guideydiary

keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

A new term!

Back for term two, and a great night with lots of different things happening – Juniors playing a whole bunch of traditional games all roughly on the theme of ‘fruit salad’ (the name of one of their favourites), Seniors playing with fabric and making costumes, and lots of Rangers running about like pre-schoolers playing hide-and-seek in the dark!

Our Juniors’ games included variations on duck duck goose, ladders, oranges and lemons, kim’s game, and a few others. It was a nicely chilled out sort of night, and they all seemed to have fun. As always on these sorts of nights, the tricky part is knowing when to call a game over – trying to hit that sweet spot of when they’ve had enough goes for it to be fun and understood, but not so many that they get bored!

Meanwhile, our Seniors group were playing with a whole bunch of donated fabrics (as in, full bolts!), making ‘national costumes’ for their patrols… which probably didn’t end up quite getting there in terms of that particular aim, but they all seemed to be having fun, and being a bit creative, and trying different approaches to construction, using needles and thread, and knotting, and draping etc etc etc. So it terms of an explorative activity, it totally hit the mark!

We also had our Rangers group back together, including most of the Upper Seniors girls, which gave us a group of 11, I think. Anyway, plenty enough to spend nearly the full hour and a half playing two different versions of hide-and-seek in the dark with torches. Which they were all completely into, because apparently nothing entertains a bunch of teenagers like being allowed to pretend to be back in kindergarten!!

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Catching up

Two weeks to catch up on!

Week one we had a brilliant night with a local women’s circus organisation coming in and running a circus skills workshop. The girls all got to do some basic acrobatics (mainly balancing), as well as plate spinning, hula hoop tricks, and juggling. They all had a lovely time, and it was great to connect with another organisation focused on girls and women, and give the girls a different experience. For our juniors, the activity counted towards their ‘body’ badge, for the seniors, it was just something fun and different!

Week two was a night where I focused on the rangers group, rather than the Juniors or Seniors, which was rather lovely. On the program was international games, which of course led Rangers Co-Leader and I madly googling the night before… and hurrah for the internet, we had a bunch of easy and fun games to play!

The resources we used were: http://www.girlguides.org.au/public/attach/go_girl_final_web.pdf
http://www.girlguides.ca/web/documents/ns/6/pa-int-booklet.pdf
http://guidinguk.freeservers.com/internationalgames.html

Games played include sleeping lions (because rangers girls are indeed overgrown tiny people!), big snake (essentially chain tiggy), and moon and morning stars – using a footpath in place of a tree shadow. We were joined by a prospective new ranger (super exciting!), and for about 20 minutes, the upper seniors group, about half of whom are nearly ready to move up. If they all end up making the transition up (and the current ones continue!), we should end up with around 10-12 rangers, which would be brilliant. Still, that’s a little way in the future, and I should *never* count guides before they’re promised😉

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Bridges!

Fun night this week, as my Seniors worked together to build a bridge between two trees, using nothing but rope… and a sprinkling of problem solving, teamwork, and cooperation!

We are lucky enough to have two large gum trees on the front lawn of our hall, conveniently spaced about three or four meters apart, so the night basically consisted of two large bags of ropes, a bag of fabric scarves (to place under the ropes to reduce the wear on the trees), and the task to work as a whole group (rather than in patrols) to build a bridge capable of holding one of the leaders.

After a bit of fussing about, they all ended up really getting stuck into it, and came up with some really ingenious solutions to the problems they were finding – like throwing a lightweight rope up over a sturdy branch (about three meters up!) to anchor things and help counter-balance, plaiting and sort of finger-knitting the ropes to make them thicker, and just generally really thinking things through. Several girls did ‘test runs’ of the bridge, and provided feedback on problems, that they then collectively nutted out solutions to, ending up with a fairly study contraption.

rope bridge

Early on, one of them said “are you just going to stand there and watch??” to which I replied “yep, its your problem to solve… I might throw in the odd bit of genius advice though!” to which I got a chorus of giggles – I suspect they know perfectly well that I am no knotting genius!!

