keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Dinosaur adventure wide game

This wide game was played over a large area (several acres), but could easily be done in a small area. It took around 6 hours, but this included nearly two hours to cook lunch! There are 12 activities, but this could be trimmed depending on time easily enough.

The basic story was that a strange wrinkle in time had emerged, and a bunch of dinosaurs had come through – but the passage of time had made them tiny! Even tiny, you don’t want a bunch of dinosaurs wandering about, so patrols have been asked to search for the dinosaurs and retrieve them. (The dinosaurs were small plastic models from a toy shop!).  At various points, the activities were linked by ‘footprints’ to show the direction.

Have fun hunting for the dinosaurs!




A code was provided with the message to look for a three-horned dinosaur near [location]. The location chosen was the furthest point away from base – over the course of the wide game the patrols gradually made their way back to base.


Raptors are incredibly fast. So you’ll have to run quickly to find their location! But running at full speed is exhausting, so be sure to use fast Scouts Pace: 20 steps running, 20 steps jogging!

Get to [location] as quick as you can, and find a Raptor.


To find the parasaurolophus, you will need to carefully make your way through the Sauropod Swamp, being careful to stick to dry land. When you reach the River, use the ropes provided to build a bridge, and get your full patrol over the bridge.De-construct the bridge before moving further through the swamp to find where the dinosaurs are hiding.

Leader’s note: we used a series of hoops to indicate the path through the ‘swamp’, patrols had to jump carefully between them. The river was a long piece of fabric between several large trees, and patrols were provided with a big pile of ropes to build their bridges from.


To find the pliosaurus, you will need to carefully fill a bucket, using the cup running along the rope. You can only retrieve the dinosaur when the water is up to the edge of the bucket.

Leader’s note: the little pliosaurus dinosaurs were placed in the bottom of the buckets, which were at one end of a long rope. At the other end was a larger bucket of water (or you could do this near a tap or similar) – the aim was to fill the cup at one end of the rope, run the cup along the rope and gradually fill the bucket with the dinosaur, until the dinosaur floated to the top. The success of this one will depend on how buoyant your dinosaur is!!


The Maiasaura are hiding with their nest of eggs. Look for the tracking signs, and follow the instructions to locate the nest. Once you have found the nest, carefully retrieve one Maiasaura, and one egg per patrol member. Carry these with you to [COOKING LOCATION].

Note: The maiasaura ‘eggs’ were oranges, for cooking chocolate cake in oranges over the fire. But you could use actual eggs, watermelons… anything egg-shaped. If you didn’t want to do cooking, the eggs could be something crafty.



In [location] you will find a cache of stegosaurus back-plates (and a stegosaurus!). Follow the instructions to make your lunch.

Note: the stegosaurus ‘back plates’ were tortilla chips, which formed the base for over-the-campfire nachos, but you could make anything!


Using materials you can find (sticks, leaves, grasses etc), quickly make everyone in the patrol a ‘crown’ like the pachycephalosaurus. Once everyone is disguised, sneak up to the dinosaurs’ hiding place in the white reeds on the far end of the field.

Note: these dinosaurs had a helmet/crown shaped protrusion on their skull, hence the activity. The white reeds were a bunch of sticks painted white that we’d had from a previous activity, but you could use anything.


Tie your patrol together (at the ankles) in a long line, with one person at the end of the line tying on the tennis ball-stocking ‘club’. Travel together as a patrol across to the [next location], where you will find the ankylosaurus on top of a blue stick. Use your stocking/ball club to knock down a dinosaur – no hands until it’s on the ground!

Note: you’ll need to provide a bunch of fabric strips to tie the patrol together, plus a stocking or long sock or similar with a ball for your ‘club’.


Taking turns, play the memory match game to find out all about Allosaurus. When all the pairs have been matched successfully, you can hunt for the Allosaurus – it won’t be far away!

Note: to do this activity you’ll need to make a memory match game – ours had a bunch of facts and pictures about the allosaurus dinosaur.


