keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Get to Guides! Girls around the world wide game

This is a wide game developed as part of our term on the ‘Girls’ and ‘Other People’ Create-A-Challenge badges. The game took a little over an hour, although this was with leaders providing a reasonable amount of direct instruction/assistance, and having several things semi-prepared – for example, the vegetables for the cooking were mostly pre-cut to size so the girls only had to do minor trimming.

The story:

Leaders note: the various characters were colourful clip-art girls on a piece of paper – if you have the time/resources, a small doll for each patrol to take with them on their adventures would be ideal.

Melanie, Mary, Marta, Molly, and Mia are super excited about getting to Guides tonight. They hear that badges are being handed out at the end of the night, and really really hope that they’re going to get one!

Each patrol will take one of Melanie, Mary, Marta, Molly or Mia around with them throughout the challenges, and try to help them be the first back!

Each patrol has a different order of activities, so don’t follow the others – run your own game! Envelopes are colour-coded and numbered – pay attention and only ever grab your own!

Leader’s note: the various patrols had their instructions in numbered, coloured envelopes, but you could just as easily run this as a ‘back to base’ style game and reduce the amount of pre-prep required!

The activities:

Activity: Get dressed

Every girl needs to get dressed to face the day. Different countries have different styles of dress – some are easier than others!

You’ll need to use the long fabric and instructions to dress up each of your patrol members (one at a time) in a sari – be sure to use the correct pleating! Once she’s dressed up, the patrol member needs to do scouts pace (20 steps walking, 20 steps running, 20 steps walking etc etc) along the footpath from the big tree to the entrance to the car park and back. When she’s returned, she needs to pass on the fabric and dress up the next girl!

You can only proceed to the next activity when all patrol members have successfully completed the sari scouts pace.

Note: you will need a 5-to-6 meter length piece of fabric, plus instructions on how to wrap a sari for this activity. 

Activity: Cook the meal

In many countries, girls and women are responsible for getting the meals ready.

Your patrol needs to use the ingredients and equipment provided to cook a simple vegetable and noodle stir-fry. Remember to cut the vegetables to be a similar size and shape. Add the vegetables that need the longest cooking first.

Once it’s cooked, share out the meal between the patrol, enjoy it, and then be sure to clean up properly before moving on to the next activity!

Note: be sure to have your vegetables portioned out for each patrol so you don’t end up with one patrol with a huge serve and another with hardly any!

Activity: Pass on a message

Arrange your patrol in a long line down the centre of the hall. The person nearest to the stage, should collect the message card marked with your patrol’s colour.

Give the person nearest to the far end the message card.

Pass the message Chinese-whispers style from one end of the hall to the other (stand at least finger-tips apart). When the message reaches the end, the message-receiver needs to run up to the stage end, and explain what she thinks the message is. The message-giver should say “yes, correct” or “not quite” or “not at all”. If it’s “not quite” or “not at all”, keep going until you get it right!

When the full message has been passed on correctly, you may continue.

Note: our note said “The pink pig and the pesky donkey flew a kite at night, said the grinning girl guide” – this was based on a bunch of ‘difficult’ phrases for Chinese Whispers, but you could use any message!

 Activity: Who do you know?

Use the stack of memory cards provided to match the famous women’s pictures and description.

Patrol members should take it in turns to try and match the cards.

Once all the cards have been correctly paired up, shuffle the cards and leave them re-stacked for the next group before moving on to the next activity.

Note: The memory cards featured one card with a photo and name, and the matching card with the name and a brief description. People featured included Julia Gillard, first female PM of Australia; Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund; Indra Nooyi, head of PepsiCo, and Valentina Tereskova, the first woman in space. The aim was to provide a diversity of names and faces from across the world.

Activity: Food gathering

In ancient times (and still in some more traditional societies!), finding food was way more complicated than going to the supermarket. You had to either hunt or gather your food if you wanted to eat!

