keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

A Visit To Our Chalet… kind of.

Apologies for the gap in posting – directly after leaving Guides the other week, I hopped on a plane to Africa! So naturally, updating Guideydiary was somewhat low on my priority list 🙂

Our final night of the term was a Swiss night, to complete our Guiding Traditions badge, and build a bit of world Guiding into the mix.

Our activities included:

* Doing a ‘beetle’ type game where the girls all had to roll various numbers on the dice to complete a puzzle – in this case, colouring in different parts of the world badge

* playing a variation of Dragon’s Treasure, where the girls had to creep up and try and steel a little mooing cow from the person who was ‘guarding the cows’ – lots of fun, although some of the girls were very resistant to the idea of not running!!

* learning Taps in French – we were also meant to do the Promise in German, but the co-leader meant to run that part was sent interstate for a conference, so it didn’t happen!! But Taps in French was good, and we closed the meeting singing just that, rather than our usual Brownie Bells + Taps.

* Making (and consuming!!) chocolate fondue.

The fondue worked fabulously – we had the older girls (who are the smaller group, about 8 when all there, but a couple were away) in the kitchen with co-leader, learning how to melt chocolate using a boiling pot of water and a dish above that with the chocolate, and the little ones (about 10 were there on the night) outside with me, cutting up the various bits to dip in the chocolate. We had hot cross buns, banana, and pear to cut up.

The cutting up worked really well – the girls LOVE IT when you give them perhaps more freedom than mum might usually! I split them up by age group (rather than patrol), and distributed the various bits and pieces accordingly. So the 9 year olds (and lone 10 year old) worked on the pear, the 8 year olds on the banana, and the 7 year olds on the hot cross buns (as these could, if need be, be torn by hand). And I pretty much gave them instructions, a chopping board, and a sharp knife or two and warned them to be SENSIBLE or they would ALL be in trouble… for some reason, reminding them of their group responsibilities tends to calm them and focus them better than their individual responsibilities! I then stepped back and watched from afar – helped if needed, but that wasn’t much. They were all so pleased to be allowed to get on with things, and perhaps to play with knives more substantial than they would be allowed to touch at home!

Of course, after all this, we had to then eat the fondue 🙂 Which was delicious! I suspect a Swiss night with chocolate fondue might become a reasonably fixed part of our annual calendar 🙂

One sad part to the night – one of our older girls had her last night. She’s a bit young for Rangers (although we did offer it), but at least she let us know she was leaving, so we could say farewell properly, and give her a little card. Nothing worse than a girl just leaving without letting you know! Hopefully in 6 months to a year she’ll come back for Rangers, or possibly we might get her little sister joining Guides. Regardless, hopefully she’s had a good time.

Next term: Be Prepared badge for the older girls, Food badge for the littlies, and Foot badge for everyone. Should be fun!!


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Mini camp part two: Juniors!

Tonight the Juniors tackled mini camp!

And were equally successful as last week’s seniors at putting up the tents (a little more supervision/assistance required, but not much!), and almost as successful at taking them down again!

Instead of popcorn over tealights, we went for the old classic of marshmallow toasting over tealights, which definitely resulted in a more productive, and quicker outcome!

Most of the girls had no trouble with lighting matches (having practiced last week), but one little one was really, really scared of it. Apparently she’d been really distressed by it all last week, and was practically hysterical even touching the matchbox. Co-leader last week sensibly didn’t force the issue, but I decided to push it a bit more this week as a I had co-leader 2 and Guide Helper working with the bulk of the girls.

So I took scaredy off to the side, after having her watch while two who were not there last week “passed” match lighting, and then talked her through the process really slowly. I showed her that the matches wouldn’t just ‘catch fire’ without you really trying to light them, that you had to hold it the really wrong way for a while before the flame got close to your fingers. After a bit of chatting (and a bit of crying from her), we figured out that what she was really scared of was the first “whoosh” of flame. So I showed her several matches, and how yes, it did go go “whoosh”, but that it wasn’t as big as she was thinking. She then was worried that her hair was loose, and that it might catch alight (unlikely, it was quite short hair!) – so we tied that back, and took off her sash, so no bits of fabric loose. She also started saying through her tears that she was embarrassed that she was scarred, when the other kids clearly were not. Poor kid!! Finally, we got to a point where she held the match, and the match box, and I held the match over the top of her hand… and together we lit the match! And she was so excited! She then tried it herself! And again! And she was so delighted and excited by her match lighting, that she confidently said “I can do it now!” and went off to join the others – I saw her light five further matches as her candle kept going out, and she wasn’t worried at all!

I was so proud of her, she was so worried, but once she’d done it once, it was like a light bulb went off that she could, in fact, do it, and not to be worried anymore. She could have clung to her fear, or used it to get more attention, but she didn’t – once she’d cleared the hurdle, everything was well with the world. I think she’ll be a happy little one tonight!

The Juniors mini-camp took a little less time than expected, so we did a bit of campfire singing while the seniors finished off their activities. We sung Edelweiss (with clapping patterns), My Name is Joe, Yogi Bear, Jaybird, Three Little Angels, and Old Lady Leary. Good fun!

Meanwhile, the Seniors learned colour party, various knot tying (with jelly snakes again!), made semaphore flags, and learned to pass on messages.

All in all, the two nights together have, I think, given our girls a great basis in some useful Guiding skills, and certainly been a whole bunch of fun!

