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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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!

Netiquette

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In a world where emails, texts and social media are abundant, our next badge, entitled Netiquette, provides appropriate and fun lessons for our Cadettes.  Their first meeting began their work on knowing how to make and keep our online world a positive place.  This was another one of our girl-led badges where AY, KM and ML took charge in teaching their fellow Cadettes how to make positive choices in the online world and the importance of strong online etiquette.

The meeting began with each girl taking a pre-quiz to determine their understanding of Netiquette before delving into the topic further.  )While they were taking the quiz Coach C came into the room and we quizzed him too…he passed with flying colors!  Way to go Coach!! )

To demonstrate common mistakes with texts and emails, the girl leaders read some funny texts that were accidental or misconstrued because of auto-correct or not paying attention to who the message was being sent to.  They realized how some of these communications can cause anger, hurt or embarrassment for themselves or to others.  The girls then had a chance to share some “oops” moments of their own.

The girls also explored how positive “wow” moments can be used in online communications.  In fact, for homework, each girl started an online kindness campaign by sending 14 nice emails, texts or posts (with the supervision of their parents) and complete a log with the date and to whom the message was sent.  They had a month to complete the assignment.

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The majority of the meeting was spent completing a pretend Facebook profile.  After each girl completed their profile the group shared them and discussed the good and not-so-good details that were “posted” in this online medium.  They were introduced to the fact that there are privacy filters that can be applied to such pages.  Some of the girls took the profile activity seriously and gave good examples of appropriate details to share.  A few of the girls were more “creative” in their answers and we were able to use their responses to discuss why things were not appropriate to share and the significant ramifications of sharing inappropriate information online.  This activity also tied into our ongoing self esteem discussions of the importance of our online profiles being an authentic representation of ourselves.

To conclude the meeting, the girls took a five finger email etiquette quiz as an informal survey of what habits bother them or don’t bother them when receiving emails.  They concluded that in most cases several habits are appropriate if sending messages among friends in a more casual setting, but some email habits should not be used in more formal messages.

Throughout the entire meeting the girls kept a list of Netiquette tips that would be finalized at their second meeting (one month later).

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To complete the badge work the girl leaders, K.M, M.lL and A.Y invited Mrs. A, a computer teacher at school, to attend the meeting as a guest speaker.  She guided the troop through a PowerPoint presentation covering digital citizenship.  She informed the girls that they are all digital citizens since citizens are members of a community who interact with others online.  In order to be good citizens she gave them the three rules to follow:
1. Be Safe
2. Be Responsible
3. Be Respectful

To be safe she explained the difference to the girls about private (information used to identify you, such as social security number, phone number, address, email) and personal (information that can’t be used to identify you such as age, gender, favorite foods) information.  She also recommended that the girls should not use their real names on media accounts and introduced them to a name generator program on the internet.  Each girl had the chance to enter things they liked without putting in their name and the program generated a list of creative screen names to choose from.

The second point was to be responsible.  She quoted Spiderman “With great power comes great responsibility.”  She enforced that the internet holds immense power and that we should use it in a positive way and not allow it to run you life.

Girls were encouraged to assess their internet and electronic usage to determine habits that may not be healthy and then to set boundaries or have someone set boundaries for them.  She explained that the boundaries could involve hours, places, or activities when electronic devices may or may not be utilized.

The final digital citizenship tip was to be respectful.  She explained to the group that words are eternal once the send or submit button is pushed.  She suggested that the girls write down on paper what they want to say, put it away, check it again the next day, and continue this process until they get over it because once it is written in cyberspace it cannot be taken back.  Additionally, she touched on posting comments or blogging and challenged the girls to comment on something positive.  To sum up this point she quoted Thumper from Bambi, “If you can’t say something nice then don’t say nothing at all.”

The presentation went on to define and give some examples of cyber bullying.  She explained that digital media provides just another medium for people who are going to be mean to do so.  She recommended that the girls be a good friend, be smart, help each other out and to tell an adult if they are a victim.

Lastly, she discussed the importance of parental involvement and how parents can stay connected with them online.  She enlightened the girls as to why their parents may have concerns or be confused since they did not grow up with the same opportunities and access that the girls have now.  She told the girls about phone contracts that they can search online to find samples or create their own.  She described different rules or techniques at home such as putting filters on the wireless router so one doesn’t have to be installed on each device, however she was quick to caution the group that this doesn’t help with 4G access so other limits from specific phone carries may be a better option and should be explored.

After the presentation, the girls worked together to establish their top 10 Netiquette tips which will be posted in the computer lab at school as a reminder to others about what they have learned.

Each girl was asked to completed the following sentence, “While working on our Netiquette badge, one thing I learned was…Cadettes, B.G and N.A both agreed: “The internet’s power, good and bad, is very powerful.”

After being told about the eternal nature of messaging and posting, Cadette B.B responded with “Be careful what you say.”

K.M and A.Y learned that “There is a difference between private and personal information.”

C.W, R.P and M.L all were excited about the fact that “I can use a name generator for social websites. Cadette R.P expanded on this saying:  “This is a program that finds good names for the internet.  Mine was sleepboxing37.”  M.L was also intrigued and added: “This program picks reasonable names for you so if you’re stuck the name generator can help you.”

In a world where technology and internet access is difficult to avoid and ever changing, everyone learned that lines in the Girl Scout law, like being considerate and caring, honest and helpful, and respecting myself and others also apply to the internet and we can use it to make the world a better place!