Artist Meeting, mostly

My multi-level Troop met yesterday, and it was my first time being able to see the new leaders in action. They did wonderfully! And it was really nice to be able to sit with my new Fall Product Manager and make sure she was sure about things for her new role, and bring up the idea of being our Troop Cookie Manager (she said yes! Woooohooooo!). And I was able to talk to three new parents whose girls had just joined the Troop, explain how the Troop works, have them fill out paperwork, and see if they had any questions. 

Daisies

Our new Daisy Leader had things easy, as her daughter was the only Daisy who showed up for the meeting. They did some jewelry making, and then I brought over one of my “back pocket” activities – the Barbie “I Can Be. . .” patch booklet. This proved to be pretty popular with the Brownies, too. Good thing I have several of those ready to pull out when they are needed. . .

Brownies

Speaking of Brownies, they started working on their Artist Badge: Painting. I’m so excited, because my Brownie Leader came up with idea all on her own (with help from Pinterest, of course), and even collected the bottles for it.

 Rather than just making pink cherry blossoms, as shown in the original Pin, she said she wanted more color options for the girls so that they could be more creative – HIGH FIVE! The girls even made their own colors (I did not bring any green paint, but there are green leaves on the fabulous volcano-tree). 

Supplies recommendation: paper plates for putting paint on, paint brushes (for painting the tree), several colors of paint, an empty 22oz. soda bottle for each paint color, watercolor paper (which is nice and thick and sturdy). Supplies we should have brought? A plastic tablecloth to catch spills! No worries, though, the girls cleaned up after themselves. 

Juniors

Our Juniors started their Artist Badge at this meeting, as well – Drawing. Unfortunately, because I had to figure out where I had cleverly hidden the mandalas I printed out, I had to pull out another activity – DYO pencil cases. Which they loved. Because it involved Sharpies. In 24 colors. So, they spent pretty much the whole meeting coloring and designing their pencil case – which still counts for the Drawing Badge! ūüôā

Cadettes

We had an astounding 8 Cadettes show up for this meeting! Since the Cadettes opted not to vote for the Comic Artist badge as one of the ones they wanted to earn, they started working on their Babysitter Badge. My Cadette Leader is using the River Valleys Activity Plans for this badge – because I don’t like reinventing the wheel, just changing the tires. ūüėČ

The Cadettes were also in charge of making Snack for this meeting: hummus and veggies. They got to talk about preparing healthy snacks for the kids they are babysitting, AND finish one step of the New Cuisines badge! I love finding legitimate ways of tying in multiple badges tigether. 

All in all, I think it was a successful meeting, and the girls all seemed to enjoy it. Have your girls started working on one of the Artist Badges?

Junior Drawing Badge – Mandalas

Want to try something new for the Junior Drawing Badge? ¬†How about teaching your girls how to draw mandalas? ¬†These have become very popular lately with the advent of those “adult coloring books” that are in every craft and book store.

In fact, you can even download a Girl Scout version from the Girl Scouts of Western Pennsylvania Council!  I also like this butterfly one from Dover publications, since the butterfly is one of the symbols of Juniors.

As far as badge work goes, creating a mandala would fulfill Step 4, “Use your imagination like a graphic artist”, because it talks about creating logos and symbols, IMHO. ¬†And of ¬†course, if you choose to color pre-made mandalas (or other “adult coloring book” style images), have the girls play with different coloring mediums – colored pencils, crayons, markers. ¬†You could even try watercolor pencils, and then wash the images with water to see the colors blend into each other. ¬†This would satisfy Step 1, “Experiment with different materials”. To really bring Step 1 home, talk with them about how it is different to color with one material versus another.

And once your troop has created their mandalas? Before they color them, make copies.  Bind, or staple, or hole punch and make into a Troop coloring book!  Then they have not just their own mandala to color, but also one from each of their friends, as well.

Not sure about how to create a mandala, or how to teach 4th and 5th graders how to do it? ¬†Here’s a few great tutorials I found, from most complex to least complex:

What cool idea did YOU use for the Drawing Badge?

I’ve signed up to be a Troop Leader. Now what???

Congratulations! ¬†You did it! ¬†You volunteered to be a super important part of not just your own daughter’s life, but also the lives of a dozen or so other little girls.

