keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Planning for progression (onwards and upwards!) (we hope)

Final Guides meeting of 2015 a few weeks ago (always a happy/sad day!), and I end the year full of enthusiasm and hope for the coming year.

It’s been a year mainly of growth at our unit – looking back over the year, we’ve had three girls leave, but had ten join us, and I think we’ve kept all our oldest girls, transitioning them up properly to our rangers group (of course, the long summer break may change this, but I don’t *think* so…). Our Seniors group has remained full (enough so that we created a 4th patrol), and our leadership team has really got comfy and reliable, so I feel quite sure that we can handle a large group… and I still want more growth! We’re about to have a bunch of Juniors move up to Seniors, creating nearly a patrol worth of spaces in the littlies, so recruitment drive ahoy first thing next year!

On our final night we had a bit of a party night, playing The Chocolate Game, their favourite outdoor game (‘camouflage’), and doing a scavenger hunt for Christmas decorations, which became their little chrissy gifts (oh, and a suitably themed badge!). It was fairly unstructured, but a lot of fun, and the girls were all pretty excited about it being the end of the year.

Christmas Guide badge 2015

We also had a session for an extra hour after the main group had gone, for girls nearly old enough to move up to our Rangers unit – a bit of a transition taster. It was great fun (lots of ‘minute to win it’ games), and good for both the grade six girls to feel a little special and like there is a reason to stick with Guides after moving up to High School (the primary-to-high school transition is our Recruitment Dead Zone), and also good for the current girls to realise that there are a bunch of girls not much younger who will be joining them soon. The current crop (only 5 of them) have been a little worried that the group is unsustainable at that number, so seeing that there are 7 kids who will (potentially!) progressively move up over the coming months should be reassuring. Ideally, I would love to have a Rangers group that was around 12-15 girls, the kind of numbers where one or two people being away isn’t noticeable – but given the competing demands for time in the teenage age group, I suspect those numbers will be a challenge, even if on paper we should get there by mid-year. I’ve seen enough ups and downs in recruitment not to count my chickens too early!!


Catching up

Well, this has been a poor neglected little blog these last few weeks. Suffice to say life has been a bit full of late with both work and personal life a little busy, and guiding and the blog has had to take a back seat!

So, lets catch up the last few weeks.

Firstly, we had a ‘codetastic’ sleepover with 14 kids from our unit, and 7 from sister unit. It was awful cold and rainy day which made things a bit of a challenge – the intended plan of having each of four patrols light fires to cook their afternoon tea didn’t happen! But we did manage to get one fire going, although it took so long (it really had rained hard, and the wood was soaked through!), that we ended up having the ‘apple crisps’ as dessert instead of afternoon tea!

The wide game for the sleepover was unfortunately not as successful as previous ones, mainly as the slightly more free-form concept of ‘do the activities in any order’ seemed to confuse the girls – they couldn’t keep up with what they were up to. I think if I did that kind of strategy again, I would add a checklist for them to tick off as they went, so they could keep track. The activities themselves seemed quite successful – they included making a shelter, following compass instructions, decoding some fairly complicated codes, and doing puzzles.

Overall, it was reasonably successful (despite the rain), and the girls all seemed to have fun – it was also great to see the girls from both our unit and sister unit blending together so well – by the end, they’d all meshed in together 🙂 Also realised that one of the girls from Sister Unit is old enough for Rangers (although wants to wait until next year), so that is exciting.

Back to normal Guides – last week I (and three lovely mums who responded to our pleas for extra adults!) took the Senior Guides to the local supermarket on the tram to purchase ingredients for the final night’s cooking. It was part of the Lifeskills badge, with the girls having planned the recipes the week before (including budgeting), and then travelling via public transport to get the groceries, and then this week cooking the food.

The girls were all pretty good, although I suspect a bit more cheeky than they would usually be if their mums were not around!!

Finally, this week (final night of term), the Junior Guides had a ‘bathroom’ night as part of their Homes badge, which included a towel turban relay (quite hilarious!), and a bathroom themed version of The Chocolate Game, which had the girls dressing up in a bathrobe and shower cap when they rolled a six.

