Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Cookie Recap!

Compared to last year, this year's cookie sales were a breeze.  Why?  We set realistic goals!  The Girl Scout cookie market becomes saturated after two weeks of booth sales in our area.  Sales are still great but they tend to slow as the cookies become more "visible" after pre-sales.  So we ordered less cookies for booth sales than we had the previous year.  For the new Cranberry Citrus Crisps we had samples out at each booth sale.  One of the big selling points was that they are great with tea!  We were a pilot council for the Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Shortbread cookie as well.  Although we had quite a few leftover from booth sales, we did sell almost all of our stock at our retail store display.

This was our second year of doing a standing sale in a retail store.  A local florist in our area allows us to have a display in store for the entire duration of sales.  They sell and collect money for the cookies on our behalf.  Here is our booth from this year:

I created and laminated cute signs for the display.  If you are curious about selling at a retail location, don't be afraid to ask!  I've spoken with a few retailers who said they would be willing, but have never been asked.  This is not to be confused with an official booth sale.  We do not have girls outside soliciting customers.  Check with your council to see what the policy is on retail store sales.  Our florist friend likes to have them as a service to their customers.  They also make a great add-on to bouquets, as Mother's Day gifts or in a gift basket.  So it's a win-win for both our troop and the florist.  Thank you Strelitzia Flowers!

As our thank you this year, the girls wrapped artificial flowers on pens with floral tape.  We painted tin buckets with chalkboard paint.  Using a a chalk pen, I wrote "Pens in Bloom" on each bucket as well as "Thank you from Troop 1949" on the bottom of the buckets. To keep the pens upright, I put a wedge of styrofoam in the bottom of the bucket.  The florist loved them and when I was in visiting last week they were already out on the counter :)  All supplies (except the chalk pen) came from the Dollar Tree!

I was happy with the wrapup of cookie sales this year and especially fortunate that I had two awesome cookie moms on board.   They were uber organized, had great communication and followed through on all the details of their positions.  As a thank you, I gave each of their daughter's this patch:

and made both moms one of these:

But instead of sunscreen I added a colorful drink stake to the center of the towel (purchased a pack of two from Target's seasonal section), similar to these:

The verdict?  Both mom's were super grateful.  One even said:  "Best gift ever! Just in time for summer!"  So don't forget to thank your cookie moms for all their hard work!

Happy Summer~

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Oh My Wordle!

Happy Summer Leaders!  Does your troop meet during the summer?  If not, why?  For my troop the girls travel a lot throughout the summer and it would not be feasible to continue meeting when school is out.  But I know troops that not only continue to meet, but also do service projects and activities all summer long.

Please take a moment to take the poll located to the right of this post!

What's in a word?  Words are powerful, words can elicit emotion, describe people, places and things and create a visual picture.  So I was super excited to stumble across Wordle when I saw a printed "word cloud" a co-worker had created for her new education program.  I believe I might have squealed.  She was in the midst of creating a Kan Ban board to assist her with developing a linear plan for a program that wasn't created yet.  Think storyboards in filmmaking.

I'm a very visual learner so making and using Kan Ban boards is right up my alley.  But I digress.

Wordle is a tool that allows you to input keywords and output a word graphic like this:

Colors, fonts and word direction can all be personalized.  The resulting graphic is printable and saveable, but be cautioned, sometimes it's a bit tricky and you can't "find" the graphic so be sure to do screen shots of pertinent information before moving on.  You will not be able to go back and according to the current Wordle FAQ's, you cannot search for a wordle.

The more words you use, the more detailed the word cloud:

Wordle has a lot of applications to troop life.  It is a great way for girls to do a visual brainstorming session, use it as a tool in the "It's Your Story, Tell It" journeys and would make a great gift if you entered each girl's name and her qualities, or troop goals, etc. along with a few Girl Scout words.  Here is one I found on the web:

So visit Wordle and play away!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Bittersweet End of the Year....and a Freebie!

I'm always relieved when the last service unit leader meeting comes and goes in June.  Our service unit ends the year with awards, raffle prizes and a mother-daughter ice cream social.  Afterwards, I breathe a sigh of relief that there is one less obligation to contend with and one more Monday a month that I can enjoy summer!  I think back to February and March when I toyed with the idea of holding meetings during the summer.  I always come to my senses in May and realize that summers off are a good thing for our troop and a good thing for me!  Especially since the girls travel so much.

As always, I began planning our end of the year awards and party in late-April, early May.  I was so excited because this year I had arranged a great venue to do a glow-in-the-dark party and bonfire with all the troop families.  And then my bubble burst.  None of the families were available on the same dates and most weren't available any weekend in June.  So we went back to the old mainstay of a pool party at one of the girl's houses during our normal meeting time. I like to try to get my families together at the end of the year because it allows me to honor volunteer parents and to highlight what the girls have done during the year that parents may not be aware of.  But it's not always possible.  Some parents will still come for pinning and awards and I'll have nice gifts for the cookie moms and volunteers, but it's not quite the same as a family party.  And definitely not what I had in mind to say goodbye to four girls (half our troop!) That brings me to another end of the year phenomena:  losing girls. This year 4 our of 8 of my girls are leaving, a couple who have been with me since Daisies.  

Even though I was prepared for this possibility, I still felt sad with every call and e-mail I received.  I understand each girl's reason(s) for leaving.  At our May meeting I showed inspirational Girl Scout videos to demonstrate the opportunities that are available to them when they bridge to Cadettes and to remind them what they love about Girl Scouts.  I also handed out "I can't wait to" patches with Spring registration paperwork after showing them this video.  I tried to play it cool but I lobbied hard!  A couple of girls who were leaving turned into "maybes" and that was enough for me. 

I thought long and hard about having a troop of 4-5, not adding any girls next year and perhaps doing more activities that are challenging logistically due to transportation issues and adult safety wise ratios.  But then I thought about the girls on the waitlist and those who will be recruited in the fall and decided I would add to the troop.  Up until now I've stuck with a formula of only adding girls from our school who all my girls (most who are plus five years) considered cordial and a good fit for the troop.  I have some apprehension about going outside their school for new girls, but I know that there are girls out there who need troops and who would make wonderful additions to 1949.

So I spent my usual time mourning, being sad, wondering what I could have done better to keep my girls in the troop until...a positive feeling came over me and I realized that Girl Scouts taught them to think for themselves, to be leaders and to forge ahead without fear.  I believe their decisions to move on were made with that spirit in mind.  Go forth my sweets with courage, confidence and character!

While preparing for the end of the year, I found some cute tumblers with straws at Michael's and bought one for each girl (after asking them their three favorite colors).  I then filled the tumblers with their badges, patches and cookie puzzle patches (along with a guide as to how they fit together).  I added a chalkboard label on each tubbler and used a chalk pen to write each girl's name on it.  I then created a tag to print and add to the straw poking out of the tumbler.

I've added the tags to the iamgirlscouts Teachers Pay Teachers store for free download!  You can find them here.

Happy Summer!