Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Girl Scouts National Convention 2014

Girl Scouts National Convention 2014. Are you going?

It's in Salt Lake City, Utah October 16-19, 2014.

I'm going to be there. I'd love to connect with some of my blog followers, if you have the time and desire. I promise I'm not crazy... well... not crazier than it is necessary to do what we do...

I'll be a National Delegate for our Council and I'm really kinda excited! It should be a fun time. I really hope to see ladies dressed in vintage uniforms or covered from head to toe in SWAPs. Maybe I'm just blowing this up in my mind, but I'm really hoping something phenomenal happens. My only regret is that my step-daughter isn't old enough to go with me. Though, I think she can but she can't go to like 80% of the stuff... so we'll wait until next time and she will be old enough and oh yes she will be going with me! Sharing these things with her is really what keeps me motivated and going.

So... let me know if you are going to be there. :-)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Entertainment Technology

I'm a computer progammer, web developer, project manager by day... for those that were unaware of my nerdy geeky techie-ness. So, I will admit that I embrace technology and welcome it into my world and life. I don't try to live in a bubble and pretend my girls aren't living in the virtual world either.

This badge focuses on that and really helped the girls see what all entertainment technology could do for them. There are so many great careers that could be obtained. If any of them go into game design or engineering roller coasters, I'm totally taking the credit because of this badge!

We split the girls up into two groups for most of the badge. My assistant leaders ran one station and I ran one. 

Entertainment Technology 1: Animate your own artwork: Play around with stop-action
I brought in a lump of Sculpey clay, the camera, and several pieces of white cardstock. The girls were instructed they needed to build a "light box", come up with something to animate, sculpt it out of clay and take at least 10 photos of their item "moving". They did great. After they were done, I put the photos together into an animated gif and showed them the result. We talked about what to do differently to make it better next time and the importance of having the camera in the same spot for each location. They suggested the use of a tabletop tri-pod would have helped. I agree and thought of that after the fact. 

Entertainment Technology 2: Talk to a developer!
This is sort of hard to do sometimes... to find someone to come in and talk. So, I followed the lead of wiser and experienced Leaders and thought... why not use Entertainment Technology to fulfill this! I found an interview of the guy that built MineCraft and had the girls review it. They were into MineCraft (I'm so hip!), so I knew it would be interesting to them. Plus, it showed the unexpected growth of what the developer didn't think would be such a huge gamer base. Proving the point you just never know when an idea is going to hit big!

This is the interview I used, ( because it talked about how he got into programming and such, too. There are several different interviews, including video, that he has done. So, if you want to go the Minecraft route, just Google Minecraft interview with Notch (that's his nickname).

Entertainment Technology 3: Catapult some stuff
Who doesn't love luanching something across the room with encouragement and permission from the adults!!! I found this great plan on the Discovery website and gave the supplies and instructions to the girls. We didn't help them much. They had to build it and work together to make it better, etc. They had races and contests and took them outside. It was a great time and one of their favorite activities done at a troop meeting.

Entertainment Technology 4: Create your own Special effects 
I tweaked this one a bit. The girls LOVE taking "selfies" with their iPods and phones and such. So, I downloaded the Lab app, paid the $1.99 for the "Pro" version to get rid of ads and let them take selfies with my phone, play with the app, create special effects, etc. I was actually surprised how wide of a range we had with our group when it came to technology experience. I had a couple girls that had never used an app like this and others that were showing me things after seeing it for the first time! It was fun and an easy way to bring technology into something they liked doing to begin with.

Entertainment Technology 5: Experiment with acoustics 
We took a stroll for this. I had the girls choose the song, the places around our meeting place, and keep track of their findings. We were in the bathroom, the hall, a vestibule with high ceilings, against a concrete wall, between cars, etc.They cupped their ears and listened again. Just taking the time to think about sound and how different places react to the sound waves helped them understand why certain activities are better inside or outside.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

What have you done lately?

I have received a few emails lately asking if I'm still doing Girl Scouts and just checking in to see if I'm okay. That's what I love about Girl Scouts. No matter where we are from or if we've ever met, we are sisters. I have met so many wonderful friends through Girl Scouts. It really is my "smile" spot in my life.

Yes! I'm still around. Just very busy with a Junior troop that isn't always a bed of roses. We have some "drama" with a Bronze project right now that I've really been avoiding, to be honest. I have had to think about how to work it out and deal with it for a while now. I'm still not sure the best route and I don't think there really is one. There is only the path you choose to take and you hope for the best.