To finish it off, AwesomeCoLeader tested out the bridge, and managed to get across it in one piece, and not touching the ground! We then got the whole bunch of them (about 15 I think, we had a few away on school camps) to clamber on for a photo, which was pretty great… although after that the structural integrity was a little battered!

Remarkably, they even managed to get it all taken down without whining, including wrapping up the ropes correctly! Hurrah!

All in all, a fabulously Guide-y night, traditional AND fun!

 

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Knots and knots of fun

A fun night with the senior guides, building their knotting and lashing skills as part of the Ropes badge.

As with previous “potentially boring” topics, we made it into a series of inter-patrol competitions, with the incentive (bribery?!) of a bag of jelly snakes for the winning patrol.

The competition rounds were:

  1. un-knotting and then re-knotting a series of reef knots
  2. racing to complete various knots using pictures pulled randomly out of a “hat”
  3. race to use square lashing to produce a structurally sound square of four sticks
  4. same again, but tripod lashing for a tripod able to stand independently
  5. follow a picture to make a “rope person” with the correct knots to form head/body/arms/legs etc.

It all worked fairly well, with the majority of kids engaged and focused. And at least a few of them discovered some latent knotting skills!!

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To finish off the night, we let them play a couple of rounds of camouflage (a hide-and-seek type game), which was fun. About a third of our seniors group are now in high school, and wouldn’t dream of being so uncool as to play such games in public, so it was lovely to have them just being little kids again for ten minutes.

Meanwhile, as part of their Body badge, the Juniors were using their bodies to dance, act, and convey information with a series of theatre games type activities. They were all buzzing with excitement when I checked in on them, and it was really lovely to see! Especially  as it was a session being run by YoungCoLeader, who tends more towards the “correct” rather than “fun”end of Guiding. I know she had a total blast doing it too, so hopefully she’ll get more and more confidence to let her silly side come out with the kids in future!

 

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cooking, campfires, and crazy crafting

Simple evening this week – Juniors having a lovely time raiding our stash of crafty odds and ends to do whatever they wished (which turned out to include puppet-ish things, a castle, and using up aaaaaaaall the stickers), while the Seniors cooked damper on campfires.

I had a pretty relaxing evening, as our leadership team has been a bit more explicit and organised in our planning this term, and has actively assigned the various leaders to be in charge of organising and wrangling each night. So, woohoo, I had a night off! Well, basically I became an assistant leader for the night, but that was lovely. NewYoungCoLeader took responsibility for leading the Seniors for the first time, and she was a little freaked out, but not so the girls would know, and it all went beautifully!

Most of the Seniors are pretty experienced campfire builders these days, and were able to set several little cooking fires with little trouble – well, apart from the requisite whinging about collecting wood! As part of our Ropes badge, they all made damper, plaiting or twisting it into rope-ish shapes prior to cooking.

I had a sudden inspiration and suggestion for the girls on the cooking, and it turned out great so here’s my genius tip – rather than just wrapping the damper in foil (we were  doing loaves, rather than on sticks), we wrapped it in buttered baking paper, THEN the foil around it. The baking paper seemed to almost steam the damper, speeding up the cooking time significantly (always handy when you’ve only got unit time!), and the butter not only stopped it sticking, it helped brown the outside beautifully. So definitely using that trick again!

Meanwhile, the Juniors had a lovely chilled out time using up odds and ends of the craft materials, and chatting and just pottering away. It was a warm night (and our hall is again having renovations!) so the crafting took place in the courtyard which was surprisingly perfect. AwesomeCoLeader commented that it was a lovely night which let “Juniors be Juniors” – where they were able to let their creative minds wander, and come up with elaborate castles and characters and fantastical creatures.

So all in all, a lovely evening.

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Welcome back!

Term one has begun, and it was so lovely to see the girls again after our long summer break!

Our first night back was rather more chaotic than anticipated, as one of our leaders (who was meant to be running the seniors program) was out sick, another was away, our anticipated new helper had to cancel due to work calling her in, AND we got to the hall to find that the repairs due for completion in early January were still underway and the hall was totally blocked off, our cupboards were in the foyer (with all our stuff on top higgledy-piggledy), and all our ideas of how we were going to organise the activities was thrown into disarray!

