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, June 30, 2014

Brownies: Choosing a Troop Crest

Troop Crests
It used to be that troop crests were for Juniors and up only. A while ago this changed, and GSUSA began allowing Brownies to choose troop crests. Technically, the crest is supposed to stay the same throughout the life of the troop. However, it is not unheard of for a troop to choose a new crest when the girls bridge to a new level (especially if they're getting a new vest and have had a change in member turnover, troop focus, etc.). If a troop ever changes its number, by all means change the crest too if that's what they want to do. While the guidelines indicate the crest should not be changed, it's important to remember the crest is supposed to represent the troop and its goals, so it makes sense to me that it might need to change over the years. After all, there's a big difference between ages seven and seventeen. And when you're focusing on being girl-led, it makes sense to let the girls choose what best represents them as a troop, as they mature. 

I'm not saying break the rules or anything. I'm just saying listen to your girls, and to me, that's part of the evolution of "girl-led" as the troop matures. I can't stress this enough: Put your troop's needs first.

Anyway, all that said, I wasn't comfortable with presenting 16 options to my girls as first-year Brownies, for a couple of reasons (listed below in no particular order):

  • They were still very young (most were seven) and it can be tough at this age to distinguish between "what represents us" versus "what represents me," and "oh, this one's pretty!" or "that sounds like what I should pick" and so on.
  • 16 options? That's great! But it's also a LOT. While second graders can definitely handle more choices than Kindergarteners (for instance), I wanted to wait until I felt like they wouldn't be overwhelmed by the number of choices.
  • They need to be able to not only pick what best represents the troop, but also keep in mind the troop goal -- the direction they want to move as a troop both now and in the future.
  • The older they get, the better they are at handling disappointment when their choice isn't the one picked by the troop as a whole.
Now, does that mean my way is the right way? Nope. Does it mean the girls wouldn't have been able to handle it and make the perfect choice as a troop? No clue. But it felt like we needed to wait, so I waited. Technically, troops can choose a crest as soon as they bridge to Brownies if they're ready. As always, do what is the best fit for your girls.

Anyway, my girls are older now, and I believe they are mature enough to think it through and handle the disappointment if their individual choice is overruled by the majority.

However, I don't want them to be distracted by how the crests look. Otherwise I'm pretty sure we'd end up with mostly unicorns, despite meaning. So I typed up the meanings of the crests, without images, worded it as best I could based upon my research about the crests, and this is what I'm giving the girls:

Troop Crest Handout

This year we are choosing our Troop Crest patch (it goes between the Council ID hamburger-shaped patch, and our troop numbers). The Troop Crest represents our troop and its purpose as a Girl Scout Troop, and is worn by our troop for many years, not just now. So think carefully about your choice. Don't just pick what you like, or what fits you. Think about the troop as a whole, if you can.

Please pick the one that you think best represents our troop by putting a checkmark by it. If you cannot choose just one, because there are two that you think are equally good fits for us, you may check two.

Once you choose one that's a good representation of our troop (and put a check by it), look again to see if you think there's another choice that would be better for us to choose to have as a troop goal. If you think there is one, then circle that box. If you aren't sure, don't circle anything. Just put a check by the one or two you think fit us the best. 

The difference between representation and goal is one this: Representation means what we already are. Goal is what we want to be, and what we should strive toward.