Yes! I'm okay. This is a very busy time of year with cookies, events, and troop activities. So, I'm trying to manage my time and unfortunately the blog isn't the highest on the list. Then add in some health concerns with my Dad and you have the makings of one very tired person.

So... I will start back soon, I promise. In the meantime, I'll let you know what we've done this semester:
January - cancelled the cookie kick off and both troop meetings because of snow!!! BUT, we had a sleepover and did the Get Moving journey (yes, check that out.. i added that post a couple days ago!).

February - cookies... enough said... no, we had a cookie booth, cancelled a meeting for snow, tearfully said goodbye to a girl that I've had from the beginning because she moved to another state, and earned the Global Action and Cookie Activity pin

March - one meeting with drama Bronze discussion; 2nd cancelled because I was sick.

BUT... this is the plan for the rest of the year

  • Snooze at the Zoo this weekend
  • Social Butterfly
  • Inside Government
  • Independence?
  • Safety Award
  • Customer Insights
  • Junior Aide/Bridge to Cadette at an overnight event with our Service Unit (which I'm coordinating....)
The first semester this year, we earned:
  • First Aid
  • Gardener
  • Entertainment Technology
  • Musician
  • Product Designer
We don't do meetings during the Summer and to be honest... at this point in the year, I'm more than ready for a break. Next year... we'll be Cadettes... crazy!!!!!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Get Moving Journey as a Sleepover

Our troop has now officially had the opportunity to complete all three Junior Level Journeys... yes, we are that crazy. No, really, the girls are motivated. They really wanted the Journey Summit pin and there were a couple girls that needed to do a Journey in order to do their Bronze. 

So... I sat and looked through the Journey book and read the overview and went over it again and again. I couldn't find a plan like I found for aMuse, so I decided to come up with my own. How hard could it be, right? Ha! It did take a bit of time. Not going to lie... but, it was worth it. 

This is how we broke down our days. We did an overnight. Before the times you see, we did drive to the program center, unpack, get our stuff situated, etc. But, as far the Journey, this is how it went down. 

Sunday:6:30-9:30PM Complete Session 1 - 3
9:30PM Night Routine
9:30-11:00PM Movie and Finish up any unfinished crafts
11:00PM Lights Out

Monday: 8:00-8:30AM Morning Routine
8:30-9:30AM Breakfast (cereal, fruit)
9:30-12Noon Session 4 & 5/6
12-1PM Lunch (soup and sandwich, fruit/cookies)
1PM-4:00PM Session 7-11
4:00-4:30PM Pack up and Clean

I want to stress that I had FOUR girls and THREE adults doing this. The PDF  (link below) will show that we set it up as three stations and had the girls rotate through. As they did one activity, the other two stations were cleaned up and set up for the next activity. It worked well. Some of the activities took more time and others less. The times reflected are estimates. Don't think you are going to go to the minute... you won't. But, it gives you a basic idea of how to get it done. 

No tricks, no joke, no triple clicking to who knows where... just a link to the PDF at Google Docs. 
It's a public link, so it should be a simple click and get operation. 
Let me know if you use it and if it works for your group. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Junior: Gardener Badge

I'm going to start this by saying that we did this badge in the Fall... yep... not the "perfect planting" season. But, that was on purpose. I wanted the girls to think outside the box (or the season, in this case).

I worked with the church where we have our meetings and arranged to have the girls reclaim a flower bed that was overrun with weeds. It worked great and the girls loved it! LOVED IT!

We also tried our hand at "patrols" at this meeting. If you haven't worked with patrols (or if you have), I will say our version is VERY loosely based on the concept. Basically, I split the girls into two groups, assigned them a task, had them elect a leader and let them go to it. About half way through requirement 5, I intervened and got them back on track or else we may still be there trying to decide how to plant the flowers! HA HA! I love my girls.

Gardener 1: Visit a garden
To start our meeting, we toured the gardens at their school and at the church where we met. I made sure

each girl had input about what they saw and smelled. We talked about container gardens, flower beds, herb gardens, and various shrubbery and landscaping. To end with, I had the girls discuss what other types of gardens they had seen and if they had any at their home.

Gardener 2: Explore Garden Design (Plan your dream garden) - need magazines with pictures of flowers/trees/ greenery/ etc.For this, I brought in magazines and let the girls chop them up. They sketched out on paper what their gardens would look like and include. They then added colors, plant pictures, and sculpture pictures to the page to show what they envisioned. They were broken up into two groups of 3 for this, as part of their patrol work.

