After completing my official training, and doing lots of Googling, here's what I came up with (in no particular order) to prepare for our first meeting. It was a lot of work, but it was fun. The greatest costs to me were printer ink and time. You can always print things in black and white and have the girls color, etc., or see if one of your parent volunteers has access to a color printer. Find your own way to make it work. This is just one way to do it, and you might find some inspiration here (as I did on other sites, which I've shared below).
- Printed out Health forms, Adult Volunteer forms, Attendance sheet, etc., from the Girl Scout CD I was given in my Leader Binder. Basically if a parent didn't fill it out already, I had a copy for her.
- Purchased brown manilla envelopes for each girl, wrote her name on the outside and put a Girl Scout sticker on it. (See below for info included in it.) I have since gotten a narrow, portable file box and files for each Scout so I can make sure all badges and information stays organized. If your parents purchase the blue Daisy notebook for their girls, you can use it instead of a manilla envelope.
Edit: You don't need a manilla envelope if your girls meet at school, directly after school. You can put take-home sheets in their backpacks (have a parent volunteer handle this while you're leading the meeting).
- Emailed the moms about buying uniform pieces (including all the essential pins/badges, and I had them go ahead and buy the Daisy patch as well, since we started working on it at the very first meeting). We recommended the vest over the apron as they seem more comfortable for the girls, from what I've heard. We did not recommend a Journey book purchase yet. That's one of the things the girls will help choose next meeting.
I didn't want to overwhelm parents with lots of costs right off the bat, and it depends on your parents' abilities (or your troop's cash on hand) whether you want them each to purchase the blue Daisy book (recommended) and a Journey book. Our service unit has Journey books available to check out from their library. This helps reduce costs to parents. The GS main site also has starter kits available that might help with cost.
Not including the books, it was a little over $40 each (for vest and essential patches, including Daisy petals, and the parents were given a reminder in the email about financial assistance; check with your Council for details on this). I added some info and photocopied this Official GS image, and included it in the envelope. (You can always just send them this link instead.)
- Also included this sheet in each envelope (obviously you'll have your own version -- some details were removed for our troop's privacy):
- And in Photoshop, I made some certificates welcoming the girls to our troop! I used hobo font for the "Welcome" and troop info, ActionIs font for the name, and BoyzRGross for the "we are glad" part (all these fonts are free from fontspace.com and commercial-free-use approved). I printed each on heavy card stock, shrinking to fit and centered for printing:
Here's the template for you. They turned out super cute!
Kapers are just special jobs. Some leaders like to do something super fancy (Google and Pinterest are loaded with great ideas!); I needed something that would fit in my bag and be sturdy, since we don't leave our stuff in our meeting place. So I opted for quasi-simple.
I printed out a list of jobs (yours may vary -- I tried to have the same number of jobs that we have girls in our troop), glued to construction paper, laminated it with sticky pages I had leftover from some craft project way back when, and glued that to cardboard so it would be heavy enough to hold clothespins. I wrote each girl's name on a clothespin. It's not fancy, but it works and it's small enough to fit in my bag but still be visible when propped on the chalkboard during meetings (reminder to self: I have to add another Kaper because we've had another girl join our troop!).
EDIT: While my plan to have one Kaper per girl seemed like a good idea at the time, we ended up with more girls joining the troop as time went by. So I added a "Help As Needed" Kaper with more clothespins. And you don't have to have the same number of Kapers as girls. I think in the end I had too many Kaper jobs on there. Next year we'll pare it down a bit. Do what works for you. The important thing is to cycle through the jobs fairly.
We will simply rotate down each meeting, so everyone gets a turn doing each job (names and troop # smudged out for anonymity):
TO BRING TO MEETING:
I loaded up my bag with the following (you can use whatever craft stuff you have on hand) . . .
1. Washable markers, with a blue piece of paper taped around each (we meet in our school's art room and I wanted to make sure our craft supplies weren't mixed up with the art room's and vice versa. Having the blue on them was a quick and easy reminder for the girls)
2. Glue sticks (same)
3. A small(ish) American Flag -- it's about 9"x 12" on a hand-held wooden dowel
4. Two crafts + a backup coloring page (see below)
5. Child scissors
6. Hole Puncher and blue yarn
7. Crayons (I just labeled the box itself -- it's the one we had at home with a gob of crayons in it -- we've since purchased some caddy-style crayons and markers on the after-before-school clearance)
8. My meeting plan/syllabus/cheat sheet
9. Kaper Chart (see above)
10. Double-sided poster with Promise and Law (see below)
11. Attendance Sheet (you can make your own, graph-style, or use the one in your GS Leader pack)
12. The manilla folders for each Scout
13. Our own small Trash and Recycle containers, with plastic bags in them so I could easily tie them up and carry them out. I wanted to leave absolutely nothing behind (good way to get them started for camping, too!) I just stacked one inside the other for easy carrying.
14. A list of ALL the parents' cell phone numbers (which was handy, as we had one parent who was confused on what time to pick up her child); I have all the parents' numbers programmed into my phone just in case
15. Health forms if you have them (again, in case of emergency)
16. Snacks (well, I didn't have these; Snack Mom did!)
17. First aid kit (which should be brought to every meeting and event)
PROMISE AND LAW POSTER:
Here's the poster I made. I typed it up in Photoshop, then printed it out, glued to construction paper, and glued to a small (half-size) poster board.
