Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to all!

 I'll be back to posting in the New Year.   

In the meantime, wishing everyone a safe and Happy Holiday season. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Juniors - Keeping their interest for Cadettes - Part IV

(This is the last of a four-part series about keeping girls interested in Scouting as they bridge to Cadettes.  This series was inspired by a couple leaders who were looking for help with their girls, and spawned a 5-way email chain that had some great ideas.  Thanks again to Barb Christensen and Tara Offenberger for their help:  I tried to give them the credit they deserve!)

We've talked about keeping Juniors interested in Scouting as they bridge up.  We're going to end by talking about leaders and parents. 

 Tara Offenberger had a great comment:  "...what should a leader do if she feels more comfy with the younger girls than the older?  Perhaps there are teachers who are much better at teaching elementary school than middle school and for very definite reasons.  The leaders who are excellent at corralling a dozen girls who are 7, 8 or 9 years old, teaching them crafts, small service projects and the 6 out of 10 step badge work are not necessarily going to be excellent at working with older girls.  These girls are transitioning to young women - who need a real shoulder to cry on at times, who need someone to help them work out conflicts with friends, who are dealing with divorce in their family or even in choosing the right high school to attend.  Cadette thru Ambassador aged girls need ADVISORS who are comfortable with these kinds of issues and who can let go of controlling the meetings and simply GUIDE them in the right directions. If their leader can transition to a new style, those girls are very lucky." 

Well, these leaders are probably going to own a Cadette aged girl, whether they're ready or not!  And isn't Girl Scouting a safe environment for the leader to take the opportunity to learn with the girl?  How about suggesting they all take the Amaze Journey?  This is a great tool to use with 1st year Cadettes who are just starting middle school.  These girls are going to be living the peer pressure, betrayal, bullying, jealousy, cliques and frememies issues that Amaze takes up.  How about the not-comfy-as-a-Cadette-leader working with girls thru that Journey and supporting their girl-led efforts?  

This is also a transition year for girl planning, where the girls learn to run their own meetings (if they haven't already), be responsible for their own troop money, and start working on the Silver award.  As Barb says, make it look different!  Move the meeting time and place  - let the girls vote on the choices.  I'd say, make it different for you, too!  Maybe get a new co-leader?  Maybe merge with another troop and get the best Camping Mom in the council!  Learn to let go of the old and embrace the new.  Your daughter has to, and you want to support her, right?  Maybe you can do it together?!

One of the comments from before, was that the parents see Girl Scouting as a little girl activity, not an older girl one.  Time to tell the parents what the girls are learning!  Start now, in Juniors, so that when you get to Cadettes, the parents are seeing more of the changes that you're talking about.  I liked a comment in training, where a Dad watched his 7th grade daughter helped to set up a family reunion weekend.  He was amazed, and asked where she learned how to do all that organizing. Her response, (thank goodness was not a shrug of the shoulders!) "in Girl Scouts, of course!  We do this all the time."  The Dad got a refreshing glimpse into what his daughter had learned.  

We need to show this value to parents all the time!  Another leader said that in Cadettes, every quarter, one girl was responsible for taking notes of the meeting.  The leader took the girl's notes, and typed them in an email to all the parents, giving credit to the girl.  Another said she had girls doing a quarterly newsletter in powerpoint with photos and words talking about what they were doing/learning.  We need to keep that info flow moving!  It can only benefit the girls!

And to Barb's point, we need to stress to the parents (and girls) the flexibility of the program. It's not like Brownies, this is something bigger and better.  Girls can choose what to do. Girls can choose how to participate. And girls can decide what they want.  Okay, not all in one day. It's a process!

I'll end the series by saying thank you, to all you leaders out there!  What you do is so valuable to the council, the girls and the world.  You make a difference in a girl's life everyday.  I hope you want to continue to do that for your lifetime.  Old Girl Scouts never die, because what we have done for the girls who follow us, and who follow them, lives forever.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Juniors - Keeping their interest for Cadettes - part III

But what if YOU've had enough?  What if the thought of taking these happy Juniors to Cadettes and having to deal with those  hormonal, moody, enthusiastic, know-it-all girls to the next level is overwhelming?  What if your daughter is gung-ho and you aren't?  How can Cadettes keep your interest and keep you in Scouting with a happy heart.....

What if you've had enough of the same old thing?  I'd say this is a great opportunity for you to MAKE A CHANGE as well.  Turn it over to the girls, and let them do it.  Instead of worrying all the details, let them.  Let them make safe mistakes in a safe environment.  Let them take charge of their own Girl Scouting experience.  

Yes, I know, this won't happen overnight!  But you have 3 years of Cadettes, so start now!  As a 4th quarter Junior, give those girls some reins.  Use language that lets them know they've earned the opportunity to lead meetings, if they aren't already.  Let them make choices, and emphasize that they get to do it all in Cadettes.  The girl chooses how she would like to participate in Scouting.

One of the things we talk about in the Cadette training is, how to make it more girl led?  How to have the leaders (now advisors) sit back and let the girls figure out what they want to do. This is a HUGE step for many, and they are often just amazed at how much the girls WANT to have the girl led experience. One leader said her daughter was so excited, that after the first girl/parent meeting, she took her new Cadette Guide Book to bed with her, so she could write down more ideas of what she wanted to do for the year.  Another leader said it was scary!  This leader wanted to be in control and determine what was going to happen.  She vowed to change, because she understood that the more the girls became engaged in doing it themselves, the more they would want to stay in Girl Scouting.

How about combining with another troop?  Instead of being the 01 for 8, become the 02 for 15 or more.  Work with the 01 to find the place that fits you and how you want to participate.  One leader talked about how after two troops merged, she didn't need to be an 01 or 02, but still wanted to participate.  So she became the Silver Award Advisor for all the girls in the troop. What a great way to still be involved!  That way, if not every girl was working on the Silver, there was an adult who could host meetings outside the regular troop meetings and work with the Silver girls.  

Maybe you want to be the camping Mom?  So get trained!  Only take on the 2 or 3 camping trips a year.  Perhaps you're the one who can work out a training schedule for skills the interested girls will need to do the camping AND participate in Cadette O Rama.

