Floating the Platte River in Northern Michigan

One of the more popular attractions and the biggest hit with our family was floating down the Platte River. Since we stayed at the Platte River Campgrounds, we were right down the road but it took us a couple days to figure out the right spot, for our family with younger children, to put in. 

Girl Scout Camp Weekend: Tips on Planning your Trip

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Every year we try to do at least one camp weekend with our GS troop. This year, since it's one of the things the girls really love and look forward to, I hope to do one a season! The planning process from troop leadership can seem overwhelming. It's a big weekend and the more girls/adults you have attending the more work you will have to put into it. But, after all is said and done, it's totally worth it. If you haven't considered an overnight or camp with your troop I strongly encourage it! The excitement, sister scout bonding, life skills and lasting memories are just a few of the things you and your group will take away.

The Planning process

Here are some things you will want to consider when planning your overnight. I start my planning 6 months in advance, at least to submit a rental application.

Location

I always recommend considering one of your council's camp properties as a potential site for your camp. At least in our council, many of the camps have the equipment you will need, which helps cut down on spending, packing, and hauling to the location. There is also a sense of security knowing you're on a GS property. If it is your first camping trip you might want to try a cabin or lodge, building up their progression to tent camping. Another idea to consider is other GS council properties if you are looking for a destination farther away.

Patrols

I love the idea of using patrols for camp. We assign patrols in advance and put each patrol in charge of a meal and activity. They get to pick the menu items and put together a shopping list. We use our pre-camp planning meeting to figure out those details. The girls can pick what activity they wish to lead. It can be teaching a new song at the campfire, performing a skit, or a craft. This allows the girls greater participation in the planning process and contribution to the campout! Keep it Girl Led!

Budget

How much money does the troop have to put towards the campout? Will the entire cost be covered by troop funds? Will parents have to pay a portion? These are questions you need to ask yourself or your girls. If you have older girls make sure to discuss the budget with them. Our troop typically covers the entire cost of troop camping with funds from the cookie sales program. One campout we did charge $10/per girl. So what should you consider in your camping budget?

  • campsite or lodge rental
  • food
  • activities and craft materials
  • supplies (fire starters, aluminum foil, pie irons)

If you are on a tight budget there are many ways to cut back. Like I mentioned before, many GS camps will provide certain supplies and equipment. You can also have families pitch in if they have tents and other camping gear. When thinking about food, you can request that each girl bring something to share or you can think of budget-friendly meals.

Meals

Are the girls going to be making the meals? Are you going to be cooking over a campfire? One thing to keep in mind is that when you have scouts cooking, the amount of time it would take an adult to cook in a normal kitchen and then double that. Our first weekend overnight we set out to make spaghetti for 20 people. It took us 1 hour and 45 minutes because cooking that much pasta required the big pots and the water took forever to boil!

Easy meal suggestions for the girls to cook and budget friendly...

  • Walking tacos
  • Spaghetti (or one pot spaghetti in dutch oven)
  • Crescent Dogs
  • English muffin pizzas
  • Pie Iron sandwiches

 

Activities

What goals are you looking to accomplish with this campout? Are you completing badges or a journey? Are you working on team building and GS traditions (songs and skits)? Is this trip just to get the girls in the outdoors? Will you have a theme? This will help guide you on the activities for camp. Have the girls plan out the activities and lead them! This is also an area to have another volunteer take over and be in charge to take the load off of you. Here are some suggestions for fun activities or time fillers.

  • Swaps: These are great if you have a small pocket of time or right before lights out.
  • Camp crafts
  • Games: At our last campout we had a huge game of capture the flag. We were the only troop in the camp and so we got to spread out It was beyond fun. We played a couple of rounds and even changed the rules up.
  • Songs and Skits
  • Teambuilding exercises

Fun overnight themes:

  • Harry Potter
  • Disney and/or Princesses
  • Survival
  • Zombie apocalypse
  • Spa Sleepover
  • Spa Science
  • Mad Scientist
  • Super Hero
  • Detective/Mystery
  • Hawaiian

Check out my Pinterest board for more activities.

