Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Do as I Say AND as I Do

At our Service Unit Leaders' Meeting last month, our Manager opened the meeting with a group activity.  She welcomed everyone and then said she wanted us to place both of our hands on our chin.  As she spoke, she demonstrated the action by placing both of her hands on her cheeks.  There was a bit of confusion as many of us wondered why her actions did not match her directions.  As we scanned the room, it was surprising to see how many people had followed her actions and not her words.  We all know that our "actions speak louder than words."  This exercise served as a reminder to us that what we do is more significant than what we say.  As troop leaders (or adults working with children in any capacity), it is our responsibility to serve as role models for the young people in our lives.  

One component of the Girl Scout Law is to be responsible for what I say and do.  To earn this orange petal, our Daisy troop scheduled a tour of the local library.  Unfortunately the Children's Librarian was ill and had to cancel.  I spent some time online that day, searching for an activity I could do for the girls at the library so we did not have to reschedule.  This was one of our first meetings, and we did not want to disappoint those little Kindergartners!  Here is the lesson:

I had a bag containing the following items to help remind us about taking care of books and about some important library manners.

bar of soap:   have clean hands to read
rubber duck:   keep books dry
candy bar:   don’t eat while reading
scissors:   do not cut/tear pages
bookmark:   don’t turn down corners
band-aid:   if a book needs repair, show librarian
small box of crayons:    don’t color or write in books
tiny doll or baby bottle:   keep books away from younger siblings
tiny toy dog or dog’s bone:   safe place for books away from pets
rubber eyeball:   keep your eyes on the librarian when she is talking
headphones:   be a good listener

I read a portion of the first chapter in Beverly Cleary's Beezus and Ramona (specifically pages  27 to 35...Ramona scribbles in a book that was checked out on Beezus's library card.  Both girls learned a lesson in responsibility).

We reviewed the following rules:

  1. Whisper in the library.  Use your inside voice.
  2. No food…may damage books.  Crinkling of paper and wrappers may disturb others around you…as would loud chewing.
  3. Do not reshelve books.
  4. Return books and movies on time or you will be charged a late fee.

We toured the library, passing the return desk, check-out counter, information desk, and the children’s section (Fortunately another librarian was available to meet with the girls to answer their questions).  The girls then had the opportunity to apply for a library card with a parent's permission.

We continued to work on the orange petal at the next meeting.  Please check back to read about the second part of the lesson and to see a super cute orange petal craft idea.  Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Feed My Starving Children 2012

For the past few years, a nearby church has hosted a Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) Mobile Pack Event.  Three of our very close friends call this church home.  This year they invited our family to join them to work a 2-hour shift during the three-day event.  After registering for a shift, I read about this nonprofit Christian organization online.  I learned they are fighting to eliminate starvation in children throughout the world.  My husband and I believe we were put on this earth to love others.  We encourage our young daughters to serve others by participating in service projects together on a regular basis.  Having the opportunity to serve with our friends promised to be a great experience for our family.

When we arrived for our shift, we were handed a hairnet and instructed to remove all jewelry.  After signing in, we took a seat in a meeting room and listened to a brief orientation which included a short video.  I struggled not to cry as we listened to a story about a young girl who had traveled a great distance to a medical clinic for treatment.  Her belly was incredibly distended, and she was in a great deal of pain.  Doctors thought she was pregnant until they discovered her belly was full of 8 pounds of pebbles.  She was starving, and the only way to disrupt the hunger pains was to put something in her mouth.  Anything.  And rocks were plentiful.  This gut-wrenching story was followed by many stories of hope...stories of children who were saved by the hand-packed meals provided by this organization.  During this introduction to FMSC, we learned it only costs $0.22 to produce a single meal.  Of all donations received, 93% goes directly toward the food program.  We were full of love and ready to work!

