Fun Fall Patches For You

Post by Colleen Sypien

Fall is fast approaching, and with it comes the opportunity to get back together with your Girl Scout friends and earn some new badges! Below we have some of our favorite badges that you can earn this fall with your troop or on your own!

Financial Literacy Badges

With Fall Fundraiser starting soon, we will be learning all about how to be entrepreneurs. These badges are a great way to supplement what we learn through product sales by expanding what it means to have an entrepreneurial spirit.

Brownie Philanthropist Badge – When it comes to running a business, it is important to know how to be financially savvy and good with people. Part of being a business owner though is giving back to your community as well, and this badge starts to build the foundation of giving back.

Junior Business Owner Badge – What type of business would you want to own? With this badge you can explore business ideas and develop a basic business plan!

Cadette Marketing Badge – Our Fall Fundraiser and Cookie programs teach us about advertising and marketing to our customers through emails, door to door sales, virtual sales and more. Take what you have learned from these programs and learn how to expand your marketing strategies with this badge.

Senior Customer Loyalty Badge – Explore how to best invest in your customers and provide quality experiences for your loyal customer base with this badge.

Outdoor Badges

As the weather moves from summer to fall temperatures, we have the perfect opportunity to get outdoors! The Trail Adventure badges for each level are a great way to get outdoors and learn about planning an outdoor adventure. These badges can be done at every level, and provide girls the opportunity to have a girl led experience.

Daisy Trail Adventure Badge

Brownie Trail Adventure Badge

Junior Trail Adventure Badge

Cadette Trail Adventure Badge

Senior Trail Adventure Badge

Ambassador Trail Adventure Badge

Higher Awards

As we begin the 2022 Girl Scout year on October 1, there are new girls bridging up to levels that can earn the Higher Awards. Girls who are Junior level can earn their Bronze Award, Cadettes can earn their Silver Award, and Seniors and Ambassadors can be working towards earning their Gold Award. These are the highest awards that a Girl Scout can earn, and are amazing opportunities for girls to learn more about their community, what they need, and develop a sustainable way to help their community.

Bronze Award

Silver Award

Gold Award

As leaders start to plan the year with their girls, don’t forget that there are planning resources available to help! Our Award and Badge Explorer shows all of the badges available to girls to earn, and gives an overview of the steps required to earn each badge, as well as a link to purchase the badge. Another fantastic resource is the Volunteer Toolkit. Our Volunteer Toolkit User Guide helps leaders to navigate and learn all that the toolkit has to offer. From meeting resources and material lists to lesson plan outlines and meeting timelines, the Volunteer Toolkit (VTK) has it all!

Let us know in the comments what badges you are excited to work on this year!

4 Steps to Plan a Successful Girl Scout Year

Fall is here, the weather is cooling, the leaves are starting to change and Girl Scout are heading back to school.  This means girls, parents and volunteers are starting to get crazy busy with their hectic schedules.  But have no fear, whether you are a brand new troop leader or a seasoned volunteer there are online and offline resources that will help you have conversations with your parents and volunteers and plan for the year, girl led of course.  Here are some easy and great ideas to help make your meeting planning smooth sailing.

Find your Troop’s Vision

Talk with your troop members, adults and girls, to discuss what their vision for the upcoming year is going to be.  What are your goals, what are they excited about, what are they dreading? Girl Scouts of all ages are able to come up with some SMART goals for the troop for the year to help them grow in their experiences.  Don’t fall into the temptation to plan it all yourself, I know sometimes it feels easier, but Girl Scouts is girl-led.  Having the girls participate in the planning will help the girls engage and be invested in the yearly agenda.

Flexibility is Key

That agenda you spend all the time and energy creating, it is a changing document.  You can spend as much time planning for the unexpected as you want and there will be something that pops up unexpectedly.  It is important to stay flexible and let the girls that it is ok to have changes to original plans, use it as a teaching opportunity.  For example, your troop has planned a hike that might need to be cancelled or moved because of the weather, a guest speaker had to cancel last minute leaving a gap in your nightly plans.  Check in with the troop throughout the year to make sure you are staying on track for your vision and see if any changes need to be made.

Brainstorming!

Think about how much time you are going to need to spend on planning, do you just need one meeting for the younger girls or a few meeting for the older girls to take the lead.  Keep the planning specific with a timeline so you can stay focused and keep the process moving forward.  You don’t want to spend all your year planning and not actually get to the fun stuff.

Depending on the attention span and interest of your troop, you can plan a couple meetings at a time or take on months or the entire year.  This is brainstorming so make sure to write down all the ideas from each member even if they are crazy and seem to be too big or out there.  These ideas can lead to something that would work for your group.

