guideydiary

keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

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.

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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.

 

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Growing apace

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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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Bringing friends, growing guiding… perhaps!

Two weeks of ‘bring a friend’ nights, which will hopefully (maybe?) grow our units. We’re not struggling for members (woohoo!), but the extra leaders, and a bit of time for us to get used to the current numbers, and we think we could comfortably go up an extra patrol worth in the Juniors, and an extra few in Seniors would be handy, as several are due to head up to Rangers in the next term or two.

We decided to split the  bring a friend activities over two weeks, as there is always added complexity when you have newbies around. Week one, the Juniors brought friends for a Swiss themed night (world guiding: tick!) – we started off with some newspaper skiing races and games, followed by three stations for the patrols + pals to move around. One was a raclette station – co-leader brought long her special tiny little raclette grill pans, and the girls chopped veggies and cheese for grilling. Properly Swiss, and something they certainly hadn’t done before! Another station was chocolate fondue – we had marshmallows and fruit for the girls to dip in the fondue, which of course went down a treat! The final station had three different crafty options – a tapestry-ish bookmark (sewn with wool), a little woven heart shape, and a papercut.

Finally, to bring them all back together and add a touch more ‘play’, we had several rounds of a giants treasure style game, with the object to catch being a small cow figure.

It all went well, I think. But no returns the following week, so who knows??

To be fair, the following week was a bit of a challenge – owing to our landlords letting us know only a few days in advance that they’d double-booked our hall (and had over 400 people coming!!), we had to do some quick work to move for the night. Luckily, we were able to move to another hall in the district, but we did have a drop off in numbers, as the location really wasn’t as convenient for many of our families.

Anyhoo, for the second bring-a-friend we had our Seniors girls inviting their mates for a zombie wide game. I’d done this years ago to some success, and decided to revamp and update it, adding in a de-coding element, which required the girls to travel as zombies (with the limping, lumbering walk, lolling heads and outstretched arms) to their next destination, which added probably an extra 10 minutes, which was enough. They all seemed to have fun, and luckily, although it was reasonably chilly, it was a dry night so we were able to have them all outside for the whole time, so, I’m counting that as a ‘tick’ in the “outdoors” fundamentals column!!

I suppose the next few weeks will show if these efforts lead to any extra friends joining us… but to some extent, I suppose it doesn’t matter: the two nights went well, and our existing members had a fun night to show off to their friends – nothing too earnest to be embarrassed about, but also proper showcases of guiding activities, the mix of cooking, crafting, outdoors, and fun that we try to aim for. So, we’ll see!

 

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Cooking with managed chaos, and some calm crafting

Well, Awesome Co-Leader earned her blog name this week, somehow managing to wrangle 20 kids all cooking at once.

Thankfully, we have lots of knives and chopping boards (although, as it turned out, still not quite enough!), so the stir-frying all got done, with two pairs at a time using woks on the kitchen stove, and two pairs using our old faithful little camping stoves. Writing it down, it doesn’t seem so bad, but gosh, it seemed overwhelming in terms of moving parts on the night, plus the sheer logistics of getting that many kids safely in and out of the kitchen (in an hour and a half!) was kind of crazy.

Still, they all cooked, all explored some new flavours, textures, and ingredients, and all seemed happy at the end of the night!

Meanwhile, I organised the juniors group for a lovely calm craft night, using cellophane and glass bricks (amazing what you find at the hardware when you “think wide” about the task!) to make nature-ish scenes. I say “ish”, as according to the girls, apparently nature scenes now include Pokemon… 😆

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Next week- a bring-a-friend Our Chalet themed night for the juniors (hopefully we’ll have a crowd!), and a play-with-the-craft-odds-and-ends night for the seniors. Should be fun!

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Guiding again

Cruisey first night back for term 3 – Juniors playing a bunch of games with a ‘nature’ theme (variations on classics fruit salad, tiggy, rob the nest, and kim’s game), Seniors getting started on their Lifeskills (Cooking) trefoil one, with a bunch of activities based around food safety, and the Rangers being overgrown tiny kids playing games in the dark.

It was an easy night for me, as our whole multi-leaders thing swung into action, and I wasn’t needed to run things – my main contribution to the evening being an idea that we could fun-up the food safety activities by having the girls make up short jingles about using up food scraps – which I got to be the judge of – they were hilarious/terrible, but the girls were all having a lot of fun, knowing that they were quite, quite bad! 🙂

This term, we’ve got the Juniors working on the Nature Create-A-Challenge (based off a bunch of suggestions from the girls which seemed to have a surprisingly strong plants and nature focus), and the Seniors doing the “proper cooking” Lifeskills (cooking) badge – we decided that they all keep asking for cooking, so lets do it properly!! They probably won’t want to see the inside of the kitchen after this term for quite a while!

We’ve done the Nature badge previously, but over a camp based around bugs and critters, so we’ll take quite a different approach this time – keeping it interesting for the adults as well as the girls!

Next week – butterfly craftiness for the littlies, stirfry cooking for the seniors.

 

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Campfire cooking

An excellent final night of term, as our seniors group embraced the cold and expanded their campfire cooking skills.

We had a slightly smaller group than usual, as several girls were already on holidays, plus the usual winter illnesses (although not too bad, still 15 kids) –  but that worked quite well, as we were able to have the whole group working together in various configurations.

We used our usual fires-in-tinfoil-trays set up, but had two of them together, so that we could slide our little cast iron grill top (which has legs about 40cms tall) over the top to cook on.

