guideydiary

keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Wander around the world with WAGGGS

A great – if somewhat complicated! – night last night, as we finished off the term with two parallel wide games!

Both games involved the same premise: that at the last World Conference in Hong Kong, that the letters of WAGGGS had gone missing, and needed to be retrieved and delivered to Tunisia for the next conference in two years’ time!

So starting from “Hong Kong”, the patrols made their way through the five world regions, collecting letters as they completed challenges successfully, before finishing up by finding Tunisia in an atlas and delivering their collected letters!

I really love wide games, but they are a lot of work, and you never quite know how the various instructions will be interpreted… for example, a task which was meant to have the older girls walking with bowls on their heads full of rice and/or oats (for “grain” being transported in Africa Region) using fabric scarves to form a base on their head was somehow interpreted as filling the bowls with the scarves… no wonder they had trouble figuring the clue…

I think a couple of the dramas arose as we had the stations kind of set up for the girls to wrangle themselves, rather than having leaders providing instructions and correcting interpretations… or possibly my instructions were just too brief, and not prescriptive enough! I think I also under-estimated the amount of set up time required – although I got to the hall 30 minutes before the meeting started, that’s not really enough time to set up 12 different activities, even though I did have pretty much everything ‘ready to go’ – the moment the kids start coming in, and parents start asking “just a quick question”, the 30 minutes prep/set up time rapidly shrinks!!

Still, the girls all had fun, they got through the activities, we had a bit of world guiding fun, and the method of having totally separate activities for the older girls and younger girls worked really well, so I’m pretty happy with it! I’ll post a copy of the wide game instructions in the next few days :)

Eagle-eyed readers will note a gap in posting last week – Guides did happen, and I did attend, but I was pretty sick and ended up nursing a cup of tea most of the night! We did however have a night of working on badges, and I mainly was with a group of five 8 and 9 year olds, who decided to learn how to make a proper cup of tea for one of their badge challenges, so that was decidedly convenient given my poorly state!

Next week: no guides, but co-leaders and I will probably get together and plot next term, so that will be fun… a winter term… we’ll definitely need to include playing with fire at some point!!

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At the park

A reasonably easy evening this week, as we took the girls to the local park.

We were joined by Sister Unit, which meant that we had 40 kids (even with a few from both units away… we’ve both grown a lot recently!), which meant that the noise level was higher than usual, and the chaos level was DEFINATELY higher than usual!

We started by getting the girls into groups of 2-3, and blindfolding one member of each group, before walking the two blocks or so to the park. The girls found this hilarious and fascinating, and it was a good activity to even up the girls- some of the 12 year olds struggled just as much as the 6 year olds!

Once at the park, we had the girls mix up into different pairs, and then hunt for a long list (18 items I think) of ‘shapes in nature’ – the shapes included “corkscrew” “letter C” “cone” “cube”. The girls found bark, clouds, leaves, vines… and one group even made the letter c by forming it with their hands, reasoning that they too are part of nature :)

We then went to a little wooded area, and played “my friend the tree” which had them again in partners or threes – one girl in each partnership was blindfolded, ‘dizzied up’, and then led to a tree. They had to touch it, smell it, and try to remember it, before being dizzied up again and led away, then have the blindfold taken off. They then had to try and identify their tree! It worked really well, and was again an activity which seemed to be enjoyed by the girls at both ends of the age spectrum.

We finished up with a bit of a play on the playground (there would have been a mutiny if not!), before walking back. It wasn’t the most action-packed evening, but it was nice to get outside, stretch our legs, and give the girls time to chat and muck about a bit!

Next week, badge work, which will, *in theory* be directed by the girls, rather than the leaders. We shall see!

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Lazy leading… or girl-led guiding?

Why not both?!

This week the Senior Guides took charge of the program, with each of the three patrols organising and running a World Centre themed activity. This was the result of two weeks of preparation – two weeks ago they were allocated their World Centre, and given five minutes to brainstorm the sorts of equipment/information/ideas that they would need to bring the following week. One week ago, they had 15 minutes as a patrol to look over their materials and discuss ideas and agree as a group what activity they were going to run. And then this week, they actually did it!

