My first Girl Scout Meeting as the leader…can I survive?

My first Brownie Meeting went extremely well if I don’t say so myself. I almost cancelled due to the fact my grandma was in the hospital. However, my Grandma Ruth wasn’t one to sit around and whine about things. She would want me to continue on and do the meeting. And that is exactly what I did. Grandma Ruth was a tough old Irish lady and she would tell me not to let the turkeys get me down (or the other whining leaders who want to kill the spirit of Girl Scouting).

Fresh from my recent Outdoor 2 and Outdoor 3 training with the Girl Scouts, I was eager to put my Eagle Scout skills (and Girl Scout Leader skills) to the test with my Brownie Troop. We held our meeting at Lake Wilderness Arboretum and Lake Wilderness Park in Maple Valley, Washington. I enlisted my fellow Cub Scout leader Joel Bottem to assist me with the s’mores project. His son Ryan was a big help also and I greatly appreciate both their help in keeping all the scouts safe and sound.

On top of our regular troop being there, I also invited a Daisy Troop and their leader Laura Meyers from Maple Valley to come and meet us. I was luckily enough to meet Laura at the recent Outdoor 2 & 3 training weekend and was glad to have her help. Upon everyone’s arrival, we toured through the Arboretum and one of the Daisy mothers was very helpful on guiding us through the arboretum. If you get the chance and live in the area, you should take the time and do a little visit to the Lake Wilderness Arboretum.

As usual, the weather was rainy and cold. The Daisy Scouts were well prepared with rain coats and rubber boots. Our Brownie scouts on the opposite spectrum were wearing cotton, thin coats, and were ready to get soaked. So much for being older and more experienced…..

We made “Gauk”, did some science experiments with vinegar and baking soda, ate some smores, and we had some of the “dreaded” balloons. If you don’t know about the balloons incident please refer to my original Girl Scout post.

You never know what is going on in someone’s life…

Sadly, it has been a while since I have been able to pull together a blog posting. I know this disappoints Cyndi (my imaginary stalker) and a few of my loyal relatives (that actually read my blog). It has been a tough past three weeks for me. My grandmother Ruth passed away on April 2 after a fall in which she hit her head and had bleeding on the brain. She was 91 years old and lived a very full life. Yet, I still had a hard time with her death. The last grandparent I had died was my Grandfather Dieter and I believe that was roughly 16-17 years ago.

I haven’t had to deal with a lot of death in my family for the past few years. My wife had her grandmother died a few years ago. However, my Grandma Ruth’s death was particular hard for me due to how much of a wonderful lady she was. She was the matriarch of our family (on my mother’s side) and she helped a lot of her children and grandchildren out over the years.

I enjoyed her company and have good memories of her that I’ll be able to live with for the rest of my life. I felt relived that I was able to say good bye to her before she passed away. I’ll miss her but I’m glad she was around for so long. I was definitely lucky to be the oldest grandchild and have the chance to enjoy my Grandma the longest (over my other cousins).

This isn’t to say that I was jealous of my younger cousins since they had the opportunity to live with her. Granted it wasn’t the best for them to be able to live with her because she was more of a parent than a grandparent. I got a good chuckle out of them talking about her discipline (which I luckily missed!). They were able to spend more time with her than I was since they lived in the same house as she did. When I was younger, I thought how cool it would be to live with your grandparents versus your mean old strict parents. After a few of my cousins’ stories I now know that isn’t true.

In the last years of her life, she had Alzheimer’s and really didn’t remember much of what was happening day to day. She would fake it a lot when she saw you. She always greeted you with a warm welcome and would tell you it had been a long time since she had seen you last (even if you had seen her the day before). She might not remember you at that particular moment but she sure did make you feel important. It was always good to visit her.

I suspect that even if you were the biggest loser in life, Grandma Ruth would still make you feel great. She would pay attention to whatever you told her whether it was about the turkey sandwich you just ate, your kid’s failed math test, or the time you dropped a dozen eggs on her floor when you were ten years old.

