keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Welcome back!

Term one has begun, and it was so lovely to see the girls again after our long summer break!

Our first night back was rather more chaotic than anticipated, as one of our leaders (who was meant to be running the seniors program) was out sick, another was away, our anticipated new helper had to cancel due to work calling her in, AND we got to the hall to find that the repairs due for completion in early January were still underway and the hall was totally blocked off, our cupboards were in the foyer (with all our stuff on top higgledy-piggledy), and all our ideas of how we were going to organise the activities was thrown into disarray!

Luckily, guides are adaptable (and the weather cooperated!), so my hastily pulled together seniors activities were run on the front lawn, the juniors made do in the foyer, and the Rangers comandeered a small room off to the side!

This term, we’ve got the seniors group doing the Ropes badge, and Juniors doing the Body badge. So week one had seniors girls working in their patrols to plan a ropes-based game, and then run it for the other patrols. They were pretty creative, coming up with a spiders web de-tangling game, an obstacle course, and a relay race of sorts.

The juniors we’re learning to care for bodies, doing a bit of first aid, and having a lovely time bandaging each other up. Truly a tragic sight, so many broken arms, twisted ankles, and terrible snakebites! 🙂

Next week: campfire cooking for the seniors, free form use-up-the-odds-and-ends crafting for juniors!

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Get to Guides! Girls around the world wide game

This is a wide game developed as part of our term on the ‘Girls’ and ‘Other People’ Create-A-Challenge badges. The game took a little over an hour, although this was with leaders providing a reasonable amount of direct instruction/assistance, and having several things semi-prepared – for example, the vegetables for the cooking were mostly pre-cut to size so the girls only had to do minor trimming.

The story:

Leaders note: the various characters were colourful clip-art girls on a piece of paper – if you have the time/resources, a small doll for each patrol to take with them on their adventures would be ideal.

Melanie, Mary, Marta, Molly, and Mia are super excited about getting to Guides tonight. They hear that badges are being handed out at the end of the night, and really really hope that they’re going to get one!

Each patrol will take one of Melanie, Mary, Marta, Molly or Mia around with them throughout the challenges, and try to help them be the first back!

Each patrol has a different order of activities, so don’t follow the others – run your own game! Envelopes are colour-coded and numbered – pay attention and only ever grab your own!

Leader’s note: the various patrols had their instructions in numbered, coloured envelopes, but you could just as easily run this as a ‘back to base’ style game and reduce the amount of pre-prep required!

The activities:

Activity: Get dressed

Every girl needs to get dressed to face the day. Different countries have different styles of dress – some are easier than others!

You’ll need to use the long fabric and instructions to dress up each of your patrol members (one at a time) in a sari – be sure to use the correct pleating! Once she’s dressed up, the patrol member needs to do scouts pace (20 steps walking, 20 steps running, 20 steps walking etc etc) along the footpath from the big tree to the entrance to the car park and back. When she’s returned, she needs to pass on the fabric and dress up the next girl!

You can only proceed to the next activity when all patrol members have successfully completed the sari scouts pace.

Note: you will need a 5-to-6 meter length piece of fabric, plus instructions on how to wrap a sari for this activity. 

Activity: Cook the meal

In many countries, girls and women are responsible for getting the meals ready.

Your patrol needs to use the ingredients and equipment provided to cook a simple vegetable and noodle stir-fry. Remember to cut the vegetables to be a similar size and shape. Add the vegetables that need the longest cooking first.

Once it’s cooked, share out the meal between the patrol, enjoy it, and then be sure to clean up properly before moving on to the next activity!

Note: be sure to have your vegetables portioned out for each patrol so you don’t end up with one patrol with a huge serve and another with hardly any!

Activity: Pass on a message

Arrange your patrol in a long line down the centre of the hall. The person nearest to the stage, should collect the message card marked with your patrol’s colour.

Give the person nearest to the far end the message card.

Pass the message Chinese-whispers style from one end of the hall to the other (stand at least finger-tips apart). When the message reaches the end, the message-receiver needs to run up to the stage end, and explain what she thinks the message is. The message-giver should say “yes, correct” or “not quite” or “not at all”. If it’s “not quite” or “not at all”, keep going until you get it right!

When the full message has been passed on correctly, you may continue.

Note: our note said “The pink pig and the pesky donkey flew a kite at night, said the grinning girl guide” – this was based on a bunch of ‘difficult’ phrases for Chinese Whispers, but you could use any message!

 Activity: Who do you know?

Use the stack of memory cards provided to match the famous women’s pictures and description.

Patrol members should take it in turns to try and match the cards.

Once all the cards have been correctly paired up, shuffle the cards and leave them re-stacked for the next group before moving on to the next activity.

