keeping track of my adventures in guiding!


On balance, a good night last night at Guides, as our Juniors learned some basic Auslan (Australian Sign Language), and the Seniors learned to use semaphore flags.

We started off with a bit of a mess though, as I attempted to get the girls to fill out a little survey about which badges they have (and which they might like in future), meanwhile, the new girls who haven’t earned any badges yet were still playing with the skipping ropes and balls, and it was all just a bit chaotic.

(Yes I should have good records of their badges… but the records didn’t get updated for a while, and then one of the other leaders was organising a couple of badges so of course they didn’t update *my* list, and then it was out of date so I didn’t bother… and… oh, look, I just don’t always have the paperwork side of guiding sorted!!)

Anyway, we then had a bit of feedback from the various weekend Guiding activities (the competitive camp, and trip to Scienceworks), before splitting into Juniors/Seniors for our main activities.

I have no idea what the Seniors got up to, apart from it involving Proper Semaphore Flags borrowed from LocalUnit for the night – YoungCoLeader entirely ran the program in the hall with assistance from ParentHelper2, and I didn’t even have a chance to glance in on them! But they all seemed pleased at the end of the evening, so I’m sure it was great :)

Meanwhile, I took the Juniors out to the foyer area to develop a few skills in Auslan (Australian Sign Language). The girls were pretty befuddled to learn that while English is used in Australia, the UK, Canada, New Zealand etc, that Auslan is only for Australia, and people using sign language in other countries won’t necessarily understand the same signs.

I went with an approach used previously, and it was just as successful this time – getting the girls into pairs, and having them pull a word out of “the hat” which they then had to spell-sign to their partner. The words were all ‘guiding’ words (things like patrol, camping, friends, girls), and the girls LOVED IT, and kept going long after I thought they would have got bored – none of my backup games were even required!

For those of you who are curious, here is how you say girl guides in Auslan:

(Kind of obvious once you know it!)

And that was pretty much it for ‘main Guides’.

Following that, RangersLeader and I took the (very few) Rangers, plus the oldest of the Senior Guides who had been invited to have a ‘try’ of Rangers for the night, for “pyromania night”. Because, as discussed a lot recently, If In Doubt, Let Them Play With Fire.

RangersLeader had organised a bunch of fabulous fire-starting methods for the girls to try, including making vaseline-and-cottonball firestarters, using cigarette lighters (all our girls are well versed in matches, but none had used lighters until now), trying out fire strikers, and using batteries and steel wool (not very effective, we were not able to get the right type of steel wool).

RangersLeader had also purchased giant marshmallows for toasting (which the girls were in awe of – they were the size of apples!), and I’d brought along some Starburst lollies, which noodling about online had taught me were worth toasting – apparently the girls agreed, as by the time I got there, the lollies were long gone!

We’ve decided to finish up Rangers for the year – RangersLeader is not yet fully qualified, and my little one is imminent, so we can’t really be sure to cover appropriate supervision for in two weeks time. We think we’ll only do one or two Rangers things in term one, but will aim to ‘gear up’ and start growing the group properly from term two – by then a couple of our oldest Seniors might even be getting to the stage of being kinda-sorta old enough to move up.

Next week: a science-themed wide game, including our friends from SisterUnit. I’d better get my imagination in gear, because currently, planning has been pretty much non-existent!!

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Paying it forward

As regular readers will know, I have often spoken about the necessity of maintaining a reasonable life/guiding balance, and not letting the guide leaders natural tendency to say “of course!” overwhelm me.

Well, lately I have failed miserably at that, with this last month involving Guiding commitments on three weekends in a row (Sunday, then Saturday and Sunday, then Sunday again…), plus a Thursday night out with a group of seniors, plus running my unit, and Rangers (although only one meeting so far), and helping out at Sister Unit for the last three weeks! Luckily these extra sessions all ended up being with other crazy overcommitted leaders, so at least I was in good company!

So how did I end up in this Guides overload pickle?

Well, firstly, a bunch of the Senior Guides wanted to try going to a local competitive outdoor camp. *In theory* the preparation for this camp shouldn’t be too onerous, as girls should gradually learn the skills required over their years in Guiding, and only need a bit of time to refine their menus and theme.

