Earning a Brownie Girl Scout Snack Badge Using the Power of a Theme
Halloween is a big deal in my house. Before I had children it was hands down my favorite holiday and now that I have children, it’s simply the justification for all the decorating, costume-wearing, pumpkin carving and pie baking shenanigans that begin on October 1st!
Therefore, my October Brownie Meeting was not exempt from a few Halloween festivities. For this special meeting, I paired together two talented moms; one who volunteered to lead a nutrition segment, another who committed to provide snacks. I had them work together to create something unique and memorable for the girls as they earned their Brownie Snack Badge.
The following is my “party plan” for Brownie Meeting #2, as outlined in the Girl Scouts of America’s meeting structure.
To satisfy their hunger and to kick off this distinctive meeting as we traveled from school to our meeting place, the girls enjoyed munching on festive Mummy Pizzas, foreshadowing what was to come.
To reinforce the learning from our last meeting, upon arriving at our destination, my co-leader and I met the girls at the door and asked each to give us a Girl Scout Handshake. This was their ticket into the party.
Inside the girls were given the opportunity to decorate their own reusable water glasses. After we explained that these glasses were better for Mother Earth and theirs to use at every Brownie meeting, the girls got so excited that many hurried through the decoration process so they could use them faster.
Our meeting opened by asking for three volunteer Brownies to lead us in the Girl Scout Promise, the Girl Scout Law, and the Brownie Smile Song. The opening concluded as one of the girls took attendance with our fancy feather pen and each Brownie called out “here” as her most expressive self.
With flower pens and a “Getting to Know You Board” in hand, the girls went outside for a friendly introduction game. The object was to find friends who like the same things they do. As promised at our previous meeting, my co-leader and I put out the sit-upons and before long we asked the girls to find theirs on the grass and join us in the Brownie Ring.
Once everyone was seated, I introduced our troop’s talking stick, explaining that she who has the stick, has the floor. The girls noticed the brightly colored ribbons in all different lengths, widths and textures that decorated the stick and I explained that they represent the diversity of our troop and the colors of the Daisy Petals, which also make up the Girl Scout Law. Then they asked about the big silver key with the open heart attached to the stick. I explained that the key to being a happy Girl Scout is following your heart and being open to new ideas. Our talking stick also has a gold topper with butterflies and some of the girls asked what the symbolism of the butterflies meant. Once again, I explained that like them, butterflies go through an amazing transformation; from caterpillar, to chrysalis, to beautiful butterfly. As Brownies, they are about to embark on their own incredible journey as well. “This talking stick is a representation of all the things we hold sacred,” I told them. “Now, who would like to share something they learned about a Brownie sister today while playing our game?” A hand went up and then another, and soon our talking stick made its maiden voyage around the circle.
When the game was over, I asked the girls to put their game boards away and to grab their First Aid Kit contribution item and meet back in the Brownie Ring. While they were busy with that, my co-leader and I passed out the new Brownie Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting. Once the girls returned to the circle, they were surprised at learning that these amazing three-ring binders were theirs to keep. It was joyful to watch. I went through the three sections briefly along with the inside front cover, then asked everyone to turn to page 10 where I read the Girl Scout Motto blurb about “being prepared,” a lovely segue into creating our first aid kit.
I put our First Aid Box in the center of the circle. “Here is my contribution,” I said, “the box to house our first aid kit.” To the Brownie on my left, I asked, “What is your contribution?” As I sat down on my sit-upon, the brownie stepped forward, told us what she had brought, and dropped it into the box. This ceremony continued around the circle until our kit was complete. “Congratulations Troop,” I said. “Your first aid kit is now complete and you have earned your Girl Scout Ways Badge. You have earned this badge for learning and remembering your Girl Scout Handshake and Brownie Smile Song, and for making your sit-upons and your Troop’s first aid kit. You have also memorized your Girl Scout Promise and reviewed the Law. This badge will be presented to you at our next meeting.”
Finally, I asked each Brownie to open her Handbook to page 4 and assigned homework. “I encourage you to read pages 4 and 6 at home and fill out pages 8 and 9, giving thought to what you would like to accomplish this year,” I said, and provided a homework reminder slip at the end of the meeting.
After introducing our nutrition expert and our snack mom who was a certified yoga instructor and restaurateur, the girls settled into learning about the new food pyramid, which is not a pyramid at all anymore. It’s now a plate, a plate that divides your portions of fruits, grains, vegetables, proteins and dairy. (It’s quite lovely actually, and can be found at www.choosemyplate.gov.) Intrigued, the girls participated in a lively discussion about what each food group is and how it helps your body. They colored in their plates and drew pictures of the variety of foods in each group. They then talked about healthy snacks, which was an easy and natural segue into making adorable and healthy Halloween snacks. They made edible eyeballs from cut carrot chunks, cream cheese and a black olive slice. Yum! They made scary cheese fingers out of 3/4 of a stick of string cheese with knuckles notched out using a plastic knife. They used dollops of cream cheese for the nail beds and slices of red pepper for fingernails. Scary! Lastly, pretzel sticks and fringed fruit roll segments made adorable witches brooms. We had hoped the girls would take their goodies home to show their parents, but they were too excited. When some would say, “I don’t like black olives.” or “I don’t eat bell peppers,” I simply responded, “Well, you’re a Brownie now, and Brownies try new things. That’s what we do.” You know, it worked! One still didn’t like it, but the others found something new they liked or at least could eat in combination with something else.
Reminding the girls that Brownies always leave a place cleaner than when they found it was a helpful motivator.
In the Girl Scout tradition, we created a Friendship Circle and joined hands, right over left, to end our meeting. I asked for a volunteer to lead our Make New Friends song. This year we learned a second verse from the cadets that came to our last meeting, so we sang that as well: “A circle is round. It has no end. That’s how long I want to be your friend.” The hand squeeze made its way around the circle and afterwards we tried to untangle our hands without letting go. The squeal of delight not only affirmed that we had accomplished our goal of getting untangled but was also the perfect closing to our meeting.
Later, I realized that I could have gone crazy with this theme and included something “Halloweeny” in every aspect of the meeting. But that’s the beauty of a good theme. You can do as little as you like or as much as you like. You can spend a little money or a lot of money. The lesson here is that having the theme guide the activity portion of the meeting went a long way in creating a fun and festive atmosphere that the girls could connect with, and in doing so provided them with a memorable experience. It’s these experiences that will stay with them for a lifetime. In fact, the girls were talking about making these snacks for their friends and family next Halloween! That’s the power of a good theme.