How else could you support the troop without burnout?  Or perhaps a better question is, how can you step away for a while or forever, and keep your daughter involved?  Are there other adults that you can ask to help?  Is there training you can take to teach you some new skills?  Or can you participate within your service unit to do some "group think".  Instead of each Cadette troop doing the same thing separately, partner up!  Have the 3 troops work together.  Encourage the girls to work cooperatively, taking leadership pieces as they learn by doing to accomplish their task.  This could be for one event or activity a year, or for more.

Girl Scouting offers all sorts of opportunities for leadership for the girls AND the adults.  Sometimes we have to ask for help, and sometimes we just have to go out and find it.  

Stay tuned for the last post of this series....

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Juniors - keeping their interest for Cadettes - part II

Our last post left off with the question, "What else could you do to keep the girls engaged in Cadettes?"  

You're a Junior leader, and you're looking forward, to when the girls bridge into Cadetttes.  Perhaps you're asking yourself if you've done Juniors right!?  Have the girls made steps to lead the meetings?  Plan the overnights? Make their own decisions?  Choose their service projects? Execute a Bronze Award Project?  If your answer is "yes" to all those questions, kudos to you and your adult leadership for bringing the girls along so well in the GS Leadership Essentials Program!!!  Your girls are prime for Cadettes.  They might just not know it yet!

One of the best things about Cadettes for the girls is that THEY MAKE THE CHOICES!  They get to use the leadership skills that they've been developing all these years and steer their own course.  The girls need to know this, and you need to tell them AND their parents.  The girls take in the money, write the checks and keep tabs on the budget, with adult supervision, assuredly.  The girl gets to have her own ledger account of cookie money to fund her GS experience.  That's music to the ears of the high achievers, to be sure!  

As we say in training, these Cadette girls want to be in charge, and they want to be told the sky's the limit!  If they work hard, do their due diligence, they can achieve anything!!  Small steps to take in Cadettes include leadership in Day Camps, participating in destinations, being a Lookie Lou at GAM, and then completing a Journey and determining their own Silver Award Projects.  Plus having the opportunity to have a leadership role with in the troop is a big deal.  If your troop is large enough, the girls can experience troop government in patrols or with a Court of Honor.  All these great things are in front of them, and they need to know it!

But what if they "know it" or at least have been exposed to it, but are still thinking they might not have time for Girl Scout's monthly meetings or camping or Award and Journey work?  Well, Barb Christenson rightfully says, this is the time to be flexible!

"I think the key word for working with older Girl Scouts is flexibility.  We advisors need to be able to change how we run meetings to fit what the girls want.  We need to make the meetings look different from what they have been doing for the past six years.  (I often compare Daisy and Brownie meetings to birthday parties – craft, song or game, activity and a snack and also planned by the adults.)  We changed our meeting date, place and time to give it a different feel; instead of Friday afternoons right after school, which everyone knows isn’t going to work once they get to high school, we started meeting on Sunday evenings and included dinner.  I do know that half our Cadette meetings the first year looked a lot like an evening at the nail salon with a lot of chit chat, nail painting, and not a lot of anything going on.  But, that may be exactly what the girls need their first year!  Many of these girls are over-programmed with sports, church/temple, homework, and whatever else they participate in.  Granted, their parents may not see the value in that, but the bonding between the girls is priceless!

Because of the girls’ busy schedules and their many interests, advisors need to be willing to be flexible about how girls participate in the troop.  Establish what this flexibility looks like.  For example, I had girls who only wanted to participate in day camp; I never saw them at troop meetings so I didn’t charge them any dues and I kept them informed about day camp meetings and annual renewal dates.  I also had a couple of girls who only wanted to earn their higher awards; they would come to meetings when we worked on pre-requisites, and once those were completed, I would only see them at Silver/Gold meetings.  I did charge them dues for the years that they were attending the troop meetings.  Lastly, I had girls who only wanted to travel so they would come to the travel meetings.  Did that take more time for us, the advisors?  Absolutely, because we were basically running meetings every week (two troop meetings, a travel meeting, and a Silver/Gold meeting) but it was well worth it and it only happened one year in Cadettes and one year in Seniors.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Juniors: Keeping their interest for Cadettes Part I

"Last night Michelle said the scuttlebutt is that several of our terrific (Junior) scouts are thinking of dropping out after this year.  They say their schedules may be too busy and they may have other interests."

This was the start of an email I received from Shellie Massick, Volunteer Development Manager a couple days ago.  Shellie shared this, knowing we'd be really interested in the topic.  Retention is key, and something we talk about in all our trainings, starting with a hard push in Juniors. We know that if we can keep them interested and successful in Cadettes, we have the best chance of keeping them in the program through Ambassadors.

"My girls are having a fun year with lots to do & Michelle verified that everyone thinks that GS is exciting for now."

Happy Juniors!  So what do they need to know to want to become happy Cadettes?  How can we engage them now, as Juniors, to WANT to stay in Scouting?  How can we show that there is more to Scouting after Bridging in San Francisco?  More than camping, crafts and cookies?  More that they can do as older girls that will be fun and make them feel good?

 Barb Christensen suggested a way for the girls and their parents to see the successes of older girls:  "We have a plaque ceremony for girls who sell 200+ boxes of cookies.  We have Daisy through Ambassador families there and we use this opportunity to highlight the older Girl Scouts so the parents know there are Girl Scouts beyond elementary school and we ask any of the traveling troops to share where they are going so not only the girls hear what the older girls are doing, but the parents of the younger girls hear what is possible.  Other Service Units run a service unit-wide bridging ceremony and start with the oldest girls first and they recognize all the Gold and Silver award recipients so that the parents of the Daisy, Brownie and Junior troops get exposed to the information."  What great ideas!

"I also believe the parent perception is that GS is for elementary."

Unfortunately a common misperception!  All the parents of Junior girls need to know what their girls are learning NOW, and they need to see the benefit of the program for their girls.  The parents AND girls need to see successful older girls. Perhaps this is an opportunity to have Ambassadors come in and lead a couple meetings?  Have the older girls come in and talk about how much fun they had in destinations, or how much they enjoyed being a Council Delegate to the National Convention.  Perhaps have some favorite camp counselors come in and teach/lead some camp songs. They could talk up the benefits of being an older Scout.  Or get solicited by the Day Camp Committee in their Service Unit to be incoming Cadette staff at the camp.  