The three groups all had 10 minutes to set up, followed by the activities in order. The ‘Pax Lodge’ patrol ran a scavenger hunt, where they had a bunch of pictures of UK sites and items scattered around the grounds, as well as non-UK relevant pictures. The competing teams of 3 girls a piece got points for collecting relevant pictures, and lost points if they collected an incorrect picture. In addition, 4 members of the organising patrol dressed up (two as Queens Guards in ‘bearskin hats’, one as a ‘British Bulldog’, one as ‘The Queen’) (none of their costumes looked at all correct, but it was a lot of fun!), and the competing groups got additional points if they managed to find one of the characters. Very clever set up, and all the girls really loved the activity!

Next up was the Our Cabana patrol, who had organised to make and bring in various bits and pieces to make soft tacos – all the girls put together their own combo, and I think most of them even tried something a bit different to their usual. Even WhiteFoodGuide gave it a decent try, and discovered she quite enjoys spicy meat and beans! This patrol also had a poncho based activity organised, but very few girls had remembered to bring an old blanket or sheet or whatever, and we had limited time, so it ended up just being the food activity. Still, they did very well in all remembering everything, and having appropriate off site and on site preparation!

Finally, the Sangam patrol put together a ‘display’ with bits and pieces about India, and dressed up in saris and shalwar kameez to present a few facts and figures about India. The patrol’s original plan was to put on a skit, but they had several girls away ill and decided to go with a cut down version. Not quite as successful as the other patrol’s activities, but still well organised.

To close out the night, I did a very quick “okay, what do we remember about World Guiding from the last few weeks?” – collectively they could easily remember all of the WAGGGS regions, what WAGGGS stands for, where the world centres are, listed about 15 Asia Pacific region countries without struggle, and were aware that each country had a slightly different Promise and Law. Not bad!! Looks like a fair bit of what we’ve been doing has indeed stuck!

The upshot of all of these patrol activities was that I pretty much sat and supervised, only needing to do the occasional “you need to clean up X, Y, and Z” “this is how you use the industrial dishwasher” “the cloths are on the sink”. EASY!

Meanwhile, AwesomeCoLeader and YoungCoLeader were Juniors-wrangling. AwesomeCoLeader was running the show, which was part of their Eyes badge, and focused on ways to convey information without seeing. The majority of this was focussed on Braille, and she used a very clever way of introducing the Braille code system – six cup muffin pans! Using the muffin pans as the ‘base’ for the six-dot basic braille system, the girls used a giant stash of jelly beans to practice the alphabet, and then did some de-coding of braille dots. As it was an ‘Eyes’ night, they also played The Postcard Game (which involves matching postcard halves scattered around the gardens), as well as a quick game of Camouflage.

So, all in all, a really good night.

With our larger numbers, we’ve lately been running the two groups semi-separately, almost as proper “Guide” and “Brownie” units. The next three weeks, however, we’ve got everyone back together. It will be interesting to see how we manage that, as the numbers of kids if everyone turns up is getting pretty large (34, I think?), and the age range (and more importantly, capacity range) is also getting pretty huge – from 6 year olds in prep to 12 year olds in year seven! I suspect we may need to have an excellent cup of tea waiting at home after those nights!!

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Making World Guiding facts fun and fabulous!

Want to strike fear of a boring night into a group of Guides?

Tell them you’ll be working through the criteria for the “World Guiding” Achieve A Challenge badge. The clauses include such scintillating requirements as “know what WAGGGS stands for and who can become a member”, “Name all of the WAGGGS countries of the Asia Pacific Region”, “locate the four World Centres on a map”.

Guaranteed snoozearama, right?

At any rate, certainly the type of information which could very easily be reduced to “read this” “list this” and “memorise this”.

I’m sure I speak for 10 year olds everywhere when I say BORRRRR-ING!!

BUT!

After much pondering, I came up with what I thought might be a way to get this info into a fun package – and WOOHOO! – it actually worked!

So how do you make boring into fun? Add competition, speed, and prizes!

Essentially, we ended up with a quiz night, with four rounds of activities, with patrols competing for points/markers (as indicated by coloured paddlepop sticks) at each stage, and the overall winning patrol getting a prize.

Round one: World Centres

Each patrol was given an atlas, and I read out the address (broadly) of the world centres. The first patrol to find the location, raise their hands, and point it correctly out on the map won a marker.

