guideydiary

keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

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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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!

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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!

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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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