What else could you do to keep the girls engaged in Cadettes?
And what could you do, as a leader, if you really don't want to be a Cadette leader, but your girl wants to stay in?
What else would resonate with the parents to show that there is a value to Scouting, and that the girls benefit?

Stay tuned for more...

Friday, December 2, 2011

Girl Role in the Silver Award Project

We talked about the Adult Role last post, so for this one, we'll talk about the girl role.  Again, Karin and Lesley's role description is coming in handy!  Commercial plug:  if you haven't taken the Silver Award Training yet, and your girls are getting ready for this step, DO IT!  It's a couple hours, but truly worth it!

The girls need to.....

Hear the Take Action message; take responsibility for the quality of her project.  Be sure the girls understand that this is not about running a day camp!  This is about identifying an issue in the community that they care about and addressing that need.

Ask for help when needed.  If she's stuck, the girl needs to know that you are a resource for her. You're not there to solve her problem, but to give her clues/leads on where she can look.

Be willing to make mistakes. That's a hard one for many A-type personalities!  But an important skill to learn.  It could be that the girl has found her issue, but missed the mark on how to address it.  Admitting the error, then going back to the central issue and re-thinking it takes support from you.

Educate herself and others on current issues.  As you've heard me say before, start with the ISSUE not the project!  Be a resource for the girl as she examines local issues and picks the one that resonates with her.

Practice public speaking.  Role playing in a safe environment, like Girl Scouts, is a great tool.  Maybe you've already practiced this in your Breathe Journey?  Or maybe the girls have had some practice at school?  Build on what they know, and let them practice.  On whom?  Maybe each other? Maybe a sister Brownie or Daisy troop?  Or maybe with a Senior/Ambassador troop who can make suggestions on ways to improve.  Use your leadership role here to have it be a good experience all around!

Define what leadership means to her.  That's a big one!  Management of time and resources is not the same as leadership, and the girls need to (start) learn that.  They need to learn that leadership is about the big idea, gathering others of a like mind, educating them, and empowering everyone to take action.  Management is about the schedule, agendas and divvying up the work load.  A tough concept for many girls (and adults).  It would be great if they learned it here, so that when they interview with us for their Gold Award Projects, they'll be clear in explaining how they will lead and who they will lead.

Have fun!  This whole Silver Award process needs to be engaging and fun.  I think it helps if the girl is passionate about the issue and project, and while there's work to be done, she's excited and enthusiastic about getting it done.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Let the Girl Lead!

I was thinking about the last Silver Award Training I was a part of, and it was a great session!  Great conversation and really good questions for the training team.

Karin and Lesley handed out a page that talked about the Volunteer Silver Award Advisor's Role, and I thought I'd share some of that here.  As you all know, with the Journey requirements, the Silver Award Take Action Project is limited to not more than 3 or 4 girls working together.  That is part of the "raising of the bar" to give each girl the opportunity to have a leadership role in her project.  So how do you help the girls do this?

Be open to change and present the changes positively. "Oh no, we HAVE to do it this way," is not the same as,  "what a great opportunity to look at the issue this way."  We're the models for these girls on how they're going to move through not only this project, but life itself!

Let the girl lead.  Easier said than done, I know!!!  As we say in training, how do you know you're letting it be girl led?  It's sloooow in the beginning!  But be patient, both you and the girls will reap the rewards in the end. Be sure that each girl is clear on what her responsibilities are, and when she is due to have them done.

Share the girls' stories; teach girls to be proud of their successes.  Absolutely!  The pride in your voice as you tell others about how well the girls are doing is palpable.  And in seeing how you share their trials, tribulations and successes, the girls will each learn to step up and talk with pride about their Silver Award Projects.

Stay up-to-date with resources.   These are middle school girls, and they are really learning how to look for information.  You can help them with potential resources, but they need to be the ones to follow up on the lead.  They need to use the skills they've developed in Scouting and on the Journeys to interview resources, ask questions, and then synthesize the information together.

Help girls evaluate and measure progress.  I doubt that this is the first time the girls have had to create a timeline, assign duties and work together! (Pretty much all of you have done overnight camping!)   But if you (or past leaders/adults) have not yet fully embraced the Leadership Essentials Program, now is the time to do it!  The GIRLS need to discover, connect and take action, and they need to do it in a girl led, cooperative learning, learn by doing environment.  And they can do it!  You may need to prod a bit, or haul out the timeline/goal list for them in the beginning, but once it becomes the norm, they can do it on their own.

Expect quality Take Action Projects.  Don't you OR the girls settle for ho-hum.  This should be a challenge for the girls. There needs to be a reach, achievable, but not a walk in the park.

And celebrate successes!  Attagirls and warm fuzzies go a long way to encourage girls.  Plus it shows that you recognize that they've done a good job.  And there's nothing wrong with that!  Let them figure out ways to celebrate their successes with each other.

Never forget to have fun! 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dive Deep into the Issue

"Every great and deep difficulty bears in itself its own solution. It forces us to find it."
Niels Bohr, Danish physicist

This is where I say, START WITH THE ROOT CAUSE!  (Not the project!)

Scientists are known for looking for big things in tiny places. The cure for cancer, the cure for AIDS and HIV, the cure for Downs Syndrome - all of these cures will probably come from the tiniest gene, the most microscopic genome.  And just that one identification will lead to huge changes about how we eradicate these diseases.

For our Silver Award girls, aren't we asking them to look hard at an issue? To understand it?  To see how it impacts more than just a small audience?  Aren't we asking them to force themselves to dive deep and find a meaningful solution?  (Okay, maybe not the cure for cancer!)

But maybe a way to reduce bullying in their schools?  Or maybe a way to educate students about sports injuries? Or maybe an avenue to make social justice books more available to all students?  We have girls in the pipeline both as Silver Award AND as Gold Award girls who are diving into these issues right now.  For the Silver Award, it will be less than a Gold Project, but still robust and comprehensive!  Still Taking Action to make the world a better place.

More than just collecting pieces.  More than just getting together at a troop meeting and making a 'thing'.  More than a 'build something' project.  More than having a one-time event/party for a cause.

It's about finding a solution, or a path to a solution.  Let's get these girls to THINK BIG and WORK HARD TOGETHER to make a difference in the world.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness"
James Thurber
American author and cartoonist

Sounds like community mapping to me!  We ask the girls to look around in their community.  To be aware of what's going on around them.  To boldly go.....(sorry, wrong blog...)