Forms, Troop contract, and parent communication

Check with your council on the requirements for approved camp/overnights. Each council is different in their training but I'm certain there will be some courses you need to take. We have to have a CPR/First Aider and a couple outdoor training courses. If swimming is involved you will need a trained lifeguard. Depending on the length of your trip you might also need to submit a travel application for council approval.

You can't forget about communication. Parents are going to have lots of questions. In the past, I have put together a camp packet that includes all the details and information to hopefully answer most of their questions. The who, what, and where. At the end of that information packet, I include a Parent/Scout behavior contract. 

Don't forget to get those permission slips! Make sure you have UPDATED health history forms and an emergency contact for when they are on the trip. Have a dedicated folder for these forms. When we travel, I also create a separate folder for each car that is transporting girls with a copy of their health history forms in the event that you get separated and there is an unfortunate accident.

I've also done a Facebook Live meeting with our GS FB group. I love the FB live meetings because it's recorded and people can come back and watch it and they don't have to leave their homes.

Planning a troop camping trip can seem daunting but I hope this sets you on the right path. The biggest advice I can give to you is delegate duties and have someone else shop for the food!!! 

Don't forget to follow along...

Cookie Party Cruise on Lake Michigan and Swaps!!

This year my oldest daughter worked her butt off to reach the 500 goal selling cookie boxes. We have a fairly large troop and another Girl Scout in the house that made for extra obstacles this year. She had to share her friends and family sales with her younger sister. She did a ton of cookie booth and went selling door to door. She pushed!

That's why I was so excited for her when she reached that mark and was invited to the cookie cruise as a program incentive for selling 500 boxes. It was our first year attending and we had so much fun!! A couple of her sister scouts reached their goal and got to go on the cruise too, which only adds to the fun!! It was a two hour cruise along Lake Michigan and included a yummy buffet with Bella's favorite food... tacos! Then the girls had fun dancing with fellow sister scouts. 

We were encouraged to make SWAPS and we were up late the night before trying to get done as many as we could. She did about 90 percent of them herself. Thanks Pinterest!

Bella really hasn't done much swaps in the 4 years that she has been a scout. This cruise really showed her the heart of SWAPs and she fell in love with it!

It was a fantastic time despite the overcast and occasional rain. I'm sure both of my girls are going to want to shoot for the cruise next year! What was your girl's cookie goal this year?

Devil's Lake Wisconsin Camping Trip!

Last fall, our family took a major step and decided to invest in a travel trailer. I stalked the internet for months trying to find the best deal on a used "starter" camper for our family. Our knowledge of campers, or towing anything in general, was sparse but I'm a firm believer that if you want to do something you just have to pull the trigger and learn through doing.

After dabbling a little over a month on RV repairs, updates and fixing the rotted floor, we were able to take our first trip to Devil's Lake, Wisconsin. It was our first visit to this park and I wish we would have spent more than 2 nights there.

We stayed at the Northern Lights campground in a non-electric site that was wide open. We tried for electrical but you have to book early!! You can make reservations up to 11 months in advance. My daughter loved that we could see other people and there were definitely fewer bugs than the forest sites. We picked a site (167) at the entrance to the Northern Lights campground that was near to the trail that led down to the beach and North Shore. It was also pretty close to the Ice Age campground where we purchased firewood.

We brought along our fur baby. This was her camping first trip and I'm pretty sure she loves camping now. There were a ton of dogs at the campgrounds and throughout the hiking trails, they just were not allowed in the picnic areas.

The first night we focused on setting up the trailer and cooking dinner. It was misting when we arrived but that didn't stop us from starting a campfire. The misting was actually nice because it kept the mosquitos away. The rain stoped for a short while when we decided to take a trip to the campground store for some firewood. One of the campground stores is located in the Ice Age campgrounds. That night it rained with thunderstorms and we were happy to find that the camper didn't leak...lol The next morning we ate breakfast and hit the only trail we thought the youngest child could handle. 