*In reality* (at least the reality of my quite-urban-not-very-outdoorsy-unit) the girls required a crash course in old-school camp skills, including cooking A Proper Meal over the campfire, putting up and taking down tents (without the leaders closely directing things!), making wood-and-string gadgets, first aid, camp hygiene… et cetera!!

So the journey started last term with a pre-meeting for potentially interested guides and parents to let them know what they might be in for, followed by a short meeting to confirm who would be attending, elect the patrol leader and second, choose the patrol name, and agree to a basic schedule of training.

This term, we then met at a local pizza/pasta place for planning – the girls had to agree as a group what they would cook (being sure to manage the food desires of each of them with the required menu balance), and the broader menu and thematic elements – and try and negotiate what “bits” they would all organise! It went quite well, and I think it was easier to do an extra night than to try and tack it onto a usual Guides night, especially as the group was a mix of girls from my unit and Sister Unit. Next up, we had two full days of training – the first day was campfire cooking, followed by tents, and a bit of “campsite planning”, which involved the CUTEST little set of campsite/dolls furniture which SisterUnitLeader had found through the magic of ebay. The second day involved cooking on campstoves, gadget making, and drilling in first aid and food/campsite hygiene and safe practices. Both days were long and exhausting, but the girls did seem to learn a lot, and hey, given the kids had to learn to do it all independently, there were also substantial periods where myself, SisterUnitLeader and RangersLeader were all able to sit in camp chairs in the sunshine and merely supervise, which if you’re giving up a Sunday, isn’t such a bad deal! The camp they were preparing for was this weekend, and apparently they did very well, woohoo!

I also managed to get myself talked into helping out for a few hours on two separate Saturdays this month for district shenanigans – once at a sausage sizzle at a local hardware store, and once at a farmers market where we had a (vastly unsuccessful!) promotional stall. Phew!

Annnnd of course I’ve also signed up to help at SisterUnit for a few weeks, as poor SisterUnitLeader doesn’t really have any backup at the moment. I’m just doing the “assistant leader” type role of turning up and being an extra pair of hands and eyes, but I know how much of a difference that makes compared to having to be THE responsible adult. I’m in constant awe of SisterUnitLeader, she’s managed to keep her wee little unit going through thick and thin (even managing to keep the unit going while she was working several hundred kilometres away!!), and is always happy to pitch in and help our unit whenever needed, so a bit of share and share about is only fair!

Finally, had my last day of crazy over commitment to weekend Guiding yesterday, teaming up with AParentHelper, YoungCoLeader and RangersLeader to take a group of kids from my unit and sister unit to Scienceworks, which was actually really fun. We went to the planetarium, and explored lots of exhibits – the ones on town construction and science fiction/space were particularly intriguing. The girls also loved the sports exhibit, which had them testing their balance, strength, speed etc.

So, that should be pretty much it for weekend bits for me for a while. And shortly this little blog will take a wee hiatus too, as I’m soon to be having a break from Guides, even a bit longer than the usual summer pause, as I’ll be on “maternity leave” from Guides (although *really* dedicated leaders tell me there is no such thing!). All going well, I think I’ve got three weeks of Guides left that I’ve committed to, but I guess we’ll see if mother nature agrees with those plans!! :)

And that is probably the other reason I’ve been madly saying yes to all requests – paying the karma forward a little so I don’t feel guilty about taking a step back for a while :)

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Old school Guiding… with mixed results!

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!!

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Memory, and memories.

Something of a disjointed night last night, but several real highlights.

For the Junior and Senior Guides, we had a night focused on getting activities/presentations completed for kids working on their JBP or BP Awards, and three girls were actually organised with specific activities, which was great (these nights can be decidedly hit and miss!!). One which did seem to get a fair bit of engagement from the girls was a Greek version of a ‘duck duck goose’ type game, which was interesting, although the girls really didn’t quite understand the differences between the words they were attempting to say. Still, nice to move away for once from games from the UK/Canada/New Zealand, which is what we usually get for these international activities.

The other really great activity was a ‘memory’ card game about Guiding, which had the classic cards face down and the girls had to pick up various cards to try and find pairs. The twist was that the pairs were questions and answers about Guiding, both international “Where did Guiding begin?” “England”, and more local “When did [Unit] begin?” “1931” (Yep, we’re old!), as well as “What do all Guides have?” “World badge” and “What is the Guides colour?” “Blue”.

