A Court of Awards is a visual way for girls to receive their insignia. Unfortunately, many leaders throw all the patches, pins, badges, etc. into a zip-top bag and hand it to the girls. This negates the hard work the girls have done in the program and the importance of their rewards from that effort.
This badge program allows you to explore a variety of ways to present awards to your girls and will, hopefully, spark your own creativity.
1. Start with the list.
The worst thing you can do is to forget an award. Create your list for each girl from your planning notes, forms and other documentation you have. Review it with another adult or girls in your group. Make sure they have a way to contact you in case they remember something after you review the list.
2. Sort your list.
Sort your list into types of awards. For Girl Scouts, sort official badges from patches so you can see the size range you are working with. Do you need a way to present pins so parents can see them from the back of the room? Are items small and you’re afraid the girls will lose them? Do any of these need their own treatment to emphasize extra effort on the part of the girls? Make sure you keep notes as you look through your list.
3. Including the girls.
During the planning stages, you may give as much or little responsibility to the girls to plan and execute the Court of Awards as you feel appropriate. New girls will not know what to do, so you may find yourself doing most of the work. You can have experienced girls mentor them – from within your troop or from another. This may include anything from crafting items to use in the ceremony to running the ceremony.
They can be a great help with creating the way you hand out badges. For example, you can purchase a small terra cotta pot for each girl for their badges. Instead of giving away blank pots, let the girls decorate them. This saves you a lot of time. They will feel like they contributed and will be more excited about their awards.
Explore ways for girls of any level to help with their Court of Awards.
Sometimes, the nature of the awards themselves will give you a theme. This can be the awards earned, a favorite field trip, a party or service project the girls especially enjoyed. You can let the girls choose as well. This theme will influence the awards you give and how you present them.
Example: My Brownies chose to earn a lot of “nature” Try-Its one year. For their final Court of Awards, the bridging Brownies wanted an animal / zoo theme to fit what we’d been doing. They had each girl use headbands and make “ears” of their favorite animals. They chose animal, bird and insect songs to sing. Instead of “bridging” to Juniors, they “broke out of Brownies” complete with a simulated cage.
5. Search the Web.
Has someone done an award ceremony similar to the theme you’ve chosen? This will help your planning. Search the Web for items you can incorporate. If you can’t find something similar, make a list of the items you want to include from our possible delivery methods below and incorporate those into your theme.
6. Opaque containers.
Opaque containers may be boxes, baskets, bags, water bottles or more! Choose one of the following or a similar opaque container and brainstorm how you could incorporate this delivery method into a Court of Awards.
- Boxes — Boxes don’t need to be purchased. You can use a template and make your own. Don’t stick with the square box. Chinese take-out boxes, pyramid boxes for an Egypt theme, a paper purse or even mail tubes designed as firecrackers can add to your awards ceremony. You can even have each girl bring in a box from their favorite Girl Scout cookies.
- Baskets — You can get cheap ones at dollar stores and have the girls decorate them with paper flowers. They can weave their own baskets from paper. They may even be able to crochet small baskets.
- Bags — Drawstring bags are easy to sew. You can use color schemes or even get blank ones and let the girls tie-dye them.
- Bottles — A water bottle would not only be a different way to give out awards, but the girls would have a keepsake after the event. You could even place additional items in the bottle like candy, confetti, SWAPs, etc.
7. Faux vest or sash.
You can use a real vest or sash if the girls do not already have one. You can also make a faux one out of the listed materials in a flat or three-dimensional version.
- Paper bags
- Duct tape
- Heavy paper
Depending on your parents, you may find it easier for your first Court of Awards to provide the vest or sash (depending on what each girl has) so the parents know where the awards should be placed. Search the Web for samples to give you inspiration.
8. Using flowers and nature.
Even girls who are not “girly” love flowers. A short list below gives you ideas to start. Search the Web to find out what other leaders have done. Remember, you can make extra flowers so girls who have earned less are not so obvious during the ceremony.
- Stem (pencil, pipe cleaner, floral wire, skewer, etc.) with award as the flower
- Add awards with wire to a pre-existing stem with silk flowers, foliage, leaves, etc.
- One large focal flower with streamers, attach awards to streamers
- Let girls color cardstock flowers, attaching the awards to the flowers as petals or leaves
- Cut circles (or buy cake circles) and use awards as petals
- Hershey kiss roses with awards attached to ribbons
- Glue cupcake liners onto popsicle sticks and put award inside the liner
- Foam flowers
- Ribbon rosettes or yo-yos as flowers
- Paper punched flowers
- Origami flowers
Presenting flowers and nature items can be done in a variety of ways as well.
