Skip to content

You Might Be a Girl Scout Leader If:

You’ve turned in your finance report, early birded your troop for fall, and finally eaten that last box of thin mints in your freezer. Before the troop year starts all over again, take a minute to remember some of the experiences this year that happened because you said yes to being a leader. Those things that only another Girl Scout volunteer would understand. Here’s a few of our favorites that set our leaders apart to get you started.

You might be a Girl Scout leader if:

  1. You’ve legally slept on the floor of public buildings-and have the back pain to prove it.
  2. You know more than 2 ways to light a fire. Not quite you? Bring your girls to Intro to Outdoor Skills and starting building those skills with your troop. 
  3. You have more experience fundraising than most professional fundraisers and know where to look in Volunteer Essentials (in Volunteer Resources) for our policies and procedures.
  4. “Make New Friends” and “The Brownie Smile Song” run in a permanent loop in your head. Need more songs to drown them out? Download the Songbook from Girl Scouts Rock the Mall.
  5. You can tell the difference between a happy scream and a spider scream from three tents over and have a designated kaper chart chore with the title “official spider wrangler”.  
  6. You know what a tax ID number is, and how to use it to get discounts (as a non-profit organization, we’re tax exempt-use form in the Forms and Documents section and get those discounts).
  7. You have developed negotiation skills that put a U.N. ambassador to shame. And for those rough middle school years we recommend the aMAZE: The Twists and Turns of Getting Along Journey.
  8. You have a duffel bag sized first aid kit stashed in your car, “just in case”. And emergency rations (snacks) stuffed in your purse next to a printout of Safety Activity Checkpoints from previous activities (also found in our Forms and Documents under Frequently Accessed Forms). 
  9. You correct people when they refer to fun patches as “badges”. As our founder said “a badge is a symbol that you have done the thing it stands for often enough, thoroughly enough, and well enough to BE PREPARED to give service in it. You wear the badge to let people know that you are prepared and willing to be called on because you are a Girl Scout.” What fun patch does all that?
  10. You’ve endured years of paperwork, sore muscles, and muddy adventures because you know that with Girl Scouts you’re changing the world-one confident girl at a time. You go, girl!

Now take that well deserved summer break. Catch up on your reading, play outside, and let fall find you fully refreshed and ready for the next troop adventure! Want to see what kind of Girl Scout Leader you are? Take this fun quiz and find out: http://bzfd.it/1yXgp8q.

The key to success: GRIT!

What is grit and why is it so important to our (and our girls’) success? Grit is a combination of persistence and resilience that is not related to talent or IQ. People with grit can accomplish things that seem almost impossible.

We all know them. The girl who refuses to give up on the high ropes course (despite her fear of heights) and finally (after multiple attempts and falls) conquers the course and her fear. The leader who sticks with her girls (through their hard middle school drama years) supporting them and coaching them until they grow into passionate adults who know they have the skills and the work ethic to make a difference in the world. These women and girls all have one thing in common. It’s not their natural talent or their high IQ. Rather it’s their work ethic and ability to roll with the punches: they are gritty!

So how do we build grit in our girls? According to a study at Stanford University the answer is: Mindset! What’s that? The Thrive Foundation defines mindset as “an attitude toward your own abilities, be they intelligence, skills, talents, or aptitudes.” According to Dr. Carol Dweck there are 2 main mindsets:

  • The fixed mindset: You believe that your personal qualities are fixed and that you have been given only a certain amount of talent, intelligence, ability, and/or character. You are either good or bad. Have a lot or a little. You can improve around the edges, but either you have it or you don’t.
  • The growth mindset: You believe that your personal qualities are things you have worked hard to establish including talent, intelligence, ability, and/or character. You believe that although many people differ in the initial amount of talent, aptitudes, and abilities, everyone can change and grow through hard work and experience. (Dweck 2006)

The growth mindset by another name could be called learning by doing (experiential learning). It says the more I practice, the harder I try (and fail), the more I grow and the more successful I become. This is a pillar of the Girl Scout program and having this growth mindset (being gritty) directly contributes to success. The Thrive Foundation (and Girl Scouts) believes that caring adults “can help youth acquire a growth mindset through modeling it in their own lives and encouraging youth to work hard to improve their abilities, including their intelligence, their moral character, their talents and their interests.” Can we be that role model? Can we be gritty for our girls? We think we can. Let’s help our girls grow up with grit by showing them the way!

