keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Like, whatevah.

A fun and totally unstructured night at Guides this week, as we decided to take the girls up on their critiques of “too many rules” and have a night where the leaders were essentially on strike – no step in to open, no circle and songs to close, no activities planned!

We just put a box of left over craft *stuff* in the middle of the hall, put out the boxes of pens, scissors, tape and glue, and had another box of sports equipment in another area, and let them figure out for themselves how they wanted things to go! My baby ended up coming along for the night, so she provided another source of entertainment, and got passed around like a sack of potatoes.

We’d told them it was “whatever” night, and that they could “be in uniform… or not…” – some came dressed in perfect uniform, and some turned up in animal onesies, so we had quite the range! There was a bit of confusion with the kids about what they were “meant to do”, and I got several queries like “um… has Guides started yet??”, but overall, it was a lot of fun – the girls mainly mucked about with the craft box, with all sorts of crazy creative ideas and projects, and I think an unstructured use-up-the-bits-and-bobs sort of night might be one to keep in the mix. Interestingly, it was the oldest girls, the ones who I think had been the most “ugh, rules” in the feedback, who seemed most at a loss with how to handle the lack of structure. I wonder what their comments will be next week, whether they recognise the value of having a bit of a plan in place?

At the close we did also need to word up the parents – we’ve got them so trained to wait until we’ve done our closing circle and goodnight songs that if we hadn’t said discretely “we’re trying a bit of an unstructured night, so when your kid has done a bit of tidying and has their stuff together, you’re welcome to head off” they would have waited around for quite a while!

So, all in all, easiest night to plan for ages, and hopefully next week we’ll hear that overall, the girls prefer a touch of structure to the night!

And if they don’t… hmmm…! Cross that bridge when we come to it!


Cool, calm, and creative (oh and some knots!)

A lovely calm evening at Guides this week!

We split the girls into their three sections (Juniors, Seniors, Upper Seniors), and had different activities for each.

As part of their Fire badge, the Juniors made candle holders, decorating small glasses with tiny pieces of cut up tissue paper, which gave a gorgeous mosaic or stained glass window type effect.

To reduce the potential level of chaos, we had the three patrols on separate trestle tables (our hall is blessed with an excellent supply of tables!), and the various supplies on a fourth table for supervised distribution by the leaders – time has shown that Things Work Better if you don’t have overly enthusiastic six year olds being in charge of sharing out tissue paper and glue!!

The girls each did two candle holders, and those that finished a little early (or in the case of one or two, just got frustrated!) were then able to use some of the cut up tissue to do some simple collage type art. Wish I’d taken a photo of the floor under the tables- it was covered in what looked like bright oversized confetti!

Meanwhile, the Seniors were being Proper Guides, developing their square lashing skills – even using their handbooks for instructions on the knotting!

They were aiming to construct a lantern (basically a cube with a cross-hatch on the base to put a tealight), although due to time limits, none of them *quite* got there. That said, two girls were up to the final section, and several others were not far behind, so the timing/complexity wasn’t too far off correct, and most of the girls decided that they would take the extra bits and pieces needed home to finish it off properly, so I think we’ll call that a win.


Its always interesting with activities like these to see which girls do well and which struggle – the girls who were overly particular about their lashing struggled to get very far as they focused too much on perfection, and not enough on speed and getting through the task. But equally, the girls that were too unfussed about quality found that their lashing had no structural integrity, and the pieces kept falling apart! Perhaps a lesson there for all of us 🙂

I’m not a huge fan of the knotting/gadgets side of guiding, but they can be useful skills to know, and I think a small scale crafty activity like this was quite a good way of introducing the skills and applying them, without going the full build-a-camp-kitchen!

It was also a really lovely activity in terms of providing the girls with enough interest to keep their hands and minds busy, but not so busy they couldn’t chat. I think after several weeks lately of working in patrols, the older girls also really enjoyed just having something they could focus on individually, rather than needing to cooperate with others… well, apart from negotiating about who got access to the scissors!