_____ We take action and are always moving forward. We are optimistic and want to change the world.
_____ We work hard and are industrious. We aren't afraid of working to accomplish something. We want to inspire others.
_____ We are full of happiness and good fortune. We are optimistic and want to spread good cheer
wherever we go.
_____ We are healthy and energetic. We want to make the world a better place.
_____ We are graceful and strong. We are true to ourselves, our friends, and our values. Our highest goals are honor and loyalty.
_____ We pay attention to details. We want to bring focus, and work hard, in everything we do.
_____ We are focused on love, friendship, and peace. We want to spread peace and goodwill in the world.
_____ We are full of inspiration and creative power. We seek inspiration in our own lives and want to
inspire others as well.
_____ We are always growing and changing, on the inside and outside. We are always trying new things and not afraid of change.
_____ We have loving thoughts and special friendships. We are proud to be sisters to every Girl Scout,
all over the world.
_____ We are rare, unexpected, and beautiful individuals. We want to light up the world.
_____ We are full of warmth and light. We want to spread good cheer, and help others grow, as we grow too.
_____ We are always ready to march into action. We are courageous and want to work to make the world a better place.
_____ We are beautiful and courageous. We want to spread beauty in the world with our words and actions.
_____ We are steadfast, strong, and proud of who we are, and will remain true to ourselves, no matter how much things change around us.
_____ We embrace new things, and new beginnings. We want to always be looking ahead.

Once the girls have chosen their top picks, both for current representation and goal, I'll take the top three (combined), and we will have an open discussion about them, followed by a silent ballot vote. 

Feel free to adjust the wording in the above handout, if you feel like I didn't describe the crests accurately. And post in comments, too, please! I looked at quite a few resources and tried to condense meaning and include potential goals for them all, but might've overlooked something.

After we narrow it down to three, and they vote, the top pick will be our troop crest! (If I had to pick right now which one I think best represents our troop, I think it's a tossup between the Lei and Shooting Star. We'll see how well I know my girls. ;) I'll update with their choice once they've decided.)

Here's a picture of what they look like:

Here's a link to the images with meanings included. Here is another blogger's take on the History of Troop Crests. It's an interesting read.

Next up? I HAVE NO IDEA! Ha! It's summer. I'm working on all this in bursts as my kids allow. I think tomorrow we might just go to the pool and relax. Unless our face paint and fabric markers have arrived, in which case they might talk me into working on another Try-It. . . . I'm playing it by ear. :)

Brownies: Being Girl-Led & Choosing Badges/Patches

Interpreting "Girl-Led" (Your Mileage May Vary, and That's Okay)

I love how one focus of Girl Scouts is being girl-led. But I think this term means different things to different people. To some, it means focusing on leadership skills, and encouraging the girls to be leaders as often as possible. To others, it means guiding them in making business decisions. Or it may simply mean letting the girls take on more responsibility as they grow. Or a combination, etc. And on and on. There are lots of ways to interpret it, obviously.

While I think leadership skills are very important, and I'm fine with incorporating money management (especially during cookie season), I don't think everyone is a natural leader. Nor do I think leadership should be forced, at this age, if they are extremely uncomfortable with it. I have several girls who are painfully shy, and while it's good for all of us (myself included!) to go outside our comfort levels, I try to keep it age-appropriate and be respectful of each girl as an individual. Because the last thing I want is to push an eight-year-old into being the center of attention when that is obviously going to freak her out (and perhaps make her reticent to continue in GS). 

Yeah, it can be a tough balance at times. I had one mom who told me she was grateful I paid attention to the fact that her daughter didn't like being the center of attention. I had another who told me she thought the girls should already be planning and leading the meetings, completely on their own. 

Somewhere in there is a happy medium, I think. Encouraging those who aren't natural leaders to step up, and giving those who are more Type A personalities the opportunity to shine. Treating each girl with equal respect, while acknowledging their need to be true to themselves isn't easy at this age (does it get easier?).

Regardless, I think it's vital that as the girls advance through each year of GS, their opportunities for sharing opinions, making decisions, and handling responsibilities also increase, without asking them to compromise who they are. To me, that's what being "girl-led" is all about.

In Daisies, I think being girl-led is more about giving the girls options: letting them choose between two (or perhaps three) things at a time. But with each year they grow, their ability to handle more responsibility increases, as should their investment (time/energy) in the troop.

