Author Archives: Mary McLean-Hely

Troop 40072, Year 1

Our final meeting for 2012-2013 year! We had the whole group — 14 Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors together. We started off by writing notes of support to our sister Girl Scouts in Oklahoma, who just experienced a devastating tornado.

We also discussed the things we liked about this year, what we didn’t like as much, and what we’d like to do next year. Then we celebrated! One of the Daisies’ mom brought a cake! Thank you Nycole! Another made cupcakes for the girls to decorate — one of our favorite things to do. Thank you Kathy!

While we all were sad it was over, we all learned a lot this year. The girls said they would really miss their troop. I will miss them too!

My learning curve has been exceptionally steep and now I really feel ready for next year. That said, I think I’ll really need a co-leader next fall and I’m not sure I’ll find one.

Tell me: Have you had trouble finding a co-leader? How did you find one? What did you do if you couldn’t find one? 

The Girl Scout Way

Troop 40072 is working on our Girl Scout Way badge. We are having a party for our last meeting so, for step 1 of the badge, the Juniors are picking a lift-your-spirits song that they’ll perform at the event.

Then we decided to plan the party. At the suggestion of one of the girls, we used the ceremony planning chart in the Junior’s Girl Guide, page 18. We planned the place, refreshments, activities, and closing. We decided to ask Girl Scout families to join in. This is something the Juniors will help the Brownies and Daisies organize.

For another badge step, Step Four, Leave a Place Better than You Found It, we chose to create a walking tour of the school. It is over 50 years old and the property used to be a farm so we thought we could pick four locations around the campus and write short pieces about them in a brochure, as the step suggests.

We closed our meeting early. It was 75 degrees out and–as anyone in the Northeast knows–it’s been a long, long winter! The girls played outside for the rest of the time.

What I’d like to know: Have you done any of the Girl Scout Way badges with your troops? Any suggestions? Pitfalls? Tips? Please share!

The Promise, Proceeds, and Pictures

In our Brownie meeting, we discussed what we’re going to do with the proceeds from our cookies. After reflecting on the Girl Scout Promise, we came up with several ideas for donating  cookies and some of our money, including giving to St. Jude’s Hospital and a local homeless shelter.

We drew a mural to give us more ideas. The activity seemed to help girls combine the concepts of the Girl Scout Program with helping people in the community through cookies.

Everyone liked the idea of giving to St. Jude’s, thinking that the children there would like cookies and also would benefit from a donation.

We had so much fun, we didn’t notice that our time had run out.

Share with us: What are you going to do with donated cookies? Will you give part of the proceeds from your cookie sales to a community organization?

Meeting Anna Maria Chávez at Girl Scout HQ

Troop 40072 has a two-week window to sell cookies. I thought we’d have more time! But, as Girl Scouts, we were prepared to start selling, having role-played our sales pitch in our last session. My two girls came to visit me at work and sold slightly over 70 boxes to GSUSA staff!

Ten of those boxes went to Anna Maria Chávez, who made the visit by meeting with us. She took the time to make both girls feel welcome and important as she does with most Girl Scouts who visit the national office.

I can’t think of any better leadership experience than meeting such a dynamic, successful, and warm-hearted leader of the Girl Scout Movement. Very special, indeed!

We also visited the Girl Scout store to pick up some cookie selling badges for our troop and went to the Girl Scout Museum. All in all, it was an awesome girl-led visit. If there’s some way you can manage to get to yourself and your Girl Scouts to New York City, I think it’s well worth a visit. Staff LOVES to see the girls and meeting Anna Maria Chávez is a wonderful experience.

Junior Journeys, Daisy Petals, and Troop Management

Junior Journeys After a short introduction to each journey, the girl-led process took over and my Juniors started a spirited conversation of their own. After some looking through the Journey books, sharing pictures and impressions, they agreed unanimously: They chose the aMuse Journey. We spent the rest of the activity part of the session acting out different roles.

Daisy Petals

The session went very well with the Juniors. I also had my Daisies at the same time. They are working on their petals and were less enthused about the petal story. I think they are becoming bored with the format of the petal stories. However, I don’t want to vary their activities too much because I’ve noticed transitioning from one thing to the next is more challenging for the Daisies.

Despite the fact I’ve divided our troop into two smaller groups and I have three Daisies and three Juniors, giving each girl enough attention is still challenging. While I work with one age group, often the other group gets off topic. Help!: Have you found it hard to balance troop management with keeping the girls engaged in fun activities? How have you managed?

Journeys with Troop 40072

Troop 40072 starts meeting again this Wednesday. Since I haven’t found a co-leader for the troop, I’m splitting the group into two sections: Daisies & Juniors (I have six in all) and Brownies (the rest of the troop). I think this will make meetings easier to manage and I will be able to focus more on the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. Thanks to blog readers who suggested I do it this way!

In the fall, we learned about Girl Scouts in general: the session structure, the handshake, the promise and law, a few songs, the friendship circle, the snacks, and of course, the badges! And by “we learned” I mostly mean, “I learned” since my knowledge of the Girl Scouts in practice was very limited, even though I work at the national office. The girls knew a lot about Girl Scouts even though some of them had not been Girl Scouts.

All this to say, I think the girls and I are ready to start the journeys. In the next two weeks, I’ll start Journeys with each level in my troop. I’m really excited!

What I’d like to know: What has your experience been with the Journeys? Was it hard to get the girls to decide on one? Any tips or tricks to use when working with them? Please share!