Brachiosaurus are hugely heavy! To find the brachiosaurus, the whole patrol will need to work together to act like a brachiosaurus. You will need to form four huge legs, a long tail, a big body, and a long neck and tiny head. Each member of the patrol needs to be part of the brachiosaurus shape! When you’re in brachiosaurus formation, walk as a brachiosaurus would to the far end of the field and hunt for the dinosaurs.

Tyrannosaurus Rex

Use the long bandage provided to wrap (in turn) each patrol member’s arms to their body, at elbow height, to create ‘t-rex arms’. Using your t-rex arms, take all the puzzle pieces out and put them back in again. Once each patrol member has completed the puzzle, hunt around for the dino.

Note: we had the patrols put together a simple puzzle (aimed at a 2 year old!) but any challenge that needed them to use their hands while stuck in t-rex position would be fun!



Work your way as a patrol through the challenges of the [obstacle course] until you find the flying pterodactyls.When you locate the pterodactyl, you will have the full set of dinosaurs, and will be able to make your way to the finishing point. Hurry!

Note: this part was done in a obstacle course/ropes course area, with the pterodactyls tied high on a swinging rope (so they were ‘flying’).









Paying it forward

As regular readers will know, I have often spoken about the necessity of maintaining a reasonable life/guiding balance, and not letting the guide leaders natural tendency to say “of course!” overwhelm me.

Well, lately I have failed miserably at that, with this last month involving Guiding commitments on three weekends in a row (Sunday, then Saturday and Sunday, then Sunday again…), plus a Thursday night out with a group of seniors, plus running my unit, and Rangers (although only one meeting so far), and helping out at Sister Unit for the last three weeks! Luckily these extra sessions all ended up being with other crazy overcommitted leaders, so at least I was in good company!

So how did I end up in this Guides overload pickle?

Well, firstly, a bunch of the Senior Guides wanted to try going to a local competitive outdoor camp. *In theory* the preparation for this camp shouldn’t be too onerous, as girls should gradually learn the skills required over their years in Guiding, and only need a bit of time to refine their menus and theme.

*In reality* (at least the reality of my quite-urban-not-very-outdoorsy-unit) the girls required a crash course in old-school camp skills, including cooking A Proper Meal over the campfire, putting up and taking down tents (without the leaders closely directing things!), making wood-and-string gadgets, first aid, camp hygiene… et cetera!!

So the journey started last term with a pre-meeting for potentially interested guides and parents to let them know what they might be in for, followed by a short meeting to confirm who would be attending, elect the patrol leader and second, choose the patrol name, and agree to a basic schedule of training.

This term, we then met at a local pizza/pasta place for planning – the girls had to agree as a group what they would cook (being sure to manage the food desires of each of them with the required menu balance), and the broader menu and thematic elements – and try and negotiate what “bits” they would all organise! It went quite well, and I think it was easier to do an extra night than to try and tack it onto a usual Guides night, especially as the group was a mix of girls from my unit and Sister Unit. Next up, we had two full days of training – the first day was campfire cooking, followed by tents, and a bit of “campsite planning”, which involved the CUTEST little set of campsite/dolls furniture which SisterUnitLeader had found through the magic of ebay. The second day involved cooking on campstoves, gadget making, and drilling in first aid and food/campsite hygiene and safe practices. Both days were long and exhausting, but the girls did seem to learn a lot, and hey, given the kids had to learn to do it all independently, there were also substantial periods where myself, SisterUnitLeader and RangersLeader were all able to sit in camp chairs in the sunshine and merely supervise, which if you’re giving up a Sunday, isn’t such a bad deal! The camp they were preparing for was this weekend, and apparently they did very well, woohoo!

I also managed to get myself talked into helping out for a few hours on two separate Saturdays this month for district shenanigans – once at a sausage sizzle at a local hardware store, and once at a farmers market where we had a (vastly unsuccessful!) promotional stall. Phew!