The game was cleverly put together, but most amusing was the girls playing – one patrol of senior guides, split in two to form teams, and they were HYPER COMPETITIVE! Absolutely into it and sooooo excited and yelling and going crazy trying to remember the matches. One of the funniest things I’ve seen for a long time as they *really committed* to playing to win!

Also exciting was that such a successful activity ended up being the final activity for WhiteFoodGuide’s JBP. We had a chat afterwards (what had she learnt, how had she changed during the work towards the award, etc), and I was utterly delighted (and she was utterly delighted!) to agree that she had met the criteria for the award, and would be presented formally with it later in the term! Yay!! Only the 6th girl to get her JBP at the unit, and very deserved :)

Later, I joined the Rangers girls, for a bitter sweet night. Our nearly-17-year-old Guide has decided (reluctantly) to finish up, as schooling is getting too much, and she was missing so many nights it was hard to justify continuing to pay membership fees. We said she was welcome to visit anytime, and I really hope she will :)

We’ve also had two other Rangers move on – one who’d been with us for years and years, but again, school was too much; and another who (rumor has it!) may have moved over to Scouts. Not entirely surprising, given her family is heavily into Scouting, but interesting that she’d made it to nearly 14 in Guides before heading over. On the upside, we had a prospective new Ranger from SisterUnit come to try (just turned 13), and we have a crop of Senior Guides in both my unit and SisterUnit who will be due to go up to Rangers progressively over the next year, so if we can keep it going for another six months or so with teeny numbers, we should be well placed to grow. It’s hard though, very difficult to justify the time and effort for only 3-4 girls at once.

On the other end of the recruitment/retention scale, however, is Senior Guides is now FULL, and Junior Guides gained another member last night, a younger sister of a new Senior. Little Sister is seven and shy, but perked up reasonably once we’d paired her up with a couple of the little ones. I guess our unit can be alarming if you’re shy and seven, as a bunch of noisy, over-confident 11 and 12 year olds will seem very LOUD and very TALL!! Now we just need to decide if we can squeeze in a Promise ceremony before the end of term for the newbies (two seniors and four juniors!!), or whether they’ll need to wait to first thing next year. Occasionally our comprehensive programming complicates things!

Til next week then… :)

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Slimey fun

First night back for term four!

We’re working towards the ‘Science and Technology Explore A Challenge’ badge this term, which I think will be rather fun, although tonight’s first attempt was… hmm… mixed!


We started out with a bit of fun, playing “evolution” – an elaborate multi-round paper/scissors/rock game. Everyone starts off as eggs (with hands on heads walking around saying egg egg egg egg), and when they meet another egg, playing paper/scissors/rock. The winner becomes a chicken (flapping their wings and clucking). When they find a chicken, they play paper/scissors/rock. Etc etc. The next stages are dinosaur (t-rex hands and roaring); monkey (cavorting around and going ah ah ah); human (saying hello); Guide (making a salute and saying Be Prepared!); Guide Leader (wagging a finger and saying “Don’t do that!”) (hmmm not sure about the message but they all found it hilarious!), and finally Superwoman (arms in the air ‘flying’). The winner is the first girl to get to Superwoman :)

After two rounds of ‘evolution’, we split into Juniors and Seniors.

I was working mainly with the Seniors, while YoungCoLeader and ParentHelper organised the Juniors. The Juniors were looking at “sinking and floating” – YoungCoLeader had a bunch of different objects, and the girls had to try and guess if the objects would sink or float, and then see if there was anything they could do to change its status. I only looked in occasionally, but they did seem to be having fun… and making a shocking mess!

Meanwhile, the Seniors and I attempted to make cornflour slime. Despite my saying “each patrol has only one box of cornflour” and “start with only a very small amount of water”, about 2/3rds of the girls immediately flooded their cornflour and then got grumpy as they had essentially ruined their chance to make slime. I encouraged the girls to work as patrols to deal with the problem (some had gone slowly so still had the capacity to do it properly). Interestingly, one patrol was able to negotiate in such a way that they all ended up having fun, while the other were determinedly working in pairs and did not want to cooperate. It was interesting to observe the different approaches, and also interesting to see how utterly sure they were that I would have back up materials. Indeed, a couple were decidedly put out that I didn’t have extra cornflour, but I have no regrets. I was very clear about the resources available at the beginning, so perhaps next time they’ll listen when I warn them about limits!!

