Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Endless Possibilities of Retired and Council's Own Girl Scout Badges, IPPs, IPAs, and Fun Patches

It's an open secret to those who invest ourselves in Girl Scouting that our girls can still earn retired badges. Badges come and go as interest and society dictates, and badges such as Invalid Cook and Beekeeping went, and badges like Robotics and Digital Movie Maker came.

Rather, those retired badges are still there, they're just not being made.

The rule of thumb in Girl Scouts is that once official, always official. Mind you, there are a couple of naysayers (in every group, aren't there always?), but the vast majority of us hold to the rule of thumb that this tradition of badge-earning is one of the treasures that connects the community of Girl Scouts across time, and if a Girl Scout in 1957 was able to earn the Dressmaker badge, then so can her sister Scout in 2018.

The main advantage to this is that one can choose badges from over 95 years of Girl Scouting, offering girls a much wider variety of topics to study and skills to explore. Girls are guaranteed to find something that they're passionate about. Highly-motivated high achievers can't possibly max out the possibilities for their level.

Because, of course, why wouldn't you encourage a girl to explore outside of what's currently on the market, if she's interested? Why would you hold a girl back from adding depth and breadth to her accomplishments, if that's what she wants?

And then you end up falling down the rabbit hole, too, because you have to research retired badge requirements, figure out what's level-appropriate as the level ages changed over the years, and before you know it you've ended up joining several Facebook buy/sell/trade groups for Girl Scout stuff, and you keep your used copies of old Girl Scout badge books at hand so that when someone lists something, you can look it up real quick in case you need to snatch it up before someone else does.

It does help that nearly all of the badges that I've bought in this way are cheaper than the new current badges. I have bought a couple of more expensive ones on ebay, because I'm of the opinion that if my kid is interested and motivated enough to do all the work to earn a badge, then I can shell out the occasional Hamilton to buy it for her. But I'm pretty sure that even those I could have scored for a couple of bucks if I'd just waited and kept my eye out.

In my opinion, if your girl is super interested in earning retired badges, you do need copies of the old badge books. I mean, there used to not be a Cadette level. And then there was, and you could tell which badges were for Cadettes because they had a yellow border. And then they didn't, but they did have a tan background. And then there were Junior badges that came out, and some of those had yellow borders. And some of them were also identical to the Cadette badges, but they had different requirements. And then Interest Projects came out, and they were rectangles, and Cadettes can earn them, but so can older girls.

You see why I prefer to just check the old badge books?

Here are my go-to badge books for the Cadette and Senior levels:

  • Cadette Girl Scout Handbook, 1960s-1970s. This is mostly a girl guide, but includes badges in the back. These are the yellow border badges, but the later Junior badge book, below, has many of them reissued with different borders and backgrounds and requirements. If I find a Junior version of a Cadette badge that my girl wants to earn, I buy it and have her use the Cadette requirements. 
  • Girl Scout Badges and Signs, early 1980s. This book has both Junior and Cadette badges in it, with the Cadette badges differentiated by having tan backgrounds. By using this book and the previous one, I can generally identify and find the requirements for all the Cadette-level badges that one tends to find available to buy.
  • Cadette and Senior Girl Scout Interest Projects, 1980s. Here is where the IPPs enter the picture!
  • Interest Projects for Girls 11-17, 1990s. The badges in this book are basically identical to the ones in the 1980s version, BUT the requirements are different. 
Here are a couple of good (and free!) online resources:
  • Badge Fairy. Badge Fairy isn't interested in the Cadette or Senior levels, and so the pdfs of badge requirements are for Juniors, not Cadettes, but you can buy the tan-background Cadette badges here and use one of the Cadette badge books to get the requirements.
  • Palo Alto Girl Scouts. This old website has text versions of the requirements from Interest Projects for Girls 11-17
Every now and then, I'll hand the badge books off to my girls and ask them to look through them and tell me any badges that they want to earn. I make note of those and keep an eye out for them. These old badges, though, tend to just get listed in batches by whoever is wanting to get rid of them on whichever of the Facebook groups that I'm in, so I also will buy badges that I just think that my girls would be interested in, or that I know will fit into our upcoming studies. I buy many of the science-themed badges, for instance, and many of the outdoor skills ones. I buy a lot of the craft-centric badges for Syd, and the animal-centric badges for Will. 

Here is what I actually have on hand right now, waiting for a kid to earn them:

These are Cadette level, so they're for Syd. From the top left, they're Dressmaker, Conservation, Animal Kingdom: Water Life, Animal Kingdom: Reptile and Amphibian, World Heritage, Swimmer, Eco-Action, Rock and Mineral, Wildlife, Science Sleuth, Do-It-Yourself, and Computer Fun.

See all those varied science selections? They'll be incorporated into our schoolwork. Dressmaker and Swimming fit into Syd's current interests, and Conservation and Eco-Action are good outdoor badges.