Our final activity had the Upper Seniors in the kitchen, cooking marshmallows from scratch! AwesomeCoLeader is very clever with all matters culinary, so she was in her element playing with candy thermometers and whatnot. Also nice for her to have a break from the tiny ones where she usually ends up!

We’re aiming to have a couple of activities each term where we differentiate the Upper Seniors, both as a way of keeping them engaged, and as a longer term retention strategy for our next cohort of girls. The transition to high school is traditionally a huge drop off point for our unit (and most units, I gather), so having certain activities and privileges only available to those who have stuck around gives the next lot of girls reason to stay 🙂

Overall, a really lovely and calm evening, which the girls and the leaders all really got into!

Next week: we’ll be bringing the whole group back together for a campfire… lets hope the weather holds out!!


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Colour and movement

A lovely quiet night at Guides this week, as about a third of the girls were absent (a lot of schools have camp in the second week of term), which lowered the chaos level hugely! Of course, it helped that unlike last week, they were not all seeing each other for the first time in months, so the girls were generally more chilled out.

In addition, we had quite separate programming for the Juniors and Seniors, including having them physically separate – the older girls outside, the younger ones in the hall, so the ‘vibe’ of the evening was much more relaxed.

Our theme for the night was “arts and illusions”, to contribute to the Eyes badge for the younger ones, and to just be a bit of fun for the older girls – not everything needs to be hard work!

For the Junior Guides, YoungCoLeader came up with a brilliant activity – making spinning colour wheels (a bit like this- ), which the girls all really loved. Brilliantly, YoungCoLeader had thought ahead and pre-drawn the circles and sections, so the girls only had to colour, cut, and thread the string, but as they’re ages 6-9, and we had more than one activity planned, this was just enough work, especially given most of them are rather particular about their colouring! For those that finished early, I brought along a book of optical illusions, and a book of MC Escher’s works, both of which proved quite popular.

Meanwhile, AwesomeCoLeader was outdoors with the Senior Guides, letting them play with dyed ice, which they found utterly hilarious! Despite it being an activity she found on a website about activities to do with your toddler, our bunch of 10-12 year olds thought it was just be greatest activity! Pity the weather had cooled off and was not the predicted 36 degrees, because in the heat this would have been perfect!

The dyed ice, before melting into fabulous patterns for some, and giant messes for others!


Once the older girls had finished with their icy messes, CoLeader had a great little leadership/theatre sports activity for them, where she would appoint one girl to be the organiser, and then give her a shape to get the other kids into – some of the shapes on her list were “knife and fork” “clock” “a bed” “a bicycle”. The girls LOVED it, and had so much fun – they all got super creative, for example, the bed ended up including not only legs, a mattress, a doona and a pillow, but also monsters underneath! This ended up being a really great little exercise just prior to a bit of a spiel from me about leadership and patrols, ahead of the girls voting for their PLs (we have fresh elections each year, or as a vacancy arises). I had originally intended for the voting to only happen on that night, but with a third of the girls away, both CoLeaders and I decided it was fairer to wait until first thing next week and ensure the other girls get to vote as well.

Finally, I showed both Juniors and Seniors a cool little drawing illusion, which they all practiced and did fairly well – its basically this: (What did leaders do before the internet?!), and the girls all enjoyed it- a great one for our wide range of ages and skills, as it wasn’t complex to do, but there was value in doing it with more precision and skill as the effect was stronger.

