Badge Tracker for all GS Levels

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Part of my leader tracking/planning binder includes a Badge Tracker.  This Free PDF includes all of the levels from Daisy through Ambassador, print multiple copies of each page for the number of girls in your troop.  Keep them in a binder and track their accomplishments during the year.  Newly updated to include the NEW 2015 Outdoor badges, this is a must for all Leaders.  Also includes the GS Resume page for girls to keep track of their other accomplishments each year.  Note that this is NOT a fillable PDF, it is intended to print and then fill in manually in a binder.  I keep this in my troop binder, along with the rest of my planner and carry it with me to troop meetings and SU meetings, updating as needed.  As the girls get older, you can let them keep track of their own badge accomplishments and have you “sign off” when they are completed.

If you like the “Owl and Tree” design and want the other parts of my bindery system (Meeting Planner, Camping Planner, Product Sales Tracker, etc), they are available at my etsy store:  SonomaStudio

Leave me a comment if you would like this tracker with another design style, or if you have an idea for another type of planner/tracker that would help you as a leader!

DOWNLOAD PDF:  TroopGuide_BadgeTracker2015: Daisy, Brownie, Junior, Cadette, Senior, Ambassador

Badge_Cad-Amb Badge_CadetteOnly Badge_Daisy-Junior

Day Camp Theme: Super Scouts

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I know I do a ton of searching online for camp theme ideas when we begin planning our day camp, so I thought I would share what we did this year and maybe inspire some other camps to try this theme next summer.

Super Scouts:  Using our Girl Scout powers to be every day heroes who make the world a better place.  We wanted this to be about girl empowerment, not commercial super heroes, so we specifically emphasized that our focus would be on finding your OWN super power, such as kindness, encouragement, empathy, courage, enthusiasm, leadership, etc.  No laser beam bolts of lightning coming out of your eyes and definitely no guns or weapons.  This was all about finding your special strength and celebrating that this is what makes you unique.  Probably one of our best themes, and the adults got into it just as much as the girls!


Each girl made a cape and was able to decorate it with fabric makers and felt shapes.  We used the disposable fabric called “Smart-Fab” from  This is basically interfacing in a variety of colors, and you can cut any shape, no fraying edges, and it’s very lightweight (good on a hot day).  Instead of adding either ties or velcro closure around the neck, we decided to just safety pin the corners to the girls should through her t-shirt.  Much more comfortable and no risk of the choking hazard if the cape gets caught on something.

Camp2015- CapeSample

I purchased all of our graphics on Dreamstime, a very reasonable stock photography/illustration site.  We used the girl image for our flyer , website header, and patch design.  She is not overly “endowed” like many superhero illustrations and was perfect to modify for our uses.   Then I purchased some of the comic “sound effect” bubbles and added our own text words to the images, reproduced them on indoor poster stock with grommets and hung these around camp.  See images below.  These will be great to use for our recruiting events this Fall too.  I included a link to a PDF of each poster that has “Courage”, “Confidence” and “Character” printed on them (these are about 36″ wide x 22″ tall) in case you want to print your own.

Poster_Character Poster_ConfidencePoster_CouragePoster_Character

On Tues, Wed and Thurs mornings, we invited some everyday super heroes to our morning flag ceremony.  I tried to find some female role models in non-traditional service careers and found an Army Sergeant at our local recruiting office, a CHP Officer, and two fire fighters, one career and one volunteer.  I loved that we were able to showcase the volunteer firefighter by saying that she was a restaurant owner by day and her “alter ego” was as a firefighter by night!  There are lots of other careers that you can showcase who serve the community, but I was really looking for roles that most girls don’t even consider when thinking about careers.  Just want them to know that anything is possible!  It was actually the older CIT’s (our high school girls) that came up to me after meeting our super hero visitors and said “that was cool”!  If they thought it was cool, then it was totally worth it.

Female CHP officer visiting our Day Camp, one of our everyday “super heroes”.

Activities were pretty traditional for camp this year, trying to get back to the “skills” that girls should be learning when they come to camp: Archery, Knots & Lashing, Arts & Crafts, Newsletter, Performing Arts (skits), Woodworking, Fun with Foods, and Rocket Science (more on this one in another post).  Everyone went to Archery and Arts & Crafts, then the girls were allowed to choose two additional camptivities to add to their schedule.  I highly recommend (if you can get your program choices completed ahead of time) to have the girls choose their camptivities choices during registration.  I spent many hours on Monday night trying to assign girls to their top choices and keep everything balanced.  Quite a challenge.