You volunteered to be a Troop Leader.

DON’T PANIC!

First thing I want you to do is get a binder.  A big one, with good rings that click together nicely.  This is going to be the start of your Girl Scout Leader Binder, one of the most important tools you will have, so choose wisely Рor know that you will be getting a new one every year.  And if that works for you, great!

Then, print this out.  Using the worksheet, write down a few things you really want to do with your new Troop:

  • share Girl Scout traditions from your childhood
  • go camping
  • sell cookies
  • go on field trips
  • learn something cool
  • make new friends
  • keep the old
  • have an adventure
  • see things through another girl’s eyes
  • the list goes on and on and on!

Then, think hard about why you signed up.  The positives.

  • I had so much fun in Girl Scouts when I was a Brownie.
  • I’m a teacher and love working with kids.
  • I already know all of these girls, and they’re wonderful.
  • I want to be a mentor.
  • I want to help guide someone from Daisy to Ambassador.
  • I want to teach girls how to lead.
  • I want to learn how to lead, myself.
  • I want more self confidence.
  • I’m great at arts and crafts.
  • I think more girls (and kids) need to spend time outdoors.
  • I want a way to meet other adults with interests similar to mine, and maybe create a network for myself.
  • I really really really like s’mores.

These are all great reasons to become a Girl Scout Troop Leader, and I’m sure your reason is just as great! ¬†Write it down. ¬†Because you are going to forget. ¬†This enthusiasm you feel right now. ¬†In about four weeks, when you are actually looking at a dozen smiling cherubic, demonic little girl-faces, you are going to forget why on earth you ever volunteered to do this. ¬†All you are going to remember is the negatives. ¬†Maybe you felt strongarmed into volunteering at Rally Night (it shouldn’t be done, but I know it is). ¬†Maybe you feel unready, incapable.

Put this sheet with all of your reasons and goals into a sheet protector and stick it in your binder to remind yourself why you volunteered.  Take a picture of your Troop, print it out, and put in the same same sheet protector.  This is your WHY.

Next, let’s get to work on the HOW. ūüôā

Oh, and some other goodies for your binder?  Here you go!

Argggggggggggggh!!

You know that meeting?  The one that was all planned and was super easy, and all the girls had to do was DO IT.

Yeah that one.

The one they didn’t do.

No matter how many emails, how many texts, they didn’t do it. ¬†And you can’t make them. ¬† ¬†I mean, there are some days when you can barely get your own daughter to do her homework, right? ¬†To get someone else’s daughter to do homework that doesn’t even count for a grade??? ¬†Impossible, if they don’t want to do it.

Argh.

Obviously, this happened at our meeting last night.  The girls said they wanted to finish the last two steps on the Cadette GS Way Badge.  We did not finish the last two steps of their Cadette GS Way Badge.  Nobody actually did the work.  And I told them that.  My co-leader pointed out that there would be an empty space on their vest, because of their lack of action.

Let them fail.

Your Older Girls need to realize that you are there cheerleader, their supporter, their friend, their Troop Leader. ¬†But we’re not here to do it for them. ¬†By the time they are in junior high/middle school, your girls are well aware of what responsibility means, and how they can take responsibility for what they say and do. ¬†Now is the time that they learn how to take responsibility for what they DIDN’T do.

Shiver me timbers.

So what does a Troop Leader do in this circumstance?  Well, we could have canceled the meeting, which would have certainly put the message out there, and next time we might just do that.  But it seemed a little passive aggressive right now, and we did need to meet in order to:

  • pass out the bridging badges I forgot to pick up last week for our ceremony.
  • pass out Fall Product Sale materials and explain it to the girls who hadn’t been in Girl Scouts until last year.
  • remind the girls about the garage sale we are hosting this weekend.
  • have my daughter do a run through of her Destinations presentation she will be doing on Saturday.
  • finish constructing and decorating the bucket sit-upons from our first meeting this year.

It turned out to be a good meeting, if not what was on the schedule.

Also, Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day, mateys!! ūüėČ

After the Rally . . .

