2014-15 Scouting Year - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 08-27-2014, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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2014-15 Scouting Year

Hello! Gearing up for our troop's 3rd year together. Starting next week, and eagerly anticipating getting away from Daisy stuff and diving into Juniors for the first time (we are primarily a Brownie troop this year). Trying hard to balance the desire to complete badges with all the other stuff that's out there-- and for Girl Scouts, so many traditional scouting skills have been ignored by the national badge curriculum, and the council's own offerings are dropping like flies as they retire all the old try-its to align their badges with the national requirements (sniff-- no more using another council's badges--boo!)

We are looking into the long term, knowing it's not the badges that keep the girls together but the experiences. I'm lining up a local potter, using some of our cookie money since the girls were so frugal with their choices on how to spend it (they chose the zoo, and we spent only $240+ fun patches, and that included one adult for every family!)

Making a goal of one hike per season, plus a family campout and/or hopefully a lodge stay at a local GS property. Wanting to sign up the girls for a boating event at the big GS camp and maybe get in some fishing together at some point.

We meet every week in some capacity since we have the space and it's free. One or two days a month isn't official badge work, and in September a leader's MIL is bringing in a canning workshop. We'll get retro in October with a sit-upon workshop and revisit that GS classic of how to tie up a bandit with an 8" cord (it is fiendishly clever and simple, but oh-so impossible since you have to have a very cooperative criminal to do it-- "OK, kid. You're so cute, I will lie on my belly and offer you up my pinkies while you fumble with the slip knots of the cord you forgot you left in your other pair of jeans that are now on the bottom of the laundry basket....."

We will be hitting First Aid and the Safety Pin awards hard this fall, as my goal is to achieve some equivalency with the Cub Scouts and Webelos that are the girls' ages. The difference between the GS and BS badges for those is that GS is about *learning* and BS is about *competency*. But I was pleased to see that there was some level of equality in subject matter, if you account for the two GS awards instead of just one. We have a nurse, and army medic dad, and a boy scout leader who can help us this year.

Looking at Chesapeake Bay's Campfire badge for a campfire event at a parent's property, and we will be playing with our Letterboxer sets from last spring, to give the girls a chance to revisit that.

All in all, I am thrilled for this year. We have money in the bank for workshops and badges for the first time ever (we started our troop in 2012 right at cookie season, so didn't make a lot that year.)

I'd love to hear from parents who are involved in scouting--girls or boys or other organizations-- in supportive way (though the occasional bitch-n-rant is fine, because I am so "there" sometimes!)

"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
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#2 of 11 Old 08-28-2014, 07:56 AM
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Hey Sweetsilver-- I also do girl scouts. We have a very large, multi leveled troop. We have leaders for each level. This is my last year as a Brownie leader. Scouts has really changed over the years! Our main leader is also heavily involved in boy scouts and we have used some of their materials at times. When Kayla was a brownie, I wanted to do knife safety (not just in the kitchen) so I adapted stuff from boy scouts (cub, I think) and then found a fun patch that a pocket knife shown on it. Even though it was technically a fun patch, the girls in our group had to earn it. This year, I have 15 brownies. I had 15 last year too, 7 bridged to juniors. We also had 7 bridge up from Daisies, so I still have 15. That is a lot of girls. I will request some help from parents this year.

We are taking our cookie money and renting out part of Camp Four Echos (local overnight GS camp). We get to use the lodge and the grounds. Families are welcome. We are trying to focus on traditional scouting activities over this weekend. I expect the girls to learn to use a pocket knife, learn some outdoor cooking, do some hiking, pitch their tent, practice "leave no trace", etc. The Brownies get to earn their hiking badge. Last spring, in prep for this trip, we had a camping themed meeting. We made sit-upons, learned to set up a simple tent, learned three knots, and learned fire safety while making s'mores.

(This will continue--I just noticed the time and I have an appt!)

Amy

Mom to three very active girls Anna (14), Kayla (11), Maya (8). 
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#3 of 11 Old 08-30-2014, 07:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for responding, AAK, and looking forward to the rest! I'm curious to know what ages you've introduced the pocket knife. I did outline some knife safety, the first step with just a dinner knife as we covered the major safety points, next using a sharp knife. I am interested in learning what is taught in BS and when. My daughters enjoyed using a pocket knife for the first time camping this summer. They got to scrape the bark off a stick for roasting wienies. I think roasting sticks and chopsticks are a good first project.

We learned that two new transfer girls have joined our troop. So *glad* we were notified! My coleader discovered this when she received the transfer check from their old troop. Nice to get the heads up.... but anyway, she contacted the mom and had a great conversation and now we have a 2nd year Junior, so we have 4 grades whether we want to or not. But I'm thrilled for the Junior as dd9 is our only one. Looks like we will need to recruit some more leaders from our parent pool.

We chose a ceramic artist. She's worked with kids our girls' ages and with large numbers of them. Contrast her words ("so few kids, such a small group...") with that of the other artist ("such a big group, would want adult help...") the choice became pretty clear.

The first part of the year is promising to be an active first half of the year! Meetings start Wednesday, and I'm so eager to see the new makeup of the troop.