Look carefully around the hall and grounds to find the following foods:

Potatoes, Onions, Asparagus, Beans, Wheat, Eggs

Draw a map of the hall and grounds and mark on the map the location of each item. Take careful note, as you will need to return later to collect one of these items… and you don’t know which it will be! Once your map is complete, you may move on.


Activity: Scrub up!

In many places around the world, getting clean takes a lot more effort than just stepping into the shower!

Working as a patrol and using the cups supplied, transport water from the tap in the [location] to the washing up basin in [other location]. When the basin is half-full, each patrol member needs to use the water to wash her hands thoroughly.

Once everyone has cleaned up, carefully empty the basin of water into the garden, put everything back where it started, and then move onto the next activity.

Note: make sure you place tap and washing up basin far enough apart to make it a challenge, but not so far that they get too frustrated!

Activity: Nursing

Traditionally, one of the few ‘respectable’ careers open to women was nursing. Even today, many nurses are women, although that is changing quickly!

Practice your nursing skills by using a triangular bandage to fit the oldest member of the patrol with a sling. Your patrol member will need to manage for the next two activities like this!

Once the sling is firmly in place, you can move onto the next activity.

 Note: you will need multiple bandages available for this if you wish to have them in use for the next activities. Alternatively, the bandages could be removed immediately after the activity.

Activity: Finally!

Pick an envelope out of the bowl – it will show you what you need to gather to finish!

Note: the envelopes all contained a different picture of one of the ingredients from the ‘gathering’ activity – using the map they’d created they had to quickly retrieve the specific ingredient. The advantage of an accurate map was knowing exactly where to go and not having to re-find the ingredient!

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Delegating, and celebrating

An excellent two weeks just passed at our Guides group, with firstly our older girls’ wide game planning coming off beautifully (even with several kids away!) (yay for girl-led programming, and delegation of responsibility!), and then a lovely evening celebrating two girls earning their Junior BP Award, which is always so exciting!

Firstly – the wide game! The girls (mostly) remembered what they had planned, and how it was all meant to hang together, and had a great twenty minutes running madly about, gathering the equipment they needed, putting things together, and sorting out how the activities they had dreamed up the week prior would actually look – so they ran about hastily rigging up a complicated “laser” maze with red wool, finding suitable hiding places for kids who had dressed up as particular characters, setting up an obstacle course, and practicing the steps to a dance that would need to be copied.

And they had the usual complications that leaders encounter on the day of a wide game – oops, we don’t have X material, quick, lets substitute Y; oh no, that person who was meant to do THIS activity is away, how can we work around it, or adapt it?

They all seemed to have a really excellent time, although they did note that once it was all set up, and instructions passed on, that there were boring bits… which is exactly what the adult leaders find with wide games too- when set up well, they kind of run themselves! All in all, I think it was a highly successful exercise – the girls got a real taste of what goes into planning these types of complicated activities, and got to experience the rush that you get when your plans actually work and the girls have fun bringing the different challenges to life.

The following week, we had a much more mellow evening, where the main activity was setting up, rehearsing, and then holding a ceremony to celebrate two girls achieving their Junior BP (and also one girl making her Promise, and two moving up to the Rangers group! So much growth in one night!). We have been moved out of our hall this term due to construction/repairs, so part of our challenge was identifying an alternative suitable site – and with a bit of re-arranging of outdoor equipment and furniture, we were able to turn the large courtyard into an excellent little ceremony space! Yay for streamers making anywhere look festive!

All in all, an excellent fortnight… and I haven’t even yet told the tale of a fabulous camp in the weekend in the middle… so stay tuned… FOR DINOSAURS!!

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Rewards, stopping points, recognition. A few ponderings.

Inspired by both Trefoil Knot’s pondering about Badges and a book I’m currently reading (“Better Than Before”, by Gretchen Rubin), I’ve been contemplating what it is Guiding aims to achieve through the badge system.