There were 102 volunteers working our shift.  For two hours, we worked in teams to pack a special food product that was designed specifically to meet the nutritional needs of starving children.  We scooped rice, soy, vegetables, a vegetarian-based chicken flavoring, and a vitamin and mineral mix into a funnel which dumped into a plastic bag.  Each bag held six meals.  The bag was weighed and sealed.  These bags were then packed into a box that would be loaded onto a truck.  Each box held 36 bags.  These boxes were shipped out to starving children all over the world.  


Here are some surprising statistics:
  •    102 volunteers packed 121 boxes of food in a two hour shift.
  •    As a group we packed 26,136 meals which is over $5600 of food.
  •    We packed enough food to feed 72 children for an entire year!
And this was just our shift.  The church "had over 1,000 volunteers take part by packing some 256,000 'MannaPack' rice meals to help feed starving children around the world."

Our daughters really enjoyed this experience.  Five minutes into it they asked when we could do it again.  They have mentioned going somewhere to pack meals on a few occasions since then.  I know Kids Against Hunger has a permanent food packing satellite in our area.  I would love to involve our Girl Scout troop and their families in a meal packing event.  Maybe the troop would vote to donate a portion of their cookie sale profits next year to FMSC or Kids Against Hunger?  Daisy Girl Scouts could participate in a service project such as this and receive a petal.  They could choose between earning the rose (make the world a better place), spring green (considerate and caring), or dark purple (respect myself and others) petals just to name a few.  Coincidentally, I have read that "The World Thinking Day theme for 2013 is based on two of the WAGGGS global action themes ‘girls worldwide say: together we can save children’s lives and every mothers life is precious’." Hmm...that gives me an idea... Thanks for reading!

"Help Control the Pet Population. Have Your Pets Spayed or Neutered."

I always enjoyed bidding on the showcases at the end of THE PRICE IS RIGHT, but my favorite game played during the show was Cliffhangers.  My husband's college roommate could yodel that theme song like no other!  We would get so excited when contestants on the show got the chance to play this game.  As the mountain climber made his way up the mountain, I would clench my fists and stifle a yell, hoping he would stop at the peak before falling to his untimely demise.  On occasion (okay, most of the time) I would secretly wish for him to topple over the side of the mountain.  (Nice, I know).  Many people probably remember Bob Barker promoting animal rights by ending each episode of the game show with the phrase, "Help control the pet population.  Have your pets spayed or neutered."  During our visit to a local animal shelter this spring, our Daisy troop learned why this procedure is so important for our community.  
"More than 33,000 adoptable dogs and cats are euthanized every year in the tri-state area alone simply because there are not enough homes for all of them."

We scheduled a tour of The League for Animal Welfare Our troop voted to donate a portion of our cookie sale profits to this organization.  Our monetary donation would be used to purchase leashes, food, treats, and toys for the dogs and cats who live at the shelter while they are waiting for a loving family to adopt them.  The girls asked for a troop puppy that could live at my house.  It was so hard to say no--to the girls and to these adorable puppies.

During our visit, the girls learned how to be responsible pet owners.  They also learned some valuable ways to stay safe around animals they do not know.  This was a great lesson in being FRIENDLY and HELPFUL.  The girls earned the yellow petal for their Daisy apron.  Thank you for reading! 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite!...Our Near Sleepover

I have fond memories of sleepovers with my friends once I reached junior high. I loved lying on the floor in my sleeping bag, watching music videos on MTV and talking with my friends about cute boys. When I was younger, though, I was the kid who often cried and asked to go home when it was time to go to sleep.  I remember Girl Scout Camp being especially stressful for me--not only was I not sleeping in my own bed, but I was bunking in an unfamiliar lodge or platform tent.  Our troop is planning our first overnight lodge camping trip for this fall.  The girls in the troop are in first grade, and most of them have never been to a sleepover.  I thought it might be best to invite the girls to my house for a "Near Sleepover" to practice for our big overnight.

