Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What Adults can do for the Girls

I was going through the mail this week, and as I sorted the bills from the holiday cards from the magazines, I noticed that I had a pile of year-end donation requests.

March of Dimes, Alzheimer's, Girl's Inc., American Heart Association, Human Options and Girl Scouts, to name a few.  My knee jerk response to the GSOC request was sort of, "well, I already give time and talent to the organization, that's enough."  

But then I got to thinking, no, that isn't enough. Sure, I participate on council and other volunteer committees, interview girls for the Gold, work on series, help train. But that doesn't help the council provide service to the girls we serve.  The girls sell cookies, and a percentage of each box goes to council operations.

And here's the rub, that's not enough money to provide service to over 25,000 members in Orange County.  It's not enough to provide additional outreach to underserved communities.  It's not even enough to open the doors every day at the service centers and the headquarters.  It's true, it takes funding from corporations who give back to a community.  It takes funding from older Girl Scouts who want to give back to a program they've loved with all their hearts for 30-40-50+ years.

And it takes funding from every adult who believes in the Girl Scout program.  Every adult like me, who had the absolute BEST time growing up in Scouting. Every adult who knows that Girl Scouting saves lives.  Every adult who sees his/her daughter growing up strong, and seeing that some of that strength comes from the Scouting program.

Don't we have a connection to see every girl succeed?  And doesn't she deserve an opportunity to grow up with courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place?  Don't we want each of these girls to have the HUGE benefits of the Journey Leadership Experiences, badges, Awards, travel opportunities, destinations, and the proud distinction of being a Girl Scout?  I do. And I bet there are many more of you who do too.

As you're sorting the holiday mail, please consider a donation of any amount to Girl Scouts of Orange County.  Please make a difference in a girl's life. Not only your own daughter's, but for every girl who stands up tall and proud, and says, "On my honor, I will try..."

Friday, December 21, 2012

Labyrinth for their Silver Award

(Excerpted from the December 11, 2012 GSUSA blog)

Regis Middle School eighth graders Jenna Ampulski, Megan Korbel and Isabelle Canney built a labyrinth and prayer garden at St. Pius X Catholic School to earn their Girl Scout Silver Award.

For 14 months, the trio worked to create a prayer garden and labyrinth at their former elementary school. The project was to earn their Girl Scout Silver Award — the highest a Girl Scout Cadette can earn.
There was a time, they said, it seemed it would never be finished.
“It was more prep work than I realized,” Isabelle says.
They researched labyrinths by visiting examples at Xavier High School and Indian Creek Nature Center.
They raised more than $7,000 by submitting a grant application to and preparing a PowerPoint presentation for Megan’s mom, Kristen Korbel, to share with area organizations, businesses and individuals.
“There were a lot of businesses that, after we told them what we were doing, just donated the items or sold them at cost,” Megan says.
A landscaper and botanist helped create a design. Midwest Lawn and Landscaping excavated the site at St. Pius X in June, delivering limestone, river rock and pavers to the site.
Throughout the summer, more than 60 volunteers — including Boy Scouts from Troop 42 and Girl Scouts from troops 5049 and 8979 — helped transform an unused courtyard to a peaceful area for reflection and education.

Nice Silver Award Take Action Project!  And a nice way to give back to a school they loved. And for once, I really don't have much to add to the article!  The girls found a need, created a project, gathered their team and used resources wisely.  In some ways, this is closer to a Gold Award Project than a I can hardly wait to hear what they do for the Gold!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Silver Award Project

(This from the GSUSA blog December 7)

CLINTON TWP. – Township Girl Scout Troop 81285 has been busy performing an important service for the community: Cadet Scouts Elizabeth Kapral, Kathleen Hogan, Daniela Roman and Camryn Burns have been marking storm drains that direct untreated stormwater into the water supply. The girls, who are in grades 6 through 8, are working toward achieving their Silver Award, the highest a cadet can earn in the Scouting program.
In a presentation to the Township Council at its Nov. 28 meeting, Hogan explained that as part of their Silver Award project, the Scouts first had to identify a problem and then develop an action plan to correct it. They chose local stormwater pollution, which they said kills fish, wildlife, contaminates drinking water and closes beaches. “Human activity is largely responsible” for such issues, said Hogan.

“We are trying to educate the public by labeling all drains in the township that lead directly into pathways without treatment,” she said, noting this is required by state law.  To date, the Scouts have labeled more than 200 drains in Clinton Township, but more labels are needed for them to continue the program.
Councilman James Imbriaco said the Environmental Commission is planning to use its budget to purchase about 300 additional markers for the girls to use.

I think I like this project!  Why?  Because it really does meet the requirements of the Silver Award Take Action Project, if I make some assumptions about what the girls also did!

The issue:  stormwater pollution

The root causeignorance or lack of care by the residents

The Project:  educate the residents and label the drains for all to see in order to reduce contamination down the line

The team:  4 girls from a troop. I am hoping that each of the four took a leadership role in this project.  Perhaps one was in charge of publicity - getting the word out.  One gathered information to hand out to residents about the need. One was a liason to the city. And one helped build the team of peers to help.