Can we all just take a moment and be thankful that GSUSA and all of our local Councils are now able to register girls and adults online? ¬†I can remember the stacks and stacks of paper registrations I had to deal with as a Placement Specialist the year before it went live in my Council. ¬†At least 5″ of quadruplicate forms. ¬†And then each new Troop Leader was handed a stack at least 1/2″ thick.

But it’s not that way anymore. ¬†However, even with online registration, Troop formation is still not an automatic¬†thing. ¬†Unless your Service Unit/Community manages to get all of their new Troops formed at Rallies, then the Registrar and Placement Specialist will have some work to do after the Rally sorting girls into new and existing Troops.

One of the main goals for any Placement Specialist or Registrar or Recruiter (whichever your area uses) is Рbelieve it or not Рto place EVERY GIRL in a Troop.  If we had our way, every girl who wanted to be a Girl Scout who be placed in a Troop.  The problem comes in the forms of well meaning parents and Troop Leaders.

Parents whose daughter has to be in THIS Troop, because well, those girls have been friends forever and their Troop sounded like they had so much fun last year, and of course I can’t be the Troop Leader for a new Troop. ¬†*sigh*

Troop Leaders who will take girls from THIS elementary, but not THAT one. ¬†Troop Leaders who say their Troop is closed until their best friend’s daughter wants to join. ¬†Troop Leaders who think they can only handle 6 Brownies in their Troop. ¬†Troop Leaders who are finished after Juniors, but their girls would really like to continue on to Cadettes. *sigh*

How to be kind to your Placement Specialist as a Parent

  • Be very clear on the days and and times when your girl will be available for Troop Meetings. ¬†These can range from once a month to once a week, depending on the Troop.
  • Be very clear on how flexible you are.
  • Know whether you want your girl in a single level or multi-level Troop. ¬†Here’s a post which compares them.
  • Know how you want to volunteer to help your Girl Scout’s Troop. ¬†In my Community, girls with guardian who volunteer at Rally Night get placed before girls whose guardians are “too busy” to help in any way. ¬†Girls whose guardian volunteers to be Troop Leader get first dibs, of course.
  • Understand that the older your girl is, the harder it will be to place her. ¬†As Troops get older, they start closing to newcomers because they have started planning bigger activities, that require bigger budgets. ¬†It is not fair to accept new girls halfway through saving for that big trip – not to the girls who have already been working towards their goal.
  • Give the Placement Specialist a method of contacting you that you will actually check and respond to. ¬†If she/he is going to go through the effort of trying to find a home for your girl, the least you can do is take the effort to respond to her. ¬†They are not going to spam your main email account. ¬†They don’t have time for that nonsense.

If you’ve been a Registrar/Recruitment Specialist/Placement Specialist/Whatever your area calls the person who places girls into Troops, what other words of wisdom would you give new Girl Scout parents/volunteers?

Senior Bridging Meeting

You know how you can get the girls in your Troop to sign up to run meetings, you can get them to communicate with you, and get them to plan ceremonies and bring all the materials. You can get them to do all that, but you still sometimes can’t get them to TALK TO EACH OTHER! 

Le sigh. 

Opening

Pledge of Allegiance, Promise, and the Law

Senior Girl Scout Presentation

We had three lovely 10th graders who were able to join us to talk about the differences between being a Cadette and being a Senior. They spoke about their continued love of camping, the change to a once a month meeting schedule, the greater opportunities. But they focused on things that I really wanted my girls to hear:

  • Increased Leadership opportunities – they really emphasized that they loved working with younger girls at events and at camp. 
  • Increased responsibilities – to the Troop, taking ownership of the Troop’s activities; which leads to,
  • Increased planning – yep, I’m not a weirdo for making you plan your own meetings. That’s really a thing that you’re supposed to do. 

I really appreciated the way they talked to the girls about Girl Scouts fitting into their schedules easily, although the Gold Award will eat a lot of their time. 

Bridging Ceremony

We had two competing ceremonies planned for our bridging tonight, but thankfully there was enough time for the two girls who signed up to run the ceremony to step outside and work it out. 

While they did that, I wrangle the rest of the girls to make a symbolic bridge for them to cross over. We had intended on using the actual bridge that was outside, but the weather did not cooperate, with rain coming down for the whole meeting. So the girls simply made a “bridge” using two rows of chairs. Not fancy, not Pinterest worthy, but it worked. 

