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.

Advertisements

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.

WP_20151120_09_02_09_Pro

 

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.

WP_20151120_08_44_58_Pro

 

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.

WP_20151120_08_53_01_Pro

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.

WP_20151120_08_54_08_Pro

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

WP_20151120_08_44_58_Pro

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.

WP_20151120_09_01_35_Pro

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.

WP_20151120_09_01_47_Pro

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.

WP_20151120_08_00_11_Pro

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.

WP_20151120_07_59_52_Pro

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.

2015-6-1 troop 10462 end of year court of awards - kaley's awards -8-

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.

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.

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.

2015-2-27 world thinking day for blog

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.

Daisy Investiture

Our investiture went much more smoothly than I expected, and the girls really enjoyed it. I had found a few ideas on pinterest and modified them to make them our own.

First of all, our leader put together a wonderful snack table:

investiture snack table

Second, I had found numerous examples of decoration that involved some form of a cut out daisy on the floor, used as a runway, and it is apparently popular for a troop to create a daisy, either before or during the investiture, with a girl’s name on each petal of a daisy and the leaders’ names on leaves. I loved both of those ideas, but I decided to tweak the latter just a bit and combine the former with another idea I found and fell in love with.

the setup

I used a blue dot for the daisy center to represent the daisy promise, but also so that I could use it in a later photo op and avoid having to use two pieces of cardstock, because I’m thrifty like that. The poster is the base of my take on the troop flower. I decided I really liked that idea, but what I liked better was making the girls into a daisy garden. You can kind of see the watering can in the corner, made to look like the one in the Welcome to the Daisy Flower Garden journey. Our leader and I signed the watering can to represent our roles in helping the girls grow, and the troop numbers (we have kindergartners as well as first graders) are written across the grass at the bottom.

receiving the waggs and daisy membership pins

Our leader called each girl’s name, and when she came forward, she was pinned with the yellow daisy tab (pre-pinned with the WAGGS and daisy membership pins.) The WAGGS pin is upside down, and the girls can have a parent spin it over once she has completed three “good turns” without being prompted.
placing her flower in our daisy garden

 

Then she was handed her daisy (I had all the girls write their names on a pre-made daisy as they came in and had glue dots already on the back; our leader just had to expose the dots before handing the girl the daisy). She got to place the daisy in the garden anywhere she wanted as long as it didn’t cover another girls flower. I trimmed the stems to fit afterward.receiving the promise center for her flower chart and hair clipthe daisy clip

After placing her daisy in the garden, our leader presented the girl with a handmade daisy hair clip she had made, and the paper version of the daisy promise center badge. (I’ll explain that in a minute.)presenting a daisy scout!Finally, I presented “Daisy Scout ___” to the audience of family members. There was also a troop presentation after the last girl.

Since we’re immediately going to begin earning the petals and have been working on the promise for about a month while we got everything else smoothed out, and because we had just asked the parents to buy membership pins and journey books/patches because we’re doing Welcome to the Daisy Flower Garden while we earn the petals, I decided it would be a good idea to have some way the girls could keep track of petals they’d earned so far while still waiting until the end and presenting the patches all at once. After all, they’ll get the back ground garden patch next week and the bee and the watering can during, I kind of wanted to find a way to keep getting the patches a special occasion rather than an every week closer. I didn’t want them getting used to that and wondering what happened once we moved on.

So, I came up with the flower chart. It has the promise across the bottom, which they “signed” at the investiture, and as they earn each piece, they get the colored petals to place on the outline beneath.

2014-4 girl scout law petals - flower chart mock-up

My mock-up convinced me it would work, but I had some tweaking to do on the version I ended up giving the girls. To begin with, I actually looked at the law and got the first line right, and I placed it on the left rather than just above the light blue petal, hoping it makes enough sense to read it in a spiral rather than starting with Violet. Also, rather than doing hand lettering for everything, and to make the flower outline easier, I used a translucent clipboard as a light table, placing a table lamp on the floor to shine up through it as I traced the promise (for the font) and the flower outlines. The lines of the law were small enough that I did hand lettering. They were all made on large paper I had on hand, not standard 8 1/2 x 11. Not sure the exact measurements. Perhaps 11 x 14?

2014-4 girl scout law petals - flower chartAfter the investiture, each girl placed her promise center on her chart.
signing the promise on their flower chartsplacing the promise center on the flower chartWith all ceremony completed, I gathered the girls for one last photo op.what a beautiful daisy!

This idea was taken from a blog I found through pinterest, also with an example another version of the flower runway. The girls got a real kick out of this picture.

And, finally, it was snack time. While the girls enjoyed the delicious cupcakes provided by our leader, I even had time to finish reading the Welcome to the Daisy Flower Garden story from last week. It amazed me how smoothly things ran.

*The charts, the flowers, and the garden background/watering can altogether took me the Sound of Music and 2 episodes of Gilmore Girls to complete. The daisies were all cut from Colorbok card stock using scrapbook cropping templates to get the circle centers and oval petals, but the flower chart petals were all cut by hand from random stash card stock because I didn’t have a template that provided a narrow enough oval.

*A special thanks must be made to my wonderful husband who commandeered my camera and insisted on taking the pictures. As a result I not only have the whole thing documented, but there is photographic proof that I was involved.