As usual with cooking and with fire, we didn’t quite get finished in time, leaving the leaders to put out and clean up the fire, but at least we were organised enough that the girls had done the cleaning up of the left over kindling and washed and put away the dishes!

We cooked vegetable skewers, using eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, capsicum, and red onion. Chopped the pieces finely, and drizzled a bit of oil over them – mostly they turned out quite well, and even our veggie-averse kids mostly seemed to enjoy them… or at least parts! The zucchini was particularly popular, with several girls seeming a little shocked that they actually liked zucchini done that way!

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For dessert, we put some crushed plain guide biscuits in muffin tins (with muffin cases), added a marshmallow, a slice of banana (or pear, for a couple of banana-allergic kids), and a large chocolate drop. The first set were probably left on a bit long (the biscuits at the bottom were a bit too… well, charcoal. But the second set which had about half the time on the heat were delicious!

While all this was going on, the juniors group went for a night time expedition to the local park, and had fun playing games in the dark and cold.

All in all, a good term, looking forward to a couple of weeks without the kids… but with planning and tackling cleaning out the cupboards!

 

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Sewing, science, and skyscrapers

Fun and delightfully planned-by-others night at Guides this week, as we split the girls up into three groups (rather than the usual two), separating out our high schoolers (who we refer to as ‘upper seniors’)  from our seniors, and having separate programs for them, and separate again for the juniors.

The Upper Seniors had fun in the kitchen, doing crazy masterchef style ‘molecular gastronomy’ experiments – making ‘cordial caviar’, ‘fruit fettucinni’ and various other concoctions! It was basically science via food, and they all seemed to really get into it.

Meanwhile, the Seniors were working in patrols to tackle a series of skyscraper challenges, building towers out of skewers and marshmallows, legos, straws (strong enough to hold a tennis ball), and various games based on towers, like jenga. I peeked in a couple of times and they were all really engaged, with lots of giggling, plus a bunch of gentle of teasing the opposing patrols.

I was mainly working with the Juniors for the night, doing sewing. Newest co-leader (leader #6, yes, we’re super lucky!!) had arranged for the girls to sew little echidna shapes out of a stretchy fabric, which was then filled with dirt and grass seed, with the idea that with a bit of love, care, and water, will end up having echidna ‘spikes’ of grass in a week or two!

Once again, the juniors were fantastic at the sewing, really engaged, and quietly focused. They all did both hand-sewing of two button eyes (and even our littlest 6 year olds managed this just fine), plus at least some of the machine sewing of the pieces together. We did have a few sneaky cheats to help progress – a mum helper got a production line going of pre-threaded and knotted sewing needles, so we didn’t have to fuss about that, and our new junior leader (well… not yet official, as she’s not *quite* 14) was fabulous at wrangling the filling of the echidnas with dirt, and generally trouble-shooting. Anyway, a great night, and one where all of the girls seemed happy and settled.

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Campfire!

Lovely multi-age program this week, as we integrated our Juniors/Seniors and Rangers programs for evening.

Our units meet at a slightly separate time – the Juniors/Seniors together from 6.30 to 8.00pm, the Rangers from 7.00 to 8.30pm. So rather than having a fully integrated program, we went with a slightly staggered approach.

From 6.30 to 7.30 (ish!), our younger girls all worked on making situpons. At a district camp at the start of the year we noticed that another unit had a set of lightweight situpons that they were able to easily stack and carry, and started thinking about how we could do something similar.

Cue leaders pondering!

Our original plan was to use a heavyweight plastic tablecloth, but on pricing it out, it was going to be quite an expensive little project. Which is fine (what are fees for if not to buy cool things?), but I got to pondering. Luckily, on a trip to Ikea, inspiration struck in the form of a whole bunch of their iconic shopping bags being on sale – a slightly smaller size than usual (hence I guess why they were getting rid of them), and only 49 cents each! And we could get two situpons out of each one! BARGAIN OF THE CENTURY.

Anyway, back to the girls. They all worked to do their own interpretation of the one I’d mocked up, cutting out the two pieces from the bags, edging them with heavy packing tape in bright colours, and then doing various designs on them in permanent markers. Our plan is to stash them in our shed and have them as our ‘unit set’ of situpons for as long as they last! And the particularly brilliant thing about them being based on Ikea bags, is that if the unit grows, or we lose a bunch, or they wear out or whatever, we can easily replace them. WOOHOO!

situpon

Here’s the example one I did for the girls – its hard to tell the scale here, but they’re about 45 cms long, and about 30 cms wide. Plenty big enough for even a chunky bottom to stay dry on the went ground!

So that’s what was happening from 6.30 to 7.30. Meanwhile, at 7.00 the Rangers group commenced, and they were tasked with setting and starting our campfire outside. I expected a bit of complaining (wood collecting always brings it on!), but they were pretty chirpy and cooperative, which I think was aided by the fact that I’d managed to raid my work’s recycling stash and had come well prepared with heaps of newspaper, so we knew at the very least we’d get some decent flames happening with minimal effort.

At 7.30, the whole unit joined together, putting the new situpons into action, and singing a bunch of campfire songs, using a program put together by one of the Rangers girls as part of her BP Award, and including a few songs led by one of our Juniors as part of her Junior BP Award! We finished up with a Promise Ceremony for two of our littlest members, then said goodbye to our Juniors and Seniors, leaving the Rangers with half an hour to toast some marshmallows (their reward for doing the hard work of the fire prep!) and then douse the fire and clean up.

All in all, a really lovely night, and a good one to bring together the various age groups in a way that used all their individual strengths.

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