Luckily, guides are adaptable (and the weather cooperated!), so my hastily pulled together seniors activities were run on the front lawn, the juniors made do in the foyer, and the Rangers comandeered a small room off to the side!

This term, we’ve got the seniors group doing the Ropes badge, and Juniors doing the Body badge. So week one had seniors girls working in their patrols to plan a ropes-based game, and then run it for the other patrols. They were pretty creative, coming up with a spiders web de-tangling game, an obstacle course, and a relay race of sorts.

The juniors we’re learning to care for bodies, doing a bit of first aid, and having a lovely time bandaging each other up. Truly a tragic sight, so many broken arms, twisted ankles, and terrible snakebites!:)

Next week: campfire cooking for the seniors, free form use-up-the-odds-and-ends crafting for juniors!

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Dinosaur adventure wide game

This wide game was played over a large area (several acres), but could easily be done in a small area. It took around 6 hours, but this included nearly two hours to cook lunch! There are 12 activities, but this could be trimmed depending on time easily enough.

The basic story was that a strange wrinkle in time had emerged, and a bunch of dinosaurs had come through – but the passage of time had made them tiny! Even tiny, you don’t want a bunch of dinosaurs wandering about, so patrols have been asked to search for the dinosaurs and retrieve them. (The dinosaurs were small plastic models from a toy shop!).  At various points, the activities were linked by ‘footprints’ to show the direction.

Have fun hunting for the dinosaurs!

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Triceratops

A code was provided with the message to look for a three-horned dinosaur near [location]. The location chosen was the furthest point away from base – over the course of the wide game the patrols gradually made their way back to base.

Velociraptor

Raptors are incredibly fast. So you’ll have to run quickly to find their location! But running at full speed is exhausting, so be sure to use fast Scouts Pace: 20 steps running, 20 steps jogging!

Get to [location] as quick as you can, and find a Raptor.

Parasaurolophus

To find the parasaurolophus, you will need to carefully make your way through the Sauropod Swamp, being careful to stick to dry land. When you reach the River, use the ropes provided to build a bridge, and get your full patrol over the bridge.De-construct the bridge before moving further through the swamp to find where the dinosaurs are hiding.

Leader’s note: we used a series of hoops to indicate the path through the ‘swamp’, patrols had to jump carefully between them. The river was a long piece of fabric between several large trees, and patrols were provided with a big pile of ropes to build their bridges from.

Pliosaurus

To find the pliosaurus, you will need to carefully fill a bucket, using the cup running along the rope. You can only retrieve the dinosaur when the water is up to the edge of the bucket.

Leader’s note: the little pliosaurus dinosaurs were placed in the bottom of the buckets, which were at one end of a long rope. At the other end was a larger bucket of water (or you could do this near a tap or similar) – the aim was to fill the cup at one end of the rope, run the cup along the rope and gradually fill the bucket with the dinosaur, until the dinosaur floated to the top. The success of this one will depend on how buoyant your dinosaur is!!

Maiasaura

The Maiasaura are hiding with their nest of eggs. Look for the tracking signs, and follow the instructions to locate the nest. Once you have found the nest, carefully retrieve one Maiasaura, and one egg per patrol member. Carry these with you to [COOKING LOCATION].

Note: The maiasaura ‘eggs’ were oranges, for cooking chocolate cake in oranges over the fire. But you could use actual eggs, watermelons… anything egg-shaped. If you didn’t want to do cooking, the eggs could be something crafty.

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Stegosaurus

In [location] you will find a cache of stegosaurus back-plates (and a stegosaurus!). Follow the instructions to make your lunch.

Note: the stegosaurus ‘back plates’ were tortilla chips, which formed the base for over-the-campfire nachos, but you could make anything!

Pachycephalosaurus

Using materials you can find (sticks, leaves, grasses etc), quickly make everyone in the patrol a ‘crown’ like the pachycephalosaurus. Once everyone is disguised, sneak up to the dinosaurs’ hiding place in the white reeds on the far end of the field.