A handy chart via Google that illustrates leadership progression

So I guess it's not just that I like the term (in my understanding of it), but I really appreciate that GSUSA allows leaders the freedom to interpret that term, especially with younger troops, and tailor the program to fit individual troop needs. 

In the past, the girls have given me input regarding badges/patches and activities. And that's great! I love it. But rather than determine our itinerary for this year based upon piecemeal suggestions and/or what I think the girls would have fun doing, I'm giving them the opportunity to decide our meeting agenda for themselves. Some leaders do this from the get-go in Brownies, and that's fine. Whatever works for you. But last year I had several core Legacy badges I wanted us to do, because I felt they were important foundations for Girl Scouts (GS Way, First Aid, etc.), and many of these required outside speakers/visitors, which had to be scheduled far in advance. So while I listened to what the girls wanted to do, in the end I planned a rough agenda and thankfully it worked out really well. I never received any complaints from the girls regarding which badges and fun patches (or other activities) we did. 

EDIT: Today I was following an online conversation about having second-year Brownies team up with a buddy (in the troop) to plan and lead meetings. All on their own. I think that's a GREAT idea! I also think it would be utter chaos in our troop for a couple of reasons: The maturity levels vary wildly, and I think the only ones who could really handle the work aspect as the aforementioned painfully shy girls. So they could do the prep work, but when it came time to actually lead, they would be in agony. 

So there's that. But logistics also come into play here. We meet on a Friday, right after school. Planning a meeting would coincide (conflict) with homework that week. Third grade is a big transition in terms of homework for our school. They have a LOT more in third grade than they did in second. Also, the main parent volunteers I have are the ones who come to every meeting. There are too many girls and too many of the parents (unfortunately) who would simply balk at the notion of having to do take-home work/preparation for Brownies. And I can't say I blame them, honestly. Not at this age.

So while I'm not at all opposed to the notion of having the girls lead the meetings, I think for our troop, it's okay that our big steps this year are letting the girls determine what they want to do as a troop, and what our long-terms goal is. If we had a smaller troop, and met on the weekend, or had less homework, or more gung-ho parents, maybe it could work.

And it still might. You never know! But I talked it over with my co-leader and she completely agreed that it would be utter chaos, at least initially. So we're moving a little slower on that end than some troops, and that's okay.

If your girls can handle the added responsibility of planning and leading meetings, GO FOR IT! Be there as their support, but let them lead the way. It's all part of what being "girl-led" is all about: knowing your girls, giving them opportunities to shine, to participate, valuing their input, and supporting them along the way.

But doing it in a realistic manner, based upon your individual troop.

Next year we will definitely be giving the girls more responsibilities. But for now, I'm okay with the plan below.

Yeah, Yeah. So, Where Are the Journeys?

I know, I keep putting these off. Yes, they are doable. Yes, if your troop wants to do them, GO FOR IT! And yes, I know, I can alter them to fit my troop. But because of how often our troop meets, and where we meet, Journeys are a serious challenge for us. And I admit, every time I read through the books, I come away overwhelmed and a little discouraged; I would simply have to do too much to tailor them to meet our troop's needs, so I put it back in my To Do Later box. (Don't get me wrong. I work really hard, and put a ton of time and effort into our troop meetings. But that's probably why I'm disinclined to attempt a Journey. I know me. I'd spend weeks preparing for it, so I'm not attempting it unless they say WE WANT TO DO THIS! In which case I'll gladly do it. Because that's what girl-led is all about. It's my job to support them in their goals.

We go from leading the girls, to guiding the girls, to supporting the girls. And a big mish-mash of all three in between. :) 

But in years past, the girls don't even like to listen to me explain what a Journey is, much less as to do one. Thankfully, Journeys are still optional for Brownies and Daisies (Juniors and up are required [at this point] to complete at least one per level, when working on Bronze, Silver, Gold Awards [two for Gold, if they didn't earn their Silver]). But for now, eh. I'm not stressing over it. 