We started off easy with “Pax Lodge, London, United Kingdom”, then progressed to Sangam, Our Cabana, and Our Chalet in the same format. Then as a bonus round, there were five points up for grabs as I read out the five countries which have been involved in the Fifth World Centre project (Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria) – all they had to do was find the country.

Round two: WAGGGS member countries

Using the atlases again (although we switched them around, as each patrol had a different format atlas, and each had good and bad points), the girls competed to correctly name WAGGGS countries in each region.

Firstly, I put out a map of the regions, and got them to have a proper look at it – the WAGGGS regions don’t match directly with continents, which was going to make things a bit of a challenge!

Then, I had a list (broken up by region) of all of the member countries. The girls’ task was to use the atlases to identify and name WAGGGS countries in the various regions. The trick was, they had to pick a country which was a member, and not repeat one already said by another patrol, and not hesitate for more than five seconds!

Each patrol had 10 markers (in a different colour to the ‘points’ markers) – for every incorrect/repeat/hesitation answer, they lost a marker. The winner would be the last patrol left with markers.

So we started with Africa Region, and the girls pored over the maps, yelling out countries, while I ticked their answers off the list. A fast game is a good game, so we raced through, and when about half the countries in the region had been successfully named, I then read out the other possible correct answers, before we went on to Arab region, Western Hemisphere, Europe, and finally Asia Pacific. For each region, I moved on once we’d ticked off about half – much more fun than insisting on finding *every* WAGGGS country – it would take ages, and would get really boring through repeats. But possibly you could aim for the full list if sticking to one region? The winning patrol was then awarded two markers towards their total.

Round three: WAGGGS membership

This round took an “open book test” approach. Each patrol was given a copy of the WAGGGS membership requirements (http://www.wagggs.org/en/about/About/membership) and given two minutes to read it through.

I then sat with my copy, and asked a series of questions – for example “what are joint organisations?” “what do full members need to pay?” “what name rules are there for full members?” etc etc. For each question, the patrols quickly glanced through their sheet, and once they’d located the answer put up their hands – the first correct response then earned a marker! We only did about 6 questions, but it was enough to focus their minds, and I’m sure the first time any of them had even considered that WAGGGS might have membership rules!

Round four: Asia Pacific Region

Our final round was essentially a game of “memory” – the classic “match two cards” game. Patrols took it in turns to attempt to match the cards. The winning patrol was the one with the most pairs at the end.

I’d made up special Asia Pacific Region cards – one half of the pair was the name of the country, the other half was a picture of the guides from that country, which worked really well. Sometimes World Guiding is so remote from our girls, so having pictures of the guides – proper “having fun” photos, rather than drawings of their uniforms or logo or flag, made it all seem a bit more real. Most of the pictures were from the WAGGGS site (http://asia.wagggs.org/en/organisations), some from their individual organisation websites.

IMG_0234Some of the memory cards

The girls were also super excited when they realised that the photo of “Australia” Guides was a picture of them engaged in an activity from last year :)

All in all, it was a huge success, and I’m super thrilled at how it turned out – not something I expected to say when I first turned my mind to meeting the badge criteria!!

Finally, we rounded out the night with 15 minutes as patrols to plan their World Guiding/World Centres activities for next week. The planning actually seemed to go well, so hopefully we’ll end up with a good program of guide-led patrol activities… but I might just have some back up activities *just in case*!

Eagle-eyed readers will realise that I’ve not even mentioned the Juniors yet – I was so engaged with the Seniors that I hardly noticed them (also helped by us splitting the physical space – the Juniors were in the hall, the Seniors were in the foyer area), but they were working on their Eyes badge, making glasses out of pipecleaners and cellophane, and then putting different bits of paper over the glasses ‘lenses’ to simulate different types of vision problems – like cataracts, or retinopathy etc. It seemed to go fairly well, but I suspect it was a bit too intricate for some of the younger ones – we seem to have had a sudden influx of 6 and barely-7 year olds, and I’m not sure we’ve yet adjusted the program to account for their more limited fine motor skills, and smaller attention span.

