keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Save the Circus Wide Game

This wide game was part of a circus themed camp, and took around four hours to complete. 


Oh no! The circus is going broke, and the ringmaster wants to cancel the show! But if the show is cancelled, the circus camp can’t go on! Can you save the show?


First, you’ll need to get dressed for the show!

You’ll each need to:
• Paint your face like a clown
• Make some big shoes
• Make some curly hair
• Make a clown nose!

Equipment: Face paint, ping pong balls, elastic, scissors , foam sheets, wool, hair bobbles, curling ribbon,


When the show got cancelled, the ringmaster set free all the animals from the circus! They’ve escaped all over the campsite!
You’ll have to find:
• 1 Elephant
• 1 Lion
• 1 Tiger
• 2 Bears
• 3 Seals
• 3 Monkeys

Luckily, the animals left trails right around the campsite. You’d better follow the trails to find them! But be careful! There are lots of obstacles in your way!

Once you’ve found all the escaped animals, you’d better take them home to base!

There are also 3 extra-special animals hidden (3 in total, not 3 per patrol)… can you find them?

Equipment: pictures of animals, cut out and placed along an obstacle course.



Wow! You must be exhausted after finding all those animals! Better have a rest and have some lunch before you tackle setting up the show again!

You could modify this to include a specific circus-themed lunch – maybe hot dogs and popcorn? 


Better get back to it if you want the show to go on!

Most circuses have sideshows, to keep people busy before the main show. So that the show can be successful, you’d better put together some sideshow games!

You’ll need to make:
• A bowling game
• A fishing game
• A catching game

Get the other patrol to test your games out!
Equipment: (put in a big pile for all to rummage): Drink bottles/cups; small plastic balls; sticks (eg paddle pop sticks or skewers); string; paperclips; paper; large balls, Frisbees… or anything else.


Oh no! Since the circus has lost money, its run out of funds for buying colours for the costumes!

Work with your patrol to find the best representatives in nature of:

The leaders will judge which patrol got the closest!



Now the most important part – putting on the show.

You have 30 minutes to plan and practice an act for the circus!

You can use any of the items from the sideshows, and your act can include acrobatics, clowning around… whatever you want!


Before you put on the show, work with the other patrol to decorate the hut for the circus show. (steamers, balloons etc)


If the show is going to get going again, there needs to be a sign!

Create a sign for the circus promoting your patrol!
Design & decorate sign (Large poster paper, textas, scissors et)


Put on the show to save the circus!


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Codetastic Wide Game

This Wide Game was created as part of working towards the Numbers Create-A-Challenge badge. It could also be used for a Time theme, or anything similar. This wide game took around 3 hours to complete. 

Basic story
Clara Codex, a time traveller, is trapped in another dimension. She needs certain pieces to put her time machine back together and get back her home.

Read out: 

Today, we were due to meet the mysterious and very clever Ms Clara Codex. When we arrived however, there had clearly been a change of plans. Ms Codex has instead left us a rather strange note.

The note looks very old, and says:

Dear Guide Leaders
I’m very sorry, but I cannot meet with you today.
Something has come up.
It is rather difficult to explain.
While I am away for a while, I hope your Guides might be able to assist me in pulling together the last few bits and pieces I need?
I hope you can help.
Yours sincerely, Clara Codex.

We are quite worried about Ms Codex’s note – it is not like her to not show up for an appointment. She is usually very punctual, and really quite obsessed with time.

When we looked closer, it appears Ms Codex has also left a separate note for each patrol! But it seems to be in code?

Perhaps each patrol could work together to crack their codes and see if they understand what Ms Codex needs us to do?

Seniors version (This was written entirely in windings font, with no de-coding information. The girls were told to start with the one-letter words, and figure out if they were “a” or “I”, and then start looking for other logical next letters. It was pointed out that only a few words have double letters, and that E is usually the most common letter).

Dear Guides
Please don’t tell your leaders, (they will only worry!), but I’m trapped in another dimension.
You see, I’m a time traveller.
I really need you all to find the last few bits of my time machine so I can get back to my home.
It’s all very top secret, so when I was making the time machine, I hid copies of different parts all around the place. You’ll probably have quite some trouble finding everything, but I really do need it all.
There are ten pieces to find.
Good luck, and please do hurry.
It’s rather cold here in the other dimension.
Yours sincerely, Clara Codex.


Juniors version (this was also in windings, but had a straight substitution code written at the top to allow for quick de-coding):

Dear Guides
I’m a time traveller, and my time machine is broken.
Could you please help me find the missing parts so I can get back home?
Careful, it is all top secret!
There are challenges to find everything, and ten pieces to find.
Good luck!
Yours sincerely, Clara Codex.


All patrols were given a map of the game area. The instructions on back of map said that challenges can be completed in any order.

