Thursday, January 31, 2013

Think BIG!

I have great belief in the fact that whenever there is chaos,it creates wonderful thinking. I consider chaos a gift."
      --Septima Clark,
      American educator and civil rights activist

I don't remember where I found this quote, but I like the thought it expresses.  Especially as it relates to our Silver Award girls. 

In our Silver Award and Cadette Essentials Trainings, we talk about the Take Action Projects that the girls need to create.  And one thing that is a running theme throughout is the notion that the girls need to start with the issue before they choose a project!

The girl needs to look around in her community, be that school, church, sports clubs, city, county, whatever, and see what piques her interest. Where does she see chaos?  Or a need?  Or a lack of service?  And then she needs to dive deep and figure out what issue she wants to address.  What is the root cause of the issue, and how can she make a change.

And you project advisors/parents/troop advisors need to give her support. Ask the questions, don't take a quick, glib answer as the final say.  Your role is to encourage and support.  The more I hear, the more I learn that all girls are different in the support they need. But universally, those girls who are passionate about their issue, are the ones who are more motivated to do the work. 

Looking for chaos, or an opportunity to make a change, is difficult!  But our girls can do it, with our help and guidance.  They'll need a couple pushes in the right direction, I'm sure, but they can do this.    Have your girls look for the chaos as an opportunity. And let them see the success of a job well done.  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Working with the Non-Profit

I had a great chat with a Cadette leader the other day.  She and I had been talking about her 3 Cadette girls coming up with a Take Action Project for their Silver Award. 

They all live in Huntington Beach, and there has been all sorts of debate about what to do about the coyotes that roam the neighborhoods. Some people feed them, some run and hide, and some want to have the city shoot them.  It's a big issue!  And the girls have decided that they would like to avoid destroying the coyotes, and instead, provide education to the residents of HB on how to live with coyotes.

They have their issue identified, and so the girls found a partner in the city of HB.  The city is really interested in getting out literature to educate the residents about coyotes.  So when the advisor was talking with the city rep, in preparation for the girls coming in, she was told that the city would love to have all these boxes of literature distributed around the city. AND they would love to have the girls at the Tuesday market every week, at a booth that would be stocked by the city....and how many days would they commit to?

Whew!  First off, it's great to have a partner so enthused about the prospect of help.  But second, where's the leadership for the girls, if the city just wants delivery service?  So as the advisor and I were chatting, we realized that it was a question to put to the girls:  "How did they want to use their leadership to affect change in their community?"

The girls may choose to do a series of nights at the Tuesday night market.  They may choose to do drop off delivery of literature to the libraries in HB AND present their presentation of why it's important to know how to deal with the coyotes.  Or they may choose to create a video and have it presented to different audiences. If they do choose the Tuesday market, they would have the opportunity to partner with other agencies to provide information to give to the public. But whatever they do, it will be their choice, and they will work together and with their team to achieve their goal.

Great ways to use their leadership to make a change in their community!  I don't know what they're going to choose, or when they're going to do it, but I do know that they are committed to the issue, and they will do what they can.  They will make it meaningful both to themselves, and those they will be serving.

I'll keep you posted!  I'm sure I'll hear more....

Monday, January 21, 2013

Happy MLK Day!

"An individual has not started living until (s)he can rise above the narrow confines of his(/her) individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity."
Dr. Martin Luther King 

I decided to go with a lesser know quote from MLK, because it really does speak to service to others.  Dr. King believed that we would all be better off by helping others.  Hard to disagree with that!

And the service projects that our girls do, and have done for years, teach them about how good it is to help others.  They learn how to give, and how to reach out and touch someone, even if it's just for a moment.  They have great practice at collecting blankets for the homeless, clothing for the shelters and food for the hungry.  Not to mention, books for the libraries, neo natal caps for preemies and food for the puppies at the shelter.

So now, our Cadette girls are ready to take the next BIG step:  to work on a Silver Award Project solo, or in a small group.  They are asked to look around in their community and find an issue that they are passionate about. And they are asked to connect to it by identifying a root cause, an agency to work with and getting a team together.  Sure, the girl is going to earn a Silver, but the greater good that she is doing will benefit humanity, past the time that she completes her project.

Our girls are asked to "make the world a better place" for everyone.  One Silver or Gold Award Take Action Project at a time.  I would like to think that Dr. King would have embraced these efforts, encouraged the girls to reach high, get out of their comfort zone, and make a difference in their communities.

