keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Close with a campfire

A lovely final night of term this evening, as we had a campfire (sadly switched to indoor with candles due to weather), toasted marshmallows (not quite as good with candles, but still tasty!), and Promise Ceremonies for three new Guides.

We started out with the ‘campfire’, which was quite nice. We had about 7 candles lit in the middle of the circle, and all the lights off, so it was quite atmospheric, even in the hall. We started, of course, with ‘Campfire’s Burning’, and included a bunch of favourites including ‘Yogi Bear’, ‘Edelweiss’, ‘Found a Peanut’, and ‘Everywhere We Go’. We finished up with a lovely quiet and slightly introspective ‘Canadian Vespers’. There is something rather lovely about having had enough of the unit be with us long enough (and for the various songs to be repeated often enough) that we don’t need to teach all the songs each time, that they can just start singing.

We were joined by several newbies – one on ‘week three’ of coming to visit (and in uniform!), another on ‘week two’ and asking about forms, and two sisters who were apparently very keen (co-leader spoke to them), and said they’ll see us next term! Given we’re just about to lose two girls to moving house out of the area, a two-for-one replacement rate isn’t too bad 🙂

We finished off the term and the night with a Promise ceremony for three girls (two juniors, one senior), and one Promise renewal, for a girl moving up to Seniors. There is such a nice continuity with the ceremonies and traditions, it seems to anchor the group, and also highlights to the girls and the families that we are trying to do something more than just fun… even if that is the most important thing!

So, a two week break before we’re back to it – switching from this term’s focus on The Arts, to next term’s topic of Science and Technology 🙂

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Weave it!

Guides this week focused on weaving, and it (mostly!) went really well.

We don’t tend to do much craft in our group – I think because although I love crafty things, I tend to like the sorts of crafts where you come up with your own design and ‘play’ a bit, and that doesn’t tend to scale well to a group of 25ish kids aged 6-12.

I do, however, find that the nights that we do crafts with a base structure that then let the girls be creative with their own twist on top to be very satisfying, and this week was one of these.

Both Juniors and Seniors did weaving, but the Juniors made their ‘looms’ out of polystyrene trays (cutting notches into the edges to run wool through for the ‘weft’), while the Seniors made their looms out of wood and nails.

I worked with the Seniors, and it was a great activity – very few of them had ever used hammers and nails before, so they were all very engaged in the activity and found it rather exciting… although I do sometimes wonder how much they find the activity exciting, and how much they find doing something more complex than the juniors exciting! This was actually quite a good one in terms of the overall task being the same for both age groups, while clearly showing a difference in complexity, and drawing out the different expectations we have of each age group.

Hammers and nails are certainly something that we’ll be keeping for older girls, mind you, given the number of hammered fingers we ended up with! I can’t imagine the 6 year olds getting through without major meltdowns. Luckily at the older age group, they’re pretty able to cope with minor injuries, and didn’t complain much – and we didn’t end up breaking any skin, so there should only be a few bruises in the aftermath!

It was interesting to see the diversity in skill level between all the girls – for something none of them had tried before, it was clear that for some it just clicked, while for others, it was a huge struggle. Two girls in particular I think ended up with only 5 minutes worth of weaving at the end, as their nailing had taken so long – and even then included a couple of sneaky leader assists. However, both of these girls are usually more at the “competent” end of things, so I think it was probably good for them to find that they’re not going to naturally pick up everything easily, but that with a bit of persistence, they can get something servicable at the end. On the opposite end of the scale, one of the older Juniors took to her weaving with such immediate skill and interest that we ended up giving her a brief chance to also do the Senior’s activity, enough to get her started and to take the rest home to complete there – she was super excited and just glowing at having found something that suited so well and that she’d never tried before 🙂

So, definately an activity to keep on the longer term program list, and repeat in three years or so once the current crop have all moved up a section or two!

Wooden looms under construction:
weaving board

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A night of drama at Guides and Rangers this week, in a number of senses of the word!

Firstly, the theme for the night was ‘skits and plays’, with patrols working together to come up with a short play which aimed to “show off Guides”. We ended up with both seniors patrols showing off first aid skills (decidedly dubious first aid skills in one case – I certainly wouldn’t want them treating my broken leg!!), two juniors patrols doing some general ‘games and being friends’ sort of stories, and one juniors patrol ‘teaching new kids to build a fire’.

Most of the patrols worked really well together, but one was unfortunately very dysfunctional. The group includes our newest and youngest Guide, (who honestly is probably too young for the group, and who unfortunately has “whine to the leaders” as her go-to problem solving mode), as well as two friends who we had previously separated but who had begged to be in a patrol together, and who unfortunately are proving the wisdom of our prior separation (in other words – they are both having a marvellous time together, but making life very difficult for everyone else), and a patrol leader who is really trying to do the right thing but is overwhelmed by the diverse needs of the patrol, resulting in tears of frustration! Oh, and one poor kid trying to mediate! Oh dear!