Tumble Rock Trail

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What a beautiful trail and gorgeous scenery. It was an easy trail that followed the shore of the lake from the north shore to the south shore. From start to the south shore was 2 miles, 4 miles round trip. We didn't really think about the 4 miles or if our kids could handle it when we set out. Looking back I don't think I would have done the full 4 miles and would have stopped halfway. We ate lunch at the south shore at the concessions building. We let the dog dip her paws in the dog-friendly beach while Penny napped on her daddy's shoulders. She was sooo tired and rightfully so. If it weren't for that short 30-minute nap, Penny would have NEVER made it back. It was just enough rest for her to get a boost and be excited to step back on the trail. 

The following day it was time to pack everything up. There were clear skies, unlike the previous overcast day, and it was warm. After packing up we decided to take a walk do to the beach and let the kids play in the water. Bella fully enjoyed the beach while Ryleigh had to be content with dipping her toes due to the cast on her broken arm. 

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In the future, I would love to bring the Girl Scout troop here! So much to do (hiking, swimming, kayaking, fishing, biking)! The campgrounds are great. Some have electrical hookups and I saw a ton of tent camping. There are bathhouses located throughout the campsite that offer showers. Some bathhouses are nice than others. The campgrounds were very family friendly and quiet without the partying. 

We regret only booking the campsite for 2 nights. There was so much more to enjoy and I would have loved to have a full day at the beach or to at least use the kayak we brought with. There are many trails to try out, varying in difficulty but with amazing views from what I hear!! This will definitely be a destination to add to the yearly trips list!!  

 

 

Ocean Pollution Clean Up Experiment

We tried this experiment with our girls on Earth Day and it really struck a cord with our troop. We first showed the girls this video.

Take a Garbage Walk

We then took a walk around the neighborhood and collected trash on the streets. We connected how this trash could easily get in the sewers or nearby river (which leads into the Mississippi River--->and then into ---> the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Water Clean Up Experiment

Materials:

  • Garbage (food wrappers, paper, plastic straws or can rings cut up, plastic wrappers, dirt, sand, veggie or olive oil, banana peel, etc.)
  • Plastic shallow tubs filled with 3/4 water
  • Things to help clean up such as:
    • small strainer
    • plastic sandwich bags
    • paper towels
    • tweezers
    • tongs
    • flour sifter
    • cups
    • coffee filters
    • ladle
    • anything else you can think of
  • sterile rubber gloves (enough for each girl)

Prepare:

Fill your plastic tubs up with 3/4 of the way with water. I had 4 tubs and broke the girls up into teams of 2 and 3. Place your garbage into the water to resemble pollution. I used a couple tablespoons of olive oil and cut the plastic into small particles. I tried to make the tubs identical as possible.

Price out the different items the girls can use to cleanup their water. The easier items like strainers were higher priced. I priced items from $25 to $500 keeping in mind that I was going to give the girls a budget of $500. All of my items including the plastic tubs I was able to purchase from the dollar tree or I already had it in my house.

Experiment:

1) Break the girls up into teams (of 2 or 3) and assign them each a polluted water tub. Explain that water clean up can be an expensive project which is why a lot of the pollution is still left today. Explain that it is easier to clean up after ourselves and not pollute than it is to clean it up later.

2) Let them know they have a budget. We gave the girls $500 a group. Show them the items for sale (clean up items). Have them discuss as a team which items they would like to purchase. When they are ready have them come up and purchase their items and get to cleaning up their water bins. Have them put on gloves before they start the experiment.

3) After 10 minutes we had the girls step back and we examined each of the bins and talked about the methods they used to clean up. We took a vote as to which group did the best clean up job.

They really had fun with this experiment and it helps break down the problem of ocean pollution. They learned how bad it really is, how our daily habits impact pollution and the challenges organizations face with clean up efforts. Overall a successful Earth Day!!

 

 

 

Don't forget to check out our SAVE THE MERMAID patch program!

Top 7 Reasons Why We Feel Tired and Sleepy After a Great Meal: Jen from Blogondirt.com

Hey Friends!!

I'm letting Jen from Blogondirt.com take over the blog today as our guest blogger! Jenny Duvon is a huge Marvel fan. If you are going to a Comic-Con this year, you may find here there. Besides her hobby, she has a great taste for food. During the weekends she love's to explore and try new dining places. 

