keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Newbies, planning, and presentations.

Quiet and easy night tonight, as we all recuperated from camp.

Yet another tiny newbie came along to try – only 6 years old – and by the end of the night, was desperate to get mum to buy uniform! So that makes for six tiny new ones for the term, and we’re pretty much full in Juniors… even possibly a little above full, ooops. I’m not used to the idea of saying “no, we’re full”, and I suppose overall numbers aren’t too bad, as Seniors has room, but still.

In terms of activities, it was pretty low key – the first 45 minutes were spent with the girls presenting activities for their JBP Awards, and one of them running a game as her activity – which seemed to take longer to explain than play! But they all did quite well, and one of our long standing Guides has just ticked off her sixth activity, so will be getting her Bronze Endeavour badge shortly! Exciting!

For the second half of the night, we split the girls up into their sections to work on their different badges – the Juniors went with AwesomeCoLeader and YoungCoLeader to build pillow and blanket tents which apparently went quite well, and was a good way to get the quieter new girls to start chatting. Meanwhile AmericanCoLeader and I took the Seniors out to the foyer to work through some of the clauses in the Outdoors badge, although they took SOOOOO LONG to come up with lists of equipment for things to take on a day’s hike, and then strategies for dealing with various emergencies on camp. Actually, it was surprising how quickly and enthusiastically they got into it, given it was quite a “school-ish” activity. But they took so long that they didn’t get to the bit about devising a conservation activity, so they’ll have to sort that out in the next few weeks out of unit time – we’ll see how many badges I need to buy… I’m predicting… hmmm… three. Hopefully they’ll prove me wrong!!

Next week – AmericanCoLeader is planning a bunch of activities based around compasses, so a slack week for me, woohoo 🙂

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Constructing Guides

If anyone ever tells you that girls don’t like to build things, well, they’re wrong.

Tonight we had a brilliant night, possibly one of my favourites for quite a while, as I spent some time with the Juniors as they used sticks and rope and tarpaulins to construct small pup tents/shelters.

My role was pretty much just supervising (with the occasional advice/comment) as they all worked brilliantly in their allocated small groups (not their usual patrols), and started to get really creative in their approach to problem solving. Gratifyingly (in terms of our term structure), several of them remembered how they’d got their tripod tents to stay up several weeks ago, and were able to apply that thinking, and explain it to the newer members of the group.

It was particularly impressive that the night went so well, given that we had visitors from Sister Unit (always lovely), plus two girls “brought a friend” (which… that’s great, but a heads up is always nice… and *technically* the Juniors are full…), plus four of the girls are so new they can’t yet remember which patrol they’re usually in, or hardly anyone’s name, so the challenges were potentially substantial! (True confessions time its not just kids having trouble with names: of four newbies this term, there are three girls (sisters and their friend) who look SO ALIKE that I have NO CLUE which is which… I wonder if there’s a way I can work in nametags next week…??)

All in all, a really great activity. Filled nearly an hour, including them gleefully destroying their creations, and then helping (quite well actually) to wrap up the ropes neatly and put everything away.

While all this was going on, AwesomeCoLeader supervised the Seniors (a flip to our usual ways) as they put up and took down little 3 person tents in patrols. Putting them up the challenge was to do so in silence, while taking them down ended up with one of the funniest sights I’ve seen for a while – 4 patrol members blindfolded, one not, and supposedly providing instructions. The results seemed decidedly mixed when I peeked in, but my little tent was returned to me fitting better inside its case than I’d sent it off to them, so I can only assume it at least partly worked!

And of course you’re reading the blog closely (of course), and noticed we’ve only got an hour of programing there – what happened to the extra half hour? Well, that went on a couple of activities and presentations run by a couple of girls for their Junior BP Award, plus a bit of futzing about, and your basic chaos of trying to wrangle 25+ kids!

Followed all that with decoupage at Rangers, and then panic raiding of the shed and cupboards for anything and everything we could possibly need for this weekend’s camp! Fingers crossed all goes to plan (or near enough!) so that I’m not scared off planning others in future! 🙂


Laying tracks


Tracks and trails last night, as the senior guides learnt about tracking, and a couple of different ways to lay trails, as part of a ‘tracking wide game’, although with less of an underlying story than usual!

Both patrols had instructions to follow their own trails, and had separate starting points, from where they were meant to follow a trail of arrows and similar signs, laid out in wooden skewers and toothpicks – one patrol did really well, the other, not so much as I’d foolishly placed a clue for a later stage of the trail broadly in sight of the signs, so of course they went straight to that!! Ah well.

After the arrows, they found a card with the trail sign for ’20 paces forward’, which lead to an envelope with a code, which when decoded said “follow the pink/green footprints” (drawn on the pavement with chalk) – the footprints lead to another envelope, which required the girls to find three flowers (made of pipecleaners) or three animals (little brightly coloured plastic ones) that they should have observed while following the trail so far. Once they’d found those, they proceeded to the foyer to make a vase for the flowers/pen for the animals, using lashing/knotting, gift ribbon (not exactly the traditional string, but it was handy!) and more wooden skewers.

Finally, they were directed into the courtyard to find another envelope, which told them to follow ‘these’ – a couple of brightly coloured beads. The beads were then about a meter or two apart around and about, finally ending in a ‘gone home’ symbol, with their new patrol badges in the middle 🙂

Only drama was – they all managed to get through the trail in about 40 minutes, not the 60-70 I’d planned for!! So, a quick change of plans – we regrouped, chatted about what they’d learnt so far – and then said, okay, each patrol is setting a trail for the other. And they ran straight to it! All in all, I think they had fun.

