Sometimes, Guides works even when it doesn’t quite work.
Last night was one of those nights – our timing was massively out, the kids didn’t all get to do all the activities… but mostly, we had a good night.
The plan was for a ‘back to the future guiding’ night, where we would brush up the girls on some traditional skills – bedrolls, knotting, and marshmallow toasting.
The plan was to do the activities in kind of a round-robin, with the bedrolls for the Seniors done individually/in pairs, before doing them via a patrol ‘beetle’ for the Juniors. But… not so much!
YoungCoLeader was wrangling bed rolls in the hall (thank goodness we have a large hall, as 8 or so bedrolls pre-rolling take a LOT of space), I was doing knotting in the Grassy Courtyard, and ParentHelper was toasting marshmallows over tealights in the Paved Courtyard.
Splitting the activities this was was definitely the right way to go, especially as it was quite warm and getting the majority of the kids out of the stuffy hall was very sensible!!
Anyhoo, I started off with the Juniors (we went with Juniors all together, but seniors into patrols for the round robin), and decided that rather than trying to “teach knots”, I would split them into age groups, provide them with the relevant handbook, and let them self-direct.
This turned out to be quite a good method – the three six year olds had fun attempting to do a double overhand using a skipping rope (sometimes I forget how tiny our little sixies are – they’re befuddled by overhand knots, can’t always tie their own shoes, and think all problems are best solved by complaining to the leader rather than figuring it out. Ah, tiny ones!); meanwhile, the seven and eight year olds worked on reef knots (and as always happened, accidentally discovered the granny knot at the same time!); and the nine and ten year olds (well, one ten year old!) decided to try square lashing, which ended up morphing into “gods eyes” quite nicely.
I ended up spending the majority of my time with the girls doing reef knots, and I think by the time to switch over, they had reasonably got the knack – or at any rate, could identify a reef from a granny!
Switching over, the Juniors went to do marshmallows, and (some) of the Seniors came out to do knots, while other Seniors started on bedrolls. It seems that the bedrolls were taking waaaaay longer than expected, so there was a major hold up there, and only about half the original bedrolling-patrol were able to move to the knots straight away. I used the same approach of “find knots in the handbook, then try”, and we got a few interesting giant clove hitches around the park bench, but not a lot of engagement. Perhaps having just come from knot-intensive bedrolls, they were a bit meh about the activity!
Thinking it through, it doesn’t entirely surprise me that the bedrolls were taking ages – we have a reasonably high proportion of Seniors who have never done outdoor camping, and of those who *have*, in general, the types of camps they’ve been to have tended to be reasonably relaxed region ones, where they pretty much just have to get their gear to camp and home again in one piece, without the bedroll needing to be properly knotted, or able to stand up to any particular battering.
And of course, YoungCoLeader is (to her credit) very particular in her teaching of techniques such as knots and bedrolls, and so I’m sure that my imagined “give them the gist of the concept and they can learn to refine later when its necessary” thinking on the timing of the night was probably actioned instead as “if they are going to learn then they should learn PROPERLY”, so instead of 20 minutes for a patrol to do bedrolls I think it was more like 35-40 minutes… I guess my slapdash approach to things can lead to me assuming things will be easier than they actually are!
Meanwhile, ParentHelper did sterling work in keeping the girls occupied after they’d cooked their lone marshmallow (we only had one packet in the cupboard, so Quantities Were Limited), by having them set teeny little mini campfires in the glass candle holders, which they all got hugely into. It seems ParentHelper may have latent Guide Leader capacities with the “if in doubt let them play with fire” strategy of time management!
So, in the end, all the Seniors got to do PROPER bedrolls, all the Juniors got to do knotting/lashing at an appropriate level, and all 30ish kids got to toast a marshmallow… so, I guess we can call what felt like a higgledy-piggledy not-quite-right sort of a night a success!
Here’s hoping we’re slightly more organised and time-effective next week, but I make no guarantees!!