Magic Penny

by Malvina Reynolds

Love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.

It’s just like a magic penny,
Hold it tight and you won’t have any.
Lend it, spend it, and you’ll have so many
They’ll roll all over the floor.

For love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.

Money’s dandy and we like to use it,
But love is better if you don’t refuse it.
It’s a treasure and you’ll never lose it
Unless you lock up your door.

For love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.

So let’s go dancing till the break of day,
And if there’s a piper, we can pay.
For love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.

For love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.


WAGGGS/UN Water Badge

WAGGGS offers a series of badges developed with the UN for Guides and Scouts around the world.

The water badge covers many issues of water use, conservation, cleanliness etc. The accompanying document is 100 pages long filled with information and activities.  The challenge can be completed by anyone from Sparks to Rangers.  Even if you aren’t going to complete the entire challenge, the activities may give you good ideas and the resource pages are great.


Crest are available from the WAGGGS shop (don’t panic when you see the price they are sold in packs of 10).

Please Mr. Crocodile

This is a game I first learn in England when I lived their for a year as a child.  It is played in a similar manner to octopus but with a twist.

Set up:

The game is played in a gym or field with a safe area  or wall at each end.  One girl is chosen to be “it”.  She is the Crocodile. The area between the safe areas is the “river”.


All the girls except the “crocodile” line up across the safe area at one end of the play zone.  When they are all ready they chant the following verse:

Please Mr. Crocodile
May we cross your river
In our cup and saucer
Up Side Down!

The crocodile then says “Only if…” and provides a condition.  Some examples of acceptable conditions would include “Only if you are in the Roses patrol”, “Only if you have your fire safety badge”, “Only if this is your first year in Guides.” or “Only if you are in full uniform”.

Any player who meets the condition can cross the river safety.  The other players must run across and the crocodile will try to tag them.  If they are tagged, then they too become crocodiles.  Once there are two or more crocodiles they should work together to determine the condition.  Play continues until there is only one non-crocodile left and then she is the winner.

It’s nice to be needed

It’s nice to be needed, and do you know why?
We must all depend on the other guy.
You can work by yourself right down to the bone,
But you certainly can’t get the job done alone.
If everyone realized this obvious fact
And elected right then to get into the act.
What a wonderful place this would would be
With me helping you and you helping me!

Star Parties

Star parties are a gathering of amateur astronomers for the purpose of observing the sky.  There are star parties organized right across the country by different local clubs (see here for a 2014 list).  If there is a star party near your unit, you should consider contacting the organizer and seeing if you unit can participate in some way.  However, even if you can’t attend a big star party, you can organize a mini-star party for yourself.


In picking a site for your star party you want to seek out someplace that will have a little light pollution as possible.  Astronomers call this dark skies.  There are two sources are light pollution to consider.  Local pollution comes from sources near where you are observing, such as security lights, building lights, garden lights etc.  See if you can get the property owners to agree to turn those off for the duration of your star party.  The other source of light pollution are major towns and cities.  There are maps such as the dark sky finder that can help you find an darker sight for your star party.  Remember, anything darker then what the girls are use to seeing will reveal more then looking up in their own backyard but the darker the site is, the more they will be able to see.  It is also useful to have a building on the site of your star party where girls can use the bathroom, warm up and have a snack.


Most star parties are organized near a new moon.  This is to prevent the moons light from washing out other objects in the sky.  So unless you want to make the moon the focus of your star party, you probably want to avoid holding it right near a full moon. However, unless you are going to be looking for deep sky objects (such as nebula or galaxies) you probably don’t need to hold it right when the moon is new.

You may want to pick a date when you know there will be something interesting to see.  There are many interesting things to look at in the night sky that can be predicted such as:

You may also want to pick a day when planets such as Jupiter, Saturn or Venus are visible as they are all spectacular in their own way.

Other events like comets make make for a great star party but are harder to predict far in advance.

Be Prepared

What to Wear

To look at the stars takes time and isn’t very active.  To stay comfortable it seems best to pack for one season cooler then you are currently in.  So for a summer star party, wear  long pants and bring along a heavy sweater.  You may even wants a warm hat and light gloves.  For a fall or spring star party, you may want to wear long johns or even snow pants to keep warm at night.  In the winter bring many layers and have a place to go to warm up.

