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Engaging Girls Through Gardening

The weather is getting nicer and many people are heading outside after a very long (and cold!) winter. Gardening can be a great way to get girls outside and learn about plants, how to care for living things and where their food comes from. There are many ways to engage girls and work towards Girl Scout badges and Journey awards through gardening. gardening

Ideas to use with girls:

  • Visit a garden and pick homegrown fruits, vegetables and other foods. Then take what you gathered and create a tasty recipe to try. Homemade salsa, pizza, salad and vegetable soup are great choices!
  • Plant a garden at your home, meeting place, school, local park or any other place in your community (be sure to ask permission first). Ask the girls what kinds of seeds they would like to plant, how big the garden should be and who will take care of it. Talk to the girls about what plants need in order to grow healthy and strong.
  • Visit a local farm. Talk to the farmers to find out what it’s like to be in that line of work and how they impact their community. Ask if the girls are able to help plant or harvest their crop.
  • Invite a florist to come to a meeting and teach the girls about different flowers. Then spend some time creating “seed bombs” to give to people in your community.
  • Learn about the financial aspect of growing your own food. What is the cost of planting, harvesting and eating your own food versus the cost of getting it from the store where preservatives, packaging and store costs are included? This is an especially enlightening activity for older girls!

There are a lot of ways that gardening activities can be linked to Girl Scout badges and the It’s Your Planet-Love It! Journey.

Honor Your Leader – April 22

“My purpose…to go on with my heart and soul, devoting all my energies to Girl Scouts, and heart and hand with them, we will make our lives and the lives of the future girls happy, healthy and holy.” –Juliette Gordon Low

Dear Leader, if you are reading this, you hold an honored place in history as an inspirer who leads young women onward in the pursuit of this thing we call life. You are creating a return on investment, of which your life will only begin to see the mark of your efforts. Be honored. 

Dear Parent/Guardian, if you are reading this, you already know that your daughter is the benefactor of the time, talent and treasure of an adult volunteer who cares enough about her to spend countless hours teaching, listening, planning, learning and sacrificing in order to build courage, confidence, and character into her. 

Dear Girl, if you are reading this, you know how much your Girl Scout leader(s) mean to you, and to the troop. You share in this special bond with the adult who is teaching you, along with your family, to become your best self. Your leader(s) care about you, and have become sisters with you in the Girl Scout Movement.

Together, let us take some time to honor the gift of our adult volunteers during Leader Appreciation Day. Whether large or small, a gesture of gratitude is the mark of a Girl Scout. On April 22, be considerate and caring and a sister to every Girl Scout!

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Pump Up Your Service Projects!

“The work of today is the history of tomorrow, and we are its makers”. Juliette Gordon Low

Girl Scouts has a long tradition of doing service projects. Why not take the opportunity to take your project to the next level? Service learning is an amazing way to increase awareness of social issues, broaden perspective on diversity issues, develop civic responsibility and enhance critical thinking.  In Girl Scouting, we also refer to service learning projects as Take Action projects.

Service learning and take action projects don’t have to be complicated. Basically, it is adding in learning about a problem in the community and why your project is important. To learn about the five steps in service learning (investigate, prepare, act, reflect and demonstrate), check out Girl Scout resources at this link: GSWO website.  You can also simply do a Girl Scout Journey.  All Journeys have this process built right in.

Where do you start? Spring is a great time to get involved in your community in a variety of ways. You could try:

 Earth Day – April 22, 2014, will focus on green cities, mobilizing a millions of people to create a sustainable, healthy environment by greening communities worldwide.  Instead of doing an Earth Day clean up, start working on the It’s Your Planet-Love It Journey and help the girls connect Earth Day to greater global causes.

Global Youth Service Day – April 11- 13, 2014, is the largest service event in the world! This event celebrates and mobilizes the millions of young people who improve their communities through service.  Help the girls in your troop choose a Take Action project that helps them use their new knowledge and skills from recent badge work or a Journey experience.  Use the five steps listed above to complete the service learning cycle.

