Science of Happiness

Three of our Cadettes presented the Science of Happiness badge. This badge talks about how scientists measure happiness and how to achieve happiness in your life.

The first thing the girls did was sharing three journal entries. E worked on being happy for others, B worked on focusing on what is realistic, and C worked on using her strengths. E talked about how good she felt when she gave C a gift, B said that her speech wasn’t as frightening after she told herself it wasn’t scary and C used her strength of humor to cheer people up.

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After sharing their experiences they had the girls fill out worksheets. The first worksheet worked on being happy for others and it was called The Great Kindness Challenge. This gave some ideas on how to make yourself happier by pleasing others. The second helped you think of the best and worst outcomes and then planning what the most possible outcome was. The last worksheet was the Focus on Your Strengths worksheet that helped girls determine what their strengths were and how to use them. After the worksheets, they created a Happiness Survey. The Happiness Survey helped the girls think about how happy they are in life. 

Then there was a snack of Fennel Tea, sandwiches, and oranges. The fact that C shared with the girls is that oranges cause a rise in happiness in people.

After the snack, there were two activities. The first was to create a collage of all the things that make you happy.

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They also did an encouraging activity. The girls would write an encouraging word or phrase then they would have a picture taken. This made everyone feel very positive about themselves.

 

 

 

 

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We DO still exist…and we ARE active

You’d think since it has been FOREVER that we’ve fluttered apart as a troop but that is definitely not the case.  Life DOES get super busy for Middle School girls AND their parents so the blog has gone by the wayside even though our troop has not!  Due to their crazy schedules, we’ve only met about once (sometimes twice) a month this year but have managed to do quite a bit!

So, below is some RAPID FIRE to catch us up!  Our girl led badge work started a little while back, and each team of girl leaders is supposed to write a blog as one of their leadership steps, so the hope is we will have a post for EACH of those and our year will be sufficiently documented for all to enjoy!!  The couple of badges below were planned and led by adult leaders.

BADGES (so far) –
For our Finding Common Ground badge we had a local, female, counselor (who specializes in drug and alcohol addictions GROUP therapy) come and talk to the girls about how important it is to find common ground when working with groups.  We used this information, including how to be respectful when speaking AND listening to vote on our troop trip.  The girls almost unanimously voted on BELIZE!

 

One of the BEST ideas our leadership team has come up with in a LONG time was what to do for our Comparision Shopping Badge.  We wracked our brains on ways to make this fun without spending a ton of money.  So, during the holiday season, we had each girl meet us at the mall with $10 of her own money.  We didn’t tell them what the money was for just that they had to bring it and meet us.  When we got together, they were broken into 4 teams, each with the same amount of money to spend (since they all brought exact CASH that was then divided amongst the groups).  Each group was givin $40 total to spend.  Then, they were told to go over to the Giving Tree, where tags are hung with the names of children and adults who are less fortunate and their “wish list” for holiday gifts.  They had to decide, amongst their group, which ONE person from the tree they would pick and then use their pooled money to COMPARISON SHOP for the best way to get some of the stuff on the lists…having just the $40 to spend!  Then, as groups, they were sent off through the mall to SHOP!!!  We met back at a pre-determined location, at a pre-determined time and shared what they were able to get on their chosen wish list, by making sure they were getting the best deals to be had in the mall. The girls all had different reasons for picking who they picked.  Some picked little kids because they couldn’t imagine waking up Christmas morning without something from Santa and they wanted to make sure they could help make that happen for another child.  One group specifically picked a girl their own age because they could relate.  It was amazing, fun and inspiring to watch these girls want to make sure none of their recipients would miss out on a single WISH on their list AND the girls said they wanted to make that an activity every holiday season!!  We call that a WIN!

We do an annual troop sleepover where we earn the My Promise – My Faith Special Opportunity Award.  This year we chose the theme Responsible for What I Say and Do and tied this into the Financing My Dreams financial literacy badge.  We spent the evening talking about how being financially literate is being responsible for your own actions and a good way to do that is have plans for the things you want to do, buy and become!  They did budget plans based on the median income potential for the “dream job”, where they wanted to live, where they wanted to vacation, etc.  Then they created a Goal Setting Dream Book (guided journaling basically) so they can have a tool to help them plan out a year at a time their goals in a fun, creative way.

