Thursday, July 6, 2017

Girl Scouts of the U.S.A.: Exploring the Great Outdoors (No Matter Where You Live!)


Believe it or not, there are ways to get your girls out from the front of the computer and into the outdoors. Whether you live in a big city such as Houston or the surrounding area, GSUSA's blog Exploring the Great Outdoors (No Matter Where You Live!) shares how you can get outdoors in a big way this summer:

Did you know that the average American child spends about 44 hours each week in front of electronic media? And with school out and long summer days ahead, it's all too easy to turn to screens for entertainment. But there's no show on earth as fun, challenging, or immersive as the great outdoors.

Whether you live in the bustling city, a quiet suburb, or in the middle of rural America, there are incredible benefits to getting outside. In fact, studies show that spending time in nature helps girls feel more confident and capable overall. Girl Scouts' Chief Girl and Parent Expert, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald teamed up with Fatima Shama, Executive Director of the Fresh Air Fund, to talk about all that Mother Nature has to offer to your family. Check out these major takeaways, then watch the video to learn even more! 

It doesn't have to be a big production. While camping, hiking, and other outdoor adventures certainly have their advantages, so do seemingly smaller outings, like a simple trip to the playground, a run in the backyard sprinklers, or even simply a walk around the block. 

You can separate girls from their screens. If she's riding her bike, climbing a rock wall, or planting vegetables she not only won't have free hands to scroll through social media—she'll probably be too engrossed in her current activity to even think of it! But keep in mind that there are fun outdoor-centric apps that might be fun to explore with your girl on your nature trips. Using her phone as a compass or to explore nature photography are great ways to incorporate tech into the experience. 




Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Tropical Storm Cindy and other Wet-Weather Safety Tips

Part of being a G.I.R.L. (Go-Getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker, Leader) is being prepared to help yourself and others. Tropical Storm Cindy is on her way, and while Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council is scheduled to remain open at this time, there are steps we can all take to ensure our safety during the wet-weather season. Here are a few quick tips from AlertHouston to help you prepare for tomorrow's storm: 
Be Prepared: 

Plan for the worst and hope for the best. The Girl Scout motto is "Be Prepared", so no matter what, families should ensure they have at least three days worth of food, water and supplies for a worst-case scenario. Supplies can include prescription medication, a copy of the City's Disaster Preparedness Guide and anything to aid with special-need situations for families with seniors, younger girls and animals. 

Know Where You Stand: 
The Houston area is only anticipated to get a few inches of rain, but always check to see your area's risk of flooding by visiting your county's flood map. For Harris County, visit harriscountyfemt.org.

Have a Plan: 
Review with your family what to do in case you lose communications, get separated or have to evacuate your home. Make sure your emergency contact information is up-to-date with your schools and place of work. Visit ready.gov for more helpful information. 

Stay Aware:
Stay tuned to the National Weather Service for updates on the situation. Keep in mind that the storm may be minimal where you are, but what about your destination? Other helpful sources of information include the following: 

Be a Sister:
Make sure your neighbors are aware of your family emergency preparedness plan and have contacts in case your neighborhood is affected by flooding. If you are unaffected, check-in to see if your neighbors are as well. We are all in this together. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Troop Program Ideas: Host a Ceremony

Need a few ideas for activities you can host during your next troop meeting? Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council's Troop Program Ideas, published in the months between the Golden Link, gives Daisy, Brownie and Junior troop leaders fun ideas for songs, crafts, snacks and ceremonies to use throughout the year. Find your next troop idea here and in the next issue of Troop Program Ideas.

Host a Ceremony
Girl Scouts has many ceremonies to both honor girls and participate in important yearly celebrations. Try your hand at a Moving On to New Adventures ceremony.


Bridging is an important transition in a Girl Scout's life. It's a defining moment when a girl becomes aware of her achievements and is ready for new adventures and responsibilities. Celebrating this change should be fun, personalized, and memorable for everyone involved. And most of all, it should be designed by the girls in true partnership with adults. Bridging ceremonies usually take place at the beginning or end of the Girl Scout year and can have three parts:
  1. Opening: Guests are welcomed and the tone is set.
  2. Main section: The ceremony is explained and the girls celebrate moving from one level to the next.
  3. Closing: Girls can participate in friendship circles and thank their guests.
  4. Each of the ceremony's parts offers plenty of room for the girls' creativity and individuality. The ceremony should always focus on paying tribute to Girl Scouts as they move forward.
For more Troop Program Ideas read the latest issue of the Golden Link or visit us at www.gssjc.org and go to the My Council publications webpage.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

8 Stages of Getting Girls Outdoors

It's hard to know when the best time to introduce girls to the great outdoors is. Parents may wonder whether their daughters are ready to go to camp, go on a group hike, learn to cook-out and other great ways girls can get in-tune with nature.