At the completion of each activity, they were able to find or earn a piece of puzzle, which when put together would give them hints to the final task.


1 –
Set up a single long rope with knots connecting two far points
[14 KNOTS]

All patrol members should be blindfolded and follow the rope. You need to each count the number of knots in the rope.

All patrol members should get the same number of knots… keep trying until you all agree on how many knots there are in the rope.

The number of knots is the clue to the code.

2 –
Roman numeral tags in patrol colours

Collect ten tags in your patrol colours. Tags are hidden across the grounds.

Put the tags in the correct order and show them to a leader to get a piece.

3 –

Set and light a fire, which you will use to cook your afternoon tea.

Remember fire safety, including having a bucket of water nearby, your hair tied back, and clear the area properly. Have a leader check before attempting to light the fire.

Get the fire started with less than 5 matches (Seniors) or 10 matches (Juniors).

4 –
Cooking over the fire – apple crisps

Follow the recipe to make your afternoon tea. Each person will need to make their own serve.

All ingredients can be ordered from the kitchen.

5 –

As a patrol, build a shelter using exactly 15 pieces of equipment.

It must be solid enough to stay up by itself, and large enough to fit at least half of your patrol inside of it.

Have your shelter assessed by a leader to get your piece.

6 –
Compass activity

Starting at the front gate, walk South.

When you reach as far as you can go within bounds, turn West.

Go as far West as you can before you run into a building.

Turn North until you get to a boundary.

Hunt for your piece!

7 –

Work as a patrol to put the puzzle together.

There is no picture available, so pay close attention to the shapes of the pieces!

When you have completed the puzzle, show a leader to get your next piece.

(Note, this was just a basic puzzle, different to the one they were collecting the pieces for)

8 –

Play a series of games of Nim – each person in your patrol must play at least once.

The winner of the game goes on to challenge the next.

Throw a dice to figure who plays the first set – the first two people to roll a 6 are the first two players.

The winner plays the next patrol member who can roll a six, and so on.

The overall Nim winner needs to collect their piece a leader.

9 –

Use the Melways (street directory) to find our current location.

The page number______________

The map reference______________

Show the leaders the correct references to collect your piece.

10 –

Close stepping

Starting from the front door, follow the path right around the hall.

Walk so that the heel of one foot touches the toes of the other foot, so there are no gaps between your steps.

Count how many steps each patrol member takes, and tell the leaders your highest and lowest number of steps to get your piece.


Combination lock

The puzzle when put together showed a series of numbers which was the code for a combination lock.  



Finishing off the game

Once you have completed all the activities, and found the lock information, you need to find Clara and free her!

Clara was a small doll, hidden in a contained wrapped with chains, and secured with a combination lock. 


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Wheely wheely fun!

great night last week, as we took the ‘wheels’ badge in a slightly more outdoorsy direction.

Essentially, we went on a penny hike around the local area, travelling via a range of wheels-y contraptions.

Our four dolly trolleys once again got a work out – two just plain (girls mainly sitting or kneeling on them), one with a washing basket on it, and one with a big plastic storage container on it! All four had ropes attached, and the girls worked in pairs and threes to travel about to varying degrees of success.

My toddler’s cheap stroller also got a workout (not entirely sure it will ever be the same!), as the girls ran about with it and sometimes got in for a ride! We also had a ball being soccer dribbled and bounced around, and various hula hooping techniques,  including some very old fashioned pushing along with sticks!

It wasn’t a complicated night in terms of heavy programming, but I think it was quite a “Guide-y” night – the girls were given free reign to figure out the knotting and stabilising themselves, and figure out how best to balance and travel – do pairs work better, or should you be in threes or more – and we also insisted that they do all their own negotiating around who got access to the various bits of equipment, and when they switched roles, and how things should be ‘fair’. Wheeling and running around with dolly trollys, wheeled baskets, prams, hoops, and balls – well, we certainly made an impression on all the locals out to walk their dogs for the evening!

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Stepping back in time

Old style Guiding activities took centre stage this week, as our unit celebrated its 85th birthday (yep, we’ve been around a while, in various forms!).

We set up a series of activities, which the girls moved through in patrols at their own pace. Most of the activities harked back to the early years of Guiding – not something that should be done too often, but fun in small doses! We had:

  • Making cups of tea
  • Polishing silver
  • Blindfolded scavenger hunt
  • Skipping games
  • Knotting challenges
  • Marshmallow toasting

Amusingly, the silver polishing and tea-making were probably the most popular activities – I think silver polishing in particular is sooooooo out of the usual experience of the girls that it was just fascinating for them, and not at all like a chore as it was just so out of their wheelhouse!