And sometimes they just had fun and were goofballs!!

COMMUNITY –
There are a few things we do each year to make sure we are staying involved within our communities, including a couple of parades, including Veteran’s Day and our city’s annual Parade of Lights in December.  We always build a float and bundle up for this super fun event.  This year we also took 2nd place, in our division, for our float!!

We also create an item to donate to our school’s silent auction that happens each year at a Gala.  This year we created a multi-media painting of angel wings, made with paint, bits of yarn, glitter, marker and pages from an old book of children’s poetry, that sold for over $100.  The proceeds go directly to our school.

This year, our troop was also asked to do the flag ceremony for the annual GSCO Women of Distinction event held in our town.  This event is held each year to honor 3 women of distinction who are making the world a better place by contributing in amazing ways to our community.

 

FUNDRAISING –
The troop is saving for a, international trip and every penny helps!   We’ve done a few different fundraising activities, INCLUDING COOKIES, this school year to help get us on our way.

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One of our troop leader’s family owns a winery and asked us to make some crafts to sell in their tasting room.  So we made a couple of different items from old corks.  We gave to them and they gave us the profit.  It’s a win-win!

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Our school holds an annual craft fair that is one of the most attended events in our area.  We decided to capitalize on this event by having a booth with product to sell.  We used this opportunity to make ecofriendly crafts to tie into the journey we’d done earlier in the year.  We made napkins with recycled button down shirts and napkin rings.  One style was made with hand-made paper beads (from old magazines) and another with pop can tabs and ribbon.  Amazingly, we SOLD OUT….earning more than $700 towards our trip!

 

 

 

We were also given a pretty fun opportunity to help our local WalMart celebrate their Grand re-Opening after a remodel.  They asked local troops if they would be interested in manning a concession stand outside the store during their celebratory weekend.  The store supplied everything, we got to keep the money made.  Another win-win!

 

The girls also did gift wrapping during their first week of Winter Break, leading up to Christmas.  This was great because we had all our wrapping paper donated.  Patrons dropped off their items, the girls packaged, wrapped, labeled and beribboned to their hearts’ content!  This is an event we WILL be holding again!  We even got on the local news!

In addition to ALL this and their crazy school, sports and music schedules…our 7th and 8th grade girls’ almost all participated on their school’s basketball teams which both made semi-finals and our 8th graders almost all participated on their school’s volleyball team which won district championships in addition to 90% of this troop having earned HONOR ROLL every quarter of this school year!  AMAZING young women!  Keep on the look out for more from them!!

It’s a New Year….Let’s BREATHE

We have this amazing resource in town with the John McConnell Math & Science Center and even better they have a MOBILE unit that will come to you (this is especially great since our troop meets on the weekend)!  So, to kick off our year we thought it would be fun to have the mobile unit come to our meeting space and do a bunch of fun, hands-on activities to help our Cadette troop earn their BREATHE Journey in ONE DAY!  Score!

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Breathe is the Cadette stage of the “It’s Your Planet – Love It” journey.  Through this journey the girls get to use all five senses to engage in improving the air quality of the world.  Also, they are encouraged to remember to carve out time to BREATHE in their ever busier lives!

The Aware Award – the girls discussed issues that impact the Earth’s air.  The volunteers from the Math & Science Center were knowledgeable and facilitated interactive discussion with our troop.  We talked about all types of pollution, from cars, to noise, to the impacts of deforestation.

The Alert Award – The girls were given supplies (paper plate, coated with petroleum jelly, on a string to hang)  to create a “trap” for air pollutants and asked to hang one inside their homes and outside.  After an extended period of time, each girl will compare the pollutants trapped on each and determine what is polluting their personal environments.

The Affirm Award – Part of our group discussion was about how the girls can make changes for positive impact.  Examples were, smog checks on vehicles, planting trees, houseplants in our homes

The fun came with the activities the volunteers brought to illustrate the use of the girls’ senses:

They made candles using recycled candle pieces and essential oils that smelled really pretty!