Arbor Day– April 25, 2014, is a holiday in which individuals and groups are encouraged to plant and care for trees.  This is another great way to connect girls to It’s Your Planet-Love It Journey.  Use this day as a kick off for this Journey or participate as a next step after earning the naturalist badge for Girl Scout Brownies through Ambassadors.

Spring Into Camping

IMGP4029The weather may not know it yet, but it’s springtime. Spring is a wonderful time to re-engage your troop after the long, cold winter. If you’re planning on sending your girls to camp this summer, spring is also a great time to get girls connected with the outdoors so they are acclimated and excited about spending time outside!  Here are some ways to get girls outdoors:

  • Start the season right exploring the outdoors by moving your meeting outside.  After this long winter, girls will welcome the change of scenery.
  • Encourage parents to do outdoor activities with first time campers before they leave for summer camp.  You may even have an outdoor enthusiast on your team who would like to teach an outdoor skill to the girls.
  • Visit a local park in your neighborhood.  You could even have your bridging ceremony or start one of the naturalist legacy badges found in The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting.  Find out more using the Badge Explorer to find more info.
  • Attend a council-sponsored activity at one of our camp properties. This spring, we have program opportunities for all age levels to get girls outdoors and engaged in the natural world.  Some of these events include: Archery (JR-AMB), Climbing Wall (BR-AMB), Outdoor Daisy Nature Day (DA), Intro To Canoeing and Canoeing (JR-AMB), Geocacher (JR) and Letterboxer (BR).  To learn more, check these out on eBiz and get registered.
  • Sign up for Council Operated Troop Camp (COTC) at Camp Whip Poor Will. COTC is for troops, with a camp trained adult, that want to spend a fun and adventurous weekend at camp. This year’s theme of “Get out and Play” will feature a glow in the dark evening program, crafts, cooking any many outdoor activities. Space is limited, so register today!
  • Don’t forget that there are many other resources out in your own community that offer quality Girl Scout activities. This is just the beginning of a long list of community partners that can be found in our 2013-2014 Program Opportunities book including: True Heights Outfitters, Cincinnati Parks, Brukner Nature Center, Hancock County Park District, Metroparks of the Toledo Area, Toledo Zoo and Wood County Park District. Research your local community for more.

 

Five Tips to Make Bridging Memorable

Bridging has long been an important part of Girl Scouts’, as it marks the girls’ transition from one level to the next and celebrates their commitment to the organization. Here are some useful tips to helping your girls make their troop’s bridging a fun and memorable occasion for everyone involved.

Use Resources Provided: Each level of Girl Scouting has special bridging awards and activities (outlined in the appropriate age-level The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting) that can help girls’ decide how to mark this special day. One of the more popular methods is to hold a special bridging ceremony. Use this Ceremony Planner from GSUSA to or search out resources provided by other councils like this one from Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta for general ideas.

bridging

Add Props: Bridging ceremonies often use props like candles, flowers or flags (or a flag ceremony) and many include a bridge so that the act of crossing is a physical, as well as a symbolic, step into the future.  The bridge might be specially made for use in service unit or council ceremonies, or it might be a real bridge in a park or scenic area.

Go Outside: As they are generally held in late spring, outdoor ceremonies can be a wonderful way to include nature in this important day. Many of our council properties would make a lovely location for the ceremony or an overnight leading up to the ceremony. Just be sure to have a backup plan for bad weather.

Include Others: Many service units combine a camp weekend or an end-of-the-year picnic with bridging activities. Putnam County Girl Scouts has an annual family picnic and bridging ceremony for the county so that parents, grandparents and friends can join in the fun as girls celebrate the end of the school year and showcase for the attendees what their troop has accomplished. Through this fun event, girls have an opportunity to get to know the girls at the next level and from other schools, while volunteers and families can get a small taste of all the great things Girl Scouts are doing in their community. It is also a good way to include individually registered girl members who want the bridging experience with other girls.

Personalize It: Let the girls add songs, poems, stories or activities that they love. Check out Pinterest’s Girl Scout Ceremony pins for creative ideas for your ceremony that other troops have used. No matter what they plan, make sure the focus of the ceremony is to mark and honor the girls’ progression and growth as Girl Scouts.

