10 Activities Your Girl Scout Troop Can Do This Holiday Season

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Now that we are knee deep in the holiday season, there are going to be arguments on the various Girl Scout Facebook pages that I read. They discussions do not change and nor do the opinions of the various posters.

The December Dilemma is something I wrote about at length two years ago. Not everyone celebrates Christmas. If you have a troop where there are girls of various beliefs (and non-beliefs), it becomes a landmine of sensitivity. As a public school teacher for many years, I avoided this in my multicultural classroom by not celebrating any holiday. Sure, the kids would talk about them, but doing crafts or lessons on them is not something I, nor my colleagues, did.

Here are 10 Activities Your Girl ScoutTroop Can Do This December that are inclusive to girls of all faiths

Photo from Pixabay

My Girl Scout troop has always had girls of various faiths in it. As a leader who is Jewish, I was not comfortable doing Christmas activities. However, each December for the past six years, my troop has participated in a community service project that is multi-faith. I have written about it in the past (here is a post about it).  Last week I was asked by the women in charge of this project if my girls would bake again, like they have the past few years. Of course they will! It has become our personal Girl Scout tradition!

Girls have the opportunity to celebrate their family holiday at home and at synagogue or church. Not having a “Christmas party” will not cause any personal damage. In fact, Girl Scouts may be the one place where your girls get a chance to do something for others during this time of year. Giving to others, helping others, and thinking about others in need may be a refreshing change to the commercialism that has now overtaken an important holiday.

So what can your troop do instead of celebrating any December holiday?

1. Bake for the Military 

See if you have a local organization that sends packages overseas or to those living on local military bases to our mlitary who will not be home for Christmas.

2. Visit a Nursing Home

Residents enjoy having visitors. Your girls can sing songs for them-not just holiday, but some Girl Scout favorites as well! When my Nana was in a geriatric home, she enjoyed the children who came to sing for the Jewish holidays (it was a Jewish home). Play Bingo with the residents or prepare a simple craft that you can do together.

3. Build a Marshmallow Igloo

How to Make a Marshmallow Igloo

Photo by Hannah Gold

I did this with my son’s class many years ago. You can find the directions here.

4. Play Minute to Win It Games

Pinterest is full of great ideas for quick games for the girls to play that will make your meeting time rock. You can award a prize to each participant at the end if you wish.

5. Make Thank You Gifts in a Jar

Have the girls make gifts in a jar for someone in their community. If you meet in a school, make one for the principal, school nurse, secretary, custodians…anyone who deserves a thank you! Or you can make them to deliver to your local police station or fire house.

Decide if you want to make a soup recipe, a cookie recipe or a hot chocolate recipe. Make an assembly line and have the girls add a card for a personal touch.

6. Make a Sock Snowman

Here is a fun activity that requires no sewing! You’ll find the complete directions here.

7. Make a Winter Craft

There are many winter crafts that are non-denominational that you can do. They come in ready to use craft kits so planning is easy for you.

Make a Winter Charm Bracelet-Comes With 12 Available on Amazon

Snowman Foam Frames-Comes WIth 12-Available on Amazon

 

Penguin Bean Bag Sewing Kits for Children-Comes WIth 3

Available on Amazon

8. Go on a Field Trip

Do something fun with the girls, like go to a trampoline park, go on a Panera tour, or take a free class. Use that cookie money from last year as an incentive to have the girls sell this season so they can go on more fun trips all year long.

9. Visit a Sister Troop

Most areas have more than one troop. Why not meet up with another troop and get to know each other? You can make Swaps together, play games, and get to know other girls in your area.

10. Have a Tea Party

Why not have a tea party and get dressed up in your finest? It is a fun and a way for girls to earn their Manners Try It if you are Brownie Girl Scouts

Being a Sensitive Girl Scout Leader During the Month of December

Over the years, I have written several blog posts about why leaders need to be sensitive to others during the month of December (you can read about it here). It seems kind of silly to me to write about this topic every year, since we as leaders are supposed to be teaching the girls to be Friendly and Helpful, Considerate and Caring, Responsible for What I Say and Do, and Be a Sister to Every Girl Scout). However, during each holiday season, the topic of inclusion is inevitably discussed and how it is not “fair” that one or two Scouts who do not observe Christmas are “spoiling” it for those who do.

Girl Scouts-Handling the Month of December with Sensitivity

Photo from Pixabay

During recent discussions on one of the Facebook pages I read, leaders said they would ask those parents of girls who do not celebrate Christmas if the “minded” doing certain Christmas activities, like making ornaments or going caroling. Many assumed that the parents will not mind, especially if they asked in person or via email, and the parents said it was fine.

But was it really?

As a Jewish parent, I would mind. In fact, one year my older daughter made an ornament with her Brownie troop and brought it home. I was not asked if this was okay, because if I had been asked, I would have said something beforehand. However, there are many parents who will not say anything for fear of rocking the boat and making their child seem like the one who “ruined” or “spoiled” an activity for the majority of girls in the troop.

