It goes without saying that the way we receive product has exponentially altered over the course of these last 12 months. Whether it’s selecting curbside delivery for restaurant orders or having your groceries delivered to your door, we’ve all had to adjust our expectations about how we receive the products we are accustomed to having. The same holds true for how customers will receive their cookie orders during the 2021 Girl Scout Cookie Program.
What is a Cookie Drive-thru?
A Cookie Drive-thru is somewhat self-explanatory. Girl Scouts will arrive on–site with Girl Scout Cookies in hand. Customers will be able to drive up to the Girl Scout’s station, pay for their order and receive their cookies without having to leave the comfort of their vehicle. Today’sGirl Scouts recognize the importance of creating an effortless experience for the customer, which is why you’ll see many girls utilizing contactless payment features through mobile devices.
Why is a Cookie Drive-thru Important?
The Cookie Drive-thru presents a way to keep Girl Scout Troops safe as they participate in the Cookie Program and engage with the customers. The Cookie Drive-thru is not a new concept to the Girl Scout Cookie Program and we anticipate they will become much more prevalent during this year’s program.
For over a century, the Girl Scout Cookie Program has adapted and persevered in the face of certainty and uncertainty. It is without a doubt that the repercussions of this global pandemic will have a permanent impact on how Girl Scouts sell cookies but if we know anything about these aspiring entrepreneurs, it is that they are up to the challenge and will continue to use courage, confidence and character to make the world a better place for years to come.
I met Amy Beamer Murray through a former colleague, Michele Engle, when I was busy with publishing work at the Central Penn Business Journal. Michele told me that I was going to love Amy immediately. She was not wrong.
Amy is smart, kind and has a dry sense of humor that is perfect for late fall afternoon porch conversations. During her daylight hours, Amy is the COO at Pavone Marketing Group, which has its headquarters in Harrisburg and other offices in Philadelphia and Chicago.
Amy is a prolific letter writer and I just recently found out that she was Girl Scout.
I just joined the Girl Scouts in the Heart of Pennsylvania organization in early November. Part of what I want to do with the GSHPA is find former Girl Scouts to share their stories about leadership and the impact Girl Scouts had on their lives.
Here is snapshot of my friend, Amy Beamer Murray.
Tell us a little about yourself: Where did you grow up? Your schooling and how you ended up in the career that you have now with Pavone?
I grew up in a small town – Newport, Pennsylvania – which is about 30 miles northwest of Harrisburg. From there, I went to Elizabethtown College and graduated with a degree in business administration. When I graduated in 1990, the country was in the midst of a recession, and, while I’d love to be able to say I had some grand plan, the truth is I just wanted to find a job that was interesting to me, get some experience and figure it out from there. I started working at an advertising agency in Harrisburg, working in traffic and project management. When the creative team left the agency to start their own shop, I followed about a year later as their first employee. And the rest is history. I’ve been with Pavone Marketing Group for 29 years and am currently its chief operating officer, working with almost 100 marketing and communications professionals.
What are some of your favorite memories regarding your Girl Scout experience?
My mom got me involved in Girl Scouting as a way for me to be more social. Even at an early age, I was an introvert who was in my own head and who enjoyed the company of adults . . . “that Amy, she’s eight going on 80,” they’d say.
So, my mom thought it would be good for me to interact more with kids my own age. As Brownies, we did all kinds of arts and crafts, learned patriotic songs, and made sit-upons and foil packets for our day camp excursions.
We were lucky to have the picturesque Little Buffalo State Park in our backyard – and we did hiking, picnicking and swimming activities there. As Girl Scouts, we did more of the same, but also started volunteering in different ways around the community and we went to overnight camp.
I remember winter camp especially well because I took a transistor radio with me so we could hear if the US hockey team beat the Russians in the 1980 Winter Olympics (that seems very quaint now, doesn’t it?). Cadettes and Senior involvement meant more opportunities to earn badges and volunteer. And there were cookie sales at each level!
Has your experiences in Girl Scouting affected your leadership style/experience now? If so, can you explain?
I think those experiences sowed the seeds of community service at an early age. When you grow up in a small town, many of the town’s activities center around the school, churches and community groups. In Newport, the adults were involved in the Lions’ Club, Jaycees, and the volunteer fire company and EMS service, and youth sports. And, for the kids, church youth groups and Girl and Boy Scouts were our vehicles for volunteerism. There was a spirit of teamwork and camaraderie within our troops, while instilling the responsibility to give back to the community by identifying needs (like picking up litter, packing food for distribution, visiting nursing home residents and organizing activities for younger kids) and doing something about it. In my role as COO, that’s pretty much the ball game – identifying needs and doing something about it!