"Let me see you stripped down to the bone. Let me hear you speaking just for me."
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#4 of 11 Old 08-30-2014, 01:12 PM
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Part two:

The year I introduced the pocket knife was with my older dd's brownie group. She was a first year brownie at the time and there were only 10 girls in our group. We had already done some activities with kitchen knives and the girls (with one exception) were rather coordinated. We learned how/why to make a safety circle, how to pass a knife to someone else, how to open/close their knife, and how to do a basic whittling technique like you mentioned your girls doing to make roasting sticks. We did a project where they used their knives to make a pile of crayon shavings and melted them between two sheets of waxed paper. We had some helper parents so that I could focus on the girls. The boy scouts have the kids earn a card that they keep with them to show they know their knife safety. If they are caught being unsafe, they lose the card and have to earn it again. I did the same thing for my girls.

I am hoping to do the pocket knife skills during the campout for two reasons. One, there will be lots of parents helping with things and we have it arranged that I would work with groups of 4 - 5 girls at a time. Second, the family that would literally freak out if their daughter touched a knife won't be there. My current brownie troop is too large to do this at a meeting, we have a few girls with fine motor issues and then a couple with overbearing parents. At the campout, people can have their daughters opt out of this activity if they are concerned.

During the year, we have an EMT coming with an ambulance to help us with our first aid badge. We also plan on doing the badges about bugs, painting, and home scientist. We will probably do the keys journey. I don't like the journeys much, and I take some liberties with them. We don't use the workbooks. Last year, we did the wonders of water journey. It was the best journey ever. We have a great water resource learning center that we visited. We did science experiments about water and other hands-on learning. For our service project we designed and colored a large floor puzzle, added some books to it, and donated it to the local library. It was a hit. As a large group (with all the levels) we have a Christmas party, do world thinking day, a group service project, etc.

My oldest begins work on her gold award this year. She has always wanted to achieve this and is very excited.

For the most part, I like girl scouts. I wish they still incorporated more traditional scouting into the program, but at the same time I find that many girls never do anything at home to naturally develop fine motor skills and coordination. Those are needed for things. They have hovering parents too. It is an adventure just to learn to finger knit. I thought that would work well with the brownies last year, but wow that was a disaster. Only 5 out of 15 girls managed to get it down.

Btw, your troop sounds like a lot of fun.

Amy

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#5 of 11 Old 08-30-2014, 03:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by AAK View Post

Btw, your troop sounds like a lot of fun.

Amy
I think it's sounding like a lot of fun, too. I feel like we are just catching our stride. Having one leader step back so it's just my coleader and I actually simplified much of the process because we are pretty on-the-ball with planning and communication and while the other moms did great work, I'd put an idea out and then have to wait and wait and wait. I'm also energized by the fact that we have *money* to spend, a great group of girls, helpful parents, and no more Daisies, they've all grown up.

We have some gung-ho girls who want to earn Summits, so we do the journeys, but no more than one per year and the others are offered summers during an event. They all like the idea of a journey, but sticking to the "book" can get boring. My daughters and I are working on WOG at home this summer because DD9 is bridging and wants her Summit. In an intimate setting, this journey is really fun. I'm focusing on the story aspect of it, creating, changing stories, talking about characters and mainly playing games. I like that the TAP is designed to be in the middle with an entire badge dedicated to telling about it. DD7 is interested in how paintings tell stories, and she's thinking about that, but they need to settle on a TAP. I had to break it to dd that "Change A Story" didn't mean the action project was changing the fact that the 1974 Little House movie, Pa had no beard. He should have a beard. Uh, honey, I agree but.....

They never plan for that in the Adult Guides
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#6 of 11 Old 08-31-2014, 12:11 AM
 
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Long term BSA family here. We did GS for a long time but I got fed up with disorganized troops and a council that never answered my inquiries when I tried to find other troops to transfer. However, I still have one crazy active in BSA and one who can't wait to join Cub Scouts in a year.


We didn't get a summer break. Seems the troop we're part of now doesn't take summer breaks. They also do monthly trips. He loves it, but I'm exhausted at the pace they go. He just did a canoe trip two weeks ago and they are gearing up for a hiking trip in another week yet again.


I can tell you that I copied the Cub Scout timeline and method for introducing all of my kids to pocket knives because I was so impressed with how it was handled. Basically, when you are in second grade (Wolf Scout) you can earn your whittling chip. You have to learn all of the safety rules for pocket knives, then you have to do two carvings under supervision. At that point, you get a card you have to carry in your wallet/pocket if you are carrying your pocket knife to prove you were properly trained. All of my boys earned their whittling chips and all of my girls went through the same training to earn the right to have pocket knives as well.
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#7 of 11 Old 09-01-2014, 01:56 PM
 
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this is our 7th year and i think this might be our last. the kids have moved onto middle school. they were all in elem. school together.

dd was pulled out to be hsed, so she enjoyed seeing her old school mates at GS.

however dd prefers BS. she is an outdoorsey girl liking more of the boy scout activities. she is kinda tired of the girls activities. mind you she loves doing all the crafty things with the girls... but she'd like to see other stuff too which GS does not have.

we've been coincidentally at BS events - once even on the top of the dune. we were going to be there for just a half hour. we were there for almost 3 with dd joining the boys and sand boarding down the dunes.

dd is also having issues with the cookies. with how unhealthy they are.

in other words ... at 11 dd is growing out of the scouts. she enjoys the camaraderie, but not the activities.

our troop has not met yet. we've been only meeting once a month. not sure if it will happen this year again.

its sad to see the closing of this chapter.