 

9 Tips to Prevent Homesick Campers

The sun is shining, the day is warm, and you’re helping your child pack for their big summer adventure. It’s camp time of year again and we’re so excited to welcome hundreds of young ladies to our camps. While checking off the packing list for camp, don’t forget to have a conversation with your child about homesickness. Why? Because it’s normal to miss home and by talking about it with your child and making a plan you will help them work through their feelings more quickly and get back to having an awesome time at camp! Here are a few prevention tips from the American Camp Association that will help your camper deal.

Before Camp:

1. Work together as a family to select a camp, make plans, and pack. The unknown can be scary so make sure that your camper is involved in the selection process, knows the details of camp (how long, what the daily schedule looks like, if possible visit the property before camp), and helps pack so she feels entirely prepared. You can even allow her to pack a favorite stuffed animal and/or picture so that she will have a reminder of home while at camp.2. Role-play anticipated camp situations. Practice using a flashlight to find the bathroom in the middle of the night or what she’ll do when she finds a spider in her tent (hint: calling a counselor is okay, screaming and running for the office is not). You won’t be able to cover everything but having a plan for some will help her deal with the unexpected and keep her moving forward.3. Schedule practice time away from home, such as a long weekend at a friend’s house. Sleeping in a strange place can be unsettling the first (or second) time for a child and not having a parent around can lead to anxiousness once those lights go out so give her a practice run close to home so she knows she can do it.4. Experiment with the best coping strategies during this practice separation. Pack that stuffed animal that she can hug when she’s feeling homesick, encourage her to take a few deep breaths to calm down, and then join the fun again. Talk over what helped and what didn’t when you pick her up so she’ll remember what works for her when she’s at camp.5. Avoid the “pick-up deal”! Never ever say, “If you feel homesick, I’ll come and get you.” This conveys a message of doubt that undermines her confidence and almost guarantees you’ll be picking up your child. Let her know you believe in her ability to work through her feelings (with help from our staff) and make it to the end of camp. It’s amazing what girls can do when they know someone believes in them! 6. Write letters. Prepare pre-stamped, pre-addressed envelopes for her to bring to camp, then give her a letter from home to open her first night at camp. Who doesn’t love mail? Plus writing letters home will give her a chance to organize her camp experience and the letters willl make great mementos.

During Camp Encourage Her to:

7. Stay busy! It’s hard to wallow in homesickness if you’re fully immersed in an activity. Give her a few ideas for downtime that will help keep her mind busy too, like reading her favorite book (make sure to pack it). 8. Talk with someone. Sometimes just acknowledging the feelings goes a long way. Encourage girls to seek out a counselor. They make great resource and chances are this is not their first encounter with a homesick kid this summer. 9. Remember camp is not a life sentence. A week (even two) will be over in the blink of an eye. Encourage her to remember that she’s not at camp for her whole life-just a few weeks.

Homesickness will always be a part of camp, but with a little planning it is a manageable part. Plus it’s great practice for life. After all, everyone leaves home eventually so what better way to prepare girls to be courageous and independent young women than having an amazing adventure at Girl Scout camp? Check out our camp options on our website and get your kid to camp this summer!

Highest Awards: What To Do

Last week we listed 14 things Not To Do for a Girl Scouts Highest Award. Now it’s time to list what TO DO for your Highest Award.