Annnnd of course I’ve also signed up to help at SisterUnit for a few weeks, as poor SisterUnitLeader doesn’t really have any backup at the moment. I’m just doing the “assistant leader” type role of turning up and being an extra pair of hands and eyes, but I know how much of a difference that makes compared to having to be THE responsible adult. I’m in constant awe of SisterUnitLeader, she’s managed to keep her wee little unit going through thick and thin (even managing to keep the unit going while she was working several hundred kilometres away!!), and is always happy to pitch in and help our unit whenever needed, so a bit of share and share about is only fair!

Finally, had my last day of crazy over commitment to weekend Guiding yesterday, teaming up with AParentHelper, YoungCoLeader and RangersLeader to take a group of kids from my unit and sister unit to Scienceworks, which was actually really fun. We went to the planetarium, and explored lots of exhibits – the ones on town construction and science fiction/space were particularly intriguing. The girls also loved the sports exhibit, which had them testing their balance, strength, speed etc.

So, that should be pretty much it for weekend bits for me for a while. And shortly this little blog will take a wee hiatus too, as I’m soon to be having a break from Guides, even a bit longer than the usual summer pause, as I’ll be on “maternity leave” from Guides (although *really* dedicated leaders tell me there is no such thing!). All going well, I think I’ve got three weeks of Guides left that I’ve committed to, but I guess we’ll see if mother nature agrees with those plans!! 🙂

And that is probably the other reason I’ve been madly saying yes to all requests – paying the karma forward a little so I don’t feel guilty about taking a step back for a while 🙂

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Guide-directed Guiding

An easy night this week for the leaders, as the girls working towards their Junior BP and BP Award as took on the challenge of running various activities.

Firstly, a couple of girls formally presented on adventurous outdoor activities they’d done as part of a camp run by another unit in the region – one presented on canoeing, one on raft construction and (semi!) use. After the proper presentation part, the other girls who had attended the camp (7 of them – about a quarter of the group!) all jumped in with their various exciting experiences at the camp, which seems to have been a great success. I think the seven of them would have nattered about the camp all night if we’d let them!

(As an aside: how excellent are Guide leaders who are able and willing to run a camp for more than just their unit?! I’m not really an outdoor adventure camping kind of leader, so its just fantastic that my Guides can still get those experiences because others are willing to open up opportunities!!)

We then split into Juniors and Seniors, with the Juniors heading outside to do two mini wide games as designed and run by two different girls. One had a recycling theme, and the other involved hunting for pictures of a sausage dog. For nine and eight year olds respectively, the preparation and thinking they’d put into their activities were very impressive!

Meanwhile, the Seniors and I were in the hall as one of the girls ran an activity which involved both patrols using a certain mix of the contents of our sports equipment box to design a new game each, and then teach it to the other patrol. It was a reasonable activity, but could have done with a bit more pre-planning – there seemed to be quite a few elements that were added spontaneously! Ah well, as readers of this blog will recognise, I’m hardly in a position to critique people changing plans on the fly!

Next week: final night of term, which will include a ‘proper’ campfire (weather permitting!), and a Promise ceremony for our newbies, including a renewal for one of our keenest Guides to move up from Juniors to Seniors.


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Butterflies + Dragonflies + Worms + Ants = critters camp!

Combine 16 Guides, 3 leaders, 1 parent helper, an activity day, a bunch of insects and critters great and small and what do you get? A happy and (mostly!) successful camp!

‘Crazy Critters’ was our theme, so bugs and insects wove in and out of the activities, decorations, patrols, and food. It probably wasn’t a theme our girls would have chosen (we planned the camp so far ahead they had no say this time!), but they all really got into it, and it was a great one for helping the leaders be creative!

