Girl Guides of Canada and Girl Scouts of America both offer a badge to members for participating in a Pen Pal program. We decided to partner up this year with two units in the United States that we could exchange letters with.
WAGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) heavily encourages the use of Pen Pals as a way to participate in World Thinking Day each year. They have a website called GLOW that leaders can make an account on and meet up with other leaders around the world who are also searching for a unit to exchange letters with. This is how I found the two units in USA for my girls to write (they are smaller units and together make up enough numbers to match my 1 unit).
It was much easier to facilitate this exchange than I had expected. Both of the American units agreed to send us the first letter, and then we will write back when we receive them. As a part of this process, we will also do some small gift exchanges throughout the year, and send holiday postcards.
I would highly recommend that you work with the leaders in the other unit to match up specific girls (ex, Kandra in my unit with Andrea in the other unit) and have those same girls always write to one another. Also, we are sending our letters in batches. This way all the girls get letters and write back on the same night. As the facilitating leader, I send and receive all letters in one large envelope using my personal address; the leader at the other end does the same.
Additionally, make sure you read the letters your guides/scouts have written to make sure there is nothing too personal in there and that it is appropriate. You also want to make sure that they are responding to specific questions that were posed to them in the letter and asking some of their own. You will probably have to do a lesson on how to write a letter at the beginning of the program and at the start of each letter-writing session.
We are going to expand upon this program slightly, but introducing limited calligraphy. Learning to write in calligraphy is one of the ways to earn a Super Crafts badge in Brownies. Although the letters themselves will be printed, I want to teach the girls how to write their names and the name of their partner in calligraphy, and perhaps the salutations as well.
The most difficult aspect of everything so far has been purchasing reasonably priced and cute stationary! I didn’t want to use regular lined notebook paper, but I also want the stationary to be lined because second and third graders … need I say more?
Walmart, Dollorama and Amazon Canada have all let me down. Staples does have cute stationary so I guess I will be shopping there. I am going to try using a ruler to draw the lines on one paper, using that as a master, and then photocopying the lines onto the other pages … we’ll see how this goes.
I have also found some websites that allow you to download stationary to PDF and then print them on regular white paper. I’m going to try this first because it seems soooo much easier, but I want it to be quality too. Le sigh.