Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Daisy "Camp" Part 1

As our first Girl Scout year was coming to an end, we chose not to participate in the two-day Service Unit Summer Day Camp.  Regrettably, our Service Unit has not opted to organize a neighborhood-wide camping trip for the past couple of years.  Instead, we planned a day camp experience for our troop.  It was so successful that I scheduled a similar event for our younger troop last weekend.  I will share the highlights of these events in this post.

The girls met at my house at 3pm on a Saturday in the spring.  We carpooled to Woodland Mound the first year, and to the Cincinnati Nature Center this year.  We began the afternoon with a hike.  At the CNC, we chose the Edge Trail that circles Powel Crosley Lake.  It took us about 45 minutes to complete this hike.  There are so many different ways to make a hike with the troop more than another walk through the woods.  Here are some ideas:

1.  Nature Scavenger Hunt --have the girls create a list, make up your own list, or save yourself some valuable time by finding a list online that will meet the needs of your troop.

2.  Alphabet Hike--find objects that begin with or resemble each letter of the alphabet from A to Z.  Another option is to give the girls a word, like "DAISY" or "GIRL SCOUTS" and have them find items with these letters.  The older girls went on a "BROWNIES" hike at camp this fall (see this post).  

3.   Senses Hike--have the girls close their eyes for a minute and ask them to  listen for different sounds.  Instruct them to put up one finger each time they hear a new noise.  Then discuss what they heard.  

After finishing the hike, we found a picnic table where we spent the next 30-45 minutes doing crafts and singing songs.  The year the older girls were at camp, they made God's eyes and decorated their own memory books.  For the books, I precut pieces of cardstock into 5x7" rectangles, allowing for each girl to have four sheets.  I punched 3 holes along the edge of one side.  The girls used crayons, markers, and stickers to draw and write about their Daisy experiences.  We used leftover yarn from the God's Eyes to tie the pages together for each girl. They also spent some time working together to complete a compass activity.  (We used two compasses my daughters received as the prize with their Chick-fil-A Kid's Meal).  We divided the troop into two teams and asked the girls to follow a series of directions we had written on an index card.  For example, "take 4 steps to the North, turn East and go 6 steps."

We skipped the compass activity this year, so the younger troop had more time to devote to crafts.  They made God's Eyes, using 8" lollipop sticks that had been cut in half.  Learning from the past, I tied the yarn onto the sticks and started each God's eye prior to arriving at camp.  This was easier and quicker for the girls than having to help them get started on site.  This picture is from the first year we tried the craft.  They are using cookie sticks instead of the lollipop sticks cut in half.


They also completed a campfire craft from the Girl Scout foam craft kit that is available at Michael's.  I already had the yellow cardstock.  I brought some tacky glue and Elmer's Glue-All--both worked well on the foamThe girls followed the picture provided in the kit.  Most of them added a personal touch to the scene. 

The girls each made a Daisy bracelet with some alphabet beads and pony beads that had been donated to the older troop a couple of years ago.  I had some elastic cord on hand from a previous craft.  Thankfully there happened to be enough beads to spell "Daisy" for each girl, so I didn't have an additional expense.   

We had enough time to sing some songs that remind me of my days at camp like "The Other Day," "Boom Chicka Boom," "Make New Friends," "Down by the Bay."  My mom spent her summers in college working at a Girl Scout Camp.  She taught me "Sarasponda" and "Flea", and I was excited to get to share these songs with the girls. 

My mom also told me about the Hoot Bird that would make an appearance at camp when she was a Camp Counselor.  I just HAD to try it!  A couple of days before camp, I bought a cantaloupe (I used a small watermelon the first time).  I created the Hoot Bird by decorating the melon with feathers from the craft store.  I adhered the feathers, cardstock triangle nose, and large googly eyes with hot glue.  Once at camp, I conveniently hid the bird.  Much later I pretended to get a call from my husband on my cell phone.  I explained to the girls that he was calling to let us know that a Hoot Bird had escaped from the Cincinnati Zoo and was seen flying over the Cincinnati Nature Center. I warned the girls that this was a gentle bird that would not hurt them but would most likely be afraid of us.  I described the bird as having brightly colored feathers and huge eyes.  Of course, the girls were interested in trying to help locate the missing bird.  After a short walk, they located the Hoot Bird and erupted into giggles. The best part is that the Hoot Bird can double as a snack.  So fun!

After making sure we were leaving the park cleaner than it was when we arrived, we headed back to my house for Part 2 of Daisy "Camp."  Please check back to see how we spent the rest of our time together.  Thanks for reading!


Merriam-Webster defines a SIT-UPON as "a square of waterproof cloth carried by hikers and campers for sitting on wet ground."  I remember making a sit-upon as a young girl with my Brownie troop.  As a troop leader, I knew our troop would enjoy making sit-upons during our overnight camping trip this past fall.  I searched "sit-upon" online and discovered many different examples of how to make this traditional Girl Scout cushion. 