If they choose to work on any Journeys, it would have to be a Journey-in-a-Day event on the weekend, not a regular troop meeting.

So the list down below is for regular troop meetings only. It doesn't include all the service unit fun events, nor Journeys, because those are all outside of our regular meetings. It's primarily Skill-Building (which are related to Journeys, but can be earned and purchased separately) and Legacy badges, and fun patches. 

I would love to do the old Try-Its, because I think they're great (and the books are fun too), and a great fit for our troop, except for one things: given that the badges are retired and in some cases hard to find individually, much less in bulk, we haven't been able to attempt the same one in troop meetings, because I cannot find enough of them! The troop is too big. So I encourage the girls to work on any badges/patches they like, independently, and have had quite a few work on Try-Its (if you're interested, check out this link or Google Brownie Try-Its, and search eBay for the badges and books to purchase).

Some Try-Its (there are tons!):

Skill-Building Badges:

Legacy Badges:

So here's the sheet for the girls to fill out at our first troop meeting. Please note I did not include badges/patches we earned last year. If you are wanting to do this for your first-year Brownie troop, don't forget to include all the official badges, and Journeys too, if your meetings allow for it. Also, there's a good chance I will find some more to add to this list between now and our first troop meeting. But it will give you a general idea.

Troop Badges and Patches

I hope everyone had a great summer! There are many things we can work on this year, and I want you to choose some of the things you'd like to do. Let's make it a great year!

Please pick FOUR badges/patches that you would like to work on from the list below. Just put a checkmark by the ones that appeal to you the most. If you have a question about something, ask me.

We will work on the top choices, as selected by the troop. But don't worry, if you want to work on something but it isn't chosen by the troop, you can still do it on your own, at home. Just ask me about it. And if you have something you'd like to work on and it's not on the list, tell me about it. I will see if I can find a badge or patch to fit what you're wanting to do, because there are LOTS to choose from! 

_____ Act of Kindness/Make a Difference
_____ Dancer
_____ Fair Play  
_____ Harry Potter (Scientific Sorcery)
_____ Home Scientist
_____ Household Elf
_____ Inventor
_____ Letterboxing and/or Scavenger Hunt
_____ Make Your Own Badge  
_____ Making Friends
_____ Making Games
_____ Magical Fairy Adventure
_____ My Family Story
_____ My Great Day
_____ Painting
_____ Pets
_____ Pottery
_____ Safety Award Pin  
_____ Senses  
_____ Snacks  


From this sheet, the girls will pick their top four and then we will work on anywhere between 6-8 of the top picks overall (plus cookie badges and pin, and service unit activities). My hope is there will be a good mix of Legacy and Skill-Building, with some fun patches thrown in for, well, FUN! :) And if they want to take charge of something along the way, yes! If not, no biggie.

That's it for first meeting plan, right now (more to come on first meeting prep for second-year Brownies as it gets closer to fall). Next up? Troop Crests!

Brownies: Planning Ahead for Fall -- Parent Handout and Uniform Info

So we're halfway through summer break, and it's been great! Our troop does not meet in the summer, and that's fine with me. My parents prefer this (and so do I -- it's nice to take a break!). I did give parents and girls the option of a troop activity over the summer, but only had one slight nibble in response, so I did not plan anything.

Each year, I give my parents a handout at registration. For those who choose Early Bird registration, they receive the handout either before or at the first troop meeting. Since it's typically returning Brownies who register early, this is information they already have.

I'm pasting a version of the handout below. As with anything else here, feel free to take what is useful, adjust what's needed, and toss the rest.

While GSUSA has set rules in place for some things, many councils vary on specific rules/guidelines. When in doubt, ALWAYS check with your council. Ditto with service units. Please be sure to check on these ahead of time before communicating the info to your parents.

Some troop leaders have a Parent Contract, and/or a Parent Meeting. But I use this handout in lieu of that. My parents would prefer a long handout to a meeting. ;) Some parents prefer a face-to-face meeting and a short list to take home instead. As always, it is up to you and your parents. Do what works best!