Speaking of influx, we seem to be suddenly bursting at the seams, to the point that I’m seriously considering if we need to move to a waiting list type situation. Unless we get another leader soon (hi universe, are you listening??), we’re probably going to need a parent roster, and to close the books – if the newbies all sign up (which it looks like they will…) then we’re at 18 in the Seniors/Uppers, and 16 in the Juniors, which I think is the biggest we’ve been in my 6 years with the unit. No doubt now I’ve said that we’ll have a massive drop off after Easter and I’ll be wondering what on earth just happened!

Well, we can only take it “one week at a time” as they say on the football shows, so I guess all there is to do is gear up for patrol-led World Guiding, and ‘Reading Without Seeing’ activities focused on Braille, audiobooks, and other marvellous things!

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The best laid plans…

…sadly very rarely actually work!

Generally, nights at Guides for me are roughly planned out – unless its something like a wide game, where I will have had to have everything done in advance, then usually, I have just a rough sketch in my head of how we might pull together the various elements.

Last night, however, realising that over this week and the next two that I need to ensure my older girls are meeting quite specific badge criteria for their Achieve A Challenge World Guiding badges, I actually sat down an wrote a proper program, complete with timings, instructions for different activities, and allocating leaders and girls to different parts as required.

And the result?

We ran late on all activities, very few of them translated from the “ooh that will be a fun twist on boring Traditions/Thinking Day/World Guiding” idea into reality, and the girls were generally a bit ratty!!

All in all, a bit of an epic fail! Hopefully my plans for next week – which essentially will be teaching World Guiding via a series of quizzes and games (with prizes to the winning patrol!) will prove more successful!

Still, there were a few positive notes – the Senior Guides’ patrol leader elections were finalised, and the three new patrol leaders were thrilled, and the girls they asked to be their Seconders were delighted to accept (I didn’t even need to properly ask if they had accepted, they were grinning so wide!), and I think my hastily re-arranged patrols around the new PLs/PSs will work out quite well. We’ve moved to three patrols of 5-6 girls in the Seniors/Upper Seniors section, which I hope will be sustainable. We don’t have many girls due to move up from Juniors over the next year (I think maybe three?), so hopefully they’ll all have long enough to start properly working as patrols, as that has traditionally been a bit of a weak spot for our unit.

The other highlight was a spontaneous newbie joined us (I’d received a call just two hours ahead of the meeting, from someone looking at our poster in the hall area!), and she seemed to have a great time, despite what I regarded as a bit of a dud evening! If she liked that night, one of our good nights is going to totally blow her mind :)

And we also had a promise ceremony for 3 girls that joined us late last year. Ceremony nights are always lovely, so we did at least finish on a high note!

So, I guess we chalk the night up to experience… and realise the take-home message is not to be toooooooo Be Prepared!

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Colour and movement

A lovely quiet night at Guides this week, as about a third of the girls were absent (a lot of schools have camp in the second week of term), which lowered the chaos level hugely! Of course, it helped that unlike last week, they were not all seeing each other for the first time in months, so the girls were generally more chilled out.

In addition, we had quite separate programming for the Juniors and Seniors, including having them physically separate – the older girls outside, the younger ones in the hall, so the ‘vibe’ of the evening was much more relaxed.

Our theme for the night was “arts and illusions”, to contribute to the Eyes badge for the younger ones, and to just be a bit of fun for the older girls – not everything needs to be hard work!

For the Junior Guides, YoungCoLeader came up with a brilliant activity – making spinning colour wheels (a bit like this- http://www.crayola.com/lesson-plans/spinning-color-wheels-lesson-plan/ ), which the girls all really loved. Brilliantly, YoungCoLeader had thought ahead and pre-drawn the circles and sections, so the girls only had to colour, cut, and thread the string, but as they’re ages 6-9, and we had more than one activity planned, this was just enough work, especially given most of them are rather particular about their colouring! For those that finished early, I brought along a book of optical illusions, and a book of MC Escher’s works, both of which proved quite popular.

Meanwhile, AwesomeCoLeader was outdoors with the Senior Guides, letting them play with dyed ice, which they found utterly hilarious! Despite it being an activity she found on a website about activities to do with your toddler, our bunch of 10-12 year olds thought it was just be greatest activity! Pity the weather had cooled off and was not the predicted 36 degrees, because in the heat this would have been perfect!

The dyed ice, before melting into fabulous patterns for some, and giant messes for others!