So, overall, a good night. Good both in terms of the girls – I think they all had fun, and in terms of the leaders. AwesomeCoLeader and I have been together a while now, but YoungCoLeader is starting to really integrate, and is stepping up and increasingly taking a more active role as a full leader, rather than a semi-assistant type role, which is just great. I had the pleasure last night of having nothing to do for 2/3rds of the evening but take photos, help set out paper, and find the scissors box. How lovely to no longer feel (as I did for a while) that the unit would fall over if I wasn’t able to attend for whatever reason! I now feel really confident that I’m only part of the team, rather than “The Main Leader”, and despite my bossy soul, that is just brilliant :))

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Adventures in mud & masterpieces

Great day out today, starting off with National Tree Day (, which is a great service activity for kids – its reasonably short (we did about an hour and a half), everything is provided (although its pretty good for kids to bring kid-sized garden gloves), and you feel like something has been achieved.
This year, the site we chose was at Collingwood Children’s Farm (, which was rather lovely, as it was nearby, and the girls were allowed to have a bit of a wander around after planting and check out the sheep, goats, horses, and pigs.
We were joined by a few of sister unit’s kids (and 2 of their mums!) which was great, its always nice to have a good crowd for these sorts of activities, its much more fun! And our total of 16 kids across the two units was much better than last year’s 3!!

In the afternoon, we backed up our muddy morning by taking just the girls from our unit (minus two planters, plus one extra kid who didn’t want to plant!) into the city for a lunch out, and a visit to the Australian art collection at the National Gallery of Victoria.

It worked out really well – lunching at a Chinese restaurant, which the girls seemed to enjoy – one of our younger Guides was decidedly skeptical about dumplings, but being reminded that Guides rules are “must have two bites”, she gave both the vegetable and the meat dumplings a try and LOVED THEM!

Onto the art gallery, and co-leader had been very organised and found that the gallery offers ‘trails’ for kids to do (, so we had something to structure our time in the galleries, and give the kids something in particular to look for, and analyse, and think about. It worked really well, and I think it made the kids focus, rather than just go through as quick as they possibly could.

Of course, we did have a moment or two in the modern 80s themed galleries, where some of the content was less… kid-friendly than the more traditional collections! A couple of pictures that were decidedly risqué! Ah well!

To finish up, we did a quick activity downstairs for kids, where they could colour in masks, before heading across Federation Square (and having a dance and a pose for the big screen!) and catching the train back out to our meeting point with parents.

All in all, a good day, a bit of service, some new experiences, and a bit of fun!

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Yeesh, what a mess!

This evening we again split the juniors into one set of activities, and the seniors & upper seniors into a different set.

The Juniors had a ‘weather night’ – finding pictures of cloud formations hidden around the hall and gardens (naturally some went entirely missing!), doing an experiment with warming and dying water to show air currents, and toasting marshmallows (“clouds”, of course!).

Meanwhile, the Seniors & Uppers were attempting to ‘air paint’ – I imagined this as a lovely arty project with gorgeous jewel colours, the kids learning how to manipulate the paint gently… well, clearly I was entirely mad as it ended up with paint everywhere!! With no real discernible patterns or point… oh well… I guess abstract is okay?!

Still, they seemed to have a marvellous time, and I’ve never been more pleased that I had the forethought to purchase some $1 white plastic tablecloths from Big W, and that the weather was clear enough that we were able to be out in the courtyard! CERTAINLY NOT an activity for in the hall with the lovely polished floorboards!!

In recruitment news, the two newbies from week one are going to join, and will be bringing forms etc next week, and we had a further two newbies come for a try out. They seemed to have a good night, so hopefully! We also handed out info about the upcoming sleepover, which seems like it might be a clincher – cheap babysitting rules again!

Sadly though, one of our lovely little ones also announced that her family is moving to Adelaide over Christmas, so we’ll be losing her. Its never the trouble makers that leave, is it?!

Next week – halloween bring a friend night, which we’ve also got advertised in the local paper (I hope!)… it will be interesting to see what kind of turn up we get, as it appears a few of our usuals won’t be there as they’ll be trick-or-treating instead… which surprises me greatly, clearly Australia is embracing halloween faster than I thought. Regardless, we’ll have fun with zombie tiggy!

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