Cookie Season is Here

Cookie Sale Managers

With cookie season upon us, I’ve been investigating the cookie selling process. People in the know (you know who you are!) have advised me to make sure I get a Troop Cookie Sale Manager. Two moms have volunteered! I found a job description for the role and talked to the product sales people at my council to find out about cookie sale training, which is planned for the beginning of February.

Below, I’ve shared the best description of the cookie sale manager job that I found (thank you Manitou Council!).

Position:  TROOP COOKIE SALE MANAGER

Reports to

  • Community Cookie Sale Manager

Purpose

  • To assure that girls in the troop carry out the cookie sale in an enthusiastic, safe, timely and accurate manner.

Term of Appointment

  • Recruited and appointed by the troop advisor for the term of one cookie sale period.

Accountabilities

  • Complete troop cookie sale manager training
  • Be accountable for all troop monies collected from cookie sale.
  • Follow procedures as outlined in the “Troop Cookie Managers Procedures”.
  • Attend a troop meeting prior to the sale to help the girls set a troop goal and to provide safety, sales, program and ordering information and again after the sale to assist them in completing the cookie sale evaluation.
  • Cookie Sale Parent Permission forms until after all money is collected from the girls. Collect and retain copies of original signed.
  • Record all sales in e-budde cookie sale online ordering system by the deadline dates.
  • Ensure for the distribution of awards and program credits to the girls in an accurate and timely manner.
  • Responsible for depositing all monies owed for girl sales into the COUNCIL bank account by established deadline date.
  • Assist the council in clearing outstanding, overdue balances from the troop or individual girls.

Required

  • Become a member of the Girl Scouts of the USA and subscribe to the mission of Girl Scouting.
  • New volunteers provide the names of two references and agree to a background check.
  • Must have e-mail address.

As Troop 40072 gets ready to sell cookies, I’d like to knowWhat are your best tips for the cookie sales? How do you prepare yourself and your troop for the cookie sale?

Simple Meals, Bugs, and Little Dresses

Fall 2012 Troop 40072

As I’m wrapping up the fall as a new troop leader, I realize what an amazing learning experience this has been. Sometimes good, sometimes frustrating, but always worth it.

Sometimes, I ask the girls to share something that stands out in their mind since our last meeting. Highlights, or low lights. Here are mine from this fall:

Best Advice:

  • “Start with doing badges for the first several months then move on to Journeys.”
  • When girls have different interests, find a way to combine them. For example, Little Dresses for Africa (http://www.littledressesforafrica.org/blog/) combines sewing and helping children in Africa, two topics that interest our troop.
  • “Don’t put so much pressure on yourself.” (Easier said than done.)

Best Surprise:

  • I’m enjoying the adventure of figuring this out. I’ve met people, gone to new places, and learned a definition of leadership.

Most Frustrating:

  • It has been incredibly complicated to open a bank account.
  • I have had a lot of trouble getting registered with my local council.
  • I have a vague sense that I’m doing this on my own despite being part of a huge movement (and writing a blog about it!)

Biggest Learning:

  • To have a mixed-aged troop of 14, you need one adult for each age group because although they’ll do things together, each group has unique needs.
  • When given the choice of badges to start, the girls liked the idea of working on food badges… followed by bugs.

Most Fulfilling Moment:

  • When one Brownie asked me if I planned to be the troop leader next year, and I replied, “I think so…” a group of girls said, “Yessss!” to no one in particular.

Most Baffling:

  • My daughter refuses to wear her Daisy tunic because it’s not a sash like the older girls get.

Tell me: What did you learn in the first season of Girl Scout troop leading? What’s the best advice you’ve gotten? Or given?

 

 

The Girl Scout Promise

Troop 40072 knows the Girl Scout Promise. Most of them knew it before we had our first meeting even though some had not been Girl Scouts.

On my honor, I will try:
To serve God and my country,
To help people at all times,
And to live by the Girl Scout Law.

Before we finished the last word, hands shot up with questions about God. Which religion? What God? Can we say ‘nature’ instead? We had a discussion about the word God and what it means. But we didn’t really resolve the issue.

Later, I talked about it with some parents. We had a similar conversation to the girls. We have girls from several religions and parents seem to like the idea it could mean something different to each girl.

In Nancy Winfrey’s post Leading Means Going First, she writes, “Faith doesn’t require a religious belief system, although it often does. You might explain your view in terms of Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Zen, Indigenous or Earth Based Religions, Humanism, New Age Spirituality, a General Ethic of Care, etc.”

Tell Me: Has this question come up in your experience as a Girl Scout volunteer? How have you handled it?

 

Super Storm Sandy

Our area was hit hard–hard!–by Hurricane Sandy. Troop 40072 didn’t meet this week. We didn’t have school and most troop families didn’t have power. Halloween was canceled. One week in, we still don’t know when the power will be restored or when school will start again. Like many in this area, my family has been trying to: 1) stay safe and warm and 2) keep children busy and somewhat stimulated, in the midst of a natural disaster.

We have been visiting family and friends. We have been reading Girl’s Guides to Girl Scouting. We’ve been talking about how people cope without power around the world. And why there are police officers around gas stations. We’ve been playing games on the iPad, charged in the car when we couldn’t plug in. We’ve been having playdates and gone for walks. And we’ve been bored.

I’m wondering how other people are coping. Tell me: How has Girl Scouts helped girls in similar situations–natural disasters, schools closed, power outages? How are you helping your children cope? How can I support the families of our troop who are also at home, potentially for another week, without meeting?