Gardener 3: Find six plants that will grow in our hardiness zone - need garden books
My dear friend, Laura, let me borrow a heritage seeds catalog. I gave the girls a list of types of stuff to find in the book, since all of them were zoned for our area. I didn't realize that until the day of and it was too late to find a replacement book. They had to find the following:
1. a bush that grows into a barrier or fence
2. climbing plant
3. purple veggie
4. flowering vegetable
5. flower that doesn't look like a typical flower
6. fruit

Gardener 4: Experiment with seeds (kits with directions for the girls to take home to complete; chart to track daily progress and watering/sunlight information)
This was homework (<--badge requirement linked)... They had a chart and a kit. I bought lima beans, seed starting potting soil, dixie cups, and used 1/2 eggs cartons. They had to decide what experiment they were doing and write down the progress each day for two weeks. I have a few girls that go back and forth between Moms and Dads, so they were told to make sure someone was babysitting their seed when they weren't there. The girls did great with this and most of them returned it to earn the badge.

Gardener 5: Help with a community garden - planting mums
We were blessed to have the church tell us "SURE! Plant where ever you want!" when we asked about some help for the badge work to complete. The girls worked on a garden in front of the church that was overrun with weeds. They pulled out all the weeds and planted Fall mums in the area.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

But, what does your Service Unit do?

This year has been a huge learning curve for me. I'm trying to turn my "little" girls into "big" girls and I've added the responsibility of Service Unit Manager, which is now called Volunteer Support Coordinator.

I am part of the largest Service Unit in our Council, though that may be different this year. We have lost about 10 troops and I have no idea on how many girls. The troops we lost aren't just the "older" girls, but some younger ones and it's really hard to find someone to step up to be a Daisy leader for those sweet smiling little faces, too.

I admit, at times, I think about talking my stepdaughter into being a Juliette (or Individual Girl Member, as they are called now IGM... lovely...). But then something happens to remind me why I do what I do. I love my girls. All eight of them. I love my Service Unit. All 83 troops of them. I have some great women (and men) that I work with to provide our girls the best experience possible.

I can honestly say that I feel our Service Unit is a role model for what you strive for. We are cutting edge in our Council. We do online event registration. We accept PayPal for event fees. We have custom Service Unit logo badges and rocker bars for events. We host at least 13 events per year, including a 4 day long day camp that invites surrounding areas to join, too. We have 10 Service Team members and each one is responsible for something. We just went through a structure change for positions and we are now "flat", but in essence we've always been flat. We work together. No one person is making all the moves. Our team is just like our troops. We vote, we discuss, we brainstorm, we decide.

Anyway, I thought I would share our events and our team positions. Just in case you are looking for Service Unit ideas.

Back to School Pool Party - We rent a local pool and pack in as many as they allow. The event is typically free to registered Girl Scouts (girl and adult) to welcome them back to a another year. The "free" part is contingent on whether or not we get the Cookie Bonus the year before.

Investiture and Re-dedication - As a Service Unit, we coordinate an event for troops to attend. The girls have parts for the ceremony and we have "veteran" Girl Scouts speak. 2013 was the first one we did, so I'm sure it will get better as years go by.

Juliesta - I thought Juliesta was a GS wide thing, but apparently I was wrong. I have had several friends from other Councils inquire about this event. It's around October 31st for Juliette Low's birthday. It's themed differently each year. Our Event Coordinator, Katie, is AMAZING! She comes up with the coolest, cutest ideas for the girls. 2013 was Disney magic, 2012 was Rockin' through the decades, 2011 was Halloween themed

Holiday Parade - This really isn't an event, I guess. But, as a Service Unit we register and walk in the parade, instead of separately as troops. It makes an impact when you have 300 Girl Scouts Daisy through Adult taking up a huge amount of space in the parade. :) We do a float and troops can do red wagon float (build it on a red wagon to pull). Of course, we pass out candy and the girls wear their uniforms. Great way to show we are present in our town.

Cookie Rally - To kick off cookie season, we hold a Cookie Rally. I think most Councils do this. We limit attendance to Daisy and Brownie and then have Junior and up volunteer to work the stations. Girls learn how to make good impressions, door to door sales, and all about the cookies.

World Thinking Day - In February, we hold a WTD event. Girls learn about the 5 selected countries from WAGGGS and do various activities. All girls attending earn their WTD badge. It's an easy way for Leaders to get a badge in without having to do the planning.

Sweetheart Dance - The Event Coordinator for this, Marianne, is AWESOME! She puts on a Father Daughter Dance for 3-5th grade girls. "Couples" register and attend a formal or semi-formal dance. They enjoy appetizers and dancing for an evening. Wonderful event for Daddy's and Daughters.

