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, December 10, 2015

Juniors: Detective Badge: Science (This is long! Grab your coffee now)

Before I get started, please note that a lot of the prep work can be done by the girls in a meeting. But we were going to be pressed for time, so I did as much prep work beforehand as possible, because I wanted to do all of this in one meeting. It was a lot, but was GREAT!

Now, you can use the suggested activities in the Junior binder, and that's fine! But as usual, I went a little outside the box. Do what works best for you and your troop! But you might enjoy one of the activities here.

It took a little over an hour and a half for the actual meeting activities (which we completed, except for the shoe prints, which were a take-home for most girls), but there was a LOT of prep time! And we were careful to keep an eye on the clock. It could've taken 2 hours to do. Or you can break it up into two meetings. Whatever works.

We began the meeting with a bit of a discussion about what a Detective is, and all about different codes (including the Code Talkers), etc.  When talking about Morse Code, be sure to tell your girls that when it is written as a message, the dashes should be slightly elevated on the paper -- this ensures it is read right-side-up, not upside-down. (It also makes the dashes easier to see.)

Make a point to talk about the different ways Morse Code can be used: light, sound, writing, etc.

My 15 girls were split into three patrols (patrols are typically Juniors and up, and the next step up from buddies/pairs; here's a bunch of info about patrols), we had three stations (one overflow area for shoe prints), and the girls rotated, spending about 20 minutes at each station. If you're moving quickly, skip naming patrols and electing leaders, etc. Just split them up randomly and go!

I had two parent volunteers on hand -- it depends upon how many girls you have (we had 15 for this meeting), as to how many you will need. More parents arrived towards the end, and it was great to have several helpers! I would recommend three volunteers if possible, so you can float from station to station and continue elaborating on how it ties into being a detective.

To earn our badge, we did Fingerprinting, Shoe Prints, Color (Secret) Codes, Morse Code Necklaces, and DNA extraction. (We had a scavenger hunt Halloween party afterwards, which tied in nicely to the Detective Badge, and I'll list details in Part Two.)

You will need at least 3 tables for this meeting, and will have to do clean up as you go. If you're going to have a snack, do it first! And I recommend removing vests before you begin the meeting, as it will get messy.

I have a big Thirty-One large utility tote that I carried everything in, atop my wheeled file box (which held things like my soft cooler for the rubbing alcohol, portable recycle bin, paperwork, flag, etc.). The activity supplies were placed in labeled gallon Ziplocs where possible, and instructions were included, so I didn't have to waste time explaining it to my volunteers. They read over the instructions during snack. The only cumbersome thing was the poster frame.

All of the items listed are to accommodate 15 girls. Adjust as needed. As always, you might find a shortcut to the way I did it. If so, please post and let me know how it worked! I tend to overcomplicate things at times. . . .


You will need the following items for this activity:

(Do at home ahead of time unless you are spreading this badge over more than one meeting. You can have the girls do more prep work, but it's very messy. It's up to you):
- 3-4 full sized (9"x11") sheets of sandpaper
- 1 four-pack of graphite sticks (Michael's, drawing/art section, or Amazon)
- 1 piece of paper that's been folded in half then re-opened
- Plastic gloves (optional)

(Bring to meeting:)
- 5 small plastic containers (reusable Glad or other brand works well)
- 20+ index cards (they might mess up, so have spares)
- Pre-printed fingerprint cards (see below)
- 5 makeup brushes (big and old -- these will be pretty much ruined, so use cheap ones!)
- 1 small container hand lotion
- Poster frame (or similar acrylic type surface -- our tables are wooden and have grooves, so we needed something very flat)
- Clear packing tape
- Scissors
- 2 stamp pads (washable ink)
- 1 roll paper towels
- Access to a sink for hand-washing (soap)
- Pencils or pens to write names on things

Tiny Glad containers worked great for fingerprint powder

Prepare before meeting:

- I used one four-pack of graphite sticks from Michaels (art/drawing section). You can use regular pencils (it's a pain though as you have to stop and sharpen them constantly), sidewalk chalk, or powdered cocoa. I've not tried any of that though. The graphite worked well.
- Wearing plastic gloves (optional, but it's very messy. Seriously), scrub the graphite against the sandpaper (just like you're coloring the sandpaper). Periodically tap the powdered graphite onto a sheet of paper that's been folded in half then opened (powder collects in crease). Pour powder into your small plastic container and make sure the lid is on tightly. In the end you should have 5 containers. Each one will be plenty for three girls to use. (5x3=15. Adjust yours as needed for how many girls you'll have.)
- Print out individual fingerprint cards:

You can use card stock or regular paper for this. 
Cut them up ahead of time if you'll be pressed for time during your meeting.

Create a sample stamped card to use as reference. Pack up everything with instructions in case there are other volunteers assisting. 

What to do in the actual meeting:

- Have each girl write her name on an index card. Set aside.
- Have each girl write her name on the card, then stamp her fingerprints onto it. 
- Wash hands. 
- Apply small amount of hand lotion (otherwise the fingerprints won't show up).
- Press fingertip firmly onto poster frame. 
- Gently pick up some powdered graphite with a blush brush and tap it over the fingerprint.
- Use the brush to gently reveal the fingerprint.
- Cut off a piece of packing tape (it's easiest to have the adult helpers doing this) and press it gently keeping the edges unstuck so they can peel it off easier.
- Peel it off and stick to an index card that the girl has written her name on.
- Wash hands really well. :)


This was our overlap/do-at-home activity. So if a girl finished an activity before others in her patrol, and had already cleaned up, she could do this. You may need to use some of your graphite, or some chalk, or just have them walk around on asphalt or dirt. We did not have enough time for this for most girls, so we sent it home with them. You could elaborate on it a bit, if you want it to be a more involved activity, and have the girls leave a shoe print on paper, then have each girl walk around with the paper and try to match it to the actual shoe, etc.

