Friday Freebie 4 Free Girl Scout Field Trips

As both a teacher and a Girl Scout leader, I can tell you that children love to go on field trips. It is a way to learn that is a welcome change in the routine. Each of my roles has me filling out paperwork and getting the appropriate number of volunteers, and it is always fulfilling to see how much fun the children have. It is certainly worth the extra effort!

Free Girl Scout Field Trips for troops on a budget

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There are major franchises around the country that offer free programs that will enable your troop to earn badges or parts of badges. Here are some that are not only free, but have also been recommended by other leaders on various Facebook groups. Please keep in mind that you will have to search on each site to see if which locations offer these free programs, as not all do.

Another way to find free programs is to do a simple Google search and plug in “Free Girl Scout Programs (insert your state, city, town). Some Girl Scout councils have free local programming on their websites as well.

Auntie Anne’s Pretzel Field Trip

On this tasty field trip, girls will learn how this business originated and the history of pretzels. After this, the troop will be taught how to roll their own pretzel with dough that is provided for them to use. At the end, the girls get a tasty treat of an Auntie Anne’s pretzel and lemonade.

Free Girl Scout field trip to Auntie Anne's

Photo from Pixabay

To find participating locations, visit the Auntie Anne’s website here and fill in your zip code to find the store nearest you that offers these tours.

Microsoft Store

With a lot of emphasis on STEAM, and with technology being a necessity now and not just a tool for keeping children occupied, a field trip to a Microsoft Store is an appropriate field trip for all levels of scouts. Brownies can earn the Computer Expert badge, Juniors can earn the Digital Photography badge and they are able to do a few of the STEM badges like the robotics .

Check out the Microsoft Store website here and see if a location near you is offering the program.

Free Girl Scout field trips to the Microsoft Store or the Apple Store

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Apple Retail Store

The Apple Store has trips for educators and youth groups of all ages. Leaders can tailor their trips for their level and the badges they wish to earn. For more information, you can check out the Apple website for a full FAQ section.

REI Workshops

REI is a company that celebrates life in the great outdoors. That ties in perfectly with Girl Scouts! Local stores offer programs specifically for scouts. If you do not see one available, contact your local REI store and see if they can create an event for your girls or your Service Unit.

Free Girl Scout field trips and events from REI

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You can find your local REI store here.

If you do not have any of these stores nearby, there are still plenty of free Girl Scout field trips that you can take.

Bank Tours

Discussing financial literacy with girls can seem too much like school work. Instead of earning leaves that way, why not go on a tour of your local bank? Many will have some fun swag to offer your girls at the end (pens, folders, frisbees) and you can ask if they have a fun patch to go with their program (some banks have them available to purchase).

Visit a bank for a free Girl Scout field trip

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Visit the Animal Shelter

The girls can do a service project and go on a free field trip, like my troop did when they earned the Bronze Award several years ago. While you do not have to go in depth like we did as we spent months on this project, you can either have the girls bring in donations or you can make pet toys at a meeting prior to your trip. Most kids love animals, and this is an opportunity for a shelter to show the community how much they help the animals in need.

Dance/Karate/Gymnastic Studios

When my girls were Brownies, we went on a free field trip to a karate dojo near our school. A parent had an older child who went there, and the owners were more than happy to have our troop attend a free class. Use your connections-or just pick up the phone-and call and find out if a local business is willing to host a class for free.

What have you done for free with your troop?

 

Should You Spend Girl Scout Cookie Money on a Big Trip if All of the Girls Cannot Participate?

How can you fairly spend your troop's Girl Scout cookie money?It’s that time of year again where the Girl Scout forums and Facebook groups are lighting up with questions about end of the year activities and what a leader should do if a girl cannot attend the big end of year trip.

This is a very delicate subject. After all, one of the topics I am going to assume you discussed with your troop when cookie sales were taking place is what to do with the cookie profits. If the girls voted on a trip to Build-A-Bear, a tween salon or a trip to the water park, then it is in your best interest to make sure that the girls can attend.

In fact, one of the first things your co-leader and you should do is pick a date as far in advance as possible (one that works for both of you) and let the parents know via email. Then you have in your possession a time stamped, dated email that you can refer to if a parent starts the “you did not tell me”  or “I didn’t know” nonsense. Just resend the email and remind them that you did, in fact, tell them.

As a back-up for the first email, I would send a “Save the Date” email about eight weeks before the planned event just to remind the parents who did not put it on their calendars the first time.

How should a Girl Scout leader handle the issue of girls being unable to attend the field trip they are going on that uses their cookie profits?

 

Some leaders send out a survey to the parents to help them select a date. Tread lightly with this idea and give out a choice of only two dates, with the majority winning.  Those who cannot go on the selected date that was voted on may counter with a third date, and that may not work for you or your co-leader. Be firm and consistent.

Of course, you do not always know four months out that there is a sports competition or an out of town relative visiting. That can cause a monkey wrench in your plans, as well as those of the girls who could originally attend.