The Seniors, meanwhile, did their planned cooking – chocolate balls for one patrol, and chocolate cake for the other (bit of a chocolate theme for the last night of term!). Unfortunately for the chocolate cake girls, the oven was broken – the pilot light was out, and we could not get it restarted! So we attempted a bit of alternative cooking methodology, doing some in cupcake cases in the microwave (which looked like it worked, but actually resulted in burnt cupcakes), and some in a slice tray floating in a larger tray full of water, which we boiled on the stove, bain-marie style. Unfortunately, we ran out of time, and it didn’t quite cook, but I think given an extra 30 minutes or so it would have worked, perhaps with a bit of foil over the top to seal in the steam and cook from above as well as below. It was rather fun though, trying to figure out emergency cooking alternatives!

Finally to close out the term we had a Promise ceremony for two girls who joined us towards the end of first term, and a Promise renewal for three girls moving up to Senior Guides, which is always lovely. One of the girls moving up has been with us for more than three years in Juniors, and has been a really fabulous an enthusiastic Guide right from the start – it will be fantastic to have her in Seniors, although it does make me feel old!

And finally finally we had Rangers – four of the five girls came along for ‘Christmas in June’ which was meant to be both crafts and cooking but ended up all cooking as they futzed about and ran out of time! Still, the ginger cookies (which had to be emergency ‘baked’ on the bbq due to the same oven issues the Senior Guides had) turned out edible (although much more like ‘ginger crumbles’ than ‘ginger cookies’), and the non-alcoholic mulled wine was a great success. They all had fun, and seemed keen to be back next term, so all is well.

Non-alcoholic mulled wine:

1 litre orange juice

1 bottle sparkling grape juice

2 cinnamon sticks

5-10 cloves

1 cup of sugar

peel of one orange

flesh of one orange cut finely


Put all ingredients in a large pot or kettle, and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Strain and serve into glasses or mugs. Enjoy!


End of the year!

Final night of Guides for the year. Always a mixed feeling – its been a long term, so I’ll be glad of some time away from planning and doing Guides, but I know in about three weeks time I’ll be wondering what to do with myself! We don’t go back until the first week of February, so its quite a break!

We were meant to have a longer meeting than usual tonight, starting off with Christmas carols at the local hospital. Unfortunately, they’ve had an outbreak of gastro, so some last minute emails and text messages flew around cancelling – don’t want the kids getting sick!

So we just met for our usual hour and half, and had some games and a bit of a party – I put up streamers in the hall, we played some games outside, had some ‘party’ games inside with ‘stick the star on the star’ (a bit like pin the tail on the donkey), and musical chairs. We also ate some munchies, did a little brainstorming for next year, and handed out a bunch of badges. We also gave the girls each a tiny Chrissy present – a ‘Merry Christmas’ badge and a chocolate Santa 🙂

The very cute Merry Christmas badge we gave the girls:

Christmas Guide badge

After Guides I joined the Rangers – all two of them (??) – and we played some Guiding Snap and ‘Cheat’, using the playing cards designed by Super Keen Badge Guide, and then had quite a detailed chat about how Rangers might work next year, and a long discussion about which girls we thought were likely to stick with the group. With one girl going up to Rangers from Sister Unit, we think there will probably be about 5 girls in the group – the trick will be having them regularly attend, and having things structured enough that they are working towards badges and goals, rather than the gossip club its kind of morphing into.

Anyway. That’s things to think about over the summer. No doubt there will be bloggy pondering to come! 🙂


The Wishing Tree

Tonight Rangers-leader and I took some of the older girl via tram to the local shopping centre to purchase gifts for the Kmart Wishing Tree, which go to disadvantaged people.

The girls seemed to have a good time, and it was kind of fun to include the travel (certainly made it fill the whole hour and a half), but I’m not sure that they got as much out of it as I would have hoped… Not sure. Ranger leader and I let them wander about Kmart in pairs/threes which I think they enjoyed – they always like that little bit of freedom, and they did seem to work reasonably well together in choosing which items they wished to purchase for the tree.

Meanwhile, the littlies were at the hall with co-leader, doing a couple of very cute Christmas crafts – most fabulously, a santa that ‘climbed the chimney’! Very clever!

It seems my concerns re retention may be well founded – Senior who I was figuring was unlikely to return attended this evening and said she won’t be back next year as she’s doing Gym instead… and interestingly, gossip from other girls with the Juniors tonight suggested that CryingMissSix and her older sister may not be returning… which would be very disappointing, they haven’t been with us for that long, but certainly seemed to be enjoying it and getting a lot out of it. I hope its an incorrect rumour, but the kids are sadly often on the mark with such things…

*Sigh* well, I guess we’ll see how everything pans out. Next week, Christmas carols, and a party in the park to close out the Guiding year.

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