I'm in Utah!!

Yesterday, after a hop skip and a jump in the clouds from Sacramento, I stepped off the plane to a warm, sunny day in Salt Lake City.  A friend of mine from high school lives in Tooele, Utah, about 40 miles from SLC.  She treated me to the culinary delights of The Red Iguana, a restaurant famously featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.  I had a delicious dish, called Puntas De Filete a la Nortena, which is top sirloin tips sautéed with bacon, jalapeño strips, onions and fresh tomatoes, served with almond mole,   served with corn tortillas and a side of refried beans. It was over-the-moon delish.

After dinner I had the privilege of attending her son's high school football game and see her son get honored as a graduating senior.  A quick pit stop to get ice cream to energize us so that we could stay up and finish my SWAPS.  Weeks prior to attending convention I began to plan my SWAPs design.  At first I was going to go with the strawberry theme, since my online self is straw/jen/berry.  But I thought about why I'm attending convention and felt it would be a disservice to the state of California if I didn't represent the importance of agriculture in our state and region.  As a part of the Girl Scout Heart of Central California Council, I wanted to honor exactly what makes us the "heart" of Central California.

So I came up with an agricultural-themed SWAP in a bag.  After false starts and stops, supply issues, lots of online surfing to get just the right thing and tricky shipping to get it on time...here is my #GSC14 SWAP:

The Diving Girl Apples fruit crate label represents the bounty of California's agricultural heritage and the historic significance of California's abundance of crops that feed many states.

The mini California's are self-explanatory and cute!

The buckwheat groats is the soil and the grass represents the fields.

Lastly, the tomato represents one of Yolo County's (where I live) #1 crop!

I'm happy with the finished product.  Opening ceremonies are tonight and I look forward to lots of SWAPing.

What's New? Senior & Ambassador Trackers, Poll Results

Monday funday! Well, we try right?  I am pleased to announce that I've completed both the Senior and Ambassador trackers.  Each are available in either Word (editable) or PDF (not editable) formats.  I was thinking it would be really cool to give these to the girls and have them keep track.  Perfectly Girl-led!  Here are the links:

Senior [Word version]
Senior [PDF]
Ambassador [Word Version]
Ambassador [PDF]

Does Your Girl Scout Troop Meet During the Summer Months?

Yes ~ 49 (21%)

No ~ 78 (34%)

We do camps and meetings
  21 (9%)

We do camps but no meetings
  17 (7%)

We do special trips and meetings
  36 (15%)

We do only special trips but no meetings
  84 (36%)

Number of Total Votes: 228

The majority of troops don't meet during the summer, which didn't surprise me.  I love the fact that 36% of troops do special trips during the summer and others do camps or meetings or both!  There are some super dedicated troop leaders out there.  You are Girl Scouts!

Support iamstrawjenberry designs

Last but not least, I've added a donation button on the blog.  Many of my resources are free and I want to keep it that way! If you like what you see and want the freebies to keep flowing and stay free, feel free to donate to iamstrawjenberry. All proceeds go to supporting the creation and maintenance of iamstrawjenberry troop resources and tools.

I hope you are all having a great September so far!

Girl Scout Promise & Law Printable

I created this doc over the past few days while working on projects for clients.  I'm offering it as a freebie for a limited time so help yourself!

Download it here.  More to come!

A Daisy Petal & Leaf Tracker and an Updated Junior Tracker

Here she is! The cutest Daisy tracker in the west! Each sheet contains two petals or leaves.  Download the Word version for the freedom to personalize the tracker, or the PDF version to hand write the girls' names and protect formatting for printing.  Download the Word [.doc] tracker here and the [PDF] tracker here.

The Junior Tracker has been updated.  The tracker has an all new graphic, more room for girls' names and crisper graphics.  There are now two versions, a customizable Word doc and a PDF.  You can download the .doc here and the PDF here.

Please let me know if there is any interest in a Senior badge tracker.  I'm on the fence about making one.  I'm hard at work on the leader binder.

Happy Back to Troop,

The Cadette Tracker is here!

Boy, I'm on a roll!  I've gotten the Cadette tracker done and the Daisy tracker will be done today too. I hope you find this useful!

I'll be a Cadette leader next year and making this tracker got me excited about taking the girls to the next level of Girl Scouting.  This tracker allows troop leaders to document badge requirements for each girl. Includes all of the new Legacy and Journey badges in the Girls Guide to Girl Scouting. Each page includes one badge. For my troop, I printed the sheets in color, double-sided, then laminated them. To hold them together I hole-punched them laminated sheets and used a binder ring to hold them together. I placed stickers on the requirements so I can keep track. The girls got so excited looking through all of the badge choices in one place.

A note about formatting:   The tracker is available in Word [.doc] or .pdf format. If you are savvy with Word formatting, you can personalize the .doc tracker to your liking.  If you would rather hand write in the names of the girls and not worry about formatting, download the .pdf.

You can download the tracker Word tracker here or the .pdf tracker here.

As Promised! Finally a Brownie Badge Tracker!

I've finally created a Brownie Tracker....and it's free! As a bonus, I've created three versions of the top graphic.  So you can choose which one you like best and replace it in the document.  Simply "right click" the image and save to your computer.  In the tracker document, double-click the top graphic on the first page and replace it with the one you saved.  It's that easy!

It's my hope to get the following projects up in the next two weeks, just in time for Back to Troop:

  • Leader Binder Packet
  • Kaper Sheets
  • Cadette Badge Tracker
All of the above are now available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Download the tracker in [pdf] here or in [doc] here.  I hope all of you Brownie Leaders find this tracker useful!

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 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~

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!

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!

aMUSE Journey in a Day - My experience

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 Stage

Rather than writing "active" roles on index cards (page 31 adult guide), I downloaded the card game from the now defunct Forgirls.girlscouts.org page. You can find all the resources from our aMuse Journey in a Day on my resources page: https://iamgirlscouts.blogspot.com/p/resources.html

Role Models

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?

Once they thought of their word each girl decorated a pennant on the pennant of power.  Because I have a laminating compulsion {squeal} I laminated each pennant, including the extra spacers, scored them at the top and strung them on rainbow yarn (pics are not great...sorry!)


Panel Discussion


Sharing Our Accessories


This is my Story! Where Will it Go?


Present Speak Out! Project


Celebrate Us!

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.  

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