guideydiary

keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Bringing friends, growing guiding… perhaps!

Two weeks of ‘bring a friend’ nights, which will hopefully (maybe?) grow our units. We’re not struggling for members (woohoo!), but the extra leaders, and a bit of time for us to get used to the current numbers, and we think we could comfortably go up an extra patrol worth in the Juniors, and an extra few in Seniors would be handy, as several are due to head up to Rangers in the next term or two.

We decided to split the  bring a friend activities over two weeks, as there is always added complexity when you have newbies around. Week one, the Juniors brought friends for a Swiss themed night (world guiding: tick!) – we started off with some newspaper skiing races and games, followed by three stations for the patrols + pals to move around. One was a raclette station – co-leader brought long her special tiny little raclette grill pans, and the girls chopped veggies and cheese for grilling. Properly Swiss, and something they certainly hadn’t done before! Another station was chocolate fondue – we had marshmallows and fruit for the girls to dip in the fondue, which of course went down a treat! The final station had three different crafty options – a tapestry-ish bookmark (sewn with wool), a little woven heart shape, and a papercut.

Finally, to bring them all back together and add a touch more ‘play’, we had several rounds of a giants treasure style game, with the object to catch being a small cow figure.

It all went well, I think. But no returns the following week, so who knows??

To be fair, the following week was a bit of a challenge – owing to our landlords letting us know only a few days in advance that they’d double-booked our hall (and had over 400 people coming!!), we had to do some quick work to move for the night. Luckily, we were able to move to another hall in the district, but we did have a drop off in numbers, as the location really wasn’t as convenient for many of our families.

Anyhoo, for the second bring-a-friend we had our Seniors girls inviting their mates for a zombie wide game. I’d done this years ago to some success, and decided to revamp and update it, adding in a de-coding element, which required the girls to travel as zombies (with the limping, lumbering walk, lolling heads and outstretched arms) to their next destination, which added probably an extra 10 minutes, which was enough. They all seemed to have fun, and luckily, although it was reasonably chilly, it was a dry night so we were able to have them all outside for the whole time, so, I’m counting that as a ‘tick’ in the “outdoors” fundamentals column!!

I suppose the next few weeks will show if these efforts lead to any extra friends joining us… but to some extent, I suppose it doesn’t matter: the two nights went well, and our existing members had a fun night to show off to their friends – nothing too earnest to be embarrassed about, but also proper showcases of guiding activities, the mix of cooking, crafting, outdoors, and fun that we try to aim for. So, we’ll see!

 

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Cooking with managed chaos, and some calm crafting

Well, Awesome Co-Leader earned her blog name this week, somehow managing to wrangle 20 kids all cooking at once.

Thankfully, we have lots of knives and chopping boards (although, as it turned out, still not quite enough!), so the stir-frying all got done, with two pairs at a time using woks on the kitchen stove, and two pairs using our old faithful little camping stoves. Writing it down, it doesn’t seem so bad, but gosh, it seemed overwhelming in terms of moving parts on the night, plus the sheer logistics of getting that many kids safely in and out of the kitchen (in an hour and a half!) was kind of crazy.

Still, they all cooked, all explored some new flavours, textures, and ingredients, and all seemed happy at the end of the night!

Meanwhile, I organised the juniors group for a lovely calm craft night, using cellophane and glass bricks (amazing what you find at the hardware when you “think wide” about the task!) to make nature-ish scenes. I say “ish”, as according to the girls, apparently nature scenes now include Pokemon… 😆

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Next week- a bring-a-friend Our Chalet themed night for the juniors (hopefully we’ll have a crowd!), and a play-with-the-craft-odds-and-ends night for the seniors. Should be fun!

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Guiding again

Cruisey first night back for term 3 – Juniors playing a bunch of games with a ‘nature’ theme (variations on classics fruit salad, tiggy, rob the nest, and kim’s game), Seniors getting started on their Lifeskills (Cooking) trefoil one, with a bunch of activities based around food safety, and the Rangers being overgrown tiny kids playing games in the dark.

