A Very Girl Scout Graduation


From that Christmas morning almost ten years ago to this day of her Bridging and Girl Scout graduation, this kid has loved everything about being a Girl Scout. 

As we've journeyed down this Girl Scout path together, I've celebrated her milestones--

--felt pride in her accomplishments--

--watched her become ever more confident and comfortable with herself--

--and continued, always, to celebrate every milestone--

--through this latest, which saw her Bridge, in the eyes of Girl Scouts, from a girl to an adult:

We had a fun family gathering in the backyard for our Girl Scout troop's Bridging and Graduation celebration. The kids created their own Scouts' Own Bridging ceremony, and all the adults (and the dog) had to do was watch and applaud:

Each kid stepped up on the makeshift bridge and spoke some words about her time at her current level. Some kids talked about their accomplishments, some about their favorite badges, some about their favorite memories. Then each kid stepped down on the other side and greeted her sister Scouts with the Girl Scout Handshake. Afterwards, the troop recited the Girl Scout Promise and ended with the Friendship Circle, and as sweetly and simply as that, Will's final Bridging concluded.

And then we had a party! 

Kid-led often means being led in strange directions, and that's how somehow or other, we ended up having a Make Your Own Fishbowl Punch bar at our celebration. The troop budget could not afford the glow-in-the-dark ice cubes that the kids wanted because they are REALLY expensive, but everything else was just as planned--a selection of Nerds and/or berries for gravel, plenty of ice, a combination of Sprite or ginger ale plus blue Minute Maid or Hawaiian Punch, and Swedish fish and gummy worms on top. Add a paper straw, and you have perfection!

Before sunset, I taught the kids how to make a basic rolled beeswax candle. It's a bit of a jump start on our upcoming retired Folk Arts IPP meeting, but the kids needed to have candles in hand for our final evening activity, and what better candle than a candle that you've made yourself?

I also made each of the kids a special drawstring bag to hold their candle, on account of we're going to infuse these candles with meaning and only light them on the fanciest of occasions:

Is there anything that decade-old stash felt cannot do?!?

The labels are fabric sheets that are printable on an inkjet printer, also part of my stash for who knows how long. I LOATHE my inkjet printer, but I have to admit that the specialty papers available for it are the best. The ribbon is a silk ribbon that I bought once upon a time, but couldn't use for the project I'd had in mind for it because of those unfinished edges. I don't even know when I dyed it, but I'm sure it was some leftover dye bath or other that I popped it into, and I love the color.

There should be a word for the particular thrill of making a lovely present entirely from stuff one already owns. It's free AND it declutters your house!

Matt impulse-bought sparklers for all the kids while out and about running some pre-party errands. I don't think it would have ever occurred to me to buy a billion sparklers for the troop, but OMG a billion sparklers was just exactly what these kids needed. 

From now on, sparklers are probably going to need to be present at every evening Girl Scout meeting. They were THAT fun. 

When it was dark enough, Matt set up the projector and we screened the slideshow that the kids and I created from photos spanning all the years of our troop. OMG these big kids used to be so small! Did I know that at the time, that those small kids would grow up? I definitely didn't, or I would have cherished them even harder than I think I already did.

After our slideshow, Girl Scouts and guests gathered in a circle for an Eternal Flame ceremony in honor of our two graduating Girl Scouts. The Girl Scouts had their own handmade candles, and I passed my stash candles around to the guests. I asked each person, when their candle was lit, to share something with our graduating Girl Scouts. I suggested that they could tell their favorite memory of that Girl Scout, congratulate them, talk about something they liked about them, or offer hopes for their futures. I had expected it to be fairly short and sweet, with a lot of "Congratulations, Willow!", etc.

But you guys. Every person, even with an impromptu speaking role thrust upon them, was so thoughtful, and so sincere. I loved that for my graduating Girl Scouts, watching them receive these loving words from friends and family. I loved the chance to see my own wonderful girl through the eyes of people important to us, to hear what they love about her, their favorite memories of her, and how they feel about her. I loved that she got to hear that from them. 

The past few weeks, as Will and I have been trying to work out a suitable way to mark her high school graduation, I've been coming back a lot to something that I wrote back in 2014, when Matt, the kids, and I took a weekend trip to Arkansas to attend my baby cousin's high school graduation. It was the kids' first graduation ceremony, and they had a lot of questions. At some point during that long ceremony, the kids and I spun a tale of what their own high school graduations might look like:

"Sitting in the stands for three FREAKING HOURS for this graduation, the kids and I did some discussing of what their high school graduations might look like. We're thinking backyard party, perhaps we'll grill, some of the people who've loved them and guided them through their school years can give speeches, and they can give a speech, too."

I forgot about that for years--forgot about it for most of this year, too, to be honest. And then when we were trying to figure out what we might do to honor Will's graduation--a party? A ceremony? A cake? A speech? A cap and gown? A diploma?--none of it really felt like it fit. 

But on this night, we had a backyard party. We didn't grill, exactly, but we did roast marshmallows over the bonfire.

Some of the people who've loved Will and guided her through her school years gave speeches, and Will gave a speech, too. 

We did it, my friends. We graduated.

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