So I had a real “Ah HA” moment last winter as I was going through the Junior badge book. I’m sure there are many different ways that people brainstorm. Personally, I go through our book with a post-it on every badge listing ideas and resources I have access to. I do a major brain dump session at the beginning of the year. Sometimes my scouts add notes or I note general thoughts and ideas on a page just inside the front cover. I use the notes later when cookie season hits and I need a quick idea to plan my meetings.
On one particular snowy day, I was curled up with my favorite badge book just flying through when the front note fell out. I picked it up and among other things it read “Be more Patriotic”. I made a note our church collected goodies and send to an over-seas soldier they adopted. Then I shoved the note back in the front cover and moved on.
A few pages later, I came across the Junior Scribe Badge with a note in my daughter’s handwriting that read “TOO MUCH LIKE SCHOOL. YUCK!” I scanned the requirements nodding as I read. Write a poem, write about your favorite GS memory, animal, a place you want to visit, your favorite book. There has got to be a way to make this stuff sound fun?
Turning Ho-Hum Requirements Into Something Special
Wait! Did you just see the light flicker too? LIGHTBULB TIME! What if we could use these ideas to write letters to soldiers? Let’s face it, the hardest part about writing a letter to a stranger is coming up with an idea to write about, and here are 15 ideas right here! The girls only have to choose 5. Would this be enough to get the girls interested?
I ended up writing a 3 page letter to give the girls ideas. Although I don’t consider writing much of a chore, I thought it was pretty fun. At our very next meeting I got there early and drew 5 boxes on the board listing the 3 requirements/ ideas in each box. When the girls arrived I told them about the collection box and how we had a chance to add to the fun of the care package. We decorated envelopes and I showed them the chart saying they needed to pick one idea from each box to include in the letters.
The girls started writing at a fevered pitch. It was like they couldn’t wait to tell their special soldier all about their favorite animal and so on. 15 minutes later I tried to move on to the next activity but the girls wanted more time. At 25 minutes I suggested we finish up and one girl said can this be our 5 minute warning? As time ticked down the girls started asking if they could take their letters home because they wanted more than the 30 minutes for the activity. My daughter also wanted to take hers home and recopy it so the lettering was just perfect. I was pretty surprised how this badge went from feeling like a school assignment to something they couldn’t get enough time to complete.
The next week letters came back as promised and I asked for permission to read them all. They were adorable. I was so proud of all the love they put into the letters. They were so sweet the lady collecting at church asked if it was OK to post them around church so everyone could see what a wonderful job the girls did. The girls were thrilled to know how much their hard work was appreciated.
Applying A New Approach To Boring Badge Work
This whole idea of using the normal badge work to bring joy to others has continued though many of our projects. We actually ended up sending pictures we created from our Junior Drawing badge to the soldiers as well. When we needed an arrival activity for a meeting in October we made tray cards for the local nursing home during a Reverse Trick or Treating event. I keep thinking the next time we need to make yet another poster to get our message out, we can create book marks instead. Then donate to the local library, book store or the coffee nook down the street for distribution.
The ideas are practically limitless. And the change in mindset from we are doing this to earn a badge to we are doing something wonderful for someone else has really helped when it comes to some of the lesser loved requirements.
Paula Riggins was a Girl Scout herself, way back when every Brownie still wore beanies!
She graduated from Sullivan University with a bachelor’s degree in Business and is a Programmer Analyst for a Fortune 500 company. If you ask she will tell you working with kids is her passion.
Paula is a working mom of two kids. Over the last two decades she has taught Sunday school and directed VBS at her church, as well as several Bring a Child to Work Day programs for her employer.
She started as a Cub Scout leader when her son was in 1st grade and is very proud to say he has earned the highest rank of Eagle Scout. When Paula’s daughter was born she couldn’t wait to get involved with Girl Scouting again! Paula, who is also known as Godzilla at camp, is a Lifetime Girl Scout. She hopes to have the opportunity to lead girls for many more years to come.