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 :)