While we can agree to disagree, I believe that it is unnecessary to make December all about Christmas. The girls get enough of that at home. Girl Scouts is meant to be inclusive, and that means activities and events for everyone in your troop, regardless of how they worship (or how they don’t). We cannot escape the music and decorations and the pressure to give gifts-it is all around us in every store, every magazine and on all kinds of media. However, we can turn this into a season of giving to others and making the world a better place for everyone.

 

Should You Have a Holiday Party if All Girls Are Not Included?

How should leaders handle celebrating the December holidays if all girls cannot participate?

In a recent discussion in the Girl Scout Gab Facebook group (one of the most informative for leaders of all levels, IMO), a leader posed this situation.

Her entire troop celebrates Christmas except one girl who is a Muslim. What should she do? In her words, she wrote, “…did not want the majority of girls to miss out on fun stuff like Secret Santa etc… because of one person.

The responses, were, ahem, enlightening, to say the least.

I am Jewish. If you have read my blog for any length of time, you know I have shared my feelings about celebrating holidays and gift exchanges (this blog post from 2011). I have shared some fun winter party craft ideas and the importance of being INCLUSIVE with every girl in your troop.

I was not surprised that those who were against having a Christmas party were, for the most part, either Jewish or agnostic. Leaders shared how, as children,  they were left out of celebrations or made crafts that had no place in their home. This did not create a sisterhood for these girls, but a bad memory that lingers on as adults.

The thread got a bit nasty, as some accused others of “spoiling the fun” and “making the children suffer” over one child’s inability to celebrate Christmas at a troop meeting. When the heat of the debate is over and those passionate can think more clearly, is it true that  a child will “suffer” if a holiday is not celebrated for a 60 or 90 minute gathering?

Of course not.

Some leaders shared that they extended the invitation to go caroling or do other Christmas related activities to non-Christian girls and then called it “being inclusive”.  It is not. Those who are devout are unable to participate in the celebrating of others’ religions. It came as no surprise that these girls’ parents declined the invitation.

There were some excellent suggestions on what to do this time of year. Doing community service projects, celebrating the culture and religion of others during World Thinking Day and having a “Secret Scout” exchange or playing the “Left/Right” game at another time of year were discussed. You can have a cookie exchange during a less hectic time of year when the girls can bake a treat from their culture and share it with the others in the troop and then share the meaning behind it.

Girl Scouts is about inclusion. If an activity at a meeting cannot include all of the girls due to a fundamental religious difference, then that is a sign to you, as the leader, not do the activity. It is really very simple. Even if every girl in your troop celebrates Christmas, what happens if next year a child who does not celebrate the holiday joins your troop? Do you tell her she can participate if she wants to (knowing that she cannot) or do you do something different? Do you actively single out one or two children as the reason you cannot do something?

As a leader, you decide what is best for your troop. That means every child in your troop.

How have you handled the December holidays?

 

 

Make Your Own Pinwheel Craft for All Scout Levels-A Tutorial

One of the benefits of writing online at sites like Info Barrel  is that I get the opportunity to meet some wonderfully talented people.  Not only are they gifted writers, but they are gifted artists as well.  One of my talented friends on IB is Divaonline.
She has written an article entitled How to Make Elegant Pinwheels. This is a craft that can be done anytime of year with different seasonal themed colors-red, yellow brown and orange for fall, blue and white or green and red for winter, pastels for spring, and red, white and blue for summer.  The choices are endless, which is what I like about this craft.  The more ways I can use it, the better!
Another reason I like this craft is that it is perfect for all levels of Girl Scouts.  Daisies are going to need extra help, so be sure to get a few volunteers at your meeting if you are planning on doing this craft with them.  An older Girl Scout troop can help you out and be a sister to every Girl Scout, especially if they need to help younger girls before they bridge. If you choose to go with a sister troop, give them directions ahead of time so they can practice the craft and be better helpers.
Older Girl Scout troops can do this craft independently. In fact, if they make enough of them, they can be sold at craft fairs to raise money (if you have sold QSP and cookies) or do them with senior citizens as a community service project.  These would also make great gifts for children.
Here is a photo of what the finished products look like.  Divaonline gave me permission to use it.
Photo by Divaonline, used with permission
If you like this craft, you will find more on Domestic Diva, her website.

Girls Scout Beading Projects Make Easy Meetings

Girl Scout beading projects  make for easy meetings, especially during the busy upcoming holiday season.  There are many beading crafts available online or in craft stores.

The Girl Scout Law Beading Activity Kit is perfect for Daisies.  Be sure to have a few volunteers on hand to help the girls.

For Brownies and Juniors, this craft is a great ice breaker for the first meeting of the year.  Or they could make this necklace as part of “being a sister to every Girl Scout”  when working with a younger Daisy troop.

If your troop is able to do fundraisers, they can make bead bracelets and sell them at craft fairs or to people they know.  It is inexpensive to buy beads in bulk packages.  Girls can also make bracelets and necklaces as holiday gifts for friends and family.

Girl Scout Swaps are also fun for girls to do and share with other Girl Scouts.

Make a meeting easier for yourself with a Girl Scout beading project!