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Once the older girls had finished with their icy messes, CoLeader had a great little leadership/theatre sports activity for them, where she would appoint one girl to be the organiser, and then give her a shape to get the other kids into – some of the shapes on her list were “knife and fork” “clock” “a bed” “a bicycle”. The girls LOVED it, and had so much fun – they all got super creative, for example, the bed ended up including not only legs, a mattress, a doona and a pillow, but also monsters underneath! This ended up being a really great little exercise just prior to a bit of a spiel from me about leadership and patrols, ahead of the girls voting for their PLs (we have fresh elections each year, or as a vacancy arises). I had originally intended for the voting to only happen on that night, but with a third of the girls away, both CoLeaders and I decided it was fairer to wait until first thing next week and ensure the other girls get to vote as well.

Finally, I showed both Juniors and Seniors a cool little drawing illusion, which they all practiced and did fairly well – its basically this: http://www.handimania.com/diy/3d-handprint.html (What did leaders do before the internet?!), and the girls all enjoyed it- a great one for our wide range of ages and skills, as it wasn’t complex to do, but there was value in doing it with more precision and skill as the effect was stronger.

So, overall, a good night. Good both in terms of the girls – I think they all had fun, and in terms of the leaders. AwesomeCoLeader and I have been together a while now, but YoungCoLeader is starting to really integrate, and is stepping up and increasingly taking a more active role as a full leader, rather than a semi-assistant type role, which is just great. I had the pleasure last night of having nothing to do for 2/3rds of the evening but take photos, help set out paper, and find the scissors box. How lovely to no longer feel (as I did for a while) that the unit would fall over if I wasn’t able to attend for whatever reason! I now feel really confident that I’m only part of the team, rather than “The Main Leader”, and despite my bossy soul, that is just brilliant :))

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Aaaaand go! Start a fire!

First night back at Guides this week, and we celebrated by starting fires!

Well, starting three, very responsibly organised and contained fires. On which we cooked chocolate damper. So, you know, pretty responsible fires :)

It was meant to be one fire for the , Juniors, and two for Seniors and Upper Seniors, but the older girls’ fires were so much better that we ended up with several of the littlies using the older girls’ fires, just to ensure everyone got things cooked in time.

Our chocolate damper was originally meant to be apple damper, but AwesomeCoLeader forgot to bring graters, and the kitchen (generally quite well stocked) didn’t have any, so a quick raid of our shed stash yielded cocoa and chocolate buttons. So we added cocoa to the damper mix, and once they were cooked and pulled off the sticks, stuck a couple of the buttons in the hole, which made for a delicious gooey centre! The girls seemed really quite okay with the switch from apple to chocolate!!

Of course, the older girls in particular had much hilarity around the fact that the brown damper mix, when rolled into sausage-y shapes around sticks looked decidedly like poop :)

As the first night back, of course retention is the question – how many would return? Well, at this early stage its looking good, as only three girls were not there. One I suspect we may have lost (her attendance in term four last year was a little patchy), but I suspect the other two (sisters) will be back. The older one was apparently on school camp, and I’m guessing its likely her little sister isn’t yet at the stage of coming along alone (they’ve both only been with us a term, and little sister is only barely 7). So, presuming those two return next week, we’re looking pretty good. Extra exciting is the fact that all five of our girls who have moved up to high school have returned, which is fantastic, as that is a traditional major drop off point.

We also had two newbies join us – one a (nearly) 7 year old friend of one of our existing littlies, and the other the six year old little sister of one of our longer standing Guides. Little Sister had come along to try last year (when she only just turned five), but it was all a bit much for her. We meet quite late (6.30pm to 8.00pm), and for a kid just starting school, that’s a really long day.

So, I think we’re set up for a good term and a good year. Always helps when you start with fire :)

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Get ready, get set…

Nearly ready for the start of the new Guiding year!

We’ve had our planning afternoon (much cake was consumed), and have decided that the Juniors will work on their “Eyes” badge this term, while the Seniors (and newly revived Upper Seniors!) work on their “World Guiding” badge. The girls do seem to enjoy it when they’re working on separate badges, and we think that we’ll be able to integrate the two badges reasonably well, with two nights that include wide-game-ish activities focused on both WAGGGS and observation skills!

So the letters to the families are written, the programs are decorated brightly (I do love a bit of clip art and fancy fonts!), and today they’ll be printed and posted, ahead of next week’s first night back!