It was an easy night for me, as our whole multi-leaders thing swung into action, and I wasn’t needed to run things – my main contribution to the evening being an idea that we could fun-up the food safety activities by having the girls make up short jingles about using up food scraps – which I got to be the judge of – they were hilarious/terrible, but the girls were all having a lot of fun, knowing that they were quite, quite bad!:)

This term, we’ve got the Juniors working on the Nature Create-A-Challenge (based off a bunch of suggestions from the girls which seemed to have a surprisingly strong plants and nature focus), and the Seniors doing the “proper cooking” Lifeskills (cooking) badge – we decided that they all keep asking for cooking, so lets do it properly!! They probably won’t want to see the inside of the kitchen after this term for quite a while!

We’ve done the Nature badge previously, but over a camp based around bugs and critters, so we’ll take quite a different approach this time – keeping it interesting for the adults as well as the girls!

Next week – butterfly craftiness for the littlies, stirfry cooking for the seniors.

 

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Campfire cooking

An excellent final night of term, as our seniors group embraced the cold and expanded their campfire cooking skills.

We had a slightly smaller group than usual, as several girls were already on holidays, plus the usual winter illnesses (although not too bad, still 15 kids) –  but that worked quite well, as we were able to have the whole group working together in various configurations.

We used our usual fires-in-tinfoil-trays set up, but had two of them together, so that we could slide our little cast iron grill top (which has legs about 40cms tall) over the top to cook on.

As usual with cooking and with fire, we didn’t quite get finished in time, leaving the leaders to put out and clean up the fire, but at least we were organised enough that the girls had done the cleaning up of the left over kindling and washed and put away the dishes!

We cooked vegetable skewers, using eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, capsicum, and red onion. Chopped the pieces finely, and drizzled a bit of oil over them – mostly they turned out quite well, and even our veggie-averse kids mostly seemed to enjoy them… or at least parts! The zucchini was particularly popular, with several girls seeming a little shocked that they actually liked zucchini done that way!

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For dessert, we put some crushed plain guide biscuits in muffin tins (with muffin cases), added a marshmallow, a slice of banana (or pear, for a couple of banana-allergic kids), and a large chocolate drop. The first set were probably left on a bit long (the biscuits at the bottom were a bit too… well, charcoal. But the second set which had about half the time on the heat were delicious!

While all this was going on, the juniors group went for a night time expedition to the local park, and had fun playing games in the dark and cold.

All in all, a good term, looking forward to a couple of weeks without the kids… but with planning and tackling cleaning out the cupboards!

 

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Sewing, science, and skyscrapers

Fun and delightfully planned-by-others night at Guides this week, as we split the girls up into three groups (rather than the usual two), separating out our high schoolers (who we refer to as ‘upper seniors’)  from our seniors, and having separate programs for them, and separate again for the juniors.

The Upper Seniors had fun in the kitchen, doing crazy masterchef style ‘molecular gastronomy’ experiments – making ‘cordial caviar’, ‘fruit fettucinni’ and various other concoctions! It was basically science via food, and they all seemed to really get into it.

Meanwhile, the Seniors were working in patrols to tackle a series of skyscraper challenges, building towers out of skewers and marshmallows, legos, straws (strong enough to hold a tennis ball), and various games based on towers, like jenga. I peeked in a couple of times and they were all really engaged, with lots of giggling, plus a bunch of gentle of teasing the opposing patrols.

I was mainly working with the Juniors for the night, doing sewing. Newest co-leader (leader #6, yes, we’re super lucky!!) had arranged for the girls to sew little echidna shapes out of a stretchy fabric, which was then filled with dirt and grass seed, with the idea that with a bit of love, care, and water, will end up having echidna ‘spikes’ of grass in a week or two!

Once again, the juniors were fantastic at the sewing, really engaged, and quietly focused. They all did both hand-sewing of two button eyes (and even our littlest 6 year olds managed this just fine), plus at least some of the machine sewing of the pieces together. We did have a few sneaky cheats to help progress – a mum helper got a production line going of pre-threaded and knotted sewing needles, so we didn’t have to fuss about that, and our new junior leader (well… not yet official, as she’s not *quite* 14) was fabulous at wrangling the filling of the echidnas with dirt, and generally trouble-shooting. Anyway, a great night, and one where all of the girls seemed happy and settled.

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Campfire!

Lovely multi-age program this week, as we integrated our Juniors/Seniors and Rangers programs for evening.

Our units meet at a slightly separate time – the Juniors/Seniors together from 6.30 to 8.00pm, the Rangers from 7.00 to 8.30pm. So rather than having a fully integrated program, we went with a slightly staggered approach.

