Welcome!


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!

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!

19 comments:

  1. I would like to hear an update in the fall as to whether or not your girls earned anything. I used to send out a similar email, and except for one parent (who is a gung-ho scouting parent of two Boy Scouts and a Girl Scout), none of my girls besides my daughter earned anything. I used to talk it up at my our last meeting, too, as we do not meet over the summer. The girls would ask why they had so many after our summer break, and I would explain that these two took advantage of earning on their own.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sure! We are halfway through our summer break, and so far I've had four girls respond. They are all working on make-up badges/patches (these are paid for with troop funds), as well as independent Try-Its and fun patches (paid for by individual parents). I also took a family vacation to Hilton Head and stopped in Savannah to take a tour of the JGL Birthplace. I sent an email to my parents ahead of time, asking if any of their daughters wanted the souvenir Friendship Pin and/or a fun patch from there. I had quite a few respond (these were paid for by parents, not troop funds). My two daughters also received the JGL pins for taking the tour. But those who did not attend only received the Friendship Pins (you must take the tour in person to receive the official Birthplace Pin).

      I think the key is to give your parents/girls the information on independent work, regardless of response. You never know when someone might decide to do something, even if she hasn't in the past. When it comes to summer, I have very low expectations. I encourage the girls (my own daughters included) to work independently if they choose, but I don't require it. I don't even expect it. But I do think it's good to make an effort and give them the option, even if no one takes advantage of it.

      I have not scheduled any troop activities though, due to lack of response. That's fine. :) Our SU has several events planned for the summer. I continue to communicate details about these events to my parents, but do not expect involvement.

      Summer, to me, is family time. I know some troops continue to meet once school is out, and that's great! But personally, I enjoy the break. As always, you do whatever is best for you and your troop.

      Hope that helps. :)

      Delete
  2. When we bridged to Brownies, I let our girls pick out retired badges they would like to work on in the summer (that I found in our school's scout closet.) Not everyone finished them, and that's ok. I agree - the point is you give them an option.

    This year, as new juniors, we are taking a different tactic. Rather than buy the Girls Guide (which everyone routinely forgot), we are making booklets that girls can do at their own pace. We started with the Scribe badge. We'll have them available to them in their folders for the girls who always arrive early to whittle away at, and the girls can take it home and do it on their own time if they want.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love giving girls the options of working on retired badges, in addition to independent fun patches. Our challenge has been that our troop is so large, it's tough to find affordable retired badges to do as a troop (many Try-Its, for instance, can be found on eBay, but are typically sold individually, or just a few at a time; bulk sales are typically more expensive, unfortunately). I absolutely agree that giving them as many options as possible is key; the older they get, the more initiative they can take in earning what THEY want. I'm grateful that GSUSA allows leaders to accommodate the girls this way. :)

      Delete
  3. There is also a tour of the National Headquarters in New York City that is available for free. Here is the info: http://www.girlscouts.org/who_we_are/facts/visit_us.asp I believe they also have a pin available for purchase in their store too. I am going on the tour this summer!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I can't seem to find the placement for the skill-building badges for Journeys. On the vest placement pictures it shows the placement for the Journey Award badges but not the skill-building. Do you know where those go? Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. For Brownies, Skill-Building and Legacy badges can go anywhere on the front bottom halves of the vest. Some people put them on the same side as Journey badges. Some on the other side. It really depends upon where there is room.

      Delete
  6. Where can I find a list of how to learn all the different fun patches?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There is no master list of fun patches. A fun patch is unofficial, and can be pretty much anything that interests your child/troop (obviously it should be age- and subject-appropriate for GS). You can order them online through various patch companies, eBay, GS leader sites. You can find them in retail shops and a different variety in each GS council shop.

      Some leaders are fine with girls adding fun patches to the back of the vest for any reason at all (a souvenir, for instance). Others request some effort be involved to "earn" the patch. It honestly depends upon your leader.

      If you are the troop leader, then you get to be creative! I would suggest asking your girls to come up with some ways to "earn" their fun patches. It is always better to let the girls lead the way, when possible.

      Hope that helps!

      Delete
  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Can girls wear fun patches earned in previous years? My daughter bridged to brownies this spring. Can her fun patches from daisies be put on the back of her brownie vest?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Technically, yes, however I would not move patches from one level to the next (even fun patches that aren't level-specific), because years from now when she looks at her vest, hopefully those fun patches will remind her of the activities she participated in. If you move them up then they are no longer representative of the level when she received them.

      Pins move up, but patches and badges typically do not.

      However, if you're referring to fun patches not already seen on a Daisy vest -- like ones earned during the summer (for instance) between Daisies and Brownies, then those could really go on either vest and be fine.

      Delete
  9. What are the Fall product sales patches considered, should they go on the front or back of the sash?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fall product patches are the same as cookie patches and go on the back. The only sales-related badges that go on the front are the triangle financial literacy ones (for Brownies).

      Delete
  10. Are pins specific to the number of years as a Brownie or combined Brownie and Daisy Years?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you're referring to the Juliette Low House pins, it doesn't matter. Any GS may wear them. More information on those pins and others can be found here: http://troopleadermom.blogspot.com/2014/07/brownies-daisies-and-beyond-vests-vs.html

      Delete
  11. My daughter bridged to brownies this past year, can she start earning fun patches for brownies or stay with daisys?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would check with her troop leader, but traditionally patches earned go on the current vest at current level. Since she's no longer a Daisy, she's earning as a Brownie. :)

      Delete

Thank you for visiting my blog! Please respect Girl Scout Privacy guidelines and do not leave any identifying information regarding a troop or its members, as this is a public site.

Also, I am happy to respond to comments posted on my blog, but I am unable to respond via personal email. This helps protect not only my own information, but that of my girls.

Anyone is welcome to use the templates I post here. I will always do my best to acknowledge my sources for any artwork or information I post, but I am human and may miss something along the way. Regardless, I strive to ensure that my blog's purpose and all its posts are in accordance with the Girl Scout Law in every way. The purpose of this blog is to assist new leaders based upon my own experience as a volunteer, and is not in any way intended to replace or subvert any information in official Girl Scout leadership training.

Thank you!