You are a prolific letter writer (which I love about you) How did this habit start and why is it important for you. Also, share, on average, how many letters that you write a month?
My mom was always sending greeting cards to sick people and shut-ins in our church and I picked up the knack early on. Once I got to college, writing letters was the only way other than telephone calls to stay in touch with my friends (remember the days of no email or internet?), and so that’s when it really took off. And now I do it because I know people really appreciate it because it’s so uncommon in this day and age. It really has become something between and ministry and an obsession for me. On average, I probably send between 20 and 40 cards per week for a myriad of reasons – birthdays, thank you, thinking of you, get well, sympathy. And I send cards for all holidays and occasions. I’ve become a connoisseur of all different card companies and have even befriended a few of their owners and artists along the way. I simply can’t imagine not doing it!
A few years ago, you started sharing publicly how practicing mindfulness has helped you mentally and physically. Can you explain that and elaborate a little?
About a decade ago, I was dealing with some serious issues with chronic fatigue syndrome, and I started looking at alternative therapies as a way to manage it. Having a mindfulness practice has certainly helped. I think a lot of times people think mindfulness means doing meditation, but that’s only a small part of it. And a form of meditation can be as simple as taking a walk with a friend or your dog. Our pets are wonderful teachers when it comes to mindfulness, in that being mindful really means being present in the current moment – not thinking about the past with regret or the future with anticipation or dread. I do devotions and prayer each morning and try to take time throughout the day to move/walk and do some intentional breathing. I also seek out periods of silence (no tech/media) which is also helpful in calming the mind. And an opportunity for gardening is just around the corner! I believe that having a mindfulness practice has been essential to my ability to deal with the pandemic and the anxiety and uncertainty that it has brought to so many folks.
What are some ways you can recommend participating in the Girl Scouts as a volunteer?
Being a leader has to be a wonderful and fulfilling way to get involved. Working as a part-time chaperone is also a way to be involved. And as Girl Scouts are pursuing a variety of badges, I would imagine there are opportunities to volunteer as a subject matter expert as well. In the past, I volunteered as part of a partnership with Junior Achievement to work with Girl Scouts who were pursuing their business badge.
I know you are big fan of cats. Tell us about your kitties. Their names and personalities.
My husband, Paul, and I are parents to six cats. I always joke that three of them were unplanned, but we couldn’t say no when a kitty was in need. We have two pair of tiger brother/sister siblings and they’re our oldest and youngest cats. So, those four are Jasper (who is Paul’s boy) and Frances, age 12, and Ollie (who is a total train wreck) and Maude, age three. Sandwiched in between them are our two black cats, Otis Jones, age 6, who is totally a momma’s boy, and Fiona, age 10, who is our deaf girl and sleeps 23 hours a day. Truth be told, Frances and Maude are probably the best archetypal house cats that we have. The others are all just a little nuts.
Happy almost Girl Scout Week GSHPA Blog Fam! We are so excited to be gearing up for the 2021 Girl Scout Week which kicks off on Girl Scout Sunday, March 7th. Make sure you keep an eye on the Blog next week, because there will be so many exciting posts celebrating Girl Scout Week as we lead up to our 109th Birthday!
I would be remiss if I did not also wish you a Happy International Women’s month! We are excited to celebrate International Women’s Day on Monday, March 8th, the second day of Girl Scout Week. There are so many exciting things happen in March I can barely stand it!
Now, let’s talk about the first day of Girl Scout Week, the kick off for a full week of celebration that girls across the country celebrate, Girl Scout Sunday! (Stay with me, there is a little bit of a history lesson before we get into the good stuff!)
As we all know, Juliette Gordon Low (JGL), met and worked with Lord Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts while in London. She worked with him on creating the female equivalent while in London. Together, they then came to America to build the Girl Guides of America movement. Juliette learned so much from Lord Baden-Powell; how to run a youth organization, activities that were important for girls to learn including confidence, courage, and character, and the importance of creating a space for girls of any religion to participate together, as a unit. Lord Baden-Powell made it a point to never tether the Boy Scouts to a specific Religion, and JGL followed suit.