Rubin’s book is all about forming habits, and discussing what strategies we can use to help or hinder habit formation. One of the ones mentioned is around ‘rewards’ and finish lines, and the idea that while a finish line or a reward can kick start activity, it is often not enough to sustain that activity… once the finish line is reached, or the reward achieved, the work stops.

So, how does this link with badges? In theory, the badges are meant to direct skill development – does the awarding of a badge then suggest that the skills are ‘done’, and that attention can be re-directed elsewhere? Do girls think of them in that way?

My unit tends to use different badges as the underlying themes for the term – for whatever reason, I find that choosing a badge provides a little structure to the “it can be anything” nature of Guiding, and I find that I can be more creative and truly “Look Wide, and Look Wider Still” when I have a little limitation, and changing the theme each term helps to avoid falling into the possibility of rinsing and repeating activities too often. Of course there will be some repetition – skills cannot grow without it – but at least if sometimes you’re using knotting to build a circus tent structure, sometimes to build a pet hideaway, sometimes to create a lantern, it doesn’t feel so repetitious.

In building each term on a theme, we tend to designate certain sessions as ones that ‘count’ towards the badge, and say that girls need to require a certain number of those sessions in order to earn the badge, or make up extra activities at home. Usually this ends up with badges being earned over around 5 hours or so of programming, with anywhere between 4 and 20 activities broadly linked to the theme.

Using the badges in this way provides something of a ‘time marker’ for our girls – looking at their sashes, they can immediately see which Guides have been engaged in the program regularly, and for a long time. In a weird way, the badges act as both a ‘certificate of participation’, and as a marker of achievement. I think this odd combination actually mostly works.

I know some people are of the view that badges should only be achieved individually, and ‘out of hours’, but if the way we as leaders deliver Guiding is primarily in a group-based, weekly session, then surely achievement of markers of progress (aka badges) should be at least available via that same group based weekly method. Of course, that doesn’t preclude additional achievement on an individual basis, and I think the more specific syllabus badges fill this niche well. I suppose the most important thing for me is that our girls do seem to value the badges, and that they notice who has certain badges, they look in the badge books for topics that interest them and ask to have those topics included in the program, and use them as something of a wayfaring guide as to what Guiding can offer.

Essentially, badges for me provide:

  • a marker of time/engagement in the program
  • a feeling of ‘progress’ – that something has been achieved via the activities
  • an aide memorie of topics/activities
  • a way of recognising individual achievement when required.

I’d be interested to hear if these aims I ascribe to the badges are those shared by other leaders!


Wide game planning

Fun night with my Seniors (10-13s) this week, as they worked together to plan a wide game that they’ll be running next week for the Juniors group!

At the end of the week before, we’d done a brainstorm and then process of elimination and voting to decide that the theme for the wide game would be “into the future” (great theme!). So this week’s task was to expand this into a story, come up with a method for the wide game (was it a back-to-base, or did things have to be done in a certain order, or follow clues around, or…), plus come up with what activities the girls wanted to run.

This is all part of their ‘leadership’ badge, so I aimed to have the girls making the decisions, and working with each other to figure it out. That said, in order to actually get the task done (and keep the kids engaged, rather than degenerating into frustration and confusion), I ended up acting almost as an ‘MC’ for the kids – breaking them into small groups and giving five minutes at a time for “two ideas of what the story is” “one idea of the method” “two activity ideas” and then getting each group to say their ideas, and then have the whole unit vote on which they wanted. Overall, though, I think they met the badge criteria, as all the ideas and strategy came from the girls, but of course it will need to be considered in context with how next week goes. Fingers crossed next week all goes to plan!

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co-leaders for the win!

Oh, the pleasure of leading with a team of excellent co-leaders!

This week I took a back seat as NewCoLeader2 and RangersLeader both (separately) organised and ran wide games for the Juniors/Seniors and Rangers respectively.

My only role was to run off some printing and pick up some pavement chalk at the shops!

