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….

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”  (www.banbossy.org), which is a partnership with Leanin.org 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 istockphoto.com 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:  LittleBits.cc

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:  http://www.internationalwomensday.com

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.

Holiday STEM gifts for Girls

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It’s the holiday season, what are you buying for your girl?  Let’s spark some interest in science (it’s cool to be a science geek, by the way).  How about some GoldieBlox?  This is great.  Take a look:

Here are some other gift ideas that will spark their imagination.  If you are looking for a great place to find STEM gifts, my first go-to spot is the MakerShed.com, brought to you by the brilliant minds at MAKE magazine.

My favorites:

BrushBots, $19.99 The BrushBot uses the head of a toothbrush as its body and the bristles as its legs. The hundreds of nylon hairs twitch and vibrate to make the “bot” bounce along like a nervous little insect.  Great beginner kit for working with basic electronics.
The 6-in-1 Educational Solar Robotic Kit, $19.99.  While not a very creative name, this looks like a great beginner building kit designed to teach how solar power can be used to drive a small motor. Kids use the 21 snap-together parts (no tools required) to build six different working models: an air-boat, car, windmill, puppy, and two different airplanes.
Is your daughter a crafting goddess (or maybe you are?):
Fashioning Technology, book $29.99.  Add electronic lights to add some flair to your fashion.  This introductory DIY book shows how to use “smart” materials, unorthodox assembly techniques and the right tools to create accessories, housewares and toys that light up, make sounds, and more.
Maybe you made one of these at camp?  Well, all the cutting is done for you on this one, assemble and let the games begin!!
Marshmallow Shooter (2-pack) $19.99.  Assembles quickly and easily so you and a friend can start firing as fast as possible. Instructions are included, but you’ll have to bring your own ammo.
SpinBot Kit, $24.99
If you remember spirograph, you will love this updated version.  You build a triple-armed, pen- or chalk-grasping “robot” that spins in circles and draws elaborate geometric shapes while you watch.
This is a total splurge, but who doesn’t need cat ears that are controlled by your brain?   Necomimi – Brainwave Controlled Cat Ears, $69.99.  I have no idea if they actually work, but it would be so much fun to try!

I will keep looking for good suggestions and add them to this list. Do you have any great go-to sites for fun science or engineering toys for girls?

Keeping your volunteers energized

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How do you keep your volunteers excited to help when asked?  Or even, how do you get volunteers in the first place?  Many leaders are left holding the badge book all on their own with their troops.  Most of us like it that way for the first few meetings, just so we can get things organized, but even the most controlling leader will burn out quickly if they don’t have some help.

Time to start asking.  That’s right, sometimes all it takes is to just ask.  When you need help, call a specific volunteer and ask for their help.  Sending out a group email with a request will get you nowhere (and no volunteers).  Better to call Betty and say “Betty, I heard that you are really good at organizing, would you be willing to be our cookie mom for the next 2 months?  It’s a short-term job, but really important for the troop because we earn most of our troop money during cookie season.”  Of course, make sure that Betty IS actually good at organizing before you call, cookie mom is an important job!  But the important part here is to find someone with the skills, give them a set amount of volunteer time that you are asking for, complement their skills and explain why you are asking them personally.  Calling someone and asking them to be your co-leader is a lot different than asking for a short-term two-month commitment, or maybe even just a one meeting commitment to help with teaching a new skill, or maybe a quick and easy job like organizing the snack calendar would be an easy thing for someone to commit to.  This gives you time to work on the things you enjoy, or just be a bit less overwhelmed.

Now let’s talk about your attitude.  Are you fun to be around, generally happy when people arrive at the meetings, and are YOU organized?  Nobody wants to help volunteer to work with someone who is cranky, complains a lot, or never seems to know what they are doing.  Good energy attracts good energy.  It becomes contagious, others want to work with you because they will be supported and it will be enjoyable.  Take a good look at your attitude and how you talk to the other parents.  If the meetings are always a “chore” then it’s time to get a good attitude and ask for help.  Go get your smile on and pick up that phone!

Celebrating Juliette

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Most of you know that our founder, Juliette Gordon Low was born on October 31st (Halloween), so it is an extra special day in Girl Scouts.  This month our troop hosted what we call a “Scout Shout”, a monthly meeting where all the girl scouts in our area get together for a fun activity.  Since we hosted on October 29th, this was the perfect opportunity to work on our “Girl Scout Way” badge for most of the girls.  We held a wide game that centered around celebrating Juliette’s birthday.  Look in the Junior Girl’s Guide for a sample of a wide game listed in the badge sheet for Girl Scout Way.  We used several of these stations and modified them a bit to accommodate our location.

I just had to share my little pumpkin carved in honor of Girl Scouting.  I was going to carve the trefoil, but then realized I would have a really large hole in the middle of the pumpkin (that would not look so good!), so went for the GS logo with the smaller trefoil in the corner.

The girls started with a craft (a Halloween craft, in honor of Juliette’s birthday), then went on to a station where they had to act out a character.  The next station had a quick introduction to using a compass and then on to the “learn how to fold a flag” station.  Our final station was our “campfire” where the girl’s learned how they would greet a Girl Scout from another country and sang some traditional songs.  (I will share how we made our own “fake campfire” in another post).

And of course, Juliette had to make an appearance.  Here she is with Rapunzel.  I have to give credit for the costume to a good friend from another town who has collected tons of Vintage Girl Scout uniforms and paraphernalia.  She put together this great costume and I have borrowed it a few times.

What amazes me about Juliette is that she didn’t start the Girl Scouts until she was well into her 40’s.  Love the example that sets for all us adults too!  Happy Birthday Juliette!

Self Esteem lessons from Sasquatch

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Being true to yourself can be a risky thing when you are a teenager.  Girls feel pressure from peers and media that encourage them to try being something that is not real, not attainable.   Girls from Cadette Troop 22052 put together the video above.  I love that they took something that is an important lesson, but gave it a fun spin with a little comedy. Love the message.  Please share.

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