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.

 

 

 

 

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!

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!

 

 

My Promise – My Faith: Courageous & Strong

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For starters, if you aren’t a follower of our sister troop’s blog, be sure to check it out.  They’ve posted more about this event and a ton more amazing photos.

According to The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting, “Earning this award helps you explore how Girl Scouting and your faith offer similar ideas about how to act – and how Girl Scouting can tie into your faith.  You can earn this pin once a year, every year you are in Girl Scouts.  Just choose a different line of the Law each year!”

We as a troop (technically 2 troops as we do this event with our younger sisters in troop 2214), of Catholic School students, have worked on this Special Opportunity Award for several years.  The My Promise – My Faith pin has five requirements, the first being to pick a line from the Girl Scout Law and think about how this shows a connection between your faith and Girl Scouting.  This year we focused on being COURAGEOUS and STRONG.

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The second step is to interview a woman in your faith or another faith community.  We invited a teacher from the girls’ school to come and talk about her mission to Liberia.  She talked about how her faith gave her constant courage and strength as the country was in the uprising of Civil War.  She remembers hearing gun shots while she was on a beach and the home she lived in was bombed within days of her family being emergency evacuated back to the United States. Our speaker was most certainly a true testament to faith, courage and strength!!

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We then put the girls to the courage and strength test by reenacting FEAR FACTOR (like the TV show) with a series of challenges.

We had PIG GUTS KEY SEARCH where the girls had to dig through slop (random Dollar Store canned goods, such as Spaghetti-Os, jam, applesauce, canned veggies) to find keys to unlock a pair of padlocks.  This station was really smelly and really gross!  It definitely required courage to stick one’s hands into that grossness!

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Outside we set up the ROTTEN EGG CHALLENGE.  Girls had a relay where they had to carry cracked eggs in their hands from one point to another.

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Another station was WORM PIE.  They had to find a worm (candy….but they weren’t told that) in a pile of whipped cream.  The catch – NO HANDS or utensils!!

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The last challenge was CAN YOU GUESS.  At this station the girls had to identify several flavors of baby food from containers with no labels.  The girls were certainly grossed out by this and were SHOCKED when we informed them that everything they tried was just pureed versions of foods they love to eat now….such as Mac-n-Cheese and Chicken pot pie!

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After some group discussion surrounding three chosen quotes, by women, illustrating our chosen line of the Law the girls were able to use the quotes to make a canvas collage to take home with them.  This fulfilled steps 3 and 4 of the pin requirements.

Our chosen inspirational quotes were:

“It takes a great deal of courage to stand up to your enemies, but even more to stand up to your friends.” – (Professor Dumbledore) aka J.K Rowling

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Anais Nin

“Courage is like a muscle, we strengthen it by use.” – Ruth Gordo

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BIG girls helping their younger 2214 sisters…LOVE IT!!

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We then wind down the evening with a movie.  This year we watched the GSUSA training videos for Cookie Season as cookie sales started in our state during this same weekend.  Then, it’s time to sleep! (yea right!!)

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Sisterhood!!

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After breakfast,  we had some discussion about how we all plan to live what we learned about being COURAGEOUS and STRONG.  We made a commitment to live it every day!  This fulfilled the final requirement of the award.

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LOVE these girls!!

 

A few weeks after our event, the girls received their pins which were blessed by Father Jaochim during Mass.  Both troops were honored in front of their entire school and parish community.

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The key to this event is some hours of preparation and a great support system.  We are extremely fortunate for the support of our school, church and parents!

SPECIAL thanks to Mrs. Hurt, Fathers Don and Jaochim and all the staff at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish.

 

 

Animal Helpers

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Next in our series of Girl Led meetings was Animal Helpers.  Cadettes CW and RP lead this series of meetings.  They planned meetings that showed their troop mates how animals have always provided humans companionship, joy and transportation, but they’re also trained to help people with disabilities and find people who are lost.

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For their first meeting, they invited members from the Mesa County Search and Rescue Ground Team.    According to their website,  the Mesa County Search and Rescue Ground Team is a highly trained nonprofit professional rescue organization comprised of over 40 skilled VOLUNTEERS!  They are on call 24/7 to support the Sheriff’s Office with any and all search and rescue efforts free of charge.  Their goal is to help out those who are just having a bad day!

The ground team is also capable of deploying and supporting many other resources in the field. These Include, but are not limited to, Advanced Medical Training. Swift-Water Rescue Swimmers, K9 Search Dogs and their Handlers, Technical Rope Rescue Techs, ATV, Boat and Helicopter Specialists and Evidence Search Personnel.

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For this badge, you can guess which came to visit us.  Those AWESOME K9 Search Dogs (oh…and their Handlers, too)!!

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We learned some great information with regards to Search dogs.  Any dog can be trained to search but dogs with a longer snout (usually a larger dog) are better.  A longer snout has more scent receptors…duh!  Large dogs also have longer legs so can cover distance quicker.  These dogs are pets, members of the family like any other pet.  However, when they put on their uniform, they know they are on the job, their focus and demeanor completely changes.

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Hundreds of hours go into training these dogs and it was amazing to watch these dogs in action.  We were able to see two different German Shepherds doing what they do best.  We hid 2 people in different places on campus, and just observed the dogs in action.

One, was trained to catch scent on the air.  So, he would be off a leash when in the field.  He would catch scent and follow the trail ahead of his handler then “check back” with his owner to make sure she could keep up with him, before running back at the scent.  When he found the subject of his mission he would bark in a specific way to tell the handler he was where he was supposed to be.

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The other was trained to catch scent on the ground.  This was more what we all assumed a scent dog was trained to do (imagine a cartoon bloodhound on a leash behind a Sherlock Holmes-esque Detective).  His lead was very long, but the handler never let go.  The team was telling us crazy stories about how the dog literally dragged his handler UP hill, in the rain, while on a mission to find his subject!

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For the second meeting we took a trip to Harmony Acres Equestrian Center.  This is a local non-profit business that uses animals, mainly horses, in human therapies as well as riding lessons and lessons in vaulting.  They also have a competitive team.  Their mission  is to create a safe space where people and horses can thrive!

They have a great collection of horses, all extremely friendly and extremely different from each other.  The girls loved these animals!

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This is Christina.  She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been working in the field of equine therapy for over ten years now and has witnessed firsthand the miracles that can occur when horses are part of the therapy process. She has focused much of her training and education in learning how to help individuals who have experienced severe trauma, sexual abuse, or are diagnosed with PTSD. In addition to her therapeutic background, she has an undergraduate degree in equestrian science and is skilled in horse training, riding and equestrian vaulting. In addition to therapy, Christina coaches a vaulting team.  Her unique background and experience give her the combination of skills needed to help make Harmony Acres a safe and joyful place for horses and horse-loving humans alike.

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Left is Morgan and right is Trish.

Morgan is a PATH Certified Therapeutic Riding Instructor. Her horse background began at the racetrack and led her to find a career working with horses. She went to college in Arizona, and graduated with a BS in Biology. Morgan volunteered for many equine assisted therapy programs, and in March of 2013, was accepted into the PATH Approved Training Course at Equest in Wylie Texas, where she  received her certification.  Her goal as a therapeutic riding instructor for Harmony Acres is to enhance peoples lives through their connections with horses. Morgan works very hard to teach to each person’s skill level and to help each rider gain strength, achieve their goals, and of course, have fun!

Trish is an EAGALA (Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning) Certified Equine Specialist that has had a passion for horses since before elementary school. In her early years, she enjoyed trail riding and participating in play-days at the local rodeo arena near her home in Central Texas. She has worked on a ranch in Texas and has volunteered at a Horse Sanctuary that offered a variety of equine assisted therapy programs. Moving to Colorado in 2009, she brought her love of horses and her experience in the mental health field as a Mental Health Aide with her. Trish is dedicated to keeping the horses happy and healthy while assisting in the therapy programs offered at Harmony Acres Equestrian Center.

We took a tour of the stable, the arena and all the outdoor horse pens.

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Here Morgan is showing the girls how someone with limited ability to walk or stand, can still manage to mount a horse. They use ladders, ramps and volunteers to help every variety of rider up onto a horse.  We could tell how proud of their work these ladies are.  Morgan beamed when she explained to the girls how even a 6th grader with Cerebral Palsy can get onto a horse, feel the movement of the horse below them like “legs” and feel like a 6th grader no different than our very own Girl Scouts!

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In addition to the horses, Harmony Acres has some cats, a bunny and these really cute Alpacas (or maybe they were Llamas, can’t ever remember the difference…eeek!)  The small baby came right over to us to check us out.  Mama was quick on the uptake, coming right over to “protect” her baby!

Amazing and inspiring work, by both teams of people!  Thank you to the volunteers of Mesa County Search and Rescue and the ladies at Harmony Acres.  We are truly grateful for your commitment to helping people and to your highly trained animals.  We are also very thankful for their willingness to take time to educate our Girl Scouts!

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What did the girls learn?

Girl Leader CW says, “I liked working on this badge because we got to see how horses help people with disabilities.  I really liked the search and rescue dogs.  I learned that there are two different kids of tracking techniques with dogs (air and ground).  It was fun to see how animals help people.”

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Ba-bye, now!!  🙂