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!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Brownies (or Daisies!): End-of-Year & SWAPS Wallhangers

Preface: I paid for all the end-of-year gifts out of my own pocket. You don't have to give ANY gifts to your girls (or volunteers) at the end of the year (the time and effort you've put in all year is a gift in and of itself!), but if you decide you'd like to give them a small gift, keep in mind that troop funds you have at the end of year will be what you start with at the beginning of next year.

I did use troop funds for the membership stars and any official badges included. But the rest? I just wanted to do a little something fun for my girls. Plus, I have two girls in my troop whose families are moving away, and I wanted to do something special for them. But wanted to include all the other girls, too!

So I went through all the pictures I had from the last two years, and put together DVD slideshows for the girls (I did it in iPhoto and iDVD; I believe Windows has a DVD Maker program. Google it if you need help. Be sure to get DVDR discs, not CDR discs). I bought recycled paper disc envelopes (like these, but I found some cheaper at Walmart), and some small round Avery labels.

After burning the DVDs, I created labels with our school name and troop number (it's fuzzed out in the pictures below for anonymity, but you can find the templates on Avery's website for which label you choose, if you like) and stuck them on the outside of the envelope (just used a Sharpie to write on the DVDs).

They turned out really cute!

Then I took 9x12" green felt pieces (I used a blue one for my one Daisy girl, but I had lots of green, which is why I used it instead of brown for Brownies; I had brown ribbon though. See below), and wooden dowels, and created scroll/wallhangers for the girls' camp SWAPS (or whatever they want to hang on there -- earrings, etc.).

To make these, you can pick up felt from any craft store, or order in bulk here. If you're wanting the exact same color for all the wallhangers, don't order bulk mixed colors, because the colors/shades vary so much per pack. But if you're wanting to do a variety of colors, a mixed pack is a great way to go.

I purchased the dowels at Walmart in the craft section:

You will need TWO dowels for each wallhanging. Make sure you get the kind that are flat on the ends, not pointed (don't get skewers).

First step is to put it portrait-style (vertical), and fold over one end about 2/3rds of an inch. Then pin it. (Or you can fold it, use clear tape to hold it in place temporarily, and slide a dowel through to see how wide you need to make the hem. You want the dowel to slide through tightly. You don't want it loose, or else the dowels will fall out too easily.)

Next, line it up on your machine (you can hand sew but it takes ages; using a sewing machine is much easier if you can), and sew it so you're leaving roughly 1/2 to 2/3 of an inch or so open in the hem (depending on how fat your dowels are), to slide the dowel through.

Then do the other end, and run a dowel through both hems. Then take a ribbon and tie on the top dowel ends (unless you're adding a card, in which case, wait before tying it off), so it forms a triangle that you can use to hang it on the wall. You can pin membership stars, patches, awards, etc., to it if you like. 

I added a card stock piece with out troop # (the sample here has "Brownies" where I had our troop number, and I typed in my name after "Love"), punched a hole in it, and strung the ribbon through it before tying it off:

I'm not posting a full sheet template of this, but if you like, I can. Just leave a comment below, and include your troop level for font color/name.

I bought green paper bags (you could also buy white or brown, in the garbage bags/plastic wrap/paper plates aisle at Walmart or Target -- or go to your local Dollar type store, for cheap), some tissue, and then pinned membership stars and patches on the wallhanger. Then rolled it up in tissue, added the DVD to the bag, wrote each girl's name on the bag in Sharpie, and used a glue dot to adhere the "End-of-Year Party" fun patch on the outside the bag. Check your local council shop for End-of-Year fun patches. Or Google it, and you can find several patch companies online that may be cheaper than your council shop. (If you use a glue dot on a patch outside the bag, make sure NOT to stick it to the price tag, as the glue dot will stay stuck, but the price tag can fall off the patch, which makes the patch fall off the bag!)

Here's what it looked like with everything laid out (sticker and tag have both been altered to remove identifying info):

And here's what it looked like loaded up with SWAPS:

That's my daughter's -- she loved it! We hung it on her bulletin board in her bedroom. Now those SWAPS are out of the Ziploc that was shoved in a drawer, and hanging where she can see them, and remember how much fun she had this year! :)

I bought a personalized green GS tumbler with straw for my co-leader (Etsy and eBay are both good sources for these), and printed these out on card stock, then rolled up and tied with ribbon, for each of my volunteer moms. Another leader came up with this adorable idea; I altered the wording to better suit my troop. I left the troop number blank so you can print it and fill in the blank with your own number.