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#8 of 11 Old 09-01-2014, 03:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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That's too bad, meemee, that the GS troop didn't fit at she grew up. I, too, am sad to see the national curriculum getting further and further from the outdoor skills, but badges aside we a re really trying to incorporate that into our troop. I hear that from many leaders online and in person. Many GS leaders are BS leaders as well. In the end, the Powers That Be say "It's girl led! Customize!" but at the same time, girls also enjoy the badges, and having the badges not reflect those interests is unfortunate.

Middle school is when many girls drop GS, for many reasons including what you've experienced. As a troop, we are trying to listen to other parents and leaders to get a feel for what keeps the girls going and what they are missing when they quit. Sometimes there's not much you can do, like the increase in prioritizing middle school sports, and sometimes there is a lot you can do, like tailor your activities to what all the girls want to do, and find helpful outlets for your girls if what they want isn't well represented because of interests. In our council, there are many ways to get those outdoor experiences (we are, of course, in the land of volcanoes, rivers, and REI) so individual girls need not lean so heavily on the troop for those experiences. Other councils have no such outlet. It doesn't help that national has decided what it's focus will be (finances, churning out leaders by studying leadership) and making it difficult for councils to design their own badges. Now all council's own badges must be aligned and council-specific, so once the Chesapeake Bay Brownie Campfire badge runs out, it will not be available for anyone to use outside of Chesapeake Bay and they must reformat the requirements to reflect their location, submit requirements and get national approval and ..... sigh.....

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#9 of 11 Old 09-06-2014, 07:22 AM
 
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I love my co-leader, I love our girls, and I love their families - but GS is becoming a pain in my rear. There are too many rules but not enough guidelines, if that makes any sense. Let your girls decide what to do! But also, you must use the (BORING) quest and journey books which are (BORING) confusing and kind of meandering and pointless. I'm over dealing with cookies - sell! sell! sell! Now ask your parents to donate because we might lose our tax free status, but ignore the GS lip gloss and ice cream you see in Walmart. We are also in the most disorganized, unfriendly service unit you can imagine. In two whole years of sitting through monthly meetings and going to the same activities, no other troop leaders will even meet my eye or say hello.

I enjoy our troop, but I always have this niggling feeling that we're not doing it right. At this point our girls are happy, their parents are happy, so unless the GS police come and take back our badges, we're doing what we want.
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#10 of 11 Old 09-06-2014, 08:40 AM - Thread Starter
 
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One girl nearly left last year because the journey was so dull and the coleader running it liked going by the book. I appreciate liking everything laid out for you, but the adult guides, while they have some good ideas, are boring. My other coleader still wants to do a journey a year so the girls are used to them for when the want to earn their bronze, but she also has no loyalty to what "should" happen. (I hope she remembers that I'm letting my Junior girls decide whether or not to do a journey this year!) National says, "It's boring? Customize!" but when nearly every single leader in every single troop is critical of the journeys, I think it's time to call it a failure.

We do what we want, yes. It's rather frustrating sometimes, but I live in a pretty cool council. And our troop can be a great experience regardless. I just hope my current coleader realizes that she's got no backing pushing "one journey a year" in the future.

ETA: GS isn't becoming a pain in my rear, because I have a talent for taking what I like and completely ignoring the rest. It's a trial making myself doing some things by the book.
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#11 of 11 Old 09-07-2014, 07:17 PM
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--National says, "It's boring? Customize!"--

Yep, I took that perhaps further than they intended with the statement. I look in the leader's guide and find the page that says how each part of the journey is earned. I take that as the "key" skill they are going for. Then, I read through the rest to see if it inspires me. Sometimes, I will get an idea from that. For example, in one of the journeys (I can't remember but I think it is a daisy one) they have a page with a bucket. The girls are supposed to write good words and phrases for the bucket. That seemed lame to me. Instead, I took a real bucket. I typed up good/bad phrases and word. I also had a trash can. The girls did a relay where they would run up, get a phrase, and choose if it belonged in the nice bucket or the trash. Mostly though, I find out what the goal is and then I make my own activities for it. We had fun with the water one last year. Actually, it was literally the first time that I loved doing a journey. We did science experiments, drank water with lemon slices (lime & cucumber too), went on a fun field trip, and created the donation packet for the library. The goals that were listed were to learn about and love water, learn to conserve it and why, and to educate the community about water. We NEVER use the workbooks -- ever!

I figure that I adopt the spirit of Girl Scouts as much as possible. I add in as much as I can based on girl interest. We have happy families and happy girls. Therefore, the council isn't going to bother us. :-)

Amy

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