So, the details –

Friday night I got up to camp early and set up as much as I could – I’d found some fake ivy in a $2 shop, so that plus some little lady bug clips formed our table centrepieces, on top of a luridly lime green plastic table cloth – I haven’t done the table cloth/centrepiece thing much before, but I really liked it – it themed the main room for the whole weekend, and made it look a bit special, while being really easy to clean up!!

The table decorations:


The girls all arrived on the bus at about 7pm, unfortunately this was only 5 minutes behind my QM (SisterUnitLeader) who had got caught at work! So much for our plan to have dinner on the table when they arrived! But it didn’t matter – by the time I’d welcomed them all to Crazy Critters Camp, presented them all with their themed scarves (thank you quilting sale pile!), sorted them firstly into patrols, and then secondly into rooms, and then got them AND ALL THEIR STUFF into their rooms, SisterUnitLeader and Parent Helper had platters of chopped up veggie sticks and dips ready, which they all just gobbled down! Luckily the main meal was just sausages in bread, so that didn’t take too long to sort out. After we’d cleaned up from dinner, we went for a night walk around the campsite, which was both exciting (Ooh spooky bush sounds! Being out after dark!) and also useful – as we were able to point out some of the main landmarks which they’d need to know the next day!

It was also useful in that a bit of physical activity seemed to calm them down a touch, and we had an easier bedtime than at recent camps – we put the lights out at about 10.20ish, and I think the last time I SHOOSH’d a kid was at about 11pm, which is decidedly better than two years ago when I had to go and find poor AwesomeCoLeader who was sitting in the cold outside one of the rooms to force them to shut up at 1am!!

Saturday we had the most elaborate hot breakfast I’ve ever had at Guide camp – SisterUnitLeader took everyone’s breakfast orders the night before and then provided everyone with their own tailored breakfast – I had mushrooms, ‘hash browns’ (potato gems), fried eggs, baked beans, and butterfly toast (toast with a butterfly cut out using a cookie cutter) (the other option was dragonfly). Other people had boiled eggs or scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, spinach… honestly, I’ve never seen such a diverse breakfast – usually we just do a big pot of something and serve it up!!

We then had a brief Guides Own, not one of my most successful ones, but oh well. I was running a bit short on inspiration when I put it together, but the girls did at least all have a part to play, and all managed to read out their bit reasonably well. For the record, I’m thinking that mid-morning Guides Owns just are not as effective as ones in the dark or twilight. I’m sure dawn would also be fabulous, but unless we start camping mid-winter when dawn is at a suitable hour for me to be nice to small children, that’s not going to happen anytime soon!

For the main part of the Saturday, we had the patrols move through four different activities. To manage this, the patrol leaders were all given a watch, and wrote down the times and activities that they had to be at. We were camping at Britannia Park, which is a fabulous, but GIANT Guide campsite, so they were all under STRICT instructions to never lose their patrol, and that people had to be in at least pairs at all times. I brought the seconders in at that point and reminded them that they were also responsible for ensuring timing and not losing their patrol!! (Can you tell I was a little obsessed on this point? To be fair, its about 20acres or so, and they were going to be without direct adult supervision, so this was not entirely unreasonable…)

The four activities were: Making and eating their lunch at the cabin, Making a bug-themed dessert at the cabin for everyone to try at dinner time, going on the open day activities (which included a jumping castle, circus skills, making damper etc) while hunting for 10 bugs that we’d hidden all over the campsite, and helping out with taking tickets etc at the jumping castle, which was our assigned activity.

Lunch and helping out generally took less than their appointed hour, so they were free in that time to continue bug hunting and activity-day-ing, which they did with gusto. The bugs, as I’m sure you’re curious, were brightly coloured plastic bugs (e.g. an orange millipede, a blue beetle, a yellow scorpion), which we put in small glass jars about the place. Their general location was marked on a map given to each patrol, but they definitely took some hunting, and some very careful observation! By the end of the day, the two older patrols had managed to find all 10, but the two younger patrols gave up after finding about 5 each!

