This is a fabulous book for kids whose Soldier is deployed.
This month, our kids listened to the story, Night Catch, at our FRG Family Night.  From the website description:

When a Soldier's work takes him half-way around the world, he enlists the help of the North Star for a nightly game of catch with his son.  Night Catch is a timeless story that connects families while they are apart and offers comforting hope for their reunion.

The kids each got a bag of "Galaxy Play Dough" which was homemade play dough colored dark blue with glitter in a Ziploc baggie.  They also enjoyed using black construction paper, silver star stickers, hole punchers, and chalk to make their own constellations.

More fun ideas for this theme can be found at this Pinterest board:  Night Catch FRG Meeting.

One of our FRG Leaders recently came up with the idea to create a "We are thankful for our Red Dragon Soldiers" banner to display in the unit headquarters. She did a great job and it turned out really cute.

She cut 150 feathers out of cardstock paper in fall colors while another very talented leader drew and cut out the turkey shapes.  At our November FRG Family Night (which is basically a battalion-wide FRG Meeting), each person was asked to write their Soldier's name and explain why they were thankful for him/her.  The kids did a great job drawing pictures and the spouses had some wonderfully heartfelt words to share.

The day after the meeting, three ladies met together to put the banner together and display it in our battalion's headquarters.  We look forward to our heroes reading the sweet words written about them!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Kids start the meeting making "I am thankful for ..." mini books and decorating their turkey feathers.
Working on the turkey feathers!
Putting the banner up in battalion headquarters
Close-up of a small turkey
Close-up of another small turkey
We are thankful for our Red Dragon Soldiers!
The lovely ladies who made this happen for us!

For our battalion's November Family Night (battalion-wide FRG Meeting), we hosted a Thanksgiving potluck, showed a slideshow of photos from downrange, received some great information from our brigade MFLC (Military Family Life Consultant), and met as battery-level FRGs as well.

For more details, you can visit:

SlideShare: November Family Night PowerPoint Slides

Facebook Photo Album:  November Family Night

Blogger Post:  FRG Thanksgiving Banner

Families enjoy a Thanksgiving Potluck dinner before the meeting begins.

Unit kids enjoying their dinner.

The meeting begins with a slideshow of photos from downrange.

The kids write notes to their Soldier on "feathers" to be added to a Thanksgiving turkey display.

The Rear Detachment Commander and the unit FRSA draw for door prize winners.

A happy door prize winner!
The completed Thanksgiving Turkey!

Our recent FRG meeting was focused on Superheroes.  We started with an Italian Night potluck (which was delicious!) and watched a short slide show featuring our heroes in Iraq.  The kids always love getting a glimpse of the Soldiers before they head off to their corner of the room for fun kid stuff.

While the adults heard a report from downrange, listened to a guest speaker, asked questions, and met in their battery/company FRG groups, the kids were having some superhero fun.

After eating, the kids created a background on construction paper for their paper hero (already on the tables).  They added scenery and taped their super hero on the page.  We actually found a superhero bulletin board set at a local teachers' store with some cut outs of superheroes to use.

The volunteer leader then asked the kids what heroes do.  They save people, they get the bad guys, and they protect us all came out in the discussion.  It was the perfect lead-in to read Hero Dad by Melinda Hardin.  This book compares super heroes to US Soldiers!  One line from the book reads, "He doesn't wear rocket-propelled boots -- he wears Army boots!" One of the last lines, especially meaningful for our kids whose parent is deployed, reads, "Sometimes he has to go away for long trips, but that's what superheroes have to do."

After reading the book, one of our Soldier heroes demonstrated his protective gear.  The kids really seemed to enjoy seeing the uniforms like their own Soldiers wear and loved hearing about the safety and abilities the different pieces offered.

Next, the kids colored their own superhero masks and each received a superhero cape!  A wonderful volunteer cut simple capes from fabric and added a velcro tab for closure.  The kids loved them and enjoyed using their superhero powers.

We then created "Hero" banners to send to our Soldiers downrange.  We previously asked Families to bring a photo of their Soldier and Family to share.  We passed out some paper 'speech bubbles' for Families to write their message on, then taped these onto the butcher-paper banners with the photos ... superhero comic book style.  A border of ACU-patterned duct tape completed the banners and added some stability to them to alleviate tearing.

A copy of the movie "The Incredibles" was playing for the kids while parents were preparing to leave and it worked out very well keeping our littlest heroes entertained while the meeting wrapped up.  We also made sure every unit spouse left with a Superhero magnet, reminding them of their very own super powers.