Because of time, we needed a quick and easy fifth activity, so this was it.

Shoe prints won't work if their shoes are squeaky clean.

COLOR CODES (Steganography):

This was based off of some research I did into Chromatography. Which was cool! But opted instead for steganography, which is basically hiding messages in pictures or text. More info on it here. Also, steganography is a hard word to say, seriously. It look like it could mean "if dinosaurs could write" or something. Practice saying it before you get to the meeting. 

This is an example of a much easier way to approach it. 
But, it wouldn't take 20 minutes and I needed comparable time for each activity. 
I'm glad I opted for way more complicated. The girls had a great time figuring it all out. 
Do what works best for you!

Here's the thing. On my versions (scroll down to the red images), I can see the Morse Code symbols on the electronic version on my computer, but when I printed them out? Could not see them unless I knew to look for them. I tested it on my Daisy. She couldn't see anything but red designs. But when viewed through red glasses? We could both see the symbols clearly. So while you might be able to see something here on this site -- try printing it out and see if you still can (or not). Hopefully these will work. If not, Google is your friend! :)

A great online resource for making Morse Code messages can be found here.

Please note: If you have girls who are colorblind, a steganography activity probably won't work. But they can still participate if you're using a coded message like mine below (and not just colored letters to form a message, like above). Just have them work with a partner. The partner uses her red glasses and copies down the Morse Code, while the colorblind girl translates the code.

You will need the following items for this activity:

- Colored glasses (I made five total. Each pair was used three times)
- Colored messages (variety for each group, so not everyone is working on the same message)
- Scrap paper (one per girl)
- Pencils (ditto)
- Morse Code Key (see below)
- Helper cheat sheet so the volunteers could help prompt girls if they got stuck

Prepare before the meeting:

- Print out the sheets below and cut each in half (each sheet has TWO messages on it; each girl needs one message -- the last message probably won't work for your troop, so discard it)
- Print out the Morse Code keys (one per girl)
- Create a volunteer/helper cheat sheet with translations (keep this one folded away)
- Paperclip one message, one scrap paper, and one Morse Code key for each girl in each patrol (I had three groups of five, with one left over spare for each in case someone's didn't print out well). Make sure you use different red sheets for the girls in each patrol, so they aren't all working on the same message.
- Bundle each patrol's packets together, so it's easy for your volunteers to pull out a new batch for the next group
- Make your glasses (see below)

Red cellophane glasses:

You will need the following to make your own (one per girl, per group. You don't need to make each girl a pair of glasses if you're doing these activities as rotations. Just make the total you'll need per group):

- Card stock
- Cellophane (I used clear pocket divider cover things; you could use thick shrink wrap from packaging, etc. Just has to be thick and clear. Saran wrap won't work. Does your school have a laminating machine? I bet there's a bunch of scrap plastic you could use.)
- Red Sharpies (fresh is best)
- Tape
- Scissors

Follow the steps below to make your own. I made five glasses, but didn't bother to put ear pieces on them. The girls just held them with one hand, and it worked fine. If you have time, add ear pieces.

Make sure the marker on the cellophane pieces is DRY before you tape the red cellophane over the holes in your card stock, or else you'll end up with red ink everywhere. If your marker doesn't go on smoothly, use your finger to spread the ink around. It'll make a mess though, so wear gloves (also, rubbing alcohol works well for getting Sharpie off tables. Ha!)

I traced the front shape of the 3-D type sample glasses I had on hand, onto a folded piece of 
card stock. Then cut out the shape and unfolded.

After you've cut out the glasses shape,  mark roughly where to cut out for eyes, keep the shape folded in half, and use an X-Acto knife to cut the slots for the red cellophane.

Use a red Sharpie to color the cellophane, which should be larger than the eye hole, but smaller than the card stock. You're going to tape the red cellophane inside the glasses shape. 
Red Sharpie transfers pretty easily. 

This is what the inside should look like with cellophane taped in. 
Once you're done, close and tape the card stock edges shut.

Ta-dah! Homemade spy glasses!

Print out all this stuff:

You don't have to use my stuff. You can find others online, or make your own! But here's everything we used for the meeting. You will cut the red cards in half, and each girl in each group rotation/patrol gets a different one (so they aren't all working on the same message at the same time):

"We are a great troop" and "Girl Scouts is awesome"
Each word is on its own line.

"This is super fun" and "Morse code is cool"

"Secret codes are cool" and "Miss Renee rocks"

And okay, so that last one is unusable for your troop, unless you happen to have a Miss Renee... Ha! So, just discard the #6 and use 1-5 for your group rotations. If you have more than 5 in a patrol, have them work in pairs.

Each girl gets a copy of this to use and to take home and keep. Remind them that when Morse Code is written, the dashes are typically raised slightly so you know you're not looking at it upside-down. That's why the color sheets all have raised dashes. I didn't use the numbers, but it's nice to include them for reference.

What to do in the actual meeting:

Make sure the girls coming from the Fingerprints table have washed their hands well. Smudged graphite can really mess with this activity.

Give each girl her paper-clipped bundle and a pencil. Tell her that each line of code is ONE word and to copy down the code exactly as she sees it. Don't try to translate it until you have everything copied down on your scrap paper. That way if they make a mistake, it's easier to find where they went wrong. (Reiterate how careful detectives are!)

You can have them draw one of these: "/" in between each letter, if that helps. Some of my girls used their pencils to trace/color over the code on the actual paper, which made it visible without the glasses. Very clever girls!