On the program we intended to do a hike after the activity day, but they were all whiney about the prospect, and the weather looked to be coming in… so a bit of a re-think, and we decided to use the ‘Challenge Valley’ obstacle course equipment instead, which was conveniently just across from the cabin, and which they all really got into. Interestingly, several of the girls really struggled with the concept of having to wait before your whole patrol had completed a challenge before moving on… I suppose there aren’t many times where they’re reliant on other people’s capacity to complete something.

Dinner was reasonably standard camp fare – spaghetti bolognaise – but they all ate it enthusiastically. SisterUnitLeader did give the meal a bit of extra pizzazz by serving “bug juice” – green cordial with sour worms in ice-cubes, which the kids thought was just the most brilliant thing! I think at this camp we were a bit more minimalist with the food than last time – we had food available for morning tea and afternoon tea, but it was more just platters of cut fruit or a few savoury biscuits, rather than anything substantial. I think this was actually the right call – no one went hungry, but they were all more enthusiastic about the main meals, and we didn’t have so much food left over, as the kids were actually having the planned second serves of pasta etc, rather than just one as they’d filled up at snack time. Mind you… we did follow up standard spaghetti bolognaise with the four ‘bug desserts’ the girls had made earlier in the day – firstly apples and cheese cut up to look like The Very Hungry Caterpillar (shared between two), followed by individual ‘tasting plates’ of honeycomb, butterfly cakes (with cream and jam), and spider chocolate crackles (crackles with liquorice legs and eyes). They looked great, and were all delicious, and the girls were all pretty chuffed to share their hard work.

Finally, after dinner, we had an indoor ‘campfire’, as the rain was absolutely bucketing down. In place of fire, each girl had a glowstick in a jar at their feet, and we had a bunch of the jars in the middle, which was very effective. Kids were in bed and quiet a bit earlier – I think the last SHHHH was at about 10.20pm 🙂

Sunday we got up a tiny bit later (a princely 7.30am!), and insisted on the girls packing and cleaning their rooms prior to breakfasting – which worked quite well with two of the rooms, but one was soooooo scatty and soooooo disorganised, that they ended up delaying the start of the wide game beginning as it took them one and a half hours to get to breakfast!!

The main part of the day was spent on a brilliant wide game put together by AwesomeCoLeader (I’ll see if I can convince her to do a Guest Post with the details!), the central concept of which was: the Professor of Entomology from the local university has been kidnapped, and as uni students are on holidays, the Guides have been asked to track her down!

Challenges included in the game included building a shelter facing north (like termites), doing a dance to share a message (like honeybees), building a spiders web, using a compass to walk in a certain direction and observe what sounds and critters were around, and collect some bugs from the site, and of course, cook lunch over the fire. Naturally, it finished with hunting down the kidnapped professor 🙂

After that, we pretty much just packed up, had a short closing ceremony, and then sent the kids home! The last girls left at about 3.20pm (so much for the 2.30-3.00pm pick up!), and us leaders left at about 4.00pm, which wasn’t too bad.

Overall, a pretty good camp – the girls seemed happy (and 16 was a lovely number!), the leadership team worked really well, and even the parent helper was great, really happy to pitch in wherever, always asking if there was anything extra she could do to help. So, all in all, I think I’d be willing to do it again, and after chats with the girls and AwesomeCoLeader, I think we’ve got themes for the next two already sorted! Titanic Camp and Dinosaurs Camp, here we come!

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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 🙂


Summer time, and the Guiding is easy

Half way through our summer break, and I’m starting to get sorted with all the bits and pieces for the year. But realistically, most of this ‘getting organised’ consists of going “ooh shiny” at various ideas I see online or in ‘meatspace’ and think “gee that might be fun…”

A couple of things are in planning:

  • Sister unit and my mob will be going canoeing in February – this will be a first for me in many, many years, so that should be interesting!
  • Planning for Crazy Critters Camp is underway, and extra deposits are rolling in – we’re already passed minimum numbers to go ahead, so that is fabulous.
  • Having lots of grand ideas for Rangers (ghost tours! ikea widegames! patrol camping qualifications!)

