keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Claps and catapults

Fun, but chaotic night last night, as we had a games night as part of the Hands badge.

In theory, each of the games had to have a strong ‘hands’ element, but I’m not sure that came through quite as much as intended. Ah well, never mind! We were joined by Sister Unit for the evening, which was great, although certainly added to the ‘chaos’ element!

We started the evening with marshamllow catapults – – which was rather genius, and very popular! We used hula hoops as the targets, and had inter-patrol competitions, which worked really well.

Some of the girl’s catapults worked perfectly – shooting the marshmallow about 50cms – and others barely fired at all!

We then had one of the girls run a game for her Agate badge (and possibly JBP Award if she takes the next step), the game was called “golden child”, and included two teams, one team sequentially skipping, while the other ran around the hall, trying to get back to the start before the skipping person had finished their 15 skips. I honestly didn’t *quite* get it, but they all seemed into it, so perhaps this is one of those games I’m just too old to understand!

Next we played “seven”, which I found somewhere in my internet wanderings, where everyone sits in a circle, and slaps the floor as they individually count from one to ten, out loud. So person A calls out “one” as they slap the floor, person B calls out “two” etc etc. EXCEPT for the person meant to call out “seven” – she just slaps her hands, but stays silent. If she accidentally says seven, or forgets to slap, she’s out. Girls also go out by saying the wrong number, or by taking too long.

We set it up so that once we had about 5 girls out, they formed a second circle which kept increasing as new people went out from the original circle. It worked quite well.

Finally, we rounded out the night with a game of “evolution”, from Gecko – – which involved a series of rock/paper/scissors games to try and get through the ‘stages’ of evolution. A great one to play with a big group (we had about 25 last night, worked well), and they all thought it was hilarious!

So, it was a good night. Only draw back was they were all very LOUD and struggled to concentrate. I don’t like to get angry, but I did give a bit of a rant towards the end about how many of them were not being fair, as I was having to tell off the whole group and waste the time of everyone, just because SOME girls kept talking and not paying attention!

I also ended up giving up on “hands up” for the night and using my whistle, which isn’t the greatest of long-term plans, but honestly, my arm would have gone numb if I’d kept it up much longer with no result!

We certainly noticed the difference this week – 3 of our quiet and sensible ones were away, and three of our noisy ones who were away last week were back!!! Yikes!!

Next week – planning with co-leader for term four (how on earth did that happen so quickly?!), and a campfire night with the girls. Here’s hoping for good weather, as an indoor ‘campfire’ with candles just isn’t the same!

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Unexpectedly traditional guiding!

Fun night, as our puppet show night somehow morphed into a night of very traditional guiding! We had patrols, guide laws, first aid, knotting, and guiding history!

We started out with the girls working in their patrols to refine their puppet plays from last week (which included reminding them that they had in fact chosen a guide law to focus on…) (and then reminding them which law…!) but they got going pretty quickly, and had fun rehearsing. After about 30 minutes rehearsal, they put on their plays to… varying levels of success! But they were cute, and all seemed to have fun, and may even have a fighting chance of remembering an extra guide law or two!

After that we decided to crack into the new guide handbooks, which we had finally managed to get a reasonable sub-group of the unit purchasing, as well as a decent set for the unit.

So we split the girls into various age groups, and gave them the relevant handbooks (if they had one they were also encouraged to get theirs out), and started by asking them all to find the first aid section of the book, and try out one of the techniques. We had some good ankle wrapping, recovery positions, treatment for bleeding, and they all seemed to have fun.

Next we asked them to find out “something about a person called Robert” in the book, which was kind of fun, as well as “what is special about 22 February?” and “Who else’s birthday was that?”. Quick and stealthy guiding history in less than 5 minutes!

Finally, we got the girls to find knotting in the books, and asked them to try something out – we had a bowline, lots of square lashing, a couple of reef knots, and a few other bits and pieces. Again, lovely focused and engaged guides!

Still not quite sure how we pulled an almost entirely traditional night out the hat, but it worked really well, and the girls loved it! I know we often avoid knotting and history bits and pieces in particular for fear of being “boring”, but perhaps this is the way – bite size pieces, rather than a whole night focused on the one thing.

This weekend, Cookout Sleepover – 8 girls are coming along to cook outdoors, go for a night scavenger hunt, and (hopefully!) have a lovely time.