You will need the following items:

- String/cord (pre-cut, one per girl. Make these a bit longer than necessary, to accommodate knots)
- Pony beads (variety, round)
- Tube beads (like these; see below)
- Morse Code sheets (see above)

Prepare before the meeting:

Make a sample necklace for yourself. Tie knots in between the words (or you could tie single knots in between letters and double knots in between words. Whatever you like). I used the same color beads for letters (so all my E letters were one color, etc.), but you don't have to do that. The round beads are dots. The tubes are dashes. The girls LOVED this!

Bucket of (tube) beads at Michaels. Super cheap and worked great!

My "Miss Renee" necklace


Lots of great instructions online. Here's one example. Here's another. But don't worry; it's not nearly as complicated as it sounds. The key is to do it at least once at home so you won't stumble in the meeting, since timing is key. The measurements don't have to be exact, honestly. But try to get close if you can. It's more about proportions.

We finished the patrol/group rotations for the other activities, cleaned up, and then everyone did this together, in pairs. All my adult helpers pitched in, which was GREAT! This can get tricky in terms of timing, especially the last step, so having more hands on deck is good.

You will need the following items:

- Rubbing alcohol, chilled (I put mine in a cooler with ice the night before, and brought the cooler to the meeting with me)
- Small clear acrylic cups -- we worked in pairs for this, so I had two per pair. (You could use mixing bowls and cups instead, or go super fancy and get beakers. I just went to the Dollar store and bought cheap punch-size acrylic cups)
- Wooden popsicle sticks (skewers can work too. Toothpicks are a bit too small, IMO)
- Plastic spoons
- Dish liquid (any brand will do. I've heard Dawn works well but I used a clear liquid. It was fine)
- Sturdy Ziploc baggies (don't get the cheap ones, they'll rip)
- Frozen strawberries -- THAWED! (Frozen ones work best, because once they thaw, they're already mushy. Plus, they have the tops cut off). I bought two bags but really only needed one. You don't need a ton, maybe three or four per girl, if they're medium-sized berries)
- Salt
- Paper napkins (or cheesecloth if you have it. We just used generic paper napkins -- they were the soft, super cheap cheap, double-ply kind. Not the Disney Princess style that have a more solid outer layer. You want something that liquid can pass through easily, but that won't tear)
- Measuring cups/spoons
- Water
- Clean up towels for spills

Prepare before the meeting:

Run through it at least once beforehand. I should've done it twice, because I forgot a step early on during the meeting and had to start over. Which was no big deal, but that meant we ran over a little time-wise. So definitely do the experiment at home first, and I'd advise doing it twice just to be safe.

The night before, chill your alcohol and grab a cooler, so it'll still be cold for your meeting. And don't forget to thaw your strawberries! If you leave them out overnight on the counter they should be nice and mushy for your meeting the next day.

What to do in the actual meeting:

Talk to the girls about how detectives use DNA, and what DNA is (I was surprised that some had no idea, so we had a nice little quick intro to genetics).

1. Pass out the cups (two per pair), plastic spoons (one per pair), popsicle sticks (two per pair), and napkins (extras on hand in case of spills or tears, etc.).
2. Give each pair of girls a sturdy Ziploc, and scoop some mushy strawberries into each one. Make sure the baggies are very well sealed, with the air pushed out. Set aside.
3. Put 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/3 cup water, and 1 tablespoon of dish liquid in one cup per pair of girls.
4. Have them use the spoons to gently mix the solution. This will be the extraction liquid. Set it aside.
5. Take turns gently mushing strawberries in baggies for ~2 minutes, or until it's as mushy as possible (they loved this part!). Set aside.
6. Have them place the napkins carefully over the top of the second cup. Press down in the middle so it sags well, and the strawberries won't spill over. Set aside. (You can use rubberbands to hold it in place, or just fingers.)
7. Add three tablespoons of the extraction liquid to the mushed strawberries baggy. You're done with the extraction cup (but hang on to it in case you need to re-do one).
8. Re-seal baggy (air pushed out) and work it through for another minute or so, until it's very well blended with the strawberries. Don't overwork it! You want to be gentle -- don't make bubbles.
9. Open the bag and carefully pour into the cup with the napkin on top. Have one girl hold the napkin in place with the middle pushed far down, while the other pours the mixture. Watch it drip into the cup.
10. Very gently pick up the edges of the napkin, so the mushy strawberry solution is contained within, then gently squeeze it so you get as much liquid into the cup as possible.
11. Carefully pick up the cup, then tilt it slightly. Pour a small amount (about 1-2 tablespoons? Test it at home and see) of chilled alcohol down the side of the cup (if you pour it straight in and it splashes, the experiment won't work as well).
12. Set the cup down and watch. It should start to work immediately. See the white layer forming? The alcohol is pulling strands of DNA from your mixture!
13. Use popsicle stick to carefully dip and grab the DNA strands.

Randomly Googled image. I was too busy to take pictures of our actual experiment, but it was cool!

Next up? Detective Part Two -- Halloween Scavenger Hunt.

Getting Started with Juniors: Bridging & First Meeting Preparation

When my girls were Daisies, we held our troop bridging in the fall of their new second-grade year at school. Some troops prefer to bridge in spring or summer, at the end of their level. I preferred to do it in the fall for two reasons:

1. I did not want to waste troop funds on bridging badges, vests, etc., until the girls were re-registered for Brownies.
2. I wanted it to be a troop event, and make it special, and end of the year is a really tough time to get everyone together for something like this, because our schools here let out very early, and many parents are either dealing with spring sporting tournaments, or starting summer vacation.

Waiting until our first Brownie troop meeting in the fall worked best for us. As always, you do what is best for your troop! :)

However, this past spring our service unit held an Awards Ceremony, and offered a chance for all bridging troops to have their ceremony as part of a service unit event. We opted to participate in this, but I waited until fall before buying bridging badges and "flying up" wings for their Junior vests.

