Welcome to my blog! I started it when I was a new Girl Scout leader and needed some kind of organized "to-do" list. I decided the best way to keep things organized was to start a blog. So here it is! My oldest troop has since bridged up to Juniors, and I've taken on a Daisy troop as well, so I will continue updating with new Juniors information and additional Daisy stuff too. My hope is to continue to update with every level as my troops advance. But we'll see.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope it's helpful!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Getting Started with Brownies Part Two -- Uniforms

This template is for First Year (2nd Graders) Brownies. I can create a template for Second Year (3rd Graders) and/or for sash if there's a request.

We're recommending our parents go with the vest rather than the sash, because we tend to end up with a lot of fun patches, and there isn't enough room on the sash for what we have planned. Also, I'm concerned the insignia tab (ribbon) might end up lost, since they're not fastened on the sash itself, but the accompanying shirt.

We are not recommending the full uniform, however (skort, etc.). That's optional. Just the vest for us. You can, of course, do it however it best fits the needs of your kids and troop. :)

Then I also made a pricing list for the parents:

Regular Vest - $17.25
Plus-Sized Vest - $18.25
Insignia Tab (brown ribbon pin) - $2.50
Troop Numbers # # # # # @ $1.25 each - $6.25 total
American Flag - $1.75
Brownie Membership Pin - $1.50
Council ID Patch Set - $4.00
World Trefoil Pin (or can use last year's from Daisies) - $2.25 (regular) or $4.75 (gold-plated)
Gold Membership Star (optional, returning Daisies only) $1.00
2013 Cookie Sales Pin (optional, returning Daisies only) $1.15
100 Years of GS Pin (optional – limited quantity – Council shop only; not available online) $1.80

We are purchasing the Rainbow patch (as part of our Bridging to Brownies), and providing the membership discs for past Daisies. You add the membership discs and stars AFTER a year has been completed, but they carry over to the next uniform. Since our girls were Daisies last year, during the 100th Anniversary, I was able to find the additional discs celebrating this and picked them up for super cheap at our Council shop. They go between the blue disc and star. This is, of course, optional.

Parents should not purchase the Brownie discs nor stars unless this is the second year of Brownies for your troop (because again, these aren't added to uniforms until the end of the year. Many troops incorporate these in their end-of-the-year ceremonies).

Cookie Sale pins are awarded after Cookies are sold/at end of the year. 

Next up, planning your agenda for the year!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Getting Started with Brownies Part One -- Designated Roles

Welcome to Brownies! I'm so excited about this year. We had such a blast in last year's Daisies, and I know this year will be even better (if for no other reason than I now have a better idea of what I'm doing, ha!)

I'm listing Roles first, because we have a Service Unit that provides monthly events, and because I'm a returning GS Daisy leader, I have an idea of what my agenda for the year will be for Brownies. If you are new to Brownies, setting up your Agenda would be a better place to start. I will be posting about that soon!

First Steps:

Designated Roles 

Please note, I will use "Mom," "Parent," and "Volunteer" interchangeably, because we have some Volunteer Dads (and Grandmas, and more!). Make sure all Volunteers who will be handling money, transporting Brownies, and/or attending Camp are registered members and volunteers with GS. When in doubt, check your local Council to ensure everyone's cleared for various volunteer positions.

So, here we go!

Step One: Figure out the Volunteer positions that your troop will need. The recommended roles, or standard ones provided to you may or may not be a good fit for your troop. Or you may be setting up a new troop and need to come up with your own list.

Bottom line: Make a plan and be ready to adjust on the fly.

For instance, it turns out that we didn't need a couple pre-set roles for our troop last year -- Caroling Mom, for instance, ended up being unnecessary, because it was a Service Unit event, so any parents who wanted to come along and help could. We didn't need one parent from our troop to take charge. The bulk of responsibility for organizing the event was on the Service Unit (thank you, Service Unit! We love you!).

However, we realized we needed more than one Cookie Volunteer. We needed a Primary Cookie Mom and a Secondary one (to help with things like transport and organization, along with the Leader and designated Cookie Parent's help, of course).

Take into account not only things like planned upcoming activities for the year, but how many girls you have in your troop in order to figure out how many roles you will need. And as with everything in Girl Scouts, don't be afraid to delegate, accept help whenever it's offered, and adjust as needed!

Ours at this point looks something like this (but it will likely change once our meetings start up, and I'll edit this post at that point):

- Leader

- Co-Leader

- 2 Cookie Volunteers (see note above)

- 2 Scarecrow Volunteers (this is a wonderful Service Unit event; troops all in our unit create scarecrows for local businesses to display out front during the fall season) -- one for handling details like supplies (this can easily be a Troop Leader or other Volunteer helping out, though), and one for assisting/overseeing transport. My point is, you may have some similar off-site or large event that you will need designated volunteers for. Look at your Council/SU calendar of events to get an idea. Talk to other current/former Brownie leaders for advice, too!

