This Blog’s Not Dead

Ok, so I didn’t actually keep blogging. Sorry about that. The thing, I wouldn’t have really known what to blog about even if I had tried.

To begin with, my nieces have both quit. The younger one never adjusted and only attended a couple more meetings before giving up, and the older one lost interest over the summer. What can you do?

As far as meetings go, before the end of last year we had a camp rep come out once to lead our girls in a wild about camp activity for a fun patch, and we did a make your own badge. The girls chose Pinterest, which turned out to be a lot of fun. They worked together to write the criteria and then fulfill it. First, they had to learn internet safety and how to use Pinterest. Second, they selected one each: a life hack, a craft, a no bake dessert, and a drink. As I recall, the dessert was an Oreo parfait, the drink was a unicorn float, the life hack was turning a glass soda bottle into a soap dispenser, and the craft I completely forget.

There was pumpkin carving.

There was a Christmas fair.

A camp-out got cancelled.

They went bowling for their end of year party.

My daughter went to summer camp for the first time. She loved it. My husband hated it. Lice were involved (picked up at a church camp, got her sent home at check-in at girl scout camp, luckily there was another week later in the summer with the same program).

We earned badges at home and finished her brownie journeys so she could get her second summit award. I think we only failed to finish 3 or 4 badges. She didn’t notice.

There was a service unit bridging ceremony and my girl went from brownie to junior, now the only one in her troop.

bridging

We lost our third week meeting time at the school we use, so starting back in the fall we were reduced to meeting once a month on the first week. Fall product took up most of the fall, then there was a Christmas party. I honestly can’t remember if they earned anything at all other than sales rewards before the new year. I think there was social butterfly for the juniors, making friends for the brownies, for the start of a new school year?

There was an overnight council event cut short by lice, not my daughter this time, but in the troop.

There were cookie sales. Yay cookie sales. She didn’t meet her sales goal, but that’s a lesson in itself, right?

Oh! We did a world thinking day booth, then I completely blanked on the day of the event and my daughter missed it. Oops.

Seriously, I cannot figure out what else has occupied our time. I think there has been one more badge in the spring, and we just finished one of the financial awards (after cookie season, not in conjunction with…though we did use cookie earnings to work on the budgeting idea; the girls decided what to do with their new troop funds. It was like pulling teeth to get usually really opinionated girls to contribute to the discussion, though, go figure.)

And there was one overnight event that I was underwhelmed with. We watched a movie and had a single nature hike. Ok.

I think I may be forgetting a single badge or activity. It’s all been somewhere between a hot mess and perfectly adequate. My daughter is still really enjoying it, but there seems to be little to no motivation and very little learning/progress being made. I can’t complain too much, though, because I’ve been exhausted this year from stress and a boy, about to be two, who still keeps me from sleeping well. It’s only been a month and a half that it’s kinda gotten tolerable.

We’ll do badges, a journey, maybe two, this summer to keep her busy and make me feel like it’s worth the investment of time and money.

So, adequate is ok. It doesn’t all have to be spectacular. We’re still moving forward.

So why am I back today? Well, it’s been a year since I disappeared. Look at my last post for a clue about what prompted my return and what I’ll be writing about tomorrow.

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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.

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.

WoW: Brownies SHARE Water on the Wonders of Water Journey

Our final meeting on the WoW journey did not end up being the final meeting on our Snacks or Household Elf badges, but that’s okay, the girls really seemed to enjoy our project.

We made our sweet snack before beginning the project. I had intended to do sweet and savory together, but I decided that was pushing things and I’d loose the girls long before we ever got through. I actually had all seven there, and I barely kept them all involved around a single recipe for one snack. All in all, good call to put off savory.

We made crescent roll cinnamon twists, which I found here, and the girls all seemed to enjoy them. It was simple, quick, but there was enough to do in one recipe that they all got to help.

While they were cooking, we moved on to our projected.

We collected quite a bit of reusable trash to use as materials, and each girl designed a 12″ x 12″ sign (a white scrapbook page) about why water is important. Each girl came up with her own focus and used markers and glue to put the sign together. I sent them all out on a mission to find somewhere willing to display their sign at least until March 22, World Water Day, to share what they’ve learned with the community and get as many people as possible thinking about the importance of water.