Meanwhile, AwesomeCoLeader continued the ‘Tents’ badge with the juniors, doing a just-complex-enough craft to make little cardboard circus tents – I walked in briefly and saw two tables full of little ones totally focused on what they were doing, and very happy. In other news, TinyNewbie is all signed up and uniformed, SisterNewbies showed up uniform, and FriendOfSisterNewbies turned up for a second go, so juniors looks pretty full!

Finally, we had a short parents information meeting for our upcoming camp, which seemed to go well – not sure if our current crop of parents are particularly low-stress, or if the notes I went through were super comprehensive, but either way, there were pretty much zero questions, so, yay, and bring on camp next weekend 🙂


And we’re back!

Term one for 2014 has begun! A slightly chaotic evening, but overall, really good. Lots of happy girls, and happy leaders too 🙂

We’ve ended up with retention slightly better than expected – only one girl away (who I’m sure will be back as she’s paid for camp!) – and one girl I was almost certain wouldn’t be back was there, enthusiastic, and chatty as could be!

We also had two teeny little newbies come to try (both 5-and-a-bit… definitely at the lower end of our age range!!)- one a little sister of one of our long-standing Guides, and another who got in touch via email last week. Both fitted in really well, and I think we’ll see them again.

In other ‘recruitment’ news – we had a new leader show up, which is very exciting! She’s from another unit in the district, but apparently too much Guiding is never enough, so she’s going to help us out as well! I’ll have to think of a Blog Name for her… hmmm…

So, activities! For our tent-ish term, we started off with “The Postcard Game”, but with pictures of tents, which Awesome Co-Leader hid half off around the garden. The girls ran about in pairs hunting for their cards, and seemed to have fun! Next we took them back into the hall, and, working in patrols, they used our fancy new gadget wood and printed graphical instructions on tripod lashing, and each constructed a small tripod… eventually!

I’d been able to find online a website which had good pictures of three different techniques ( – I decided the text would just confuse things, so printed off the ‘Quick tripod lashing’ for the Juniors, and the ‘Tripod lashing with racking turns’ for the Seniors. Interestingly, the girl we’d thought wouldn’t be back (and who last year was often disengaged) ended up totally taking over the activity for her patrol, and was deeply focused on getting her lashing technique just so. 

On balance, I’m not sure that the activity worked quite as well as hoped – I think the patrols were slightly too big to just do one tripod each – perhaps groups of three or pairs would have worked better? Still, we got there, and I was very pleased that we were able to introduce some formal traditional skills training into the program – gadget making is not one of my skills, but with the aid of books and online tools, that doesn’t need to stop my Guides from growing in this area!

One of the tripod teepees… this one was a little underdone in the crepe paper department!


We then had the girls use crepe paper to add ‘sides’ to their tripods, to make teepee tents – which we then promptly watered with a watering can to see which ones would stand up best to the weather! The girls were mildly horrified that their hard work was being ‘rained’ on, but got over the shock quickly and then found it hilarious how quickly the crepe paper melted away into nothing but blue sludge… which naturally they got all over their hands… and in their hair… Honestly, I don’t know what the thought process was for “eww, blue sludge, that would look good on blonde hair!”

And that was pretty much it – we had a quick game of Colour Hunt, but they were a bit meh about it – isn’t it strange how a game can be THE BESTEST and then suddenly switch to BORING SO BORING! Perhaps (as has happened before), they started playing it at school, so by the time we bring it back at Guides, its old hat.

This weekend, Sister Unit Leader and I are taking a bunch of girls canoeing, which will be a first for me in many years, so lets hope that goes well! Current weather forecast is for 36 degrees, so it’s going to be a hot one on the water!


A tentful of possiblities

Tents, tents, and more tents will be our mantra for term one!

Met with Awesome Co-Leader and Newbie Leader on Sunday afternoon for muffins, biscuits, cherries, and term-planning!

Despite all my thinkering about the year to come, I had surprisingly few ideas of what we should do *this* term. Term one is generally a little shorter than the others (although we’ve got nine weeks this time, as Easter is late this year), the weather is generally quite good, and with daylight savings, we generally have good light as well. So we try and make term one an outdoorsy sort of term.

Only problem was, the only concrete ideas I’d had were for activities that could best be done indoors!

So after much chatting (and munching!), we ended up deciding broadly that we should “do something with the tents” and “we should do a different but linked badge for the Juniors and Seniors…”

More chatting and munching, and we agreed (DRUMROLL PLEASE!):

Juniors: Tents Create-A-Challenge

Tent Create A Challenge

Seniors: Outdoors Achieve-A-Challenge (Trefoil 1)

Outdoors Achieve A Challenge


So we’ll have a patrol challenge to put up (and take down!) tents in silence, build pup tents (with correct knotting for the Seniors), and do ‘experiments’ with different fabrics/papers/stuff to test what might make a good waterproof teepee!

The Juniors will also have a night of circus tent activities, while the Seniors are off doing a tracking wide game.

And of course, given the time of year, we’ll celebrate Thinking Day.

So, all in all, I’m pretty excited about the term. I’m really pleased that we’ve got two badges which have so much cross over, but that we can tailor for the different age groups, and really stretch the older girls with trickier challenges!

Can’t wait for February!

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