More info to follow on actual planning for the year. We are just getting started! :)

EDIT: Highlighted items are for blog readers, and were not included in the handout to parents.

Welcome to Brownie Troop _________

Welcome to Girl Scout Brownies! Whether your daughter is returning or new to Girl Scouts, she will have a wonderful time in our troop, and we're looking forward to another great year with all of our girls!

Please let us know ASAP if your child has any allergies, special needs, or requires additional accommodations in any way. We are more than happy to make sure all the girls' needs are met and everyone has a safe and wonderful time.

Contact Troop Leader here: __________________________________________________________


Registration is $___ per child and $___ per adult. If you want to register as an official volunteer, you must be a registered adult member (the difference between a member and volunteer is an additional form, and a background check). Please contact the Troop Leader for information on financial assistance.

We will be meeting on these days ___________ at ______________. Take-Home sheets detailing what we worked on will be included in your daughter's backpack after every meeting, and posted on the Shutterfly site. Earned badges, patches, permission slips, etc., will also be placed in the folders.

If there is no school scheduled for the day, the troop meeting is also canceled (this applies to holidays, snow days, etc., even if childcare is open).

Please plan to pick up promptly at __________. If there is an emergency or you will be delayed in picking up your daughter, please contact Troop Leader _____________________________ or Co-Leader _____________________________. Please store these numbers in your phone in case of emergency.

Any changes in pick-up should be communicated directly to the Leader, not via girl. This will help reduce confusion/miscommunication. Thank you for your cooperation.

All girls must be signed out when picked up. If someone other than the parent/guardian will be picking up your child, please notify me beforehand.

Disruptive visitors (children or adults) will be asked to leave the meeting room. We appreciate your support. Everyone is to follow troop rules and GS Law at meetings and events (insert your troop rules here).


In addition to regular troop meetings, our Service Unit, ________________________, will be hosting regular events for the troops every month during the school year.

These are fun and often free or very low cost events. Fun patches are typically given for event participation. SU Events are not required but attendance is encouraged. If your child participates in any SU events, we ask that you volunteer to help with at least one event. Thank you!


Our troop has a Shutterfly website we use for calendar, pictures, sign-up sheets, etc. This website is private. Only parents/guardians may have access. Emails will be sent out on a regular basis regarding upcoming events, troop meeting reminders, sign-up slots, etc. The website address is _____________________________________________.

Please be sure to always check your email. This is our primary form of communication.

Once you have registered your daughter, please email me at ___________________________, so I can add your email to the Shutterfly access list.

Please adjust your email spam settings to allow Shutterfly to send you emails, as our site auto-sends weekly updates. You may also adjust subscription email settings on the site via your Shutterfly account.

Please do not send GS-related communication, money, or forms via your child's teacher or school. We ask that you bring them directly to the meetings or drop them off/mail to the Troop Leader directly. Please wait until end of meetings before handing in any forms or money.


Our goals this year are to review last year's badge work/accomplishments, allow the girls to choose a Troop Crest and decide upon troop focus/direction, as well as choose which badges we will work on. We will also participate in cookie sales, Service Unit events (including camp), all while having a lot of FUN in the process! 

Girl Scouts helps girls learn the confidence and skills to be leaders and strong women, but we understand not everyone is comfortable with taking a leadership or attention-focused position. We tailor meetings so ALL members are comfortable and engaged. In addition, we strive to allow as much of a “girl-led” approach as is realistic for this age, so we will continue to encourage the girls in making decisions regarding troop activities and goals. Every year the girls advance in Scouting, the opportunities for leadership and responsible continue to increase. 

