In my thirteen years as a Girl Scout leader, one thing I have learned is the art of killing as many birds with one stone as I can. I mean that figuratively, of course! (All the birds in Northern California are quite safe!)
When taking my troop camping, we always incorporated working on a Badge, Try-it or a Girl Scout tradition while we were out there. That gave us something to focus on, a theme if you will, for the trip. We even managed to get badge work done on large group events such as a Camporee.
The first craft I will describe for you is a Planet-Compass necklace. (See pictures 1 & 3) I came up with this craft idea to coincide with the Astronomy badge in Junior Girl Scout Handbook. One of the tasks is to construct a model of the solar system, so the girls can learn the order of the planets. We also wanted to work on Orienteering with our girls so we were going to be working with compasses. I didn’t want to do the old standard ‘Styrofoam balls and wires’ solar system model… I wanted something different that wouldn’t wind up in a garbage can in a few months time. We also wanted them to be able to wear their compasses around their neck. Then the idea hit me… make a solar system necklace with the compass attached.
I went to my local Jo-Ann fabric and craft store, and purchased several spools of eighth inch (1/8) satin ribbon in many various colors. I then went to the bead aisle, and chose 9 different kinds of beads to represent the (then) 9 planets. I guess now a days, you only need 8 for the planets … but Pluto was still a planet back then. I also included a tenth bead for the Sun, as it was the center of the solar system. I chose a gold metallic bead for the sun, then a dark gray pony bead for Mercury. A medium sized yellowish wood colored bead became Venus, and a blue patterned bead was Earth. A red one for Mars, a large orange bead for Jupiter and a whitish bead that had ribs around it for Saturn followed. I then chose a medium blue bead for Uranus, a smaller dark blue bead for Neptune, and a silver sparkly pony bead for Pluto. I bought enough for each girl to have one, and for each grown up on the trip as well.
I then trekked over to the closest K-Mart store, because they had the best prices on camping goods at that time. Now I would check both K-Mart and Wal-Mart’s prices. I found small compasses that were ball shaped and were attached to a safety pin of sorts. The compass floated in this round ball about one and a half inch in diameter. I once again procured enough of these for all the girls and moms too. At the time, they were about $2.25 each.
So, the first night of camping, after all the dishes were washed and hanging on the dunk-bag line in their net bags, I sat the girls around me and we started on the project. I had each girl line their beads up in order, from the Sun bead out to the Pluto pony bead. We talked about each planet and how their mythological namesakes were related to each other, and also to Hercules who was quite popular on television back then. (Another requirement for the Astronomy badge!) We then had the girls cut a length of ribbon long enough to be a necklace that hung about to their belly buttons, and tie a knot in the middle. This is where we had them attach their compasses by the safety pins. Then we had them string the beads on the ribbon, so that the compass was in the middle, with the Sun winding up on the extreme left and Pluto on the right. We tied the necklaces off when they were done, and voila, we had a model of the solar system that was not only a fashionable piece of jewelry, but also held their compasses, and they had a handy way to memorize the order of the planets just by holding out their necklaces. My troop members have all graduated from college now, and when I see them they tell me that they still have their necklaces, and also their Friendship Hiking sticks that I am going to describe next.
The Girl Scout Friendship Hiking stick (See picture 2 above.) is a meshing together of a badge requirement, and a traditional Girl Scout craft. Traditionally, a Girl Scout Friendship stick is made by scouts to exchange in friendship with other Girl Scouts or Girl Guides anywhere in the world. They are decorated with colored symbols which I will describe below. On the trip we were going on, we were going to earn the Junior Girl Scout hiking badge, and one of the requirements was to make or find a hiking stick. I decided to have the girls make ‘Friendship-Hiking sticks’ to exchange in friendship with their troop mates. Adults did the same!
I started with broom handles that I purchased at a local hardware store. I chose smaller, shorter handles for the kids, and longer ones for the grown-ups. Before we went on the trip, I had my husband drill holes at the top of the sticks so we could tie a leather ‘strap’ onto them. I made sure to take a couple of extra sticks along in case of disaster… a stick falling into a ravine or washing away in a creek.
I then went to Jo-Ann’s Fabric and Crafts (my favorite craft supply store, which is also on line!) and purchased leather lacing for the straps, and five colors of craft paint. (I bought two bottles of each color.) Buy Brown, White, Red, Yellow and Blue. Be sure not to forget to have enough paint brushes for all. I also took along some paper plates to pour out the paint on, so more than one girl could use a color at a time.
Before the paintbrushes started flying, I handed out one instruction sheet to each pair of girls. (I made these up at work a couple of days before the trip.)
The instructions are as follows: (See picture of sticks for reference.)
- Tie a cord through the hole at the top of the stick and tie with a friendship knot. (We used the square knot.)
- Paint a brown eye for all the dark eyed people of the world.
- Paint a blue eye for all the light eyed people of the world.
- Paint a smile for happiness.
- A Cross road shows how all races can come together, work together and love one another.
- A Green circle for Scouting’s promise and law.
- Four dots for the four races on earth. Brown, Red, White, Yellow. They can be in any order.
- A green dot for Faith… in religion, in each other and in yourself.
- Blue Stripe for charity, compassion and understanding for all.
When finished, lean the sticks carefully up against a tree or lay across a picnic table to dry; about 30 minutes. Have a fun and safe hike!
It is traditional for Girl Scout troops that are at a large camping event such as Cadette Camporee or Teque to have something to wear that unifies them all together as a troop. Here is a craft that I had my girls make one year so they could all be identified easily… Sharpie Tie-Dye bandanas. (Sharpie pens are wonderful things.) You can purchase or make plain white bandanas. (Again, I was able to get some white muslin fabric at Jo-Ann’s, and cut it into bandana sized squares. The size can vary according to the age of your girls.) Have the girls then decorate them with Sharpie pens. They can either all do the same patterns or can all be different. Large circles or flower shapes work well, or stripes. Then, take regular Isopropyl rubbing alcohol and pour it into a spray bottle. Spritz the decorated bandanas, and watch the colors run and bleed into each other. Voila, instant tie-dye. Hang them on a clothes line and they’ll dry in minutes. This same technique can be used on white tee shirts, socks or plain tote bags.
The best thing about camping with Girl Scouts is having fun, and being safe. Obey the rules and respect nature, and have a blast doing fun crafts and other projects that your troop will remember forever.
Junior Girl Scout Handbook,
Brownie Girl Scout Handbook,
Jo-Ann’s Fabric and Crafts,