Since this was a Pajama Party, we decided this was a fantastic opportunity to participate in a service project.  Our girls and their families went through closets and drawers to find gently-worn pajamas they could donate.  Our troop collected 71 pairs of pajamas that we delivered to Matthew 25 Ministries.   

Girl Scout Law ribbon flip flops
The girls arrived at my house at 6pm.  They were instructed to wear their pajamas and to bring their sleeping bags.  Special stuffed animals and blankets were welcome, of course.  When the girls arrived, they made a friendship pin that they each got to keep.  I had asked the parents to purchase a pair of flip flops the girls could decorate during our party.  These flip flops were available at many stores for around $2 a pair.  Prior to the event, I bought spools of 1/4" ribbon in each of the Daisy Petal colors, including royal blue for the Promise Center.  I cut four 6" pieces of ribbon in every color for each girl and placed them in a plastic baggie.  The girls tied the ribbons in knots onto the flip flops.  I explained that each color ribbon represents the Daisy petals and corresponding component of the Girl Scout Law. 

We surprised the girls with Strawberry Facials.  I pureed the strawberries and milk before the party.  Moments before we were ready to apply the mask, I added the cornstarch.  The girls wore the mask for about 10 minutes, and we continued our program that focused on the dark purple petal (respect myself and others). 

I read the "One-of-a-Kind Body" chapter out of Joy Wilt's You're One-of-a-Kind to the girls which explained that every person's body is unique and special.  Then I read Zink the Zebra  which is a story about a zebra with spots instead of stripes.  It was written by a young named Kelly Weil who was battling cancer.  "Zink questions why she is treated differently by others just because she looks different on the outside."  I came across a Zink the Zebra Leader Guide that proved to be an amazing resource for this program.  Our girls made Zink Storybooks that can be found on pages 21 and 22 in this guide.

After the lesson, the girls made banana boats.  They filled their bananas with chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, and marshmallows.  We wrapped them in foil and popped them into a 325-degree oven for about 10 min.  Gooey and delicious!

The girls settled into their sleeping bags around 8pm to watch Dolphin Tale.  This movie tells the story of the relationship between a boy and a dolphin who lost her tail in a crab trap.  It tied in perfectly with our lesson for the evening.  Parents picked up their daughters around 10pm.  All of the girls were asking when they could come back to stay until morning.  The night was certainly a success! 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

"It's True We'll Make a Better Day Just You and Me." --Michael Jackson

 "We are the world, we are the children...We are the ones who make a brighter day so let's start giving..."  I received the Michael Jackson THRILLER album for my 7th birthday (no need to do the math--I am in my mid-thirties).  I still have that vinyl record safely tucked away in my hope chest.  I also clearly remember singing "We are the World" and "Hands Across America" in my grade school music class.  Decades after their release, these tunes continue to inspire me to help others.

In a previous post, I referred to The Girls' Guide to Girl Scouting.  I created my own version for the girls in our troop which included a section on Service Projects.  The following quotation is my description of service projects, knowing Daisy Girl Scouts are my audience:
"To SERVE means to do something for someone without expecting anything in return.  You do not receive money, clothes, candy, or even a pat on the back for doing something to show you love others.  You may not even get a “Thank you.”  We were placed on this earth to love each other.  Many people in this world are hurting.  They may not have enough money to buy clothes and food.  They may not have a home to return to at the end of the day.  But they do have you.  And you are a Daisy Girl Scout.  Today you can change the world.  Our troop will have the opportunity to bless others…often those we don’t even know.  These opportunities are called Service Projects."  
Our Service Unit requires Daisy troops to complete two service projects during the year.   We exceeded this requirement each year by combining service projects with petal activities.  For example, in December, we delivered homemade Christmas ornaments to residents of a local nursing home.  The girls earned their spring green petal (considerate and caring) because they lovingly made each ornament and spent time talking with the residents receiving these gift.
Our first year, we made retro ornaments out of recycled toilet paper rolls.