A World Wide Beauty Revolution Starts Here

Girls are bombarded every day with images of the ideal woman through magazines, ads, media and many other sources, creating an Image Myth with a very narrow definition of beauty. This is causing a world wide confidence epidemic among young girls and Girl Scouts is determined to help the next generation of women bust the Image Myth and help their vision of a world free from appearance-related anxiety become a reality. But, we can’t get there without help. Partnering with the World Association of Girl Guides (WAGGGS) and Dove, and drawing on more than a decade of research from world-renown psychologists and leading body image researchers, we are excited to offer Free Being Me, a five-session program resource for girls ages 7-10 and 11-14.  This curriculum is full of positive and affirming activities, such as interactive games, songs, art, acting and discussions with proven results to nurture body confidence and self-esteem and inspire long-term improved confidence in girls.

To help spread this inspiring message and instill confidence in our girls, we need leaders, parents and community partners to help us widen the reach of these materials. So, we ask you to visit the Free Being Me page on our website, download the activity packets for your age level and incorporate at least one hour of activities into your troop meetings. Then explore the inspiring videos on the Free Being Me website like the one showcased below, play FLAW-LESS, share a beauty shout out and help free girls from the narrow view of beauty that is promoted in our society and begin a global body confidence revolution built around these four key messages:

  1. There isn’t just one way to look beautiful.
  2. It’s what’s inside us that matters the most.
  3. Learning to value ourselves and our abilities builds confidence.
  4. It’s important to be yourself. We are all different, and that makes us special.

Volunteers can use the entire curriculum or just choose parts to do at meetings or events, including a Take Action challenge for girls to participate in by pledging to share their knowledge with others. Contact your community engagement manager to confirm participation, complete one or more hours of activities, complete the online evaluation on our website and turn in the participation report to your regional Girl Scout Center shop for free patches for participating girls. For more information check out the Free Being Me resources on our website or contact your community engagement manager.

Six Steps to Your Next Troop Adventure

It’s that time of year again! The snow is starting to melt, the days are getting longer and the Girl Scout Cookie Program is in full swing! Along with the 5 Skills girls gain from participating, one additional benefit comes from selling cookies: troop proceeds! Many girls and troops choose to use at least a portion of their troop proceeds to plan a troop trip. As with all things in the Girl Scout world, planning and implementing a troop trip is a great learning experience for girls. Whether your trip is for Girl Scout Daisies or Ambassadors, around the corner or around the world, these six steps will help you plan!

1. Think in Advance: If a troop trip could be in your future, you are going to want to become familiar with council’s policies, procedures and resources. Consult the travel and troop trips page on the website, review Volunteer Essentials, and look up Safety Activty Checkpoints.

2.  Engage the Girls: Being girl led is one important aspect that sets Girl Scouts apart from other organizations. Where do they want to go?  What do they want to do?  Break out into groups and have girls brainstorm ideas for the trip.  Come back together and compile a master list.

3. Create a Plan: Prioritize and come up with a plan for the trip.  Assign different planning responsibilities to different groups—meals, activities, lodging and transportation, etc.  Always have a back-up plan; for example, in case weather forces one activity to be cancelled.

4. Inform Parents and Council: Communicate with parents and other adults working with the troop.  Be specific in enlisting support-drivers, grocery shoppers, etc. Distribute necessary paperwork (Permission Slips, High-Risk Activity Forms, etc.) Submit a Troop/Group Activity/Trip Notification Form to council.

5. Implement: Gather your adults, girls, supplies, drivers and go!  Help girls to see the advantages of their pre-planning as the trip progresses.  Perhaps have a “Plan B” in mind, in the event that things don’t go according to the original plan.

6. Evaluate: Review the experience as it is happening and at your next troop meeting.  During the activity, ask the girls open-ended questions about what they see, how they feel, what they like so far and so on.  At the next meeting, continue to review by asking questions designed to make girls think.  What went well?  What was your favorite thing? What could we do better next time?

GSUSA also has great resources and travel opportunities for Girl Scout Cadettes, Seniors and Ambassadors. Check out troop opportunities through Getaways and individual travel opportunities, both international and domestic, through Destinations.

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