Please note, while we do work on many badges and patches as a troop, I strongly encourage the girls to work on things independently, if they wish to do so. There are many badges (retired and current) and fun patches the girls can do on their own. Please contact me if your daughter is interested in working independently. I'm very happy to help. Patches and badges earned as a troop are paid for with troop funds. Independent work is paid for by individuals.


A wonderful way for our girls to see leadership and involvement in action is to be a volunteer yourself! This year we already have several roles filled, but need volunteers for other, equally vital roles. We are very happy to work with you, and appreciate the help!

Please note, all parents/guardians are expected to provide snacks for at least one meeting, even if you cannot attend as a volunteer. Snacks are to be something healthy (crackers, fruit, etc.) and juice boxes (not juice pouches, please, as they are messy and not as easily recyclable) or water. Snack sign-up sheet will be posted on the Shutterfly site. If you cannot bring snacks at our meeting time, you may drop them at my house ahead of time. Just let me know if you need to do so.

Also, if you cannot volunteer for a position at this time, but have supplies you'd like to donate or can help in other ways, please let us know. We welcome Volunteer Dads, Grandmothers, etc., too! Please note, if you will be handling troop funds, driving any Girl Scouts, or attending camp with your child, you must be a registered volunteer. All drivers must have appropriate car restraints for the girls based upon age and height, as we are required by GS to comply with state laws. 

If you can, please sign up for one (or more) of the open slots (*indicates adult membership and volunteer registration required):

*Leader: ___________________________

*Co-Leader (assists Leader primarily during meetings and with event planning and organization, as well as assisting with cookies, etc. This role also provides financial transparency for troop purchases, bank account, etc.): ___________________________

*Cookie Volunteer #1 (stores cookies at her/his house, assists with sorting and distributing, including counting and receiving payment and issuing receipts. Cookies must be stored in cool, dry, pet-free area of the home. Leader/Co-Leader will be present on cookie day to assist): ___________________________

*Cookie Volunteer #2 (assists with picking up and delivering cookies to Cookie #1's house on delivery day): ___________________________

*Cookie Volunteer #3 (ditto): ___________________________

Snack Volunteer (calls or texts upcoming Snack parent before each meeting): ___________________________

*First Aid/CPR Volunteer (must have CPR/First Aid training and/or be willing to attend training and be certified): ___________________________

*Camp Volunteer (helps coordinate camp outing; serves as backup in case Leader/Co-Leader is unable to attend. Must be able to attend half-day camp training in addition to camp outing itself. You do not have to sign up now simply to attend camp; this is a backup role and in case of emergency primarily): ___________________________

*Meeting Volunteers (able to attend meetings on a regular/rotating basis to assist Leader[s]):




Troop dues this year will be $__________ per child, initially. This money pays for craft and activity supplies, badges, patches, and printer ink/paper. Snacks are not included in this, as we all take turns providing them. Dues are to be paid by the second troop meeting please, unless other arrangements have been made. Please contact me if you need financial assistance. This money should last us until cookie season in March. If not, we may ask for an additional donation at some point, but hopefully not. It depends upon what the girls choose to work on this year.

Checks should be made out to Troop __________ and given to the Troop Leader at the end of the second meeting (please do not send it in with your child, as checks can get lost in backpacks). Thank you!


While we ask for parents to sign up as volunteers and/or help out in meetings, we understand not everyone is able to do so. However, the girls are still at an age where parental support is a necessity. We rely primarily upon email communication, and all event and troop information is readily available via the Shutterfly site. We will only text in case of an emergency or last-minute change. Please respond to requests sent via email in a timely manner, and abide by RSVP deadlines. Some events may require parent/guardian attendance, or siblings may not be allowed.

A parent/guardian of each girl will be required to attend a Cookie Sale meeting in winter. This is the only mandatory parent meeting we plan to have. If you choose not to participate in the troop's cookie sales, you will be financially responsible for your daughter's participation in end-of-year event as chosen by the girls. (CHECK WITH COUNCIL FOR APPROVAL; SOME REQUIRE TROOP FUNDS PAY FOR EVERYONE REGARDLESS OF PARTICIPATION) Financial aid recipients are expected to participate in troop cookie sales (DITTO). Contact me if you have any questions.