Our girls are capable of so much!  We just need to let them soar.


Friday, January 18, 2013

How does it Matter?

“When it's all over, it's not who you were.
It's whether you made a difference."
                                          - Anonymous

(This quote is going to get used on the Gold blog too!)  But today, I'm feelin' it for the Silver.  As Juniors, the girls start learning about Taking Action.  They are challenged to think about their Bronze in a new way:  not just giving service, but making a difference in their community.  And that's good!  A good beginning to the notion of Taking Action to make a sustainable change in a community.

And for the Silver,  this may be where the girls have a chance to talk about the parable, "If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime."  This is where (hopefully) the maturity of the girl and her experiences in Girl Scouting (and in school) give her a way to look at the difference between a service project and a Take Action Project.  Giving a man a fish is a very nice service project. But teaching him to fish, now that's a way to make a difference in a man's life!  And a way to make a difference in many more people's lives, too.

This is all about letting the girl figure it out.  We want her to have the chance to lead, and we want her to work with a team to get more done than she could have, as an individual.  When it's all said and done, the result of Taking Action should make a difference.  She'll need to employ critical thinking skills, leadership skills, and she'll need to dive deep to come up with the issue she wants to address.

Our girls can do it! We need to give them the opportunity and support.  That's how we can make a sustainable difference.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Cadette Essentials Training for Advisors

I'd say that every class of Cadette Essentials I've taught over the last couple of years has had its own personality.  I've had the angry class of 35 who came after me with both guns blazing, the class of 15 who just wanted to talk with each other to work out the issues they were having with their girls, and everything inbetween!

We were a very small group this past week.  Only 3 advisors.  I think we sort of created our own "Journey" thru the topics and what they needed to know.  Who would have thought that the first half hour of a Cadette Essentials would be about the Gold Award?  Well, it was, and I think it was all a whole lot clearer to them, once we were done.  It really helped sort of set the stage for what Cadettes do now, as prelude for what they can do next.

Cadettes is all about leaving Juniors (and meetings that feel like birthday parties!) and really having the girls take the job of running their meetings, making their own decisions and working together.  And in a sense, it's all about getting them ready for Seniors and the Gold Award.  All that work with the little girls combined with their hormones, growing up, and changing bodies comes together!

Three years of Cadettes may seem intimidating, but these girls need to go at their own speed. They may need to have a year of hair, nails and chat to get through, while you think they should be doing badges!  Perhaps this is the year for the aMaze Journey?   It's all about the changes these newbie middle schoolers are going through at school.  And you may have a year where it's all about cookies and camp, where they may feel a connection to the Breathe Journey.  Or maybe it's about the Silver.

As we say in training, take the time. There's no rush!  And when each girl is ready, she'll do her Silver. Or not.  Maybe you'll really have to work with the girls to find out what their passion is, where their interests lie?  Perhaps you've been doing it since the first day of 6th grade, just laying it out there....."wouldn't this be interesting as a Silver Award Project?"  The scribe can even keep a list going. Maybe even brainstorm about issues then, and save it.  It may not fall on fertile minds then, but it may later.

Our group of 3 really walked away with a broader sense of the GS program, I think, and understood the larger picture. I hope!  All 3 were excited for the year, and all 3 wanted the best for their girls.  With that kind of attitude, I bet everyone has a great year!


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Share the Load

“It's not the load that breaks you down,
it's the way you carry it.”
             - Lou Holtz, football coach, ret.

I'm not much of a football fan, but I liked this quote for our Silver Award girls.   The quarterback doesn't carry the weight of the game alone.  He has an entire team to support him, and under his leadership, their team wins!  In the best of all possible worlds, that is!!!

Our girls going after the Silver Award, while having the responsibility for the entire project, need to distribute the weight of the work among team members. She is not alone! She has the support of parents, leaders and advisors as well as the leadership responsibility of the Take Action Project AND the team she has built to achieve her goal. She also has the support of the team, to help with the Take Action Project.

We want our girls to have the opportunity to lead, learn by doing and work cooperatively with others. We want them to have the chance to be a project manager, team leader, cheer squad and success story.  Encourage them to use their team well, so that the girl can truly make the world a better place.  It's great experience for the future.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013