They had discussion about how coloring has become a really popular activity, even among adults, because there are so many benefits to some quiet, personal time.  Coloring helps reduce stress, improve focus and enhance your artistic abilities!  Each girl got two very beautiful coloring pages to assist with their own relaxation and self-reflection

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They planted Spring bulbs for germination in pots, that can be replanted just before the Winter frost so they are contributing to better air quality at home, while having something beautiful to look at!

Through these activities the girls have just about completed the journey. Our last step is a Take-Action project that will be completed in parts over the next few months.

A VERY SPECIAL thanks to Makayla and Victoria who came out with the mobile unit, on a Sunday, to work with our girls!

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Also, because it was our first meeting, we took our annual troop photo.  These goof-balls sure are growing up to be beautiful women, inside and out!

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We sure are looking forward to another SUPER FUN year!

Internet Safety

DSC_0003Remember the days when being sneaky was just passing a note between class, folded in just the right way?  Remember the days when talking behind someone’s back took GUTS because you had to say it out loud to someone else and hope you didn’t get caught/heard by the wrong person? Remember the days when a secret, took a really long time to spread to more than your immediate friends, if it spread at all?  Well….that is NOT the world in which our children are growing up. Today youth have the power, speed and full weight of the internet, literally, at their finger tips.  In seconds they can learn or have fun.  But, just as quickly they can cause harm to themselves, their friends, do something “innocent” that holds the weight of a felony or become victims of a predator!!  IN…AN…INSTANT!!!

Most of us spend quite a bit of time online, either for school, work or even to just be social.  You assume it’s all as it appears on the surface.  But, truly, honestly, it is not.  All of us know the person who “overshares”.  It’s easy to do, with posting pictures, videos and words.  Online actions have real-world consequences and once you post something, you can’t ever take it back!  But, the biggest pitfall is that real-world judgement and sense isn’t even being used by tons of adults, how are we expecting our kids to “get it” without having the hard discussions?

A few months ago a couple of leaders from our Cadette troop were on Facebook and came across the profile picture of a little girl (because we, as adults, still want to think our 12 year olds are little girls) whose profile photo scared the begeevus out of them.  Had her name not been with the picture, she was an unrecognizable, gorgeous, 19 year old!  The make up, the duck face, the fact that we could see the profile because no privacy settings had been applied…all of it….just didn’t sit well with any of us.  Add to that, THIS video about the dangers of Social Media, came out the same week.  Needless to say, SOMETHING, had to be done.

Thankfully, we CARE about about our girls and really wanted to do something to help them protect themselves in a way we never had to think about when we were their age.

We contacted the Public Information Coordinator at our local Police Department and asked if there was a way we could set up some time with someone, ANYONE, at the PD who specializes in internet crimes.  The thought was if we had someone whose job it is to work cases where being unsafe on the internet leads to trouble, it would “scare” the girls into LISTENING (and hopefully THINKING before acting) moreso than if it were just another topic they had to hear from their leaders/friends’ moms.  What we got in turn was ever so much better than expectations!!

Heidi, our contact, recruited three people at GJPD who spent quite a bit of time working on a presentation for our girls.  We were extremely fortunate to spend quality time with Mary, a PST (Police Service Technician) and technology expert in the Investigations division, Officer Bavor, a school resource officer, and Meghan, a PST in the Investigations division that focuses on missing people and runaways.

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We had discussion on passwords, screen names, device settings and online privacy.  The girls got some lessons on the dangers, and legal ramifications, of sexting, cyberbullying and even signs of stalking and domestic violence through electronics!

Statistics (how often something gets forwarded, the number of young people with devices with no privacy settings enabled, the number of crimes against children through use of social media, the long-term and LEGAL repercussions of doing something “funny” now, etc, etc, etc……) are more shocking than you can even imagine and there is NO way we can adequately express this.  There are more social media sites, gaming locations, chat rooms, etc than any one of us in the room could imagine.  There seems to be something new every day and half of the stuff they talked about most of us had never even heard of.  So, how do we protect our kids if we don’t even know where they are spending their time???  We are sooooo glad we encouraged parents to attend this meeting with their daughters, on the urging of our presenters.  So much information to absorb and no way to relay in any way as impactful as having the information come at you first hand….scenarios based on actual investigations, conversation with an officer who spends his time all day, every day with kids our own girls’ ages, public servants whose job it is to protect our kids telling us as parents how to do a better job at doing just that, too!

