This week the Brownie troop worked on the Eco-explorer Try-It.
They met at a park. They made bird feeders out of milk jugs:
They immediately hung them up in trees around the area they were working. I don't know if any birds showed up while we were at the park -- with 19 Brownies, 8 moms, and assorted siblings (many of whom were climbing trees) I think our area wasn't too inviting for wildlife. At the end of the meeting everyone retrieved their bird feeder and took it home.
Next, a quick word scramble taken from the Try-It book. The person in charge had printed these out 4 to a page and cut them up, so the kids just had a small piece of paper to deal with. This was a smart idea, especially outdoors. (The meetings are handed around to various moms and occasional dads. We have a troop leader, but everyone is expected to volunteer to lead a meeting and/or provide snacks. Hence, "person in charge" instead of "troop leader" when I'm talking about who organized this stuff.)
Then, making a food chain. Each girl was given 4 strips of construction paper. They discussed food chains, then drew pictures, wrote words, or both, to make their own chain. These ran the gamut from algae/shrimp/fish/squid (I'm guessing that family has been studying this in science) to AnnaBeth's more imaginative version that ended with a python eating a rabbit. The kids put them together with glue stick ... I hate glue stick for projects like this. It never works well. If you decide to do this project, use staples or tape and save everyone the frustration.
Finally, 5 adults were handed a scavenger hunt list and took off through the park with 4 scouts each. Again, the mom in charge had printed out the list from the Try-It book, but on smaller sheets of paper. She provided each group with a pencil and a list.
Another thing the person in charge did was to wheel everything -- craft supplies and all -- to the main site using a wheeled suitcase. The alternative would've been to lug it all over to the picnic tables. Smart woman.
Overall, I felt the highlight was giving a ride to the park to AnnaBeth and a couple of her friends. There's nothing quite like listening to a group of 8 and 9 year olds chatter in the back of a car.
In the meantime, Thalia's Cadette troop met at their usual location. They worked some on Silver Badge requirements. Six of the Cadettes are still in the preliminary stages of working on the Silver Award. Several weeks ago they got together to figure out what all to do for Step 2, Earn the Leadership Award. The part in question was the charm for focus Uniquely Me! The Real Deal.
"Okay, you're supposed to set and achieve goals for this booklet ... what are your goals for this booklet girls?"
Blank stares. It was pretty obvious that the REAL goal was to get through the silly thing so they could earn the Silver Award, and they really didn't actually give a flying flip about anything in the booklet. They haven't yet learned to pretend that what they really want to do somehow fits the agenda of the Powers That Be. I think schools do a better job of teaching this than homeschools -- this ability to pretend that you're really interested in a subject and can parrot the things the PTB want to hear -- but I could be wrong. But I can guarantee that's where *I* learned to tell authority figures what they wanted to hear. (Of course, I'm seeing all of this through my own cynical streak, which infers that GSUSA feels that the ability to spout a bunch of BS is a leadership skill. But, ahem, I could be way off base there.)
Seeing the blank stares, the mom in charge suggested they come up with some topics the booklet covered and write them on the board. They came up with: attitudes, anger, peer pressure, self esteem, decision-making, stress. Each girl was assigned a topic by lottery, and was to come up with a short presentation on the topic. Thalia got self esteem. She wrote up a paper on the subject, which she read to the group at the meeting. Honestly, I thought her paper was pretty good (I helped type up a rough draft since I'm a faster typist than she). She used examples from the Chronicles of Narnia movies and books -- Edmund had low self esteem so he ended up in a heap of trouble in the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, while Peter had too big of an ego in Prince Caspian and also ended up in a mess. Also, she said her presentation was helped by the fact that she can read aloud well -- she goes at a moderate pace and speaks clearly and confidently. I thought it was sort of cool that she decided to analyze what worked and what didn't work about how the various girls gave their presentations.
So, in summary, that's the goal they set for the booklet and how they worked through it -- divvied up the concepts, wrote up presentations at home, and gave the presentation at a meeting. This meant that they could work individually. Another avenue would've been to simply read through the booklet with an adult, discussing as they went along; this would've taken more time as a group.
The rest of the Cadette meeting time was spent scrapbooking. I don't think this related to any badge work, but one of the moms teaches scrapbooking classes and the girls thought it would be fun. Thalia was talking to someone at dance the other night about Scouts -- the other girl was complaining that all their troop does is work on badges, "and I swear they pick the most boring ones." Thalia replied that her troop just sort of does what it wants ... some badge work, some just plain ol' hanging out. At the meeting they also ordered pizza, since they still have money from cookies, fall product sales, and various other fund raisers. It really has been a great experience to be involved in this troop.