Tuesday, March 30, 2010

How do we help?

Bullying has been a problem for generations but recently it's getting a little more exposure. After a tragic suicide in South Hadley, MA, possibly caused by severe bullying (see Boston Globe article), more conversations regarding bullying, the responsibility of adults and the long-term effects are being had across the country.

To reduce or eliminate this mean-spirited trend, here are a few resources.
What actions do you take to discourage bullying? What do you do when you witness it? How do you help someone who is being bullied?

-Cheryl Black

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Enjoy Your Camp Fire Safely

Camping and singing around a camp fire are long-standing and much-loved Girl Scout traditions. Just make sure you do it safely.

To start a fire, you must first:
  1. Have dry wood. Gather your firewood (where it is allowed) and have it divided up before you start:
    • Tinder: small pieces, bark etc
    • Kindling: larger sticks
    • Fuel: logs
  2. Have air. If a fire is smothered or too compact, it will not have air to burn.
  3. A fire ring or a BBQ pit or other safe area to have a fire. (Rocks in a fire may explode.)
  4. Matches and fire starters
  5. Fire Starters:
    • Cotton balls in Vaseline
    • Cotton balls in rubbing alcohol
    • Store bought fire starters
    • Pine heartwood (with sap)
    • Pine needles
    • Paper
    • Cardboard or paper egg cartons with sawdust and paraffin wax
    • Parts of old candles
  6. A bucket of water or a water hose and a shovel.
Styles of fire building:
  • Teepee: the twigs to logs are placed tilted up like a teepee.
  • Log Cabin: the fire is started in the middle of 6-8 logs alternating in a square like a log cabin.
  • Triangle: The fire is started in the middle of a triangle pointing at the direction of the wind. The flat side (not the point to the wind) is placed on top of the other two logs so that the air moves under the logs.
  • Place the fire starter first. Fire goes UP not DOWN.
  • Then put small twigs and bark. Light the fire starter.
  • Once it has started, slowly replace the twigs as they burn.
  • Never throw something into the fire. Lay twigs and sticks down gently.
  • When the fire is going well, add larger sticks until you work your way up to logs.
  • The fire goes out because of the wind. Use rocks, yourself, or other things away from the fire to block the wind.
  • The logs just smolder---the wood may be wet, or the logs are green
  • The fire keeps going out—it needs air. Use larger logs to prop up the burning logs. Open up what ever is blocking the air…the fire ring, the BBQ pit etc. if possible.
Safety Tips
  • Always have an adult assisting.
  • Know about fire bans and obey all restrictions.
  • Keep your hair and clothing away from the fire
  • Kneel down next to the fire
  • Don’t use wet/green wood that will POP
  • Don’t burn Christmas trees
  • Use a stick or fire place tools
  • Make the size of the fire dependent on what you are using it for
  • Don’t use paper or leaves if its windy
  • Never leave a fire unattended
  • Put it out before you go to bed or leave the area or put dirt over and around it to save it for in the morning.
Fire Cleanup
  • Spread out the fire.
  • Put dirt on it by using the shovel
  • Sprinkle water, careful—it makes steam and ashes that can burn you and ashes may get on you
  • Stir it until it goes out. 
-Karen Stewart

Monday, March 22, 2010

5 Easy Ways to Support Girls

When it comes to Girl Scouts and Girl Scout volunteers, there are two truths that almost always hold true:
  1. You think girls rock and you care about their success.
  2. You are busy!
Sometimes these truths don't necessarily complement. There are only so many hours in the day and you want to use every one of them to their fullest potential. We're all about it. Here are five quick and easy ways you can support girls and Girl Scouting without cramping your very busy lifestyle.
  1. Take the Power of Girls pledge. The well-being of girls is not just an issue for girls and their parents; it's an everyone issue. When girls succeed, families are healthier and economies are stronger. Take this pledge to tell the world, you care about the well-being of girls everywhere.
  2. Share our Facebook page on your profile. You are on Facebook already so take a quick second and let all your friends know that you love Girl Scouting. You are bound to open a few people's eyes to the many benefits of Girl Scouting and girl leadership.
  3. Brag about Girl Scouts. Stop your neighbor, chat at coworker's cube, call your sister and tell them all what fun it is to be a Girl Scout. Tell them about learning to build campfires or helping girls program robots or having slumber parties at the zoo. Bottom line: let them know, Girl Scouts is where it's at.
  4. Read Volunteer Essentials. It's your one-stop Girl Scout spot for emergency procedures, girl development, volunteer recognition and more. Make it your bedtime reading or take it on the plane with you. Either way, take a second and explore this amazing resource.
  5. Take our survey. Every month we have a new survey on our Web site (this month it's about the shop). By spending just a couple minutes completing it each month, you are helping make Girl Scouts better for you and all your Girl Scout sisters. You can also recommend survey topics by reaching out to the Communications Staff.

Thank you for loving Girl Scouts! We love you right back!

-Cheryl Black

Photo: Amazing committed service team members at the 2009 Service Team Conference.

Friday, March 19, 2010

What's your priority?

IMG_0417News stories about trends in schools and education are constant. From which gender's test grades are higher to the latest school district budget cuts, changes in our education are everywhere. Some of the common themes include...
  • Girls lagging behind boys in math and science, often attributed to a lack of interest (MSNBC story)
  • Boys lagging behind girls in reading, possibly because boys' brains are more visually oriented (ABC News story)
  • Health and arts programs cut or reduced to rectify budgets (Austin American-Statesman story)
With all the challenges, needs for focus and many requirements to be met, which areas do you think are most important? What should receive the most funding? How does your family supplement the school day?

Have you intentionally incorporated Girl Scout programs into your daughter's education? What types of programs should Girl Scouts offer to help your daughter succeed?