Regardless of when you hold your bridging ceremony, all girls can walk across the "bridge" to show they're moving up, but only those who've completed the required steps receive their rainbow bridging badge for the following year.

That said, we also reduced the frequency of our troop meetings (but extended the time for each meeting to compensate), because back to back meetings twice a month for both troops was too much for me. So our first Junior meeting was not about bridging (though we did have special rainbow treats). It was diving right in to planning the year ahead.

What you will need to do ahead of time:

- Make sure your roster is complete. Check with your SUM or council regarding "Early Bird" renewals (these are typically spring to early summer, though the girls are technically still Brownies until the new GS year begins in the fall -- at least in our council).

- Assist with online registration as needed.
- Make a list for parents of everything they will need in terms of uniform (vest, sash, pins, badges, etc.). Don't forget to include your troop crest!
- Revamp your attendance sheet, kapers, patrol info, etc.
- Look at your finances and decide how much your troop dues will be.
- Get health info forms from your SU or council (or create your own, if none are available -- these should include emergency contact info, allergies/health conditions, medications, etc., and stored in a small manila envelope that's labeled with your personal contact info, inside a ziploc in your first aid bag. The bag should live with you at all times when you're doing anything with your troop. These forms are confidential and for emergencies only).
- Double check your first aid bag to make sure everything's up to date and replace any expired medications or supplies.
- Make sure your adult volunteers have re-registered, and their background checks are up-to-date.
- Check your new adult/girl ratios (these change per level).
- Type up an email and/or take-home sheet to give parents at the first meeting. Include the dates by which all dues, forms, etc., are to be turned in. Never have parents write you a personal check for troop dues. All checks should be written to the troop. (And I far prefer checks to cash, as it's easier to keep track, but your mileage may vary.)
- Revamp your troop's website (we use Shutterfly, which works very well, but I had to change the banner and theme from Brownies to Juniors, and update member contact info, etc.). 
- Check with your meeting place coordinators to ensure your SU's insurance is up to date, etc.
- Add troop meeting dates to your online calendar.
- Add online sign-ups for snacks or volunteers for each meeting.
- Make a list of ALL the official badges that can be earned on the Junior level. (Use mine below as a start.)
- Make a list of the three Journeys and what they entail. (Use mine below as a start.)
- Type up an intro to Bronze Award for the girls. (Use mine below as a start.)
- Print out everything you need!
- Bring spares, just in case you have last minute add-ons.

Below are the Welcome certificates I made for them. I give them a new one at each level, and I prefer a Welcome one to a Bridging one, as we always have new girls, it seems. A Welcome one covers everyone, and is something to give a new girl, while the others are receiving their Bridging badge and Wings. 

Here is a sample Welcome certificate so you can see what they looked like, and a blank template that you can either open and add to, then print. Or you can save and print, and write in the information by hand. It's up to you. Or make one of your very own! 

This one is a sample. Obviously it had the info for each girl in my troop.

This one is a blank template you can use for yours, if you like!

There are bridging certificates available online (and through purchase at GSUSA), and here's a quick one I came up with a few years ago, if you want to use it:

Just print it out on card stock and write in the info by hand.

At the meeting, you may want to talk to the girls about whether they want to earn badges, work on a Journey, and start thinking of potential Bronze projects. I looked at our meeting schedule/dates for the year, and it seemed to make the most sense (to me, for my troop) to have us working on badges the first year, and Journey/Bronze/TAP the second year. Plus, this doesn't exclude any new girls who may join the troop in our second year of Juniors -- they can still earn their Bronze if we're doing Journey then as well.

The girls agreed wholeheartedly.

Just like with Brownies, I gave them a list of all the official badges they could earn as Juniors, and had them pick their top four. I explained that they could work on badges independently as well, if they wanted (I stress this every year, because as they get older, they SHOULD be working on things independently. If I had a small troop, it would be easier to accommodate each girl's interests. But my troop is still pretty big, so we have to do a majority rules approach. But that doesn't mean any one girl is restricted from pursuing something else that interests her).

Below is the printout I gave the girls. Please note, it does not include two badges, as we earned those at fall camporee, which took place before our first meeting. You can adapt as you like, as always. Also, it does not include things like My Promise, My Faith or Junior Aide, etc. Those are things we would work on over time, or outside of regular meetings.

(page one)
Put a check by the top four badges you're most interested in earning this year.

Camper and Simple Meals were earned at fall camp, so those are not included on this list. If you were unable to attend camp and would like to earn these independently, let me know. You can do the same for any other badge, if it's not chosen by the troop to work on in our meetings this year.

_____ Musician

_____ Staying Fit

_____ Digital Photographer

_____ Scribe

_____ Entertainment Technology

_____ Make Your Own (we pick as a troop) EDIT: GSUSA is no longer offering this program, but you could always contact an independent embroidery company and create your own fun patch as a troop.

_____ Independence

_____ Gardener

_____ Jeweler

_____ Detective

_____ Junior Horseback Riding

_____ Animal Habitats

_____ Social Butterfly

_____ Geocacher

_____ Playing the Past

_____ Product Designer

_____ Junior Girl Scout Way

_____ Drawing

_____ Inside Government

_____ Junior First Aid

_____ Practice with Purpose

_____ Flowers

(page two)
Put a check by the one Journey that appeals to you the most.

Journeys can either be done over a long period of time (several meetings, which means roughly half the school year), or we can meet on a weekend day and spend the day getting it all done.

We have the option to work on a Journey this year, or we can wait until next year. However, we have to have the Journey completed in order to earn our Bronze award (it's a requirement, and our Bronze project doesn't have to be related to our Journey, but many girls find inspiration in the Journey they do that helps them pick a community service project for their Bronze award).

Many troops do the Journey and Bronze in the same year, to accommodate any new girls who might've joined the troop.

We will do our Bronze Award next year, definitely. But for now, look through these and see what you think!