You’ve just indulged in the meal of a lifetime, and a short while later you feel sleepy. Your eyelids dip, and the fact that you are checking out mattresses on random websites is not helping either. Does that ring a bell?

Daisy Scout: Respect Authority

Does anyone feel like this is not the most amusing petal to the girls? LOL 

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The best way I can recommend having your girls complete this badge is through a field trip. There are so many places in your community that girls don't always get to see so take this chance and get out with the girls. I'm not even going to suggest meeting activities because they will just stare at you like some boring teacher. You know the stare I'm talking about....

Our girls love visiting new places and this was the perfect opportunity to show them something they might not have seen before. 

For this petal we did two different trips. Before we adventured, we had a brief discussion on what authority was and why it was important. We talked about how laws keep everyone safe and we referenced back to our Girl Scout Law. We also used this opportunity to create rules for our troop that the girls agreed to follow. By creating their own rules and standards we kept the activity girl led!

Field trip ideas

  • Police Station
  • City Hall
  • Court House
  • Fire Station

 

When visiting, it's always kind to bring a little something for your tour guides. The police station and Firefighters love fresh baked cookies!! Make sure to deliver a thank you note as you are leaving or have the girls send one the meeting following the visit. Gratitude is the ultimate form of respect!

If you are not able to take a field trip, this petal is pretty easy to complete in a meeting. Here are some fun activities to liven up the meeting...

  • Have the girl makes puppets of different authority figures. Have them create puppet skits where they can act out ways to respect authority.
  • Create a set of troop rules that is posted at every meeting. Have each girl add something to the rules. 
  • Play a game. This one is similar to Simon says except you can pick an authority figure. Bonus points for dress up! You know Firehouse subs has those free plastic fire people hats! Have the girls rotate being the caller.

Don't forget to follow up along on Facebook and Instagram!! Be sure to check out our fun patch programs in the shop!

Posted on April 4, 2018 and filed under Girl scouts.

Brownie Designing Robots Part 2

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If you are just joining us, we previously completed Part 1 of the Brownie Designing Robots badge! We broke the badge into two meetings because it really does require that much time if you are focused on what they are learning and not just completing the badge.

We searched and searched the internet to find an easy and affordable robot idea for the second part of this badge. It can be hard to find the right supplies but you're in luck, we have included them for you in this post! 

Create your prototype

The idea came from a fantastic tutorial on bristlebots. You can find the tutorial here: http://www.instructables.com/id/Bristlebot-1/ They do a great job of explaining and providing pictures along the way.

What you need:

Before the meeting:

Before your meeting, you will want to cut the toothbrushes down with your garden shears. You will also want to prepare the motors by stripping about 1/2 inch off of the end of each wire with your wire stripper. I also separated the materials into ziplock bags for each girl so distribution during the meeting would be easy. 

We started the meeting explaining what we were going to do and then we showed the video below to the girls. We always have great success with video media and the girls' attention span!!

We then handed each girl a ziplock sandwich bag with all of the supplies they would need to create their bots.

With the instructables website up on the projector screen (or you can print it out), we did each step together.

Debug

Oh were there bugs!!! Not just Bug Bots, but obstacles with constructing and getting them to work. But ya know what? That is the purpose of the last step!! Trial and Error. Isn't that what engineering and life is all about?

The bug doesn't work?

Here are a couple ideas to troubleshoot a bot that doesn't work...

  • There is an object (probably a finger or googly eye) blocking the motor from spinning
  • the wire attached to the foam tape is submerged into the tape and is not conducting electricity
  • The wire is not properly touching the other end of the battery.

And there ya have it! You have successfully completed the Designing Robots badge!!! I hope you found this section helpful and if you are looking for Part 1 you can find it here: Designing Robots Part 1. Leave us some love in the comments below and let us know what you would like to see next!!

Brownie Designing Robots Badge Part 1

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I was super excited over the summer when they announced the new S.T.E.M badges. We have been trying to incorporate more S.T.E.M activities in our home for the girls. Last year we got the girls the Dash robot for Christmas and they seem to genuinely have an interest in the programming fun.

