Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Turning up the unexpected

"Things don't turn up in this world unless somebody turns them up."
James A. Garfield, 20th U.S. President

I liked this quote for today.  And of course it fits in with our Gold and Silver Award girls Take Action Projects...

Both Awards are focused on the girl identifying an issue and looking for the root cause.  And maybe, in the process of looking, the girls turn up something unexpected.  And maybe, it's a key need that is not being addressed in the community.  Perhaps, she's interested in helping the homeless, beyond a collection project.  And perhaps, in diving deep into the issue, she finds that there is less than adequate local help to meet the need in her area. 

The girl is taking the initiative and identifying the need. She then has the opportunity to create partnerships with existing agencies, start a new tutoring program for kids without homes, create and run an after school program throughout a school year or whatever project her investigation leads her to.  As we all know, there's not just one answer to a problem.  Our girls have the tools and character to Take Action to make change.

In their years of Scouting, they have learned to Discover and Connect. The Gold and Silver Award Projects are just bigger ways to Take Action.  Again, it's not about starting with the project, it's about identifying the issues and root causes to make a difference in the world. Their world.

And what's our role as parents, advisors, leaders, friends?  To support them in their efforts!  Not do it for them, but give them guidance, coach and support.  There may be tears and frustration, but the girl will learn, sometimes it takes to get to joyful success.  We're here to help, not do.

And we're here to make sure they celebrate their success.  Big time.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Audubon Center Silver Award Project

"Mitchell Lake Audubon Center on Saturday hosted a ceremony where 7 girls received a Girl Scout Silver Award.  All 7 girls were mentored by a renowned local artist in creating a visual art exhibit, 'Leave the Lake Cleaner than You found It.'  The artwork was built entirely from trash collected over a 3-month period, and will be used by the center as part of its expensive educational program for area students. 

The artwork also included the construction of four speed limit signs for the area surrounding the Center.  One of the key goals of Girl Scout projects now is sustainability, doing a project that inspires other people to take action themselves to make a difference."

Okay, so I don't give this one the "project-lite" moniker, but I do have to hope that there was a bit more to the project than what was reported online.  How does this project translate into the new Journey Project guidelines?  How could it work in Orange County?

First off the girls started with a clear issue:  protecting the environment.  They partnered with a strong non-profit who served a specific need in the community.  And to make it more interesting, they found a creative partner in the local artist.  Let's hope that they did their research about the Center and the area it serves, as well as other local non-profits that address the same need.

Second, in the new Silver rules, only 2 or 3 girls may work as a team.  This is to ensure that each girl has the opportunity to take leadership in the project.  And leadership is not the same as picking up trash!  

Third, I wonder if the girls had the opportunity to take the lead and develop clean-up days at the Center?  Were they able to use existing literature at the Center to educate those who came to help collect trash?  Or were they able to find an opportunity to fill a need for a specific population who visited the Center, and create new information that could be used over and over?  Just picking up trash or building signs is not enough.

Fourth, I like the art piece!  There's a story to tell there, every time someone views it.  It's about the local artist, but it's also about the girls and other volunteers who picked up the trash and sorted it.  I hope that the girls had a piece of the unveiling ceremony where they could tell the public about what they did and what they learned.  I think there really needs to be a connection between the art, the issue and the public that the girls could research/create.

Fifth, who was their team?  Since there were 7 of them, they were probably the team, but who did they lead?  Did they take turns leading the project?  Did they assign specific and separate responsibilities to each task and hold each other accountable?  Did they work cooperatively and learn together?  How did they solve disputes and disagreements?  Remember, the Leadership Model is girl led, learn by doing and cooperative learning!

Finally, they had what many don't have at the end of their project, a big way to celebrate!  And this was a very public celebration:  great for GS public relations, great for younger girls to see the older girls doing BIG things and great for the girls who accomplished the goal they set out to achieve.  

The bar has been raised!  Are your girls reaching higher?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Silver Award Project - not up to snuff

"This Halloween, 3 Pennsylvania Girl Scouts earned their Girl Scout Silver Award for providing Halloween costumes and an elaborate party for children at the Marion Terrace housing project. . "We wanted every kid to experience the thrill of Halloween," said Gushka.  Dressing up is a big part of what makes Halloween the girls' favorite holiday. But they realized not everyone can afford costumes.

The project impressed Beth Gagliardi, director of the Boys and Girls Club of Marion Terrace. It was unusual in two ways, she said. It was the first time volunteers brought a Halloween event to her club and the first time she saw kids do so much to help other kids. "I asked if they wanted help, but they wanted to be in full charge of it," Gagliardi said. That kind of leadership is key to the Silver Award, which requires that the girls be in charge of the project and work for a minimum of 50 hours.

The girls gathered donations of costumes in good condition, coming up with around 50 by passing out flyers, appealing to other Scouts and putting the word out on Facebook. Some people donated new costumes."  (excerpted from GSUSA blog)

Truly this was a collection project:  a very nice service project that benefited some people in the short term.  And not likely that each girl spent 50 hours EACH on the whole process.

