Tuesday, February 28, 2012

"I am what I choose to become."

 “I am not what happened to me,
I am what I choose to become.”
                    – Carl Gustav Jung, Analytical Psychologist

And isn't this where our girls are now? These middle schoolers are learning who they are, changing who they are, reinventing themselves and making choices on who they want to become.  In a safe environment.  Within a great Girl Scout Leadership Essentials program!

This is the time for the girl to explore!  Take a Journey, or two.  Gain some skills working on the new badges in the Cadette Girl Guide.  Maybe take the PA training and learn how she can use her leadership skills to help younger girls. Or set her sights on CIT training in a couple years. Or plan to take a destinations adventure in the coming years.

This is the time to investigate the community and identify issues that she might want to choose for her Silver Award Take Action Project.  She may be gung-ho about it, with parents cringing in the wings, or she might be timid, and need the parents/advisors to bolster up her courage so that she can learn and grow.

The girl gets to choose!  She gets to re-invent herself, if that's what she wants.  If she's been with the same troop girls since Daisys, she may reach out to other Scouts in other troops, so that she is no longer known as the "barf-o-rina" girl who gave up lunch at a campout in front of everyone.  She may want to choose her new public profile. Or not.

Girl Scouts is great about giving choices, both to the girls, the parents and the advisors.  A difficult situation for some, but as we see more and more girls and adults embracing the new leadership model, we see a greater comfort level.  There is more to do, more ways to do it, and more encouragement along the way.

It's exciting to see what these girls are going to choose, to make the world a better place.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Come Alive!

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive."
-- Dr. Harold Whitman (Howard Thurman) (1899-1981) American author, philosopher, civil rights leader

We had an Older Girl Committee Meeting the other night, and one of the things we talked about was passion.  I think that's what Dr. Whitman was speaking about.  What is going to make the girl come alive?  What interest does she have that sparks her interest, and causes her to want to take on a Silver or Gold Award Project?  How can she use her passion to make change in the world?

At a Cadette Essentials training, one leader talked about how her older daughter was so enthused about her Silver Award Project. She could talk about it, say who was doing what, talk up her role and use all that contagious energy to rally like minded people around her.  This is in contrast to her younger daughter who was very disinterested in the Silver Award Project that the troop had picked.  The girls were doing it as a team (old requirements, I'd bet) and the project voted the most popular, is the one they were all going to do together.

But it was something the younger daughter really had no interest in. She was so despondent about the whole thing, that her Mom offered to be the Silver Advisor for the troop. What a change that made for the girl!  She was able to opt out of the group project and pursue her own passion.  It sounds like the change was remarkable!  This little girl was able to come alive with the new project. I'm hoping she had a GREAT Take Action Project, and that she found a team to lead and work, exciting them with her passion for the cause.

Let's continue to help the girl find her passion so that she can come alive, and make the world a better place. That's our job!

Meetings and More...

  •  I was reading a management letter in one of my food/service industry emails, and it struck me that it was good for Girl Scouts too!  I'll share a couple of their key points, and see what resonates....
  • Add variety to the routine of the meeting. Mix it up, because a livelier meeting will likely produce new ideas or strategies to boost enthusiasm. Do you always start off a weekly or monthly meeting with a review of the previous week or month, followed by what's coming up in the future? Reverse the order. Start with the exciting things to look forward to, and then move into the immediate business of the troop.  Maybe even have a different girl run each meeting.  Or each quarter's meetings?
  • Start saying thank you more. Here's a New Year's resolution to keep: Make an effort to be better at complimenting each girl and adult on something he or she does particularly well. It's a tried and true -- not to mention free -- method of improving morale. And that, in turn, can improve troop meetings, because the girls are more motivated. The compliments don't have to be about the same thing, either. Remind them about what they do well, build on it, and make their week.
  • Change the look of what you're doing. This is another way to mix up the old routine. No matter how relevant or important the information is, the girls are probably getting too used to it if it's been presented in the same way for too long. Ask the girls for suggestions on how to mix it up. Maybe have a small team/patrol of girls create a new way to show the info.
  • Shake it up!  As we talk about in training, don't have your Cadette meetings in the same place/elementary school room that they've been in for 2+ years!  Find someplace new and fresh.  Move the meetings around?  One Cadette leader talked about how once a quarter there's an overnight at her house.  The Friday afternoon meeting turns into a 5-6pm dinner followed by a couple hours of troop business/meeting. Then from 8pm Friday to 8am on Saturday, it's whatever the girls do/don't want to do.  
  • One leader talked about how it was a great time use some of the Amaze topics for discussion.  Everyone was warm and toasty by the fire, snuggled in their sleeping bags, and it was an easy and comfy discussion of some of the tough issues regarding bullying, cliques, frenemies and more.  She said she was really pleased the girls were comfortable enough to do it. Safe space.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Be a Leader

 "A good leader inspires people to have confidence in the leader, a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves."
- Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady

(A good quote for President's Day, I thought!)

Isn't that something we all want?  To be inspired by a good leader?  To catch the charisma, the spirit of what motivates that individual to make her mark on the world?  To be confident that she knows what she wants? That it's a good thing?  And that we want to join her.

And how does that make each of us feel?  To follow a great leader who inspires us, causes us to rise up and take on the challenge?  To challenge us sufficiently that we want to grow and in doing so, gain confidence in ourselves and our own abilities?

Wouldn't that make us more confident to go out on our own, gather a team to lead, and share the journey with them?

I think so!  And I think that's what we're asking our middle schoolers to do. We want them to see good role models, to have a safe place to learn, to grow and to try on new roles.  Girl Scouts is a safe place for girls, and so it's also a place to have safe failures.  The girls have the opportunity to learn and grow in confidence.  And that confidence is going to be strengthened as they move towards their Silver Award.

Because in the Silver Award Take process, we're asking our girl to be a leader!  To inspire the team she's leading, and to work cooperatively to achieve the goal.  It doesn't happen overnight, darn it!  But as leaders/advisors, we have the opportunity to model good behavior and to inspire the girls to gain confidence in their abilities.  

Using the Journey books helps this process.  The girls can take leadership roles in their own Journey experience.  This gets them ready for their Award work.  It's a process, and it does work! Slowly....but still, it works!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Those Girls!


Stone Soup sometimes says it all!  This Mom and her sister try hard on a daily basis to deal with the middle schooler who lives with them!  Sometimes with success, mostly with humor, and sometimes with exasperation!
I don't own a girl this age, as many of you do.  I see these girls for a series or for a special event, where they're often on their best public behavior.  You see them day in and day out in EVERY mood.

At training, we often ask everyone to fill out a post-it at the beginning of the class with a couple words to describe their Cadette aged girl.  Here's a sampling of what we got the last time:

sure of herself
worried about everything
all about the nails
boys on the brain

Yep, they're a great group!  Thank you for all you do to make their Girl Scout experience the best it possibly can!  Kudos to you!