Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Becoming Brownies/Parent Meeting

I was so excited to start Brownies with the Troop.  We are going to have so much fun this year with the girls.  My main goal is not only to help them learn all the great things that Girl Scouts provide but to make sure that they have fun doing it.

I changed our Daisy tri-fold board to reflect Brownies.

I did a lot of research for Brownies and found it was very different from Daisies.   Here are my talking points from our Parent Meeting.  I started with the Troop Calendar and how it would change.

Our meeting will be expanded this year from 1 hour to 1-1/2 hours.  Brownies is a lot different from Daisies and we will need more time in order to accomplish our goals. 

In addition to the meetings we will be having some outings at least once a month.  

Again, I have found that Brownies is very different from Daisies.  There is a lot more required of the girls in order to earn their badges.  Outings/Field Trips are going to be very important to accomplishing goals.

Let me share with you a little bit about what Brownies do:
-Like Daisies they are always learning and trying to live by the Girl Scout Law.  This will still be an important part of our time together.  
-Also, like Daisies there are three Leadership Journeys (Brownie Quest, WOW! Wonders of Water and A World of Girls).  Since the girls will be in Brownies for two years I don’t see why we could not complete all three within that time.
-Unlike Daisies, there are a lot more badges that can be earned but there is also a lot more required of them to earn the badges.  There are three different categories of badges in Brownies.
-Legacy Badges:  which have been part of Girl Scouts pretty much since the beginning and cover the topics of Art, Athletics, Citizenship, First Aid and more.  For example the Art badge for Brownies teaches them about Painting, Athletics teaches about Fair Play, Citizenship helps them to explore their community and so on.  There are a total of 7 Legacy Badges.
-Financial Literacy and Cookie Business Badges:  There are 4 badges that go along with the cookie program.
-Skill-Building Badges:  Some of these badges include Computer Expert, Dancer, Hiker, Pets, Inventor and more.  There are a total of 15 Skill-Building Badges.

After doing quite a bit of reading and research and talking it over with the Leadership Team we have decided that as a Troop we will work on the 7 Legacy Badges, the 4 Financial Literacy Badges and the 3 Journeys over the next two years.  

This leaves the Skill-Building Badges.  After looking at several of them we have determined that the Skill-Building Badges are very interest specific.  We feel that it wouldn’t be a good use of our time together as a troop or fair to force the girls to participate in building a skill that they may have absolutely no interest in.  

We will be encouraging the girls to choose whichever skills/badges that they are interested in, and with your help, to follow the directions provided for each badge independently, at home, and then present what they have learned to the troop during a designated time during our meetings.  However, there are a few Skill Badges that work in conjunction with the Journeys so we will work a few into our meetings as well as make you aware of any council sponsored events that focus on Skill Badges, like the event on August 23rd.

Here is an example of what is required for the Legacy: Citizen badge - Celebrating Community.  Each badge has 5 Steps that must be completed in order to earn the badge.  Every step has three choices.  We only have to do one choice to complete each step.
Step 1. Explore Community Symbols:  we will learn our state’s and town’s symbols using coloring sheets.
Step 2. Sing Together:  We will learn some of our national songs at a meeting
Step 3. Follow the Parade:  We will learn how to march like we were in a marching band
Step 4. Be A Landmark Detective: Tour a landmark that honors the past.  On Oct. 11 is Heritage Day at a local park.  This will be a troop outing.
Step 5. Join a Ceremony or Celebration:  We will make a banner with a symbol, choose music and plan our Investiture/Rededication Ceremony.

As you can see, this Legacy badge requires an outing, as do most of the Legacy Badges.  Because we are dealing with several girls and their families it may be impossible to coordinate everyone’s schedules to fit with an outing.  In order to make things easier on everyone, the Leadership Team will choose dates for outings.  If you can make the troop outing then fantastic, if you are unable to make the troop outing and complete the Step requirement then the Brownie, with help from her family, will need to find another way to complete the Step.  She will then need to present her action to the troop at a meeting.

Also, the GSOH offers programs as well, for example the Daisy Story Corner that some of you did last year.  There are many programs offered and several of them coordinate with steps that are needed to complete badge requirements.  I would like to utilize these programs to assist us in completing requirements and to give the girls more opportunities for fun experiences.  If your Brownie can make it, great, if not then there are other ways to complete the steps. 

In year one, we will be able to complete 5 of the 7 Legacy Badges, the 4 Financial Literacy Badges and the first Journey, Brownie Quest (along with 3 Skill Building Badges) as a troop.  In year two, we will finish up the 2 remaining Legacy Badges and the other two Journeys.

Next up are some of the rules I would like to establish within the troop.  

Each girl must wear her official Brownie uniform to all meetings and outings.  The wearing of uniforms unites girls as Girl Scouts.  Girl Scouts at each level have one official uniform item for the display of official pins and awards.  For Brownies it is the sash or vest with a white shirt underneath.  As far as I’m concerned the white shirt is optional for meetings but for official ceremonies it would be nice.

There are required books as well.   The first is The Brownie Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting.  Each girl should have her own copy of this book.  In this book are all of the requirements for the Legacy Badges and Financial Literacy Badges.  The next book is a Journey Book.  For our first Journey we will be doing “Brownie Quest” which introduces the girls to the Brownie ways.  The girls will need to bring their books to every meeting.  We will also be working on 2 Skill Building badges that go with this journey, My Best Self,My Family Story and Dancer, so you will also need the Brownie It’s Your World Badge Activity Set.  Most of the girls, if not all, will be getting the Home Scientist Skill badge, which is part of this set, on August 23.