Our Soldiers' wives are heroes, too, and went home with a magnet to remind them of their super powers.

This FRG Meeting started with a Super Italian Night Potluck dinner.  A favorite for kids AND adults!

Kids colored a Super Hero background for their paper hero then decorated their own Super Hero masks.  Here, kids listen to the book Hero Dad.

After hearing the book (that compared Super Hero traits to our Soldier heroes), one of our unit Soldiers showed off some of his 'super' Army gear.  The kids loved this.

Dragon capes for the younger boys.

Pink camo for the girls

And 'dragon flames' for the bigger boys.

Here are all of our SUPER hero kids!

Two of our fabulous FRG Leaders with their "Hero" banner, complete with photos and speech bubbles.

Check out all of the Super Hero photos on the unit's Facebook page.

For more Superhero ideas, check out this Superhero Pinterest Board.

For a peek at the meeting's agenda, see the unit's SlideShare page.

In the world of FRGs, you may encounter the need to give a personalized gift ... welcomes, farewells, new babies, anniversaries, and other events arise and you suddenly something to present.  One great resource for this (out of many great resources!) is Personalization Mall.

Here are some ideas:

Personalized Canvas Art (with optional wooden easel) ~ This personalized art is a great reminder of the unit you're leaving and makes a great farewell gift.

"Our Family Blooms" Flower Pot ~ Great for a welcome or farewell gift, filled with unit memorabilia or a favorite flower.

Personalized Wine Bottle Tags ~ Be THAT person that always has the perfect gift ready to go.

Personalized Bamboo Cooking Utensils ~ Tie on a festive ribbon and you have the perfect hostess gift!

Personalized Gift Ribbon for Birthdays - 9761D

Personalized Gift Ribbon ~ You can even personalize gift ribbon with any phrase, choose from a variety of colors, and add a graphic from the online graphic list.  Great for baby gifts!

Enjoy browsing at Personalization Mall!

We would love to add more resources for gift giving, fundraising, and unit branding.  Let us know your favorite places to shop and we'll add those, too!

Boo Boo Bear's Mission
Our battalion hosted a battalion-wide FRG Family Night in August. It's essentially a combined FRG Meeting, including a potluck dinner, photo slide show of our Soldiers downrange, report from the Rear Detachment Commander, presentation from our brigade MFLC, and battery break-out sessions.

The kids watched the slide show with us then moved to the back of the room (with a temporary divider) to have some fun with our childcare team. After they enjoyed dinner together, they created their own picnic scenes using these cute sticker kits from Oriental Trading Company.

A volunteer then read a book titled BooBoo Bear's Mission, a cute true story of a teddy bear who travels to Iraq to carry a Family's love until they can be together again.  Each child then received an adorable "Battalion Buddy" from the amazing group, Operation Gratitude.  Each box contained a stuffed animal in camoflauge plus two boxes of Girl Scout cookies.  If your FRG hasn't ordered these before and your Soldiers are deployed, contact them today!  It's a great deal and the kids were thrilled with their gifts!
The meeting started with a potluck "Picnic" dinner.
Kids enjoyed a picnic dinner then created their own picnic scene with stickers.  Oriental Trading is such a great resource for fun and inexpensive crafts for kids!
"We Love You 'Beary' Much" banner from the kids for their Soldiers.
Kids open their Operation Gratitude box ... containing a stuffed animal in camo plus two boxes of Girl Scout cookies.  So fun!
Kids with their 'battalion buddies' from Operation Gratitude!

See more photos at the battalion Facebook photo album:  August FRG Family Night.

For more ideas on this FRG Meeting theme, visit:

FRG Meeting: Teddy Bear Picnic on Pinterest

Picnic Food Ideas on Pinterest

Here's how one FRG recently hosted a battalion-level meeting with a "Paper Hug" theme.  Check out lots of fun ideas for this theme at Pinterest: A Paper Hug FRG Meeting!

The childcare team read a book titled, "A Paper Hug" to the kids.  It's a must-have book for military kids.  You can view it here on  A Paper Hug by Stephanie Skolmoski.

After reading and discussing the book, all children created paper hugs from construction paper and yarn to send to their Soldiers.  Adults assisted the kids in measuring their 'wingspan' and cut yarn to match.  The kids traced and cut out the shape of each of their hands then taped it all together to create a paper hug.