So that one patrol ended up taking about 90% of the available leader attention, as we tried to assist without being too directive and reinforcing the idea that they didn’t need to sort themselves out… no idea if we succeeded, but on the upside, all this drama did turn out well with their skit ending up probably the most cohesive and structured out of all of them! Funny how that sometimes happens, but then I guess if they all have enough capacity for drama to have flouncing, yelling, and crying during rehearsals then they might just have a naturally dramatic bent!

After Guides, I joined with the Rangers, who were (reasonably successfully) planning the rest of the year. RangersCoLeader was directing these discussions really well, so I’m sure the program she’ll pop together on the back of it will be great 🙂

In some bad news, one of the girls said she was planning to leave, as the group was too small (irony alert!). No idea what to do about that. Attracting new girls at the older age group is incredibly tricky, and the oldest bunch of girls from the senior guides won’t realistically be ready for Rangers until probably mid next year, and Sister Unit only has one old enough currently (but who wants to wait until the start of next year), and possibly one more mid-next year. Older groups are always difficult – there are just so many competing demands once kids are in high school. Guess we’ll just do what we can. Even if it all falls over, we’ve at least given the current crop of Rangers a few extra terms of guiding!

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Visitors! (And some music)

Exciting times this week, as our little tiny Rangers unit was visited by a group of Canadian Rangers! World Guiding come to life, right in our little hall… or at least, in the kitchen where most of the action was!

But back to the beginning, and usual Guides –

As part of our Arts Explore-A-Challenge badge the girls worked in patrols to make musical instruments out of recycled materials (brought from home by those who remembered) (so not many!), plus a bunch of ‘stuff’ from the stash (pipe cleaners, wooden skewers, plastic straws…), and some dried lentils which proved to be a right pest as of course they ended up everywhere!

During the week, AwesomeCoLeader and I had both ended up watching Life at 9, which included a focus on how some kids struggle with creativity, as so many activities are so structured that they don’t get the chance to practice thinking widely. Not sure our little night of kid-directed creation of instruments would have made a huge difference to their total creativity quotient, but hey, it can’t have hurt! It was also a good opportunity to get in some patrol time, particularly helpful given we have a couple of newbies – all three new kids this term have decided to join, so its great to get them settled 🙂

Anyhoo, I had to leave my very capable co-leaders and duck out early to join our extended Rangers meeting, which included our visitors from Canada! I’d responded to a little blurb in the local leader’s newsletter looking to connect, and two weeks later, TA DA! International Guiding, on our doorstep!

To give a little structure to the evening – and to show what our Rangers girls usually do – we had all the girls – local and visitors – pile into the kitchen and make ANZAC biscuits and simple lamingtons, which worked really well. It gave the girls something to do, which meant then that conversation flowed freely and easily… as well as having the sideline benefit of introducing the Canadian girls to two delicious Australian treats 🙂

We also had the younger Guides put on a performance using their recycled instruments for the visitors, so the younger girls also got ‘proof’ that there was indeed Guides from far away ‘right there’ – which apparently they were rather unconvinced about 😉

Overall, it was a brilliant night, with lots of gossip, lots of swapping of badges, and sharing of what is similar and different about Australian and Canadian Guiding. I hope the visiting girls had as great a time as our girls did 🙂

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Back to it!

And we’re back for term three.

A mixed first night – we were back in our old hall, which has a GORGEOUS new floor, and we can finally use ALL the space again (which we have not had for nearly a year), so the temptation just to run around in glee was pretty strong!

This term we’ll have both Juniors and Seniors working on The Arts Explore-A-Challenge badge, and to start that off we had a night focused on ‘storytelling and singing’. Activities included sharing stories of the holidays (with the introduction “Once Upon A Time, In The Holidays, I…”), followed by some campfire songs with a ‘story’ theme – firstly The Bear, which is a ‘repeat after me’ type song, and then ‘Quartermaster’s Store’, using the variation where you sing a kid’s name, e.g. “There was Jessie, Jessie, being very Messy in the Store, in the Store…” – we asked the kid being sung about to get up and ‘do the action’, which… kinda worked. Unfortunately it all went on too long as I forgot to say “we won’t get to everyone”, so when I tried to wrap it up when they were getting fidgetty, the kids who had not yet been mentioned were all HEY WHAT ABOUT ME?!, so it dragged on well beyond the tolerance point of most. And finally we tried out another ‘story’ song, a variation on ‘Found a Peanut’, where the girls call out variations and the song develops gradually – this time we all ended up dead from the peanut.

Our plans to play ‘fortunately/unfortunately’ (a short story telling game) were waylaid by their getting fidgetty, so a quick change of plans and embracing of the lovely big hall meant games of ‘Fruit Salad’, gang tiggy, and scarecrow tiggy.

Finally, we gave the girls all the program for the term, and explained about the various excursions and camps on offer.

So, we’re back. Not the most AH-MAY-ZING first night ever, but turn up was good, the kids were happy to see us, and our hall is back to its lovely giant old self 🙂

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