Still all that done, we did end up with a couple of bits of slime to play with (and, similar to the Juniors, a shocking mess to clean up!) – thank goodness we went outside!!

After a quick “reconvene” inside after everyone had washed up (to varying degrees of thorough-ness), the Juniors went to the front yard to play camouflage (a perennial favourite), while I set up the Seniors in the courtyard to do ‘invisible ink’ with lemon juice, and then use lit candles to try and show the messages. Of course, we ended up mainly with various bits of burning paper (rather than messages showing), but nothing that couldn’t be put out with an enthusiastic stomping, which they did with much glee! I think it must be written in some ancient Guide leader manual somewhere “if at wits end, let them play with fire”, as it certainly restored good humour after the trials of slime!

Next week we’ve got a night of girls running activities for their various badges, so we shall see how that goes. Hopefully we’ll get one girl finished her JBP, and another one or two very very close!

In other news, most of the newbies that visited towards the end of last term have returned, one with forms, and another potential newbie (a possible transfer from another unit due to moving house) also came along and seemed to have fun. If all the newbies stick, we’ll be full in Senior Guides for the term, which is pretty exciting! A bit of room in the Juniors though, so I guess we’ll see what happens there. Three of the returning newbies from last term are Juniors, so potentially they’ll end up bringing friends, and I know we have a couple of little sisters *nearly* old enough to join, so we should be close to capacity in the younger girls by the end of the year as well. I guess we’ll just have to see what happens with our retention over the summer holidays, traditionally the time we lose the most kids to other activities. But that’s a looooong way away. Lets get through the term first!!


Close with a campfire

A lovely final night of term this evening, as we had a campfire (sadly switched to indoor with candles due to weather), toasted marshmallows (not quite as good with candles, but still tasty!), and Promise Ceremonies for three new Guides.

We started out with the ‘campfire’, which was quite nice. We had about 7 candles lit in the middle of the circle, and all the lights off, so it was quite atmospheric, even in the hall. We started, of course, with ‘Campfire’s Burning’, and included a bunch of favourites including ‘Yogi Bear’, ‘Edelweiss’, ‘Found a Peanut’, and ‘Everywhere We Go’. We finished up with a lovely quiet and slightly introspective ‘Canadian Vespers’. There is something rather lovely about having had enough of the unit be with us long enough (and for the various songs to be repeated often enough) that we don’t need to teach all the songs each time, that they can just start singing.

We were joined by several newbies – one on ‘week three’ of coming to visit (and in uniform!), another on ‘week two’ and asking about forms, and two sisters who were apparently very keen (co-leader spoke to them), and said they’ll see us next term! Given we’re just about to lose two girls to moving house out of the area, a two-for-one replacement rate isn’t too bad :)

We finished off the term and the night with a Promise ceremony for three girls (two juniors, one senior), and one Promise renewal, for a girl moving up to Seniors. There is such a nice continuity with the ceremonies and traditions, it seems to anchor the group, and also highlights to the girls and the families that we are trying to do something more than just fun… even if that is the most important thing!

So, a two week break before we’re back to it – switching from this term’s focus on The Arts, to next term’s topic of Science and Technology :)

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Guide-directed Guiding

An easy night this week for the leaders, as the girls working towards their Junior BP and BP Award as took on the challenge of running various activities.

Firstly, a couple of girls formally presented on adventurous outdoor activities they’d done as part of a camp run by another unit in the region – one presented on canoeing, one on raft construction and (semi!) use. After the proper presentation part, the other girls who had attended the camp (7 of them – about a quarter of the group!) all jumped in with their various exciting experiences at the camp, which seems to have been a great success. I think the seven of them would have nattered about the camp all night if we’d let them!

(As an aside: how excellent are Guide leaders who are able and willing to run a camp for more than just their unit?! I’m not really an outdoor adventure camping kind of leader, so its just fantastic that my Guides can still get those experiences because others are willing to open up opportunities!!)

We then split into Juniors and Seniors, with the Juniors heading outside to do two mini wide games as designed and run by two different girls. One had a recycling theme, and the other involved hunting for pictures of a sausage dog. For nine and eight year olds respectively, the preparation and thinking they’d put into their activities were very impressive!

