We are looking to try something new with Miss M's Girl Scout troop this year so we are incorporating the Balcony Girls curriculum from Sally Couglin and I'm loving it. This is now our seventh year of being "together"' and, while the numbers have shrunk, most of these girls have been with me from the very beginning.
Last year when M made the jump to the junior high the dynamics of our troop changed, I'll admit I struggled with the girls and how best to make it fun, relevant, and life impacting. Seeing all the drama that marks pre-teen and teenage girls, I wanted to help these girls handle the changes ahead and also just have fun being girls.
I'll admit I'm not a camper. I'm also not one who has a lot of domestic skills in my back pocket that I can pull out and share how to sew, carve wood, build a fire or rough it in the wilderness. I'm a suburban mom and it shows. However, one thing that Girl Scouting taught me a young girl was how to be a leader, how to stand up to peer pressure, and to be confident in my abilities.
Balcony Girls takes a lot of these skills and life lessons that I've so much wanted to share with my girls and puts it in a lesson that can be done once a month/or more in an hour and half and includes a snack, lesson and often a craft to drive home the concept. It does all the work for me! Plus, because of the way the lessons are layed out, I can use them in the confines of Girl Scouting and the girls will get the best of both.
So this year, we are bringing the troop into my home once or twice a month right after school. Our first lesson was on caring and we talked about how to build people up rather than tearing them down. We role-played giving people our "applause and cheering for them" and felt what it felt like to be the one giving and the one receiving. We talked of filling up each other's buckets and realizing why some girls act "mean" or bully when all they are really looking for is someone to fill them up a little.
Let me tell you these girls filled my bucket this day. It had been a rough afternoon and I had so much fun chatting with the girls, giggling, and learning. Each girl got a special Balcony Girl journal that they wrote a little something about our lesson that I'm keeping for them (in a locked drawer with no peaking) each time. Sitting on the back deck, they had a chance to just think for a minute what it meant to be a person who cared.
Two girls told me that this was the best meeting they had been to ever. It was intimate, private and they really connected. Miss M said it just felt right to be in our home doing this rather than the industrial cafeteria at the school. We've planned a tea party for later this month, we'll be making a blanket to for our Girl Scout badges, and have some great ideas for field trips we want to work around the GS and Balcony Girl materials.
New life into a old troop; fabulous. Life lessons shared among friends and with an adult who is crazy about the young women they are becoming. Priceless.