Note: The memory cards featured one card with a photo and name, and the matching card with the name and a brief description. People featured included Julia Gillard, first female PM of Australia; Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund; Indra Nooyi, head of PepsiCo, and Valentina Tereskova, the first woman in space. The aim was to provide a diversity of names and faces from across the world.

Activity: Food gathering

In ancient times (and still in some more traditional societies!), finding food was way more complicated than going to the supermarket. You had to either hunt or gather your food if you wanted to eat!

Look carefully around the hall and grounds to find the following foods:

Potatoes, Onions, Asparagus, Beans, Wheat, Eggs

Draw a map of the hall and grounds and mark on the map the location of each item. Take careful note, as you will need to return later to collect one of these items… and you don’t know which it will be! Once your map is complete, you may move on.


Activity: Scrub up!

In many places around the world, getting clean takes a lot more effort than just stepping into the shower!

Working as a patrol and using the cups supplied, transport water from the tap in the [location] to the washing up basin in [other location]. When the basin is half-full, each patrol member needs to use the water to wash her hands thoroughly.

Once everyone has cleaned up, carefully empty the basin of water into the garden, put everything back where it started, and then move onto the next activity.

Note: make sure you place tap and washing up basin far enough apart to make it a challenge, but not so far that they get too frustrated!

Activity: Nursing

Traditionally, one of the few ‘respectable’ careers open to women was nursing. Even today, many nurses are women, although that is changing quickly!

Practice your nursing skills by using a triangular bandage to fit the oldest member of the patrol with a sling. Your patrol member will need to manage for the next two activities like this!

Once the sling is firmly in place, you can move onto the next activity.

 Note: you will need multiple bandages available for this if you wish to have them in use for the next activities. Alternatively, the bandages could be removed immediately after the activity.

Activity: Finally!

Pick an envelope out of the bowl – it will show you what you need to gather to finish!

Note: the envelopes all contained a different picture of one of the ingredients from the ‘gathering’ activity – using the map they’d created they had to quickly retrieve the specific ingredient. The advantage of an accurate map was knowing exactly where to go and not having to re-find the ingredient!

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Catching up!

Whoops, poor little neglected blog!

So, a quick update on the last two weeks of term:

Our little ones did campfire cooking, doing bananas with chocolate – and very successfully I might add! One fire per patrol, and one adult per patrol, made for a smooth experience. Their work over the term in developing confidence with matches, and the fact that many of them had attended our Juniors sleepover a few weeks ago where they also had to build fires, meant that they’d actually developed and consolidated their skills and were quite competent to set and light and maintain the fires. Go littlies!

Meanwhile, I and NewestCo-Leader (we have a crew now… I need to do some re-blog-naming of my excellent leaders!) led the older girls in ’emergency out of the box’ – we provided a bunch of *stuff* (tarps, ropes, blankets, first aid equipment, clothes, chairs, tables, gadget wood, wool….) in a pile and in patrols they had to respond to various scenarios pulled ‘out of the hat’. Scenarios were things like “there’s been a car crash out the front of the building” “there’s a fire in the kitchen” “you’ve got home and realised you’ve lost your keys and no-one is due home for two hours…”

I’d kind of envisaged they’d pretty much use the bits and pieces to create a vignette of how they’d respond, but it seems we have quite a few dramatic little souls in the group, and so somehow we ended up with these elaborate mini-plays, complete with characters and backstories and HIGH DRAMA! We finished on a silly scenario (“oh my god, the party is in an hour and I have NOTHING to wear!!”) which was a bit of fun 🙂

Our final week of term was a bit ‘bitsy’ – the Seniors did a version of the mini-meal done by the Juniors a few weeks ago (cooking a tiny 3 course dinner over candles), but with the added complication of working with only torchlight – they seemed to enjoy it, but interesting “haaaaate soup” (noted for future camps etc), and got through the task faster than expected. Luckily we were able to fill the time with a bit of “so, what do you want to do next term?”

Meanwhile, the Juniors had a games night, with a bit of leadership worked in – each of the girls had the chance to take the lead in running a game for the group, and it worked really well. We didn’t have a set list of games or of kids, but made it clear initially that we wanted each of them to have a try running things, even if it was only for a round or two of a well known game. They all really stepped up and embraced the task, and it was lovely to see, not to mention, fabulously run by YoungCoLeader, who really does enjoy working with our youngest girls.