Sharpie tie-dye on white tennis shoes in Arts & Crafts

Sharpie tie-dye on white tennis shoes in Arts & Crafts

What else can I share about camp?  Come up with some fun Super Hero themed cheers, and modify some of your songs to meet the theme as well.  We challenged our CIT’s to come up with new songs and games that were super hero themed for them to teach the girls.  They did an amazing job!   If you have more questions, or want further detail on how we organize our day camp, we would be happy to share with anyone else wanting to start a Girl Scout Day Camp.  I have 5 years worth of experience with fine tuning our planning calendar so that everything gets done in about 7 months time.  So the time to start planning for Summer 2016 is now!

If you want to see more about how our camp is organized, you can see our “prezi” training for new volunteers here:  Sonoma Day Camp New Volunteer Online Training.

Comment or contact me if you have any questions, we’d love to share everything that we have learned about running a day camp over the last 5 years.


What type of lab tests are they running at the Girl Scout Research Institute?

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Did you know that the Girl Scouts have their own Research Institute? While it sounds like they might conduct experiments on girl test subjects, it is actually an amazing resource of information for leaders, parents and girls. They do their own national studies, and also use information from other sources to synthesize findings about anything related to the healthy development of girls.

All the publications are available for free as PDF downloads, or you can sometimes order printed copies from the GSUSA store. This has been a valuable resource when I am creating a presentation about Girl Scouts or needing information for grant applications. The latest paper is Running for a Change: Girls and Politics Pulse Poll.  This paper polled girls about their ambitions, interests and ideas regarding the differences for men and women in politics.  Looking at any other GSI research paper, you’ll find that girls absolutely think that they can lead, have the skills and ability to lead, are good negotiators, and have the confidence to express their own opinions.  Sadly, when asked if they “would have to work harder than a man to be successful in politics”, 74% of the girls agreed.  When asked if they are smart enough to have a career in politics, 84% said “yes” (way to go girls!), but only 32% said that society encourages girls to consider a career in politics.  Don’t you sometimes look at the politicians and think “who would put themselves through that just to be in office?”.  The truth is that we NEED women in politics. We need our voice to be represented, we need the female negotiation skills and we need to encourage our girls to consider this very noble career choice.

womeninpoliticsI just finished watching an episode of Makers on PBS that was all about women in politics.  It was eye opening to hear about the women who have paved the way for a new generation of female leaders in government.  The challenges that they faced were enormous, the bias and sexism was appalling, but through all of this we see how women are willing to negotiate, put aside the posturing and get the job done.  It was inspiring to hear that it was the women of the Senate that were instrumental in bringing an end to the Government Shutdown in 2013 when a group of bipartisan women came together and lead the discussions to compromise that reopened the government.   We raise our boys to be strong, hold firm, and “stick to their guns”, so it is no surprise when the women are the ones willing to get real and begin the negotiations.

Women have a valuable voice and we need to encourage our girls to consider their role as part of the decision making engine that runs our country.  Our girls are now growing up in a world where they know they can do anything.  A few years ago, while doing the AMUSE journey, we put out a list of career choices at a troop meeting and asked the girls to define which ones are for boys and which ones are for girls.  I was so pleasantly surprised when the girls listed astronaut, firefighter, police officer, construction worker, business owner, etc. under the “both” category.  They no longer see gender bias on the career that they can choose, so we have come a long way in just one generation.  Let’s keep them on this path and encourage them to pursue careers where they really can “change the world”.

For a full list of publications available from the Girl Scout Research Institute, visit the GSUSA web page here.

When do adults stop believing in their creativity?

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Take a look at this sweet video from the folks at Brit+Co.  They inspire creativity for women with tutorials, projects and an online store.  If you work with a troop of girls, then you know that they are all amazing artists and always believe that their art should receive top billing on the refrigerator art gallery.  When do we stop thinking of ourselves as creative?  Maybe you still do think you are creative (a lot of scout leaders are), but when was the last time you did something creative just for YOU?

