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.

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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):

VOLUNTEER PLEDGE

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.

Gearing up for Day Camp

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DayCampArchery1Is there anything more fun than Girl Scout Camp?  I don’t think so!  Even for the adults (we are all just kids in disguise anyway!).  I have been the camp director for our local Day Camp for the last 3 years.  We are heading into year 4 with a solid core of volunteers and we finally have the girls aware of camp so they encourage their families to sign up fast when registration opens.  We are at about 120 girls, 25 C.I.T.’s (counselors in training) and around 40 volunteers, at least 20 of which are full time volunteers, spending the whole week at camp with us.

DayCamp201318Our C.I.T.’s spend the night, so it’s really a resident camp for them.  Cadettes spend 2 nights (wed & thurs) at camp and Juniors spend 1 night.  Little ones only come during the day.  We have built in a very clear progression for activities and privileges to keep the girls excited to come back the next year with new activities as they move up to the next level.

We operate on a rotation basis, with each unit grouped by age and then rotating to stations for activities.  Stations have been:  archery, outdoor cooking, science, nature, and arts & crafts.  We then add in something that pertains to our theme for the week, last year we were the Western Roundup and had a petting zoo of farm animals one day, panning for gold on another day, etc.  This year we are doing “Under the Big Top” and we are hoping to have something fun in the way of acrobatics added to our camp fun!

DayCamp201311Are you thinking about starting a Day Camp program in your area?  Contact your CDD or local Leader Support Manager and find out what the process is for starting a camp.  There will be a few trainings that will be needed (Event Manager and Day Camp Director for sure), but you’ll also want to gather a team of women (or men) that you enjoy working with and can share the workload with you.  The first year is the hardest, then each year after that is SO much easier and everything falls into place pretty easily.

Be prepared for a lot of work!  But with lots of work, comes huge reward.  Not the monetary kind, but the type of reward you receive when a camper gives you a hug, or when she sees you in the grocery store and asks “when does camp start this year?”.  Their excitement is contagious.  What really surprised me in the way of “rewards” was how many good friends I would gain through the other adult volunteers.  We have a great time spending the week together, enjoying the outdoors and being silly with the girls, but those friendships have also continued long past the week of camp.  I am truly blessed to be working with some amazing women.

So what are you waiting for?  Start a new camp, or maybe volunteer at another camp first and get an idea on how the behind the scenes operations work.  Camp does not have to be for a full week.  Plan a mini-camporee for two days.  Girls love getting outdoors and if your area does not have accessible options for the girls in your area, then start planning!  I promise you won’t regret it.

How to keep Girl Scouts fun for older girls

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Our troop is in a transition time with the girls entering 6th grade.  Some girls are getting super busy with outside activities and others might be losing interest.  Surprisingly, we also have 4 new girls wanting to join the troop.  Most of the members of the troop have been together since 1st grade, and I know they will look back on their Girl Scout time together and say “we had so much fun together”.   But other things are pulling them away…

And that is a GOOD THING!  We don’t want the girls to be only focused on Girl Scouting, we want them to find their passion, to find what motivates them, and to THRIVE!  So this is where the flexibility comes in.  As a leader, you need to keep the door open and revolving for many of the girls.  It needs to be inclusive (that comes from the leaders, the girls won’t be showing this much until they are a bit older) and we need to encourage the girls that are interested in other things that they don’t have to choose.

In my troop, I have an Irish Dancer that takes classes twice a week, a Ballerina that takes classes 3 times a week, another girl who is involved in local Drama productions, another on both the Swim team and the Volleyball team, and another one who is on an elite Softball team and probably heading for a Softball scholarship to college.  How can these girls do this AND be a part of the troop?   By keeping your troop open, offering lots of opportunities for interaction (not just troop meetings) and being supportive of their accomplishments.  By the time the girls are Cadettes, the troop should really be “girl led” (I have already gotten on the soap box about that one in this post).  This means that the girls are deciding which activities are important to them, which badges they want to earn, what fun field trips they would like to take.

Softball Girl is able to attend meetings, but most of the weekend activities are off limits because of tournaments.  I make sure we have at least one fun outing in the fall and another in the spring that she can attend.   I make sure that our meeting times don’t conflict with the dance classes of my year-round dancers.  Girls in sports are encouraged to take a few months off from meetings and then come back when practices are over after the season ends.  We continue on with badges, but make sure that all girls know they are welcome to come and go as needed.  Drama Girl takes a break whenever she is involved in a play.   By focusing on what is making these girls thrive, I am able to keep them interested in Girl Scouting.

Here in Northern California, we have a partnership with the Thrive Foundation where we encourage girls to find their “spark”, what motivates them, what gives them joy.  You can find complete information about the program here: ThriveFoundation.org  I love that the program asks the girls to find a Spark Champion, someone who will help them either find their spark, or help them become delve deeper into a spark that they already have.  This might be you, their Scout Advisor, or it might be their parent, coach, a teacher, or someone in a position to mentor a girl in her area of interest.  Girl Scouting is the perfect place for girls to try out different “spark opportunities” and they may find something that really interests them.  A girls’ spark is not always a tangible “talent” like dance or music, it might be that a girl gets great joy in helping children.  You can help her find opportunities where she can put this into action.  Or maybe her spark is that she is really interested in reading.  Show her how she can share that love with others, or even start a blog where she reviews the books she reads, or maybe introduce her to a book club.  Anything that keeps their spark growing.

As the girls get older, the Girl Scout troop needs to evolve to meet the needs of its members. Asking girls to attend 6-10 meetings in a row to complete the journey they need for their Gold Award might not work for everyone’s schedule, but plan an overnight weekend to complete 90% of the journey all together at once and suddenly you have the girls excited to get together for a sleepover. If not everyone can make it, partner with another older girl troop and plan two weekends and let the girls choose which one they can attend.