And here’s one of the sets of puppets 🙂

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Puppetry of the Guide Laws


One of our really good nights tonight, as our plans worked, the girls all cooperated, the patrol system was properly functional, and four newbies returned again, three taking forms, and I suspect the fourth will do so next week 🙂

We started out by having the girls line up for our opening ceremony already in their patrols (we always split them by Juniors/Seniors these days, but not usually by patrols as well), which was very handy as they were then able to pretty much just turn to each other and already be in the relevant groups. Handy!

We then had each patrol draw out of the hat one of the Guide Laws, which they were then to come up with a short puppet play script, prior to puppet construction.

It was actually totally lovely how well all the patrols were working, and a real pleasure to see the new girls integrating into the patrols really well. Nicely, we had a newbie per patrol, which made things very well balanced!

After about 15 minutes of script and casting decisions, we split up the Juniors and Seniors – Juniors down one end of the hall doing felt finger puppets, Seniors down the other end making paper cup marionettes.

We haven’t done much craft this year, so it was quite nice to have a really crafty evening, giving a little bit of structure in terms of the base activity, but giving them all total freedom in terms of design. All the girls were all really engaged all night, even those I wouldn’t usually think of as crafty ones. Lets hope the lovely engaged functional patrols carries into next week when they have to put on their puppet plays!

Afterwards, I joined the Rangers (only four of them!) for some card games, and then some badge presenting, chats about the new handbooks, and talking about the revised Promise, as well as when they might get around to renewing their Promises – apparently each time it was planned during the year something came up, or plans changed etc.

Next week – puppet plays, and a bit more focus on the Guide laws.


A tale of two parts

Guides tonight – both happy and sad.

Firstly, the usual unit had a great night – Juniors were in the kitchen making gingerbread biscuits with awesome co-leader and lovely American helper. And they rose to the challenge of doing a better job than the Seniors did two weeks ago! Unlike the Seniors, the Juniors actually managed to ice and decorate their biscuits, and even had time to have a couple of quick games while the biscuits were baking!

Meanwhile, the Seniors (a reasonably small group) were sewing – and actually were doing a really good job, fabulously engaged. Even our usual noisy ones were reasonably sensible, and they all worked independently on their badges without bothering each other. District leader called in to visit, and was rather charmed by how focused they all were 🙂

We also had five girls back for a second try after last week’s bring-a-friend evening, which was pretty exciting! And mostly Juniors, where we’re a bit thin on numbers, so that is great 🙂

Later though, things were not so great.

Those following this little blog will know that Rangers Leader sent an email two weeks ago resigning. A further email later said she would not be returning for this week’s scheduled Rangers meeting, and that the girls did not know. She promised to send them all an email… but it was very clear this evening that had not happened.

So co-leader and I had to sit down the girls and break the bad news. We were nice enough to at least bring crackers and soft drink to soften the blow! Luckily, they were all pretty calm about it (better than I expected), but were of course pretty worried about what would happen to the group. Apparently they had kind of figured something was up, as former Ranger leader hadn’t done her usual email to them with reminders of what to bring for the evening. Anyway, the girls seemed reasonably okay with the idea that co-leader and I would help out for the rest of term, and they all promised to start asking anyone and everyone they know if they would be interested in being a new leader!

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Sew good… and not sew good.

Guides last night was a mix of very peaceful and successful (me and the Juniors sewing) and utter chaos (co-leader and fractious Seniors cooking)!

Lets start with the good…

All 10 Juniors were in attendance, and all but one had managed to bring either their blanket or sash and spare badges for sewing! And the one who had forgotten was totally fine about helping other people, until we found a blanket started last time by girls who had forgotten, which they’d started sewing on various bits to – we’ve decided to make that a unit blanket, and forgetful guide had a lovely time adding to that one!

All the girls were patient, quiet, focused… being helpful towards each other, waiting for assistance from myself and new helper… Just delightful little people!

As an aside, I’ve found a good way of managing competing help requests is to say “Yep, I’ll be there soon, you’re third in line! I’ll just finish helping Sally, then I’ve got Lucy, then I’ll be with you” – seems to help them wait more patiently, without getting agitated that their problem isn’t dealt with immediately.

So, all in all, good sewing night. And one of them even picked up that “it was good we were doing sewing, as it uses your hands, and we’re doing the hands badge this term!”. Indeed kiddo, good pick up!

…And now to the bad!