Ideas to keep track of your brainstorming session:

  • Write it down! Use poster board, butcher paper, whiteboard or you could use a Google doc if you are a more tech troop.
  • Have each girl brainstorm individually before coming back as a group to talk about it.  Some girls have a hard time sharing their thoughts in large groups so this will allow everyone to have input.
  • Make it a game: give the girls 5 minutes to write down as many ideas for each topic you need to plan. Examples, snacks, service projects, badges, journeys, fun trips, places to visit, etc.

Start Big, Add Details

Take a look at the list that you created and decide as a group what you are going to do.  For younger girls you may need to take the lead as the adult and with the older girls let them give it a try and be there to help as needed.  To narrow things down, talk as a group to come up with the favorites.  This can be done through voting, discussion, ranking, and more, it is important that everyone feels they are being included and their voice is being heard.

Once you have narrowed down the list to the top interested of the troop you can start filling in the details. This is where your network will come in handy to use your connections within and without Girl Scouts.  This can include your Service Unit, Troop Leaders, parents, your council, social media or community groups.

Online resources are a great place to go for you and your girls to research your plans.  Search engines, Pinterest, and blogs are great places to find if someone else has tried your idea, and you can build off what they had done. 

What to do next

Remember you don’t have to do it all yourself, have the girls, parents, and other volunteers help! Use your resources wisely, this includes people too! Make a plan, be flexible, and use what you have to make your upcoming year full of fun success!

STEAM SNACK: Abstract Self

Abstract art can come naturally to those girls who love experimentation and creative expression.  As adults we spend so much time telling kids to color in the lines and use the right colors, abstract art allows girls to jump at the change to express themselves any way they want. 

Why Abstract Art?

Abstract art is more about the shapes and colors and the feelings it expresses, not about staying in the lines.  Abstract art encourages discussion about color, shares, lines, feelings and thoughts, all concepts children are learning.  This is something everyone can do.

What if I’m not an expert?

Start by explaining what abstract art is NOT, so examples of realistic or naturalist art.  These pieces look like replicas of what the subjects are, the subject is easily recognized in the art.  Examples can be paintings of fruit, a house or other objects the girls can identify. 

Now show the girls several abstract works of art, one at a time, ask the girls if they can identify what the subject of the art is.  This will take longer to get responses do to the obscurity of the art.  Ask the girls what colors and shapes do they see? Ask them what emotions they feel while looking at each art piece and what they are thinking about when they look at it.

How do I get started?

Materials you need:

  • White paper
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Black marker/crayon
  • Coloring Materials

Tips and Tricks:

  • Prepare your self-portrait ahead of time add color and make it crazy.
  • Don’t show them examples of your self-portrait until after they draw theirs.  Children tend to make their work look just like the examples they see, we want them to let go of the control.

Here are some discussion questions to get the girls thinking:

  • What are some colors that represent feelings?
  • How about shapes, what shape can represent happiness, sadness?
    • There is not right answer and will differ from girl to girl, abstract is all about what you want things to represent.

The Badges:

This activity can be adapted to fulfill the following badge steps.

  • Daisy:
  • Brownie: Painting Step 3 – Paint a mood
  • Junior:  Drawing Step 1 – Experiment with different materials
  • Cadette:
  • Senior: Collage Artist Step 3 – Create with color
  • Ambassador:

The Science             

Define abstract art in terms the girls will understand based on their levels.  Simply, abstraction in art is a non-lifelike portrayal of real world objects, people and scenes that are usually hard for other peope to recognize.  Abstract art portrays what an artist feels and thinks, rather that what they see.  An abstract artist will use colors and shapes to express their emotions and ideas. 

We don’t always know what people are thinking and feeling and we don’t always know what abstract art portrays. You could always ask the artist, it is about the conversation.

The Activity

Abstract Self-Portrait

Materials: Paper, ruler, pencil, black marker/crayon, coloring materials

STEP ONE: Make diagonal folds on your paper, you do not want even folds that create squares.  You want it random, make about 5-6 folds, then use a ruler or strait edge to trace the folds with your black marker or crayon.

STEP TWO: Explain to the girls that they are going to fill the page with their self-portrait, use the whole canvas.  Oh and they are going to be doing this with their eyes closed!  Tell them not to worry you will be giving them directions on what to draw and it is abstract art so it is ok if it doesn’t look just like them.

STEP THREE: Grab your canvas, your pencil and close your eyes. Remind the girls though out the process to keep their eyes closed, they will want to peek.

STEP FOUR:

  • Start with a nice large oval for your face, remember fill your canvas, no small faces in the middle.
  • Now add your hair, and a neck you don’t want to be a floating head.  Now add your eyes, lashes and brows.  Remember eyes closed!
  • Now we don’t want to forget your ears, make sure to add one to each side. 
  • How about your mouth, are you going to be smiling? Showing teeth?
  • And don’t forget your nose! 
  • Now add any accessories you want, jewelry, glasses, hair bows, etc.

STEP FIVE: Have the girls open their eyes, ask if their art looks like them.  When they answer no, let them know that is good, it isn’t meant to, this is abstract art.

