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 – believe it or not – to 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?


What DID work – water bottle


So I know it might seem kind of weird, but one of the things I wasn’t sure if I should bring was a water bottle.  Last Convention, part of the swag that everyone with a ticket got was a water bottle (the Girl Scout one in the pic above). It’s metal (so it gets dented), and has a narrow screw top (my least favorite style).  But you know what, it’s a water bottle, and I have to carry around a water bottle with me pretty much wherever I go, especially now that I am trying to lose weight and being more active.  I typically go through a gallon or more a day, not forcing myself to drink, just drinking when I get thirsty.

And that’s here in Houston, where the humidity ranges from 60-90%.

Salt Lake City has a year round average of 55% humidity.  Arid.  Desert-like. Oh, my poor gills! 🙂

So a water bottle was a necessity.  But, while I was planning my packing list, I tried to cut every ounce I could get away with, because I KNEW I would be coming back with STUFF.  So . . . do I pack my lovely favorite cherry blossom water bottle with a easy to fill wide mouth, but flip top lid, with a carabiner loop?!?!? (Yep, I seriously love this bottle) Or do I assume I’m going to get one in my swag bag?  Even if it’s one of those stupid pack flat bottles, It’s still a water bottle.  And I don’t have to bring it back home (just ask my pants).

In the end, I brought my bottle.  I knew I would want it in the airport and on the plane, so it was better not to have to wait until I was in the Convention Center to figure out if I was going to get a water bottle.  And if I had bet on getting a bottle in my swag bag, I would have been buying one at the Girl Scout Shop Booth – and my house does NOT need another water bottle.

What DID work – carry-on only



See these two cute little bags?  They totally pulled it off.  I packed everything in them coming and going and carried them both on.  My little blue suitcase is not the maximum allowable size, so it easily slid into the overhead compartments of all three Southwest planes I flew on.  I probably could have even opened the expansion gusset on the way home if I had needed to.

But I didn’t need to.  I was able to bring back all my clothes (except those awful pants that were too big, but including the boots that I didn’t wear), plus all my new patches, plus all the paperwork and brochures and booklets, plus all the vendor swag (which I forgot to take a picture of before I gave it away to the girls in my troop), plus the dozen pencils I got for my troop (and they all arrived unbroken), plus the reusable grocery bag our swag came in, plus the freaking FULL SIZED BACKPACK that EF Tours was giving away!  Yeah, even though I brought a packable tote bag as a just in case measure, I ended up bringing home a freaking backpack.

And that was just in the suitcase.  My hygiene bag, SWAPs, water bottle, snacks, and other things I wanted to keep at my feet during the flights was in my tote bag.  Which working perfectly, as well.  It was perfect to take to the Council Session filled with my Delegate Workbook, notepad, cell phone, backup battery (which definitely got used!!), and patch bag.  Then it was also perfect for walking around the Hall of Experiences as a place to stuff all the vendor swag and brochures.  And it was perfect for doing some urban hiking around downtown.  And the big un-organized front pocket was perfect for dropping in the patches and SWAPs I received to keep them separate from my patches and not get lost in the bottom of the main compartment.

Also, I don’t know what they call it, but I LOVE the little pocket on the back of some bags (like my tote) with a zipper on the bottom which allows them to slide over the handle of a rolling bag.  LOVE IT.  Definitely look for one if you are looking for your next urban adventure bag.

What DID work – patches



So I brought the patches.  The whole gallon bag of them.  And swapped a LOT.  I’m really happy about this lovely stash of patches.  There are a lot from the various Texas Councils, because we all sat together, so they were easy to get to, and a lot from Ohio, because there were a lot of volunteers and staff  from Ohio helping out here to see how it’s done (the Utah staff and volunteers came and helped out at ours 3 years ago for the same reason).  There’s even quite a few from Legacy Councils that no longer exist (maybe their History Committee hooked them up, too).  And there’s a lot that I need to look up the initials of to see exactly where they are from.

The ones down the right hand side are all the patches I got from vendor booths.  My faves of these are the Space Camp, UK Brownie 100th Birthday, and KOA patches.



But these are my specials.  Three of them (the ones that say Utah or are shaped like Utah) I actually bought as Convention souvenirs.  The two on the top right are from meeting and swapping with Anna Maria Chavez and Connie Lindsey, the CEO and President of the Board for GSUSA (although Connie Lindsey had actually just stepped down when I swapped with her *grins*).  And the bottom two may not look like much, but I love them for where they came from – those are my Girl Scouts Overseas patches, one from France and one from Italy.

I will definitely do this again for my next Convention.  I definitely liked bringing home the flat and nearly indestructible patches more than the SWAPs (some of which were very delicate).  And yes, I brought home SWAPs, too, because not everyone brought patches to swap, and I really didn’t want to take any of my patches home so I swapped for SWAPs.  Next Convention, though, before Sunday’s meeting/ceremony, I am just going to start giving away whatever patches I have left!

