Submitted by Cortney Kern
With the new Girl Scout year approaching, it is a great time to take a look at the year ahead and think about how to engage girls and their families. You will have lots of fun with these customizable journey themes. Engaging families of troop members helps keep the troop strong and offers opportunities for girls to learn from other people. Excerpts for this article are from the It’s Your Journey Customize It handbook.
We know troops play an important pathway for our Daisies and their families. A great kick off for Daisies would be to make registration or “getting started” gatherings into a real event by adding fun activities and showcasing ways for families to get involved. Here are some ideas about using journeys to build excitement, interest- and membership! At your kick-off event:
Start a song (“I’m a Girl Scout daisy…”)
Pull out one or two short excerpts from the stories in the Daisy journey books. Invite teen Girl Scouts, fun-loving parents, or any story lover to read or act out the scenes.
Add to the fun: Take photos of girls and their families with their favorite flower friends. Maybe ask a few questions as gentle conversation starters: Why does your family love the value that flower represents? Where are each of the flower friends from? Where’s your family from?
Tell girls and their families how things they’ll do as Daisies relate to the story in their journey books. Here’s a sample message you can use: The flower friends are taking off in their petal-powered car in Between earth and Sky! In the same way, the Daisies are taking off on an adventure that will give them a head start on science as they explore nature. Along the way, they’ll also learn how to get along with others!
Working with Brownies? With the help of Brownie Elf, explore the Wonders of Water (WOW!). In real life, the Brownies are going to become experts on the science of water and the importance of protecting it. Plus, they are going to learn some “Ways of Working” that will really WOW you! At your kick-off event:
Get your camera out! Can someone dress up as Brownie Elf and pose for pictures? How about Grandma Elf?
Create “blow up” posters of a snapshot of what girls will be doing this year. Family members can easily check out what their girls will be doing. Maybe parents, cousins, aunts and uncles will see a session where they could help out!
Use the information and special handouts in the adult guides to keep families connected to action throughout the journey. More involve families mean more support for volunteers and increased awareness about how Girl Scouting benefits girls!
Create a concluding ceremony that lets families know how important it is that girls have started earning Girl Scouting’s leadership awards. Encourage everyone to sign up for the next level of Girl Scouting!
Get your Juniors and Cadettes jumps started by bringing girls together for fun opportunities to dig into journey themes and even to earn some of the journey leadership awards or participation mementos. As you consider these examples, you are likely to think of many more ways to tie award earning into your journey kick-offs.
Camp-Out, Lock-In, Sleepover: Engage Girl Scout Juniors in a “Survivor-like” adventure related to Get Moving! as they see how little energy they can use during the course of a weekend or an overnight. Add some of the “energizing” snacks and crafts featured in the girls’ journey books. Top it all off with a chance to talk to an expert guest about interesting ways to save energy. There you have it: The Junior Energize Award!
Wide Games: Wide games are a wonderful Girl Scout tradition that encourages girls to explore several different activities. Here’s an example of using the approach to run an event for Cadettes that culminates in them earning their “Interact” leadership award from the aMAZE! Journey:
Check out the Interact Challenges chart on pages 12-15 of the girl’s aMAZE! Note that the chart lists specific relationship challenges, the pages in the book that deal with the skill required for that challenge, and a blank space for girls to write down what they did.
Girls are asked to do three out of the nine challenges to earn their awards. Set up activity stations for the challenges you think will be most interesting and viable for a “wide game” event plan.
As the event wraps up, it’s always great for girls to show what they have learned and why it matters to them by talking about it, writing in a journal, drawing on a mural, and so on. (Reflection also helps with “Learning by Doing”!) So borrow a tip from the journey approach and incorporate a fun sharing opportunity into a closing award ceremony!
We know that girls have more to do as they grow up so try this approach for busy fifth or sixth graders and their families:
Identify parents, friends, or relatives who are willing to volunteer for eight weeks. (You can also split that in half, with one pair of volunteers guiding the first four weeks, and a second pair guiding the next for four weeks.)
Let families know that the girls can enjoy an eight-to-ten week leadership journey. They’ll have a ton of fun learning and get a lot of Girl Scout essential experience and values condensed into a two-month participation option!
Choose whichever Junior or Cadette journey them is of greater interest to girls.
By following the adult guide, the journey volunteers can coach girls to earn important Girl Scout Leadership badges and have fun with classic Girl Scout traditions along the way, too. Would families like to add on a trip? A craft project? There are ideas for those sewn into the journey guide, too.
What other great ways are you planning on using the journeys to engage families for the membership year? We would love to hear from you. Be sure to share your stories with us. http://www.girlscoutsofcolorado.org/share