On March 12, 1912, Juliette Gordon Low hosted the first Girl Guides of America meeting (later the Girl Scouts of America) in her carriage house (it was the early 1900’s version of a garage). There were 18 girls in attendance, that Juliette invited herself. Some were from families of prominence in Savannah, and some from the local synagogue! The mixing of religions was something that was seldom done in the early 1900’s.
When the time came to recruit Troop Leaders for the newly established Girl Guides of America, JGL asked four women to lead the first troop. Three of those four women were Jewish. Two of the three of those original leaders went on to hold high ranking positions within the Girl Scouts of America in the first established councils. Again, the mixing of religions was not something that was commonplace in the early 1900’s, but JGL did not care about the social norm, she cared the girls who joined her organization had the best possible experience, and she knew that would come from powerful female leaders.
Random Fun Fact! Did you know that the first commercially baked Girl Scout Cookies were made in a Jewish Bakery? Bonus points if you know what year the first cookies were made commercially! (If you need a helping hand for your guess, take a look at this article!)
Juliette Gordon Low was a woman of faith. She was progressive in her thinking about religion and the relationship it should have in your social engagements, which made her an outcast. However, her church, the Christ Church of Savannah, was no stranger to being ahead of the times. The Christ Church was the first Georgian church to have a female ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons. (To learn more about Susan W. Harrison take a look at the Christ Church of Savannah’s historical timeline!)
While the Girl Scouts are still a non-denominational organization, and we welcome girls of any and all faiths. Girls are encouraged to recognize that faith can be a driving force for many. What you put your faith in is where we all differ, and that’s what makes this such a great organization.
Now, let’s talk about some of the awards girls can earn based on their faith!
Girls are able to earn multiple different faith based awards. The official Girl Scout awards include the My Promise, My Faith Pins. These pins are able to be earned annually from first year Daisys through Graduating Ambassadors. These pins are earned by choosing a line from the Girl Scout Law and studying how that line corresponds to their faith. The girls are tasked with researching poems, songs, or stories in their faith that also show the line they’ve chosen from the Law. They are also tasked with researching inspirational quotes from women and in talking to women within their faith or outside of their faith to discover how they live the line from the law.
What makes this award unique is that it is not denominational. Girls of any faith could earn these awards. In our thirty county foot print we have had girls earn this award in almost every religion. We currently have a troop finalizing their award in the Hindu Religion!
Girls can also earn awards specifically focused on their individual religion. To Serve God awards are created by members of Faith Based organizations who are also Girl scouts. Girls work with advisors, whether spiritual or Girl Scout, to earn their religious award. There are more than 29 different denominations with advanced awards offered through the Pray Pub organization in partnership with the Girl Scouts.
These awards, like all of our awards, are unique to the girls who earn them. No two projects ever look the same and no two girls ever bring the same experiences to their Girl Scout Experience.
To learn more about the My Promise, My Faith Pins or the awards offered through the Pray Pub Partnership, check out here, or here, your place of worship, or your Girl Scout Handbook!
The past year has brought about MANY changes, of course… you know that. It’s changed the way we work, socialize, even grocery shop, (again, not breaking news). What it has not changed is the need to encourage and recognize employees. If anything, it’s even more important to show our employees that they are appreciated. So, how do we do that?
Recognizing employees can come in many different forms. For example, I am a gifter. I love to give gifts as well as receive them. My first draft of this posting was done with a pen I received as a valentine from GSHPA’s Staff Appreciation Committee. While I’m a gifter, not everyone is. Some people thrive on one to one interaction, some people prefer to receive hand written letters, and some people prefer activities. How we all feels our best is different between each person. So how do we show appreciation to each employee when there are so many with so many different needs?
Well that is the real question and is something that the Staff Appreciation Committee struggles with at each meeting. We know the importance of engaging our staff in different ways to ensure each and every one of our 56 employees feel appreciated. While we are a smaller organization, some of our efforts can be duplicated amongst bigger, or even smaller, workplaces as well.
Check out some examples of what we at GSHPA have done to appreciate our staff;
We sent Valentine’s to everyone. A stress taco and a heart pen!
We held a virtual holiday party with 6 different activities for everyone to participate in.
We spent an afternoon choosing our words of intention for the year and the SAC is creating printable reminders for each staff person.
Each staff member receives cards for their birthdays and work anniversaries in conjunction with the leadership team.
We have two very active social groups that meet monthly after work.