What DID work – exercise



(trying to take a picture of yourself on a treadmill is hard)

Since I am trying to get in better shape, I made a promise to myself that I would get down to the fitness center in my hotel (with FOUR treadmills) every morning and start the day with an hour of walking.

Okay, so I never did an hour.

And I even skipped a day.

But I was walking all over downtown and all through the Convention Center and all over my hotel and all over 3 different airports, and ended up doing over 60,000 steps during the course of my trip.  I DID go to the fitness center every day except one (I forgot my alarm doesn’t go off on weekends and barely got ready in time for the business session) and did a minimum of 30 minutes every morning.

Then I realized how spoiled I am by my treadmill at home.  Because I am so large, we had to get a very fancy model with a motor that could take my weight.  It also has some serious fans.  Even the ancient treadmills at my gym have little fans built in.  These dinky Precor models at the hotel did not, though, and I think that was what contributed to my shorter workouts more than anything else.  I did love going outside after my walk into 45 degree weather to stretch out, though. 🙂

But one of the things that made me happiest during my trip was my feeling of capability.  When I was asked to take another spin around the Hall of Exhibits, I said sure – I can do that.  When asked if I wanted to go to various parks and squares around downtown, I said sure – I can do that.  Letterboxing?  Climbing up and down stairs?  Pulling a suitcase full of swag back to the hotel?  BRING IT.

I didn’t go to the party – Saturday was very long, and I was pleasantly and mentally exhausted by the end of it.

Unfortunately, all the walking and activity really just kept pace with all the rich splurging I did at meal times.  I tried not to go overboard, but I did have pasta, a burger, beer, desserts, and mexican food.  Overall I didn’t lose, but I didn’t really gain either – which I count as a win.

So from now on, unless the adventure is hiking, backpacking, camping, or some other kind of activity – I am definitely going to be hitting the gym at every hotel I stay at.  Even if it’s just for 30 minutes because their stupid treadmills don’t have fans.  Especially on our next road trip.  Sitting for 7-11 hours with snacks at hand is gonna suck.

What DID work – uniform



So many things went right, I think I’m going to split them up.  So this is about the uniform.  If you are a delegate in the future, DO NOT STRESS THE UNIFORM.


There were people in t-shirts.

Some Councils decided to all wear matching polos (hot pink, nonetheless) or cardigans (light blue) or cowboy hats (from Nation’s Capital Council of all places) or t-shirts (seriously).  If your Council (like mine) does not opt for something like this, wear the navy blue pants you want to sit for hours and walk for miles in.  Wear the shoes that are most comfortable and don’t worry if they go with your outfit. Wear a white button down or blouse or nice knit top.  Wear a jacket if you want.  Whatever style you want.  If you have a denim jacket covered in patches, wear it.  People will take pictures of you in it.

Wear your pins and scarf.  This is not optional.  If you forget yours, they are sold at the Girl Scout Shop Booth.  Go get them ASAP.

Trivial Details: SWAPs


Special Whatchamacallit Affectionately Pinned Somewhere

If you’re a Girl Scout, you already know what these are.  If you’re not, there is lots of information out there.  I wasn’t sure I would bring any SWAPs to Convention.  The ones I would bring are fairly small and packable, but the problem is I have no idea what I will get in exchange.  I have gotten some SWAPs that were nearly 4″ square!  I’m trying to keep my packing fairly light, both coming and going.

But then I went to my Council Delegate Training meeting.  And our Council’s History Committee had gone through THOUSANDS of old GSSJC patches, and made up bags of about a hundred each with a nice mixture of patches in them.  Apparently, among the adults and delegates, Council patches are swapped more than actual SWAPs.  But it has to be patch for patch.

This is a BIG bag.  A gallon, packed to the gills.  Coming and going.

But then I think about getting 100 patches from different Councils across the country and from around the world.  Last Convention, I got patches from the UK and from Japan – and it was cool enough that I remember that off the top of my head.  And I think – they would make a really awesome quilt.  I should be able to find some Girl Scout fabric at the International Quilt Festival at the end of the month here in town.

But then I wonder should I make my other SWAPs?  They are something that seriously could not come from anyone but me this time around – though my girls made them to swap last Convention.  Basically, it’s a packet of sugar in a bag.  Imperial sugar.  Has to be Imperial sugar, because I live within biking distance of the original Imperial Sugar factory and sugar refinery.  My city is called “Sugar Land” because it was originally a company town for Imperial.

So what do you think?  Should I make the sugar SWAPs?  Would YOU want to swap me?  Or should I just stick with the patches, since I probably won’t be spending a huge amount of time down in the Hall of Experiences?