Please fill out a health form for your daughter AND for you (or other guardian who plans to accompany your child to an event or meeting), as well. We need one copy of each.

Please be sure to include emergency phone numbers for you both, as well as pertinent health history/medication information.

It is very important that we have these on hand in case of any emergency. Both the Troop Leader and Co-Leader are bound by strict confidentiality regarding the information in these forms. Having these forms on hand helps ensure the safety and health of not only our children, but our volunteers as well.

Health forms are to be turned in by the second troop meeting.


See last page for information. The Council shop is located at ___________________________. All girls are expected to keep their vests in good condition, updated with patches/badges, and wear or bring to every troop meeting. If you need assistance with uniform purchase or patches, contact me.


Whew! And that's almost it for our informational welcome. We know it's a lot to take in and may seem overwhelming at first, especially if you're new to Girl Scouts, but we appreciate you taking the time to read through this. If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to contact us. We are here to help, and always welcome feedback. And whether you're able to help out a lot or a little, we appreciate the help and support! We look forward to seeing you and your daughters, and to all of us having another wonderful year!

- ________________________(Leader) and ______________________ (Co-Leader)

Girl Scout Promise:

On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

Girl Scout Law:

I will do my best to be
honest and fair,
friendly and helpful,
considerate and caring,
courageous and strong, and
responsible for what I say and do,
and to
respect myself and others,
respect authority,
use resources wisely,
make the world a better place, and
be a sister to every Girl Scout.


Leader –
Co-Leader –
Cookie Mom #1 –
Service Unit –
Council –
Troop Website –
School Website –
GSUSA Website –


If your daughter does not already have her vest, please take this sheet to Council shop and purchase the following:
  1. Vest (note: vest holds more patches than sash; if you purchase a sash, you may need to purchase a second one later on) 
  2. Brownie Insignia Tab 
  3. World Trefoil (WAGGGS) Pin
  4. Brownie Membership Pin 
  5. American Flag Patch 
  6. Council ID Patch Set 
  7. Brownie Troop Numbers: ___________ 

See below image for details. Call me if you have any questions – ____________________. 


And that's it for our parent handout! It's long, but again, my parents prefer this to a meeting. So it's entirely up to you. But hopefully it touches upon the major points and there may be some info there you can use.

Also, the image above may not work for your troop, You can simply print out the image from this link and include it with your list of items to buy:

Next up: Choosing Badges/Patches and Troop Crest!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Brownies (and Daisies): Independent Patches and Summer Activites

Let me preface this post by saying first and foremost, that not all leaders share my views on fun patches, and that's fine! :) As always, you do what is best for you and your troop. Please do not use troop funds to pay for independent fun patches, if possible. Troop funds should benefit all girls equally where possible.

While there are guidelines in place for earned, official badges, there are no set "rules" for fun patches, so you do what you and your girls are comfortable with. Some leaders are fine with the girls putting any patches they like on the back of vests (including flowery craft type ones from Michael's, etc.). Some (like me), prefer they be Girl Scouts-related, or that some effort was put in to earn them. It's up to you and your girls.

So, that said, here is my troop's approach to earning independent badges and fun patches. Take what may work for you and leave the rest, or adapt as needed. This is basically the email I sent to parents, after our last troop meeting of the year (we take a break over summer months):

Dear Parents, I wanted to share some info regarding individual patches (official badges and fun patches) that the girls can work on over the summer, if they choose, based upon feedback from girls and parents in the troop.