When the requirements for the badges came out, I have to admit, I was a bit confused. I must have reviewed the Volunteer Toolkit way too many times and then I realized, like with most of the resources offered, they always seem to be lacking creativity and visual explanation. So, I took to trusty Pinterest to assist with my research and planning.

Here is Part 1 of the Designing Robots Brownie Badge. I do recommend doing this in 2 meetings. It's A LOT and not a badge I would try to cram into one session. They won't take away much if you rush it and that defeats the purpose, right?

Robots Imitate Nature

I was so not a fan of the video recommendations on the VTK. My girls have such a short attention span so anytime I show a video it needs to be engaging! Here is a great substitute that also reinforced their Daisy Flower Garden Journey they completed last year (in case you are a multi-level troop)

Different Robot Parts

For this step, the girls partnered up. Each pair got a marker and a sheet of blank paper. One partner was given an example and they had to pose like a robot. The other partner had to draw what a robot would look like in that pose. Example of a pose: Robot playing basketball. 

Each person was given a chance to pose and draw/ We discussed the different examples of robotic parts they used in their drawings.... joints, gears, levers, pulleys, wheels, sensors, etc.

The girls went on to build their own robotic arms to further explore how robots are like humans and biomimicry. They built arms that could both extend and grab an object.

We lightly taped white lunch bags (filled with little prizes) to the wall for our mystery bag challenge! We taped them slightly above the girl's reach. To my surprise, the extender arms worked (for most)!!! This activity was a suggestion from the VTK. I liked the idea of building the robotic arms but their explanations and materials list left me so confused. There was no direction or suggestions on how to build, just a list of materials to let the girls explore. Now, I know we want to keep it Girl led but my girls could play with a box of the supplies all day and still be confused. So I needed to create an example for them. 

Extender Grabber

So this prototype took ME about 10 minutes to make which means the girls needed a solid 30 minutes to do it themselves.

Materials:

  • craft sticks (NOT the jumbo kind)
  • Shake straws (NOT regular straws)
  • tape
  • toothpicks
  • scissors
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First, you will want to make 4 sections like this...

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You will need two craft sticks, two 2 inch pieces of straw, and duct tape. Insert the end of a craft stick into the straw piece slightly less than halfway. Insert the other craft stick into the opposite end of the same straw piece. Leave a gap between the two craft sticks to allow for a toothpick hole. Secure craft sticks and straw bits with tape. Take your other straw bit and insert it into the open end of one of your craft sticks just short of halfway. Again, leave just enough room for a toothpick hole and secure with tape. Do this 4 times.

Next

Create your joint by taking one of your sections and punching your toothpick through the center of your straw piece. Take the second section and punch a hole with the same toothpick from your first section to overlap the two sections to make an X.

Take your two remaining sections that you have not used yet and attach them to the opposite straws bit (circled in picture below) using the toothpick punching method. 

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To finish your extending grabbing arm...

You will want to create something that resembles pinching/fingers. I cut a craft stick in half and attached each half to the end of an open end craft stick with tape (see the bottom half of the picture above).

The extender grabber is now finished and at this point, you can have your girls test it out and troubleshoot areas for improvement. They might need more stability(tape) in an area. Have them play around with the arm and try the mystery bag challenge!

Plan out your Robot

Once the girls understood the different parts of a robot and how they can make one actually work, they got to brainstorming ideas for their own prototype. We discussed simple projects or tasks that would be helpful to have a robot do. 

Suggestions:

  • Feeding a pet
  • retrieving a newspaper
  • Picking up dog poop (LOL)
  • Moping the floor
  • Taking out the garbage
  • Tub scrubbing robots 
  • Trash picker upper

We decided to do the tub scrubbing robot. We found a helpful video online and the girls planned out the materials they would need. Next meeting the girls will have an opportunity to make the robots!

This concludes part 1 of our Designing Robots badge. Here you can find part 2 of the badge with our scrub bots!!! 

Designing Robots Part 2

Don't forget to comment below and share what your troop did for the designing robots badge!!