I am certainly not going to say that this makes planning easy for the leader/advisor of the troop, but if you have been with the girls for a while, then you are invested in their lives. An extra weekend investment is certainly a small price for a lifetime of memories, and giving them the knowledge that there are adults that care about their future and their goals.

If you have an older girl troop, I would love to hear your ideas for being a “flexible” leader and how you keep your troop together. Feel free to share in the comments.

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?

Free Download – “All About Me” page

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If you are just starting out the year with your troop, you might want to use a fun page of questions to get to know the girls.  It is also VERY fun to keep these for a few years and then show the girls how much they have changed.  I am working with my Cadettes this year to keep a Girl Scout Journal, that will keep track of their GS “resume” (awards earned, community service, etc.) and also what their dreams and goals are for the future.

I saw a questionnaire like this for teachers to use on the first day of school to get to know their students and thought it would be a great addition for a troop leader to use.  If you have new girls joining your troop, it’s a great way to get to know them.

This is free to download and use for your troop.  If you think of other questions that should be included, or maybe questions that would be best for each age level, let me know and I will make up some new ones for younger girls.

TroopGuide_AllAboutMe (PDF)

TroopGuide_AllAboutMeImage

How to build a lighted parade float.

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We have a lighted parade in our town every Fall to celebrate the Harvest.  This is such a fun parade and we have had so much fun building our floats.  So much more fun than sitting in the hot sun during our 4th of July parade!  While it is a little more work (OK, it’s a lot more work) to build a lighted float, it still is a great way to share Girl Scouting.

If you do a google search for lighted parades, you’ll find a ton of holiday (Christmas) ideas, but very little for other themes.  I had seen someone at another parade use pool noodles to make these huge flowers and thought they would look amazing with little lights added.  Since it is so late in the year, I couldn’t find pool noodles, but they did have pipe insulation at the hardware store that worked perfectly.  Take each piece of pipe insulation and make a big loop and secure with a zip tie, then zip tie each of the loops together on the side until you have 6 loops secured together.  You need 10 feet of lights for each loop.  Walmart has single color light strings at 20′ each, so three strings linked together covered the entire flower.  Bunch a small string of white lights in the middle for the flower center.  Then you need to attach a support going up and down and a cross bar as well.  Wood worked great here, because we were then able to screw them into the sides of the trailer.

GSVintFestParade2

Get a small generator to go on your trailer and LOTS of extension cords and link everything up.   Purchase a large container of zip ties of various sizes, you will need a lot!

GSVintFestParade3

We added rope lights around the sides of the trailer and up over the arch.  We have a portable music speak, so we brought the iPad and played Melinda Caroll’s “Ignite Girl Scouts” song as we went along the parade route.   A super fun night!

Getting ready for World Thinking Day 2014

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wtd_patch_2014World Thinking Day can be either the best event of the year, or it can be a complete stress on the leaders.  It all depends on how you approach it.  Many troops designate another parent to lead the WTD planning and preparation, which I think is great, but it is super important to remember that this should be a Girl Led, Girl Planned, and Girl Executed event.  So your booth might not look as polished and complete as YOU would like it to, but the girls need to take ownership.  You can always tell which booths were made by the parents and which ones were made by the girls.  It’s sort of like the whole 5th grade Science Project  when Sally shows up with her nuclear reactor experiment on the back of a flat bed truck.  Now who really did the work?

Here’s the info for World Thinking Day 2014:  http://www.girlscouts.org/who_we_are/global/world_thinking_day/

I am excited about this theme “education opens doors for all girls and boys”.  School is something that all our girls understand, but it’s a new concept for them to think that other kids might not have the same opportunities as they do.  There will be new resources up on the World Thinking Day website here soon. (only 2013 and older info right now):  http://www.worldthinkingday.org/en/activities10

I had the privilege of viewing a documentary this summer called Girl Rising (http://girlrising.com/) that addresses the power of education to change the world by following 9 girls in 9 different countries and telling their stories.  If you get the opportunity to see this, please do.  It is not appropriate viewing for younger girls, but age 13 and up would greatly benefit from seeing this.  This film ties in directly with our WTD theme for 2014.

I am hoping that my girls will select a country where girls do not have the same opportunities for education, so they can see how important it is for us to champion for the rights of girls everywhere.    Feel free to comment and share your ideas for WTD.  How do you choose your country, what activities do you do in your booth?  Does your Service Unit host a big event, or is this just a troop activity?

Whatever you do, remember Girl Led and let the girls take ownership for the success (or failure) of the project.  They will always learn more by planning a project with their own ideas.  A little guidance to help them think through each idea is always appropriate (so they don’t attempt to build a 10 foot Eiffel tower without thinking through how to transport and how to keep it safe from falling over), but let them dream big and I think you’ll be amazed at what fun ideas they come up with.

 

Troop Snack and School Lunch ideas

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I think the worst thing about back to school is making lunches every morning. It’s too expensive to do hot lunch for the kids everyday, so I pack up lunches for the kids.  I found this website with some amazing ideas for non-sandwich lunches, then I realized that a lot of these would make great snacks for troop meetings too.  Thanks to Keely McGuire and her amazing compilation of lunch ideas, you are sure to find something that the girls will enjoy for troop meetings.  (and her recipes are gluten-free and allergy-free too, so you’ve got everyone covered).  My favorite are the little Italian mini quiches.

You can find this recipe here:  Lunch Made Easy .  She swapped out the pepperoni with GF bacon to keep them allergy free.  So clever. 

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