Meanwhile, the Seniors and I were in the hall as one of the girls ran an activity which involved both patrols using a certain mix of the contents of our sports equipment box to design a new game each, and then teach it to the other patrol. It was a reasonable activity, but could have done with a bit more pre-planning – there seemed to be quite a few elements that were added spontaneously! Ah well, as readers of this blog will recognise, I’m hardly in a position to critique people changing plans on the fly!

Next week: final night of term, which will include a ‘proper’ campfire (weather permitting!), and a Promise ceremony for our newbies, including a renewal for one of our keenest Guides to move up from Juniors to Seniors.


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Sewing peaceful guides

A lovely quiet, calm, and useful night at Guides last night, as YoungCoLeader and I taught/facilitated the Junior Guides with sewing. Most of the girls had brought along their sashes, badges, blankets or bags and so had a ‘project’ to work on. The few that didn’t have anything of their own to sew helped add to the ‘unit’ blanket I’ve started for just such a reason, and which now has our unit name in (slightly wonky) felt letters across the middle, to add to the patchwork shapes sewn on last year – an on-theme trefoil and a random rainbow striped heart!

YoungCoLeader is very patient and methodical in teaching skills like sewing, so she quickly set up in a space with girls who didn’t know what they were doing and gave them very detailed instructions on how to thread the needles, and how to do a basic stich. Unfortunately, being quite a proficient sewer herself, she told the girls they didn’t really need to knot the ends of their threads, which is certainly true once you know what you’re doing, but possibly isn’t the most practical of instructions for seven year olds who’ve never tried to sew before! Ah well, it did give them practice at threading the needles!

Meanwhile, I floated around, providing advice on “what to do next”, “how do I sew in the middle of my blanket?” and “uh oh I sewed together both sides of my bag…”.


After about 40 minutes, three of the girls got a bit bored and started up a game off in the corner – I would have let this go, but a running game when other people are using scissors and needles isn’t a great plan! So I made the three of them sit down, each with a different age handbook, and said “I haven’t had a chance to look through these properly, could you all please have a look and see if there is a fun game we could play?” which, amazingly, they got right into! After a few minutes, I headed back over and asked if they’d found anything, only to be informed “there’s no games!!” “oh, drat… well, are there any cool activities that might be fun?” “Yes!!” and they proceeded to show me instructions on making a plaited friendship bracelet, a little keyring with beads, and instructions on knotting. Interesting! So I immediately said, well, we don’t have those type of beads at the moment, but we have a box of wool in the cupboard, would you like to try the plaiting or the knotting? “YES LETS DO PLAITS!”, and so they very happily settled down with the wool box, and got stuck in, eventually being joined by a couple of other girls who had finished up with their badge sewing. It was a really nice little moment, re-directing their boredom towards something that was at least sort of on-topic, but via their own choice. Also an excellent justification for the sheer volume of STUFF we have on hand for guiding!!

Meanwhile, AwesomeCoLeader was in the kitchen with the senior guides, doing a superhuman job of wrangling 12 girls plus four lots of cooking. While the kitchen in our hall is very well equipped, like most kitchens it only has a single stove, which can make cooking quite challenging given you don’t want a crowd around it. But during the week AwesomeCoLeader had a bit of a brainwave, and decided that we should get out our little butane camping stoves, and set up two of those on the other side of the kitchen, so that she could have multiple cooking stations around the space, and apparently this worked really well! She was able to split up the girls into four groups of three (two using the main stove, which is quite large, and two using the camping stoves), and basically give them their recipes (one for cheese sauce, one for chocolate sauce) and tell them to go for it. As she said later, “cooking is an equipment game”, so if we can figure a way to give the girls enough of the essential items (enough chopping boards, sharp knives, measuring cups etc) then we can scale up activities much easier, and they won’t get frustrated and bored.

So, all in all, a good night. Also exciting was two newbies (both prospective Juniors), who both seemed to have fun, so that could be good – we’ve got  few girls moving up to Seniors soon, so a couple of littlies is could be handy :)


Weave it!

Guides this week focused on weaving, and it (mostly!) went really well.

We don’t tend to do much craft in our group – I think because although I love crafty things, I tend to like the sorts of crafts where you come up with your own design and ‘play’ a bit, and that doesn’t tend to scale well to a group of 25ish kids aged 6-12.