Currently, we are hosting a step challenge for any staff members who wanted a little extra support in hitting their daily and weekly step goals.
One of the items mentioned above is the social groups that meet monthly after work. We’re really excited about this newly formed aspect of the Staff Appreciation Committee! In December we started a Craft Club. Each month, a club member “hosts” a Zoom event and teaches the rest of the club how to do a craft, typically one that matches the season. Our other social club, the Book Club, began at the end of January. Each month we choose a book and read throughout the month. When we are able to meet, we spend some time discussing the book and also then choosing a book for the next month. The best part of each of the clubs though, the socialization and bonding that happen while were crafting or discussing the book.
While these ideas can all be implemented into the workplace, they can also be used engage your troop members. Planning a troop meeting, whether in person or virtually, you can create some activities for your girls to participate with. A platform that has been a huge hit with our staff, and free to use, is Kahoot. It can be used in person or virtually and it makes creates a fun, competitive activity for your girls. Another way to show your girls how much you appreciate them and how much they are going through, reaching out individually. Give them a call or a text to chat with them about their day or their current goals.
Another way to show them your appreciation is to recognize them individually during a virtual (or in person) troop meeting. Create awards for each of your girls that are leader judged. For example, Best Zoom Background, Funniest Pet Story, Best Quarantine Skill, or anything you can imagine!
What are some ways your employers have shown you their appreciation? Have you done anything to show your girls your appreciation of them?
Since I arrived at GSHPA in the summer of 2019, I have been amazed and humbled by the passion of our members for our four camp properties.
I quickly got involved with the Camp Furnace Hills site team, hearing their questions and ideas for the future use of the camp, and sat in on phone calls between GSHPA and Supporters of Camp Archbald on a monthly basis, dialoguing about areas of priority focus in maintaining the second oldest Girl Scout camp in the United States.
My holiday season in 2019 kicked off with the Foxfire Open House at Camp Furnace Hills. Foxfire House is a Swiss German bank house, built in the 1800’s. The volunteer led Foxfire Team cooked goodies for the open house, arranged for a string duo to perform in the living room, and conducted tours of the house for attendees. Foxfire House programming and tours are a gem, and true resource for Girl Scouts to learn about the life of girls long long ago.
At the Foxfire Open House I met a number of lifetime Girl Scout members who all shared their story of connection with Camp Furnace Hills and now I’ve gotten to know them all well through monthly site team meetings. This group of volunteers has compiled a detailed excel spreadsheet of projects at Furnace Hills, ranging from repairing fascia, to removing dead trees, and blazing new trails. Through a network of relationships we’ve now found new vendors for accomplishing work at Camp Furnace Hills and connected troops for Bronze and Silver Awards.
The Furnace Hills Camping Association and GSHPA are partnering together for an open house on May 16th at camp. The details are still being finalized but tours of Foxfire House, the chance to practice archery, learn about the history of Camp Furnace Hills, and plant trees are all on the list of possibilities for the afternoon event.
The second site team I’ve had the delight to get to know, passionately cares for Camp Archbald. This amazing group of volunteers has shared the history of the beginning of camp, and their personal stories of how camp impacted their life over the years, culminating in the time they’re now bestowing to repair Greenwood and the Caretaker’s House, along with numerous other projects on property. Beginning in September of 2020, the Archbald site team arranged twice monthly work days, ranging in attendance from 10 to 60! Their excel spreadsheet of projects, with a tab for every single building on property, is an inspiration for any project manager! Supporters of Camp Archbald execute a sold out resident camp experience each summer, and planned a yearlong acknowledgement of camp’s 100th anniversary with a celebration scheduled for the weekend of September 18, 2021.
The paragraphs above cannot begin to describe my awe and respect for the volunteers passionately involved with Camp Furnace Hills and Camp Archbald. Next, I hope to tap into the passion of volunteers who are connected to Camp Small Valley and Camp Happy Valley, to re-invigorate site teams at those camp properties. If anyone wants to join the site teams for any of our properties, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 717-461-6947.
As much as we try to make the world a better place and be a sister to every Girl Scout, conflicts are bound to arise. As with any group of people with different personalities, interests, needs or wants there is going to be disagreements. It can be especially challenging with younger girls who are still learning what friendship means, or with girls of different age ranges in multi-level troops.
Like other challenges Girl Scouts face, we suggest you utilize conflict and disagreements as learning experiences! Understanding how to deal with conflict is just another tool that Girl Scouts should be equipped with. In fact, if you look closely enough at our Girl Scout Law you will find many of the skills needed to manage conflict!