And these girls can be fearless!  Ready to tackle an issue head on.  But first they need to stop and identify their issue.  THEN gather the information, and be aware of what's going on around them.  Awareness can be as simple as seeing a homeless person on the street, then seeing a dog and young child sitting at the side of the road, waiting for their parent to panhandle enough money to buy some food.
And awareness can come from watching a documentary about plastic bags and injured sea birds.  Or a YouTube video about a youth living with HIV.  Or reading a biography about Aimee Semple McPherson, Emmeline Pankhurst or Eleanor Roosevelt. It can also come from reading the daily paper - online or in newsprint.  

It's about the girl being open to what's around her.  To look at what's going on around her with fresh, open eyes.  

We did a community mapping exercise at a training, and I commented that there were no service shelters on the map (homeless, food banks, etc.)  And one girl told me, "we didn't need a shelter, because we live in a nice place, and MIssion Viejo doesn't have domestic violence."  I tried not to preach as we spent about 10 minutes talking as a group about what's in a community, but behind closed doors. Or just not talked about.  Or just brushed under the rug. Or what we see, but don't recognize as a problem/issue.

Those girls left with a new awareness.  I don't know if it led to a Take Action Project, but I can hope that it did lead them to look a bit more closely at the community they live in.  And to Take Action to make the world a better place where they live.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Silver Award - Another View

I’m still thinking about the Silver Award, but this time from the adult perspective….

What is your adult role?  What should you be doing to support your girls as they get ready for their Silver Award work?

First, take the Silver Award Training Class offered by Council.  This will provide you with some great information as well as a chance to chat with some other advisors.

Second,encourage the girl to think critically and outside the box.  Binkys for babies, neo-natal caps for preemies and Daisy Play Days are not sufficient projects on their own!  Work with the girls to start on page one of the new Silver Guidelines (in their NEW Cadette Girl Guide).  Don’t start with the end, start with identifying the issue and working from there.

Third, cheerlead!  Support her work.  Encourage her thought process.  Provide assistance as asked, but really put it back on the girl to go find the answers.  You can help locate the resources, but then back away, and let the girls do the exploring.

She might get stuck!  Answer her questions or help her find those who can provide the information.  You might suggest avenues that she might not be aware of, and you can help her to access these new pathways.

And finally, you are her troop leader, and while you can certainly take the training and act as her advisor, I would also encourage the girl to identify an advisor for her project.  Perhaps there is a troop parent who can take the training and act as the advisor?  Or perhaps this is something that your co-leader would want to take on as her job?  And truly, if only a few of your girls want to earn the Silver, having an outside advisor could work really well.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Wow!  It's too bad that everyone couldn't see how much fun those girls had over the weekend!  I watched as Cadettes girls loaded camping gear in, set up tents, lashed their dishwash station, put up the flagpole and more with the help of their advisors and some parents.  Some bellyaching, but for the most part, happy and productive, doing it on their own!  Teaching others how to do something. Helping neighboring troops.  Getting all caught up in the Musical Merriment theme of the weekend.

It was great!  These girls, some vets and some newbies, were doin' it for themselves!  They were well prepped, well trained and ready to go.  I loved it!  They came to have fun, participate, stay up late and sleep in (wishful thinking) before their events of the morning kicked in.

I saw some of the scores from the skills and fun games, and most were above average.  Most of the girls knew what they were doing and did it well.  Was it perfect?  No, but pretty darn good!  Were there hovering leaders/parents? Sure, but they were in the minority.  There were more leaders sitting in a chair in the shade, watching, taking pictures and acting as the safe place to leave "stuff" than there were leaders directing girls. And the girls did well!

Watching the all-camp contest in the afternoon was just a hoot!  Some had props, costumes, musical instruments, and scripts.  I couldn't get "It's fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A...." tune out of my head.  Especially when the lyrics were "Girl Scouts is fun in troop sixteen-0-3...." 

And who put on this fabulous event?  Who was out there in their red shirts 3 days in a row?  The Seniors, who used to be Cadettes themselves, and who were now in charge of running and scoring the skills events.  Sure, we adults were on the committee too, but I have to say, Ginger and I said, "let's check with The Ashleys" more than we decided for ourselves.  And "The Ashleys" did a great job communicating with the other red hats, working with the camp staff to be sure everyone did their jobs.

What great role models for our Cadettes to see! And as Sami said with great pride, "next year I get to be a red hat."  She's had three years of Cadette-O-Rama as a Cadette, and she can hardly wait to be a Red Hat for four more years, as a Senior.  What great modeling and progression. These girls CAN DO IT ALL!!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Be the Best

 The roots of true achievement
lie in the will to become
the best that you can become.
- Harold Taylor, Politician, Manitoba, Canada

I like teaching the Girl Scout Leadership Experience (GSLE) classes for council.  Because one of the things I get to talk about is having every girl be a leader in her own life.  We all want our girls to stand up on their own two feet and make healthy and informed decisions for themselves. To be their BEST!

And one way the GSLE program encourage them to develop leadership skills is by giving them different things to work at and goals to achieve. To start, the badges do that! They present the opportunity for the girl to achieve a goal and develop skills.  The Journey path gives them a menu of opportunity to use these skills as they move forward:  setting goals and selling cookies, planning camping trips, earning the LIA working with Brownies, etc.  Each piece of the Journey gives the girls the opportunity to achieve some success.

So, as they move through Cadettes, they are building their skills, experiencing new things, working together to achieve goals, and taking a Journey to use these developing leadership skills.  As the girls earn badges and complete tasks, we hope that they understand that these are the building blocks of who they are going to be!  And we hope that they understand and embrace the opportunity to do their best, and be the best they can be.

I think that's what Mr. Taylor is saying: achieve small things, build confidence, garner success and create the will within to always do your best. That way, no matter the task or obstacle, there's a will to achieve, and the knowledge that it can be done.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Scouts Own

I was reading the NEW Cadette Girl Guide, and there's a section about a Scout's Own.  And I got to thinking, I haven't seen one of these at the Cadette level in a long time!  When we talked about it at our Breathe Journey this past summer, the adults said they used a Roses and Thorns theme to talk about the highs and lows of the just completed event/camping trip/program.  While I think that kind of recap is great, it doesn't quite fit in with my perception or the Girl Guide's perception of a Scout's Own.

"...a special ceremony created around a theme." is how it's described in the Girl Guide.  So, using my resources wisely, I pull out the Ceremonies in Girl Scouting book c. 1990 I borrowed from Theresa Green a while ago.  And sure enough, back on pages 59-63 there was info about a Scout's Own.  

"A Girl Scouts' Own should be all that its name implies.  The main to elaborate on a theme...  It allows girls to express their thoughts and feelings in a truly meaningful way."  This can mean a GS theme, something from nature, badge experience, Silver Award experiences, etc. It can happen anywhere!  Outside under the trees at twilight.  After a campfire has burned down to embers, sending the girls off in the quiet glow to their tents or home.  Or at Camp Scherman where the girls can send their wishes out on the lake with a candle. OR in the Anaheim Service Center!  Outside in the middle of the day on the grass!

It can be inspirational, about the promise and law, or reaffirming.  But above all, it's girl led!  2 or 3 girls could get together ahead of time and talk about what the theme would be.  And they could get help from adults on any pieces they might need. At this age, they could also be given the ceremonies book and use that as a reference.  And then come up with what to say, who to involve and how it's all going to come together.
Breathe Journey Series 2011

That's what we did at the Breathe Journey Series Closing Ceremony. We had three 7th grade girls who barely knew each other put it together.  And they did it!  A first for some, but old hat for others.  Was it perfect?  No, but it was GREAT to view.  The theme was the promise and law, and they used my Twiggy log and candles from Jim and Ginger Kleerup as the basis for the ceremony. The candles never got lit, but everyone expressed themselves and participated.  

It was great!  And I bet those newbie 6th grade Cadette girls want to have a chance to lead it themselves in the future.  They saw the older girl-led leadership, and they had a chance to work cooperatively with that team to say their pieces in turn. There was little pressure, no right/wrong.  Just 25 girls coming together for the last time before they went their separate ways.

What a great thing for these Cadettes to know how to do!  Plus, a great skill that they can provide/teach to younger girls.  I'd love to see what other Scout's Own ideas your girls come up with!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Creative Solutions for Silver Award Planning

"Any activity becomes creative when the doer cares about doing it right or better."
John Updike, American writer.

We know our Cadette girls want to do a quality Silver Award Project!  And we know that they want to do it right!  These impassioned girls want to make a difference in the world.

Our job as Advisors is to support them as much as we can.  This age doesn't "know it all" yet, or at least not as much as the senior high girls do!  And they are still exploring who they are and who they want to be.  As they move through the process of putting their Silver Award Project together, they may need your help to really delve deep into their issues.

Not to do it for them!  But to help them think beyond what they know, to DISCOVER creative options that the girl doesn't even know exists.  For example, the girls with the passion for the environment need to look beyond picking up papers at the beach. A great service project, but not a Silver Award Project in and of itself.  It's time for them to think beyond trash pick up and figure out how to connect using their leadership to make MORE of a difference.  Education, teamwork, measurable outcomes, sustainable practices, etc.

They need to look at creative ways to address the issue.  They need to be exposed to new and bigger ideas.  And they need to find a way to use all that passion to gather a team together to make the project a reality. 

We're here to guide!  Let's do it well for the girls.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Sometimes, you don't have to look for it!

I posted this week about the great Silver Award Training we had on Saturday, and I mentioned that one of the interests was FASHION.  And the result, after conversations was that maybe that interest topic didn't have a fit for a Silver or Gold Award Project.

Well, I was WRONG! 

I just had a meeting with a good friend, Amy Larson (a GS alum), who is now Director of Development for Working Wardrobes. I went over to see the facility and hear about the new programs that they are offering.  For those of you not familiar with Working Wardrobes, it's a multi faceted non profit whose mission is: "(to) empower(s) men, women and young adults in life crises to confidently enter the workforce with career development and wardrobe services."

When Jerri Rosen first started the program, it was all about a collection of clothes from friends to donate to those in need of professional, interviewing clothing. That nugget of an idea has morphed into 9 full time staff people and 3000 volunteers every year providing not only personal shopping and clothing, but resume building classes, personal care classes, computer access, skill building and more! 

So, my question to Marlo Kirkham, manager, Community Resources (and a GS alum) was, "how can girls in Orange County partner with Working Wardrobes to create a Silver or Gold Award Project with girl leadership to make a difference in the community?"

Just from brainstorming with Amy and Marlo, we came up with some ideas. 
Start a high school club - advocate for helping this community, put on clothing drives, raise awareness, have a fashion show, visit a shelter, adopt high schools and provide prom dresses.

Work with emancipated minors to help build their skills in order to get a job and/or get more education, dress for interviews and the work world, learn office etiquette, find services that can help on an ongoing basis.

Resale Boutique - create a marketing plan and community awareness days, staff those days with volunteers to help serve the men and women who come in.  Solicti donations of appropriate apparel.

Work with the Cinderella Guild and take unsuitable/old fashioned prom gowns and re-make them for girls to wear now.

Create a blog about fashion and what is appropriate to wear when.  Determine how this germ of an idea could grow and become a Silver or Gold Award Project.

The lessons learned?  Never say never!  We adults need to use our resources wisely to reach out to our friends and colleagues as potential partners for our girls' projects. We can present the opportunity, and the girl can use her skills to investigate it and determine whether there's a fit for her.

If you think Working Wardrobes could be of interest to your girls, please ask them to contact Marlo Kirkham 714-210-2460, 3030 Pullman St. Suite A, Costa Mesa 92626

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Great Silver Award Training Class Today!

What a GREAT group of Cadette Advisors in the room this morning for the Silver Award Training.  Karin Carlson and Lesley Finch were aided by Barb Christenson and me as we went through the essentials of the highest award a girl can earn as a Cadette:  the Silver Award.

We hit hard on the concept of "raising the bar", and how a Silver Award Project should not look like a regular "collection service project".  All the leaders in the room were able to shout out service projects that they'd done with their girls, and everyone was really clear on what that was.  The newer part was to talk about how a Silver Award Project is a couple steps up the ladder.