Also have started purchasing *stuff* – a local crafty type shop had decorative blue-dyed sticks (about 40-50cms long) on clearance, so I bought a couple of bundles. My unit is going to have the most stylish gadget wood ever!

Hope you’re all having fun with your own plotting and planning 🙂


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Let the plotting and planning begin!

Okay, so its not yet 2014, and I probably *should* have better things to do with my few days of holidays before starting The Great Plotting, but, well, I’ve got an hour or so, and ideas have been swirling in my head in recent days, so what better way to preserve them than blogging?!

Firstly: Rangers. I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do about the Rangers group. Since the Rangers leader left very unexpectedly – and with no notice – at the beginning of term three, co-leader and I have managed to keep the group limping along. But how we’ve been going is simply not sustainable. Both of us have been taking it in turns to take the fortnightly Rangers meetings in addition to our weekly Guide meetings. There’s a half-hour overlap between the groups (Junior & Senior Guides from 6.30 to 8.00; Rangers from 7.30 to 9.00), and by the time we tidy up after Guides, whichever leader is helping with Rangers only joins the girls from about 8.15, meaning they have 45 minutes effectively unsupervised. Which isn’t terrible – they’re teenagers (13-16 year olds), we’re in the next room, its hardly like they’re being left alone, but it seems that unless they’re doing something planned by the leaders, or using the kitchen, that they are a bit directionless.

In theory, the Rangers plan their own program, and implement it. But the reality is, without a leader there to keep them on track, they tend to drift. And I’ve noticed that they’re re-enforcing that drift by having poor attendance on non-cooking nights. I think also with growing homework pressure, if what is planned is just ‘games night’ or similar, which they have to prepare, then it becomes easy to just not go.

Co-leader has also commented that she doesn’t really like the late nights – and I know her natural inclination is towards the brownie-aged Juniors anyway, so Rangers isn’t her natural cup of tea.

So, my current thinking is as follows – still to be discussed with co-leader, mind you!:

I’ll take on Rangers as a default, at least for two terms. For ‘week A’, I’ll do as we’ve been doing so far – spending the full night with the Guides, and when that’s finished, moving into ‘lightly’ supervise the Rangers. For ‘week B’ though, I’ll spend the first hour with the Guides, and when the Rangers arrive at 7.30, I’ll join them for the full hour and a half, with the idea that I will run the activities that week – so they only need to turn up and engage. That will leave co-leader ‘alone’ for 30 minutes at the end of the meeting, but if we structure the program reasonably well, that should be fine. We also have a mum who has been helping occasionally, and I *think* she would be willing to commit to helping out on those nights specifically.

I’m also thinking that rather than going back on week two of term one, I’ll see if the Rangers are willing to start week one – perhaps we can have an outing and plan the term – maybe even two terms at once – over noodles?

So, that’s my Rangers thinking. I guess we’ll see how it goes.

As for Guides – well, we’ve already got a camp booked and planned, and 10 girls signed up with deposits (two have actually already fully paid!) (there are 24 spaces available, so 10 already is pretty great!), so that is exciting! It will be the ‘Crazy Critters Camp’, with a nature/insects/bugs theme. I’ll be getting assessed for my indoor camp qualification, which is scary/awesome. 🙂

In terms of programming – I’m thinking we’ll try and get the Seniors to aim for at least one patrol attending Lady Stradbroke Cup camp, which is a competitive, very traditional patrol outdoor camp – we’ll need to increase their outdoor cooking skills, and do lots of knotting and gadget work. I saw some fabulous fun ideas for making mini-gadgets recently, using twigs and fine string, rather than sticks and rope, which looked like a lot of intricate fun – you essentially end up with dollhouse sized camp gadgets! For the Juniors, I know co-leader wants them to work towards the ‘homes’ badge, using the old brownies ‘hostess’ syllabus, which I think they’d really love… and finally, I have an odd hankering to do the ‘numbers’ badge at some point (perhaps in the winter terms), as I’ve had a bunch of ideas around codes, number patterns, counting in other languages, games based on numbers, etc. I think there’s a fabulous wide game in there somewhere too!