The wide game for the Juniors/Seniors group was themed around “good old fashioned games”, and used the overarching idea of working the way through a series of the types of games that girls who were engaged in Scouts/Guides at the beginning of the movement would have played – things like elastics, hopscotch, jacks.

At the completion of each activity, the patrols were given a letter, which ended up forming the word ‘Olave’. They all had a great time, and it was a brilliant success for CoLeader’s first time completely running the night from scratch!

Meanwhile, Rangers leader riffed off a couple of wide games found online to come up with a series of ‘international’ activities (this is why we blog people, so other leaders can pinch at will! Share and share about!).

The different activities were in a ‘hat’, and were completed in the order they were selected. Activities included moving cooked rice between bowls using “chopsticks” (that were actually wooden skewers: added complexity!), making biscuit burgers (using biscuits, coloured icing, and dyed coconut shavings to make something which looked a bit like a burger), making little wish boxes, filling buckets with water… etc etc. At the end of each activity, they earned a word, which at the end, they had to re-organise into a quote, which was from Robert Baden-Powell and was “Life without adventure would be deadly dull” :)

The girls had a great time, and total kudos to RangersLeader – this too was her first wide game, and she pulled it together in 48 hours and ran it brilliantly! Yay for excellent co-leaders, yay for team guiding, just YAY!


Paper planes!

Fun night this week, as I mucked about with the Juniors, helping them make all manner of creative paper planes, thanks to Fun Paper Airplanes!

When I did this activity a few years ago, it was with the older group of girls (mainly 10 and 11 year olds), and so I wasn’t quite sure how the 6-9s would go, but it worked brilliantly. I stuck to just the beginners and intermediate level planes, and those were plenty complicated enough for the younger group.

Initially there was some confusion about how the templates worked, with several of the kids going straight for the scissors to cut along dotted lines, rather than read the instructions carefully and use those as fold marks! Still, once they’d got the hang of one of them, and the way the instructions worked, they all did really well! Even one of our girls who is notoriously impatient with anything which requires being methodical got on board with it all, and ended up doing some quite complicated designs.

We had lots of fun flying them all around our little hall, and then went outside to see how far they could go – and even though it was a bit more windy than you’d prefer for that sort of activity, they all had a lovely time running about and challenging each other – after testing outside they were keen to run back in and do an extra one or two for further trials! So we managed to fill the whole hour, and I think it was pitched pretty much perfectly in terms of complexity. Having the range of templates was great, as it let the girls set their own level of challenge, and work up or down from where they’d chosen as they felt necessary.

Meanwhile, the seniors were doing a bit of girl-led Guiding, with two of the girls working towards their Junior BP Award running a ‘masterchef’ night, and doing it so competently that the two leaders helping out with that activity felt quite un-needed!

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Leading, following, teaming, promising.

A bit of a bitsy night last week, as I and NewCoLeader2 worked with the Seniors to develop their leadership (and follower-ship!) skills.

We started off with a fill-in-the-blanks worksheet, which was talking about the good qualities of a leader. Interestingly, 9 times out of 10, they had all chosen exactly the same word. I don’t know if the sheets were written in such a way that there was only one realistic answer, or if they don’t have large vocabularies, or if they were trying to be ‘right’ rather than ‘creative’, but it was interesting. I thought that going through everyone’s answers together would give us some interesting discussions, but it turned out instead to be more of an echo chamber! Perhaps next time I’ll have to offer lollies in exchange for the most creative-but-sensible word choice!