The below badges are IPPs, so both girls can earn them through age 17:

From the top left, they are The Lure of Language, Architecture and Environmental Design, Horse Sense, Textile Arts, Outdoor Survival, All about Birds, Museum Discovery, Computers in Everyday Life, Inventions and Inquiry, Invitation to the Dance, Folk Arts, Games for Life, Water Sports, Digging through the Past, and Rolling Along.

I have a lot more of these, and a lot more variety, because the girls can be earning these until they graduate--who knows what Will is going to be interested in three years from now, or Syd five years from now? I generally try to get what I think they're interested in now--animals and history for Will, crafts and games for Syd--and I also collect IPPs that have academic possibilities or will get the girls outdoors or active.

Since Syd is a Cadette and Will is a Senior, and by the time Syd is a Senior Will is going to be an Ambassador, these IPPs are also really nice because they're badges that the girls can still earn together. That's fun!

Other things that they can still earn together are the fun patches that have requirements. A fun patch isn't official, so it goes on the back of the uniform vest, but many councils offer patch programs that have requirements, and these have been some of the most valuable learning experiences for the girls. They spent more time earning the I Promised a Girl Scout I Would Vote patch than many girls spend earning official badges, and the Solar Eclipse patch was an entire summer's worth of study, culminating in a two-day pilgrimage to the total solar eclipse.

You can buy council's own badges and fun patches by calling a council, or sometimes online, but I like to buy them when I travel. Will has already earned all of the council's own horse badges that I bought from Middle Tennessee when we were on our Spring Break trip to Nashville last year (and if I'd been thinking ahead, I would have bought her the Senior ones to earn, too!), and the girls have almost finished earning that Hurricane Relief patch from Texas (they just need to finish our personal disaster kits), but here's what I've got on hand right now:

I bought the sewing and space patches from the Girl Scout shop in Huntsville, Alabama, right before we went to Will's Space Camp graduation. I bought the wildflowers patch in Columbus, right before we went to the GIRL 2017 national convention. They all have requirements to earn them, and the space and flowers patches, in particular, will be easy to incorporate into our studies. The Senior badge at the top is sort of a council's own Aviation badge; both girls earned the Cadette version this year, and it was amazing and they loved it.

The main problem with council's own programs are that they're hard to find and the council doesn't always keep up with them or stock the badges/patches. Here is a fairly recent list of council's own programs, but lately, my again, my main strategy is just to check out any council shop where I'll be traveling, and see if they have any programs that the girls might like.

Here's what Will's vest looks like with all of the council's own and retired badges mixed in with the current badges:

You don't have to organize your girl's vest just like this, because the badge police aren't real. But you can easily see the retired Cadette badges with yellow borders, and the three council's own IPPs that I decided to place with the Senior badges, since they're similar in shape. In with the diamond Cadette badges you can see three council's own badges, and an official Make Your Own badge, which Will designed on the official site two days before it shut down. The Make Your Own badge is still official, however--it's even included in the Senior Girl Guide that Will bought last month!--so I'm running an experiment. I bought two sets of blank Cadette and Senior badges from Rae's Creations, and I'm hoping that my girls can hand embroider on them, or maybe just draw their badge design on with Sharpie. Or use inkjet printer iron-on transfer sheets?

Stay tuned!

Just for funsies, here's what the back of Will's vest looks like:

You can see that her fun patches, which I have absolutely crammed together, overlapping when possible, are a combination of event patches, rewards for service projects, a couple of souvenir patches from troop activities, incentives from the product sales, and patches that had requirements to earn them. The Macy's Thanksgiving Day Float patch was fun to earn, as was the Garfield Trail patch, and the Country Music Hall of Fame patch. There are a lot of happy memories on the back of that vest!

Our Girl Scout troop runs co-op style, and the girls do most of their badge-earning independently, or sometimes in small groups. My own two girls always have at least one badge that they're working on. When they finish earning it, they choose another! I present all of their badge options to them simply by having them included in the badge section of their Girl Guide to Scouting. Each girl has all of the badge books for all of the current badges in her book, alphabetized, and I photocopy the badge requirements for every retired or council's own badge that we own and put each one in, also alphabetized, AND I do the same for the fun patches that have requirements to earn. I really like that it gets them involved in new interests and doing new activities that I wouldn't necessarily choose for them. For instance, right now Will is working on the Senior Cross Training badge, and is therefore working out independently four times a week(!!!), and Syd is working on the Cadette Screenwriting badge. She wanted to watch the original Jurassic Park last night, ostensibly so she could take notes, so we did, and tonight she wants to watch Jurassic World, but this time she thinks that we should make dinosaur-themed snacks to eat while we watch.

Gee, being a Girl Scout is SO hard!

No comments: