Friday, January 20, 2017

Cupcake Club: January Meeting and Bake Sale

In a previous post, I explained how my daughter started a Cupcake Club at her middle school this year, how I got involved, and how to incorporate the ideas (including service projects, badge steps, and troop celebrations) during your next Scout meeting.  In my experience as a troop leader, there were times when we needed to supplement Cookie Sale profits in order to meet troop goals.  In our Girl Scout Council, if you have a fundraiser outside of Fall Product and Cookie Sales, the girls must provide a service.  Since the Cupcake Club plans to donate cupcakes throughout the community after each month's meeting, I thought I'd share what worked and didn't work for us in case your troop is interested in a similar event.

About 20 students returned permission slips to the club's faculty advisor, but we had no idea how many kids would join us in December.  I spent about $15 on box cake mixes, frosting, and candy for that meeting.  If all 20 kids showed up, they could each decorate two cupcakes.  As it turned out, we had about a dozen kids, so they each decorated four cupcakes.  

Knowing we have five more meetings on the calendar (and being new to the middle school scene as a parent), I spoke with the faculty advisor, school principal, and PTO President about funding.  It was suggested we host a bake sale.  Our January meeting fell on a Tuesday, and the girls' basketball teams were scheduled to play the next day.  With last-minute approval, we developed a plan and kept our fingers crossed. 

I baked 90 cupcakes for the kids to decorate and spent about $35 on ingredients and a handful of supplies.  To save money, I raided our kitchen cabinets to see what the students could use.  In staying true to my daughter's vision for the club and wanting variety for the bake sale, I decided to have four stations at the meeting:

1. Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting and multicolored sprinkles.  At this same station, there were marble cupcakes with chocolate frosting and multicolored sprinkles.  Plastic knives were provided to spread the frosting and spoons for the sprinkles.

2. Vanilla cupcakes with vanilla icing, which I dyed orange and purple (school colors for our team and their opponents).  Using a knife, I filled piping bags with both colors. The closed and open star tips (Wilton piping tips 2D and 1M) gave the swirled frosting a fancy twist.

3.  Chocolate cupcakes were cored at this station and filled with marshmallow cream.  Prior to the meeting, I mixed some Marshmallow Fluff with a scoop of vanilla frosting.  I snipped the ends of two piping bags and filled them with the marshmallow (no piping tips necessary).  At this station, there was a plastic knife, a baby spoon, a cupcake corer, and a melon baller for the kids to use to remove the core of the cupcake.

4.  The chocolate cupcakes were topped with chocolate frosting (Wilton piping tip 2A). The kids then piped vanilla snowflakes on the cupcakes (Wilton piping tip 3 or plastic baggies with a tiny hole snipped off one corner).

They also decorated a large sheet of poster board with Sharpies, advertising the club's name and the price of the cupcakes ($1).

Since we only have an hour together, I prepared everything in advance.  Supplies were loaded in plastic shopping bags labeled with the station number, which made set-up super quick.  Our meetings are in a classroom, so I made sure to have wax paper or paper towels for their work stations.  This made clean up easy.  About half a dozen kids agreed to work the bake sale the following afternoon.

For the Bake Sale:
poster (and tape)
vinyl tablecloth
container for donations
change (fives and singles) and envelope
paper towels
foil pan and foil (for donation of leftover cupcakes)

NOTE:  Attendance at girls' middle school basketball games is low.  Don't choose convenience like I did. 

The kids only sold a third of the cupcakes they decorated, but I was so proud of their problem-solving skills.  They asked the athletic director for permission to take their sign on the court at halftime and between games to advertise their sale.  They discussed which cupcakes were selling more or less than others.  Then they asked if they could host another bake sale at the boys' games the next week.  It was suggested the cupcakes be frozen, and we were given approval for another bake sale.

NOTE:  The purple and orange frosting was replaced with vanilla and chocolate swirl, which proved to be a best seller.

Bake Sale:  Round 2
A much more successful endeavor!  At the end of the sale, the kids had about a dozen cupcakes left.  We delivered them to the staff at a transitional care center down the street from the school.  Knowing we only have enough funds for one more meeting after we reimburse for previous purchases, efforts are being made to contact the families of club members to figure out the best way to proceed.