2015-3-16 troop 10460 wow journey (2) you need water to take a short shower or bath 2015-3-16 troop 10460 wow journey (3) recycle and keep water clean by not polluting water. other people don't have water 2015-3-16 troop 10460 wow journey (4) one bucket for...

our cadette

our cadette

2015-3-16 troop 10460 wow journey (7) recycle 2015-3-16 troop 10460 wow journey (8) recycle use less water 2015-3-16 troop 10460 wow journey (9) keep your animal's water clean

 

The final piece of the Household Elf badge was making a homemade air freshener, which I had the materials for, should have been an easy, five to ten minute activity (depending on how many times I had to get their attention), but we just didn’t have time. We’ll work it in later.

WoW: Brownies SAVE water on the Wonders of Water Journey

Ok, so, not only was I late to this meeting, no particular reason, just forgot we started at 6:15, thought it was 6:30, but I forgot the key ingredients to the snack. I’m blaming pregnancy brain. That’s the only explanation I’m willing to go with, but hey, feel better about yourself, ok?

Anyway, after taking a break for World Thinking day, we got back to the WoW journey. It was a rough night. Two of my girls (including my own daughter) had trouble containing their boundless energy and I do not believe the managed to be still for thirty seconds together for the entire evening or use their inside voices once. For once in my short span as leader, I was actually relieved I only had 3 of my 7 girls present. That sort of behavior is contagious, and I know at least one of those absent would have contributed rather than mitigated the effect. We persevered, though. We had a conversation about respecting others (as per the girl scout law!), and lost helping privileges, but we made it through the material. Again, feel better about your troop, (and your kid, if necessary) ok?

When we got there, I gathered my supplies (for an activity I came across several times on Pinterest, but primarily from this useful blog post):

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There was much guessing as to what we were going to do. I refused to tell, because I had a plan. I started going through my supplies like I was getting organized, and anything I didn’t need for the snack went into the water, to much exclamation, I can assure you. “Why are you putting it in the water?!” and the like. This included the banana peels (and the bag they were in) from the pre-peeled bananas I had frozen for the snack, an empty vanilla bottle I had added a bit of canola oil to, a coffee cup with with coffee filter and used grounds, along with the rubber band and paper towels I’d used as a make-shift lid, the pudding cup from my pre-meeting snack, and a random candy wrapper. 2015-3-2 brownie troop 10462 - wow journey - water polution (2)

“Ok, girls, we’re ready to make our snack. We have our peanut butter and cocoa, and, oh dear, I seem to have put the trash into our water instead of the trash can. Well, I guess you’ll have to clean it out before we make our snack. We need that water.”

Let me tell you that there were some rather dramatic reactions to this. There were “ew!”s and “we can’t do that!”s and “do we really have to use that water?”s.  One of the girls in particular was rather concerned that they would actually have drink it.

2015-3-2 brownie troop 10462 - wow journey - water polution (4)They did a pretty good job, though, I must say. Once they were done, we talked about water pollution and how undoing it is sooooooooooooooo much more difficult (if not impossible) than just keeping it clean. We talked about how in a lot of places, the only water people have access to is yucky water, and they have to figure out ways to filter and clean it themselves or just drink it anyway. This did not go over well at all, and that one girl was still concerned we were really going to use this water. I assured her we weren’t, and we all agreed that it was great to live in a country where we could just dump out the dirty water and get some clean water to use. We also discussed ways to go natural and reduce waste to begin with, (thereby addressing step 2 of the household elf badge.)

It was then time to move on to actually making the snack, which didn’t actually use water at all. We slurped our snacks to move forward with the snacks badge, making a really simple smoothie I found here (the image is a link):

As I mentioned at the beginning, only one of my girls got to help, which was too bad, especially since my daughter loves to help and was really sorry about not paying attention and being too hyper, but, as we’ve learned before, apologizing does not remove consequences. Not sure if the lecture and missing out on participation contributed to the other girl’s sulky mood for the rest of the evening, or if it was just because she didn’t particularly enjoy the smoothie and therefore “didn’t get a snack,” but that happens as well, I suppose. Anyway, the smoothie is really easy to make, (especially if you peel your bananas before freezing them. Have you ever tried to peel a frozen banana? I have, and I’m glad I’d already learned that lesson, let me tell you.) One recipe was enough for all three girls to have a small cup, which was plenty, so that worked out even better than expected.

