For this troop meeting, we began working on Celebrating Community. My original plan was to tie it into the holiday season, and do something for a local community, so we were able to go caroling at a local retirement home, which the girls (and the audience) really enjoyed.
But for the actual meeting, we did something a little different.
We finished up talking about First Aid and reactions in emergency situations, then made a big thank you card for the firefighters who'd come to the last meeting.
We talked about what a Community is, and all the different types of Communities we belong to (family, school, etc.). I gave the girls this handout and let them color it however they liked:
Then we talked about the impact one individual can have on her Community, and to think about how our actions (based upon the things we've learned from the Girl Scout Law) can make a difference. We also talked about where we live and famous people from our state, and things in our area.
It was a very laid-back meeting because it was the last troop meeting before our winter break, so the girls were distracted, and a more loose approach to the meeting was the way to go.
Cookie Sales/Meet My Customers:
It had been over a month since we met, and our Cookie Season has started! We talked about our individual goals, why we sell cookies, and went over the rules and guidelines for taking cookie orders and interacting with potential customers.
I asked them questions like:
"What do you wear when you're taking cookie orders?" (uniform/vest)
"What are some polite words you should use?" (please/thank you)
"Do you ever walk around by yourself taking orders?" (no; you have to have an adult with you)
"What do you do if someone doesn't want to order cookies?" (tell them about donating)
"What if someone is rude to you and says, 'NO! I don't want any cookies!' " (which is silly; who could ever be rude to an adorable little Brownie selling cookies? And they'd respond politely and walk away)
"How much do the cookies cost? One box? Two boxes? Three?" (ha -- I made them do math!)
"When do the cookies come in?" (late February)
"Do you take money when the people place their orders, or when you deliver the cookies to them?" (deliver)
"Is it okay to go inside someone's house or car?" (no; but we live in an area where people tend to be very hospitable and will often invite you in, so I told them to reply with a 'No thank you, it's a troop rule' so as to not cause offense, but still keep them outside with their adult)
. . . and so on.
Here is some good information on requirements for earning the Cookie Sales pin and more.
After we talked about cookies, we had a big snack, which was birthday cupcakes and cookies for me! :) It was a lot of fun!
Celebrating Community Part Two (how to combat the "Mean Girls" thing at this age):
Before the meeting began, I split them into pairs: "special buddies." I had, ahead of time, created a couple of different lists of pairs. I very specifically split the girls up so they'd be paired with someone they weren't already very close friends with. I also tried to take into account other things like personality, and pairing two girls from different neighborhoods, or economic status, or churches/extracurriculars, etc. It was challenging to do with 18 girls, and I had to have a couple of alternate lists in case anyone was absent.
But we ended up with a pretty good mix of pairs of girls who weren't already BFFs.
Normally we scoot the art room tables so they are one big table. But this time we left them all separate so the girls could spread out a bit and be able to focus on their special buddy. During the meeting, if anyone needed to go potty or leave the room, she took her special buddy with her. They sat next to their buddies the whole meeting.
After snack time, we cleaned up and then started talking about Community again. I reminded them about what we'd done last month before winter break. Then we talked about the difference between a Community of Convenience (something they didn't have control over, like where they lived, or went to school, or whose class they were in), versus a Community of Interest (friendship or club, etc.), which could be as small as two people.
We talked about how important it is to not only live according to the "Be a Sister to Every Girl Scout" aspect of the GS Law with our fellow troop members, but how to reach out beyond our Communities of friends and recognize when someone needs a friend. We talked about making new friends and that it doesn't matter if they are or aren't in your Community (neighborhood, class, etc.). You can form your own Community based on common/shared interests.
I had them sit and talk with their buddies until each pair could come up with at least three shared interests that did not include (1) where they lived, (2) where they went to school, or (3) what grade they were in, because that's how our troop was formed -- we are the second grade troop at a specific elementary school, so they ALL have those things in common already. I wanted them to find other things they liked and was pleasantly surprised that it took some pairs a while to do it. Because they had to work at it and interact, and get to know each other in the process.
Here's a bookmark I made that you can print on heavy card stock to give the girls:
Craft for Celebrating Community Part 2:
After each pair had done this, we passed out pipe cleaners and baggies of beads. Each girl then made a friendship bracelet for her new buddy. They helped each other and worked together and we walked around reminding them to make it how their buddy would like it. They weren't making it for themselves, but for their (new) friend.
We've made bracelets in the past using waxed cord or elastic, but pipe cleaners are so, so easy. The beads don't fall off as easily in the process. They require less prep time too, so it's easier on the troop leader and parent volunteers at the meeting.
Afterward the girls could either twist the pipe cleaner around the beads to close it (make sure the sharp ends are on the OUTER ring so they don't scratch the child's skin):
Or you can tuck the ends of the bracelet BACK into the last beads, and slide it through (see the light purple fuzzy bit at the top of the picture? That's the pipe cleaner doubled):
When we were finished I told the girls that Girl Scouts can go anywhere and have conversations with anyone, and find something in common with those people. Girl Scouts can learn to be friends with anyone they want, and are always diligent in looking out for people who need a new friend.
The main reason I approached Celebrating Community this way, instead of how a lot of leaders approach it, which is teaching the girls about their town or state (ours cover that in school anyway, so I was okay with not going into it), is that the "Mean Girls" thing seems to start earlier and earlier these days, and it worries me, honestly. As a mom of two girls, I've already seen the effects of snobby kids ostracizing others in school, even at this very young age. It's depressing. And I'm determined to help my daughters and my Brownies all be aware of how to make friends and how to be a friend. If this can help even one child, then it's worth it absolutely. And taking time to get to know an individual and make a new friend is a great lifetime skill to have!
Next Up: Cookies and Money Manager