Choose the Journey you are most interested in (descriptions for each below):


_____ aMUSE

_____ Agent of Change

Energy use is the topic when Juniors on the GET MOVING! Journey. Some sample activities include: go for nature walks, interview power-use experts, or conduct energy audits of local buildings (or whatever we decide to do!). You will take action by launching carpools, working to dim the lights on city buildings, or promoting energy savings at school, etc.

As you explore your own talents and learn about women who have made the world better, Juniors following the Agent of Change Journey also discover the benefits of teamwork—whether it’s talking about energy use, helping a local food bank, or using your unique talents in other ways. It's up to us to decide how we want to be an Agent of Change!

Exploring new roles and busting stereotypes are just two of the activities Juniors enjoy on the aMUSE Journey. Whether it’s role-playing, speaking to actors about your characters, starting a “mix-it-up” day to meet new classmates, or something else entirely, you will develop increased confidence and inspire others.


At the meeting, we talked about the Bronze Award and what it entails. We had worked on the notion of Community in Daisies and in Brownies, so they had a clear understanding of what Community means. Each year of Brownies we worked on a Community Service/Philanthropy project, so they understand that as well. Now it's time to start actively looking for a need in our community, that our troop can help with, for our Bronze.

So throughout the year they will be looking for potential projects -- looking at needs in their/our communities -- in preparation for Bronze.

That's it for now! Junior Detective Badge info will be coming soon!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Holiday Bingo

Taking a break from Daisy- or Junior-specific info to post a just for fun free printable Bingo set!

I was tired of all the bingo sets you have to BUY (because the free downloads are usually just one card. Which is no fun, because then everyone yells "BINGO!" at the same time).

So here are the ones I made. Hope they work! Please note, all the images were either free clipart I found online, or I made it. Print out however many cards you need. I believe there are 24. I'll include some "spares" at the bottom, which is what I printed off and cut out to use for the Bingo caller to draw from.

The easiest way to download these is from my File Cabinet page. Simple click the Download button by each file, then unzip it to view. If you cannot unzip them, or have issues, you can download each page individually below.










The above cards are to print out for the kids. I laminated mine so they could be re-used in the future.

These last two are the Caller's cards. There are some duplicate images (tree, snowman) so just discard those when you print it out. I was in a rush. ;)

Next up? No clue! I've been crazy busy! Will post some fabulous things over winter break, hopefully.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Official Badges and Binders

Recently someone asked me why I don't list all the steps we've taken for every official badge. While I have detailed all the steps we took for our Daisy petals, and many we did for Brownies, there are some I didn't even post about. (And some where I've left out the key steps we took, and only posted about the extras.)

The reason for this is you can find suggested activities in the binder books for each level. So most of what I'm blogging about are times we chose to do different activities than those suggested.

For second year Brownies and up, I give the girls a list of ALL the official badges we can work on, and they choose which ones they want to do. You can start this with first year Brownies, if your troop is up for it. Mine wasn't, so I chose the itinerary for 2nd grade, and they chose it for 3rd and up.

Anything the girls do not choose as a group, they are welcome to do independently. More info on independent patch work here.

Recently I posted some things to consider for camping with Juniors (those steps can be adapted for other levels as well, and as always, check with your council for guidelines/requirements, and do what works best for your troop!). We worked on our Camper and Simple Meals badges while at camp. I didn't list the specific steps we took, because the suggested steps in the binder worked well for us (for the most part).

Note: I do not require my parents to purchase the binder for their daughters. I purchase one for the troop, and use it as reference. Your girls might enjoy their own binder -- and I tell mine they're welcome to buy one if they like. But we try very hard to keep the cost for parents to a minimum.

And there are some badges where the suggested activities simply aren't a good fit for my troop. Those are the ones I typically post about here.

As always, if you have questions, please don't hesitate to post. Thanks! :)

Binders can be purchased online or at your local council shop.

Cabin Camping Part Two (Packing)

This is based upon a two-night, three-day, cabin camp out with Juniors. You absolutely do NOT need to bring everything listed below; it's a lot. So as always, just adjust as needed for your situation and troop. This post is basically for things to consider when it's time to pack!

Recap of Key Things to Do Ahead of Time:

- Contact your service unit/council if your troop is camping as part of a group, to ensure you know what the camping and cooking (and showering) facilities are for your troop.
- Check the weather forecast for that specific area.
- Get a list of emergency contact numbers for you, your fellow Camp Volunteers to give your troop parents who are not attending.
- Complete any First Aid, CPR, and camping/outdoor training required by your council.
- Make sure any adults attending are registered volunteers, in accordance with your council guidelines.
- Make sure you have the minimum adult/girl ratio for the event.
- Ensure your leader daypack includes updated health forms for ALL attending with your troop (including adults), and a current and complete first aid kit.
- Communicate clearly with parents regarding the facilities, weather, and meals/snacks.
- Double check about girl/adult dietary restrictions (as these can change from  year to year).


This is obviously dependent upon what type of camping you'll be doing, and how long you'll be there. Our trip was three days and two nights in a cabin with a shared kitchen, and a 3+ hours car ride from home. And I'm an overpacker, for sure! But I'd rather have it and not need it, than need it and not have it. Plus, we were staying in a really really nice cabin with a great kitchen. 


Sometimes generic is fine. Sometimes it's not. So splurge on the important things like pasta sauce, and go generic on others that don't matter -- like jelly. It's hard to screw up jelly. When in doubt, go with the plain option (smooth peanut butter over chunky). I've seen leader lists that included all kinds of fancy "adult" foods. My girls are pretty picky still, even in fourth grade. So we went with the basics. Your mileage may vary. Go with what your troop will enjoy!