  • Complete the Pre-requisites: girls must be registered members, the appropriate age level for each award (check here), and must have completed a Journey at that age level before they can begin planning their Highest Award project. Girls earning their Gold Award who have not previously earned their Silver Award must complete 2 Senior or Ambassador Journeys before beginning the Gold Award process.
  • Learn from an Expert: we highly recommend girls attend one of our Highest Awards 101 workshops or webinars, or the Silver and Gold specific workshops (check Ebiz for upcoming dates) OR contact the Highest Awards support staff in your region. It is especially important for the Gold Award that the girl does the contacting about her specific Gold Award Project! Your staff support contacts are:
    • Cincinnati- Devon Beck (devonbeck@gswo.org)
    • Dayton- Sarah Kelly (sarahkelly@gswo.org)
    • Lima – Megan Ramey (meganramey@gswo.org)
    • Toledo – Rebecca Sarantou (rebeccasarantou@gswo.org)
  • Explore Your Community: every community is unique and has different assets and organizations that effect the needs of the community. While community A may have access to awesome  STEM programs for children because of a local university’s outreach department, community B may have no STEM programs available for children that don’t require driving to community A. What is a need for one community may be a strength for another and vice versa. Good places to start checking into the needs of your local community are the local newspaper and news channels. You can also interview long time residents of the community about the needs and assets they see in your area. Use Community Mapping too.
  • Identify Issues You Care About: you’ll be spending a large amount of time on your project, so consider what things you value and skills you have that you enjoy sharing. What sparks your interest? Whether it’s music, science, or animals find a community need that relates to that topic so that your project centers around something you’re passionate about and enjoy.
  • Investigate the Root Cause of the Issue: when you hear about a problem or an issue, always ask “why” this is an issue so that you can trace it back to the root cause of the problem. Need an example? How about you discover your town has a low employment rate. Now find out why. Are there not enough jobs for the amount of workers available? Do the workers available not have the right skill level for the open positions? Maybe a lack of transportation in the community means the unemployed cannot get to the open positions? Although multiple communities may have the same issue, the root cause of the issue may be very different. When investigating:
    • Demonstrate courage as you investigate your issue, knowing that what you learn may challenge your own and others beliefs about your community.
    • Use a variety of sources- interview people, read books and articles, find professional organizations online.
    • Remember to evaluate each source for reliability and accuracy. Bob’sAngryRant.com is not as reliable a source as a reputable news-site or organization in your community.
    • Make a global connection-think about others who may have worked on the same problem in the past, or check the internet to see how others around the globe deal with your issue. What can you learn from their approach? For example, if your local park has noticed a sharp decrease in their bee populations find out what other parks/towns/places have done to help with this issue. Research why being a world without bees is a bad thing and how it affects other issues (for the curious here’s why).
  • Find a Mentor: seek out a project advisor who has expertise in the topic of your project either through their own job, volunteer opportunities or general knowledge of the topic. *Note: your parent/guardian or troop leader cannot be your project advisor.
  • Build Your Team: seek out people with valuable skills who are also passionate about your issue. Remember to respect different points of view and ways of working and that they are your volunteers so this is a choice for them, not an obligation. Work with their schedules and be prepared to be flexible in your timeline to accommodate their schedules.
  • Develop Your Project: identify a main goal for your project that everyone involved can understand and seek a way to meet that goal. The basic thing each girl should be able to say is “through our efforts we achieved X, and because of X, we lessened/made a positive impact on issue Y in our community“. A simple example is “through our creation of a bee friendly garden at the local park and our bee advocate junior gardening workshops we created a place for bees to thrive and educated community members on the importance of bees and because of this the bee population will grow in our community”.
