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!