page size order form (MiniOrderCard) that I found on Southern Alabama’s Council website. This is great for passing around an office or potentially sorting orders by location (office, Sunday School, dance class, etc.) Of course, if you don’t use ABC Bakery the card won’t have the correct cookie selection listed, but the website has other cookie sales resources that might be useful.
  6. Keeping track of booth sales for the cookie manager’s benefit is easier if you use graphics instead of words. Even adults find pictures faster than words, so for girls, having each cookie visible on the sheet instead of listed makes the whole process a lot smoother. I edited up my own graphic to use:d6552669ecf7f16202008310e8cc875a
  7. And then promptly forgot to print out a new sheet our second booth slot. So, not having any ink for our home printer, I grabbed the unused pre-order form and some post-its, clipped it nutrition fact side up to a clipboard, slapped a post-it over the facts/under each picture, and viola: sales record. (Just be sure to label each post-it before you pull it off so the cookie manager can tell which note goes with which cookie.)
  8. Just because one Brownie can only stand to stay behind the table and man the money box for 5 minutes before she abandons it to talk to people doesn’t mean she’ll like the idea of not taking turns (even if the other girl present is really uncomfortable being in front of the table).
  9. On a related note, division of tasks can be confusing and lead to mild drama at this age group. One handles the money and the other sells, right? So “why is the girl at the money box calling out to people as they walk past?” “That’s my job.” “It’s confusing if we’re both talking to people.”
  10. Upon arrival, it is best to make one or two cases loaded with a few boxes of each cookie and the money box the first things unloaded, because people will inevitably want to buy while you’re setting up and all is mass confusion.
  11. It needs to be clear that one girl handles money at a time, and that girl should only deal with one customer at a time. Otherwise, overwhelming confusion is a real possibility.

And that’s about it for our cookie journey this year.