I have only "assigned homework" one other time in the six years I've served as a Girl Scout Troop Leader. As Daisies, the girls seemed to enjoy completing the Amazing Daisy packet I created. I made sure the families knew this was not a mandatory project. Since this "homework" was such a success, I thought we'd try it again. Over the holidays, I asked our Brownies and Juniors to complete the five badge steps for the Family Story badge. I assumed most families would be getting together with extended family during the holidays, and I thought it would be rather easy for the girls to ask about a favorite recipe and an heirloom or treasured photograph.
A few days before the meeting, I learned a couple girls would not be joining us specifically because they didn't want to dive into their family histories. While being extremely sensitive to family situations that are different from my own, I was unaware of their feelings about this project. I would never ask the girls to do something that caused them emotional pain or discomfort. If your troop decides to earn the Family Story badge, just keep this all in mind.
In preparation for the meeting, I planned some additional activities to keep the girls entertained, knowing there would be a good deal of time remaining after the presentations. Once the girls had finished sharing their projects, we played a Cookie Sale version of the Paper Plate Game. The girls really enjoyed it and asked to play it a second time! We spent the remainder of the meeting making cards for Veterans and their families at the Fisher House in Cincinnati.
For the cards, we used 8.5"x11" sheets of white cardstock. A package of 50 sheets can be purchased on sale or with a coupon for under $3 at Hobby Lobby. Prior to the meeting, I cut each sheet in half along the 11" side, making two 8.5"x5.5" cards. The girls each received two folded cards, and they decorated them with markers and crayons. For the girls who wanted to add inspirational quotes and Bible verses to their cards, I provided the following list (most of them were found online by searching for encouraging words):
- "Valor is stability, not of legs and arms, but of courage and the soul." --Michel de Montaigne
- "What defines us is how well we rise after falling." Stay strong!
- "God's plans for your life far exceed the circumstances of your day." --Louie Giglio
- I hope you wake up feeling exceptional. You are important, needed, and unique.
- "When you feel like giving up, remember why you held on for so long in the first place."
- "Be strong because things will get better. It may be stormy now, but it never rains forever."
- "Smile and let everyone know that you are stronger today than you were yesterday."
- "You are much stronger than you think. You are in my thoughts."
- "Don't lose hope. You never know what tomorrow will bring. Stay strong!"
- Thank you for your service.
- Get well soon.
- Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
- Joshua 1:9 "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."
We trust that the Fisher House Staff will distribute the cards to patients and their families appropriately.
Before I close, I will outline what my daughter did to earn her Family Story badge. Compared to other Brownie badges, this badge can be incredibly easy to complete.
STEP 1: Explore family stories.
STEP 2: Know where your family is from.
STEP 3: Make a story tree.
STEP 4: Find an object that means something to your family.
STEP 5: Share your family story.
My daughter made a family tree to satisfy the requirements for Step 3. In my online search for a free family tree template to print at home, I discovered there is a website that provides family trees for non-traditional families. Knowing such a template is available may make this project more appealing to girls whose families are not traditional.
My daughter chose to learn more about her great-grandmother who I wrote about in a previous post. She discovered that GG used to always make homemade peanut butter fudge when we arrived for a visit. By following her recipe, my daughter was able to combine Steps 2 and 5--she made a family recipe, and she shared the fudge with the girls in her troop.
She was also able to combine Steps 1 and 4. GG's ring is a family heirloom that will eventually be my daughter's. We told her the story of how her great-grandparents met in rural West Virginia during the Great Depression and how hard her great-grandfather had to work really hard to save money for the ring. We took a picture of the ring, and she wrote down the story to share with the girls in her troop.
This is my favorite of all the Girl Scout badges our girls have ever earned. Though there will be unique situations and painful times for every family, there's always something to be learned from those who have gone before us. I was incredibly happy to learn that one of our girls worked on her family tree with her mom, and this project created a spark in them. They are going to do further genealogical research and contact long-distance relatives. I hope this post inspires readers to work on this project with their children and relatives regardless of family dynamics. As always, thank you for reading.