I bought two vinyl tablecloths for $2 each at Walmart that measured 60"x120".  The girls were allowed to vote for their favorite tablecloth.  I explained it would be used for a craft at a future meeting.  The decision was unanimous.  They loved the watermelons!  I later used fabric scissors to cut the tablecloth at 15" increments along the 120" side which gave me 8 rectangles measuring 15"x60".  I then cut these rectangles in half on the 60" side to get smaller rectangles that measured 15"x30".  

I folded the 15"x30" rectangle in half to make a 15"x15" square.  I punched holes about 1" apart and about 1" from the edge, using a standard handheld 1-hole punch.  This was very time-consuming and tiring, so I worked on one sit-upon per night over the course of a couple weeks.  I researched different padding options for the cushion.  I considered recycling and reusing carpet remnants, plastic grocery bags, newspaper, and bubble wrap.  We ended up using pieces of thick, high-density foam one of our parents saw in a recycling bin at work and was able to donate to our troop.

I originally planned to have the girls use yarn and a plastic needle to sew the three open sides of the tablecloth together.  Days before our camping trip, I was at a Service Unit Leader Meeting, talking with another leader about the sit-upons.  She described a Duct Tape Sit-Upon she had come across on the Internet.  After some consideration, I scrapped my original plan and adopted this alternative idea.  I used a 40% off coupon at Michael's and paid only $2.65 for a roll of red Duct Tape to match our watermelon tablecloth.

We finished the sit-upons by spreading the tablecloth rectangles out on a picnic table.  The girls placed the precut 12"x12" foam square on the nearest end of the rectangle before folding the far end over the foam to cover it.  We helped them tape the edges of the tablecloth together.  The girls finished the sit-upon by adding a handle.  They folded one long piece of duct tape in half lengthwise and secured the handle to the cusion with smaller pieces of duct tape.  The girls used the sit-upons when they sat at the picnic tables for meals and to do crafts.  They also took them to sit on by the campfire later that night.  Super cheap...super useful...super fun!

Thank you for reading!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Brownie Badge: Snacks

Three years ago, when the girls were in their first year of Girl Scouts, we held our meetings in a room at the school.  We developed a rotating schedule, and each family was asked to provide a snack for the meetings.  For the past two years, we have met at my house.  The girls have had the opportunity to eat a snack at home before the meeting, saving our precious meeting time for business and fun.  The girls do love a special treat every now and then.  The snack badge gave them a chance to make a typical meeting a little more exciting.  While the Girl's Guide to Girl Scouting provides guidelines for Brownies who are working to earn the badges, I feel it is acceptable to think outside the box when it comes to meeting the required steps.  

Step 5, for example, is called Slurp a Snack.  The Guide gives three choices:  make your own milkshake, make your own fruit smoothie, or make your own party punch.  We decided to make our own slushies.  While a slushie is not a milkshake or a smoothie, it is a snack you must slurp.  Our family purchased a Ninja blender from Kohls, using a 30% off coupon, of course.  This blender crushes ice remarkably well.  Perfect for slushies.  This treat is relatively low cost especially when you consider how much it would cost to buy your troop a frozen drink at Dairy Queen or all the ingredients required to make a fruit smoothie.

Step 4 is called Snack For Energy.  We created a snack for a group when we were at camp this past fall.  We enjoyed trail mix while we were on a hike.  Please note that I like to plan ahead with help from the girls.  If we are doing an activity for one badge that can also satisfy a requirement for another badge, we recognize this.  No need to make more work for ourselves.  Snacking on trail mix during our hike allowed us to complete Step 4 for the Snacks badge and Step 4 for the Hiker badge (also called Snack for Energy). 

Step 3 is called Try a Sweet Snack.  Our troop planned a Christmas Party for the Daisy troop.  We asked the girls to bring snack ideas to the planning meeting.  The girls voted and decided to serve North Pole Cupcakes and Santa Brownies.  The cupcakes were prepared prior to the party, but we allowed the girls to assemble their own strawberry Santa hat on a brownie.  We spooned Cool Whip into plastic baggies, and we snipped off a corner so the girls could pipe the Cool Whip with minimal mess.  

I would like to end this post by describing how we completed Step 2 which is called Make a savory snack.  While driving to one of our events, we discussed the difference between a sweet snack and a savory snack.  The girls provided examples, and after the event they each enjoyed some cheddar crackers.  One of the choices provided for this step in the Girl's Guide is "make a savory snack from a different country."  This is one of those times when we took some creative liberties when it came to satisfying this requirement.  We took our girls to the Melting Pot, a fondue restaurant in Cincinnati.  We listened to a short presentation on the history of fondue, learning how others around the world enjoyed fondue and how it became popular in America.  Then we enjoyed an amazing spread of sweet treats.  At just $3 a person, this is a reservation you certainly want to work into your schedule.  Just make sure to have a lot of napkins!

Thanks for reading!