- Pots and pans, baking sheet, pot holder, ladles, etc.
- Paper plates, bowls, thick cups, plastic utensils -- I know, it's not environmentally friendly but were sharing our kitchen, so this was the better approach (tent camping: reusable dishes/utensils/cups and dunk bags, along with a small container of bleach for rinsing water; be sure to bring small bins for washing, rinsing, and sterilizing dishes)
- Large snap-lid bins, labeled with troop number and your name
- Coolers
- Paper towels
- Dish towel
- Sponge
- Ziplocs
- Garbage bags
- Aluminum foil (kitchen or campfire cooking -- this is key!)
- Dish liquid
- Cooler with ice & refrigerated food
- Coffee maker (good coffee -- the mamas need it!, filters, travel mugs)
- Salt/pepper/spices (garlic and Italian blend)
- Cooking oil and butter
- Milk, orange juice, apple juice, water (and a couple of ginger ales in case someone's tummy is upset)
- Lunches: Sandwich supplies (bread, peanut butter, honey, jelly, sandwich meats, sliced cheese, mayo and mustard). We had one mom go back and make the sandwiches while we were at our first activity, then meet us with the lunch stuff at a picnic spot afterward, as there wasn't time for all of us to go back to the cabin to eat. See Snack Bags for fruit and other options.
- Small bags of chips -- these transport better than large bags
- Juice boxes (optional)
- Little Debbie type snack cakes (dessert!)
- Popcorn (we had a microwave! Get the brand name kind if you're bringing microwave popcorn. The generic doesn't pop well)
- Paper bags to distribute the popcorn
- Hot chocolate packs (generic fine) -- we ended up with popcorn and hot cocoa for our late night snack. You could skip all that and go with s'mores though.
- S'mores supplies (graham crackers, hershey bars, marshmallows -- don't get the big flat marshmallows that are marketed for s'mores; they don't taste as good as the regular ones. Weird, I know)
- Bananas (or not. We ended up tossing some -- and they have to be stored so as to not go brown fast; see Snack Bags for other fruit)
- Small/quick Breakfast: Yogurt, cereal, pop-tarts
- Big Breakfast: Eggs, frozen pancakes (generic okay), syrup (brand name), sausages, grated cheese (optional -- we used the cheese for this meal and our big supper)
- Big Supper: Spaghetti noodles (generic okay), large marinara sauce (brand name), regular sized alfredo (brand name), ground beef (in ziploc, even if sealed), bread (we used small french bread type rolls -- butter and garlic), salad and dressings.
- Small supper: sandwich stuff (campfire cooking: hobo packs, chili, hot dogs, etc.)

Snack Bags:

Every person (girl and adult) had one snack bag per day, labeled with her name and the day it's for. Friday snack bags were quart-sized and distributed when we picked the girls up from school. They munched on these in the car. Saturday bags were gallon-sized and stayed in the girls' daypacks, Sunday's were quart-sized and for the car ride home. Adjust as needed based upon your length of stay. Short trip with one overnight can have just the gallon size and you'll be fine.

The purpose of the snack bags was not only to ensure each person had something to eat throughout each day, but also provided options for picky eaters, if they didn't care for the meal being served. Each day's bag contents varied, with the exception of the trail mix.

Our snack bags rocked! Ahead of time I dumped all the trail mix supplies into a huge bowl, mixed it up, them used a scoop to fill sandwich baggies. We had three trail mixes per person total. It was a lot, but any leftovers could be dumped into the next day's snack bag. And they were. It worked great!

- Trail mix in sandwich baggy (peanuts and/or cashews, craisins [better than raisins, IMO], dried pineapple/other fruit [freeze-dried fruit will get weird and chewy, so use regular dried fruit for trail mix, and keep freeze-dried fruit separate], pretzels, M&Ms, goldfish crackers)
- Cutie oranges in sandwich baggy with paper towel (messy -- this was a Saturday only snack, to avoid sticky rides in the car)
- Small apples
- Box of raisins
- Peanut butter cracker packs
- Chewy granola bars (assorted)
- Snickers
- Freeze-dried apples (in their own packs)

Leader Daypack:

- Pack of hand wipes
- Hand sanitizer
- Bug spray
- Sunscreen
- Kleenex
- Extra hair rubberbands
- First Aid kit (epi-pen, bandages, tweezers, Benadryl cream, fast dissolve Benadryl and Ibuprofen for kids, small electronic thermometer, safety scissors, gauze, wrap, maxi pad, saline eye drops, moleskin, Children's Pepto, Adult Tylenol/Advil, etc., and some candy of some sort for quick sugar boost, or boo-boo distraction)
- Health forms with emergency contact info for all attendees (in ziploc)
- Permission slips, signed (in ziploc)
- Cell phone (in ziploc)
- Camera (optional, but mine works better than my cell phone)
- Camp map
- Small notepad and pen to record medications given

Extra Stuff to Bring:

- Craft/game stuff in case of inclement weather. I brought a roll of butcher paper that had accompanied a box from Amazon. It was a perfectly good (albeit wrinkled) long length of paper. I rolled it up, tossed in a big bag of Sharpies, and it was an instant, fun "Let's draw a mural!" activity for down time. Doubles as great bonfire fodder when you're done!
- Uno cards are a great and easy down time game. We did a lot of GS traditional games though.
- For younger troops, coloring pages and crayons, and other crafts are good. Older girls? Skits, games, etc. But it's NEVER a bad idea to have something on hand to keep them occupied during down time or if it rains.
- Flashlight
- Phone charger (moms)
- Acne cream and whatever toiletries you need. Because I swear nothing like camping makes my face break out! Ugh.
- Tie-dye supplies, waterproof tarps, etc. (we used old vinyl tablecloths) to do it on. Container to pre-soak in soda ash. Twine and clothespins to hang to dry. Extra gloves!
- Foam core cut in half. This gives you 4 kaper lists total. We broke up into two patrols and then assigned each patrol jobs for the length of our stay. You could easily use rolled up butcher paper for this, but I had some foam core handy.
- Camper Badge supplies (maps, cardboard knives, compasses, etc.)
- Any additional badge supplies (we did all of Camper and most of Simple Meals at camp)
- Toilet paper (because even a stocked cabin can run out)
- Pump hand soap (ditto)
- Small battery lantern (to leave in bathroom at night, etc.)
- Ear plugs/eye masks (moms!)
- Extra deodorant, pads, sweatpants, sweatshirt, socks, toothbrush, towel for girls. I always have at least one extra sleeping bag in my car too, just in case, and a spare small duffle with one set of clothes and toiletries in case someone forgets her bag. I also bring a small electric heater just in case. Yep, I'm an overpacker for sure! ;)