The kids were able to write on and decorate their paper hugs and write on a pre-printed letter for their Soldier.  The text of the letter comes directly from the book:
Here, a volunteer helps measure the length of one child's 'hug' to create his paper hug for his Soldier.
After creating paper hugs and decorating the letters to their Soldiers, the kids were able to write and draw on a "Paper Hug" banner to be sent downrange to the Soldiers.
While the kids were participating in all the paper hug fun, the FRG meeting went on in the adjoining room.  The agenda included a letter from the downrange commander, update from forward, photo slide show of Soldiers in action, OPSEC information from the brigade rear detachment commander, and break-outs into small groups (by battery/company).  Adults were informed of what their kids were doing and encouraged to also add a note to Soldiers on the banner.

I very clearly remember my first FRG meeting (actually, it was an FSG meeting … back when the title was still “Family Support Group”). I had been married to my fabulous Soldier for several weeks and wanted to see what this Army thing was all about. To start the meeting, the nice lady at the head of the table (whom I later learned was the battalion commander’s wife and the leader of the battalion’s FSG), asked us to introduce ourselves and tell what unit our spouse was in. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, at this point in our Army lives, I had not yet learned … well, … really anything. When my turn came, I remember stammering my husband’s name and informing the group that he was in the Army AND in the Field Artillery! (For those of you not familiar with the Army, ALL of the Soldiers were in the Army AND in the Field Artillery; it was a Field Artillery battalion. My answer just made clear to all that I had no idea about how the Army was organized.)

My husband gave me a quick tutorial that night and I learned that a Field Artillery battalion was comprised of four batteries and was a part of the division’s Artillery, called DIVARTY. I learned our battery name, our battalion name, and even found out the name of the division we were in. Who knew? Years later, when my husband became the commander of a battery, I knew that I wanted to help every single spouse feel comfortable, invited, and informed. I had learned a lot from that first battalion FSG Leader; she was a wonderfully compassionate, down-to-earth leader who genuinely cared about the Soldiers and Families in the battalion. I knew that was the kind of leader I wanted to be.

If you are in a leadership position for an Army Family Readiness Group, you likely have the same kind of goals that I did – keep Families informed, support unit readiness, and maintain a flow of communication with your unit members. There are many ways to work toward these goals … taking your local installation FRG Leader training, completing the online FRG Leader Training at Army OneSource, and working with fellow FRG Leaders to plan events and activities.

One of my greatest lessons learned as an FRG Leader was to share ideas with others. Sharing your lessons learned and taking lessons from others is one sure way to get the most of your planning.  If you have a story to share, please email and submit a blog post today!  It will be posted here on the FRG Leader blog to encourage other FRG Leaders.

If you'd rather not submit an entire post, use the comment section to share ... what was your first experience with an FRG?  How did you decide to become a leader?  What are your goals for your group?

Hope to hear from you soon!

For Soldiers serving in the oft-oppressive heat of Iraq or Afghanistan, one fun idea for a care package is a "Beat the Heat" collection. 

Start with tucking tissue paper or cellophane in various colors of blue, silver, or white into your care package box.  Feel free to decorate with 'cold' themed stickers, too (snow flakes, ice cubes, water drops, etc.).  If you have children, they can add paper snowflakes to the box.

Next, look for some of these items to complete your "Beat the Heat" box. 

Unscented, non-greasy Sport sunscreen
Sport lip balm with SPF
Water flavors like Propel or MIO
Dentyne ICE or Ice Breakers Ice Cubes gum
USB or battery-operated personal fan
Personal mister like this one from MISTYMATE
Disposable "Cool Off" towlettes
Rubik's Ice Cube game
Hockey Ice Dice game
Supersoaker Arctic Blast Water Blaster

Movies like: 2012 Ice Age, Cool Runnings, Cool Hand Luke, Ice Castles, The Ice Storm, The Cutting Edge, or Ice Age
You can Google "ice" or "cool" to find book titles to send as well.  I like to try and see what they have; there were lots of book options there! 

Here are a few more fun ideas to add to your "Beat the Heat" box ...

For military duty in hot climates comes a combo with tan neck and wrist wraps, a helmet liner, and a canteen cooler! No ice needed.

The Chilly Pad from

The Chilly Pad® provides an innovative way to cool down while enduring outdoor heat and/or high levels of physical activity. Perfect for anyone engaged in sports or work, the Chilly Pad is made from a hyper-evaporative material that retains water while remaining dry to the touch. When wet, the towel begins to evaporate and cool, providing cool, soft comfort to the user. When it stops cooling (about 1-4 hours, depending on conditions), you simply re-wet the towel in hot or cold water and wring it out. Within minutes, it's cool again. It's also machine washable, and comes in its own storage container for years of reliable use. Handy size: 27" x 17"