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Posted on Tue, Oct 26, 2010 : 4:55 p.m.

Manage the happy chaos of a Girl Scout Brownie meeting with these tips

By Char Luttrell

Four Brownie Girl Scouts.jpg

Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan

They are lovable, energetic, boisterous and loud. They are Girl Scout Brownies. These second and third grade girls love to test the limits, to find out what they can and cannot do. Without a plan, a Girl Scout Brownie troop leader can go home from every troop meeting with a raging headache. Shawn Fitzgerald and Valerie Pratt, experienced volunteer troop leaders in Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan, offer their advice for managing the happy chaos of a Brownie meeting.

Each one teach one Brownies learn (and earn) Brownie Try-Its, which are like proficiency badges for Girl Scout Juniors, but geared to the second and third graders. Pratt recommends dividing up the work, so that each Brownie and her parent present a Try-It at each troop meeting. That way each girl feels responsible for teaching skills to her sister Brownies, Each parent/child team creates the content for at least one week’s meeting. The leader and co-leader don’t have to do all of the work. “In our troop, “ said Pratt, “if you haven’t signed up to present a Try-It, we will sign you up.” Pratt and her co-leader Sharon Tasher said parental support and involvement is vital for a smooth-running Girl Scout Brownie troop.

Here are some cool ideas for “crowd control” from Fitzgerald, who will be a presenter at Super Saturday, the GSHOM adult education event for Girl Scout volunteers and other volunteer youth workers. (Super Saturday will take place 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 13, at St. Luke Lutheran Church, 4205 Washtenaw Ave., Ann Arbor. For more information and to pre-register, call Julie Lyons at 1-800-49-SCOUT, Ext. 7426 or e-mail

edible astronomy.jpg

Noelle and Noah Myshock illustrate the phases of the moon. Their mom will teach 'Edible Astronomy' at Super Saturday, Nov. 13 at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Ann Arbor.

Photo courtesy of Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan

Organize, organize, organize Make sure the early arrivers have something to do as soon as they arrive at the meeting. Break up the meeting with a highly physical activity.

The all-powerful kaper chart The traditional “kaper chart” (from K.P. - or kitchen patrol) assigns each girl a job at each meeting (opening ceremony, snack, craft clean-up, songs, closing ceremony, etc.) Make sure everybody has a turn at the fun and not-so-fun jobs. Their 7- and 8-year-old “fairness” antennae will be up for “what’s fair and what’s not fair.” Fitzgerald suggests that girls decorate cutouts of Girl Scout Brownies to resemble themselves and the leader places the girls’ cutouts in pockets in an over-sized kaper chart made from poster board.

The imaginary toy box (or backpack or gym bag) Have the girls take their (imaginary) jump ropes out of their (imaginary) gym bags and practice jump roping in the hall next to your meeting room or even outside, if the weather’s nice. The girls have all of the jump rope songs memorized and will soon be burning off all of that energy, while you or your co-leader or other parent volunteer are setting up the next activity. This approach works with an imaginary soccer ball, too.

Hot potato Play “hot potato” with a stuffed animal or other soft toy. Toss the stuffed animal to each girl in a circle as music plays. (Just make sure the tossing doesn’t turn into throwing.) Whoever holds the fuzzy one when the music stops gets to talk; and everybody else gets to listen. This approach teaches girls that everybody deserves to be heard and that they will all get a chance to talk and a chance to listen.

Take it outside Almost every Girl Scout Brownie Try-It has an outdoor component. Take the girls outside to pick flowers, fall leaves, rocks. It helps to get them all outside and moving around out-of-doors.

Separate those cliques Girls can form small groups that feel exclusive, leading some girls to feel left out. Don’t let that happen. Mix girls up so that everybody gets to work with everybody else.

Turn the volume down “When it gets really noisy and nobody is paying any attention to me, “said Fitzgerald, “I just sit down and shut up. Soon they notice that I have stopped talking. That’s when I say, ‘ nobody was listening, so I am just waiting until everybody is ready to listen’.”

Don’t talk down to them Explain things to the girls clearly and in a fairly adult manner; don’t talk down to them. They know more than you think they know. Brownies get very excited and often carried away with one part of a requirement for a Try-It. Help them see that they need to manage their time to finish all of the requirements.

If the plan isn’t working, change the plan If the craft or activity is too difficult, too messy, or just too chaotic, move to Plan B, quickly. Always have an alternative activity planned, even if it is just standard craft (like butterflies made from coffee filters and clothes pins) or a make-it-up-as-you-go-along story, in which each girl adds a sentence to a story.

“The cool thing about Girl Scouting is that it is truly ‘girl-led,’ “ Fitzgerald said, “but in order to let them lead you have to be really organized.”

Got an idea that has worked at your Brownie meeting? Share it by commenting here!

Presenters (like Shawn) from inside and outside of Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan will offer sessions on topics ranging from “Edible Astronomy” to” Internet Safety 101: Parenting in a Digital Age” at Super Saturday. “We want to make adult education as convenient as possible for Girl Scout volunteers and other youth program volunteers ,” said Heide Basinger, volunteer chair of Super Saturday. “ We welcome volunteers from other youth organizations, schools and faith communities.”

Cost of the all-day education event is $10. Some workshops have additional costs. Child care is included. (Lunch is not included, but several restaurants are nearby.)

Char Luttrell is a communications specialist for Girl Scouts Heart of Michigan. She survived four years of Brownie sleepovers and campouts with her hearing intact. You can reach her at