Perhaps they were using the old Go For It Silver Award requirements? But even then, this would have been a very Silver Award-lite type project.  Regardless, it is not good enough for the Journey Silver Award requirements.

What would have made it better?  The girls should have started by identifying the issue:  why didn't the kids at the Boys and Girls Club have Halloween costumes? or go trick or treating?  Is it a cultural thing? Safety issue?  Lack of skills on how to sew?  Lack of understanding? What is the identifiable root cause?  Lack of a Halloween party is not a root cause!  It's the result of something else.

And once that issue and root cause were identified, then the girls could have worked to address those concerns.  Maybe a Halloween party would have been a way to celebrate the completion of their project, if it was the right time of year?  

Collecting costumes makes only a short time benefit.  It's a one-off.  The Silver Award Project seeks to go for sustainable change.  And that doesn't mean having a yearly party!

Challenge your girls to look for issues and root causes!  They've had great progress with service projects as a younger Scout, but now is the time to ramp it up and let them discover how they can make a bigger difference in the lives of those they seek to help.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Cadette Advisor Roundtable Meeting

Join us on Tuesday, January 17, 6:30pm at Council for a roundtable discussion for Cadette/Senior advisors We will be talking about how to get your girls ready for Seniors, and how to keep your girls interested in Girl Scouts.  And anything else that comes up and has traction!  

Bring your questions and ideas, as we chat about these issues. I'll bring the cookies.....

Hope to see you there!

P.A. Training

I just received some great information from Chris Grisey about PA Training that is starting in February. Please click on the PA tab above for more info.  And if you or your girls are interested, please click on the link direct to Chris Grisey for more information.  She is looking for both adults/older girls to help train AND Cadette girls who want to be trained!

Don't miss this great opportunity!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Leadership in Action

LIA - a great piece to all three Cadette Journeys.  This is where the Cadette girls get to use leadership skills to teach their sister Brownies and participate in their Journey.

Each of the Cadette Journeys has a corresponding piece in the Brownie Journeys.  Now, while it would be great to have this info in each of the girl Journey books, it's not!  Your girls will probably need some adult/leader help sleuthing out the information.

Breathe Journey - pages 20 and 21 of the Adult Guide outline the requirements. The Cadette girls work with the Brownies as those little girls earn their WOW Journey patches.

Amaze Journey - well, you'll have to look in the Brownie Journey Adult Guide to find it! I'd give you page numbers, but I'm at work, and all I have are the older girl books!

Media Journey - page 9 of the Girl Journey book has a quick intro. pages 18 and 19 of the Adult Journey Guide has the requirements of how to earn this LIA working with a Brownie troop as they complete their A World of Girls Journey.

As your girls are moving through the Cadette program, they have the opportunity to take advantage of these built-in program pieces to use their leadership.  A great retention piece, as those little Brownies just LOVE the older girls coming in and helping. And the older girls just LOVE the positive attention!  A win-win all around. 

For the patch-happy, there's an LIA patch for each Journey to be earned!  And while we're not here to "decorate little girls" we are here to give them the opportunities to grow.  A patch is a small way to show their achievement!

Let the girls do it!

Monday, January 9, 2012

"Morgan, a 13-year-old Girl Scout from Riverton has been on a mission to fight hunger in her community after discovering that 1-in-7 Utah children younger than 5 doesn’t have enough food at home. She went to work, recruiting volunteers and writing grants for a community garden in South Salt Lake’s Harmony Park that now offers tillable plots for about two dozen families near 3700 South and West Temple. It also includes several raised beds for people with disabilities.

Morgan enlisted the help of about 40 volunteers to dig rows and snagged donations totaling $4,300 from the Girls Scouts and Zions Bank. "I wanted to do something about it," Morgan said. "I thought it would be important if people in urban areas could plant gardens."

"It is great to see our next generation coming forth with creative ideas," county Mayor Peter Corroon said, "and looking for ways to become more involved in the community."

(excerpted from The Salt Lake Tribune, September 27, 2011)

I've never met Morgan, but truly, I would give her a standing ovation!  She started at the beginning by identifying her issue. Morgan found a key element that moved her to action:  1 in 7 kids not having enough to eat.  And from that one issue, she did her homework and came up with a plan that she led, where she worked with others, led a team and encouraged cooperative learning/working together.  

Morgan discovered the need, connected with how to fill it in her community, and then took action to make the world a better place.  And on top of all that, she created a project that was measurable and sustainable by the population she wanted to help.  Truly an Silver Award Project that meets and exceeds the requirements.  I wonder what she'll do for her Gold?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Silver Award - Adult Perspective

Happy New Year!  And what do I start thinking about this New Year?   The Silver Award, of course, 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.

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.

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.

You are her troop leader, and while you can certainly take the training and act as her advisor, I would also encourage her 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.