Their action:  Labeling the storm drains.  It sounds like there were actual plaques that were affixed to the drains.   It sounds like the city helped them with this.  And in order to get more, perhaps the girls took a leadership role in soliciting funds from a grant? or from another city department? to help. I hope they also had information available to the residents about this issue.  Perhaps they used the City Website to post info? or had other articles written by the girls in the newspaper?  or presented the info at school? linked to the school websiteThose actions would have given them a more direct connection to the community they were serving:  not just putting up signs.

Sustainable:  Their work goes on for as long as the plaques are there.  And hopefully, the city took over the care and maintenance of them.  Hopefully, the Environmental Commission was able to build on the girls' work and continue it as an ongoing project.

Global:  What if they could do EVERY drain in their town?  What if every city/town in their county did it?  What kind of impact could that have?  That would be one conversation I would have with the girls, to be sure they understand the global nature of this work.  


Saturday, December 15, 2012

BFF and the aMaze Journey

(This from the Girl Scouts Research Institute, from GSUSA)

Building Healthy Relationships at Girl Scouts of the USA

BFF (Be a Friend First)
In October, Girl Scouts of the USA launched an innovative bullying-prevention initiative for middle-school girls. BFF, which stands for “Be a Friend First,” is based on the popular aMAZE! Leadership Journey. Working with volunteers, girls learn relational and leadership skills to short-circuit bullying behavior and to prevent it from happening in the first place. BFF uses role playing, creative writing, and discussion exercises through which girls explore thorny issues like peer pressure, stereotyping, gossip, and cliques. As part of BFF, girls also create and lead projects in their schools and communities to tackle bullying issues. BFF can be easily integrated into existing health or character education classes, can serve as an after-school program, and can even be offered during a holiday break. Girl Scout councils across the country will be launching this important initiative in their communities this winter. Check out the BFF webpage, and stay tuned for more!

What a great program that ties in directly with the leadership Journey!  One of the things we talk at length about in our Cadette Essentials Trainings is about the Journeys.  Which to take? How to do it?  How to incorporate it into the year?  Consensus usually comes with 6th graders, new to their middle schools, getting the most benefit from the aMaze Journey.  This Journey tackles what they are dealing with in school, and helps them work their way through the twists and turns of pre-tweendom.  (Is that really a word?)

I've had advisors say this was the best thing for the troop:  that it went smoothly, girls jumped at the chance to participate, and they really bonded as a troop.  I've also had those who said it was torture to get through:  too much talking, too much touchy-feely, too hard to make it through all the pages.  It's best when I have both groups in the room at the same time!!!  The ones who have the great experiences are overwhelmingly forthcoming about how to make it work!  They have great tips and stories to share, including my favorite:  once a quarter? couple of months?  The girls come for their Friday night meeting at 5. Have dinner, chat, clean up.  6pm is the prompt start of the meeting.  It's over at 8pm. And then from 8pm that night, til 8 am the next morning, it's all girl time to do what they want!

This advisor used her family/bonus room, and let the girls loose.  Some nights they were all asleep by 10, and others by 2.  She said this was also the time the girls would put a fire in the fireplace, get into jammies and crawl into their sleeping bags, and then chat about issues.  Girl Scouts is a safe place for girls, and this place was no exception!  The advisor said that this was the time they had the best sharing, the best talking about the issues and the best girl time.  She said it felt like the pressure was off, and the girls could just share.  That they happened to complete a Journey, was a bonus!

And then they left at 8!  No group fixing breakfast....just grab a muffin or bagel, and go!  The girls still had the weekend to do all their "stuff", and so did the advisor!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Pick an Issue for the Silver

"Dissatisfaction is a great starting point,
for it is right there that we have
the most power, strength, and energy
to push change through."
                                - David DeNotaris, motivational speake

I'm thinking about our Silver Award Training tonight, and came across this quote in my inbox. (Thank you Rick Ruiz!)  And it seems a good one for the day.

We have a piece in the training about, "what's the issue?"  And we talk about how the girls need to look around themselves to see what's in their community.  Maybe another way to express that is to find where they are not comfortable? or where they aren't satisfied with the way things are going.  It's that dissatisfaction that could lead to investigating an issue and learning more about it.

As the quote says, identifying that "thing" that makes the girl uneasy, dissatisfied or plain angry is a GREAT starting point for coming up with a Silver Award Take Action Project.  Remember, 65% of this aged girl, nationally, is likely to speak up and just know that she is correct.  She holds strong values and opinions, and she doesn't mind sharing them.

That's a very powerful position to be in!  Our job as advisors is to guide the girl to harness all that certainty and power, identify what she wants to change, and then let her go do it!  If she has the passion for her issue, she will be more likely to succeed than if she is just going along with someone else's idea.

At training last week, we had a leader talk about how she thought three girls were going to do a group project...until she heard them talking about how diverse their interests really were. So now, she has three projects!  The first thing we all encouraged her to do was to GET HELP!  Enlist parents and other project advisors!  Spread the wealth around!

These girls can do it! We may have to nudge, okay nag, to get them started, but with their certainty and abilities, they are poised to do wonderful things!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Go vote!

Exercise your right as a US citizen and cast your ballot, today!  Let your voice be heard!

Hurray for the democratic process!!!!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Girl Scouts are EVERYwhere!

Just got this in my in-box this morning from a GS friend of a GS friend. "Squeaky" was a counselor at Skyland Ranch in the 70's with me.  She has retired, and now she and her husband are traveling the US. This pic came from Starved Rock State Park in Illinois.