From 6.30 to 7.30 (ish!), our younger girls all worked on making situpons. At a district camp at the start of the year we noticed that another unit had a set of lightweight situpons that they were able to easily stack and carry, and started thinking about how we could do something similar.

Cue leaders pondering!

Our original plan was to use a heavyweight plastic tablecloth, but on pricing it out, it was going to be quite an expensive little project. Which is fine (what are fees for if not to buy cool things?), but I got to pondering. Luckily, on a trip to Ikea, inspiration struck in the form of a whole bunch of their iconic shopping bags being on sale – a slightly smaller size than usual (hence I guess why they were getting rid of them), and only 49 cents each! And we could get two situpons out of each one! BARGAIN OF THE CENTURY.

Anyway, back to the girls. They all worked to do their own interpretation of the one I’d mocked up, cutting out the two pieces from the bags, edging them with heavy packing tape in bright colours, and then doing various designs on them in permanent markers. Our plan is to stash them in our shed and have them as our ‘unit set’ of situpons for as long as they last! And the particularly brilliant thing about them being based on Ikea bags, is that if the unit grows, or we lose a bunch, or they wear out or whatever, we can easily replace them. WOOHOO!

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Here’s the example one I did for the girls – its hard to tell the scale here, but they’re about 45 cms long, and about 30 cms wide. Plenty big enough for even a chunky bottom to stay dry on the went ground!

So that’s what was happening from 6.30 to 7.30. Meanwhile, at 7.00 the Rangers group commenced, and they were tasked with setting and starting our campfire outside. I expected a bit of complaining (wood collecting always brings it on!), but they were pretty chirpy and cooperative, which I think was aided by the fact that I’d managed to raid my work’s recycling stash and had come well prepared with heaps of newspaper, so we knew at the very least we’d get some decent flames happening with minimal effort.

At 7.30, the whole unit joined together, putting the new situpons into action, and singing a bunch of campfire songs, using a program put together by one of the Rangers girls as part of her BP Award, and including a few songs led by one of our Juniors as part of her Junior BP Award! We finished up with a Promise Ceremony for two of our littlest members, then said goodbye to our Juniors and Seniors, leaving the Rangers with half an hour to toast some marshmallows (their reward for doing the hard work of the fire prep!) and then douse the fire and clean up.

All in all, a really lovely night, and a good one to bring together the various age groups in a way that used all their individual strengths.

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Journey to Japan (while still in a Guide hall)

Journeying to Japan was the theme for this week, and so our full kit and caboodle of kids, both Juniors and Seniors, progressively worked their way through a bunch of Japanese themed activities!

Once again, my splendid team of co-leaders had mostly taken the reigns, so I had minimal organising or wrangling to do! Its still a little shock to me how many nights I’ve been able to not be in charge this term – and I admit, its a little disconcerting! But it is genuinely wonderful to feel able to let go and let others take responsibility, and I’m absolutely sure its a better long term plan than having one or two people feeling like they can’t really have time away, or that the group would be at risk of closure if they had to move. Teams are definitely more sustainable than individuals!

The activities we had running for the girls included:

Origami – the traditional cranes, as well as a couple of simpler designs

Peg dolls – dressed up in little pieces of fabric and pipecleaners to look like they were wearing kimonos

Bookmarks – these were a design that sort of used origami type techniques

Hiragana – writing out Japanese Hiragana letters, and using these to roughly write the girls names (while knowing that technically names would be translated into Katakana, but my skills in Katakana are even rustier than my Hiragana, so…!)

Sushi and gyoza – making both reasonably from scratch – the girls had great fun perfecting their sushi rolling!

With seven patrols, but only five activities, we decided it was easiest to just have the girls move between activities as they chose, in whatever groupings they wished. We’ve done that sort of thing a few times lately, and it does seem to work well, and result in quite a nice relaxed vibe, as the girls can move as they’re ready, rather than having to wait for the slowest members of their patrol to finish. In the end, not all the girls got to do all the activities, but they all seemed happy! Our original grand plans for the night included some sort of ‘flying’ to Japan, and having passports and setting up the different activities as various cities… etc etc etc. But time got away from us, and seeing as the girls didn’t know how elaborate our original ideas were, they didn’t miss the extra flourishes!