There was great discussion about how a Silver Award Project needs to benefit the community, not Girl Scouts. So while it's nice to want to put on a Brownie Playday, that's not Silver quality, any longer!  And to make it more personal, after the break, Barb asked for topics or issues that the advisors thought the girls might like to pursue.  We posted these around the room, and each advisor went to one and worked with their group to first, write down resources that they might consider pursuing for information and/or partnership on their project.

We came back together and reported back. Then broke into groups to have the group pick JUST ONE resource and choose JUST ONE possible project that could be addressed, and how that might look. 
There was engaged and energetic discussion about the root issue could be addressed.  Several groups reported back, one with a really good task list, another with a really good division of labor among the team members.  And finally, the last one to share had a topic that really didn't have an issue to address; it was just a fun thing to do!  But it didn't benefit anyone, or fill a need in the community. What a great exercise for the girls to go through as well!  It could be that their first idea won't work, so they'll need to re-group and come up with another idea.

We talked about how to use the NEW Cadette Girl Guide as the reference for the Silver Award.  It's much better than the downloads off GSUSA, and it's IN the handbook that the girl will have for 3 years!  Both the girl and the advisor can refer back to it on a regular basis to keep on track.

Lesley ended the training with a reminder to reflect and celebrate!  When the girl(s) finish their project, let them enjoy the success, talk about what they could do better, and relish the fact that they took on a project that was tough, and they accomplished it!  They discovered a need, connected with others to make a change, and took action to make the change a reality.

That's mighty heady stuff, Maynard!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Get Started

 “Nothing will ever be attempted if all possible objections must first be overcome.”
Samuel Jackson, actor and activist

“That’s too hard!” 
“I can’t do it!”icon
“So-and-so said that’ll never work!”
“I don’t know anyone there!”
“It’s raining!”
Many middle school girls are a combination of knowing things with dead certainty, and finding excuses to not apply themselves and start a project.  Many times, road blocks will be thrown up to put off starting something.  And that often works!  The girl might never start. Someone might do it for her….I hope it’s not you!

I think Mr. Jackson has it right, even if the girl can’t figure it all out ahead of time, she still needs to work with what she knows to start.  This is a great age to try new things and attempt leadership/projects/badges that might seem challenging.  Girl Scouts provides a place for these girls to experience safe failures.

I first heard that term a while ago, and not in conjunction with Girl Scouts.  But I think it fits really well into how we provide a safe space for girls.  We give them the opportunity to lead, work well with others and learn cooperatively.  If the girl(s) fail, they have friends/troop members/GS community to console them, prop them up and encourage them to start again.  It’s about learning. And it’s about growing.  Safely.

It’s about starting, failing and starting over.  And it’s about our supporting their efforts, encouraging their beginnings and celebrating their successes.  It’s also about our guiding them through a process, acting as resources, and offering them the chance to succeed. 

These girls can do it!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Silver Award

The Silver Award is a BIG DEAL!  And it’s great preparation for The Gold Award Project, if it’s done well!  Truly, this is a perfect time for the adult to guide the girls to take action!  The new Leadership Model emphasizes raising the bar for all Silver Award Projects.

This is a BIG SHIFT.  The Silver Award Project is not just a community service project, making the world a better place for some people in the short-term.  It’s about making the world a better place for measurably more people and for a sustained period of time.

Taking Action involves identifying an issue, understanding the root cause and creating a project that is sustainable with an impact that is measurable. And there must be a global element:  talk about how the project could keep growing bigger in the future.

What is a Silver Award quality project?
Creating a Daisy Day Camp is not one.   The girl needs to look outside her troop/council.

Collecting blankets for the homeless. That’s a service project. What could make it a Silver quality Project?  Have the girl identify the root cause of the issue. (Lack of blankets is a result, not an issue.)  Map her community to see what organizations serve the homeless population and ask what the need is.  Perhaps there’s an education piece that can go along with collecting blankets?  Participation in a social services fair? Create a binder with instructions so that the organization can duplicate efforts in the future. Creating flyers of information. 

Collecting/making hats for neo-natal babies at CHOC.  A nice service project, but what’s the root issue? Poor pre-natal care?  Homeless/underserved women without information about how to carry full-term babies?  Have the conversation with the girl to create a project that’s sustainable. Perhaps training other girls how to sew the hats would be a piece.  The girl needs to talk with CHOC to identify the need and fill it, using her leadership!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

It's All About the Quality

“The quality, not the longevity, of one's life is what is important.“
              - Martin Luther King,Jr.
I am a self-acknowledged fan of Dr. King, and I really like this quote as it may relate to the Gold and Silver Award Take Action Projects.  At Training, you've heard Karin, Lesley and me talk about how GSUSA is "raising the bar" on the standards for these two Awards.  Each award is supposed to be the hardest thing the girl will do at her level.

We advisors/project advisors/trainers need to help the girls look at the issue they want to address, and to critically think about what the need is in our community.  We need to help them identify a true need and create a plan to address that need.  This needs to be more than a collection project or something simple.  It needs to be bigger and more encompassing.

The quality of the work, the time the girl puts in and the leadership skills she uses and develops during the process are really critical here. This is a 
girl led process where the burden is directly on her shoulders!  We need to encourage her to find the Take Action Project that is meaningful, has quality and is within her scope to achieve.  It should  be difficult, and it should be a challenge!

For the Silver Award, this could be a single girl, or a small group of two or three girls who have come together around the same issue.  For the Gold, it's one girl alone.  You, her advisor, are there to support, cheerlead, provide resources and help her raise the bar and create a quality Take Action Project.  And NOT let her take the easy way out!

And when that bar is raised, good things happen: there is some longevity, but not necessarily something with a timeline attached to it!  Both the Gold and Silver Awards ask that the projects be sustainable.  There's no time attached to that, but it should certainly be beyond the immediate future.  At the Silver level, the girls also need to talk about and understand that global implications of their issue and their project.  At the Gold level, there might even be a way to provide for the project to global.  Or continue the talk about global implications, and talk about "what if" and other scenarios.

Dr. King believed that everyone has a voice, and that everyone can make a difference in the world. So do I. And so do your girls, I bet.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Who says Moms don't know best?

"My doctor told me I would never walk again. My mother told me I would. I believed my mother."
--Wilma Rudolph
American track and field athlete

You parents and leaders have enormous power over these Cadette girls. And I mean that in the best possible way.