What a great thing!  The first words of the Girl Scout Promise for everyone to see!  It truly is an iconic symbol of Girl Scouting.

Big words for our girls.  They are "on their honor" to do the work for their Journeys, and "on their honor" to do the work for the Silver Award.  Sure, we leaders/advisors will see some of it first hand, but not everything.  The girls are "on their honor" to do the work.

And the result? Girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.  It's a good thing.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Working Towards the Goal

"By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be."  -Mark Victor Hansen, author Chicken Soup for the Soul

We have Gold Award Interviews the end of this month, and I'm looking forward to seeing what great Take Action Projects the girls will have chosen.  

And I'm hoping to see some great paperwork come through!  I'm hoping to see applications that show that the girl has put time and thought into her project planning,   And I'm hoping that her Advisor/troop leader/parent has worked with her, and given her good feedback, so the plan is clear and easily understood.

Truly, I'm hoping for word processed pages that make sense!  I'm also hoping for clear issue definition and an understanding of what the root cause is of the issue that is being addressed.  Yep, I'm pretty hopeful!

And in the same breath, fearful!  Fearful that the girls are rushing through the application to "get it done and submitted" and that the advisors are merely rubberstamping mediocrity!  I think Mark Victor Hansen had it right, when he said to record dreams and goals on paper.  By putting the Gold Award plan into writing, stepping back, looking at it again, and then realizing it's a great plan, it truly does set the tone for the whole project.

Committing to a project verbally is not quite as meaty as committing to it to paper.  Paper commitment requires thought processing, critical thinking, some linear thinking, and letting passion leak through.  That's what's going to make a GREAT Gold Award Project!  Having the passion, committing to change and creating a plan to make it happen.

It's the Discovery of an issue,  the Connecting to a community group to work through, the gathering of a team, and then the Taking Action that will make all the difference.  It's about working toward a goal, as a leader of a team. Making a difference in a local community.  Inspiring others to succeed.  Leaving a sustainable plan behind.

All the pieces of a great proposal and project.  Hoping that's what I find on December 1st, to be sure.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Journeys - why bother?

So, how do we do this?  We use the tools that the National Program Portfolio provides for girls and adults:  the red Cadette Girl Guide and 3 Cadette Journey books.  Altogether, they give us the skills to use (Girl Guide) and the leadership experience (Journeys) to get our girls ready to do great things!

Can the girls/advisor choose NOT to do any Journeys?  Sure, but then they are missing the heart of the GSLE program!  And if the girls are interested in earning a higher award, they will not meet the single requirement: to complete a Journey.  

The Journeys are meant to be program pieces, not just something to "knock out" at a weekend camping trip.  Not something that "OMG, we have to slog thru all of this"!  They are meant to be interesting and age appropriate for your girls.  As one advisor said at training this week, "my girls LOVED aMaze because it dealt with all the issues they're dealing with at school."  It sounds like they all embraced the Journey as a way to navigate their 6th grade year, and they all came out the better for it.  

That's how a Journey should feel!  Like it's part of your everyday GS happenings. Maybe your girls have chosen BREATHE for their Journey this year.  And they are also camping nuts, so how can some pieces of BREATHE be naturally incorporated into your weekend? Without an iron fist or heavy hand, but just as a natural part of program.

So, how does that fit with the Series concept?  A series is offered by (generally) others, with the specific task of ONLY doing that Journey for the time the girls get together.  It's adult planned, as the dates/times are set ahead of time, but the opportunity for leadership within the sessions is huge.  In a pre-series meeting, girls can sign up for what they want to do, express interest in pieces they really want to explore and meet new girls.  The series leaders help facilitate and make it happen.

I encourage all of you to think of the Journeys as program, and have your girls get the benefit of the leadership opportunities they offer.  For sure, earn badges too, and have the girls develop the skills they'll need.  Journeys don't have to be hard, and they should be fun parts of the girls' Girl Scout Leadership Experience. I mean,really, you and the girls SHOULD have's Girl Scouts!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Cadette Essentials Training

I am in such a good mood!  And part of it is because I cleared my desk, I'm sure, and part of it is because I'm going to train the Cadette Essentials class in Irvine tonight.

I just love talking with all these new (and not so new) advisors as they transition from Junior leaders to Cadette Advisors, Some have already started the process, and some have not.  As one leader said, "I just don't want to let go!"  And as the advisor next to her said, "You have to, and you and  your daughter are going to love it!"

I couldn't have said it better myself.  We talk about how these girls are moody, hormonal, loving, sure of themselves, believe what they know with a vengeance and want to be the big girls.  And we talk about how we need to give the girls the opportunity to start spreading her wings, standing on her own two feet, and learning how to become a leader in her own life.  (Sorry, too many metaphors in one sentence!)

We saw how these 8th grade girls are getting to be the big girls on Sunday.  We had our very first ToGetHerBoating Event at The Dunes.  And while the majority of girls were 9th-12th graders, these 8th graders just jumped right in and participated! No one was holding their hands, and everyone played nicely together.  One comment said, "Kayaking really requires good teamwork!"

The evals said it well, when every girl said that the more experienced girls helped all the less experienced girls as they needed help.  No judgement, and what great reinforcement for the older girls!  Truly, win-win.