We also had a little table set up with old photographs (with pics from the 1930s, 1960s, 1980s, and early 2000s), and a bunch of old program books and games and activities books from across the years – the girls were encouraged to have a (gentle!) flick through the old books, which they were surprisingly keen on. I think when the history is properly local, its more interesting than general “Guiding History” – even in the oldest pictures, they could notice local landmarks, which they found fascinating.


Photos and notes from the 1930s

There was also a little colouring in activity – I had printed out heaps of letters on A4 paper, which spelled out our unit name and “celebrating 85 years of amazing” – the girls all coloured in a letter or two, which we then pinned up and had a photo taken underneath. The girls all seemed chuffed that their colouring contributed to the sign, and were all excitedly pointing out the letter they’d done.

Finally, to finish off the evening we had a little ceremony – one of our newbie Juniors made her Promise, as did our newest Leader (a rare and super exciting thing!). With a nod to history we had one Junior, one Senior, and one Ranger (a few visited for the evening) team up to do colour party, which was lovely. We finished with everyone renewing their Promise in unison, then lit 85 candles on a huge cake, sang “Bravo” and “Happy Birthday To Us!”, then the girls all crowded around and blew out the candles as a big group.

It was really lovely night, with the girls bonding across the age groups – somehow fantastically affirming that while lots of details have changed over the years, the core of what we’re doing continues.



Guiding and golfing: a surprisingly perfect combination!

Sometimes, the simplest evenings can showcase the ‘lessons’ of Guiding perfectly. Last week we had a fun off-site night at a local mini golf park. We were very lucky that the centre was super flexible and accommodating for us, giving the girls basically the run of the place, and despite what looked to be dodgy weather, the rain cleared and the sun came out just in time.

I spent the evening floating and ‘facilitating’, and it was just lovely to see how beautifully the girls were all interacting. The girls were given rough instructions (and most had played mini golf before at some point), but each group effectively had the time and space to modify and adapt the rules to suit themselves – and watching them negotiate that space (and assisting occasionally) was just lovely. For example, I watched one group of littlies – 6 and 7 year olds – tackling a hole they decided was tricky – so they informally agreed that the first section would just not count towards their scores. In contrast, an older group decided they wanted to Do Things Properly – and scored each hole very precisely, taking note of the par for each one and being very competitive… but still friendly and having a giggle. So much of what we try to teach and enable is teamwork, and the social skills around negotiation and cooperation, and strangely, this night of very light supervision and very limited enforcement of structure gave the girls a chance to show how fantastically they’re  developing these skills.

It was lovely having a long night out in the twilight, and so great seeing the girls all laughing and mingling in different groups to their usual. Such a chilled out, easy night, and definitely one to do again at some point in the future.


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Growing apace


Not quite sure how its happened, but all of a sudden we’re bursting at the seams – our first night of term had 5 newbies (all prospective juniors) come along, and three weeks later all five have joined. And a newbie from last term who we thought we’d lost is suddenly back, as is her little sister. AND two girls who didn’t come back after term one are back and paid up, plus, one year after she left we’ve got another girl back after zero contact. So that’s 9/10 kids up from the end of last term… out of nowhere. Its just strange. Wonderful, but strange!!

Its such a sudden and significant jump that it’s throwing out our systems a little – we’ve been running at 3 patrols in Juniors for a while now, but at 20 kids in the littlies, we probably should move to 4 patrols, the 4 Seniors patrols we thought were going to slip down to three with several girls moving up to Rangers will stay at four, the Rangers are suddenly big enough for us to think about patrols… And on a more practical level, we probably need a few more sets of scissors, textas etc to accommodate the extras…

I’m sure by the end of term it will all seem normal, but for the next few weeks I suspect everything is going to be just a bit wonky as we try and get the new kids’ names and faces sorted, and get them all used to being part of our little group.

All in all, great problems to have, but I suspect we’ll be feeling a little stretched for a while until this all becomes the new normal!

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Tunnel and track building

Another pretty good night this week, as the girls used various recycled bits and pieces (plus a raid of the cupboards!) to build tracks for a little matchbox-style car, as part of our wheels badge.

We set it up as an inter-patrol challenge, with one single car, so the challenge was to build a track that kept the car running for the longest time – the aim being to have as long a track as possible, with enough of an incline to keep it going but not so little that it slowed and stopped or got stuck.

It ended up being a really fun night, and the girls all got really competitive – constantly testing and refining their ideas, really focused. We only gave them about 30 minutes to work together, before testing (and timing – the longest journey of the little car was only 2.8 seconds!!). We then got the various tracks put together, getting the whole group to cooperate (well, in theory), with the aim of achieving a longer run time than any one group had managed. The eventual longer track did get a bit better – I think the final time was just on 3 seconds – so I’m not sure that the idea of more minds being better necessarily was true!!

Overall, a good evening – it was great seeing them all so invested in building and constructing and thinking through how the pieces could go together!