I spend easily spend a lot of time on Pinterest.  I love looking at ideas, and can get easily sucked in to spending an hour just browsing and pinning.  I even have a board named “Stuff I want to make”.  What I don’t have is a board called “Stuff I made”.  That’s sad.  I need to stop pinning and start doing!  In case you need some additional inspiration for your own creativity (well OK, you can look for ideas for your troop too), here’s some fun sites that I like to visit:

Instructables:  DIY How to Make Instructions

Craftsy: Learn it. Make It.

Craftster:  No Tea Cozies without irony.  Amazing community of crafters willing to share their ideas.

CraftGawker:  Curated photo gallery of handmade arts & crafts.

Brit & Co:  Educating, Inspiring and Supporting Makers.

MakeZine:  If your taste runs more towards robotics, electronics, rocketry, woodworking, this site is for you.

Have fun exploring, but don’t forget to take time for yourself and just create.  And next time the girls are working with paint and glue, get in there with them.  Girl Led does not mean that the girls get to have all the fun!  Be a fun example for the girls to always think of themselves as an artist.   Leave a comment if there are any other fun sites that you visit for creative inspiration.

What would you write to your daughter?

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Girl Scout Camp 1923

I came across a letter written by author F. Scott Fitzgerald while getting my fix of blog reading this morning.  (By the way, I traveled to Morocco, Dubai, and Mississippi during my half hour of reading).  One of the blogs linked to this letter, perfect for us to share here because it was written by Fitzgerald to his daughter “Scottie” while she was away at camp.  I am not sure what kind of camp it was, be he refers to her reading in French.  We don’t teach french at our camps.  never will.  just sayin.  We also don’t have a library with Shakespeare.  but I am not opposed to that idea.

It made me think about what I would write to my daughter when she was away at camp.  Truly nothing quite so inspiring as what F. Scott wrote (can I call him F. Scott? Or is that impertinent?) Since I am not a famous author, I won’t hold myself to his standards, but this letter is truly a work of art (and full of love for his daughter).  I love this letter.  It speaks volumes about their relationship.

Well, you read and let me know what you think:

La Paix, Rodgers’ Forge
Towson, Maryland

August 8, 1933

Dear Pie:

I feel very strongly about you doing duty. Would you give me a little more documentation about your reading in French? I am glad you are happy — but I never believe much in happiness. I never believe in misery either. Those are things you see on the stage or the screen or the printed pages, they never really happen to you in life.

All I believe in in life is the rewards for virtue (according to your talents) and the punishments for not fulfilling your duties, which are doubly costly. If there is such a volume in the camp library, will you ask Mrs. Tyson to let you look up a sonnet of Shakespeare’s in which the line occurs “Lillies that fester smell far worse than weeds.”

Have had no thoughts today, life seems composed of getting up aSaturday Evening Post story. I think of you, and always pleasantly; but if you call me “Pappy” again I am going to take the White Cat out and beat his bottom hard, six times for every time you are impertinent. Do you react to that?

I will arrange the camp bill.

Halfwit, I will conclude.

Things to worry about:

Worry about courage
Worry about Cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship
Worry about. . .

Things not to worry about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions

Things to think about:

What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:

(a) Scholarship
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

With dearest love,


P.S. My come-back to your calling me Pappy is christening you by the word Egg, which implies that you belong to a very rudimentary state of life and that I could break you up and crack you open at my will and I think it would be a word that would hang on if I ever told it to your contemporaries. “Egg Fitzgerald.” How would you like that to go through life with — “Eggie Fitzgerald” or “Bad Egg Fitzgerald” or any form that might occur to fertile minds? Try it once more and I swear to God I will hang it on you and it will be up to you to shake it off. Why borrow trouble?

Love anyhow.

 Post inspired by:  Letters of Note

If your house is messy, you are probably a Scout Leader…

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You’re a Girl Scout leader, and I know that you have WAY better things to do than spend time cleaning the house.  Not to mention that you also probably have BINS of scout supplies creeping into every room of your house.   Relax, my Girl Scout warriors, these are signs of someone who spends their time with value, with caring for their own family and for those beyond their doors, someone who has a passion for our future leaders and someone who probably cares about the state of the world, choosing to fight for better opportunities for those in their very own community.  So display your dust-bunnies with pride, there will be plenty of time to clean when the kids are on their own.