These typically fall into three categories:
1. Official, earned badges (for Brownies these are Legacy/Skill-Building/Journeys and go on front of vest). These also include retired Try-Its. I have the book and have posted a list for those interested.
2. Official GSUSA, or council-specific fun patches (back of vest)
3. Unofficial fun patches that are earned, but typically not GS-related (back of vest)

#1 category requires certain steps be followed, and we will continue working on these next year. However, if there's something your daughter wants to work on this summer that we will not be doing next year, or if there are any retired Try-Its she'd like to work on, contact me and I can give you info about it. Also, if there's anything your daughter missed this past year and wants to make up over the break, let me know. I'm happy to work with you on steps to earn any missed badges. Make-up work should not take longer than it did during troop meetings.

#2 are simply patches that can be purchased at various GS councils all over, or online. These are fine to simply purchase and place on the back of vest. They show pride in GS, and do not require earning (this can be a fun activity if you're going on a trip to a different city -- Google their council site ahead of time and pick up a council patch while you're there!). Check the local council shop or GSUSA online store.

#3 can be almost anything -- as long as it's earned. For instance, if you're heading to the beach, and see an "I love the beach!" patch (there, or online), here are sample "requirements" for earning that patch: Come up with ~ three steps (documentation via drawing, writing, photo, etc.), such as: 1) Identify five wild animals you see (fish, birds, crabs, so forth). 2) Build a sandcastle with a friend/relative to show cooperation and ingenuity. 3) Learn something about that particular beach (many beaches often use flags to show water safety. Document the flag colors each day, etc.). Or help clean up the beach, or some other activity reflecting the Girl Scout Way. It can be up to your daughter, but it ideally should be at least three activities, and she should document her efforts however she wishes, as she goes. Doesn't have to be complicated or homework-ish. Can be great fun! But for a non-GS patch to go on a vest, I believe it needs to have some kind of effort built in. (This works fine for summer sports, or other activities too! Let them be as creative as they like.) 

This way, it's not simply buying a $2 patch in a souvenir shop. It's turning it into a learning experience, and hopefully a fun one! Let your daughters explore, learn, and have fun while on summer break, and all I ask is you take a picture of her efforts/documentation if possible for the troop log, and then feel free proudly place that patch on her vest (or drop at my house and I'll sew it on for you). There are loads of fun patches available online. Here are some from patchfun.com (lots more elsewhere):

The only "rules" re: #3, are that it cannot be anything obscene (obviously), or against the GS Law, and it should be somehow earned, unless it is a #2 patch (see above). And it's not just patches....

One fun thing you might do, if you're heading to the Savannah area, is visit the Juliette Low House. They have special official pins you can only purchase there. These pins are worn on front of vest, and remain on the vest as you move up in level. There are other GS-related activities and patches you can earn there as well, both individually and as a troop (if you have more than 7 people attending, call ahead to make reservations). And you can find others at other councils all over! Some council badges have requirements and are official (these are called "Council's Own Badges"; ask the local council for details). Some are fun patches and go on the back of vest, and don't have any required steps.

Of course, if your daughter doesn't want to do anything GS-related this summer, that's fine! The purpose of GS isn't to fill up a vest with patches, but for a lot of girls this age, it helps encourage them to feel pride in showing the efforts they've put in. :) And I'm all for it! If that's what she wants, go for it! Anything from reaching a book goal for summer reading, swimming, science camp, or gymnastics. If you can think it, there's a patch for it. Put forth effort, have fun, document it in some way, and earn a fun patch for your vest. 

Being "girl-led" is more than just troop meetings and events. If a girl wants to take the initiative and earn patches on her own this summer, go for it!

Have a great summer break!

NOTE FOR LEADERS: Again, many leaders have a different view on fun patches. Some view patches on the back of vests as a free-for-all, and that's great! But my girls who want to take the initiative want to EARN these patches. They are excited about doing more than just getting Mom to buy a souvenir patch somewhere. They love to tell me what they have accomplished over the break, and I love it that they are still excited enough about Girl Scouts, even when we aren't meeting, so that they want to continue to put forth effort. :) And I love seeing what they've done along the way!