Here are some tips for learning and dealing with conflict:
Set the stage: As we established earlier, conflict is going to happen whether we like it or not, so let’s prepare!
Establish group rules- In order to talk about problems and conflicts, everyone needs to feel safe. Build a safe environment for learning and sharing by establishing group rules. To ensure group rules buy-in, create the rules as a group helping the girls define what a safe space means and looks like to them. After the group rules are decided, have the girls all sign in agreement. Save group rules for reference as needed. It may be helpful to remind girls of group rules in the beginning of meetings or have them posted for visibility.
Examples of group rules could include “What we share within our group, stays within our group”, “No name calling”, “No talking while another person is talking”
Consider including parents/caregivers in group rule process or establishing a separate set of rules with parents/caregivers.
Designate a calm moment spot- There is a lot going on in our world and we don’t always know what circumstances the girls are facing. Something that may appear as a small disagreement could end up much bigger if a girl is already overwhelmed with feelings. With the girls, decide on a semi-private space where they can go when they need a moment to calm down or just need a minute alone. This spot should not be punitive (like being sent on “time-out”) but instead a space where a girl can take control of her feelings by gathering her thoughts in a peaceful spot.
Slow it down: Conflict can feel stressful and dangerous which can prevent us from responding in logical ways. Slowing down to take a breath and listen to everyone’s perspective can go a long way.
Take a few deep breathes- When something stressful happens the limbic system of our brain takes over and equips our bodies with either a fight, flight, or freeze response. This response can prevent us from responding to conflict in a rational way. Let girls know that it is okay to have strong feelings with conflict, but also that they don’t always have to act on those feelings. Invite girls to stop and take 5-10 long slow breaths to work through those feelings. If we are able to slow down and calm our bodies we can usually approach the conflict in a more productive way.
Share and Listen- Everyone involved in the conflict should have an opportunity to say what they think happened. Giving everyone the chance to share their perspective also prevents girls from interrupting to argue their own case and shifts the focus away from assigning blame. Reference group rules to keep the discussion respectful.
Encourage I statements and practice them- Managing conflict is a learned skill and like any skill- it takes practice! Learning how to use I-statements helps girls learn how to express both the problem and their feelings about the conflict in a respectful way. Learn more about I-statements and how to implement them in your troop with this resource.
Girl Led Solution: Girl Scouts is all about empowering girls with tools to be leaders in the world. By teaching girls tools needed to resolve conflict you are also empowering them to self-regulate, be empathetic, and take responsibility for their actions.
Check for understanding- After each girl was able to share her perspective, check everyone’s understanding by having girls summarize what the others said. Even if the girls do not agree with each other, it is important that they are listening enough to reflect back and validate others viewpoints.
Find a solution- Encourage the girls to work together to decide on a solution that feels good for everyone. You can help them by asking “Do you have any ideas on how we can solve this problem?” or “How could we solve this problem in a way that would work for both of you?” As the adult, try to refrain from offering your own solutions in order to empower the girls to develop their problem-solving skills.
Follow up- Part of conflict resolution is accountability. If the girls have agreed to a solution check in with them later to see if all members held up their end of the deal. Ask them what they learned from the conflict and how they could use what they learned in the future. If a girl is unhappy with the solution or maybe lack-of talk about it and brainstorm ideas on how to move forward.
Remember that everyone handles conflict differently and that includes YOU! Don’t expect yourself to always have the best response or that each conflict is going to have a solution. Managing conflict is hard and takes practice! Don’t hesitate to reach out for support! Here are a few additional resources that may be helpful:
As the majority of our day-to-day communication has moved to virtual it can be hard to stay engaged. As the days continue on it becomes increasingly difficult to motivate ourselves and those around us to stay productive and attentive. So how do you keep your Girl Scout engaged in activities after a long day of working from home? Well GSHPA is here to help!
So let’s start by talking about activities! It can be difficult to find something to do, so check out this list of things to keep in mind!
Ensure girls get a say in activities! If the girls help pick and plan activities they will be more engaged!
Keep in mind some girls might not have reliable digital access or might be tired from long day in front of screens – consider mixing up your activities to include moving around, hands-on, or offline DIYs!