Law Template and Daisy Petals:
We had three crafts on hand for the girls to do. The first was a trefoil name tag (printed on card stock. Careful if you have an inkjet printer, because the green will run if it gets wet!). You can cut out green construction paper and print the Promise on white paper, then glue it to the trefoil instead if you like, or handwrite the Promise if your troop is small (we have 15 girls in ours, so I opted for printing).
I cut some out myself beforehand, and had other moms cut out the rest at the start of the meeting. Older kids will have an easier time with cutting the shape themselves. One side has the GS Promise. The other was for them to write their names. Punch two holes, string some Daisy-colored yarn through, and instant name tag. They wore it during the meeting, and took them home, so they can memorize the Promise and earn the middle of their Daisy.
This was mine:
Here are the templates:
The hands I found online here. I duplicated it and put on the same page to conserve paper, then printed on heavy card stock. You can use construction paper and have them trace them out, but the construction paper isn't as durable.
I cut/separated the hands and we gave one to each girl. After cutting them out, the girls colored them however they wanted -- rainbows and flowers, etc. (we left ours white instead of worrying about skin tones) -- and they used glue sticks to glue the thumb over the pinky. They also took this home to help them remember how to do the Girl Scout Sign.
Our backup coloring page (from this site), in case we had more time (but we didn't. Our meetings are 1 hour and 15 minutes, and time flew by! I'm saving it for later):
Here was my meeting plan (when you see "Kaper Chart" that's a reminder there is a Scout in charge or helping). I realize the plan sounds awfully stilted. But even so, my main goal is to HAVE FUN. The key is to have a good time while you're doing whatever's in your plan. I used the Raise Hand trick for quiet when needed, but it was fun when I did it, and as each girl noticed, because it was more like a game than an admonishment. It's effective, but fun (I'm totally going to start doing this with both my own kids at home, too).
We tried to always praise the girls when they help out and point to different aspects of the Law that they're abiding by without even realizing it, etc. It's a lot to remember, and it's okay to just focus on fun. Which aspects of the Law (and the goals of GS, etc.) that are mixed in, will come.
Because, yes, we're teaching them leadership, confidence, and all that great stuff, but the bottom line is we want our kids to be doing something fun in the process. Parents, Volunteers, and Leaders pay for membership, uniforms, and are giving up time to help. We all want our girls to have a good time. :)
(And it's reassuring to parents when it's not chaotic and helps reduce any frustrations for leader[s] if things are well-organized ahead of time. After the first meeting we will be focusing a LOT more on girl-led choices. This was an intro to Girl Scouts for nearly all our girls, so it was more information and fun than specifics.)
- Welcome and potty break.
- Explain Kaper Chart.
- Sign in/attendance sheet. Kaper Chart.
- Explain when I raise my hand it means Quiet, please! And all Daisies raise their hands too.
- Flag bearer. Kaper chart.
- All stand, please. Pledge of Allegiance. Kaper Chart.
- Show them the Girl Scout Promise sign. Kaper Chart.
- Recite/Read Girl Scout Promise
- Show them the Girl Scout Law – we will go over this in detail starting next meeting. For now, let's just say it. Kaper Chart.
- Recite/Read Girl Scout Law
- Craft set up. Kaper Chart. Our supplies are labeled so we don't get them mixed up. Give out markers and trefoils; have girls write names on one side. "Trefoil" means three leaves. Each leaf in the Girl Scout trefoil stands for a part of the Girl Scout Promise.
- Punch holes and string yarn through; wear so names show. Parents can do this too.
- SNACK! Introduce Snack mom. Reminder to parents of notification of allergies/dietary restrictions (we have at least one vegetarian, etc.), and about signup sheet, etc. Kaper Chart for set up and clean up.
- Start telling them Juliette Low story as they're eating (paraphrased obviously and this was for 2012; you will want to adjust for later years): This is a true story! Once upon a time there was a woman named Juliette Gordon Low. She was born on Halloween, in the year 1860. That was 152 years ago! When she was a baby, her uncle said she was as cute as a daisy, and from that point on, her nickname was “Daisy.” Little Juliette Daisy loved to climb trees, play with her brothers, sisters, and cousins, write stories, draw pictures, and explore places. She especially loved animals, too! When she grew up, Juliette married a man named Willy Low. They traveled many places – far across the ocean, even. They had a wonderful life together, but also some sad times too. But even though some sad things happened to them, Juliette never let that get her down. She still loved exploring and having fun. Juliette had heard about Boy Scouts and Girl Guides from her friend Robert Baden-Powell in Scotland. When she moved back to America, Juliette decided to start something like that for girls here! So she started Girl Scouts, and they had their very first meeting on March 12, 1912. And 1912 was 100 years ago! So this year is very special, because it's the 100th birthday of Girl Scouts in America. And we are called Daisies because that was Juliette's name, too.
- Clean up from snack! Kaper Chart. EXPLAIN RECYCLE/TRASH. Kaper Chart.
- Craft time! Kaper Chart. Give out hands and glue. (Backup craft if extra time.)
- Clean up! Kaper Chart. Girl Scouts always leave a place cleaner than they found it.
- Daisy friendship circle (right hand over left). Kaper chart. Girl in charge of circle starts the friendship squeeze by squeezing the hand of the girl on her left until it gets back to her. Song.
- Doucblecheck room is completely clean. Bag up recycling/trash.
- On way out, give out envelopes to take home.
I know a lot of leaders focus on establishing a set of Rules/Guidelines the first meeting, but I want those to be girl-led, and to be able for us to devote some time to them, and tie it into earning a Daisy petal. So we're crossing our fingers on behavior for now, and will do it next time. :)
That's it for now!