So, there's your HUGE packing list! You certainly don't need to bring all that, but hopefully it will give you an idea of things to consider bringing on your trip. Our biggest expense was food. We don't skimp on food, and used the bulk of our cookie money to pay for food. The cost for us to go to camp for three days and two nights (including activities) was $75/girl. The adults who went were paid for with troop funds. And we used $200 in cookie money to pay for the rest of the food. You can ask your adults to pay their own way, which would mean not dipping into your troop funds as much (or at all). It's up to you and your parents.

Just one of the many awesome things we did!

More to Come Soon!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Cabin Camping Part One (What the Girls Should Bring)

Fall Camporee! I took my Junior troop to an awesome camp (outside our council) that was a 3 hour drive from home. We had three adults and 8 girls. We were only going to have 2 adults, but ended up with some scheduling issues, and it worked out well, as we had plenty of room for all our gear, food, and girls in three cars.
Packing their own bags was just the first step in earning their Camper badge

Some Random Things:

Never put girls to sleep head-to-head (lice), and always check with your council ahead of time regarding the rules concerning where adults sleep. Our council rules are 2 unrelated registered female volunteers in the room where girls are sleeping, or no adults in that room at all. No male volunteers in the same sleeping area as the girls, period. Your council may have different rules, so check with them first.

Make sure you have at least one registered volunteer who is Camp certified, with CPR, and First Aid, too. It can be one registered adult, or three different ones. Doesn't matter (in our council). 

Make sure you have updated health forms on all girls AND adults attending. Keep these in your leader daypack, along with all medications, and your first aid kit. 

Call the camp ahead of time to find out about weather (it may be in the mountains, thus cooler than the forecast for the area, etc.). Find out about specific restrictions on activities (no jewelry, glasses must be secured, etc.), and if you need permission slips for anything while there. 

Find out ahead of time exactly what the sleeping and cooking arrangements for your troop will be. I had a friend who assumed they were staying in a cabin with a kitchen, so her troop brought food that could not be prepared over a camp fire. They were not happy to discover there was no kitchen in their cabin. So when in doubt, ASK!

Below is the information I sent to my parents. It included a packing list for the girls, as they had to pack their own bags as part of earning their Camper badge. You can adapt much of this for your own troop, regardless of level. We were staying in a cabin for a weekend, so they didn't need to bring dunk bags or dishes, etc. More info on Foodstuff to bring in the next post.

By the way, be sure to include deodorant and pads on your list, for Juniors and up. Our girls are in 4th grade but some already need deodorant, and the last thing any leader wants to deal with is a girl starting her period with no one with pads on hand. This can also encourage parents to have a chat with their daughters ahead of time, regarding periods/hygiene. Also, at one point in the trip I flat out told my girls if they hadn't showered yet, they were to go do so. Stinky! Ha. They were great. :) But stinky, yeah. They all showered. It was good.

Anyway, here's the info I sent out.  Information I've altered for privacy is in italics.


Information for Parents:

PERMISSION SLIPS, CHECKS, and HEALTH FORMS must be turned in at drop-off.

(Information here with camp address, contact names and numbers, etc.)

All girls are expected to abide by the Girl Scout Law as well Troop & Camp Rules. Refusal to abide by the rules and cooperate can result in having to sit out of an activity, doing additional cleanup/kapers, or being sent home. We are there to have fun, and a great troop experience. We expect all the girls to be on their best behavior.

Please print out the next page and give to your daughter. She needs to pack her own bag, but parents double check the bags to ensure everything is there that needs to be. If it is not on the packing list, your child should not bring it. We had some issues at (previous camp) with novelty items that were not appropriate for camp. If there's a question about something, contact me ahead of time. Contraband items will be confiscated. ;)

Please drop off your daughter's gear at (leader's house/date)

Bring a booster if she still uses one OR is under age 9 (check with your state laws for this. All GS must be in appropriate seats/restraints in accordance with your state law, as well as destination state law).

(Information here on specifics for departure.)

All snacks and meals for the trip will be provided (the cost is covered in the fee). If your child has special dietary needs/restrictions, let us know immediately, as we will be purchasing groceries in advance. (More on foodstuff in next post!)

We will send out a group text to parents on our way home, with the time to meet at (return location).

All medications MUST be labeled and in original/prescription bottles, with detailed instructions, and packed by parents, separate from girl's bags. Do not pack medications in with your child's things. While we will have various OTC medications and first aid items on hand, you need to provide any special medications your child may need while at camp. If your child is prone to carsickness please let me know BEFORE we leave, and provide medication for the drive there and back.

(First Aid certified, registered volunteer to dispense all medications, including OTC ones. It's always a good thing to keep a record of what you give a girl, and when.)

No electronic devices of any kind are allowed (we cannot have them at camp, and cannot ensure their safety if left in cars). However, if your child needs to reach you at any time, she is absolutely welcome to use a chaperone's cell phone. If you need to speak with her, please call (leader's) cell.