Looking forward to a great evening!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Wizard of O2

Yes, we completed our BREATHE Journey that we started in June.  Our Celebration! was a fun time.  The girls had a chance to reconnect with each other, make thank you cards, yes, the attitude of gratitude was prevalent and in general, just have a good time.

We also did some work!  We finished the AFFIRM and each girl had a chance to write a personal "I am an Heir Apparent" statement (from the guide) to tuck into their Journey book.  And each of the girls had a chance to randomly choose another girl, and think about what flair this girl brought to the Journey.  Each girl made their award at our closing ceremony.

One group wrote a play, "The Wizard of O2", and acted out the scenes, complete with costumes to talk about the importance of NOT polluting.  The costumes were a hoot!  And the girls worked really well together, helping each other and prompting lines.  Even Rizzy got into the spirit of the play! She was the gatekeeper to the Wizard, and she had the line, "Well, whaddaya want?" Which she and the girls practiced many, many times!  Their presentation talked about how to get the video "out there" and into multiple hands.  Posting on FaceBook pages (every adult's!) and on the GSOC page are first up.  And then sending it to their friends and family members, etc.  It will be fun to see how many "likes" they get, and from where.  Here's the link:

Our second group chose smoking and air pollution as their topic.  Two girls wrote a coloring book story, and the other girls drew pictures to support the story.  We got it in order (quite an ordeal for me!) and we printed up several hundred. The girls then chose where to make their presentations about how harmful smoking is to classrooms of younger kids, church groups, Girls Inc.  And they were able to go back and see if they had made a difference.  

One of the tough challenges for the girls in doing these TAPs, is not seeing direct changes of behavior in those they served. But they can at least see indicators that their message is reaching a wider group. I think that this is one thing that I'd like to work on for the next series I help in:  how to make the Action more robust?  Extend the timeline of the series? Space out the meeting days more, so that there's time to see success? I hate dumping it back on the parents or leaders, especially in the fall, when everyone gets soooo busy.

Happy with how it went, but sure think we could help make it better!  And for all of you thinking about doing a series, don't forget to have a GREAT co-chair!  I worked with Anne Rizzacasa and she is FABULOUS!  She just completed her Masters in Biology, and she's now working on her secondary school credential for MIDDLE SCHOOLERS! Not only is she learning all sorts of new things, but she is MORE than happy to try these new ideas out on the girls.  Hats off to you, Science Girl!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Swim Test Training

We had a fun time at the Kleerup pool on Sunday.  (Thank you  Ginger and Mr. K!) This was the day we had our "Jump in and Swim" time with a certified lifeguard on deck to sign off on it. Yes, these 9th-12th graders all passed!

We are getting ready for our ToGetHer Boating Event on October 21.  And part of getting ready, is being sure that EVERY girl who is going to go on the water (and possibly IN the water) passes a simple test to be sure she can swim.  25 m of swimming and 3 minutes of treading water.  One girl said, "but why 3?"  Well, we talked about how long it would take a lifeguard to get to her in a normal situation:  in the Dunes Bay, for example.  The lifeguard can make it to any girl, anywhere in the Dunes Bay within 3 minutes.  The girl smiled and said, "that's good."

I'm getting excited about this day.  We have 8th grade Cadettes (none younger, by design) and Sr./Ambassadors who are going to participate. Some are coming as hard-core Gammers who want the extra practice time on the water.  Some are coming for fun! Maybe they've always wanted to sail a boat, but never had a chance?  Well, this could be that chance!  

Our committee is working hard to get 10 sabots, 8 canoes, 12 kayaks and 4 rowboats in the water with girls doing all the work!  Our certified instructors will be on hand to train and supervise. We'll have additional watchers on the sand, just keeping an eye out, and helpers just in case.  

Not all our training is on the water. We have Knots, Marlinspike, Compass and Relative Bearing and Bell Time training going on as well. Again, learning for fun, and learning for competition. It's good for all.

Not sure how many girls we'll have, but I'm hoping for no less than 50 and no more than 100.  Registrations are slow coming in, and they're not due til next week.  But if your girls are interested in coming as a troop? or as individuals, and they're in 8th grade or higher, they are all welcome!  

All the info is on our webpage
You can also see info about what the heck GAM is!  The girls can also see the boat info they really SHOULD know before they show up!  It will make training go sooo much more smoothly, if the girls can do a little work ahead of time.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

There's a Place For Us....

 We three Crane sisters from last year. From left, Susan (middle), me (oldest) and Elizabeth (Liz, youngest)

My Mom was my Brownie leader, and both my sisters'.  She was really good at it!  And I think she got better and better as she went through the program with each of us.  I never had her for more than a Brownie leader, but both my sisters had her for Brownies, Juniors, and.....

Well, my Mom was gung-ho to go with my youngest sister to bridge up to Cadettes, but Elizabeth said, "Mom, either you're going to Cadettes, or I am!"  Yes, a very independent minded sister, to be sure.  It's not that she and Mom hated each other, or that there was animosity beyond the usual adolescent stuff. I think that she was just ready to not be the leader's daughter any more.