STEP SIX: Trace the lines of your face with the black marker/crayon.  Your face will be split into many shapes from the fold lines creating all new shapes.

STEP SEVEN: Use your coloring materials to finish your portrait.  Think about what colors you will use and how.  Complementary colors, contrasting colors, all one color but different shades, only a few colors or all the colors in the box.  Think about how the colors make you feel and how they will make others feel when they see your portrait.

Wrap up:

After completing the self-portraits, ask the girls:

  • How did you feel about drawing with your eyes closed?
  • What do you like about abstract art?
  • What don’t you like about abstract art?

An Abstract Snack: Animal Portraits

Materials Needed: toast, peanut butter, hazelnut spread, cream cheese, banana, strawberries, apples, berries, any topping you want to create with.

Prepare your toast to your liking. Prep your fruit by slicing to create different shapes and sizes to create your art.
Add the soft layer, peanut butter/hazelnut spread/cream cheese.
Add your fruit toppings to create your animal portraits or other art.
Remember this is abstract art, your final piece does not need to look like anything in the real world.

Building a Positive Image: You and Your Body

Written by Melissa M. Brown, Psy.D, UPMC

Feeling insecure once in a while is normal.  But it should not be your norm.  Appreciating the body you have and refocusing toward positivity are steps you can take toward valuing yourself as a complex individual.

What if I asked you to name three things that you would change about your body? How quickly would you answer? And if I asked you to name three things you love about your body? Would you answer as quickly?

If you struggle with the positive answers, you are not alone.  American women have a much higher rate of distorted feelings about themselves than women from other countries and cultures.  In fact, in a survey by Body Image International, females in the U.S> had lower opinions about every body part they asked about.  And these same feelings extend from women to teens to adolescents – most of us struggle with our body image at different points in our lives. 

What is body image?

How do you see yourself and feel about your body when you look in the mirror? Your thoughts, perceptions and attitudes about your physical appearance are your “body image.” But your body image is more than how you feel about physical appearance, attractiveness and beauty.  How you perceive your body is your mental representation of yourself.  This “picture” can govern everything from your life plan to the plans you make each day.

While it may seem that we are making progress, our culture needs to continue to reshape what we see (think television and magazines) so that the majority of the models and actors represent the same diversity of bodies (among other attributes) that we have in real life.  As long as the “ideal” or “preferred” is portrayed as “thin” or some other unrealistic size or shape for most of us, we will continue to have unrealistic expectations about our own bodies. 

How does social media impact body image?

There are some social media “influencers” who use the platform to promote body positivity and self-acceptance.  Ashley Graham, Serena Williams, and Demi Lovato are just a few female celebrities who have taken a stand by posting un-retouched photos of themselves or challenging negative comments made to their social media accounts about their bodies.  As of yet, however, these actions are not counteracting the impacts of social media on most of us.

In fact, a study done by Rachel Cohen, PhD Candidate, UTS Graduate School of Health, in 2018 found “engaging in photo activities, (e.g. viewing friends’ photos or updating your own profile picture) on Facebook, was associated with concerns including greater “thin-ideal” internalization, self-objectification and body dissatisfaction.” The study also found that following appearance-focused accounts on Instagram, (i.e. health and fitness or celebrities like the Kardashians), was related to some negative body image outcomes and disordered eating.

So, if social media is showing more kinds of bodies, from thin to curvy to full-size, why do we still have a negative image of our own bodies?  As adolescents, we experience the height of self-consciousness and the need for peer validation. It’s normal in our growth and development.  But with the Internet as a new “peer,” the next question to ask is, “Is what I’m seeing real?” Air brushing, glittering light, posing, and filters are a few techniques that distort images and make what you see on social media quite different from reality.

What can I do to have a more positive body image?

Accept your body

  • Don’t body-share yourself. When you make harsh comments about your own body, it hurts your self-esteem.  That’s true whether you say it out loud or think it to yourself.  It hurts just as much as if someone else said it.  Be kind.  Respect yourself, even if you have things to work on.
  • Build a better habit. Do you have a habit of putting your body down? To break that bad habit, build a good one in its place.  Tell yourself what you like instead of what you don’t. Keep doing it until it is a habit.

Like your body

  • Find things to like about your looks. Do you like the way your hands move or what they create? What about your eyes or your smile? Tell yourself what you like and why.  If you aren’t sure, what do your friends tell you they like about you? Accept those things. Let yourself feel good.  There is a lot to like about you.
  • Focus on what your body can DO.  Celebrate all the things that your body does for you from breathing to dancing.  Your body is amazing. Think about all that it enables you to do. Be grateful.

Take care of your body

  • Eat healthy foods. Learn what foods are good for you, and how much is the right amount.  Eating right is about building strong bones, growing and having energy.  Being good to your body can help you feel good about yourself.
  • Move every day. Your body takes care of you. Take care of it and have fun.  What do you like to do to get moving? From walking, swimming, biking, hiking and so much more, movement is a gift. Moving also lifts our mood.  It can also disrupt negative thoughts and help us refocus.