While they sipped their smoothies (or sulked), we discussed our project for the SHARE Water award. I had made up a set of note-cards with problems related to water pollution, use, and conservation in one color and a set of solutions or good practices in another color. We went through them, placing the solutions over the problems, kind-almost aligning them appropriately. After that we started talking about what we could do and whether it could actually make a difference. Fortunately, none of my girls have a hard believing they can impact the larger world, but their ideas were all still home/self-centric, so I introduced World Water Day (which happens to be March 22! Happy timing, since I didn’t even know World Water Day was a thing until I was planning out this journey). I explained it is a day all about getting the whole world thinking about the importance of water, and yes, even boys, as difficult as you might believe that to be.

One of the ideas I found on the World Water Day website is creating art for the world. You submit your art and they share it.

The girls also really really got excited about the idea of making signs to display in the library, so much so that we didn’t even get around to any other ideas, except maybe hanging signs somewhere else like their schools. I liked the WWD idea so much, though, I pointed out they could do both. I’d just take a picture of them holding their signs/posters and submit those, and they could find somewhere to display them around town. I was particularly happy that, when I told them to collect found objects and reusable trash to use in their projects, one of them got really excited about “getting” to do that. We also discussed how they each get to choose the point about water conservation that they feel most strongly about and make their own sign. One can do reduce, reuse, recycle, while another can focus on how girls collecting water often miss school to do so and that isn’t right, or how it’s easier to keep water clean than it is to clean dirty water. With these thoughts in mind, we dismissed, instructed to return in two weeks with an idea and materials for water-saving art.

There will be reminders (and sharing of instructions with the absent girls).

World Thinking Day and a “Council’s Own” Badge

In San Jacinto Council, we have a Passport to International Adventure badge the girls can earn by learning about Girl Scouting around the world, and participating in World Thinking Day is one of the requirements, so I combined the two events for the girls.

international adventure        world thinking day

There were four required activities for the Council’s Own badge for all levels, and several optional activities for the girls to choose from depending on their level. Brownies only need to choose one more, and since one of the electives was “select and learn about one country in WAGGGS,” that’s the option we did since the information used in that activity supplied the contents of our booth at the Thinking Day event.

We started by learning about WAGGGS and the World Centers, the Juliet Low World Friendship Fund, and the purpose and history of World Thinking Day, then we learned about India and what scouting is like for girls there. We then used the information about India to put together a poster for our booth. I only had three of my girls at the meeting, so this part actually went rather smoothly. Had we had all the girls, we would have actually played one of the games we learned about, but alas…these things happen.wagggs pin

For all this info collecting, I put it together before the meeting, printed stuff out, and brought it with me. If I had planned ahead well enough, like a more experienced leader probably would have, I would have mentioned all this several meetings ago and had the girls looking for the information, maybe split it up and have them teach each other the different parts, maybe have them each find their favorite part of each section to share, but either way (and probably let them have some say in which way it was) they would have had more to do with the planning of it like they’re supposed to. Ah well, live and learn, right? I’m still working on figuring out this whole game…

I did have five out of seven show up to the World Thinking Day event, so they learned about India and helped host the booth, earning the World Thinking Day badge. I made a little hand out with the requirements for the Passport to International Adventure badge in case they wanted to earn it at home and receive it along with the three that had been a the meeting.

For our booth, we had our poster and we had coloring sheets. We used the outline of a hand for girls to practice henna designs, and we had a mandala coloring sheet and a rangoli coloring sheet. I actually added the mandala and rangoli after my daughter had a rather difficult time accepting a craft that only used the color brown the way henna does. She just can’t handle such an appalling lack of color, so we added some color to our activity.

For our passport stamp, I wasn’t going to go out and buy something India related, so I used an exacto knife to cut a wheel design out of a foam craft sheet (to match the wheel in the center of the Indian flag) glued it to a wooden spool I had in my odds and ends drawer.

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I don’t have permission to share pics of my girls, so I used the online editor pixlr to add elf faces (which I cropped out of the finger puppet activity on girlscouts.org).

PS, even I find this dry and I was there and had all the fun. I’m new to blogging, don’t really intend to make anything big of it either, but if anyone who reads this has any suggestions on how to make this more enjoyable or friendly or welcoming or encouraging, please please please leave me a comment or a message. I’m just literally outlining what we did. I don’t know how to make it cute or funny or even know if that’s necessary. Anyway, thanks for stopping by, hope this helps somehow.