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Maps and road rules – and how to make boring topics fun!

As part of the Wheels Create-A-Challenge badge that my Senior Guides are working on this term, we decided to have a bit of a patrol quiz night on road rules, going with the tried-and-true theory that the best way to handle learning-y and potentially school-ish material is to make it fast, make it competitive, and squeeze in the learning between the giggles.

We started with each patrol getting a copy of a Melways (Melbourne’s main street directory, so standard that people use “Melways” to mean “street directory”, and get confused when in other cities they use something else), and having races to find certain locations. One point was awarded to the patrol that was able to give the first correct map reference for each of the locations I read out. It was quite interesting seeing several of them being a bit mystified at why you’d have such a thing in your car – I guess these kids are so used to smart phones and gps devices that actual maps seem deeply quaint.

Handily, we ended up with enough Melways that I was able to use my one (a super handy mini version!) to confirm if their answers were correct. My original plan had me writing down the references in advance, but time got away from me, and this was actually more fun to properly check, rather than just look at my list. Locations included our nearest cross-streets to our hall, the local pool, the MCG, a local station, the nearest general hospital… etc etc.

We then awarded one point per street name for each member of the patrol – so Sally Marie Jones would have to find a street (or lane, or close, or avenue…) named Sally or Marie or Jones. They all seemed to get a kick out of finding “their” street!

Next we switched gears and focused on road rules. I’d done some print outs of several pages (er… about 35 pages actually!) of the booklet that learner drivers use to get their permits. Each patrol got a set of rules, and it was then a race to answer a bunch of questions correctly – things like “what are two tips for driving safely in tunnels” “who must you give way to in a roundabout” “when can you enter a tramway”. Each of the answers was SPECIFIC, and they were all flinging the pages around desperately trying to find the right tiny paragraph which would answer the question.

We also had a round where they had to quickly draw specific signs (less successful I think – perhaps as it was a bit more individual than team-y), and then finally a round where I told them specific maneuvers – zip merging, hook turns, three point turns – and as a patrol they had to act it out, with points going to the best/most accurate/most creative representation!

So, all in all, a fun night, full of crazy yelling, and lots of excitement, about a topic that I’m sure none of them were psyched to find out about!

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Musing and moaning (just a little)

So, I’ve barely blogged this year. And having barely blogged, I’m out of practice, and feeling guilty that I’m out of practice, and it just becomes a big shame spiral.

The thing is, this year I’ve felt a little funny about blogging my adventures. With my awesome co-leaders taking on more of the load, I don’t feel as able to tell the tales of “my” unit, as it seems a bit weird to talk about the marvellous ideas they’ve come up with, even though I know from comments etc that people enjoy hearing about my team’s ideas as much (or if perfectly honest, more!) than they do about mine. But still, it feels like I’m stepping on toes somehow.

And more generally, I think I’ve lost a bit of my guiding mojo these last few months. Not so much in my enjoyment of the girls and the activities, but somehow my confidence that I’m putting together a program worth sharing, or ideas worth telling about. Our units are doing great – heaps of kids, growing at almost every age group (we’ve even had now 3 new-to-guiding teenagers join us, which is some sort of miracle), and a great team of leaders who are all gelling.

And yet… somehow my confidence is down. I think it started when a couple of big ideas and offers to do specific things for “higher ups” went unanswered… it makes you start to shrink in on yourself a touch, and wonder if possibly previous ideas that had been favourably received were done so more out of politeness…

So, my aim this term is to return to blogging properly – perhaps writing down the great things we’re doing – me and the whole crew – will reassure me that we’re broadly on the right track. Or, of course, it may convince me that it’s time to move on – either from the blogging or the guiding or possibly both. We shall see.

To those of you who’ve been reading and following – stick around despite the whining of this post – I’ve got about four wide games to publish in the next few weeks!



Eggy delicious

A few weeks late, but oh well!

As part of our cooking badge work, one of the criteria was to cook a simple meal using a frying pan. To mix things up a little, we decided that we’d make this an outdoor activity!

So we built a little fire (in our patented foil-tray-on-bricks method), slid our little grill over the top, and then popped the frypans on top of the grill! Perfect!

Our ‘simple meal’ was fried eggs, popped on top of toasted English muffins, with a slice of cheese slightly melted on top. Tasty, easy, and hopefully something the girls can easily re-create at home.

We did this with two of our four seniors patrols, while the other two patrols were inside in the kitchen, baking cakes, also on the cooking badge criteria. The following week, we switched the roles around so they all got to do both activities. I think it was a good decision to get part of our cooking skills outside, even though that element wasn’t explicitly included in the criteria – mixing it up keeps the term interesting, and woohoo, brings in the outdoors and fire element that the girls don’t really get elsewhere!

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