How can adults help?

Adults can acknowledge their own insecurities and struggles.  In one study, 90% of teens who reported being unhappy with their body shape said their own mother had an “insecure body image.”  How adults talk about ourselves, how we look, our relationship with food, diet culture and our bodies, as well as how we speak about other women in the news and on social media can have a huge impact on how young people perceive themselves.

Adults should talk about social media. Having a conversation around social media and how it makes adolescents feel can have a big impact. Open, honest, frank discussions about social media and the potential impact it can have can help uncover any feelings of negativity (or positivity) it may be having on the well-being of young people.

Adults can encourage role models of all shapes and sizes. Many of the images we see in magazines and across various media platforms can give us a skewed view of what we should aspire to look like.  By highlighting different types of beauty, adults can help young people learn to recognize and overcome insecurities.

When should I talk with an adult?

Talk with a trusted adult after you have read this post.  Tell them you have negative feelings about your body and any concerns you may have.  Getting a different perspective and being reminded of how much you have to offer can help you feel confident and improve your self-esteem.

When we have negative thoughts and feelings about our bodies, these feelings may overflow into other areas of life.  If you think you may be depressed, tell someone right away. Other things to watch out for:

  • Constant comparison of your body with others
  • Feelings of guilt or shame about food
  • A fixation on losing weight or about specific parts of your body
  • Excessive exercise
  • Use of diet pills, diuretics, or laxatives
  • Periods of fasting, or extremely limited food intake
  • Changes in mood (irritability)

If you experience any of these, tell a parent, doctor, or therapist what you are going through.  Ask for help.  Body image and self-esteem can get better with help and care. 

Start on the path to positive body image

Getting to a positive body image is a journey that can take different lengths of time. Reading this article can be a first step from negative thoughts about your body toward positive body image.  Now you have an introduction to healthier ways of looking at your body.  If you think you need help to continue making changes, ask an adult.  The more you practice positive thought patterns, the closer you will be to loving the body you have and appreciating who you are as a whole.

Lessons Learned: Empathy, mentorship and lover of furry friends

By Cathy Hirko

I met Bitsy McCann for the first time a few years ago at an awards program in Harrisburg. Long story short? We get each other. We connected almost immediately.

Some people you meet make relationship-building easy. Bitsy is one of them. Every time I have reached out to her for advice or for work-related reasons she always responds and is giving of her time and resources.

A few months ago I found out that Bitsy had been a Girl Scout and I asked her if she would want to share a bit about that experience on our blog. She happily accepted. During the workdays (or evenings in Bitsy’s case) she’s a designer of many things graphic. She runs her own company in the Harrisburg area and occasionally writes a column for Central Penn Parent. Her story is below.

But, before we learn more about Bitsy, I’d like to pitch our blog to all the women leaders in our 30-county footprint. We want to tell your words of inspiration to the Girl Scouts and others who are reading this blog. Your experiences and stories matter. Please contact me if you are interested in being profiled on the blog. Email me at chirko@gshpa.org. We are ready to tell your story.

Here are a few thoughts from Bitsy:

GSHPA: Night owl or early-morning person? Why?

Bitsy: I am definitely a night owl, hence this 11:06 p.m. email. The house is quiet, but more importantly, my creativity peaks during nighttime hours. I think it’s because I can fully focus in on something without client phone calls interrupting me or deadlines lurking. The evening is when I can give into that creative flow without being disturbed.
 
GSHPA: How are you keeping busy these days?

Bitsy: Obviously, being an entrepreneur will keep you extremely busy, but I’m also staying active with my live music performances, officiating weddings, and running Petapalooza. We are about a month away, and those registrations are starting to fly in! We always need volunteers, so if you’re interested, let us know!

GSHPA: What are some of your fondest memories of being a Girl Scout?

Bitsy: My mother was a troop leader, so we always had the meetings at our home. (Thanks, Mom!) I loved being able to make so many creative things during my years as a Girl Scout, but I also loved the field trips!

One of my favorite memories was going to our local animal shelter and learning about all the animals there. I truly think that this started my passion for our furry friends, and I believe that this trip is what planted the seeds for today’s involvement with Petapalooza.

If I had never experienced that visit to an animal shelter, I might not have ever known how important it is to adopt our animals from a rescue.

GSHPA: Any examples of what you may have learned and carried with you from being a Girl Scout?

Bitsy: Just to be nice to everyone all the time. You never know what anyone is going through in their personal life … Everyone is struggling with something, and because of that, I think it’s the most important thing for us to be nice to everyone and to try to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes to see where they’re coming from.

GSHPA: Tell us about your upcoming event, Petapalooza!