The easiest way to summarize what we learned is:STOP-THINK-CONNECT

Take security precautions, understand the consequences of your actions and behaviors and enjoy the benefits of the Internet.

STOP: Before you use the Internet, take time to understand the risks and learn how to spot potential problems.

THINK: Take a moment to be certain the path ahead is clear. Watch for warning signs and consider how your actions online could impact your safety, or your family’s.

CONNECT: Enjoy the Internet with greater confidence, knowing you’ve taken the right steps to safeguard yourself and your computer.

Protect yourself and help keep the web a safer place for everyone.

DSC_0004The biggest message and take away is that being online, connected to devices, is an inevitability of our lives.  It is super easy to overshare, mess up, embarrass or get into serious trouble.  There are risks and this is a truth we can not deny.  The best tool we have for safety is COMMUNICATION and our BRAINS!!  Kids need to talk to their parents (a trusted adult) at every step of their learning and access.  Parents need to be comfortable having the hard conversations!

Of course our troop earns their Internet Safety badge, and touched on several of the topics for their Journey work, for sitting through this program but what they learned is ever so much more important than a piece of iron-on fabric and hopefully it sticks with them FOREVER!

It is our understanding that the presentation was not just an “off the shelf – this is what we do for EVERYONE” presentation and surprisingly we were one of the first (if not the first) youth organization, in our town, to ask for it.  There is absolutely NO WAY we could have done it nearly as informatively, succinctly and impressively.  We are extremely grateful to these members of the GJPD who took time out of their busy schedules to prepare the presentation for us and for taking more than 3 hours out of their personal time, on a weekend, to spend with us!

Even in an ever changing, technologically advancing world, kids are still kids…it is our job to protect this innocence!

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Parents were given a couple of handouts to help continue these discussions with their girls.  Resources can be found at OnGuardOnline.gov and stop.think.connect

I Am…..

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We have always spent a significant portion of our troop meetings discussing the importance of self esteem.  While perusing Pinterest one of our troop leaders came across this really incredible project and decided it would be a great addition to our Self Esteem program.

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The biggest bummer, is that we don’t have photos of all 18 of our girls making their canvas and their completed projects as we had camera issues during our meeting because it was MASS CHAOS!!  Craft supplies EVERYWHERE as we also worked on a crafty service project, too (story to be shared later but see those cute little teddy bears?!?!)…super fun! Thankfully some parents sent photos of their daughters with the projects at home!

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It is amazing how everyone started with the same blank canvas, cut out of head and word choices (templates also found at original site) and had access to all the same craft supplies and yet, like their personalities, everyone’s “I Am…” canvas turned out completely differently.

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The Brownies in our sister troop, 2214, also did this project…so be sure to check theirs’ out too!

Investiture 2015

18Our annual Investiture ceremony was held earlier this month.  It is a time for us to get together, with our younger sister troop, and re-dedicate ourselves for the troop year. As a troop we’ve come up with a rope-n-ribbon tradition, symbolizing we are all part of a something BIGGER.

You can read about the ceremony and see photos of our younger sisters here.

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But, what we leaders most proud about the ceremony this year was seeing how our big girls have grown into such great Sisters to Every Girl Scout!

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Love these girls!!

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Kicking off the year…on the river!

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Middle school schedules certainly do tend to get CRAZY!  So, we’ve moved our meeting day and time to a weekend this year and it has definitely opened us up for some amazing opportunities!

Last year we “kidnapped” our Cadettes for a sleepover as their first meeting of the year.  The troop was only 8 girls and it was easy to do something completely unexpected and fun.  So, trying to think of a way to do that again and make it a first meeting “tradition”….we leaders came up with the idea to do something not “normal” rather than a “meeting” for our first get together this year, too!  We live in the beautiful state of Colorado and that means RIVER!

For our first meeting we took the girls on a float trip!  It was a perfect weather day.  There were no rapids, so it was safe and comfortable for all the first-timers and it was a great day for a little river swim!

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Can’t wait for the year ahead!