This year, for once, we remembered to register in time for the Thinking Day Postcard Exchange! We’re super excited because every other year we would be so distracted by start of the year things like registration and enrollment, that we wouldn’t think of Thinking Day until just before Christmas and by then it would be too late!
So the way it works is that you register on the Postcard Exchange Website, and then you get invited into a Yahoo Group where there is a listing of all the different units that want to participate. They are mostly American units but there are also a bunch from Canada and some from elsewhere in the world. If you’re interested in exchanging a postcard with that unit, you send them an email requesting an exchange, and if they also want to exchange with you, then they’ll respond with their address.
Important Note: This is NOT a pen pal exchange. It’s a one time exchange with an entire unit. (ie, your unit sends their unit one postcard and vice versa. The idea is to learn about what that unit does)
We decided to try and arrange exchanges with at least one unit per Guide in our unit. That way, they would each get to keep a postcard from somewhere else in the world.
We are exchanging with: Iowa, New Hampshire, Texas, North Carolina, British Colombia, South Carolina, West Virginia, Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, Nova Scotia, Virginia, England, Yukon, Hawaii and Thailand.
We decided that this was the perfect opportunity to earn our Postal badge!
Most of the girls were pretty familiar with how to address an envelope, but we quickly went over it with the girls with some examples. We also explained how the postcard exchange works.
Activity 1: Package wrapping game
We wanted to have something active and fun, so we created a game! We got the girls into teams, and then quickly went over how you should wrap a parcel before sending it in the mail. We gave each team a cookie box, a cookie case, some brown paper, scissors, tape, a marker, and a jumbled address. Each team had to wrap a cookie box, wrap a cookie case, and then correctly address the cookie case as if you were going to put it in the mail. (They could look at the examples above for help to address it right)
The twist? Each girl could only use one hand! They all had to have one hand behind their backs. This was super entertaining as they tried to use tape and wrap the boxes and realized how they had to slow down, communicate, and work together. Lots of giggles with this one!
While the packages probably couldn’t have safely made it through the mail following this activity, it was a lot of fun! The team who finished first, got to open their wrapped box of cookies and eat them! (and share with everyone, of course!)
Activity 2: Postcard time!
We took all the addresses that we’re exchanging postcards with and put them in a hat. The girls drew out of the hat which unit they would be exchanging a postcard with! After each girl pulled one out, we all looked at the map to see where that unit is from. (We bought a world map poster a few years ago for a Thinking Day activity and I can’t tell you how many times it has come in handy since! We use it for a LOT of things)
We had bought three different types of Newfoundland postcards and let the girls choose which one they wanted to send to their unit. The Moose and Newfoundland Dogs were most popular!
We typed a message from the whole unit, and printed them on labels that (sort of) fit in the message part of the postcard. (We used a small font so we were able to fit a lot!) We left a little space above the label so that each girl could write a personal message to the unit they were exchanging with. We gave them some ground rules (only first names, they could write or draw, maybe say what their favorite part of Guides is, etc.) and gave them some scrap paper with little squares drawn on them so they could practice and make sure what they wanted to write would fit in the little square. They also practiced writing out the address before writing them on the actual postcards.
Activity 3: Post Office
Now that the girls knew where their postcards were going, we went over how much they thought it would cost to send the postcards to their destinations. We also explained that how much it costs to ship a package depends on the dimensions and weight of the package, so we calculated how much it would cost to ship a case of cookies overseas and then for fun, how much it would cost to ship one of our Guides overseas. 🙂
We talked about where our local Post Office was and what they do and sell there. We talked about the different ways we could send the postcards – we could walk into the Post Office and pay them to send it, or we can buy the appropriate stamp, put it on the postcard, and then drop it in a local mailbox/red Canada Post mailbox.
I think the girls really enjoyed this meeting, and they’re super excited to get their postcards back! Some have already started to come in, but we’re going to wait until our Thinking Day meeting to pass them out and learn about all these other units! We are all looking forward to seeing what they have to share!