I do, however, find that the nights that we do crafts with a base structure that then let the girls be creative with their own twist on top to be very satisfying, and this week was one of these.

Both Juniors and Seniors did weaving, but the Juniors made their ‘looms’ out of polystyrene trays (cutting notches into the edges to run wool through for the ‘weft’), while the Seniors made their looms out of wood and nails.

I worked with the Seniors, and it was a great activity – very few of them had ever used hammers and nails before, so they were all very engaged in the activity and found it rather exciting… although I do sometimes wonder how much they find the activity exciting, and how much they find doing something more complex than the juniors exciting! This was actually quite a good one in terms of the overall task being the same for both age groups, while clearly showing a difference in complexity, and drawing out the different expectations we have of each age group.

Hammers and nails are certainly something that we’ll be keeping for older girls, mind you, given the number of hammered fingers we ended up with! I can’t imagine the 6 year olds getting through without major meltdowns. Luckily at the older age group, they’re pretty able to cope with minor injuries, and didn’t complain much – and we didn’t end up breaking any skin, so there should only be a few bruises in the aftermath!

It was interesting to see the diversity in skill level between all the girls – for something none of them had tried before, it was clear that for some it just clicked, while for others, it was a huge struggle. Two girls in particular I think ended up with only 5 minutes worth of weaving at the end, as their nailing had taken so long – and even then included a couple of sneaky leader assists. However, both of these girls are usually more at the “competent” end of things, so I think it was probably good for them to find that they’re not going to naturally pick up everything easily, but that with a bit of persistence, they can get something servicable at the end. On the opposite end of the scale, one of the older Juniors took to her weaving with such immediate skill and interest that we ended up giving her a brief chance to also do the Senior’s activity, enough to get her started and to take the rest home to complete there – she was super excited and just glowing at having found something that suited so well and that she’d never tried before :)

So, definately an activity to keep on the longer term program list, and repeat in three years or so once the current crop have all moved up a section or two!

Wooden looms under construction:
weaving board

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A night of drama at Guides and Rangers this week, in a number of senses of the word!

Firstly, the theme for the night was ‘skits and plays’, with patrols working together to come up with a short play which aimed to “show off Guides”. We ended up with both seniors patrols showing off first aid skills (decidedly dubious first aid skills in one case – I certainly wouldn’t want them treating my broken leg!!), two juniors patrols doing some general ‘games and being friends’ sort of stories, and one juniors patrol ‘teaching new kids to build a fire’.

Most of the patrols worked really well together, but one was unfortunately very dysfunctional. The group includes our newest and youngest Guide, (who honestly is probably too young for the group, and who unfortunately has “whine to the leaders” as her go-to problem solving mode), as well as two friends who we had previously separated but who had begged to be in a patrol together, and who unfortunately are proving the wisdom of our prior separation (in other words – they are both having a marvellous time together, but making life very difficult for everyone else), and a patrol leader who is really trying to do the right thing but is overwhelmed by the diverse needs of the patrol, resulting in tears of frustration! Oh, and one poor kid trying to mediate! Oh dear!

So that one patrol ended up taking about 90% of the available leader attention, as we tried to assist without being too directive and reinforcing the idea that they didn’t need to sort themselves out… no idea if we succeeded, but on the upside, all this drama did turn out well with their skit ending up probably the most cohesive and structured out of all of them! Funny how that sometimes happens, but then I guess if they all have enough capacity for drama to have flouncing, yelling, and crying during rehearsals then they might just have a naturally dramatic bent!

After Guides, I joined with the Rangers, who were (reasonably successfully) planning the rest of the year. RangersCoLeader was directing these discussions really well, so I’m sure the program she’ll pop together on the back of it will be great :)

In some bad news, one of the girls said she was planning to leave, as the group was too small (irony alert!). No idea what to do about that. Attracting new girls at the older age group is incredibly tricky, and the oldest bunch of girls from the senior guides won’t realistically be ready for Rangers until probably mid next year, and Sister Unit only has one old enough currently (but who wants to wait until the start of next year), and possibly one more mid-next year. Older groups are always difficult – there are just so many competing demands once kids are in high school. Guess we’ll just do what we can. Even if it all falls over, we’ve at least given the current crop of Rangers a few extra terms of guiding!

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