Exciting times ahead!

Hope you’re all also geared up for the new Guiding year and full of fabulous plans!

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And so we begin again…

Mid January, and my mind turns to planning the guiding year ahead, although we’re still a few weeks from the term beginning!

This year my Guiding “New Years Resolutions” are:

* To figure a way to combine my new family responsibilities with Guiding in a way that ensures I don’t go crazy. (For those of you closely following the wee blog: I now have a Tiny Future Guide in the family!)

* To help my unit have at least one camp in the year – whether that is fully participating or just helping out for a day will depend on the above, but I’m sure I can manage something!

* Get better at asking for help from our parent group – I hate to make people feel obliged to help out with something that is, for me, a fabulous hobby, but for them may well just be “a thing their kid does on Wednesdays”. But I need to remember that a lot of people *love* to be asked to help, and that often they just don’t know how to offer. So more thinking of discrete requests, and being sure to take people up on their offers of assistance, rather than my default response of “oh thank you but we’ll be okay!”

* Improve transition from Seniors to Rangers, and figure out a way to make Rangers a sustainable group.

* Do some recruitment targeted at younger girls, as we’re likely to have quite a few gaps in the Juniors this year… luckily, that is (usually) the age easiest to grow.

* Help RangersLeader get her qualifications signed off.

* Stay on top of the paperwork!! And actually claim my expenses!!

So, hopefully it will be a good year, and I’m looking forward to having Planning And Cake with my excellent co-leaders shortly to get this show on the road!

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Edible earth and experimenting

This week at Guides I took a step back and let my very talented co-leaders run the show, as indeed they’ll be doing for the rest of the year!

We had another night focused on the Science and Technology badge, and it ended up being a good night for all.

AwesomeCoLeader worked with the Senior Guides in the kitchen, and had them modify an activity she first ran a few years ago as “edible gardens”, morphing it into “edible earth science”. The guts of the concept was to build a model of the earth, with rock layers, sub soil, top soil, grass, etc. The catch was doing this with food, including making chocolate pudding from scratch for the subsoil, crushing biscuits for the topsoil, dying coconut for the grass, etc.

They turned out fabulously, as you can see!

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The girls worked in groups of 3-4 to do various parts of the process, and it worked just brilliantly. Currently patrols in our Seniors group are 8 girls a piece, and they’re just too big to be properly functional, so its good to split things up a little, and it was nice to let the girls form their own groups. We’re quite lucky in that we don’t have a huge number of “out of Guides” friendship groups in our unit (we have something like 10 schools represented across 30 kids), so even when they choose their own groups, they’re not *too* ‘cliquey’.

(We haven’t bothered with splitting the patrols for this term as at the turn of terms we had 2 patrols of 7, which was borderline, and given only a few weeks left in the year, easier not to disrupt things – since then of course, we’ve had 2 newbies join, which has put us to 8 a piece but at this point, its pretty much just a job for next year, especially with another two juniors due to move up at the end of term).

Meanwhile, YoungCoLeader and a GrandparentHelper were outside with the Junior Guides – originally the plan was for the Juniors to just make volcanoes, and when we’ve done this previously (as part of our Fire badge, I think?), the leader at the time had an elaborate process including making a salt dough to go around the volcano (to make it volcano-shaped), and colouring the water red etc, to look like lava. YoungCoLeader went a different way, which better fitted with the science and technology bent, focusing on the chemistry and process of creating the mixture, and then following up with two further experiments – one using milk and cola (I can’t remember to do what with!!), and the other using cola to clean dirty coins. My usual reaction to the coin-cleaning properties of cola is “eew, that must be doing bad stuff to my insides if it can clean coins!”, but apparently the main reaction from the Junior Guides was “awesome, and do we get to drink the cola?!?”. Different priorities I guess!!

Finally, the most of the girls (barring one small group of Seniors who were finishing off their creations) went out to play camouflage, AGAIN. Oh well, at least its not Not Fruit Salad!!

And now the little blog will be on a wee hiatus for a while as I’ll be away from Guides awaiting the hopefully imminent arrival of a little one, and then we’ll have the long summer holidays. Barring any random posts on plotting and planning, the blog should (in theory!) be back in February. See you then!

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