I have a neighbor whose house is always tidy.  Don’t get me wrong, I love going to her house!  She may not always have the dishes done, but the house is always very tidy and clean.  A friend came to stay with them and when he saw my house, he looked at her and said “You spend too much time cleaning, look at Darcy’s house, you can tell that she has children living there.” While I knew that was not an accolade to my parenting or cleaning skills, I did take it as a compliment.  That means that people are comfortable here.  A kick off your shoes, put your feet on the coffee table, help yourself to the fridge type of comfortable.  Our house is small, so we do most of our entertaining during the summer in the big backyard.  It too is a bit rustic and we have to dust and de-spider-web everything before we use it (the joys of country living).   I should just pack people inside my little house and let everyone be cozy, right?  Always embarrassed that I don’t have the big living room and big dining room, but wouldn’t that just mean more space to CLEAN?

I recently came across an amazing blog post from Momestery.  You will love her take on the state of her 80’s style kitchen.  When she posted a picture on her popular blog, several people offered ways to “improve” and “update” the look of the kitchen.  This is her response.  Priceless.  Give me Gratitude or Give me Debt.  She had me laughing out loud to her reference to warm diet coke.  Seriously, what did those pioneer women do?  You’ll just have to read the article to understand.

So, in an accolade to Momestery, here is my kitchen in all it’s 80’s pergo floor and oak cabinet style, complete with dog biscuits (and dog in her kennel), dishes on the counter where just a few hours ago, lunches were made with love for my not-so-little-anymore kids.  I am blessed to have a kitchen, to have a family, and to have someplace to call home. Kitchen_photo Now it’s time to get back to planning our troop meetings.  The laundry will just have to wait….

Gearing up for Troop Meetings

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We all know how important the snack is to the success of a meeting (wink)!  Creating a snack calendar at the beginning of the year is very important for your sanity (and your wallet).  Here’s a free PDF Snack Calendar that is editable in Adobe Acrobat.  You can enter the meeting dates, then print the schedule and bring to the first meeting.  Have your parents fill in their name on the chosen date.  Take this home and enter all the girls/parents names on your PDF and either print or email to the families so they all have the schedule.   

Another way is to ASSIGN the dates to the families and then let them do a switch with the other parents if they cannot bring snack on that day.  Depends on your style of troop family management.  You decide the way that will work best for your troop.   




This snack calendar coordinates with a set of printable organizers I have created and sell on Etsy (shameless plug here) that might be useful for leaders who are starting out (or seasoned leaders that just want to get everything in one place).  I put all my planners in a binder and handwrite the info into the planners.  If you are digital girl, then these might not be the best for you, but I find that I can combine the two pretty well.  Some of the PDF’s have editable fields, but most are intended to be used in the binder at meetings.   When I am at a meeting with the girls, I don’t pull out my computer to track their badge achievements, I either ask a parent or co-leader to do this in the binder (for Daisy & Brownie level) or ask the girls to take care of this on their own (Cadettes and older).  They turn to the page in the binder with their name and enter the date that the badge requirement was completed.  It’s their responsibility to enter the dates if they completed something at home.  This binder comes with me to troop meetings and to Service Unit Meetings, so it’s all in one place.  Keeps me organized.  

How do you keep yourself organized?  Digital or paper, what’s your preference?  

Powerful and Positive images of the modern woman (and girl)

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If you are on any email list within Girl Scouts, you have probably heard about the new campaign for “Ban Bossy”  (, which is a partnership with and the Girl Scouts.  I love the concept, the materials are really good and I took pieces of it and used the exercises and discussions with the girls as we worked with badges and other troop planning during last year.   Before this, I did not know much about Lean In (both the book and organization) that was founded by Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg.   A while ago, I received an email about a new collection of royalty free images with called the “Lean In Collection” that is being curated by Getty Images “to offer a better, stronger view of women in the hopes that others will do the same in their campaigns and creative projects.”  These are real, authentic women (hopefully not airbrushed, or altered with photoshop).