Bitsy: Petapalooza is a free, family-friendly pet adoption festival that features lovable, adoptable homeless animals from shelters and rescues in the Central PA area. We focus on all animals and feature dogs, cats, birds and more!

In addition to helping animal rescues, we also focus on being an animal-friendly festival with vendors, raffles, live music, and food trucks. Petapalooza will be held Sept. 18 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on the beautiful campus of Central Penn College. You are welcome to bring your pets as long as they are vaccinated, well-behaved, and leashed!
 
GSHPA: Girl Scouts are always looking for volunteers and mentors. What are some ways that you find time to mentor others?

Bitsy: Anytime there is a woman or student looking for graphic design or entrepreneurship guidance, I love talking to them. I have probably mentored over a dozen girls and women since I started my business seven years ago, and it is without a doubt one of my favorite things to do.

I always wished that someone would have pulled the curtain away so that I could see behind the scenes of what it really means to run your own business. I freely give away how I run things, pricing, contracts – any and everything that’ll help another person get to where they want to go. I strive to be the mentor I wish I had had when I was first starting out.

Cathy Hirko is the marketing and communications director for the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania. Reach her by email: chirko@gshpa.org.

5 Million Trees in 5 Years

Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania and Keystone 10 Million Tree Partnership share in protecting the environment.

Five million trees planted in the next five years.

It’s a bold nationwide initiative and one that the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania (GSHPA) is proud to support.

GSHPA is also honored to have a bold partner in this effort: Keystone 10 Million Tree Partnership, a program of Chesapeake Bay Foundation.

The Heart of Pa Council kicked off its local initiative in April by hosting its first tree-planting event at Camp Small Valley in northern Dauphin County. GSHPA Gold Award Girl Scout, Lauren Braught, led the charge.

Gold Award Girl Scout Laren Braught, left, assists a fellow Girl Scout in planting a tree at Camp Small Valley in Dauphin County.

Lauren’s Gold Award Project in the fall of 2020 involved planting 50 trees at Camp Small Valley. Topping that effort, she helped to plant 100 trees at the April event, which kicked off Girl Scouts USA Tree Promise. Lauren, a recent high school graduate from Cumberland County, provided instruction on tree planting to Girl Scout members and volunteers. Adults also joined in on the fun.

Gold Award Girl Scout Lauren Braught, from Cumberland County, helps plant trees at Camp Furnace Hills during an open house in Lancaster County in May.

“We were honored to have Lauren’s experience with Chesapeake Bay Foundation Student Leader program and dovetail that experience into our council’s Tree Promise kickoff,” said Lutricia Eberly, GSHPA Director of Outdoor and Program Experiences. “The power of that moment is that younger Girl Scouts are able to look up to Lauren, learn how to correctly plant trees, and be inspired for their own Gold Award project.”

A month later, Lauren was helping young Girl Scouts again as she assisted in planting dozens more trees at Camp Furnace Hill’s open house celebration on May 16.

Check out GSHPA’s event calendar for future opportunities to plant trees in your neighborhood.

What is the Tree Promise?

GSHPA Girl Scout preps a tree for planting during a open house at Camp Small Valley in Dauphin County.

Girl Scouts joined forces with the Elliott Wildlife Values Project and American Forests. What better person to ask to help plant, protect, and honor trees than the Girls Scouts? Members “use resources wisely” and “make the world a better place” every day by following the Girl Scout Law and Girl Scout Promise.

What is the Gold Award?

The Girl Scout Gold Award is the mark of the truly remarkable — proof that not only can she make a difference, but that she already has. Seniors and Ambassadors who earn the Gold Award tackle issues that are dear to them and drive lasting change in their communities and beyond.

28 New Girl Scout Badges for all Ages!

We are excited to introduce you to 28 new badges for Girl Scouts of all ages.

You can become a digital activist, make your own Cookie Business plan, and explore the natural world around you through math.  It is time to try something new.  Girl Scouts will have the opportunity to take new adventures with these 28 new badges in Math in Nature, Entrepreneurship, and Digital Leadership, along with new Global Action Awards.  No matter their passions, Girl Scouts will find a way to break new ground and share their experiences. 

See the new badges below with the dates we are offering badge days and as always take a look at the Badge Explorer to start planning.

The Brand New Badges

New for All Levels

All Girl Scouts in grades K-12 can now earn Digital Leadership and Cookie Business badges.

6 Digital Leadership Badges

Sponsored by Instagram

Girl Scouts of all ages who are looking to explore the power of being online and social media will find the Digital Leadership badges for them.  They will learn to be safe online and manage their screen time, create a social impact and become a digital activist, and connect with their communities, local and global.

Check out GSHPA’s Event list to sign up for our Virtual Badge Days focusing on Digital Leadership.

13 Cookie Business Badges

Daisies to Ambassadors will be challenged to think outside the cookie booth to become Cookie Goal Setters, Bosses, and Influencers.  Digital sales and marketing are just a part of all the new curriculum to help the girls learn how to make the most of their cookie season and the Digital Cookie platform.

