I'm ambitious and well, maybe a bit crazy when it comes to challenging myself to take on tasks in Girl Scouts. Personal challenges as a leader is what keeps it interesting for me! So I decided to take on the aMUSE Journey in a Day. aMUSE seemed the best fit for the venue we chose and for my girls' personalities.
Logistical details: Held on April 27th from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Seven girls in attendance from the same troop (originally 8 signed up). The session was held at a non-profit, with a large meeting room, breakout room and kitchen. I was the only adult overseeing the session.
I knew if the girls were going to work for 8 hours, it had to be interesting. There are a number of resources on the web for doing a journey in a day, journey in a sleepover, or a journey in a weekend. I would have loved to do it in a sleepover but was limited by the time of year and my girls' busy schedules. It took me 4 days (several hours per day) of intensive planning and about 5 hours of research to put together the day. Then an additional 3 hours to shop for supplies. I would guestimate that total prep time is 25-30 hours. I bought the majority of supplies at three places: Michael's, the Dollar Tree and Party City. Pinterest was an invaluable resource in putting this day together.
Seven of my eight Juniors attended the session which was held at my work, an ag education non-profit with an office (a converted farmhouse) on 200 acres. A school, church or community building would work just as well. We also had access to a kitchen and a separate breakout room. You need lots of space! Originally the weather was supposed to be wet and rainy but the sun came out and so outside time was not only possible but necessary. Remember that the adult book, "How to Guide Girl Scout Juniors Through aMUSE, It's Your Story--Tell It! A Leadership Journey" is just a guide. Think of it as an outline, or a book of ideas, rather than a lesson plan or curriculum. You do not have to complete or adhere to every single activity or idea in the book. At many of the Girl Scout leader retreats and trainings, the main advice service unit, council and seasoned leaders give: "don't get bogged down in the details." The books are full of ideas, but are not "requirements." A journey also doesn't have to take six months to complete or feel like "school" to the girls. Get creative, talk to your girls and plan what works for your troop.
The aMUSE Journey Award has three parts: Reach Out, Speak Out, Try out. The Reach Out Award is about understanding the many roles women and girls play in the world around them and the leadership skills used to play them. The Speak Out Award an awareness of how stereotypes could hold people back from trying on roles, and then taking action to help stop stereotypes; and the Try Out Award encourages the girls to have the courage and confidence to try out new roles. Below are pictures, anecdotes, hints and do-overs from the day. A detailed outline of how I did the Journey in a Day to follow soon.
A Flurry of Roles!
Observation: I was surprised by how strongly some girls responded to being assigned roles they thought weren't right for them. One particular girl, whose mom runs a daycare business, did not want the businesswoman role. I encouraged the girls to think outside of what they know about themselves and visualize themselves in a role, no matter how foreign it may seem.
Ultimately they chose one role they really wanted to be "when they grow up".
Team Prop Box!
Do-over: I would have the girls put down scrap book paper first to cover the box, then add the pictures and letters. I would also have provided more varieties of magazines. Time: 45 minutes
Take the StageRather than writing "active" roles on index cards (page 31 adult guide), I downloaded the card game from: http://forgirls.girlscouts.org/print-play-character-cards/
Rather than make role model dolls, (page 20-21 in the girl's book, each girl was given a prepainted canvas. I instructed the girls to choose an action phrase "I am", "I can", "I will", "I love", etc.
This activity took an hour and was a favorite of the day!
Breaking the Mold
Do some words make you feel powerful, like you can do anything?
Sharing Our Accessories
This is my Story! Where Will it Go?
Present Speak Out! Project
Summary of the Day
If it were any other journey, completing it in a day would not be possible in my opinion. Many of the journeys require action projects that take more time and planning than the "How to Tell Your Story" component of aMUSE.
The biggest limitation for me was obviously time. In the journey planner that I was using, most of the activities were only supposed to take 15 minutes. Most of them took 30 minutes to an hour (the canvases and team prop box took over an hour).
In my personal opinion, many of the journey's themes and lessons overlap to the point of repetition. I was able to consolidate some of the sections by doing different activities than those outlined in the adult guide that fit multiple lesson objectives.
Would I do it again? It was a difficult day in that the girls were restless. Although the activities were fun the girls were aching to expend energy. I was limited by the weather in the morning but in the afternoon the sun came out. I would have planned more outdoor activities and perhaps done some of the theatrical elements outside if I had known the weather would improve.
My original plan was to provide Journey in a Day workshops to other troops. The strenuousness of the day caused me to reconsider, or at least postpone the plan. Logistically this would require a small girl to adult ratio. Stations would have to be planned out to the nth degree, run quickly and efficiently, which is not always predictable. It would also be somewhat difficult to bring girls together who don't know each other as they may not feel comfortable enough to do the more dramatic elements of the journey.
We did some things out of order, such as we had our panel discussion at the end of the day. We did more art and creative play, rather than book work. Our Speak Out! Project was partly digital and will be presented online through this blog and Facebook as well as in video form at our end of the year party and awards. The girls also presented their discoveries and accomplishments to parents at the end of the day.
Is it doable? If you are ambitious enough, absolutely! Most troops embark on a Journey in a Day so that they are able to earn the Journey Summit Award. For us it was to get a journey done so that we could work on our Bronze Award Project.
If you have any questions about doing a Journey in a Day, please feel free to ask questions in the comments section below. I will answer them and then generate a FAQ.