Girls in our troop visiting with residents of a local nursing home at Christmastime.

 Our second year, we made beaded ornaments.

 The residents were so happy and grateful for our visit.  
Our girls could not stop smiling.

Please check back as I will describe our other service projects in detail.  As always, thank you for reading!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Lead, Guide, Direct...

GSUSA has developed a National Program Portfolio that "is designed to help girls develop as leaders and build confidence by learning new skills."  This program has two parts:  the National Leadership Journeys and The Daisy Girls' Guide to Girl Scouting.  I do not have any experience with the Journeys.  However, the Journeys link provided in this post states "On every leadership journey, everything girls aimed at giving them the benefits of the Girl Scout 'Keys to Leadership':  Discover, Connect, Take Action."  The Journeys at each level of Girl Scouts are designed to complement The Girls' Guide to Girl Scouting.

The Guides are divided into three sections:  handbook, badges, my Girl Scouts.  I purchased a Daisy binder for my own use.  After flipping through it, I decided to save our families some money and developed my own version of the Guide for each girl in our troop.  I took advantage of back-to-school sales and purchased royal blue folders with pockets and clips for $0.15 each.  I spent one evening creating a Word document including the following information:
  1. Girl Scout Mission, Promise, and Law
  2. Girl Scout Calendar--including dates and descriptions for Thinking Day, Girl Scout Birthday, and Founder's Day
  3. Ceremonies--including descriptions of Opening, Closing, Investiture, and Bridging Ceremonies
  4. Girl Scout Sign, Handshake, Slogan, and Motto
  5. Daisy Girl Scout Petals--including the Law component and its corresponding petal color
  6. Our Uniform--including an explanation as to why we wear a uniform, a description of the Daisy pin and the WAGGGS pin and where these pins are placed on the uniform
  7. Service Projects--I will include this section in a future post...
  8. Our Flag and the Pledge of Allegiance--including a description of the meaning of the flag's colors and how to stand while reciting the Pledge.  I also added definitions of the larger words to help the younger girls.
  9. Songs--including lyrics (only) to the following songs (all were copied and pasted from various websites):  "Daisy Gathering Song," "Make New Friends (But Keep the Old)," "America the Beautiful," "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," "God Bless America," "This Land is Your Land," and the first verse of the "Star Spangled Banner."  I included definitions of many of the words in the "Star Spangled Banner" along with the story of the meaning of our National Anthem.  
I printed out the 10 pages of text for each girl, punched holes in the left margin, and secured them neatly in the clips of the folder.  I printed out a tag that I taped on the front of each folder.  I used Times New Roman (34 font) to type "Brooke's Guide to Daisy Girl Scouts," for example.  
I used Excel to create a Service Project Record Sheet, and I used Word to modify a Daisy Petal Checklist I found online.  These forms are kept in the blue folders.  I update them regularly, so the girls and their families can follow their progress.

Whether you choose to purchase a Girls' Guide from the Council Shop or create something similar on your own, this is a great resource for the girls.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Welcoming Girls into Your Troop: Notes on the Investiture Ceremony.

One of my favorite movies is The Sound of Music.  I always smile when Maria meets the Von Trapp family for the first time.  They sneak a frog into her pocket, and they place a pine cone on her seat at the dinner table.  Not the warm, friendly welcome she was expecting, I am sure.  Girls who are new to Girl Scouts would enjoy a proper welcome into your troop as well.    

An Investiture Ceremony is held to welcome girls into Girl Scouts for the first time.  The Girl Scout receives her Daisy pin during this ceremony.  We held an Investiture Ceremony for our troop during the fourth or fifth meeting of the year to ensure the new girls could recite the Girl Scout Promise.  I chose a simple Investiture Ceremony I found online, and I included it in this post (see below).