- Snack Volunteer (oversees snack sign-up sheets -- see info on Shutterfly here).

- Meeting Volunteers (this number is dependent upon how many girls are in your troop. Always meet the GS criteria regarding adult/child ratio; at each meeting, at least one of these parents needs to be in charge of paperwork so the Leader[s] can be free to lead the meeting. The Paperwork Volunteer role can be switched out or just falls to a volunteer in attendance that day).

- Games/Activities Volunteer (last year I planned nearly all the activities for each meeting, but I was lucky to have my Co-Leader and other parents helping out at times, depending on the petal we were working on. This year we will have a designated Games Volunteer who will work closely with our planned agenda to offer fun games for the girls, so I can deal with planning only one craft/activity per meeting, rather than two).

- Camping Mom (trust me, if you're planning a trip to camp, you will need someone in addition to just you and your Co-Leader to help out! More on that later).

- First Aid/CPR Volunteer (someone in the troop needs to be certified and in attendance at every event/meeting if at all humanly possible; check with your SU/Council regarding training and never, ever forget your First Aid bag!)

- Badge Volunteers (this can be anything from giving parents a list of badges you will be working on -- Journey and/or Legacy, etc., and ask if any have skills that could be utilized; for instance a fireman, doctor, nurse, etc., could come in and lead the meeting for First Aid, and so on).

- Party Volunteers (this can include Investiture, Bridging, holiday-specific, end-of-the-year, etc. These volunteers can help organize or be responsible for planning those events, to help alleviate some burden from the Leader[s]. Don't forget about your tax-exempt status. As leader, you should have access to a tax-exemption form you can use for purchasing supplies. Talk to your local SU/Council about this).

Other Roles You Might Consider:

- Email/Website Mom ("What about troop leaders who aren't computer-savvy?" someone asked me. My response is in an ideal situation, your co-leader would be the one with computer skills, and you split the responsibility so you're handling planning or crafts, etc. Play up to your skills and utilize the skills of other Volunteers).

Note: If you're wanting to set up a website rather than using a free service like Shutterfly, be sure to investigate potentially free webhosting because GS is a non-profit. Always check with your Council/Service Unit first though, to ensure legality and privacy issues are addressed. I'm in the process of investigating this right now. More to come, if there's interest in learning details.

- Craft Mom (see Email Mom, but the reverse!)

- Fall Sales Volunteer (how many volunteers you will need for this will depend upon how active your troop is in these sales; some troops are extremely active, some are not. It all depends on what is a good fit for your girls and you!)

That's all I can think of now for specific roles. I'll add more later. :)

Hooray for Brownies! (And hooray for the gorgeous new GS logo. Love it!)

Coming Soon: Uniforms and Planning Your Agenda for the Year!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Daisies: Journeys

Someone asked me why I didn't include information about the Journeys for Daisies, here in the blog. There were a couple of reasons (in no particular order):

1. I took over for the second year of Daisies (first graders), and the year before that, the troop was much smaller, but wasn't able to meet very often, so unfortunately they didn't get to work on many patches. Because of this, and the fact that so many girls were new to Scouting this second year of Daisies, I had to basically fit two years' worth of fun/activities/patches into one.

My co-leader and I decided early on we would focus on the Daisy Petals, since they were key to learning the GS Law. I did get copies of all three Journey books from our Service Unit, and did use some ideas from them, to incorporate into our Daisy Petal activities.

However, we did not work on a specific Journey. So our girls did not earn any Journey patches. None complained. But the bottom line was, we simply did not have time to do Journeys.

2. We had a very large troop, compared to others in our Service Unit. We met twice a month, at our school. This meant that any activities away from our set meeting place were very difficult to arrange, given that several of the girls were also in Aftercare at school. To move the meeting place, or day even, would've been too burdensome for many parents.

3. I will be very honest. While I love Girl Scouts, and think it is a phenomenal organization, and am very proud to be involved in it, I am not a huge fan (thus far) of Journeys.

I understand that the goal is to help connect what has, in the past, been fairly dispersed badge-earning activities -- to make it so we are working on something that has several components that all connect. However, the format simply was not a good fit for our girls.

I'm not sure what we will do for Brownies. I have a rough idea in my mind of what the syllabus for the two years will be. How much of that will include working on Journeys? I don't know yet.

I've heard very mixed things about Journeys, but I'm not choosing sides at this point; I'm holding out hope that we will find a good fit within the Brownie Journeys for our troop!

In the meantime, I hate to disappoint anyone who comes here looking specifically for Daisy Journey suggestions. Thankfully the books have suggested activities, and of course, there's always Pinterest!

I'll be posting intro info for Brownies soon. Stay tuned!