2 Global Action Awards Badges

There are now two new major awards for all levels of Girl Scouts: World Thinking Day Award and Global Action Award.  Girl Scouts will be able to start their global impact with these awards, one for each level.

New for Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors

Girls Scouts in grades K-5 can now earn brand-new Math in Nature badges.

9 Math in Nature Badges

Sponsored by Johnson & Johnson

Girls are going to get outdoors and explore the world around them through nature and math all at once.  These new badges will help Daisies, Brownies, and Juniors discover the links of science and nature, including, the Fibonacci sequence, patterns, and so much more.

Getting Started Today!

Girl Scouts in the Heart of PA are ready for you to try these out we have Badge workshops scheduled for a selection of these new badges that you can sign up for virtually and in person

GSUSA has free self-guided activities available online through Girl Scouts at Home.

You can also access the Volunteer Toolkit, for a variety of programming, including troop meeting plans, tips for volunteers, and other resources.

Explore all of these amazing new badges online using the Awards and Badge Explorer.

Backyard Camping

One of the easiest and inexpensive ways to get outdoors this summer is by traveling to your own backyard! You’ll save time and money, but can have just as much fun planning your backyard camping adventure as you would planning a trip away. Keep reading for some fun ideas for a summer backyard campout!

Shelter

First you’ll want to decide what kind of sleeping arrangements you’d like to have. Some of my favorite options include:

  • Setting up a tent: if you choose this option, you could sleep on the ground in your sleeping bags just like you might on a camping trip in the woods. Or, if you’re like me and enjoy a more comfortable arrangement, you could set up an air mattress with blankets and pillows for more of a “glamping” experience!
  • Create a tarp tent: all you need is a tarp and rope! This option would be more open-air than a tent, and allows you to sleep under the stars while still being protected from the elements. 
  • No shelter: if the weather is going to be nice overnight, you could choose no shelter at all! Remember to make sure this is a safe option – think about what kind of animals might come through your yard in the middle of the night

Remember that whatever shelter you choose to set up, you can make it as fun as you’d like! Adding extra blankets or stuffed animals will make the space nice and cozy. Some fairy lights strung up will provide you with light once it’s dark. Or if you want to imagine you are hiking through the mountains with only the items you can carry on your back, maybe your setup looks a little more rustic with just your shelter, sleeping bag, pillow, and a lantern. This camping adventure is completely up to you!

Activities

After your shelter is set up for the night, don’t forget to plan some camping activities! Some of our favorite Girl Scout activities include:

  • Singing songs around a campfire (don’t forget to have some fire starters on hand, as well as an adult!)
  • Going for a hike – this could be a walk through your neighborhood, where you listen for the sounds of nature, or if you have a hiking trail near your house you could explore that too!
  • Have an outdoor Soundscape Scavenger Hunt and listen to all of the different sounds nature has. 
  • Learn about the Leave No Trace principles, and make a plan to follow those principles both on your backyard camping adventure, as well as on future trips into the outdoors. 
  • Learn about the stars in the sky through GSHPA’s Constellation series. Remember to wait for the sun to set completely. You can use the app SkyView Lite (with parent permission), and watch the first video of the series here.
  • After the sun has set and you’re getting ready to sleep, another camping favorite you can do is storytelling!  Each person can take turns telling a story they’ve heard or have made up. Or you could make it a game by having each person say only one sentence of a story. Popcorn stories can be super silly since everyone only gets to say one sentence at a time!

Now that you have your shelter set up, and activities planned, we can’t forget one of the most important parts of a camping adventure…the food!

Backyard Cooking

Yes, it’s time for everyone’s favorite part: the food! We are going to be talking about all the fun and interesting ways to cook outside! Did you know that you can actually bake brownies in your backyard? How about a full chicken or a whole pie? Well you definitely can and we’re going to show you how!

Box Oven:

Kicking off our outdoor cooking adventure is a box oven! As the name suggests it is made with a cardboard box!

To create your Box Oven you will need:

  • A Cardboard Box (extra thick/sturdy if possible)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • 4-6 Empty Soda Cans
  • A Grill Rack (must fit inside box)
  • Charcoal
  • Small Aluminum Pan

You will want your box to have a flap to cover the opening like a door. The remaining flaps can be removed. Then start by covering your cardboard box in aluminum foil – shiny side out! Be sure to cover every inch of cardboard in foil to ensure it doesn’t burn!

Once covered place your empty soda cans on the sides to hold up your grill rack. After your box oven is all set up begin putting hot charcoal in your aluminum pan! Keep in mind each brick of charcoal will be around 50 degrees, so add enough to reach your desired temperature with that in mind!

Just let your box oven preheat – then start cooking! We recommend making brownies or pizza! And don’t forget a potholder or other heat protection!