I’ll miss her but I’m glad I was able to have a wonderful lady like her in my life.

Kevin’s Outdoor Training Weekend with the Girl Scouts!

Outdoor 2 Training Weekend March 2011

A couple of weeks ago, I attended the Girl Scouts of Western Washington’s weekend training held at camp Robbinswold on Hood Canal. The weather was the typical Washington State weather: rain, cold, and more rain. After slow progress thru the Tacoma’s Friday evening’s traffic (I discovered a lot of really neat garbage along Interstate 5), I arrived at Camp Robbinswold, a beautiful Girl Scout camp located on Hood Canal, north of Hoodsport.

Our Outdoor 2 started Friday night and ran thru Sunday. I must confess that I wasn’t looking forward to spending the last weekend of March outside. It is cold and rainy; not my idea of fun. I’d much rather be inside with the gas fireplace. Nevertheless, I was going to be outside learning about taking Girl Scouts camping.

What can an Eagle Scout like me learn at a Girl Scout training event? To be honest, the Girl Scouts run an awesome training program and I learned a lot! The weekend turned out to be very informative, well run, and fun. The Outdoor 2 class was taught by three experienced Girl Scout leaders: Donna, Debbie, and Ranger. Overall, I had a great time and would highly recommend these three instructors if you are looking for an Outdoor 2 with the Girl Scouts of Western Washington.

Our class was held outside in a picnic shelter. We discussed Leave No Trace, Dutch oven cooking, box oven baking, cleaning, cooking, keeping warm, etc. on a typical rainy western Washington day. My fellow classmates were mostly women (Russ and I being the only men) and their experience ranged from brand new leaders, to experienced leaders, to soon to be retired WSU employees (with no kids but still helping with a troop). A fair amount of us had camping experience and leading youth groups so we were able to contribute to the discussions in a meaningful way.

One thing I like about the Girl Scout program is that they require you to do the training before you take the Girl Scouts out on a camp out. In fact, before you can take a trip that is longer than four hours, you must take Outdoor 1 (on top of the other perquisite training). This Outdoor 2 really was a good example for new leaders and I was happily impressed with it.

The ladies that lead the weekend were very impressive with their years of knowledge and experience. Ranger, Donna, and Debbie were excellent and I would take another class from them. They were easy to approach with questions, listened, offered suggestions, and were truly very good at their instructor duties.

A few people that know me look at me kind of funny when I mention I had to take the Girl Scouts’ training. They usually ask, aren’t you an Eagle Scout, a former Den Leader, and a current Assistant Scoutmaster? Do you really need to take the training? I probably don’t need to take the camping training but as a Girl Scout Leader, I am required to take it. Overall, I have no arguments with taking the training and being trained in the Girl Scout way. All of the Girl Scout training classes have been excellent with great instructors, an information packet that pertains to the class at hand, and all delivered with a great love of Girl Scouting. While I might have a lot of experience and knowledge, I do not know the Girl Scout way and therefore the training is very good.

However, that isn’t to say that what I bring to the table is discounted or not respected. The Girl Scout leaders have been great to learn from and have welcomed my thoughts, insights, and jokes (I’ve kept my sarcastic wit in check much to my wife’s amazement). Hopefully, my jokes were amusing and didn’t put anyone down (besides myself!).

Overall, the weekend was a great one and I really enjoyed myself. I think the Girl Scouts have a great program. If you have a daughter, I would definitely recommend them joining Girl Scouts. Now, please keep in mind that you might end up being a leader; however, with all of the training offered by the Girl Scouts, you will be well equipped for an excited experience in Scouting.

However, if you are a bit nit picky or have a hard time handling more than one child at a time (please read my previous blog posting of how I ended up at the Outdoor Leadership Training (, then you probably should let someone who really enjoys kids lead the troop. Or take a step back and re-evaluate your own life….I’m just saying….

As always, I welcome your thoughts and comments! Please leave me a comment!