I love that there will be a resource for creative agencies to show women in roles that they may not traditionally be seen in.  And for girls, the whole “if she can see it, she can be it” is completely true.  Maybe we’ll see more print campaigns and TV commercials showing women in authentic roles.   I am thinking that we need to have a collection of photos of authentic women in our own little town.  Maybe this would be a great project for a Silver or Gold award?  Just thinking off the top of my head…

Lego just announced that they will be creating a set of female lego scientists for their next character set.  Did you know that girls can go on adventures and discover things too?  Wow!  (big grin).  Definitely a step in the right direction.  Don’t get me wrong, fashion and shopping are still perfectly acceptable activities for a girl, but they can also be a scientist and a fashionista at the same time, right? (Those lab coats really could use a re-design, am I right?).

Here’s a great role model for your girls to read about:  Entrepreneur and engineer Ayah Bdeir is the mastermind behind “Little Bits”, small little electronic modules that snap together to make a circuit that does something.  She calls them “Legos for the ipad generation”.  Check it out, you might just want a set for yourself (I know I do!). Check out Ayah’s story here:

Who are the Positive and Powerful Women in your life?  Share with us and we’ll get a great list going.

Volunteer Pledge

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I am currently talking with a new leader who is starting her Daisy troop this year and I can remember that feeling of being so excited, but really overwhelmed because their was so much to learn.  As we get ready to jump into a new year with our troops, it’s time to get organized and get ready to delegate.  Yes, delegate.  “But nobody does it as well as I can” you say.  “I want to make sure we do it right” you say.  “Last time I asked her to help, she dropped the ball” you say.  Ah, the famous last words of the lonely leader. This was posted on GreenBlood News (a yahoo group – highly recommend you join):


I promise to keep my volunteer hours in check,
to keep my spirit and my family first and,
to make sure I ask for help when I start to feel overwhelmed.

I vow to compare myself to no one –
my time and contributions are my own special gift and,
to feel proud that I can do what I do.

I vow to compare no one to myself,
to recognize everyone gives their best of their time and abilities,
to always remember it is the pieces that make the whole.

I pledge to accept less than perfect,
to always remember I am a volunteer and,
to celebrate the joy in making a difference.

Start your year off with a pledge to include more adults in the workings of your troop.  The two main roles that a leader should never be in charge of are Treasurer and Product Sales.  You should absolutely get other parents to help you in these roles.  Doesn’t mean that you don’t attend the trainings, or understand how it all works, but delegate these two critical troop roles to another parent.  Then keep what you enjoy the most and ask other parents to help out.  Can’t attend SU meetings?  Get another parent to take on this role for the troop and provide you with notes.  No time to be First Aid/CPR certified?  Get another adult to take this training and commit to being on the outings and meetings with you.  Does planning for Thinking Day make you crazy?  Ask a parent to take on the planning for this one important event.   Here is a list of troop activities that are great for other parents to help with:

  • Nut/Candy Product Sales Manager
  • Cookie Sales Manager
  • Treasurer
  • Thinking Day Coordinator
  • Snack Coordinator
  • Outdoor Camping Certification
  • First Aid Certification
  • Badge Specific teachers (learn the talents of your parents).
  • Field Trip planner/research
  • Registration Helper (getting all the forms completed from each family at the beginning of the year).

Note:  Don’t forget that any parent helping with the troop needs to be registered and volunteer screened. If you can delegate the parts of troop planning that you enjoy the least, then all your time is spent on the things that are fun for you.  Everyone wins, especially the girls, because that means you’ll be back again each year to guide them in Girl Scouts.  

International Woman’s Day 2014

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A national holiday in many countries, people around the world are celebrating International Woman’s Day today (March 8th).   Here’s the official website in case you want some history behind the celebration:

centredinternationalwomensdayGoogle created a special “Google Doodle” just for IWD, with a video featuring more than 100 influential women from all over the world. Some highlights from the search engine’s full list of participants (posted here):

  • Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of Lithuania
  • Easkey Britton, Surfer and the first woman to surf in Iran, PhD and doctoral candidate, Ireland
  • Jenny Chan, Ella Wong & Ching Hoi Man, Spokeswomen, Hong Kong
  • Mara Gabrilli, Congresswoman & Brazil’s spokesperson for people with disabilities, Brazil
  • Ashaji, Holds a Guinness World Record as most recorded artist in music history, India
  • Dora the Explorer

Celebrate the girls in your life and keep the political push of International Women’s Day alive by reading about conditions for women and girls in other countries.  Education is power.

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