Flower Pot:

Did you know you can grill using a flower point? You can – let’s talk about how!

To create this unique grill, you will need:

  • 10 Inch Ceramic Flower Pot (please use a plain undecorated flower pot)
  • Aluminum Foil
  • Perlite
  • Charcoal

Start by putting a layer of aluminum foil on the inside of your flower pot – shiny side out! Once the inside is fully coated add your pearlite. Perlite is a mineral that reduces moisture and insulates heat which can be commonly found in any garden center or store. You will want to pour perlite to fill your lined flower pot about halfway. After this has been added place a layer of aluminum foil on top of the perlite. Top the aluminum foil with hot charcoal and you are ready to roll!

Once hot you can use your flower pot just like a grill! We recommend roasting hot dogs and marshmallows to start! It is a great option for Daisy and Brownie Girl Scouts to try! You can even add a grilling rack to the top for more cooking options!

Tin Can Cooking:

Cooking on top of a tin can is great for camping, especially for breakfast! It is a great option for french toast and pancakes!

To create your own you will need:

  • #10 Tin Can (make sure the inside is not lined with plastic)
  • A Buddy Burner

Yes, that’s all you need! Before we talk about how to set up your tin can, let’s talk about how to make a Buddy Burner!

To create a Buddy Burner, you will need:

  • A Tuna Can (or similar – freshly washed)
  • Strips of Cardboard, Paper or Wood Shavings
  • Melted Wax

When making your Buddy Burner start by emptying, washing and drying your tuna can. After that fill the can with strips of cardboard, paper or wood shavings – this will be your fuel. When filling the can try not to pack your too tight to ensure air can circulate. We recommend making sure a few edges are sticking out for easy lighting.

Once you have filled your can simply pour melted wax inside about 2/3 of the way and allow to set! Once dry you are ready to get started!

So now that you have a Buddy Burner, let’s talk about your larger tin can! Start by washing and drying it. After that you should take a can open and create small holes along the top edge of the can, like the image above, to help with ventilation. And that’s it – you’re ready to get cooking!

Simply light the Buddy Burner and place your Tin Can Stove on top. Once hot you can use it to cookie pancakes, French toast and much more! After you’re done cooking we recommend flipping the top of your stove onto the Buddy Burner to extinguish it – just be careful, it will be hot!

We hope you enjoyed learning all about our favorite backyard cooking and camping methods! Be sure to share your favorites in the comments below!

STEAM Snack: Flying Machines

STEAM Snack: July 

Flying Machines 

For thousands of years people have wanted to fly. Our legends and fairy tales are full of stories about humans who can fly, gliding through the air.  

This month we will be looking at gravity, thrust, lift, and drag while the girls build their own flying machines.  The girls will use their powers of observation and problem-solving skills to modify and improve their designs to get the best results.  

Why Flying Machines?  

An object in flight is constantly in a tog us war between opposing forces, lift vs weight, and thrust vs drag.  Humans do not have wings or a power source strong enough to keep us moving through the air to sustain the lift needed for flight. We need help from machines. Planes and birds are both affected by the same forces in flight.  

What if I’m not an expert? 

This is a simple build to demonstrate how the forces impact an object in flight, there are some great resources in the Volunteer Toolkit for this badge that help you complete the build of the fling flyer.  To access the Volunteer Toolkit, visit your council’s website and click on MyGS. 

How do I get started? 

Materials you need:  

  • Scissors 
  • Ruler 
  • Pen or pencil
  • Cardstock (or other heavy paper)
  • Paper Clips
  • Open space 

Take the time to try out the demonstration ahead of time to make sure you don’t have too many surprises when showing the girls.   

Here are some discussion questions to get the girls thinking:  

  • What are some things that fly? 
  • Birds, airplane, helicopter, bugs, seeds, hot air balloon, ect.  
  • Do they all fly/glide the same way? 

The Badges: 

  • Daisy: 
  • Brownie: Mechanical Engineering: Fling Flyer – Step 1 
  • Junior:   
  • Cadette: 
  • Senior:  
  • Ambassador:  

The Science 

All things that fly or glide have to be able to provide enough lift force to oppose the weight force.  Gravity is a force that pulls everything toward the Earth’s surface, this pull is called weight force. Lift is a force that acts upwards against weight and is caused by the air moving over and under the wings. 

Thrust is the force that moves the object forward. Thrust is provided by: 

  • Muscles – birds and other flying animals, you with your paper flying machines 
  • Engines – airplanes 
  • Wind – kites, hot air balloons 
  • Gravity – For gliders to actually fly they are diving at a very shallow angle, birds do this to when they glide.  Your designs will also take advantage of this too.  

The force working against thrust is called drag.  This is caused by air resistance and acts in the opposite direction to the motion.  The amount of drag depends on the shape of the flying object, the density of the air and the speed of the object.  Think about the shape of a jet vs a hot air balloon. Thrust can overcome the force of drag.   