So, Mom went to volunteer at the library instead. My sister went on to achieve her First Class and complete Seniors.  It worked for them!  My middle sister, Susan, went to onto Cadettes and Seniors, and when I asked her what she remembered, the first thing she said was, "I remember it was waaay different from Juniors.  Mrs. Robinson just sat on the side and let the girls do it all.  I loved it!"  Okay, so all 3 of us are old!  But 35+ years ago, it was also all about leadership, even though we earned badges, signs, challenges and First Class Awards, not IPs or Journeys or Silver Awards or Gold Awards!!!  But I digress...

I was thinking about how all three of us had such different Girl Scouting experiences.  And how it really helped to shape who we are as people.  And then I got to thinking about my Mom, and how she just up and left Scouting. She didn't see a place for her without her daughter. She still supported all 3 of us in the program, but she no longer had an adult role.  Looking back, I think how sad that was!  She had such a wealth of knowledge to pass onto other leaders. Why didn't she offer to be a level consultant? or take on the 01 or 02 job for a local troop in need? or help with her SU?

And now here I am - no kids in the program, wanting to give back, and finding a way to do it. And I'm not the only one!  My friend Cindy, both of us from Senior Troop Cuyama #83 in Long Beach.  No kids in the program, but she's a leader for her GRANDdaughters. My friend Corki, has 3 boys around my age, and she advised the Senior Troop Maui for 20+ years, now helping with our ToGetHerBoating event on October 21, and bringing in some of her troop "girls" to help as well.

There's a place for all of us in Scouting. We all have something to give back to these wonderful girls who can use our help. And maybe that help is stepping back, and maybe that help is stepping up. How are you going to help a girl?  Today.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Working the Silver with the Girls

I have to say, it is truly heartening to hear from leaders who have taken the Silver Award Training.  Most are getting ready to move forward with their girls.  Some are scared to try!  And some just need a little push in the right direction.

I received an email from Michelle this week, saying her girls are ready to start the Silver Process, and could I remind her how we did the big white pages on the wall in training?  I have to say, props to Barb Christenson who came up with this part of the training.  It has been soooo well received! Here's what we do:

Barb used the list in the Red Cadette Girls Guide page 2 for the training:

1. Go on a Journey.  Some of your girls did our Breathe series....

2. Identify issues you care about:  have them think about what issues are important to them as an assignment.

 (page 3 has a great chart. One leader said she was going to have each of the girls bring in that page all filled out. Or at least with the left hand column filled out.  At the meeting, you could have them whittle it down to 5 or 6?  I don't know how many girls are in your troop?)

---  Each of those issues goes on the top of a clean butcher paper.  The girls gather around which one they're interested in first, and fill out info about the issue.  Ex: literacy:  teach kids how to read, set up a tutoring program, etc.  And then maybe have them move to their second choice and add to what's already gone up. You can do another rotation, if you want. Up to you and the girls.

 --- Now, and this will be harder for the girls than it was for the adults!, write down WHO you could partner with. What agency/school/entity would have the group of people you want to help?  For literacy, it could be an after-school program? library? specific class in a specific grade with a great teacher? If you have adults who are good coaches, and won't DO IT for the girls, maybe have them there as additional resources to prod the girls to think about resources. 

I sense this could take a couple meetings to get through!  Adults can do it waaay faster!!!  This is GREAT practice for them to learn some critical thinking and leadership skills, especially if they are going to go on Senior/Ambassador Journeys (especially Girltopia) and ultimately, the Gold.

Wishing all of you only SUCCESS with the process and some GREAT Take Action Projects.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fabulous Feedback!

We had our Silver Award Training last week, and a couple days ago, I got this from a leader:

"I have one girl in my troop already with an idea for her silver award, she is very excited about it and I want to run it by you to see your thoughts. She walks to school every day (7th grade)and says she has a big problem crossing the street near the school. There is a lot of traffic passing this crosswalk in the morning with parents who have dropped off their kids. The problem she said is there are so many cars it's hard to cross the street, many parents make u-turns were the crosswalk is and she has had times when a car will stop for her but the driver in the next lane isn't paying attention and keeps driving through the cross walk. 

"My troop girl said she wants to talk with the principal of the school, involve the police officer in charge of the school area and find out who at the city level she could talk to to find a solution"

And here was my response:

I think this is a fabulous project!  
Have her go thru the steps, so she can focus her thoughts and work her way thru.
Issue: child safety in crosswalk
Root cause: rude drivers? Idiot drivers? Lack of signage? Lack of street paint/speedbumps?
Who can help address the issue?
What agency will she work thru?
Who is her team? Girls in school? Kids and parents who use the crosswalk?
How can she educate the team and the community about the issue?
Can she find out how other schools deal with traffic? Research
Create her project!
Make a plan
Lead the way to make change.
(Measure success PD stats could help)
Celebrate success.
Talk about who will sustain her work.
Talk about the long lasting effects of the change.
Talk about the global issue - other schools in other communities.

I am VERY excited to hear what this girl decides to do. And most gratified that it is not, yet again, a puppy project!  or binkie project!   or neo-natal project!  or birthday in a box....!  This girl is truly wanting to TAKE ACTION!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Silver Award Training

Had a SUPER ENERGETIC group in Silver training this week. We had so many attendees, that we had to split into two rooms.  Wow!  I think that's just great!  Close to 100 leader/advisors/parents who want to learn how to best guide their girls through the Silver Award process.  Truly, I hope that means we'll get some amazing Gold Award Projects in the very near future.