This week: a campfire, with the program being planned by a couple of our rangers girls. Lets hope the weather clears up, or we’ll be doing panic buying of red and yellow glow sticks to create an indoor campfire! Not that we need to be entirely sheltered from the weather, but in tiny campfire versus driving rain, I suspect the campfire won’t end up being very festive!

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What do we teach? (part 3)

Returning again to ponderings from 2013 (part one and part two) around what is it that we do in Guiding.

Recently, I’ve been reading Mama OT quite bit, and some of the posts over there around children’s skills in self regulation, the usefulness of outdoors activities in building resilience, social and emotional skills, and the focus on the importance of a mix of gross motor skills and fine motor skills have struck me as the types of skills and knowledge and experiences which we aim to give girls via Guiding.

Over the course of each term we explicitly aim to balance activities which use different skills and capacities – activities such as building rope bridges, putting up tents, even building crazy constructions with boxes etc, all build gross motor skills, as well as requiring cooperation and teamwork in order to achieve the tasks. On the other hand, the crafty bits and pieces we do – sewing, and origami, and even things like cupcake decorating – use fine motor skills, and a degree of focused task concentration which is so important. The other major thing the program offers is a real ‘traditional childhood’ focus on games and play, often in a less structured way than many other children’s activities. We often have full nights just dedicated to games, the girls are able to suggest their own additions and modifications, or run their own versions. And who can forget the teenagers spending a full hour and a half playing versions of hide and seek in the dark?!

We’re not perfect by any means – and ALWAYS there is room to improve – but I think what I love so much about Guides is that we aim to build the whole girl, rather than just aspects of her skills or personality. Now if only I could somehow articulate that in a thirty second elevator pitch!

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Exploring in the rain

Fun, if somewhat wet night at Guides this week, as we took the Seniors girls out around the local streets to come up with a bit of a treasure hunt for a different patrol to follow next week.

It was dark and cold and raining, but that just made it all a bit more exciting and interesting, and you get a different perspective on an area you’ve seen many times.

It was quite nice just to be out with one patrol (other leaders took other patrols, yay for lots of adults!), and just being able to chat a bit to them in a relaxed way without having to keep an eye on 20+ kids at once! Nice too for the group to have some time to bond a little bit, and relaxed, quiet walking around made it a really low pressure evening. The purpose of the activity (which will be completed next week) was to observe the local area, and draw a map or create map-like instructions for another to follow – both elements of the World Explore A Challenge badge!

Meanwhile, the Juniors managed to squeeze 15 kids into the kitchen (lucky they’re little!) to make and decorate cupcakes to look like cats and dogs for their Pets badge (any cooking can be made relevant to the badge du jour with a bit of thinking!). Unfortunately the picture examples were forgotten, but luckily not needed as the super creative kids all just figured it out brilliantly themselves, yay:)

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Sangam & pets & relaxed fun

A lovely evening this week, as one of my co-leaders ran a brilliant program based on Sangam and India for our Seniors, while another co-leader worked with the Juniors on their pets badge, doing skits and learning about animal care.

Firstly, the amazing program put together about Sangam! Co-leader’s family is from India, so she was able to draw on a lot of practical personal knowledge – including being able to bring along and demonstrate the sitar! We had six stations set up around the room, and the girls moved around the various activities roughly in patrols.

The activities were playing the sitar, learning various traditional dance moves (yay for a laptop and youtube clips!), using dyed rice to do rangoli patterns (mainly of trefoils, of course!), trying on saris (which they just adored!), mehendi patterns on their hands (using eyeliner), and writing out hindi/Sanskrit letters.

Unfortunately for such a great program, we were low on numbers (our oldest girls were doing rangers activities off site, and several had school events so were away), but it kind of worked out well as the smaller numbers gave everything a lovely chilled out vibe, and our shyest and youngest girls were able to have a really comfortable night, and really engaged in a way that they don’t always seem to.

Meanwhile, the younger girls worked in patrols on skits about animal care. I formed part of the audience for the final products, and they were surprisingly good! We have quite a set of little dramatists, and they were mostly revelling in the silliness of the activity, all playing with props of leashes and cat toys, and fish food and pooper scoopers etc etc!! It was a good opportunity for the younger girls to work in their patrols, which are still in the settling down stage since a bit of a rejig at the start of term.

Overall, a brilliant night, pitched perfectly at the different age groups!

 

 

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