We then decided to enjoy the gorgeous summery weather, and played a bunch of teamwork/leading/cooperating games- a series of 3-legged races, and blindfolded leading about races. I insisted on the girls pairing up with someone they didn’t know well (had to do a little enforcing of this “but we don’t go to school together, and she’s not in my patrol!” “yeah but you’ve both been Guides for three years – find someone else!”) – in the end they all had a lot of fun, and particularly in the leading-a-blindfolded-team activity, it was lovely to give some of the newer and shyer girls the opportunity to be in charge. One of our most socially awkward newbies was the leader of her little group, and she was just sooooooo chuffed, especially after having been paired with one of the “cooler” girls earlier on. I think she got a real boost in confidence, and felt like she was part of the in crowd, rather than watching from the sides… not that she was ever excluded (we are lucky in that all our unit members are excellent about including everyone), but there is a difference between being formally included and feeling like you are really part of the team!

Meanwhile, the younger girls were doing some weather experiments as part of their Air badge, making mini tornadoes in glass jars, practicing making thunder out of paper bags, and creating static electricity with balloons rubbed against their hair! Not really my cup of tea, but several of the girls were very excitedly reporting the goings-on to their parents at the end, so it seems it was well-aimed at the younger girls!

Finally, to round out the night we had a Promise ceremony for two of our girls moving up to Seniors, a ‘moving up’ ceremony for our oldest girl moving properly to our Rangers group, and (first for many years for me!) a Promise Ceremony for our two new Leaders, which was super lovely. It was really great for the girls to see that the leaders also make the same Promise, and get the same Promise and World badges!

Next week: cooking for the older girls, paper planes for the littlies.


Promise and law and games

Back for our final term for the year, and we decided to quickly squeeze in some promise and law activities. Not sure about other peoples’ units, but certainly we struggle to balance the ‘serious’ side of guiding with the fun, so this was a rare night focused entirely on promise and law!

Our Junior girls did three activities – the first was just a bit of a chat – going through the promise line by line, and asking for examples of how they could live up to the promise. The first bit “I promise that I will do my best” we asked each of the girls to have a think and then give an example of when they’ve done their best in the last week. They were all able to give an example, and it was really nice to give them all a chance to shine a little bit and be a bit proud of how they’d done their best – at school to get an A in maths, in carefully doing a picture for their auntie, in helping out at home.

Next we had a game which involved the girls all having a word or two of the promise written on a post-it note, and stuck on their backs. They had to work together to get it in the correct order… and once they’d figured that, we mixed it up and had them try again, but this time without speaking! I think the ‘without speaking’ part was probably a bit too tough for the younger group, but they got there eventually, with the odd suggestion or two from the leaders.


The post-it-note promises

Finally, they made teeny-tiny mini promise books – they ended up being about 2cms wide by 3cms tall! The girls really liked them though, and I got shown several different ones for approval :)

Meanwhile, the Senior girls (who we’ve decided to split into four smaller patrols, rather than 3 too-large patrols) did two activities – making promise origami ‘chatterboxes’, which they all found fun (lots of comments of “ohhhhh I haven’t done this in years!!) (they’re so old our big girls, heh).

The second activity was run by one of our new leaders, putting into practice an idea she got from a recent training weekend – getting the girls to do a kind of graffiti wall about what they believe in, as part of the ‘develop my beliefs’ part of the promise.

Some of their comments were lovely: “keep calm and live life”, “world peace is a possibility”, “everyone is equal no matter what colour skin they have”, “your imagination is the limit”… and some were a bit less sensible: “I believe in flying pigs!”. Heh. Still, they seemed to have fun, and the majority of the comments were good!

Overall, a good night, and one where promise and law activities thankfully did not end up boring!

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Relationship building

Last week, we had planned to have a night of the girls using mainly pipecleaners to make little human shapes – for the younger girls, a free choice of design, for the older girls, they were to base their people on Guides from the Asia-Pacific region uniforms.

But looking over the course of the term, we’ve had an unusually high number of crafty type nights – ones that when we first did the program didn’t seem particularly craft-y (e.g. the International Year of Light evening, and our Whatever night) ended up being craft-dominated.

So instead of spending the whole night doing the pipecleaner people, we decided to do a bit of a round-robin of activities – yes the pipecleaners, but also team-building-y type games, and a torchlight scavenger hunt.