  • Make a Plan that Lasts: being organized and thinking through a probable timeline are essential to a quality project. Consider the impact too: is it short term or are there aspects that will have an effect beyond your initial involvent? As a leadership Take Action project the goal is to make a lasting impact on a community need, so the project needs long-term benefits and community support. This is the difference between Service and Take Action. Service projects are done FOR the community with a short impact, while Take Action  projects are done WITH the community so that the impact is sustained. Still not clear? Click the link above for a more in-depth look at the difference between service and Take Action.
  • Gold Award Only- Get Approval: while the Highest Awards support staff welcome questions about projects from all levels, the Gold Award has an added requirement in its approval process. Girls must submit a Gold Award Proposal with a detailed project plan attached to council. Once received, members of the Gold Award Committee will contact the girl with project feedback and dates of upcoming committee meetings so that each girl can present her project plan to the committee in her region for approval before officially starting the project.
  • Put the Plan in Motion: you’ve made a plan, found your team, plotted out a timeline and (for Gold Award) gotten the approval needed. All that’s left is taking action to make your world a better place! Don’t be discouraged if something does not happen exactly as you thought it would or if there are unforeseen obstacles that you must overcome. This is all part of being a leader and making an impact. So keep brainstorming your way around obstacles, consult your team, troubleshoot issues with your advisor as they occur, and reach your goal!
  • Share Your Story: demonstrating to an audience what you have learned sets the stage for even broader impact, and is sometimes the best way for you to recognize what you have accomplished and see how much you have grown. It will also help you get others inspired to act! Need ideas? Here are a few ways to share your story, for more check the award guidelines in the Highest Awards section of our website:
    • Create a website or blog about what you have learned and how your project will help your community.
    • At a workshop for community members, present what you have learned and what your project will do for the community. Or do a presentation for a group of younger Girl Scouts—you will definitely inspire them!
    • Write an essay or an article for your local or school newspaper
  • Reflect: congratulations on completing a project that makes a difference! Take some time to think about all that you have accomplished. Who did you meet that you didn’t know? What did you learn from others about your project issue, about your community, and about yourself? What would you do differently if you did it again? This is Step 4 of the Take Action process.
  • Make it Official: all awards must turn in a final report and evaluation (in the Highest Awards section of our website) to be official. Each award requires a slightly different final report (Bronze is a checklist, Silver is a Final Report with attached questions, and Gold is a Final Report and Presentation before the Gold Award Committee) and approval process. The Bronze Award is leader approved and the pin can be purchased in our shop when the checklist and evaluations are turned in. The Silver Award is leader approved but council must confirm after they receive an individual final report from each girl and purchasing pins in the shop requires the approval letter from council. The Gold Award is approved by the Gold Award Committee after the Final Report and a presentation before the committee and pins are purchased for the girls to be given out at the annual council-wide Gold Award Ceremony in March.
  • Celebrate: you’ve accomplished so much, it’s time for a celebration. Invite friends and family to an end of the year party and recognize the girls in your troop who earned this award. Does your service unit have a picnic/banquet/end of year event? If so, take a moment to recognize all of the girls in your community who have earned these awards. It doesn’t have to be big and splashy to be meaningful!