Preparing for this ceremony took little time, and it did not cost us a dime.  All we needed was a script, some index cards, and a Daisy Petals Set poster.  The script was printed from the website (link above), and the index cards held the lines each girl would recite during the ceremony.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, I love to scrapbook.   After finishing pages for my albums, I always have scraps of cardstock and patterned paper leftover.  I keep these scraps organized by color in an expanding file.  They have come in handy when I have needed a small amount of paper for a troop project.  I used the Creative Memories Circle Patterns Cutter to make the 3.5" Daisy Center on blue cardstock.  I used the Creative Memories Oval Patterns Cutter to cut the 10 (2.25"x3") Daisy petals on colored cardstock.  I then lightly traced these components onto a 12"x12" piece of white cardstock with a pencil to guide the girls with petal placement during the ceremony.  A small piece of tape was rolled onto the back of the petals, and we allowed the girls to place the petals in any order on the poster.


LEADER:  You are about to become Daisy Girl Scouts. Together we will explore all the fun and adventure of Girl Scouting. Let's look at some of the things we might do.

  #1 GS:     The lady that started Girl Scouts was Juliette Gordon Low.

  #2 GS:     Her nickname was "Daisy".

  #3 GS:     We are named after her.

  #4 GS:     Together we will learn more about Girl Scouting.

  #5 GS:     The Girl Scout Promise is the pledge that tells us how to live our lives.  (Place the blue Promise Center in center of board.)

LEADER:  In Daisy Girl Scouts, girls earn 10 Learning Petals.  Each petal is a different color, which represents a different phrase from the Girl Scout Law.
ALL:         I will do my best to:

  #6 GS:  (place light blue petal on board)   Be honest and fair

  #7 GS:   (place yellow petal on board)   Be friendly and helpful

  #8 GS:   (place spring green petal on board)  Be considerate and caring

  #9 GS:   (place red petal on board)  Be courageous and strong

#10 GS:   (place orange petal on board)  Be responsible for what I say and do

#11 GS:   (place purple petal on board)   Respect myself and others

#12 GS:   (place magenta petal on board)  Respect authority

#13 GS:   (place green petal on board)   Use resources wisely

#14 GS:   (place rose petal on board)   Make the world a better place

#15 GS:   (place violet petal on board)  Be a sister to every Girl Scout.

At this time, all girls make the Girl Scout sign and repeat the Promise.

The girls in our troop received their Daisy insignia tabs, Daisy membership pins, and the blue Promise Center of the petal set at this ceremony.  Thanks for reading!

On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

Recruitment Meeting, registration paperwork, fees, dues, Parent Meeting, meetings...aaahh!  Maybe you volunteered to be a troop leader, or maybe someone strongly persuaded you and you reluctantly accepted the position.   In any case, take a deep breath.  Consider one task at a time as you prepare for your first meeting.  In this post I will share how we successfully conducted troop business.

RECRUITMENT MEETING:  See my previous post.  

REGISTRATION PAPERWORK:  When our girls were in Kindergarten, the parents were asked to complete the required paperwork at the recruitment meeting.  In the spring of their Kindergarten year, the girls re-registered for the upcoming school year.  If 50% of your troop re-registers by June 30th (along with a leader), our Council offers a 15% Off Discount Coupon to use at the Council Shop along with an Early Bird Patch for these individuals.  If your troop takes advantage of these Early Bird Incentives and you participate in the fall product sale, you benefit from increased cookie sale profit.  The funds in our troop bank account were boosted this year because we took advantage of these incentives.  I should also mention that On-Time Registration ends September 1st for those girls interested in re-registering.  Some girls are uncertain about continuing with Girl Scouts.  As leaders (and parents) we should support them and give them time to make a decision on their own.  Last year we had a girl re-register in early November.  No worries.  Really.

FEES:  Registration is $12.  We ask that at least one adult register with each girl.  This person can be a parent or guardian, grandparent, aunt or uncle, or close family friend.  Any person chaperoning a meeting or transporting girls to special activities or events must be a registered Girl Scout.