Note: these dinosaurs had a helmet/crown shaped protrusion on their skull, hence the activity. The white reeds were a bunch of sticks painted white that we’d had from a previous activity, but you could use anything.

Ankylosaurus

Tie your patrol together (at the ankles) in a long line, with one person at the end of the line tying on the tennis ball-stocking ‘club’. Travel together as a patrol across to the [next location], where you will find the ankylosaurus on top of a blue stick. Use your stocking/ball club to knock down a dinosaur – no hands until it’s on the ground!

Note: you’ll need to provide a bunch of fabric strips to tie the patrol together, plus a stocking or long sock or similar with a ball for your ‘club’.

Allosaurus

Taking turns, play the memory match game to find out all about Allosaurus. When all the pairs have been matched successfully, you can hunt for the Allosaurus – it won’t be far away!

Note: to do this activity you’ll need to make a memory match game – ours had a bunch of facts and pictures about the allosaurus dinosaur.

Brachiosaurus

Brachiosaurus are hugely heavy! To find the brachiosaurus, the whole patrol will need to work together to act like a brachiosaurus. You will need to form four huge legs, a long tail, a big body, and a long neck and tiny head. Each member of the patrol needs to be part of the brachiosaurus shape! When you’re in brachiosaurus formation, walk as a brachiosaurus would to the far end of the field and hunt for the dinosaurs.

Tyrannosaurus Rex

Use the long bandage provided to wrap (in turn) each patrol member’s arms to their body, at elbow height, to create ‘t-rex arms’. Using your t-rex arms, take all the puzzle pieces out and put them back in again. Once each patrol member has completed the puzzle, hunt around for the dino.

Note: we had the patrols put together a simple puzzle (aimed at a 2 year old!) but any challenge that needed them to use their hands while stuck in t-rex position would be fun!

 

Pterodactyl

Work your way as a patrol through the challenges of the [obstacle course] until you find the flying pterodactyls.When you locate the pterodactyl, you will have the full set of dinosaurs, and will be able to make your way to the finishing point. Hurry!

Note: this part was done in a obstacle course/ropes course area, with the pterodactyls tied high on a swinging rope (so they were ‘flying’).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Planning for progression (onwards and upwards!) (we hope)

Final Guides meeting of 2015 a few weeks ago (always a happy/sad day!), and I end the year full of enthusiasm and hope for the coming year.

It’s been a year mainly of growth at our unit – looking back over the year, we’ve had three girls leave, but had ten join us, and I think we’ve kept all our oldest girls, transitioning them up properly to our rangers group (of course, the long summer break may change this, but I don’t *think* so…). Our Seniors group has remained full (enough so that we created a 4th patrol), and our leadership team has really got comfy and reliable, so I feel quite sure that we can handle a large group… and I still want more growth! We’re about to have a bunch of Juniors move up to Seniors, creating nearly a patrol worth of spaces in the littlies, so recruitment drive ahoy first thing next year!

On our final night we had a bit of a party night, playing The Chocolate Game, their favourite outdoor game (‘camouflage’), and doing a scavenger hunt for Christmas decorations, which became their little chrissy gifts (oh, and a suitably themed badge!). It was fairly unstructured, but a lot of fun, and the girls were all pretty excited about it being the end of the year.

Christmas Guide badge 2015

We also had a session for an extra hour after the main group had gone, for girls nearly old enough to move up to our Rangers unit – a bit of a transition taster. It was great fun (lots of ‘minute to win it’ games), and good for both the grade six girls to feel a little special and like there is a reason to stick with Guides after moving up to High School (the primary-to-high school transition is our Recruitment Dead Zone), and also good for the current girls to realise that there are a bunch of girls not much younger who will be joining them soon. The current crop (only 5 of them) have been a little worried that the group is unsustainable at that number, so seeing that there are 7 kids who will (potentially!) progressively move up over the coming months should be reassuring. Ideally, I would love to have a Rangers group that was around 12-15 girls, the kind of numbers where one or two people being away isn’t noticeable – but given the competing demands for time in the teenage age group, I suspect those numbers will be a challenge, even if on paper we should get there by mid-year. I’ve seen enough ups and downs in recruitment not to count my chickens too early!!

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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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