Now that you’ve got a handle on what to do for your Highest Award, go out and start investigating how you can make a change in your community. Dream big, you’ve got a lot of power inside of you and a whole team of people cheering you on as you make your world a better place!

Highest Awards: What Not To Do

2016 marks the 100th anniversary for highest awards in Girl Scouts. Just think about the impact of that for a second…100 years of girls across the nation identifying a need, assembling a team, and making a lasting difference in their community with leadership and girl power. What an exceptional legacy our organization has!

Let’s keep the legacy alive with another 100 years of amazing projects. Girl Scout’s highest awards—the Bronze, Silver, and Gold Awards—are your girls’ chance to make a lasting difference in your community and in the larger world. To help girls (and their dedicated leaders) as they start these awards, see our list of What Not To Do When Earning a Highest Award. For more information, please see the requirements for the award or contact our customer care hotline at 1-888-350-5090 or customerservice@gswo.org.

Do Not:

  • Set up a project where you show no leadership: You need to have a volunteer team working on your project assisting you. For each award every girl must take on a role in the project to make it happen.
  • Set up a project team that is different than described in the guidelines: Bronze and Silver award projects are team projects and Gold is an individual project but requires a team of volunteers helping with the project. If an individual girl does everything for the project with no team of volunteers, this is not a leadership project.
  • Work on an award (or a journey pre-requisite) that is not in your current grade level. Bronze awards are for Juniors in 4th-5th grade, Silver awards are for Cadettes in 6th-8th grade, and Gold awards are for Seniors and Ambassadors in 9th-12th grade. Girls are considered to be part of the new grade level on September 30 of fall after they move to a new grade. All portions of the project must be completed and submitted by the September 30th deadline.
  • Put together a project that is a fundraiser to donate money to an organization: This is not allowed in any of the Awards.
  • Have your parent as your Award adviser: recruit an adviser who is knowledgeable about the root cause of your identified issue. Also Silver and Gold Award advisers cannot be your Troop Leader. They may help and cheer you on, but your adviser should be someone else.
  • Set up a Silver or Gold project that is serving Girl Scouts: The project can include Girl Scouts in it, but must be primarily for the community OUTSIDE of Girl Scouting. This includes a Girl Scout project/ program that collects items to donate to another organization.
  • Submit a different Bronze Award final report for each girl, or submitting a single Silver Award final report as a group: Each troop earning a Bronze Award must submit one report for the whole troop submitted by the Troop Leader. Each girl earning a Silver Award must complete her own Silver Award Final Report in her own (typed) words.
  • Have your mom or Girl Scout Leader call the Gold Award Committee or the council for you to ask questions about your project: This is your project and not your mom’s or your Troop Leader’s. Show your leadership skills by making that contact yourself.
  • Plan a project that is less than the minimum hours: Bronze Award projects require 20 hours per girl and you must plan for that amount. Silver Award projects require 50 hours per girl and you must plan for that amount. Gold Award projects require 80 hours per girl and you must plan for that amount.
  • Plan a project that is just collecting and donating items to an organization: collecting and donating is a great SERVICE project but it is just service.
  • Put a few small projects together to make up the hours: these Awards are one complete project, not a set of smaller projects combined.
  • Find a project online that someone else did and copy it: You should be finding a problem in your community that needs fixing and developing your own project to fix it.
  • Turn in your paperwork at the last possible moment and expect a quick turnaround to fit your schedule: Bronze and Silver Awards are processed as fast as possible. However, processing can take longer depending on how many final reports are submitted before yours. The Girl Scout Gold Award committee volunteers do their best to help every girl, but they are not available around the clock. Remember your manners and be polite in your requests to the committee and staff.
  • Turn in a project report (proposal or final) that is vague: approval can be delayed for the Silver Award if the final report is not filled out completely. This includes not answering all parts of the questions asked. For the Gold Award you must have a project plan that is complete, already investigated, and a proven need before you approach the committee.

Think you’ve got a handle on what not to do for your highest award? Now want to know what to do? We’ll have a post about that next week but until then you can start investigating your community and join over 100 years of women who have been changing the world one project at a time!

4 Essential Places for Kid Friendly Summer Fun

School is out and it’s only a matter of time before “I’m bored” is heard in every home in America. It doesn’t have to be this way! With a little local research it is possible to find fun and engaging activities for your children (or your troop) that can help them learn and grow this summer. Here are four of our favorite places to start looking for summer fun!

1. Museums: many of our community partner museums, historical societies, and history centers have summer programming for children available. Here’s a few of our community partners that can help bring the museum alive through engaging activities this summer.

  • Family Center at the Toledo Museum of Art– free, fun, and open to everyone! Drop in for themed activities that enliven the world of art for kids ages 1-10 (and even grown-ups!) during center hours on Tuesday, Thursday, Fridays, and Sundays (see site for specific hours and activities).
  • Mazza Museum in Findlay- the largest museum of original artwork by children’s book illustrators in the world. The museum’s goal is to promote literacy and enrich the lives of all people through the art of children’s literature and admission for children and adults is always free.
  • Super Saturday Family Day at Dayton Art Institute– on the second and fourth Saturday of every month (unless otherwise noted) for art-making fun drop in between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. to learn new art-making techniques and create artwork and memories that you’ll take home and cherish. Cost is $15 for a family of 4 and $2 each additional child.
  • Families and Teens at the Cincinnati Art Museum– discover the visual arts in a whole new way through a full schedule of youth, family and teen programs. Explore the museum with your family through an array of special events. Celebrate art by engaging your children in hands-on art activities, exciting performances, story times, gallery visits and more! Check their calendar for a full schedule, cost, and other program details.
  • Ohio History: Ohio has a large network of historical sites and museums including the Ohio History Center and Ohio Village in Columbus (which has a historic base ball team the Ohio Village Muffins with games that everyone is welcome to come and cheer on) that have educational and fun (sometimes free) summer programming for children. Find one near you and explore our state’s rich heritage!