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Mini camp!

Tonight the Seniors and I had a mini camp! And it was fabulous!

We provided both of the two teeny patrols  (a couple away – I suspect with the heat they’d all gone to the local pool!) a small (two person size) tent, which they put up with minimal adult intervention – and they had a fabulous time doing it!

We set up on the front lawn of our hall, to get a bit of air, give the Juniors some space in the hall without distractions… and to serve as a sneaky PR effort to remind the locals that Guides are around!

The girls all did brilliantly! They worked well together, they were having fun – I have some of the most gorgeous photos of happy excited kiddies (sorry, as this blog is semi-anon, no sharesies!), and, most importantly, they got those tents up into a useable format in less than 30 minutes!! GO KIDDOS!

Once the tents were up we moved into phase two of mini camp: FOOD! Testing a rather interesting idea I found while trawling the internetz, we used tin foil tart cases held together with wooden spring-loaded pegs (both normal clothes-hanging size and decorative crafty mini ones) to cook popcorn over tealights! A bit of vegetable oil on the inside of the foil cases, six pieces of popping corn each, and a lot of patience!! Of course the tealights kept going out, so the girls had a marvellous time wasting matches and re-lighting their candles, and trying to hear if things were popping or not… things started to smell like popcorn after about 25 minutes, but at 30 minutes we gave up, assuming no success.

But then! We opened up the cases, and one girl – who had been most steady in holding her little foil cases steady over her tealights, and who had sensibly positioned herself to protect the candles from the wind so had minimal re-lighting required – actually had all six kernels popped! She was so excited! Two other girls had a couple of kernels popped, and two had no luck at all. Oh well! I was so pleased that at least one had worked properly, as it showed it wasn’t entirely a hare-brained scheme! Still, my plan to repeat the activity next week with the littlies will need some modification – I don’t think my Juniors will happily sit for half an hour to wait for six kernels of popcorn!

Finally, of course, we had to take down the tents, and they did pretty well – managed to get the tents down with minimal assistance, and managed to get the pieces back into the bags they came in. Can’t ask for more than that!

Meanwhile, the Juniors were inside with Co-leader 1, learning about Guiding Traditions. They were all put through “Inspection”, and had their hair and nails checked, made sure they were in proper uniform etc (which they found rather amusing!), learnt how to do Colour Party properly, learned the Guiding History with actions (they were all telling me with glee about the Big! Round! World!), and learned how to tie reef knots using jelly snakes… using the unconventional explanation as put forward by our Guide Helper of “Butt over Head, Head over Butt” (!!). Oh well, they’ll probably remember that for the rest of their days better than “right over left, left over right”!

And our newbie Juniors sisters returned – in uniform! And another 7 year old newbie came along, and was SUPER excited!

And finally finally – our Rangers unit seems to be going from strength to strength! The two sisters who have returned to Guides to be part of Rangers seem very settled – the younger one has even bought the “teen” uniform, which she didn’t have previously, and one of the girls had brought along a friend! So eight of them were happily “mystery box” cooking this evening, making a racket, and having a marvellous time!

So, all in all, our little unit/s had a great night, and I was super energised by it! Next week: Mini Camp for the littlies! Think we’ll do marshmallows instead of popcorn, and I suspect the tents might require a *bit* more adult assistance!! Lets hope for good weather!!


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Planning for the new term

Sunday afternoon and evening were devoted to Guides – cleaning out the cupboards (TWO WHOLE HOURS) (and we didn’t even TOUCH the shed), and then planning for term one over spaghetti and wine at my place.

Cleaning out the cupboards was a valuable exercise – it turns out, the only equipment we need to invest in to begin the year are A4 plastic pockets, and tealight candles. Easy-peasey, and cheap too! We realised toward the end of last year that while the unit is fabulously asset rich (gas cookers, frypans, buckets, hula hoops… etc), we’re currently a bit cash poor. So cleaning out the cupboard allowed us to take stock of what we already have plenty of (we will NEVER need to purchase plastic drinking straws again, I’m sure!), as well as put our little thinking caps to work, figuring how we can run at least first term on a low-purchase basis. Once all the term fees come in, we’ll be fine, but it will take a little while to get there!

So, our term plan!
This term we will work on the “Guiding” Explore A Challenge badge, and so we’re having a term strongly focused on guiding skills and traditions. To that end we will be:
* Going on a Penny Hike
* Celebrating Thinking Day
* Doing a ‘mini camp’, where the girls will put up and take down tents, as well as do a tiny bit of cooking (popcorn over tea-lights… we shall see!)
* A ‘Traditions’ night which will include Uniform Inspection (hee hee hee), Colour party training, lighting matches, using compasses…
And a night focused on Our Chalet/Switzerland, which will include learning the German Girl Guide promise, and Taps in French!

And to mix it up a little (it can’t all be Traditionally Guidey), we’ll also have a night built around playing with cardboard boxes (with an inter-patrol challenge), and an Open night/Bring a Friend night with a newspaper games theme.

So, presuming our numbers hold up over the summer (of which I am reasonably hopeful), we’re looking at a fun term, with two patrols of Juniors, and two patrols of Seniors/Upper Seniors. And of course our brand-new Rangers unit, which is confirmed to commence officially this term, huzzah!

Next week: Attending the District meeting, and the State conference…. and the next week, we’ll be back with a bang!

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