Financial responsibility is a big part of Girl Scouts so in order to instill some of that in the girls I am asking that each girl bring $.25 to each meeting for dues.  They will get a sense of contributing to the troop as well as getting a voice in how the money is spent.

We will still have the secure, private Facebook group that will be used as the primary form of communication.  I will use Facebook as a way to send reminders, updates, invitations to outings and ceremonies.  I think that Tanesha is the only one that is not on Facebook so I will continue to email you whatever I put on Facebook.  Although if you would be willing to get an account strictly for our secret group it would be much appreciated.

Same as last year, we ask that you make sure the girls arrive to the meetings on time and are picked up on time.  I also ask that there be no siblings at the meetings.  If it is an outing, then siblings can tagalong as long as the parents are also accompanying the troop.  

We have a pretty good stash of supplies but there may be some additional items that we will need that will be specific to an activity.  I know that you are all willing to help out and I so appreciate that.

This year our meetings will be longer and one of our Legacy Badges is Snacks so this year we will be having a snack time.  Our snack time will be at the beginning of the meeting.  We will be rotating who will bring the snack each meeting.  One girl will bring a snack and one girl will bring a beverage. 

From August - December we will focus on savory snacks, in December we will have a cookie swap which will satisfy the sweet snack step and from January - May we will focus on snacks for energy.  I will give you more information on this shortly.

Again, because of the different badges in the Brownies there will be some “homework” involved so that the girls can earn the badges that they want.  They will need your help with this.  I will also provide any information and instructions that you will need in order to help them achieve their goals and badges.

There are certain items that the girls will need for the first meeting.  They are:
-  the Brownie Starter Kit which includes - the Brownie Girl's Guide to Girl Scouting, American Flag Patch, Official Girl Scout Brownie Membership Pin, WAGGGS Official Pin and Insignia Tab ($24.85 with a free Girl Scout Canvas Drawstring Bag)
-  Official Brownie uniform, either a sash ($6.50) or vest ($17.25)
-  “Brownie Quest” Journey Book ($7.00)
-  “Brownie It’s Your World Badge Activity Set” ($4.00)
-  Council Id Badge set ($4.00)
-  Troop Number patches ($5.00)
-   and the Troop Dues of $20.00 for start-up expenses, which is the same as last year.

We will figure out the purchase of the Legacy Badges, Financial Literacy Badges, Journey Badges and Skill Building Badges as we earn them.  Remaining Troop Funds from last year as well as the $20.00 Troop Dues for this year should be able to cover most of the badges.

There are 3 Skill-Building Badge Activity sets that each have 5 badges represented.  The Activity Sets are $4.00 and the individual badges are $1.50 each and unless we work on some along with the Journeys, they will be the sole responsibility of the family since the girls will be working on most of these independently from the troop.  All the information you need to complete the requirements for a Skill-Building badge are in the Activity Sets.  I have set some examples on the table for you to look at.

The only other financial commitments would be if there if a charge for any of the outings (I will try to keep this to a minimum if not free).  Also, the GSOH programs often have a nominal charge.  Depending on our Troop Finances it may be necessary for parents to cover the expense.

Girl Scouts does provide Financial Assistance and forms can be found online.

Just as last year, we can earn additional funds for the troop with the Fall Product Sale and the Cookie Sale.

Now I want to let you know that my daughter and I did not join Girl Scouts because we were excited about selling cookies.  We joined Girl Scouts because we wanted to do something fun together, learn about the outdoors and have wonderful learning opportunities and adventures with other girls her age.  I have heard from a lot of parents whose daughter joined Girl Scouts only to quit because the pressure to sell cookies was overwhelming.  That will NOT be the case in this troop!  The Cookie Sale is an important part of the Girl Scout experience.  It teaches the girls how to run a business, financial responsibility and teamwork.  It also helps to fund the troop and provide income to pay for some of the things that were listed above.  It will not, however, define this troop. 

I plan to encourage the girls to do their best when it comes to the Cookie Sale (and other product sales) but I will not be badgering them (or you) as if it were the most important project of the year.

Because of my very strong feelings about this I want you to keep in mind that our troop bank account may not be as large as others, which means there may be more of a financial commitment on the part of the individual family.  I will do my very best to keep costs down for everyone. 

I think it went pretty well last year and the girls did an amazing job.  We will proceed in the same way this year.

Once again I would like to thank Mandy and Tara.  So thank you very much.

We are always in need of Parent Volunteers.  To become a parent volunteer you must pass a background check, register as a Girl Scout Member ($15.00 fee), complete Girl Scouting 101 instruction video, complete Safety Essentials online course, and watch the Getting Started introduction video.  Let me know if you can become a parent volunteer and I can help guide you on what to do.  Volunteers are needed to help at meetings, to accompany us on outings, etc.  EVERY Parent Volunteer must complete the things I listed above.  Jennifer Hamilton has completed all of the training and our newest member Jennifer Pierson has another daughter in Girl Scouts and has also completed training.

Does anyone have any questions, comments, concerns?

We are really going to use the Girls Guide binder this year and it will double as the girls new Troop/Home folder this year.  Just like last year, this is where I will put handouts, flyers, badges and permission forms that need to go home.  It is also where you can put any notes, forms, etc. that you need to return to me.

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