2. Park Programs: all across Ohio, city and county parks departments are gearing up for summer programming. The options are as varied as the parks themselves so be sure to contact your local city and county park department offices for the full range and schedule of their offerings. Here are a few from our community partners to give you an idea of the activities available.

3. Concerts/Film Series: many local amphitheaters have summer concert series, or downtown film festivals and many of these are even free. With a little research at your town’s visitors bureau or some googling you can find one near you to broaden your children’s musical horizons this summer. Here are a few we found through a google search.

4. Farm Markets: take a weekly trip to your local farm market and teach children about local fruit and vegetables. Don’t forget to try new fare and encourage girls to ask the vendors questions about their farms, how products are grown and harvested, and why certain fruits and vegetables are only available during certain times of the year. Check Ohio Proud to find a farm market near you.

Need more ideas? To help end the summer boredom epidemic Parenting.com made a list of 101 Fun Things to Do in the Summer and BuzzFeed has 33 Activities Under $10 That Will Keep Your Kids Busy All Summer. Check them out, we bet you can find quite a few that would be great activities that would add some fun to your summer schedule and won’t break the bank. We hope this list has inspired you to get out there and find the fun this summer with your family, your kids, and your troop! 

Honoring Our Veterans-Girl Scout Style!

“Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause.”― Abraham Lincoln

On Memorial Day we remember and honor the men and women who have died while serving in our armed forces. Girl Scouts around the country celebrate Memorial Day by placing flags at veterans’ cemeteries, visiting veterans’ hospitals, participating in parades, decorating banners, holding flag ceremonies, and more. Troops draw posters and write cards of thanks to send to active duty soldiers, veterans’ homes and VA (Veterans Affairs) medical centers as well as sending cases of cookies overseas every year to give our soldiers a small taste of home in thanks for their service. To add to our organization’s proud history of honoring our armed forces and help girls understand the resources places like the VA offer to their communities we established Girl Scout Day at the Dayton VASo what does the VA do and what happens at this annual event? So glad you asked!

The Dayton VA was authorized in 1865 by President Abraham Lincoln as the first-ever national soldiers’ and sailors’ asylum to provide medical and convalescent care for discharged members of the Union Army and Navy volunteer forces in Dayton Ohio. 150 years later, Dayton VA still serves our soldiers through a variety of services all housed on the west Dayton property.  It was here that the Second Annual Girl Scout Day at the Dayton VA took place.

Over 40 Girl Scout Junior and Cadettes attended this event on Saturday, April 7.  The day started at the Dayton VA Medical Center’s state of the art Simulation Lab.  It was there girls got a snap shot in medical services and practices by learning CPR, First Aid, proper hand washing techniques and general patient care.  Additionally the girls got to see how robots are being used in the medical field among other activities. In the afternoon the girls switched through four activity sessionsincluding planting trees with the OSU Extension Master Gardeners, researching genealogy with volunteer Carolyn Barns, touring the facilities and learning VA History at Putnam Library.

Dayton VA 2015

The girls left with a better knowledge of all the VA has to offer, the history behind it, and a deeper appreciation for all that our veterans have done and are currently doing for our country.

On this Memorial Day it is important to express our gratitude for the sacrifices members of the military have made and we know that the girls who attended the Dayton VA event, and Girl Scouts across the nation, will  be doing just that!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 101 other followers