Keeping Girl Engaged:
Use secure and easy to use vendors/sites
Avoid sharing personal information – both your own and your troops’
Ensure you have permission from all families before posting any pictures online
Avoid opening attachments or links from unknown sources
Inform adults of activities live and recorded so they can be responsible for their girls’ online safety at home
Make Time for Fun:
It is important to plan time for fun! Don’t be afraid to have your girls get up and moving during your virtual meeting! We recommend trying scavenger hunts, game nights, etc.
Explore existing programs – check out all the amazing programs & events coming up at GSHPA on our events calendar.
I was recently asked to share a favorite memory from Girl Scouts. With the question, I was flooded with my experiences from Girl Scouts and immediately knew my answer was creating memories with my daughters. Although I was not a Girl Scout growing up, I have been a member for the last five years and have already made many amazing memories.
Over the last 5 years, the Girl Scouts has helped my daughter and I bond while experiencing new things together. My favorite memories come from camping with my daughter’s troop. We have taken camping trips to Camp Happy Valley and Camp Small Valley. First, these trips were with my oldest daughter, Izzy, and then my youngest, Marley, when she was old enough. Due to my lack of experience going to camp, I was blown away at how awesome camping with the Girl Scouts was! We cooked over a fire, crafted, tie-dyed, hiked, shared stories, sang, and laughed A LOT. Watching my daughters build friendships and experience the outdoors are memories I will cherish forever.
Another favorite memory that comes to mind when thinking about the Girl Scouts is working with my daughters at the fair. Each year, the local Girl Scout troops take turns running the infamous Girl Scout milkshake stand at the Shippensburg Fair. As explained earlier, having never been part of teams or groups I had no idea what we were signing up for! The first year Izzy and I worked the Girl Scout milkshake stand from 5-11pm with nonstop customers. I was in awe watching how well my daughter worked under pressure! The girls take pride in the milkshake stand knowing they are earning money for their troop. Over the years, we have taken many shifts and made a lot of milkshakes, and I couldn’t be prouder.
The last memory I will share is the countless cookie booths. Although at times, a cookie booth shift seemed like another thing I had to fit into my already busy schedule, they were opportunities to make memories with my daughters. During cookie booth shifts I got to watch Izzy and Marley gain skills by dealing with customers, pitching their ideas, and building friendships and trust with their troops. Treating ourselves to a box of tasty cookies at the end of a shift always left a sweet spot for the overall experience!
Filling a vest or sash with colorful patches and badges is a wonderful way for Girl Scouts to remember all the adventures and skills they are experiencing. Both badges and patches and an important part of the Girl Scout experience, many people use the words interchangeably without understanding the important difference between the two.
What is the difference? I’m glad you asked!
Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts said it best,
“Every badge you earn is tied up to your motto. This badge is not a reward for something you have done once or for an examination you have passed. Badges are not medals to wear on your sleeve to show what a smart girl you are. A badge is a symbol that you have done the thing that stands for often enough, thoroughly enough, and well enough to be prepared to give service in it. You wear the badge to let people know that you are prepared and will to be called on because you are a Girl Scout. And Girl Scouting is not just knowing, but doing. Not just doing, but being.”
Juliette Gordon Low
Badges are to help girls explore their interest and learn new skills. They require specific steps and are displayed on the front of their uniforms.
The steps for each badge are listed in the badge descriptions that are published in the Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting. Girls must complete each step to earn the badge.
Here is a complete listing of badges for every age level.
Patches are similar to badges in look, but are considered “unofficial” and are worn on the back of the girls sash or vest. Patches are handy if the girls want to do a fun activity or try something new that isn’t badge related.
Girls can get a fun patch for any activity they participate in through Girl Scouts. It could be a hike, museum visit, STEAM program, or a virtual event, she has no limit to the number of patches she can display on her back.
Fun patches are the best! They give the girls the freedom to get creative and mix in activities for service, for celebrations, and for team building/bonding, or just for fun! Recently we met Vanessa, a Daisy in Troop 10581 Vanessa and her grandmother did virtual Girl Scout activities all summer, and collected so many patches her grandmother added a panel on the back of her vest!
Girl Scouts love to collect the patches and their vests/sashes become a scrapbook of all their adventures and accomplishments. Here are a few more patches to add to your girls’ collections this winter and some trivia to test your badge/patch knowledge.
Growing up is hard, but growing up during a global pandemic, political unrest, climate change, and a 24-hour news cycle is unprecedented! As an adult I can often feel overwhelmed by it all, so I can only imagine what our young people might be feeling. With all that is happening around us, along with the regular challenges of life, young people are bound to have questions!