Seeing Red

Unlike cats, it takes a long time for our eyes to adjust to the dark.  It can take up to 1/2 hour for our eyes to fully adjust.  After all that time, it is a shame to loose our night vision because we needed to go inside to the bathroom or look up the position of Venus on a iPhone.  Using dim red lights will allow you to see safely without destroying your night vision but it does take a little planning.

  • By some cheep red plastic table cloths.  These can be cut up and used to cover the girls flashlights (just put them on with an elastic band) or cool light fixtures inside.
  • If your building uses incandescent lights it may be necessary to buy some red light bulbs or temporarily replace them by plugging in some red Christmas lights.
  • Red acetate can be used to create temporary filters for smartphones or laptops if you want to use some astronomy software.

Watch the weather

Unfortunately, no matter how much planning you do, you won’t get to watch too many stars if it is cloudy outside.  You should have a backup plan in case there are no stars.

You can use websites like the Clear Sky Chart  or the Aviation Weather Center to see if you are in for clear skies.

While you are checking the terrestrial weather, you may also want to check the solar weather to see if there is a chance of Aurora for your star party.  This can be checked at the NOAA/Space Weather Prediction Center.

Gather some Equipment

Small telescopes and even decent binoculars (especially if they are on tripods) can see the rings of Saturn or the moons of Jupiter.  And are great for exploring the surface of the moon.  See if you can borrow some for your star party.

Laser pointers can be useful for showing girls the sky but can bother other astronomers (especially astrophotographers) so they should only be used if you are on your own.

You may also want to get sky charts or planispheres for your girls.  You can even make your own planispheres there are lots of patterns available online but be sure to get one designed for your latitude.

Invite Guests

Many astronomy clubs have members that enjoy outreach to the community.  Why not contact a nearby club and see if any of their members would like to join you at your star party.  They may bring a larger telescope with them that would allow your girls to see deep sky objects such as nebula, star clusters and galaxies.   Or they may have photos and stories to share if clouds get between you and the stars.

My thanks to Malcom Park of the NYAA for his talk at Starfest 2014 on Astronomy for the whole family.  Many of the links in this post are from the notes he provided to his lecture.


A terrarium is a sealed indoor garden.  Once set up they require little maintenance.  Most of my house plants are in terrariums because I’m not a very good plant mom.  They are a great project for discussing ecosystems, water cycle or the care of plants.  They also make great gifts.

You will need:

  • Clean large glass jars. 1 per girl.  I like to use 2 l jars like the ones Costco sells pickles in.  Smaller jars will work but I wouldn’t go less then 1 l.
  • Pebbles or gravel – I use large aquarium gravel
  • Activated charcoal (Optional but recommended)
  • potting soil.  I’ve had a lot of success using cactus mix but you could use normal potting soil and mix in some vermiculite to make it drain better)
  • plants
  • decorations (optional)


Step 1: Ensure your jars are cleaned out well.  You may want to use a little glass cleaner on them to make sure they are ready to go

Step 2: Put about 3 cm of pebbles in the bottom of the jar.  This is for drainage.  If you are using charcoal you can put another cm of charcoal down and then mix it with the pebbles.  The charcoal helps to prevent your terrarium from smelling like a swamp.

Step 3: Fill the jar at least of third of the way up with soil. Pack in lightly.

Step 4: Plant a small plant in the middle of the soil.  In these small terrariums you should stick with just one plant.  I’ve found that large box home improvement stores often carry suitable small plants for a dollar or two and a single plant may be separated into two or three parts of the girls.  Make sure you buy plants that are small enough that they will have room to grow in the jars.  The plants must be able to tolerate most conditions.  Ferns and mosses do well as do ivies, poke-a-dot plants and spider plants.

Step 4: Decorate.  You can add rocks, shells, or miniature figures as decoration.  You can also pant or decoupage the lids of the jars.

Step 5: Water and then screw the lid on.  You only need to add a little water.  Maybe a 1/4 of a cup and you won’t need to water again for 6 months if the jar is sealed up.  If too much water is added and the jars have a lot of condensation on the inside a day or two later, just unscrew the lids for a couple of hours to let them dry out.

Challenge Planning Tool

As we set out to plan our Guiding year I thought I’d draw everyone’s attention to this great document by BC Guides that lists all the challenges available in Canada.  A short summery of each challenge is provided and what program pieces (broken down by branch) may be associated with them.  It may be a year or so out of date now as challenges are always coming and going but it looks like they do try and keep it up to date.