You are their role models, among other things(!), and you are who these girls look to for advice, information and approval, whether they want to admit it or not.  You are the one that wants to keep them safe, and still encourage them to Discover the world around them.

If Wilma Rudolph's mom hadn't been so encouraging, so positive and so sure that her daughter could succeed, would Wilma have just accepted the doctor's decree, and sat in a wheelchair for the rest of her life?  It sounds like her Mom made certain that Wilma knew that SHE COULD DO IT!  The Mom couldn't do it for her, Wilma had to do it for herself.

Isn't that the role that we leaders/advisors/guides play in our girls' lives?  We are here to let them learn how to do it for themselves, how to work together and how to take a leadership role to make the world a better place. The more we let them, support them, the more they can do!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Self Esteem and Bullying

I was reading “Ask Amy” in the LA Times because the title was “Adults need to help bullied girl”.  She gave a great answer about how the 11 year old girl’s parents should jump right on the issue, and talk with her school.  And the school should get the bully’s parents involved as well.  She went on to say that the parents should “get her involved in activities to build and bolster her self-esteem…Girl Scouts, music and theatre will help her to feel more confident.”

She also said that “…friendship is an ideal antidote to bullying.  Help to foster friendships at and outside of school.”

She was right,  Girl Scouts would be perfect for this girl!  We say that one of the key things about having troop meetings and troop events is that we create a safe environment for our girls.  And this girl definitely needs to feel safe.  And she needs to build up her self-esteem.  Have confidence in herself and who she is.  A couple years of Girl Scouting, making new friends and establishing new relationships, earning some badges, taking a Journey like Amaze that talks about this subject, etc. and she will have a great chance to move forward with who she is going to become.

And maybe she’ll earn the Silver Award.  What an accomplishment!  To go from being a bullied 11 year old to a girl who will learn how to discover, connect and take action to make the world a better place.  Maybe her root issue to address will be bullying and how much it hurts.  Maybe she will search her community for what support is available for kids who are bullied.  And maybe she will find a way to share her story with others, teaching them the signs of bullying, and showing other girls where they can go for help.  And offering her Girl Scout experience as a pathway for others.

How would she make this sustainable?  Maybe she creates an interactive play that can go on the road to different schools?  And maybe she can script it so that others can perform it as well.  And she can use her leadership to make a difference. 

I hope the girl in the article found her way through this tough time, and that Girl Scouting helped play a positive role in her life.  

Monday, October 3, 2011

Troop Meetings

I’ve heard some really great ideas at a Cadette Training class this year, and thought I’d start passing them on.  If they can work for you and your girls, GREAT!  And if not for now, maybe for later.

There was great discussion about how social these 6th and 7th graders are.  They want to be with their friends in the troop and they want to have fun.  These girls want to chat and compare notes.  But with only two troop meetings a month that are 2 hours long, they weren’t getting enough time to do it AND getting the work of the troop done.

The leader of one troop told us about how the girls voted to have their troop meetings on  Friday nights, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., I think.  (No Friday football games, yet!)  And once a month, they would add a dinner from 5:00-6:00, then have the meeting from 6 to 8, and THEN have an overnight. She said the girls knew this was the plan, and it motivated them to get their troop work done, so that they could have fun time.

It sounded like some Fridays everyone was asleep by 10, and others went into the midnight hours.  Regardless, all girls were picked up at 8:00 a.m. the next morning, so there was plenty of time for their soccer/baseball/swimming/you name it activities on the Saturday.

When I told this to one training class, they were stunned that someone would have a sleepover at their house every month.  Then someone said, but what if it was scheduled per year, and every/most parents knew they had it one time?  What if meetings in May were at one house, June in another, etc.?  That would loop the parents into participating with snack/food/meetings AND not put the burden on just the troop leader and her family.

Another said, maybe once a quarter?  Maybe not once a month?  Whatever works for your girls, I say!!!  Use the idea or don’t!  See what the girls want, and how it can work.

Change it up!  Keep it fresh! Ask the girls for their ideas, and go from there…. 

Friday, September 30, 2011


WOW! Last night there were 24 enthusiastic, excited Cadette leaders in the room for Cadette Essentials.  All but a couple were starting their first year of Cadettes with their 6th graders.  Most had completed at least one Journey at the Junior level.  Over half had girls who completed the Bronze Award.  All were looking forward to the Cadette Journey experience and the Silver Award process.

WOW, again!  What a difference from the first Cadette Essentials I taught, not that long ago, where no troop had taken a Journey, only a few troops had transitioned to the new requirements, and few troops were embracing the GSLE (Girl Scout Leadership Essentials) model.

NOW, the purposeful leadership, the letting it be girl led and the Journey leadership experience are part of everyone's lexicon! PLUS, everyone was ready for the new red Cadette Guide that has the new badges, all the awards for this age group, Silver Award requirements and other great GS information.  It's a shame that all these binders aren't available right this moment, but I don't think that's going to stop any of these leaders.  The suggestion was made to just start a Journey, and when the Girl Guides become readily available, start using them.  Yes!

We also talked about how they have THREE years of Cadettes. There is NO RUSH to get a Journey and a Silver Award done in the first 10 minutes!!!  Depending on age and maturity, it could take a good half to full year to get the girls up to speed with Cadette life.  New government structure, new ledger accounting (if they choose it), new LIA opportunities, new leadership role, etc.  Let the girls decide was the mantra for the training.  We leaders provide the structure and support to let this happen.

Of course, everyone knew that it wouldn't happen over night!  It's a process, and since this is Girl Scouts, I'd ask how to measure this?  I'm sure everyone would have said that the best measure would be when the leader sits in her chair in the back of the room, and watches the girls lead the meeting, make strong decisions and take the lead.

Truly, I am so proud of these leaders and wish them every success with their girls.  A big thank you to them for their enthusiasm and commitment. And thank you to all our volunteers who provide such great support for all our Cadette girls.  It just does my heart good!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Cadette Leaders

Thank you for being Cadette leaders!  These girls are a challenge, that’s for sure!!!  And I mean that in a good way….

Most of you leaders have been working with these same girls for years now.  You’ve seen them grow from enthusiastic little Daisys into happy Juniors, and now you’re going to go to go through an even tougher transition.  To Cadettes and Middle School!