As troop leaders, volunteers, parents, and caregivers we have an important role in the lives of our Girl Scouts. Given all our girls are facing it is inevitable for tough conversation topics to come up. In order to build girls of courage, confidence and character we need to provide them with safe spaces to process what is happening around them.
It can be frightening when a tough subject comes up, but keep in mind that some of the hardest things to talk about are often the most important! So here are 5 tips to help you prepare to tackle tough topics and conversations:
Keep the conversation GIRL LED.
In Girl Scouts, we know that girls are most interested and passionate about the topics THEY pick, including tough or sensitive topics. While it might be tempting to quickly change the subject when a tough topic comes up, avoiding hard things doesn’t help anyone. If a Girl Scout brings up a hard topic it is a sign, she trusts you or feels safe and hushing the topic could result in feelings of shame and confusion.
Instead of changing the subject, if able, give her your full attention. If the topic was brought up at a challenging time, acknowledge that and make a plan for the discussion at a time when you can give your full attention. Do not make assumptions about the girl’s feelings or understanding on a topic, have them share what they know in their own words. Practice active listening and validate what they are sharing. If a girl has disclosed a sensitive personal story, do not ask detail-oriented questions but instead reflect or repeat back what she is saying and feeling to make sure you understand. Using statements like “it sounds like you are feeling” or “I hear you saying” can be helpful in clarifying and validating feelings and statements.
Keep conversation judgment free and strength based.
Talking about sensitive or tough topics can be a vulnerable experience so it is important create a safe space. If planning ahead for a tough topic, have the girls establish ground rules for the conversation or space (no judgement, name-calling, interrupting, etc.). When the girls are sharing and expressing their thoughts avoid sharing your judgements or speculations. If something hard is shared, remain calm and don’t add to the stress with your reaction. An intense reaction can make something feel scarier and harder, try to meet the girl where she’s at emotionally.
Practice and role model empathy, the ability to understand and share the feelings. While practicing empathy we are not trying to fix, rescue, or solve a problem, we are instead providing support by connecting through shared feelings. Empathy helps us consider the other person’s point of view. If there are disagreements between your girls, ask them to consider what the other person is feeling. When discussing tough news stories, talk about what those impacted may be feeling. One of the ultimate benefits of empathy is the ability to consider the other person’s perspective when solving conflicts or figuring out compromise.
While affirming hard feelings or concerns, it is also important to help girls find hope and see their strengths. Recognize how brave it is to share feelings and talk about difficult topics. Empower by acknowledging their strength and ability to make positive change. Tough conversations can be a time to discuss what courage, confidence, and character mean to them in relation to what is going on in their community and world.
Breathe. You don’t have to be the expert!
As the adult you may feel pressure to know the answers or have solutions. Try not to be distracted by this pressure or trying to say exactly the “right” thing. Many times, just having a supportive listening ear can be what’s needed most.
When discussing a hard topic only share what you know is true. If you aren’t sure, be honest and suggest you find the answers together. Make space for sharing knowledge and experiences but never single out a girl to answer a question or speak for her racial, ethnic, or religious group. Empower the girls to find their own answers with developmentally appropriate resources on related topics. Books on the topics of race, diversity, discrimination, grief, and important related issues can be helpful resources.
Safety is always first!
When working with or around young people, safety is always a consideration. As adults it is our responsibility to keep the young people around us safe. If a girl discloses any form of abuse it needs to be reported to child protective services. As the adult who she disclosed to it is not your job to investigate, or find out more information, but simply provide support and report to child protective services. You do not have to be sure or have proof of abuse, if there is any suspicion it is better to be safe and report. It can feel scary to make a report but it may result in the girl and family connecting to services they need. If you are unsure if a report should be made you can call the Childline hotline and discuss concerns.
The toll-free hotline, 1-800-932-0313, is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to receive reports of suspected child abuse. Mandated reporters can report electronically.
That was tough. Take care of yourself!
Tough conversations can be mentally and emotionally exhausting. Remember to take some time to practice good self-care! If able, at the end of the conversation take time to debrief and process feelings that may have come up. Make a self-care plan for the remainder of the day. Respect the privacy of information disclosed but if you are feeling heavy after the conversation reach out for support. Taking deep breaths, a walk, or time for creative processing can all be helpful ways to release some feelings and care for yourself.
Check out additional resources for common tough topics: