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. 


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. . .


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. 


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


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?



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.


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

Cook Kits

Every year, my Older Troop evolves their cooking methods and cooking gear, trying out new techniques and new things to make.  To prep for their 2015 campout, they learned how to make vagabond stoves and buddy burners using the traditional #10 can (acquired from the local elementary school for free!) and tuna cans.

In 2016, my Co-Leader and I had a great idea to make a “cook kit” for the girls, so they could take home their own stove (instead of me storing them in my garage) to be ready for the next campout.


Here’s a picture of one of our cook kits next to one of our old #10 can vagabond stoves. ¬†The girls managed to abscond with all of the smaller stoves we made for the 2016 campout. ¬†However, they looked just like their bigger cousin, only using a 28 oz. tomato can ¬†instead. ¬†As you may be able to tell in the picture, our buddy burners this year were made out of cat food cans, so as to fit in the smaller stove.

We spent one meeting prepping the cook kit contents in stations, with help from the parents that were spending the night at camp with us.

Station 1 – First Aid Kit

IMG_7029Their first aid kits were made from Altoid tins, covered in white duct tape and a red electrical tape cross on the top.  Inside, we gave them wipes and cotton swabs for cleaning a wound, antibiotic ointment, bandaids and larger bandage.  While the girls assembled the first aid kits, our camping First Aider talked to them about treating burns: clean the wound, cool the wound with water or ice, and cover the wound.

Station 2 – Buddy Burners

My Co-Leader and I precut the cardboard strips for this project (cookie cases to the rescue!!) because we had the girls cut them last year. ¬†Not only did it take forever, but they whined and tried to get out of it, because even in seventh grade, they just don’t really have the hand strength for it not to hurt a lot to cut the cardboard. ¬†So, all they had to do was roll the cardboard strips around a birthday candle tightly and insert the roll into the cat food can. ¬†Then they took it over to the propane stove, where my Co-Leader was melting and pouring wax.

Station 3 – Vagabond Stove

Here, we had the dad who was coming camping with us.  Working with the tin snips made him happy. He cut the doors using the shears, and watched as the girls punched the holes using the church keys.

Station 4 – Menu planning and testing

This was my station.  We had a full vagabond stove set up roaring (heating chili for Frito Pie, I think) to show the girls who had just joined our troop how it works.  They also got to vote on which meal choices they wanted at this station.

Can Decoration – At Camp

When we actually went to camp, we wanted to surprise the girls with their finished cook kits. ¬†So, we got the 1/2 gallon paint cans from The Container Store, and some beautiful mehndi inspired bandanas, and some hotpads. ¬†And duct tape. ūüôā ¬†One of the activities at camp was to decorate their paint can with duct tape, and label it with their name. ¬†Then by the end of the weekend it had been used, filled, and didn’t come back to my garage!

The girls’ final cook kits contained:

  • 28 oz. vagabond stove
  • 2 cat can buddy burners
  • bandana (to hold back their hair, or to wear bandit style if the fire gets really smoky)
  • hair elastics (for the girls with long hair)
  • potholder
  • first aid kit

Sit-Upons, Version 3.0


You might think that Sit-Upons are so ho-hum. ¬†I mean, it’s a great way to teach a Daisy how to “sew” by lacing through pre-punched holes, but really? ¬†Does anyone use them? I don’t know about using them, but I know that the girls love making them. ¬†And as they get Older, they like making cooler versions.

Here’s a link to a well done tutorial on your basic Sit-Upon. ¬†Version 1.0, if you will. ¬†Make New Friends has a tutorial for what I like to think of as Version 1.1: a faster, easier version that can actually be completed during a meeting, without taking the WHOLE MEETING. ¬†I like the Version 1.1¬†using reusable grocery bags and duct tape. ¬†The best part of Version 1.1? They’re much easier to carry, because the bag has a handle already integrated in it.

IMG_7022When my daughter’s Troop were Cadettes, my Co-Leader and I came up with what we liked to call Version 2.0 Sit-Upons. ¬†You take you basic Sit-Upon: a piece of vinyl tablecloth, wrapped around a piece of 1″ foam, secured with duct tape. ¬†But, you clip one corner of the foam, and then cut an “X” into that corner of the tablecloth wrapper; so that you have a flat corner to your Sit-Upon. ¬†Then you get our your hammer and grommeting tool! ¬†Pop a big old grommet in that corner, and you have an easy way to attach your Sit-Upon to your belt, your trail bag, your backpack, whatever.

IMG_7023Now that they are Seniors/Cadettes. ¬†We are going with Version 3.0. ¬†The bucket version. ¬†A friend of ours¬†has a lot of cats. ¬†A LOT. ¬†And therefore goes through a LOT of cat litter. ¬†Enough that we were able to acquire 20 buckets from her at no cost. Not only are these way cheaper than buying paint buckets at the local home improvement store, but we also liked the fact that they are square, rather than round: easier to cut the supplies to fit. ¬†Vinyl tablecloths should be purchased seasonally, as in right after a particular holiday season so that they are 60-90% off. ¬†I picked up these nice pastel plaid ones at Joann’s after Easter. ¬†And if you are a Troop Leader without a good stock of duct tape, then your craft box is low on supplies! ūüėČ

Sit-Upons, Ver. 3.0

Supplies per sit-upon:


  • ¬†1 bucket, kitty litter or paint
  • cardboard, cookie boxes work great
  • 2″ foam, or thicker or thinner depending on your budget
  • vinyl, flannel backed table cloth
  • clear packing tape
  • duct tape
  • construction adhesive
  • paper towels
  • cleaner

The first thing you are going to want to do is cut your foam, cardboard, and tablecloth to size. ¬†Your cardboard should exactly fit the top of the lid, making sure to leave room around the edge for opening and sealing the bucket. ¬†Your foam can either be the same size as the cardboard, or even a little bigger. ¬†The tablecloth should be the size of your cardboard, plus 2x the thickness of your foam, plus 3-4″ to pull around to the bottom. ¬†Our cardboard was 8″ square, with the corners trimmed to fit the box. ¬†The foam was also 8″ square, no trimming necessary. ¬†Our pieces of tablecloth were 15″ square (8″ + 2×2″ + 3″). You can pre-cut all of this stuff as we did, or not. ¬†If you are going to be doing a lot of stuff at the meeting, definitely pre-cut. ¬†If you are going to be doing this with Daisies or Brownies, definitely pre-cut.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Step 1: You are going to place the tablecloth with the vinyl (pretty) side face down.  Then center the foam on the tablecloth, and place the cardboard on top.

Step 2: Using packing tape, tape down the four edges of the tablecloth to the cardboard, making sure to keep it taut.  Then pull the excess fabric in the corners down, and tape to the cardboard (see the picture).  Your cushion is complete!

Step 3: Run a line of construction adhesive along the edge of the lid and in the center.  This part should be done by and adult, or a careful Older Girl.  Please be careful with construction adhesive, it is seriously goopy, and hard to get off of things.  Notice the flattened cardboard box we are using as a work surface so that none of it got on anything important?

Step 4: Center the cushion on the bucket lid, vinyl (pretty) side up, and set down carefully onto the construction adhesive.  Once it is placed correctly, squish it down to get maximum coverage.

IMG_7024At this point, caution the girls against slamming their elbow into the cushion, or stomping it with their foot, because they will then get a big hole in the tablecloth which they will then have to patch up.  Yes.  Even your high school girls.

Cadette Safety Award Meeting

Last night was my Cadette/Senior Troop’s first meeting of the year. ¬†One of the awards that the Cadettes voted on earning this year was the Cadette Safety Award, and I thought that would be a great way to start the year. ¬†We had a couple of girls sign up to run the meeting, and the emails were flying fast and furiously over the past two weeks as they prepped. ¬†I made a point of thanking them for their wonderful communication with me, and how they used me as a resource, like Wikipedia, rather than as the person who tells them how to do it.


The girls were so excited to get started, they almost forgot to do the Pledge, Promise, and Law. ūüôā But one of the audience girls reminded us, and after the appropriate amount of facepalming, we did our normal opening.

img_7002Main Activity – Cadette Safety Award

  1. Babyproofing a room Рthe girls went around the table discussing ideas for making a room safe for younger children.  There was much groaning about the door handle locks their parents used to have.
  2. Water safety Рthey went around the table again, this time reading out safety guidelines from this handout and explaining why they thought that was an important guideline.  Then they talked about reaching assists and what could be used as an object to help with one.  No one opted to get on the floor to role-play. *grins*
  3. Teaching younger girls about being lost and stranger danger – since this troop is not as multi-level as the other troop, instead of actually teaching younger girls, they talked about how they would teach younger children, and specifically mentioned that this could be something they talk about with younger siblings, or with younger Troops they work with while earning their LiA’s and Service to Girl Scouting bars, or at camp, when we usually share a space with a younger troop.
  4. Emergency Prep Рthe girls talk about what a 72 hour kit is, why we need one, what kind of emergencies we should prepare for in our area, and why a deck of playing cards is important.  Many of the girls barely remember Hurricane Ike, which rocked our area 8 years ago and had our neighborhood without power for nearly a week. We talked about sheltering in place, and the girls then made deluxe sit-upons, what my Co-Leader and I are calling Version 3.0 (look for a tutorial later this week).  These can be used at camp, but can also be used as a shelter in place style 72 hour kit.  The girls were each given a card with items to be placed the kit listed on it, which was then laminated to the inside of the bucket lid with packing tape.
  5. Bullying – while the girls were crafting their buckets, they also talked about bullying, and created their anti-bullying pledge.

Troop Business

I kind of snuck in and spoke to the girls for 10 minutes while they were crafting to do Troop Business: updating them on our money earning efforts, discussing whether they would use a Google Hangout for outside of meeting discussion, voting on whether we should celebrate our Silver Award recipients on our own or with the whole Community, and reminding them that they will need to sign up to run 2 meetings, if they haven’t already.


After the duct tape free for all (OMG – have you seen the GALAXY DUCT TAPE?!?! ¬†This is apparently the coolest duct tape to my girls at the moment. ¬†And they did not like me bringing the s’mores duct tape because it made them hungry.*grins* Good thing I didn’t buy that mac and cheese duct tape.), we closed the way we always do: friendship circle, “Make New Friends”, and a friendship squeeze, started by the two girls who ran the meeting.

Trying to earn this award? ¬†Here’s the 72-hour kit handout I created using ideas from the¬†website:


Another Voting Method

I’ve talked about the different ways of voting that I used this year for my Troops to plan their year. ¬†As I was cleaning out my old Troop binders, I found the remains of another method that I particularly liked for my Cadettes. ¬†At that age, it seems hard to get girls to stop talking, and even harder to get them to tell you how they really feel – especially if it goes contrary to the herd . . .¬†ahem, I mean Troop. ¬†Blind voting using the heads down, hands up method works great for Brownies and Juniors, but once they hit middle school/junior high, it’s whole different ballgame.

So, before I went high tech with online surveys, I used stickers. I would hang printouts around our meeting space and give the girls a restricted number of stickers.  Then I would let them go swarm around, look at the different options and put stickers on the ones they wanted to do.  There was usually small conversations going at each sheet, but knowing that they had a limited amount of time limited that, as well.  Time limits are VERY important at this age range.  Cadettes can talk and talk and talk and talk . . .

You can see some of the voting sheets I made during last year: a set for events going on in our Community, a set for songs we would teach at the Girl Scout Ways Badge Workshop (the girls voted “yes” to that one!), and a set for the badges we would try to earn. ¬†The badge voting sheets were actually passed around the table as I explained what each of the badges actually were (Night Owl is pretty confusing, and the term Netiquette needed to be explained).

Cooking on a vagabond stove 

So my Cadettes are ready to upgrade from backpacking meals (that just need hot water and time) to actual cooking.  Vagabond stoves, baby.  Before we set the girls loose with cans and lighters, my lovely assistant Troop Leader (and mother) and I tested them thoroughly.  The first time we made these, we used the standard #10 cans (Pro Tip: ask your local elementary school if they will save some for you.  Chances are they will go through enough in one day to outfit your whole Troop!).

For Version 2.0, we used smaller 28 oz cans because we needed the cans to be smaller. ¬†Same technique, though. ¬†Use a church key to vent the top (don’t make these too close, or your stove turns into a jet engine!) and metal shears to cut a door for managing air flow. ¬†Then we found a tiny pan, just big enough for one egg, and started testing.¬†
We found an intriguing recipe for breakfast sandwiches.  Cook bacon in pan, then cover with an egg, and cook that until almost set, top with a piece of bread, flip to finish egg and toast bread, top with another piece of bread, and voila Рbreakfast sandwich!

It was really tasty! 

Now for lunch possibilities.  Tacos.  Just pulled stuff out of the fridge to heat through: chicken, rice, onions (which got sauteed first).  Mix in a little green salsa to make sure nothing dries out.

Scoop onto a cheesy tortilla which has been warming in the sun, and top with spicy guacamole.  Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!
And of course, pancakes! ¬†From a “just add water” mix, and worked just fine.