Well, the biscuits got made! But poor co-leader was just about going spare with the Seniors – one of our older ones ended up in tears as she wasn’t getting her way, two of the quieter ones were being marginalised by the louder ones, they weren’t cooperating in patrols, didn’t listen properly to instructions and then got frustrated when things weren’t working…

I think in many ways, the older girls struggle more with complex tasks than the younger ones do, as they’ve learnt enough that they’re used to being able to figure things out themselves… but they don’t really have the full knowledge to apply. For example, they didn’t know that “creaming the butter and sugar” does not, in fact, result in cream…

It probably also didn’t help that of the two Seniors away, they were both sensible PLs who might have been able to calm things down a little!

It will be interesting to see how the dynamic plays out in two weeks time when we switch the program around, and have the Seniors sewing, and the Juniors cooking… fingers crossed I have delightful sewing Seniors!

Ah well. Problems for another day.

Hopefully next week will be fun – we’re having an open night/bring a friend night, with all the activities based around glow sticks! Hopefully we’ll get a couple of newbies out of it – not that we need many… maybe one or two extra Seniors (preferably around the 11-12 age), and two to four Juniors, preferably aged 6 or 7.

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Chatty hands

Back for term three, yay!
Bit of a slow start to the term, with 8 girls away (out of 20!), which is high even for our historically poor first week attendance.
We did, however, have a newbie come to join us, which was lovely (especially as by the end she was nagging mum about getting her uniform!), and also a new adult helper! She’ll only be around for a term (originally from America and will be heading home), but she seems lovely, and extra pairs of hands are always very welcome.
To start our Hands Create-A-Challenge term, we had the girls work in pairs to send messages to each other using the Auslan alphabet, which was actually really successful! We gave a copy of pictures of the alphabet to both members of the pair, and then one girl (the message sender), picked a word out of the hat (mainly guiding type words – promise, friends, knotting…) and had to get her partner to de-code the word and write it down, before swapping roles.
I thought they might find it boring, but nope, they were going back to pull extra words out of the ‘hat’, and all really engaged with it!
After being so quiet, we had to have a bit of a run-around, and had a quick game of “fruit salad”, which for WHATEVER REASON has absolutely NOTHING to do with fruit according to the way its always been played in this unit!! They all love it, and its *that game* that needs to be rationed, or they’d insist on playing it each week.
Next up, we did an activity I called ‘happy hands and service hands’ – they each drew around both hands onto coloured paper, and cut out their hand shapes, and wrote their name on the palm of each hand. On one, they wrote different service/lend a hand activities that they would try and do (one on each finger), and on the other, they had to pop their hands into the ‘hat’, and take out someone else’s, and write along the fingers something nice about the person whose hand they’d picked out.
Finally, to round out the night we had a quick chat about the term program and all the paperwork they’d been given (various permission slips etc), and then did a little bit of campfire singing – I know they weren’t so keen on that last term, but a couple of quick songs saved my sanity as I was out of games ideas and they didn’t need another round of fruit salad! By including Eidelweiss with the clapping motion, I can pretend its part of the theme!
Next week: JBP activities for a bunch of kids, and a quick Promise renewal for the girl moving up to Seniors who missed her ceremony late last term.

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Let the planning begin!

This weekend just gone, awesome co-leader and I sat down for some delicious lunching at her place, and three hours of focussed term-three planning duties!

I do enjoy trying to bring the term together, figuring out how to balance the various elements of the program, trying to bring in more of what the girls have particularly asked for, while not neglecting to cover the seven fundamentals (Promise and Law, Outdoors, Service, World Guiding, Guiding Traditions, Leadership Development and Patrol Systems), as well as making sure we don’t have three nights in a row of craft… It really is quite a puzzle!

Anyhoo, after three solid hours, and a bit of stewing later and some emails, we’ve pretty much agreed on:

  • just doing one main badge this term – the Hands Create-A-Challenge
  • having a day out in the city, going to lunch and to the art gallery for a touch of culture!
  • a sleepover just for the over-10s, as the littlies have a regional camp available early term four
  • doing a big push on the Junior BP Award (JBP), with the hope that in term four we’ll be able to have a presentation ceremony for one or two girls (fingers crossed!).

Not sure why, but I’m not looking forward to this term as much as last term… somehow I feel the overall program structure isn’t *quite* there. Perhaps with another week and half before the start of term I can figure out what is missing and tweak it! And if not, I’m sure the bones of the term are good, so it should be fine. I’m pretty sure that what we’ve got included will be enough to make the kids happy, so that’s the main thing!

Wish me luck on either finding the missing ingredient, or deciding it was there all along! 🙂

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