Though it proved to be a great deal of work for me on the front end, I turned it over to club members at the games. It was good for them to face disappointment as they did in Round 1.  Similar to the Girl Scout cookie sale experience, they worked together and learned valuable skills while having fun.  Wishing you success during this Cookie Sale season!  Thank you for reading. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Thinking Day Thoughts

In November, our family went on a mission trip to Nicaragua.  Our team dug trenches and helped with the construction of a school in two different communities during our week there.  When we returned to the States, my daughters came across the book A Long Walk to Water: Based on a True Story by Linda Sue Park. This novel is written from the point of view of two 11-year-olds in Sudan. The book covers both history and geography and exposes readers to the harsh realities of life for people in other parts of the world.  It is a story of hope and perseverance, and the book provides a reason to discuss how to get involved and make a difference in this world.  Please note this book is written for readers ages 10 and up.  There are several sad and frightening sections that may upset younger readers. 

As in Nicaragua, access to clean water is a huge issue for many Sudanese communities.  Days are spent getting water to survive, yet the water is not safe to drink.  A Long Walk to Water struck a chord in our family, and it got me thinking...

World Thinking Day is February 22nd.  This year's global theme is Grow. While the intent is to invite other girls to join in the Girl Scout Movement, two goals for Thinking Day are:

    • Take action and speak out on issues we most care about
    • Make a difference by fundraising for projects around the world
    In Nicaragua, Amigos for Christ comes alongside community leaders to help improve the standard of living for people there. They also build into the spiritual lives of the people they meet.

    Water for South Sudan is the organization highlighted in A Long Walk to Water. As in Nicaragua, the villagers provide labor to drill the wells, and one well may serve thousands of people. With clean water, women and children don't have to
    spend their days walking for water. Kids can go to school, which promises a brighter future.  With a well, there are healthier pregnancies, and marketplaces can be supported.  "Where safe water flows, life can blossom." 

    As your girls consider their options for Thinking Day this year, I encourage you to introduce them to A Long Walk to Water.  Read the book on your own and modify the story for younger girls. Maybe they'll be moved to choose to learn more about Nicaragua or Sudan this February. "Where safe water flows, life can blossom. #LetsGrow" would look great on a poster!  Both organizations mentioned in this post offer a variety of ways to get involved and give. Water for South Sudan provides helpful tips on their website for organizing a fundraiser.

    While bumping around the WFSS website, I learned about the H2O Project:
    1. Make water your only beverage for 2 weeks.
    2. Save the money you would usually spend on beverages.
    3. After 2 weeks, donate the money you saved and give someone clean water for a lifetime.
    Just think of the money that could be raised by your family, Girl Scout troop, school, or Service Unit!  If your troop chooses such a challenge, I'd love to hear about it.  Thank you for reading.

    Saturday, January 7, 2017

    Cupcake Club: December

    My older daughter moved up to the middle school for sixth grade this year.  She considered joining several clubs before deciding to begin the Cupcake Club.  For the idea to be considered by administrators, she had to draft a proposal.  She and I discussed possible questions the teachers may have about the club, and she composed a plan to present to the school's front office.  The proposal was accepted, and a teacher agreed to be the club's advisor.

    The group met after school one afternoon in October to discuss how the participants would obtain cupcakes, frosting, and supplies for the meetings.  They also shared favorite flavor combinations and possible themes for future meetings.  The club did not meet in November, and I helped with the December meeting.

    My daughter baked two batches of Christmas Funfetti cupcakes the evening before the meeting.  We bought two tubs of vanilla frosting, and the kids used a bag of Rolos, and a large bag of M&Ms to decorate the cupcakes as ornaments as pictured here

    After enjoying one of their creations, club members agreed to donate the remaining treats to the police and fire stations around the corner from the school. (I wish I could post a group picture, but I don't have permission).

    The next time your Girl Scout troop is preparing for holiday parties and service projects, recreate your own Cupcake Club. Girls will have fun decorating cupcakes (craft). They could enjoy one (snack) before heading out to deliver the rest (service project).  What a great way to celebrate Juliette Gordon Low's birthday or the birthday of the Girl Scouts!  In addition, your girls could satisfy a badge step for the Brownies Snack badge or the Juniors Simple Meals badge. 

    The Cupcake Club meets again this week to decorate cupcakes they'll sell during a Bake Sale during basketball games at the school.  I'll let you know how it goes.  As always, thank you for reading!