Next up: Summer Break! See you in a bit! :)

Brownies: Do Anything Patch (Barbie)

It's our next-to-last troop meeting, and I wanted to do something fun and easy. I'd read online about the Barbie fun patch (where GSUSA partnered with Mattel), but I have some moms who aren't big Barbie fans (here's an interesting article about it -- it details the online activities which are a bit confusing in terms of leadership, empowerment, and appearance, I think. While my personal opinion is Barbie is too controversial to promote the positive goals of GS, I'm obviously not the one in charge; plus I respect my troop parents' opinions).

But there was some info in the worksheets that definitely had value. Don't throw the baby out with the bath water and all that.

So I did what I nearly always do: I adjusted it to fit our troop. ;)

Here's a link to the GS/Barbie "I Can Be Anything" program. Here's a direct link to the English PDF file (there's a Spanish one available too). Unlike printed GS materials, the PDF is designed for leaders to print out for their girls (yay! No copyright infringement issues).

But when I printed mine out, I literally pulled out any reference to Barbie (just didn't print those pages), and did not include the Daisy steps (this program is for Daisies or Brownies, but I have mostly Brownies). And I only used the Brownie pages that were generic (meaning no reference to a name brand that might cause concern with some parents).

I had no issues with doing this, even though it was Barbie-themed, because had I left it Barbie-focused, some of my girls wouldn't have been able to participate. So I adjusted as needed. If your moms don't mind Barbie, print out the PDF as is, and you can order the patches here. However, that's the individual (girl) order process. I didn't go digging for how troop leaders order the patches, since I wasn't interested in them.

Instead, I found these:

Still pink, and very cute.

We went through the steps on pages 3, 8, 9, 10, and 13. (I skipped the fashion designer one because we spent so much time focusing on the patch pages.)

We began by having the girls sit around two tables scooted together to make one large table. I sat with them as they ate their snack and we went around the table one at a time and talked about what we wanted to be when we grew up (lots of aspiring veterinarians in my troop! And at least one future President!). No interrupting. Everyone had a chance to say what she wanted to be. Everyone received equal attention.

Then we cleaned up from snack and I pulled out the markers and handed out the pages I'd printed out (front and back, to save paper, stapled together as a booklet). This was interesting: several of the girls said they didn't see a Brownie patch listed that went with their goals, so I told them to design their own patches!

When we finished, they were each given the do-at-home/online sheet (page 13), and instructed to do this with an adult (per online safety guidelines for this age). And I handed out the fun patches.*

*I do have a Daisy member (an "Independent" though we still call them "Juliettes" which is cute), so I took two small blue daisy-looking flower patches (generic, from Michaels, not GS patches) and sewed them over the word "Brownies" on the patch. So it looks like "Daisies Can Do Anything." This way she received a fun patch for the activity as well, and it was better suited to her level.

If using the Barbie booklets as inspiration doesn't appeal to you, you can simply make up your own steps for this fun patch. It's a fun patch! You don't have to stress over following strict guidelines for earning it. :) Or, if you prefer to use the Barbie material and do the Barbie patch, go for it! I'd run it past your parents ahead of time just to be safe.

This was a good, super easy meeting. The girls had fun, had some great dialogue spinning off from their choices (things like Suffragette movement and the importance of voting -- doesn't matter whom you vote for, but you should always vote, because of the brave women who fought so hard for us to be able to do it!), and earned a cute patch for the back of vests.

Up next: End-of-Year Goodies and SWAPS Holders!

EDIT: Ah, so since I posted this, the actual GS Barbie dolls have been released. Click that link, or check with your council shop if you're interested in buying one. What is my opinion on it all? I think GSUSA could've found a better toy to partner with, personally. There's simply too much controversy surrounding Barbie. Yes, it's just a doll. But it's also a highly controversial doll.

I've seen many leaders ask, "Why couldn't she at least be wearing the correct uniform?" And "Why a Junior sash? I've never met a fourth grader who was shaped like Barbie." Yep. Valid points. But I've also seen plenty of "It's just a toy. What's the big deal?" type comments out there too.

There are definitely some interesting opinions on both sides.

My daughters opted for the Brownie Elf Plush Doll instead of Barbie. Your mileage may vary, and that's totally fine.

In the end, listen to your girls and respect your troop parents' feelings too. When it comes to hot button topics, err on the side of caution, and don't assume it isn't a big deal to some parents. Good luck!