In fact, this has happened to my daughter this year. The troop had big cookie profits, and they decided to spend their money on a theme park trip. It just so happened that a big Girl Scout event was planned by our Council at a theme park in June, so the planning was made easy for the leader.

However, the big event is on the day of my daughter’s dance recital. In fact, out of 10 girls, only 5 can go on the trip due to dance and sports commitments.

My daughter was disappointed, as was I, but there was nothing one can do. Life happens and there are times when you have four things to do in one day and then a month of nothingness. I consider it a life lesson, and since she is a 6th grader, she can handle it. She has worked all year for the recital and that cannot be missed-and of course, she does not want to miss it!

No one has given our leader a hard time…it is what it is. And that is how parents should handle this situation for their daughters.

Girl Scout field trips-how to plan them so they are fair

However, the question does arise to the “fairness” of the situation. If  “cookies=a special trip”, what happens to the children who cannot go on the trip?

I believe the younger the girls are, the more a leader needs to try to be fair without going crazy and becoming stressed over the situation. Even if parents insist, girls cannot be given money if they cannot make the event, as troop money belongs to the troop and not the individual girl.

What are some workable solutions?

Is there money in the budget for the trip and a special treat or guest during the regular meeting time? Can you plan two smaller trips so that each girl can go on at least one? Can one of your fall meetings be a trip like a hayride or corn maze to help launch the year on a positive note?

We are going on our first big camping trip in the fall, and the date is set in stone and has been given far in advance (six months). The cookie money will be used for that venture, so my daughter and the others who are not going to the theme park will have a chance to have a different great experience.

Another solution, one which worked for me, was to schedule field trips during our regular meeting time or during our half-days of school. Parents who worked needed child care anyway, so that was a win-win for them. No classes or lessons were scheduled for that time since on a regular day, the girls would have been in school. Is that possible for you plan this year or keep on the back burner for next year?

Have you found a workable solution to this Girl Scout leader dilemma?

Our Bronze Award is Completed!

Today was a big day for my troop, as we took our field trip to complete our Bronze Award.  Most of the parents came along, as they had vans full of donations for the animal shelter that they had collected as part of their twenty hours.  There was much excited when I went to pick up the girls at school and as always, I get a bit nervous when it comes time to making sure everyone is in the right car and has everything that they need.  I guess it is a holdover from my days as an elementary school teacher and I was always counting before we got onto the bus, as we went on our trip,at lunch, and probably ten more times before we loaded the bus to go home.

We caravaned to the animal shelter and was greeted by their staff who was waiting for us, since I had booked the date for a tour of the shelter.  Can I brag and tell you that you could barely get through the front door from all that my girls collected?  It was an incredible site and it just made me very proud.

Just some of our donations.  Photo by Hannah Gold
Just some of our donations.
Photo by Hannah Gold

The girls spent time in the cat room, then the dog room, and then the bunny room.  There was a question and answer session afterwards and then we all went home.

Photo by Hannah Gold
Photo by Hannah Gold

Earlier in the week, I gave my parents a link to complete the Bronze Award document online and send it in.  To date, nine of my eleven girls have completed the paperwork.  I know that for two of my girls, life circumstances got in the way of completing the twenty hours.  All of my girls received an Animal Shelter fun patch for their vests, so all of the efforts did not go unrecognized.

Has your troop completed their Bronze Award project?  If so, what did you do?

 

Smart Cookies Movie for a Girl Scout Movie Party

Now that cookie season is finally over, you can enjoy yourselves and your newfound time that was lost during cookie selling season.

One way to reward your daughter or your troop as a whole is to host a Girl Scout movie night. Since this will be done off site (unless you meet at your home), you will need field trip permission forms.

A great movie that got terrific review is this one from Hallmark:

Although the plot can be a bit unrealistic in parts, the overall review of the movie is that it is great fun and teaches the girls important lessons.

Have you seen Smart Cookies?  What did you think?

Girl Scout End of Year Meetings-This is What My Troop Did

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I have been swamped with so many real world obligations, that I realize that I have not got to posting as often as I would like.

One of those obligations, that I do joyfully, is lead my nine Junior Girl Scouts.   It has been a year with some challenges when it has come to meetings, as the day we meet had several half-day teacher in-services scheduled.  That meant we could not meet after school, since it was not our regularly scheduled time.

I wanted to schedule a field trip to end the year on a high note.  My most active volunteer has two sons that are Boy Scouts, and she and her husband are very involved scouting.  Her oldest son needed some merit hours, so we talked about his teaching the girls about fire safety and how to start a fire.

It was a huge success!

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Once we arrived at my friend’s home, she had the girls chill together for a bit while we waited for my one Junior who attends a different school.  Once she arrived, we went into the backyard, which was set up with chairs and a fire pit.  Fire safety was discussed, as well as how to properly start a fire.  Then the girls got twigs and attempted to make their own tipi fires (not lighting them, of course!)

The big fire pit was lit, and we sang some songs and then made s’mores.  The girls got to play and before we knew it, it was time to go home.

It was a lovely end to our scouting year!

Did you plan anything special for your last Girl Scout meeting of the year?