In a way, it's all about Taking Action.....first in the Journeys and then for the Awards.  Its a progression through the Bronze, Silver and Gold to ask the girls to do the best they can to make a difference in the world.  Not a collection project, but a Take Action Project that makes a change in the community. And that would NOT be the Girl Scout community!  No more Brownie Play-Days for the Silver.  No more neo-natal cap sewing and dropping off. No more birthday boxes....but MEANINGFUL projects that Take Action to make the world a better place.

And as Shellie pointed out, I'm not putting down Service Projects, in the slightest!  Our girls have big hearts, and you, as their leaders have given them the opportunities to help others. All those Binky Drives, Scouting for Food, Tennis Shoe Collections, etc. are, hands down, GREAT!  And our girls provide valuable service to the community by doing them.

However, Taking Action is bigger, more sustainable, uses more girl leadership, asking the girl to stretch to achieve her goal.  As one advisor said, "I figure if it's easy, she's not working hard enough!"  Or her approved project wasn't big enough.  Or both.

As we say in training, let the girl do the work!  Start with the issue, not the project.  Girls need to use their critical thinking skills to work their way through to a project.  They need to understand what the issue is and what the root cause is.  Critical thinking!  As Lesley Finch says, "ask them to dive deep!" and get involved with the issue.  Look at it from a variety of ways before deciding which issue to address.

We want the Silver Award Take Action Project to stand out!  And we want it to be something that the girl is proud of.  So that one of these days, in a Gold Award Interview, I'll ask, "so, what did you do for the Silver?" and I'll get a great, enthusiastic response.  Unlike the responses I've been getting to an even easier question, "how did you Take Action for your Journey last month???!!!"  But that's for the other blog....

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

ToGetHerBoating - Mariner's Skills

Does everyone know what GAM is?  Our council hosts one every May, to give Sr/A Girl Scouts the chance to get together and compete in a variety of ways...tying knots, singing songs, swimming, boating races, and more. 

And to help girls get ready, we are offering a ToGetHer Boating Practice event on October 21, 2012 at the Newport Dunes.  You can download the flyer from our website:

Anne Rizzacasa and I are co-chairing the day, with a great committee, and we are VERY excited about offering in-water boating skills for our girls:


And also some land skills:

Bell Time
Compass and Relative Bearing

So, come one come all!  If you have 8th grade and above girls, they are welcome to come learn some new skills and practice on the water.  We'll have certified life guards and small craft instructors to teach and supervise.  Even if you think you're not ready for GAM competition, come on down anyway, and have fun with us.

Registration is required, and yes, all participants get the patch!  Would love to see you there!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

A total LACK of Take Action!

Well, I knew I'd been busy:  plenty of changes in the last month....sold my kitchen, closed my catering business, moved office stuff and props to the house, and worked on Mom's accounts...oh, and volunteered with Girl Scouts!  Whew!  No excuse, but I think I just lost my rhythm of when to blog. Fixing that, as of today!

I was at the GSOC Open House on Saturday. Oh my, but there sure were a whole slew of little Daisies and Brownies!  Fewer Juniors, and only a handful of older girls.  Many of you have heard me at training talking about how my hat is off to all you who work with those little girls!!!  They a are nice, funny, open, and sooo excited about everything, including tying knots.  We had fun, to be sure, sort of like herding cats!!!!

But it was while I was at the Awards table in the lobby, that I heard of a girl's Silver Award Project that was just not up to current standards of Taking Action.  I didn't say anything then, but I've been thinking about it, and wondering why an advisor would have approved it?

This girl was taking the flowers from after Saturday services at her Temple, and re-purposing them into vases/bouquets to take to various hospitals, fire departments, police stations, etc.  She had a very nice piece to say when she did it.   A nice service project, to be sure.  But Silver?  No way.

What issue was she addressing?  "Brightening up someone's day" is not an issue.  

What was the root cause?  Lack of flowers in an office? Why?

And who was her team?  Sounded to me like her Mom and the daughter were it.  Who did she lead?  How did she use her leadership skills to make a positive change in her community?

How did she make a measurable and sustainable difference to the audience she sought to help? 

You leaders/advisors are the ones to hold the girls to the standard!  And if you don't know if something is "good enough" or "appropriate", send me the ideas, I'll let you know!  And if they are not up to snuff, I won't cite your name. But if they're great, I am very happy to put your name and your girls/troop's name in the blog with big props!  

These girls can do it!  We just have to let them (or is that make them?) take the steps do it!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Dr. JoAnn Deak Speaks!

"The girl has to do the work to change the world" Dr. JoAnn Deak. 

Speaking at the OC GIRL SCOUTS VOICE FOR GIRLS Dr. Deak had plenty to tell us about the physical differences between boys and girls brains. 

 "Boys and girls are born differently. We have to fight nature to get girls to take the lead." She talked about how when faced with a challenge, the boy brains shoot out a glob of testosterone which gives the brain the cue to address the issue, meet it head-on and step up to the plate. When most girls face a challenge, her brain releases a glob of Oxytocin that stimulates her to care about others, wonder about how this is all going to affect them.  Our job as adults, parents, mentors and leaders is to get that girl to "hug the monster" and GO DO IT ANYWAY!  