Older Girl Appreciation (this needs a new name!) - This is a fairly new event. We started it in 2013, at my suggestion. We ask our "older girls" (Cadette and up) to work at events hosting stations and such, but we didn't have an event just for them. So, in 2013 I started an appreciation event. We don't charge for it. We only invite Cadette and up to attend. 2013 was a dinner party cooking class with a local grocery store. We gave them goodies, too. 2014 is going to be a painting party at a canvas place here in town. Painting and dinner is on the Service Unit. If we don't get the Cookie Bonus, we'll have to reevaluate this event.

Teddy Bear Sleepover - An overnight event for 3rd grade Brownies bridging to Junior. Girls bring teddy bears to donate to local children's hospital, police department, and various other groups. They rotate through craft, games, skits, and all enjoy a late night pizza snack and movie before crashing at about midnight. By the time the event is over, Brownies have fulfilled most of their Bridging requirements and Juniors helping have earned a badge. This year (this is my event), I'm going to try to see if I can figure out a way to get the Juniors their Junior Aid bar.

Volunteer Appreciation - Another event I have inherited as Service Unit Manager. We hold a dinner in April for our adult volunteers. We do a silent auction to offset the cost of the dinner, but the Service Unit caters in dinner and has gifts for team members, awards for outstanding leaders and volunteers, and an evening for volunteers and their family to take a break from troop stuff and be honored and appreciated.

Bridging - New... 2013 was the first of these we hosted as a Service Unit. It's really to help out newer troops and small troops see how big Girl Scouts can be. We gather at a local Program Center and do a Bridging Ceremony for the various levels. Troops are responsible to bring what they need (vests, pins, etc).

Campout - 3 days of craziness!! Friday night through Sunday morning. We invite troops to camp at the Program Center as a Service Unit. Troops bring their own food and supplies. The Service Unit coordinates sessions such as archery, canoeing, hiking, orienteering, simple camping foods, etc. Troops elect whether or not to participate in sessions.

Twilight Camp - 4 days from 3-8PM... our Service Unit day camp. This is one of my favorite events and one of the reasons I love our Service Unit. We choose the hottest week of the year in early August (not really on purpose) and invite girls to come to camp. The girls are broken into unit based on what badge they want to earn. Their unit leaders are adult volunteers that may or may not be troop leaders. Some are trainers and just ladies that love Girl Scouts. Units have some scheduled activities to attend (craft, games, songs) and then during their free time they work on badge work, cookout, hike, and just have a great time. Marianne coordinates this and she is phenomenal. I just stand in awe of her and this event. There are typically 125 girls, 20 Program Aids, 40+ adult volunteers helping out. She pretty much does all the planning and such on her own, too. Awesome experience. In fact, other Service Units have attended just to get ideas for theirs!

So, yeah... there you have it... the events we do. If you want more information on any of them let me know and I'll be happy to answer any questions I can.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Junior: Detective

This was one of my most favorite badges that we have done thus far. It was fun for the girls and for me! Not that I feel the need to be entertained, but this was very cool!!

As always, there were 5 requirements for the badge and this is how we got it done. 

Detective 1: Spot the difference
Anytime you can use an online source for help... DO IT! The first requirement was to observe, so why not a spot the difference activity. The girls made a "race" out of this and tried to see who would find the most differences the fastest. It was cool to see them then come together and help one another find all the ones they may have overlooked.

Detective 2: Make invisible ink (lemon juice, baking soda, q-tips)
This is where I must inject a little issue I have with the badges in the new program... it doesn't tell you what is supposed to work and I didn't find an exact recipe on how to make these... basically you make two different types of invisible ink and have the girls write with qtips. We then took the heat gun to heat it up and figure out which was easiest to be seen. I won't give away our discovery, though. 

Detective 3: Fingerprint for fun (ink, cardstock)
I gave the girls fingerprint cards that I made and printed on cardstock and ink pads. They filled their cards and compared. They also looked at the patterns in their fingerprints and discussed the different types, etc. 

Detective 4: Detect Handwriting details (article about detectives to copy)
I just copied out the article about the detectives from the badge sheet and the girls and I discussed it for this. It was pretty easy peasy. With the instructions not to doodle or put their name on the sheet, I had the girls copy down a mystery and hand them all in. Then, I shuffled them and showed one at a time to see if the girls could decide which one belonged to who. 

Detective 5: Create a clue hunt (5 clues to find secret sister gift)
We tied this in with Global Action and had made little swaps for one another, so lastly for the detective badge the girls made up clues to lead their friends to the hiding spot for their gift. They saw how difficult that it can be writing and decoding clues. But, we found all the stuff back. Success!!