It was a nice ceremony, the girls did a good job. There was a nice poem read line by line by the girls, and finishing with the Girl Scout handshake and a certificate for each new Senior. (I made up a certificate for each girl, and that way I know how many bridging badges to get: total girls – certificates left over. Sometimes I don’t catch every girl who shows up because they will show up at all times throughout the meeting.)

Snacks and Chatting

My co-leader brought some s’mores snacks for the girls, so after the ceremony we just let them have a snack and sit and chat. Do some Troop bonding that the other Troop talked about. 

And I snuck in some Troop business. I used to do all Troop business while they were having snacks because that was when I knew they would be quiet. Just to let you Daisy Troop Leaders know – they learn how to talk with their mouths full as they get older. . . 

Closing

As always, our Troop meeting ended with a friendship circle, a couple of rounds of “Make New Friends”, and then a friendship squeeze. We used to have arguments and hurt feelings over who led the squeeze. This year, the girls who are running the meeting do it, one from each side of the circle. No arguing, and the squeeze gets done twice as fast. Which is a pretty big deal when you regularly have more than a dozen girls at a meeting. . .

Some Rally Night Ideas

In case your Service Unit/Community hasn’t quite gotten started on planning your Rally Night, or you will be doing more than one, here’s a list of ideas that worked in the past for our Community:

Before the Rally

  • Advertise!  Flyers at every school you serve, lawn signs, banners, posters, whatever your schools and neighborhoods will let you get away with!
  • See if you can have a table at your school’s Open House or Meet the Teacher Night.  Some of our schools allow it, some don’t.  Or maybe even just a couple of Older Girls in uniform handing out flyers.
  • Get every EXISTING Troop to fill out a form showing whether they are open, what volunteer positions they need filled, what levels they are, when and where they meet, etc.  The online tools will give you some of this information, but knowing what the Troop is asking for helps you fill those holes effectively.

At the Rally

  • Our Community tries to make this an adult event, rather than one for the girls.  But children always show up, so be prepared for that – even if the flyers all say don’t bring the kids!  It’s better to prepare for the kids to come, than to turn away potential Girl Scouts and volunteers because you didn’t get a Cadette Troop to come do some work on a Babysitting Badge by playing with the kids that show up.  Or those High School girls who always seem to need service hours for one group or another.  This can be used toward the Service to Girl Scouting Bar, too!
  • Have displays as the parents walk in the doors.  Uniforms, Girl Guides, scrapbooks, everything!  Parents don’t know what they are signing up for besides cookies, camping, and college applications.  SHOW THEM.
  • Have a sign in sheet right by the entrance.  That way your Placement Specialist can cross-reference people who showed up versus people who registered.  And maybe send the ones who came but did not register an email a few weeks later, checking to see if they were sure they didn’t want to register – especially if the specialist ha some holes to fill in the Troops.
  • Have one of your Ambassadors, or a Senior, speak to the crowd.  Give her the experience of talking before a crowd, give them the experience of seeing what poised young ladies our muddy campers become.  Have the girl talk about why she is still in Girl Scouts, what it has given her, what she has learned from Scouting.
  • Don’t forget the Flag Ceremony, Promise and Law – it’s a great way to include those younger girls.
  • Have tables, rooms, or corners set up for each level, depending on what your space offers you.  At each of these, have a leader who has led that level before, but is not currently leading that level.  They can speak with experience, but aren’t trying to put all the best girls in their Troop. ūüôā  We typically have spaces set aside for each grade K-5, and then one area for Older Girls, because our recruitment drops off so drastically in sixth grade.  But there is always a handful of Older Girls who show up, so make sure you have somewhere for them!
  • Have some way of keeping track of who is placed in which Troop formed that night, hard copy, just in case.

Here’s a couple of forms I made, based off of ones I created when I was on the Recruitment Team.  Even if you can’t use these directly, they may give you ideas you can tweak.

  • TroopSurvey – this is a great tool for finding out which existing Troops need new girls and new volunteers.
  • NewTroop – this sheet helps you keep track of what Troops you form at Rally Night, and who volunteered to be what!