As you make the transition from Juniors to Cadettes, remember that this is when you turn ‘em loose!  You’ve led them through badges and Bronze Awards, and now YOU get to let them take their next big steps in taking control of their Girl Scout experience.  Not all at once, but piece by piece.  THEY get to plan the menus, timeline, activities, etc. for your next overnight. THEY get to check the Safety Checkpoints….even more so than in Juniors. By the time they’re 8th graders, they’ll be champs!

So, enjoy it!  You survived letting them plan in Juniors, a slow, painful process at the beginning.  Now reap the benefits!  Model new behaviors, but sit back and let them do it! This is also when it’s great to have a new troop government structure, so that the girls can work with their BFFs and also apart from them.  Where the girls have structured some social time as well as work time to get it all done!

It’s a time for them to try new ideas, to fail, to succeed and above all, to have fun and LEARN. To Discover, Connect and Take Action.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

LIA - Leadership in Action

“…to teach is to learn twice…”
I just saw this aphorism posted on the old Orco Block building off the 55 freeway.  There is surely some truth to the statement.
As a trainer, I am supposed to have a really good knowledge of the subject I’m to teach.  But I don’t know everything!  And I don’t really KNOW it until I’ve taught it several times.  To the content of what I teach, I add in the discussion information from each class, the great ideas and the failures.  So when I go to teach again, I am not only teaching the syllabus, but I am re-learning the information I’m teaching, adding in new tidbits as I learn them.  Teaching certainly reinforces what I’ve learned!
Isn’t that what the Leadership in Action (LIA) is all about?  We ask our Cadettes to identify a team of Brownies who are working on the same Leadership Journey.  Using the Breathe Journey as an example, the girls take some of what they’ve learned for Breathe (experiments, facts, fun crafts, etc.) and figure out how to teach it to the younger girls.  They learn it twice!  Once when it was new, and then again as they teach the Brownies. What great reinforcement!
And what a great way for these Cadette-aged girls to use their leadership skills!  These little Brownies LOVE the older girls!  The older girls are there only for them, paying attention, focusing their efforts and having successes. It’s a win-win situation!
I would be remiss if I didn’t say, don’t forget to reinforce this with the girls. Be sure to take the time after they’ve completed the LIA to talk about what the girls discovered about them selves, how they connected with the younger girls and how taking action makes a difference.  Be sure that they see the value of using what they’ve learned to help others… that they make the world a better place!  

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Training at council

Saturday was my first Cadette Essentials Training in the daylight!  Council put together a day of training for all the levels. PLUS it was a day to pick up the new RED CADETTE GIRL GUIDEBOOK that I had pre-ordered.  It was great to have it for show-and-tell during the class.

We talked a little about how to use the great binder, and how important it is for each girl to have her own, and what she can do with it.  Why not put a copy of the Group Agreement in the front?  Barb suggested adding the packing list for overnights.  Another leader suggested including the yearly calendar that the girls would come up with at the start of the year.  Great ideas!  How else could the girls use these new Girl Guides?

There was quite a discussion about the new Silver Requirements.  One leader had stepped down from being an 01, and offered to be the Silver Advisor for girls in the troop. What a great idea!  Not all the girls will want to do a Silver Award Project, so she can help guide those who do.  What a great way for a leader to still participate in a meaningful way.

Karin Carlson and I were emailing about how important it is to get the girls started on the right foot for their Silver Awards Projects.  Don't start with the project, but start by using the Silver guide and identifying issues that the girl(s) are passionate about.  Have them do the research, and work through the great worksheets to identify a need in the community, reach out to others to help, and create a great Project that really does make the world a better place!

Starting with this experience, then moving on to a Senior Journey, really gets the girls ready for her GOLD!  But that's a different blog......

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Quote for the Day

I have a friend who sends me a quote every day in my in-box. Many of them resonate in some way with Girl Scouts and what we do as leaders.  As we move forward with this blog, you’ll see more quotes, and I hope you’ll share yours too.

Quote for the day:
“People never change.
They just become more of
who they really are.”

I liked this one for Cadettes.  These middle school years the girls are becoming more of who they will be.  They’re not set. Change and growth are possible and encouraged.

Perhaps they’re taking the Amuse Journey, where they explore the maze and navigate the twists and turns on their Journey.  It’s a great way for them to see how they value friendships, how they see others and how they view challenging behavior in themselves and others.  Working through these issues is going to help them define who they will be, and we all hope that they will become leaders in their own lives who learn to Discover, Connect and Take Action.

They’re still girls!  And while they already have a personality, they are still putting together the whole person they will become. 

And I think about my Mom.  She’s 82 this year, a former Girl Scout leader to me and both my sisters, and at the other end of the spectrum.  Truly, she’s still the same nice woman she was in my youth.  She just forgets more....

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Welcome to the Blog!

Welcome to the first post on my brand new blog! Still working out the kinks, mostly on my end, as I learn to use the widgets and great tools that Google has to offer. So here goes….

Being a Cadette Trainer has its ups and downs! There’s nothing like hearing “I did what you said, and it worked!” or “I used the idea that other woman was talking about, and my girls loved it! We’ll do it again!” And it warms my cockles to hear, “we like the training so much the first time, we came back to do it again and learn more!” Truly, I am more of a facilitator. I have a training format to follow, but the real blood and guts, in the trenches comments come from you leaders.

Most of you own a Cadette girl, and many of you are facing the same challenges with your daughter and her troop mates. They are a squirrely bunch of incoming 6th graders, 7th graders in a fog, and then 8th graders getting to know who they are a bit better. So social, and so about snack and chat in 6th grade. Most of them don’t have email accounts and phones, yet, but they will, and as a leader and troop, you’re all going to be working toward making the changes that come as these girls grow up.

And they’re going to change. They’ll get hair in funny places, body changes in shape and dimension, and their hormones will just be raging. School will be both fun, hard and boring. Those happy little chatty girls will change into monosyllabic responders. Yep, they’re a different kind of challenge, all right!!!!

So, in this blog, I’m hoping to provide a forum for questions and answers. Resource for info and a way for all of you to share info with one another. It’s my first try, and I hope it works!

It will also be a place for me to post info gleaned from training, any new program pieces that I hear about from council, and maybe even some fun photos of Cadette events. I’m hoping it will be fun and productive for all of us.

  -  Ann