Fun patches seem to cause anything but fun in some Girl Scout circles.
Few things seem to get people more riled up than the subject of fun patches. Who gets them. Who buys them. When do you earn them. How do you display them. And should you do a fancy presentation method to your scouts.
Looking back on my Girl Scout sashes, I had patches for day camp, resident camp and cookie and magazine sales. But then there were some random patches that must have had requirements, but have no meaningful context to them. (Looking back, do you remember anything for Super Troop?)
Now, as a parent and a leader, I’m a big fan of the keep it simple methodology.
1. Fun patches have to mean something. (I don’t buy council ones, mom is my leader, random ones, etc.) If there were formal requirements to earn the fun patch, or it reminds us of an activity or an event (like last year’s addiction to the yoga game game), it may be purchased for our vest.
2. Fun patches get purchased only if they don’t overlap with badge requirements. If we did a grocery store tour for a badge requirement, we don’t need a grocery store tour fun patch. This helps with the quantity issue of costs and where to put overflowing patches as well.
3. Every Girl Scout experience is unique. It’s rare that two girls will have the exact same patches on their sash or vest, even if they are in the same troop. One may go to camp. Another might have been ill and missed an outing. A third might have done something on their own. It’s a beauty in that scouting allows for such diverse experiences, and it’s always a great conversion starter with girls. Which leads me to. ..
4. Think of your girls’ vests or sashes as a scrapbook of their years at that scouting level.
5. And it’s ok if mom does too. If she wants to buy extra fun patches that said “I had a birthday” or “went swimming, ” don’t be so quick to judge. Maybe that girl was a NICU baby and every year is still an achievement in mom’s mind. Or maybe that girl was deathly afraid of water and tried. You never know the full story. My daughter has an expensive patch of the lighthouse from Hunting Island State Park in South Carolina on her vest. We visited as a family over spring break. My daughter was terrified about the height midway but pushed through 11 flights of stairs to reach the top. That fun patch, which on one level had nothing to do with our troop, is a constant reminder that I was proud of her bravery when she was scared.
I love the diversity in scouting. Every Girl Scout experience is unique. It’s time to celebrate those achievements instead of worrying about the little details.