-Cheryl Black

Monday, March 15, 2010

Let me just look it up on my phone...

PC Magazine encyclopedia

Smartphone: A cellular telephone with built-in applications and Internet access. Smartphones provide digital voice service as well as any combination of text messaging, e-mail, Web browsing, still camera, video camera, MP3 player, video player, television and organizer. In addition to their built-in functions, smartphones have become application delivery platforms, turning the once single-minded cellphone into a mobile computer.
PCWorld and comScore report that more than 42 million Americans use smartphones. (Read the article.) We figure there are bound to be a couple Central Texans in that count. If you are one of them, then it's your lucky day. Here are some of the best parent and volunteer friendly apps out there. Enjoy!

For the iPhone
From Mashable
  • Time-Out FREE
  • SitorSquat: Bathroom Finder
  • KidStatz Lite
For Blackberry phones
From Crackberry
  • Shortcovers
  • Got-2pro
  • WeatherEye
For Google Android
From SpeckyBoy
  • Waze: Way to go
  • PayPal Application
  • Places Directory
This isn't a comprehensive list but it's a start for some of the most popular smartphones. What other apps make your life way easier? What needs do you have but haven't found the right tool for yet? Which apps are your absolute favorites, whether they help with the kids or not?

-Cheryl Black

P.S. As an iPhone user my favorite apps are Bank of America personal banking, MyFitnessPal and YellowPages. I'd love to hear your favs!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Troop 23's Cookie Success

Brownies_Troop23From a troop email for Troop 23...

The girls did a great job this year--it seems like they really got into it and sold many more cookies than last year. Altogether, our troop sold 2,016 boxes. We will receive $778.82 from council as our troop profit. I will be taking about 160 boxes to council for the soldiers.

I have been hearing that some of the girls have made big strides since last year in being able to present themselves to the public and in developing confidence. I'm very glad to hear those comments. It is neat to see the girls grow and mature. It is also heartwarming to witness repeatedly how generous our customers are. The amount of money given to us in the form of donations, tips, and soldier donations is amazing. Lila has a special place in her heart for those select customers who buy HER a box of cookies! In my last 9 years of selling cookies with my girls, I hear over and over how so many of our customers sold cookies themselves. One customer said her troop made their own cookies to sell--that was in the early years (starting in 1917 when sales first began). My girls have promised themselves that they will always buy cookies from the girls they encounter who are selling them. Thanks to you all for supporting your daughters and standing out in the freezing temps. (This has been the coldest sales period in the last 9 years!) Hopefully our troop experiences paid for with cookie money will be meaningful and memorable to the girls.

-Ann, Troop 23 Leader

Learn more about the Girl Scout Cookie Program. 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Kids & Cell Phones

A recent New York Times article reports that in 2005, 11.9% of children ages 6-11 had their own cell phone. By 2009 that jumped to 20%. When you narrow the age range to 10 and 11 year olds, more than a third of children have a cell phone.

With 21.8% of girls 6-11 owning cell phones, they hold a small majority lead over the only 18.3% of boys with cell phones. However that gender gap is significantly smaller, almost 50% smaller, than it was in 2005.

Read the full article here.

This got us thinking: what are the trends in Central Texas?

Does your child have a cell phone? How does having or not having a cell phone affect your child and family on a daily basis? What age is appropriate to give a child a cell phone at? What are the determining factors for your family? Children with drivers licenses? Entering high school? Lack of landline home phone? What other considerations, rules or results have you found from your decision?

We're curious. Tell us what you think.

-Cheryl Black

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Girls in the News

We've said it before and we'll say it again - girls rock. Their achievements are impressive. The trends they set are fascinating. For those reasons and more, girls and women are in the news all the time. Just see for yourself.
Since this is National Women's History month, sharing these stories seems appropriately timed. If you come across interesting news about girls and women, please share it with us. We love hearing about what you find interesting.

-Cheryl Black

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    The Pearl of the Concho Valley

    Recently a volunteer emailed the council to brag about a fellow volunteer, Alison. The email read
    Alison has done an outstanding job this membership year with taking over service unit events. She has tried to recruit in event coordinators in the Concho Pearl area and strived to hold events for all age levels meeting the requests of activities the girls want to do. -Tia
    We always love hearing about committed and enthusiastic volunteers. To re-energize the volunteer in us all, here's Alison in her own words.

    GS_bronze_09_012Q. What is your involvement with Girl Scouts?
    A. I was a Girl Scout myself as a Brownie and Junior way back when. Unfortunately, my leader was unable to continue and we had no other adult willing to step up and lead us so my experience ended after a couple of years as a Junior. I came back into Girl Scouting as an adult when my older daughter was a 3rd grade Brownie. For her, I was an involved parent who helped as a chaperone and badge leader. That daughter was in Girl Scouts through middle school and earned her Silver Award. When we moved to San Angelo, my younger daughter was starting 1st grade and I wanted to get her into Girl Scouts. She joined Troop 5031 at Bowie Elementary that year but the leaders were both moving at the end of the year. Having been through the experience of losing a troop as a girl because of no leader, I did not want that to happen to my daughter and the other girls, so I became the troop leader and have been so ever since although we have had many girls come and go in the troop. We are currently Cadettes and enjoy both events where Girl Scouts get together to have fun, but opportunities to provide service and leadership in our community. Many of my girls are also in the National Junior Honor Society which recognizes their leadership and service.

    IMG_0752Q. What motivates you to dedicate time and energy to Girl Scouts?
    A. Most of us who volunteer in Girl Scouts have similar motivations. We want to see girls succeed in whatever they try to do. Girl Scouts encourages them to try things they might not do otherwise.

    Learn more about becoming a Girl Scout volunteer.