We’ve also noticed in recent weeks that our group has got quite large (and with a wide age range), and quite a few of the kids don’t even know each other’s name, yet alone anything about them. So we decided to pair up our Juniors and Seniors patrols for the night, and have those pairs move through the activities as a group. I was running the ‘games’ ‘station’, and made sure that at the start of each of three sessions, that the girls in the paired patrols had all shared names, and were chatting a bit. Interestingly, even when the third set of patrols came through, they had not taken the initiative themselves to introduce each other… perhaps they were a little embarrassed to admit that they couldn’t remember each other’s names and needed introductions??

As for the games, we did:

human knots – stand in a circle, reach across and grab the hands of two different people, attempt to un-tangle the knot without breaking the chains

circle sit – stand really close together, all facing one way, then sloooooowly sit down on each other’s knees – in theory the circle should balance so the weight is distributed and not heavy

Mexican wave chain – hold hands in a long line, and raise hands in a row Mexican-wave style, while also bobbing up and down (to get the wave really moving), AND walk around the room.

For one of the groups, we also did wheelbarrow races, and a kind of crawling conga line.

It was lots of fun, and for the human knots and circle sit, NewCoLeader and I got in there with the kids and fully participated, which they found hilarious! I’m often in a “directing” rather than “participating” role with the kids these days, and it was nice and novel (for both me and the kids!) to be more actively involved. I think I used to be more a participant, but as the group has grown, the directing type role seems more necessary…? Or perhaps I’m just changing in my leadership style gradually. Regardless, its nice to mix things up every now and then.

The other activities – the pipecleaner people and the scavenger hunt – seemed to go fairly well. Unfortunately, the pipecleaner people probably did need a bit of a longer session (at least for some kids), as a few were getting frustrated that they didn’t have time to complete to the standard they wanted, as it was time to move ahead to the next activity. Ah well, you can’t get everything right!

Overall, I think it was a good session, and I think it was good to get the older and younger girls to interact with each other. There is no point having a large group of possible friends, mentors, peers… if you don’t even know each other’s name!!

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More stiches, more baking… and some decidedly unsuccessful campfire cooking

Following on from our lovely night of sewing and baking for the little ones, we did it all again, swapping the girls over, so they each did both activity.

This second time around was both more and less successful than the first. In the sewing side of things, we had an easier run second time as the parent helpers and I knew what we were doing, but that did mean that rather than the activity perfectly filling the time, we ran a little early and a few of the kids were getting a little bored. That said, I did have a lovely experience working quite one-on-one with one of the girls who I would have expected to struggle with the activity. She’s one of those kids who is always on the go, rarely pays attention to instructions, always chatting and mucking about… (one of the ones whose name you learn QUICKLY as you’re using it in a warning tone a lot!!)… so I would have thought sewing was not her cup of tea. And indeed, her initial response to the activity was “do I HAVE to?!” but she ended up loving it. Her doll ended up being one of the wonkiest ones produced, but it was very clearly one that she had made with only the most minimal of instruction, and she was pretty chuffed.

Meanwhile, the baking was a little more challenging than the week before – slightly more girls in the kitchen, and an interesting problem we hadn’t dealt with before – several girls too short to comfortably reach the benches! The one little step stool was in high demand, and meant things took longer than expected!

Maybe time to hunt down some extra step stools to add to our equipment stash!

For the older girls, they were doing outdoor cooking – which was meant to be a camp version of croque monsieur. It… didn’t go well. The leaders we had outside didn’t have much experience with outdoor cooking, the kids for whatever reason were a bit ratty, and all just didn’t quite go as expected. Still, the fires got built properly and quickly, and they are all definitely getting better at the whole fire concept, so that was good. And I guess the odd fail is okay!

We’ll just call it a learning experience, and decide that the activity was all about building resilience. Yep, that was it! Lalalalala… :)

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