DUES:  We decided to collect $18 at the beginning of each year.  To be honest, this figure was agreed upon simply because $18 dues + $12 registration equals a nice even $30.  Our first year we informed the families that they would have some out-of-pocket expenses during the year.  Our second year, thanks to cookie sale profit, our troop was completely self-sufficient.  After the initial $30 for registration and troop dues, the families had no additional expenses related to participation in the troop.  The girls and their parents did not have to remember to bring dues to each meeting, and we did not have to worry about collecting any dues after the initial meeting.  

Please note that the budget created for our troop is based on the standard of living in the Midwest.  The cost for a troop to go roller skating in Cincinnati may vary from the cost to do the same activity in other parts of the country.
FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE:  Please see this link for more information.

HEALTH FORMS (or Emergency Medical Forms, as I like to call them):  Do NOT fail to have a completed and signed health form for each girl in your troop.  You may also consider having them for all leaders and adult chaperones too.  You never know when something might happen.  When I was a student athletic trainer, I spent my sophomore year of college traveling with a Division I men's soccer team.  There was ONE athlete on the team who repeatedly failed to turn over his medical form, but he continually promised to have it.  When we were boarding the bus to leave for the first game of the season, he still could not produce the form.  He assured me that his entire family would be in attendance because the game was being played near his hometown.  Wouldn't you know not five minutes after he set foot on that field, he was kicked in the shin.  He fractured his tibia.  I summoned his parents from the stands after the Certified Athletic Trainer for the home team helped me splint the broken leg. (This was my first unsupervised road trip as a student athletic trainer).  His parents accompanied him to the hospital.  He was a sweet guy--as they wheeled him away, he took one look at my frazzled expression  and apologized.  Needless to say, I learned my lesson.  I carry these forms in a binder in my backpack to every Girl Scout function.

PARENT LETTER:  At the recruitment meeting, I distributed a letter to all who registered with our troop.  I used this opportunity to touch base with everyone.  We did not have a separate parent meeting.  I included leader contact information and then typed the following:
“'Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.'  (Girl Scouts Mission Statement).  There are troops for girls of every age.  Daisy Girl Scouts spend time in Kindergarten and first grade learning the Girl Scout Promise and the Girl Scout Law.  Our meetings and outings have been designed to help the girls earn daisy petal patches for her uniform.  The blue center of the daisy set represents the Girl Scout Promise while each petal represents one part of the Girl Scout Law.  The girls will earn the blue center and five of the ten petals this first year.  They will have the opportunity to make decisions for the troop and even sell cookies."
I then provided details about our meeting times and location.  I explained our dues and requested parental involvement for the cookie sale and outside events.  A tentative schedule for the year was also included in this letter.

MEETINGS:  We meet every 1st and 3rd Wednesday of the month (with a few exceptions).  The girls arrive at 4:15pm, and the meeting ends at 5:30pm.  Here is a sample schedule:

4:15pm  Arrive.  Assign kapers and buddies.
4:30pm  Girl Scout Promise, Pledge of Allegiance, Sharing Time (the girls answer a question that has to deal with a previous meeting/outing or something related to the present day's activity).
4:45pm  Song, Game, Craft, Lesson (or any combination of the four)
5:25pm  Closing 

SHUTTERFLY SHARE SITE:  Make your job a little easier by creating a troop website (or recruit a parent to manage the site for you).
"With Shutterfly Share sites, you can create a free photo-sharing website in minutes. Use your Share site to privately (or publicly) share photos with friends and family...or any group. As with any Shutterfly product, you can customize your website with exclusive designs and layouts specific to your tastes. With your new Share site, you are not limited to just sharing photos; share messages and updates, add videos, calendars, polls, team rosters, forums and more."
 I will be leading my younger daughter's Daisy troop in the fall.  The other leader and I decided to structure their troop business similarly.  Don't fix it if it is not broken, right?  Thanks for reading.