If the forces are equal the plane or bird will fly at a constant speed, when the forces are not equal then the object will speed up, slow down, or change direction towards the greatest force.  

The Activity 

Flying Machine Two: Helicopters 

Materials: Cardstock/, Paper clip, Scissors, ruler, glue 

  • Cut your paper into a 6 inch by 2 inch rectangle 
  • At one end, cut about 3 inches up the middle of your paper.  
  • Make two cuts on either side about ½ an inch higher than your cut.  
  • Fold the uncut end inward as shown 
  • Flatten and fold up a small piece of your paper on the end.  
  • Add a paper clip to hold things in place and add weight so that your helicopter stays upwards while flying.  

Fold your cut end in opposite directions to create your helicopter blades.  

To Fly:  

  • Grab them by the paperclip end and throw similar to a paper airplane.   
  • You will want to find a high place like a balcony or deck to see what they can do.  
  • You can also simple drop them from your high place and watch.  

Wrap up:  

After each build ask the girls:  

  • How does this design overcome the weight and drag forces? 
  • What is creating the thrust? Muscles, engine, gravity? 
  • What can you do to improve the design? 
  • Make it go faster? 
  • Fly longer? 
  • Fly straighter? 

A Plane Snack 

Materials Needed: Graham crackers, grapes/blueberries (round fruit for wheels), celery, and peanut butter, toothpicks 

  1. Cut your celery stick to the size that you want your airplane to be.  
  1. Fill your celery stick with peanut butter.   
  1. Using your toothpick attach two grapes to either side of the plane for the wheels.  
  1. Place half of a graham cracker that has been cut lengthwise across the wheels on top of the peanut butter.   
  1. Cut two small very thin celery pieces and attach to the front of your celery stick for propellers.  

6 Tips to Help New Volunteers

We are just a few short months away from the start of the new Girl Scout year, and with a new year comes new leaders! For those of us who have been Girl Scouts for life, or are seasoned leaders, the cycle of the Girl Scout year comes naturally to you, and the only new things you may need to adjust to occasional changes and updates. You’ve had the opportunity to learn how to best lead a troop, how to network with other leaders, use the Volunteer Toolkit and give the best Girl Scout experience to the girls as possible. New leaders not only have the challenge of learning about all the resources available, but also learning the ins and outs of Girl Scouts and Girl Scout lingo. They also often do not know other leaders, and that is often one of the hardest parts of being a new leader.  

As Girl Scouts we encourage our girls to “make new friends”, “to help people at all times”, be “friendly and helpful”, and “be a sister to every Girl Scout”. What better way to set an example for our girls than to practice these values ourselves and be a sister and friend to our new leaders? We have such awesome networks within our Service Units, and working together to welcome new leaders, and provide them with the knowledge that they have a network of volunteers just like them to look to for support and help is a great gift we can give to our new leaders! Check out my list below for ways we can be a friend to our new leaders, and best support them as they start their Girl Scout journey: 

1. Invite new leaders to the next Service Unit meeting. If you don’t know the new leaders, go introduce yourself. Share your details, the level you lead, meeting places, and your contact information for when they have questions. This will give them a friendly face at future meetings and events, and also someone to go to with questions. 

2. Service Unit Contact Info: New leaders start their time as a leader by meeting with their Volunteer Support Coordinator, as well as participating in trainings. While having experienced leaders reaching out is helpful for new leaders to build up their contacts, another way to do that could be through a Service Unit wide directory. This directory can be given to all leaders, new and old, within your Unit.  

 
3. Planning Committees: Inviting new leaders to join your Service Unit planning committees get them involved immediately and helps the Service Unit as a whole. Many Service Units often see the same people volunteer to help plan and organize, so involving new leaders will help to build up the volunteers and infuse new ideas to help the Service Unit.  

 
4. Make New Friends: Invite new leaders and their troops to join your troop to a meeting, field trip, or event. This gives the new leader a break from planning, and allows them to see how your troop operates! It also gives the girls a chance to connect. A lot of new leaders are leading new troops, so everyone involved can benefit from making new friends.  

 
5. Offer to help the new leader with a ceremony or tradition. These are the backbone of Girl Scouts, and can be hard to learn just through reading about them. Demonstrating the traditions for a new leader is much more personal and helps them learn how to carry on the traditions while building relationships! 

 
6. Similarly, invite a new leader to join you and your troop on a camping trip. As a leader they have all clearances and can help toward your troop ratio, and they can learn tips and tricks. Working together gives the leaders new and old to learn on the go during the trip that the internet and online training can miss. For an added bonus, you could invite their entire troop on a camping trip, have the girls teach the girls, and provide a unique hands-on experience for the entire troop.  

Working together to help new leaders feel connected and part of our Girl Scout sisterhood is something that we can all do. Have you ever connected with a new leader in a way not included on my list? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!