In training we talk about how Girl Scouts is a "safe place for girls." It's an excellent place for girls to go do something, even if they aren't comfortable with that leadership role.  Dr. Deak said, "Make a mistake and trying to figure it out build the brain and strengthens the brain muscle."  Don't do it for the girl, get her to stand up on her own two feet and try to fix the problem, or address the issue or face her fears.  Practice at this strengthens her!

Dr. Deak had another powerful message to share. "7th and 8th grade girls have the highest testosterone they will ever have. They are also the meanest at this time." We create a safe place for these girls in Scouting, where they can fail and be supported by their troop and leaders.  To me, that quote also reinforced how great the aMaze Journey is for this age girl!  All that good stuff about relationships, frenemies, cliques, BFFs, etc. resonates with these girls at this age.  

As  a friend said, we all have to live through it!  I agree, but we also can't let down our guard and let the monster control us or our girls.  We need to encourage our girls to HUG THE MONSTER and take on big ideas that lead to meaningful big action. And we don't start in Cadettes! Dr. Deak says, "start early with girls. Let them learn the magic of doing.  Work on the monster!"

(Re-posted 5:00 p.m. to correct typos and expand on the topic.  First time I've ever tried to blog during a talk.  I need to hug THAT monster and learn how to do it better!!!)

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Dog Days are Over....thanks Florence!

Yep, the end of August is fast approaching...some schools have already started back up:  football practices and back-to-school shopping are all the rage!

It also means that Girl Scout troops who may have taken a hiatus for the summer are revving back up, and readying for  their parent meeting.  What a great opportunity to have old and new parents meet each other, offer to help, and take a piece of the work during the year.  Write checks for the Family Giving Campaign.  Give a big thank you to the leader for all her work in helping give the girls a great Scouting experience.  And in general, be supportive and caring.

Okay, so you're all laughing or snickering right now, wondering in what parallel universe I come from!

But I can hope!  I can hope that the parents have seen the benefits of Scouting for their daughters.  And I can hope that the girls/the troop has been really great about communicating the successes they've had in the troop.  Did you have a scribe per month?  And did she write about what the troop did/learned?  Did you email it to the parents?  That's one way to get the word out.  Did you invite the parents to your end of the year bridging/awards ceremonies to see the great work ALL the girls did? Was it a girl planned event, so that the girls used their leadership to put together something meaningful?

Are your girls planning a re-dedication ceremony to kick off the fall? It's a great way to come back together and re-commit to the values and sisterhood of Girl Scouting.  Your girls can plan it!  Maybe a Mom can help advise them.  Maybe your girls are planning it for all the Cadettes in your association?  Maybe there's some entertainment to help draw the crowd. The more success stories and girl-led program we adults see, the more we see how GREAT Girl Scouting is for our girls. Shameless promotion with a great end:  building girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place!

Have fun!

Friday, August 17, 2012

BREATHE at the August Kick-off

It's a Girl Scout weekend, to be sure!  Sunday is the end of our Breathe Journey series, and I'm very sad that it may be the last time I see some of these girls!  We had a GREAT group of 11 who earned their AWARE, have almost completed ALERT, and who will have another month to complete AFFIRM on their own.  I'm hoping we can schedule a celebratory meeting in September or October, so that they can share their successes with us and each other. 

And Saturday is the August Kick-off!  I'll be co-teaching a class with Susan Monk about Award Recognitions and the Attitude of Gratitude that we are hoping will permeate our council.  It should be a really good session, especially since we have plenty of time for feedback from our class members.  If you are not able to attend, you can see our Matrix of Thanks and a summary of our class on line.  I think Shellie said it should be up on the Volunteer Network next week, along with the other class info.

I'm also going to host a BREATHE break-out session in the morning.  And to be sure, I'll be bringing my props to show how we tried to infuse the girl-led piece into the Journey.  We had some success, some failure, and everything inbetween!  These girls are all about the snack and crafts, but they have also gotten interested in the topics surrounding the air we breathe.  One Take Action Project involves the creation of a coloring book and story about why smoking is bad for you. And the other is a girl-written satire of the Wizard of Oz, talking about how polluting the planet is bad.  I wonder if it's titled the Wizard of Ooze?  I'll let you know....

One of the happy parts for me, in getting ready for the Kick-off, was that I reacquainted myself with the It's Your Journey - Customize It planning guide.  Lesley Finch gave it to me 2 years ago, and I have to confess, it was tough for me to wrap my brain around at first. Now, after 3 Journeys and teaching the GSLE trainings, I've come to see the guide as a useful tool!  Pages 26-35 make sooo much more sense to me now!  Not only for troop meetings, but for a series as well. If you have a chance to buy/borrow a guide, I bet you'll find it helpful as well.

See you at the Kick-off!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

August Kick-Off

Have you signed up for the August Kick-Off on Saturday, August 18th?  It looks like there will be terrific information there for every troop leader!  Parents too!

I heard from Shellie that there's going to be a new segment on doing Journeys, with a break-out to ALL the Journeys at ALL levels.  Woohoo!  I'm going to be with the Breathe Journey, for sure, then morphing over to Girltopia, if need be.  

