Tuesday, July 18, 2017

We Made Beeswax Lip Balm for the Girl Scout Cadette Breathe Journey

I have never met any Girl Scout leader, parent, or girl who has admitted to enjoying a Girl Scout Journey. They're cheezy, oddly baby-ish in the way they speak to the girls and yet at the same time over-involved and over-complicated in what they expect from the girls, over-engineered with a LOT of filler, and really unclear on the requirements to complete them. Must a girl only do the specific steps listed for her award in the back of the Girl Book, or must they do most or all of the several more activities set out in the Leader Guide?

The only positive thing that I will say about them is that completing the Agent of Change Journey did give Syd the skills and experience that she absolutely needed to be able to plan and carry out a successful Bronze Award project. But even that Journey was an utter slog to complete, during which I had to lead a variety of pointless activities that didn't inspire me, much less the girls, AND it was at least a Journey focused on its Take Action Project. This Cadette Journey, Breathe, has bizarrely juxtaposed a theme of air with a theme of... like, personal care, kind of?.. and the TAP is both less of a focus and much more of a pain in the butt that will at some point require each girl to ask adults who the Journey hopes will be total strangers and experts in some field to join her "Air Care Team."

Stop right now and imagine a tween or young teen asking a total stranger to join her Air Care Team, while literally saying the words "Air Care Team." I really think that if a tween or young teen did that, an actual hole would open in the Earth and swallow her to save her from her embarrassment.

So, no, the girls don't love it, and neither do I, but we're doing it anyway, because they need a Cadette Journey under their belts before they can start their Silver Award projects, something that Will has about 14 months to complete. She'll need as many of those months as I can give her, so we are finishing this dang Journey this summer!

That being said, as with everything Girl Scouts, you can modify the Cadette Breathe Journey somewhat in order to fit with your own girls' interests. We'll be exchanging more sophisticated experiments for the simplistic ones detailed in the Journey (although, again, it's debatable if the science component is even required, so make your own judgment there), and our meteorology unit study intersects with it nicely, so we'll be completing that study as part of this Journey.

This particular project is a modification of the bath and beauty section of the Journey (which I am, again, not completely certain is required, but if you're going to jump through hoops, might as well jump through all of them, sigh...). The Cadette Breathe Journey as-written in the Leader Guide includes instructions for the girls to create aromatic bath bags, using dried lavender, and lotion, using rosewater and lime juice. My two girls aren't into baths and lotion, so instead we're going to create scented air and drawer fresheners (using my wool felt and essential oil air freshener tutorial here), and over the weekend we made the beeswax lip balm recipe from Beekeeper's Lab:

Will and Luna also really like the Honey Dog Treats from this book, by the way.

I made a few modifications to the beeswax lip balm recipe, some of which worked and some of which didn't, lol. Instead of using lip balm tubes, I used a stash of little containers, very similar to these containers, that I already had on hand--yay for stash-busting!

I also already had the beeswax, lanolin, and sweet almond oil on hand from other projects, so I only needed to buy the Vitamin E oil--if you know of any other recipes that use Vitamin E oil, PLEASE tell me all about them!

The recipe calls for the use of a double boiler, but I already had my crafts-only crockpot out and filled with beeswax for an upcycled beer bottle candle project that I'm working on, so my Great Idea was to have the kids measure out all the cold ingredients first--

The recipe doesn't call for essential oils, but since we were using this as a recipe for the Breathe Journey, it needed some aromatherapy components. Part of this activity, then, included discussing which essential oils were safe for the skin and how you could conduct the research to make sure. We discussed essential oils in general and some of their specific properties in an earlier session, which I'll tell you about another time.
--and then add the hot beeswax and stir them together. I'd assumed that the beeswax would melt the cold ingredients, but the cold ingredients instead chilled the beeswax, so instead of saving time, I instead spent 40 minutes with these Mason jars of lip balm mix in the oven at 170 degrees, checking on them every five minutes to see if they'd melted. I couldn't just blast them or I'd ruin the qualities of the Vitamin E and essential oils already added, GRRRRRR!!!

Finally, though, they were melted and ready to be re-stirred and poured.

Before I tell you the next story, I have to preface it with the fact that I make the children do five sit-ups or five push-ups as discipline sometimes. I do it primarily for negative self-statements--think "I can't" or "I'm not good at," etc. It's just something super quick to break the cycle of negative thinking.

Now, the story: Will, our newly-minted teenager, was being just impossible at pouring. She didn't want to wear oven mitts, but the Mason jar was too hot to hold--duh! Nor was she able to successfully just pull her T-shirt over her hand, sigh. So she consented to put on one mitt, but only on her non-dominant hand, and also the oven mitts make one's hands unwieldy, also duh, and so she really needed two.

She would almost pour, then the Mason jar would slip and she'd almost drop it on the floor, so she'd put it down and fuss and decide to try again, doing the EXACT SAME THING, almost drop it, and set it down to think again as her mixture grew in danger of starting to solidify. The little hamster was running on the little wheel inside her brain, though, just not quickly, and not pointed in quite the right direction yet, but it was persevering and so was she.

Matt, however, was losing his ever-loving mind watching this skin-crawlingly painful struggle with the seemingly obvious--seriously, I could see him going crazier by the second, witnessing this crazy overload--and all of a sudden he was all, "Here, let me do it!" and took the oven mitt off Will's hand. He had put both oven mitts on his own hands and was even holding the Mason jar over the lip balm containers before the loud gasps of both me and Syd registered with him. My girls, they KNOW what's going to piss me off.

Thanks to that gasp, I had plenty of lung power to shout across the table at Matt, "YOU ARE DISEMPOWERING YOUR DAUGHTER!!!!!" The look on his face as he came out of his "OMG get it done!" fugue and realized what he was doing--without a word, he put everything down on the table, dropped to the floor, and did five push-ups. Will barely noticed, as she went back to her labors. Syd asked if she could sit on his back while he did them.

And believe it or not, both kids successfully poured their lip balm into the tiny containers:

Each recipe filled three containers, which is perfect as it makes one to keep and two to give away. If you're doing this activity as a whole troop, I think it would be nice to keep one, set one aside for a future gift, and trade one to another Girl Scout. You could also make custom labels either with stickers or a 1" round punch and a glue stick, but since the tops of these containers are clear, the kids didn't want to cover them, and they didn't want to put the labels on the bottom, either.

My kids tend to like to have only one activity at a time, but again, if you were leading a larger troop, you could combine this project with making the air fresheners, since you'll have the essential oils out out anyway. Or maybe you don't have to do any of it, because maybe it's not even actually required by the Journey? Feel free to let me know your opinion!

P.S. Did you know I have a Craft Knife Facebook page? I post links and pics related to homeschooling, crafting, and Girl Scouts there every day, so feel free to join me!

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