- Pots with “flowers” stuck into foam or through glass stones
- Vases with “flowers” arranged
- Wreath with flowers attached, woven or hanging from ribbon or bow
- Pre-assembled bouquets
- Foam blocks with “flowers” placed randomly and the girls “pick” their own bouquet
9. Playing with sticks.
As you figured out under flowers, you can do a lot with a stem and something to represent the flower itself. Why not use something other than flowers? Here are some stick ideas. What else can you come up with?
- Chocolate trefoil sucker
- Marshmallow stick for roasting
10. Books and cards.
For a low cost delivery method, you can’t beat paper. From books to cards, you can purchase or make your own
- Program books — Within the book, place a special sheet for each girl with the awards she has earned.
- Photo albums — You can purchase small photo albums and make cards with attached badges and information about placement, the award itself, date it was earned, etc. You can also put photos of the girl earning her awards.
- Cards — Use the cards mentioned in “photo albums” as a stand-alone item.
- Hand-made book — Cut standard sheets of paper to create a book and let each girl decorate it.
11. Holiday specific.
If you have a holiday close to your Court of Awards, use it for your theme! You can often find small baskets, boxes, etc. at the store. Here are a few holiday ideas for you.
- Inside stockings
- Inside plastic ball ornaments
- Stand-alone ornaments
- Attached to candy cane
- Attach to wrapping ribbon of a girl’s gift
- Decorating a miniature tree
- Inside jack-o-lanterns
- Wrapped with cellophane to “hand out” as treats
- Lunch bags cut as you would a jack-o-lantern with faux tea light inside
- Inside a “valentine”
- Inside a valentine mailbox
- Attach to paper heart doilies
- Die cut a heart multiple times, fold in half and glue to make an “accordion book” and place awards on pages
- Heart shaped box or basket
The holidays you celebrate do not have to be national ones. Look for Girl Scout holidays or even fun ones that are started by organizations or online e-mail greeting card companies.
12. Seasonal ideas.
When you’re planning your Court of Awards, ask yourself what the season is known for? Pull ideas for activities from your brainstorming list. You can start with these ideas.
- Rakes with popsicle sticks and wire with awards between the tines
- Attach to leaves
- Attach to a branch or drawn picture of a branch
- Color tags the colors of fall leaves and attach awards
- Snowmen from pre-cut circles, paper plates, etc.
- Spring flowers
- Watering pot with awards attached to fishing line
- Beach buckets
- Seashells with awards hidden inside
- Awards attached to flowers of leis
13. Adding to your possibilities.
You’ve been thinking of all sorts of ideas that fit within the groups above. Now, try to brainstorm delivery methods that do not fit into any of the above. Here’s some to start your session.
- Use awards as Olympic medals and put on ribbons to place around each girl’s neck
- Attach to simple die cut shapes that fit your theme
- Fold paper plates in half and color a rainbow on one side with the awards inside or attached to the back
- Place awards in balloons and have the girls pop their awards out
- Ribbons on helium balloons (make sure they’re securely tied off)
- Kites with awards for “ribbon” or attached to the kite itself
- Paper fan with ribbons and awards
- Paper fish with awards as scales
- Attach magnets and stick them to a piece of metal decorated as a bulletin board, refrigerator, etc.
- String of paper dolls with an award on each doll
- Shooting stars with awards attached to streamers
- SWAP hat – use the awards as “SWAPs”
14. Attaching awards.
If your head isn’t spinning enough, you need to think about attaching the awards to paper, ribbon, wire, pipe cleaners and more. You can staple, glue, tie, pin, clip or find another way to attach your insignia. Research ways you can attach awards and the advantages / disadvantages of each. Keep your notes for future reference.
15. Handing out awards.
Break the monotony of handing out awards. Here are a few ideas to start with. Read through them and then come up with a few of your own.
- When a girl comes to get her award, have her randomly pick the next girl and let her do the announcement
- As mentioned above, have the girls choose their own whether it’s “picking flowers” or “pulling lollipops from a tree”
- Create a treasure hunt with clues to follow to their treasure (awards)
16. Special awards.
Sometimes you want to recognize a job well done, a special service a girl or adult did, parent volunteers . . . the list goes on. Here are a few ideas for you. Feel free to research and add more for others to share.
- You’re special — Highlight why the person is special. Ask your girls and parents for help.
- Certificates — You can purchase certificates from Girl Scouts or your local discount store. You can create and print them from the Web. Perhaps you’d like to create your own. Special pins or patches can be attached to a certificate to help show how important the award is.
- Bookmarks — Bookmarks or other small printable items are good to hand out and can be personalized to an event, award or girl.
- Ribbons — Ribbons can be purchased with pre-printed sayings like “Good Job.” You can also create your own.
- Personal awards — Make your own laminated pins, charms, SWAPs or whatever you feel like personalized for your theme or the award itself.
Sites to Explore