Join us!  Learn about what's new for the coming year!  Taste the new cookie flavor that was just debuted at the OC Fair!  Choose a seminar to participate in!  If you're in the mood, join Susan Monk and me for an hour about saying thank you/showing appreciation.  We'll talk, then we'll all brainstorm together.  It should be fun as we talk about the new/continuing  "attitude of gratitude".

And if you sign up in time, you can reserve a Jersey Mike's Sandwich.  Or bring your own lunch in an ice's going to be warm out there!

So join us!  Leave the kids at home and come Kick-Off the new Girl Scout year! 

See you there!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Breathe in, breathe out, grasshopper....

Yes, still working on the Breathe Journey Series.  We had a fabulous time in Palm Springs touring the Turbine Farms as our guides gave us all sorts of information about energy and power.  It was awe-inspiring to see how huge those turbines are up close!!! 

The girls asked some good questions.  They had fun with the annanometer (sic) that measures the wind.  We were there on a relatively coolish summer day (101F) and a mild breeze (15 mph) coming from the southeast.  The girls had firsthand experience seeing what the Saint Andres Fault looks like, and what it's done to the topography around us.  They were also able to feel the wind and the monsoonal moisture still in it.  We didn't see a roadrunner or iguana, but we did keep our eyes out for those creatures of the desert.

I think that seeing the fault line area was sobering for many of them.  (It is for me, especially since we had that 11:30 pm quake last night, and a smaller one at 10 this morning, as I was talking on the phone!)  And I think it also got them to thinking about the scope of power and air, and how one thing can affect the other.  Elite Tours did a GREAT job in talking with the girls, asking questions, and handing out waaaay too many snacks!  Were I to do it again, I'd tell them one snack per girl.  The sugar high set off the giggles that were hard to control!!!!

Our girls have earned AWARE, and they have now chosen their Take Action Projects and their Air Car Teams.  I'm really looking forward to our next session where they send the ALERT and continue moving forward.  Since the girls won't finish in our sessions, we'll plan a Sunday in September or October, where we'll all come back together to finish AFFIRM and award them their 3 awards.    We want to give them a chance to celebrate!

I'm sure snack will be involved.....

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Character Counts

“Character is what you are in the dark.” D. L. Moody
Evangelist and Publisher, 19th Century

Girl Scouting is all about "courage, confidence and character", and that's what we adults are hoping for our girls.  I think that one thing that unites us as adults, is that we only want the best for the girls we work with, whether that's a daughter, granddaughter, niece, troop member or stranger.  We want those girls to grow up strong, to make good decisions and to proudly go where no one has gone before.....  thank you, Captain Kirk.

When I teach the Cadette Essentials classes, one of the things we keep coming back to is that this is a leadership program.  And while it can mean that a future President of the United States is in one of our troops, it's more likely that a future married, mother of three with a part time job, two labs and a mini van is too!  Both will need to be leaders:  for the country and for their own lives. Both will need skills that they learn in Girl Scouts. And both will need the character to move forward.

We give girls a safe environment to practice their leadership skills, and to make safe mistakes while they're learning.  Girl Scouting also gives them the opportunity to practice their leadership as a patrol leader, treasurer, Junior Jam staff, destinations participant, Silver Award Awardee, and more.  In the process they develop that strength of character that fits into the young woman they will become.

Whether it's in nation-wide politics or home-based values and beliefs, we want our girls to succeed, and to be the same great girls at both the beginning and end of the day.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Rock the Fair!

What a morning!  Girl Scouts Orange County Rocks the Fair!  Thousands of Girl Scouts, young and old, and everything inbetween showed up for the festivities.  We didn't quite fill the amphitheater, but we came close.  Wish I hadn't had to come back to work.....

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Group Agreement

I missed the meeting where our Breathe Series girls came up with this list of how to treat each other, but I LOVE what they came up with.  A girl-led experience for 2 girls to be up front and write it all down. Then they all voted to abide by it!

Anne Rizzacasa (Rizzy) was sure to post it the next session, and when it looked like things were going a little off track, she pointed to the Agreement and said, "doesn't it say to have fun?  And do your best?"  The girls agreed, and it got them right back on track.

I love it when it works like that! I'm pretty sure it's posted on our Breathe website, but not sure if we gave each girl a copy to put in her lab book?  If we didn't, I think I will! 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Someday, it will get done....

There are seven days in the week
and someday isn't one of them.”

Oh my, but it's so true!  I've heard that aphorism on and off my whole life.  And yes, I can be a procrastinator, though I work valiantly against it!!!

Our Cadette girls have "someday" for everything they need to do!  That 7th grade fog can take over, and we just lose that happ, eager little girl we used to know.  Instead, everything is an effort.  Everything can cause the rolling eyes and big sighs, and the girl only wants to do it later. Someday.

We're seeing it in our Breathe Journey, too.  One mom said, "well, she's just got a face on her", and when I asked why, she, a bit exasperatedly, said, "she's eleven!"  Nice to know "the look" wasn't because of Girl Scouts.  And fortunately, once she was hooked up with the other girls, she thawed out, participated and even smiled and laughed.  WHEW!

The "someday" she would smile again was the same day!  Though the posting on the website and doing the work ahead of time is still someday for about half of our girls.  Nice girls, but without enough days in the week.  Someday they'll get it done. Someday they'll go for the Silver. 

Someday will come, I just know it!  Someday.