Girl Scouts have always understood the importance of nature in a child's development. We know how powerful experiences in the natural world are because we have seen the impact on our girls, and ourselves. We believe in the power of the G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker, Leader)™. Exposure to nature can improve all children's cognitive abilities and resistance to negative stresses.

Get your girls outside in the following stages. While this is an abbreviated version, make sure to judge whether a girl is experienced enough for each activity to ensure they are prepared for a full camping experience. View this video for further instructions.

Look Out
Inexperienced campers may wonder, what is this world like that starts at the doorstep? Talk about the outdoors with them. You can introduce your own happy memories, talk about your surroundings, introduce Leave No Trace principles and how we can enjoy nature while protecting it.

Meet Out
Look, Listen, Feel, Smell, Observe. Take her outside to observe the world. This can be at your local park or in your own backyard. Ask her if she can see trees, birds or buildings, and get her to notice and discern the world around her. Listen to nature and city sounds. One way to help her enjoy nature is through games and songs.

Walk Out
Walk around the block and help her see what she can see. In this stage, it's a great time to start teaching girls about their ecosystem, food chains and photosynthesis. Have her look up and watch for sky spectaculars such as stars, distant planets and the moon. Teach her about how it is possible to use the stars to navigate on dark nights. You can also teach her about how to examine a micro-habitat, trace neighborhood scents, look for animal tracks, trails and traces of living things. Finally, teach her about pollution. Now that she is aware of how complex nature can be, help her pinpoint things that interrupt it.

Hike Out
Walk with a purpose or go on hike. There are many kinds of hikes. You can take girls on a hike to pick up trash, a trail hike, a hike to find different leaves, a hike to find different birds and you can even go on a scent hike to see what you can smell. Take a leap on a compass hike and begin teaching her intermediate compass skills she'll need for more advanced outdoor activities later. This is also the time to teach girls how to identify poisonous plants, insects and reptiles. This subject can introduce appropriate outdoor behavior and protective clothing. For longer hikes, begin teaching her map reading and she'll be prepared for anything.

Cook Out
Now that she is ready to look out, meet out, walk out and hike out, help her develop the skills to cook out. For this, you'll want to teach her about fire safety: how to start a fire and especially how to put a fire out safely. During this step, girls can have a lot of fun learning cook-out recipes, but ensure they know how to properly use sharp utensils and other food safety must-knows such as food safety and sanitation.

Sleep Over
Prepare for an overnight (this could be a slumber party). This is great preparation for an outdoor camp-out. To do this you can make an equipment bedroll, pack a duffel bag and pack a toiletry kit. For a great overnight, sleepover activity, you can learn to tie knots. This is an essential outdoor activity for girls, and there are many kinds of knots: square knot, clove hitch, bowline, half hitch and many more. For this stage, you can also plan what to take, what to eat and never forget to plan for weather changes.

Camp Out 
She has mastered the essential preparatory skills and is finally ready for her first camping experience. For more basic camping, plan what to wear and what to take. Teach her safety rules and first aid. It may also be necessary to make outdoor and housekeeping equipment, and knowledge of tools, such as fire starters and fire extinguishers are essential for fire safety. Another unknown danger can occur in food poisoning. Make sure she understands how to handle outdoor dish washing, garbage and grease disposal correctly. Teach her proper tent care and how to use latrines.

For more advanced camping, teach her how to select a site that protects the environment. Practice minimum impact camping. You can also teach her how to designate campsite spaces with caches, sleeping and kitchen areas. Other important skills she may want to learn are how to build cat hole latrines, make lash table and washstands, how to purify water and pitch and strike a tent.

Trip Out
Now we will use everything we have learned to plan a trip that offers interest and worthwhile program opportunities. During this step she will learn to plan meals, menus, select places to eat, purchase and provide storage of food. Teach her to plan routes, transportation and necessary other arrangements. Other useful skills look like learning to use road maps, city maps, geological survey maps, charts, timetables and compass. Show her how to select, set up and dismantle a campsite, and determine trip cost, make a budget and keep financial records. Finally, select, pack and transport minimum personal and group equipment needed for personal use, shelter, cooking, eating and sanitary needs.

With a little help and guidance, she'll be well on her way to discovering the outdoors, becoming an expert camper and a great G.I.R.L. (Go-getter, Innovator, Risk-Taker, Leader)™. For more information on how to raise great girls and outdoor Girl Scout activities, visit www.gssjc.org