Have questions or concerns? Please call or email me. :)

We are going to have an ADVENTURE! And it'll be awesome. :) We will take good care of your child.


  • Abide by Girl Scout Law at all times.
  • Stay with the troop at all times.
  • When away from our cabin, or doing an activity ask before leaving the troop to go to the restroom, etc.
  • Work well with your Patrol.
  • Don't be afraid to try something new! :)
  • If you need something, ask an adult. When you're given an answer, accept it kindly and move on.
  • No bickering, arguing, or whining. You are in fourth grade now, and representing our troop, our school, and your family. Be on your BEST behavior. Treat all the adults and the other girls with respect.
  • Follow directions.
  • If you are having a problem with another girl, work it out the Girl Scout Way. If you need adult assistance, ask for it.
  • Issues with behavior can result in having to sit out of a camp activity, doing additional kapers, or a parent being called to come get you.
  • This trip will determine whether or not we can take big trips in the future as a troop. So please help one another, follow the GS Law, and make yourselves proud of how well-behaved you've been! 


(Details about activities here.) For all activities there will be very specific guidelines we MUST follow in order to participate safely. You will learn more about these activities when we get to camp.

We will have snack bags for your daypacks like we did at (previous camp), but this time we will be preparing some of our own meals as a troop. Everyone will have a job to do with preparation and/or cleanup for meals throughout the weekend.

Everyone is to help with cabin cleanup and any camp kapers throughout the weekend. Girl Scouts leave things neater than we found them. So clean up after yourselves please.


  • Comfortable pants/jeans.
  • GS t-shirt
  • Comfortable socks.
  • Old tennis shoes or boots. No Crocs or sandals or flip-flops. Wear closed-toe, comfortable shoes.
  • Rain jacket or hoodie if weather calls for it (otherwise pack it).
  • Do not wear Junior vests to school that day. Do not bring them to camp. (We were heading to fall camporee, before we'd even had our first troop meeting of the year. Some troops bring vests to camp. I've found they aren't necessary, and pins can get lost, etc. So we do camp shirts instead.)

At school on Friday, when you're packing up at the end of day, pull your water bottle out of your backpack so we can fill the water bottles before we leave school. These are the water bottles you are going to use at camp, so bring a good one that won't leak and is durable.

All the stuff you packed ahead of time will already be in the cars when you get out of school. (See next page.)


Everything below, with the exception of your water bottle, should be packed and dropped off at (leader's) house ahead of time. You are in charge of packing your own gear, so follow the directions, please.

  • Warm, full-sized sleeping bag, packed in a stuff sack.
  • Pillow packed in garbage bag (garbage bag doubles as dirty laundry bag)
  • Large backpack or duffle bag (see list on next page for what to pack in it)
  • Your booster seat if you use one or are under age 9
  • Small daypack with these items inside (put your name on anything of value):
  1. refillable water bottle (you will use the one you are bringing to school that day)
  2. bug spray, sunscreen face stick
  3. kleenex
  4. hand sanitizer or wipes
  5. baseball cap
  6. extra hair rubberbands and/or headbands
  7. flashlight (do NOT bring ones that make noise)
  8. bandana
  9. attach Situpon with carabiner if desired

PACK IN DUFFLE BAG/BACKPACK (no rolling backpacks or suitcases):

  • 2 pair Pajamas (sweatpants/t-shirts are fine. NO nightgowns (we had one issue with a girl bringing a thin nightgown and the temps were near freezing. Recommending clothes that can double as day time layers is good)
  • 2 pair jeans (belt if needed)
  • 1 pair comfy pants (for ride home)
  • 2 short-sleeved shirts
  • 1-2 long-sleeves shirts
  • Rain jacket if weather forecast is wet (wear Friday if needed)
  • Sweatshirt or hoodie
  • 4 pair underwear (bra if necessary)
  • 3-4 pair comfortable/warm socks
  • Gloves if weather forecast is cold
  • Boots or old tennis shoes. Pack one pair. Wear the other. So you have two pair shoes total. We will be walking a LOT and getting dirty. Your shoes should be comfortable and not brand new.
  • Small bag or Ziploc with your toiletries inside:
  1. Toothbrush with travel case or Ziploc (put your name on it)

  2. Toothpaste

  3. Soap

  4. Shampoo (conditioner if needed)

  5. Washcloth AND bath towel for shower

  6. Hairbrush/comb and rubberbands if your hair is long

  7. Deodorant/pads if necessary 

  • Plastic bag to hold wet/dirty clothes (use garbage bag your pillow was stored in)
  • Sleep mask, and/or ear plugs if necessary
  • White pillowcase for tie-dyeing (write name inside it, small, in Sharpie)
  • Any medications you need should be packed by your parent and given to your leader separately, along with all permission slips, health forms, and camp fees.

Do not pack anything else. No electronic devices, whistles, etc.

If you need to bring something that is not on the list, ask me ahead of time. 
We will have crafts and games for indoor activities, in case of inclement weather.


That was the list the girls (and parents) were given. I had them all drop off gear, forms, and checks the night before we left. That way we could pack all three cars with everything (including coolers with food -- just added ice the next morning), so we could scoot out of town quickly the following afternoon. It worked out really well. 

We had some girls ask ahead of time if they could bring a small stuffed animal to sleep with. That was fine. But we also had some try to sneak in other items as contraband. Which wasn't fine. The girls were great though, and left their contraband items in their duffle bags. Mostly. ;) We did have to remind them to check their daypacks each morning, and remove any unnecessary items, because they get heavy when you're hiking ten miles. And sit-upons are fun, but kind of a pain to carry throughout the day. I would recommend them for evening campfire times, primarily. Also, no need to bring a flashlight in daypack in the daytime, etc.

More on what the leader needs to bring, in the next post.