So, much to consider. We always lose girls over the long summer break, but I think retention this year should be reasonable – I think of our 24 girls enrolled, we should have about 20 of them return in February… fingers crossed!!



A big guiding weekend, helping out at the Region’s Treasure Island camp!

There were about 120 kids, aged 5-10, many on their first camp, which was interesting. A few tears and meltdowns, but nothing too drastic – at least, not that I was privy to! As a member of the program team, I had the intriguing experience of a camp where I only dealt with the kids for brief periods of time – helping out on Friday night at the disco, running activities four times over on the Saturday, helping a little at the campfire Saturday night, and then running another activity on the Sunday.

No need to worry about getting the girls to sleep, or cooking their meals, or helping them to pack up… I barely even had to help with tents, only at the very end, helping one of the sub-camps drop a tent and pack it up!

Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

The activities I ran were of mixed success – the girl I was co-leading with and I had two crafty activities for the Saturday – making treasure maps, and writing secret messages in lemon juice. Both worked well, but I’m not really sure that they were the best activities in terms of “scalability” – both would have worked well with my unit, where we have a bunch of ‘known’ kids, and plenty of time. With only 40 minutes per activity rotation, we were pressed for time, plus using candles to bring out the lemon juice messages was a bit more tricky than anticipated originally – definitely a one-on-one kid-to-leader activity, especially with the five year olds!

That of course meant that the map activity had pretty much zero oversight, which meant that we ended up with glitter EVERYWHERE.

Sunday’s activity was also a bit mixed – just balloon games outside, mainly captain’s ball and keeping up/ keepings off, and a bit of tiggy thrown in – but seeing as the girls really only had time to spend 5-10 minutes at each ‘station’ before moving on, I think it was fine that it wasn’t something HUGELY AMAZING. Although they did love the giant balloons I’d managed to find – about 3 times the size of usual balloons! They were pretty great, and I think my unit might need a stash 🙂

All in all, a good weekend, spent time with some super excellent leaders from the region (most of whom made my 31 years seem ancient… unusual in a guide event!), and more sleep than usually happens at camp – easier to sleep when you’re not on high alert for kids puking in the night!




Keeping up the quals

Long day today, with training from 9-5 (literally).

Mostly it was an okay day – I did enjoy the sessions on preparing to gain camping qualifications, and on using the new(ish) handbooks – but the sessions on risk management and cyber safety combined to make me incredibly frustrated, and not at all keen on being a leader.

The cyber safety session was firstly a good few years out of date, and entirely too focused on “scary bad internet people”. As someone who is reasonably comfortable with using the internet (hence, blogging!), the session just annoyed me, but for those who were not so comfortable with online environments, it would have just freaked them out. Honestly, the way the session going, you’d question why on earth girl guides has an online presence at all! Just silly, really.

But the risk assessment session really irked me. So *apparently*, not only do we need a standing hall risk assessment (that I can *sort of* understand), we also need one for every time we do *anything* out of the hall. Not just “think through the risks and be sensible”, but “write it down (pages of it!), record it, keep it for freaking ever”.

Well, if that’s not a way to discourage leaders, I don’t know what is!

I know from my readings elsewhere that Guiding in the UK is super keen on risk assessments, but until today, I never realised Australia had also gone down this (really annoying) pathway.

Well, we shall see. I’m not at all against sensible procedures and processes at all, but I do resent additional paperwork to do what we have always done… and given the questions from around the hall at the training today, I’m not the only one. So grr!!

However, lets end on a positive note: I think I could quite easily work towards my indoor camping qualification, and that would be a good thing for the unit 🙂

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