Finally finally we had another session of our limping along Rangers group, pulling out our Upper Seniors for the night – they were doing “mini gadgets” (hmm quite a mini theme for the evening, didn’t realise at the time!), using tiny twigs and twine to make doll-house sized camp gadgets. It was… hmm… of mixed success. Still, they enjoyed the time as a separate older group, and have begged for extra sessions next term, so that’s a good sign 🙂

Speaking of next term, our leadership team got together last week for planning term three, and it should be a bunch of fun – we’ll be working on the ‘Girls’ and ‘Other People’ badges for Juniors and Seniors respectively, and I think it should be a lovely relaxed sort of term… at this stage it doesn’t look like we’re attempting to crazily over-program, but I’m sure as each week approaches we’ll somehow find ways to add absurd flourishes to the proceedings!

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First aid fabulous

Fun night this week, as the Seniors group did first aid with much laughter, happy yelling, and general chaos… and hopefully a bit of learning!

One of our oldest Guides, when reminded that the program had us doing first aid said “ohhhhhh… is it going to be boring?”, so of course I looked her straight in the eye and said “Yes. Yes, it’s as boring and terrible a program as ever we’ve done, you’re going to go home tonight saying Guides is THE MOST BORING”. Luckily most of them laughed, so we got off on the right foot 😉

We started with a bit of a run through basic first aid procedures, talking through what they already knew, and helping them to think through the basic logic of what first aid is trying to achieve (i.e. treat minor things, stabilise major things to enable the patient to reach help), and go over the criteria of skills they needed to learn as part of their badge work.

The girls moved through a series of ‘stations’, learning different uses for triangular bandages (a simple sling, and a ‘donut’ to support a foreign body that has pierced a hand), bandaging techniques for various wounds, splinting for snakebite, and learning how to move a patient into recovery position. It was one of those nights where the blogging about it sounds utterly tedious, but the actual experience was great fun, and there was a brilliant happy vibe for the whole night 🙂

Meanwhile, the Junior Guides had a “mini meal” evening, where they each made a teeny-tiny three course meal over tealights, cooking soup (using cup-of-soup mixes) in tin foil tart cases, followed by tiny skewers of cheese and veggies to ‘grill’ for main, and finally toasting marshmallows to put between mini guide biscuits for little s’mores. They were all super excited about it and had a lovely time, and it was so cute to hear one of the girls gleefully reporting to her mum at the end “we made mini soup!”.

So a great night with a great vibe with all the kids, and all the leaders. Loved it 🙂


Science + story = wide game!

A great night last night, which required a lot of preparation, but was well rewarded with a bunch of very happy and engaged Guides of all ages!

We were joined by a couple of girls from SisterUnit, which was fun – their youngest newbie was SO EXCITED and kept saying “This is the first time I’ve done this! And its so much fun! I love it!”

I’ll write up the wide game in full shortly, but essentially the story was that the Evil Doctor Greyzone had stolen the colours, and the patrols were in a race to find all six colours (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple) (I gave up on Indigo, finding six relevant activities was hard enough!!), and then had to bring them together in a rainbow (via bubbles).

To even up the challenge – and to give a little twist to proceedings – I split up the unit into different patrols from usual, and made them mixed-ages. Given some of the challenges (like making slime and making ice-packs) were quite technical, it didn’t seem fair to have patrols of 11 and 12 year olds competing against patrols of 7 and 8 year olds! I also appointed different people to usual to be patrol leaders – it was interesting to see which ones embraced the role, and which ones really just didn’t… and I have to say, a couple of my guesses around who would do well were off the mark. Just because a kid is assertive and popular doesn’t mean she’s necessarily able to bring a group together and get them to cooperate!

Anyway, a good night, lots of fun, and I’ll certainly be having them make ice-packs again (using citric acid and baking soda), as that is probably the most brilliant trick I’ve found on the internet for a while, and the girls were enthralled 🙂




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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Damper… and ants

Very old-school Guiding night last night – campfires and damper, and some unexpected first aid!

The unexpected first aid was a touch of spontaneous fainting from LovelyNewLeader while we were all standing in our opening circle. She was fine pretty much immediately afterwards, thank goodness, but it certainly provided some entertainment – not to mention the quickest and most through quieting of the girls I’ve EVER seen!

The great thing about having extra leaders though is that while I was helping LovelyNewLeader (I’m the default first aider for the crew!), AwesomeCoLeader was able to take the girls outside and set them to work fetching wood for our campfires, so we were able to carry on and keep the girls busy, which makes things easier for all.

The girls were, however, VERY relieved to get back from their wood fetching to find LovelyNewLeader strolling about and chatting!

So we set up our campfires – our now usual set up is using large tin foil roasting pans (usually two stacked together) as our ‘fire drum’, with the new addition of a couple of cheap pavers as ‘feet’, which seems to work quite well. Last night we decided to have two fires – one for Juniors, one for Seniors. It’s a good way to ensure the younger ones have a chance to (responsibly!) play with fire, and not have it totally dominated by the older girls.

Mind you, we had a bit of rebellion when we made it clear that only girls who had actually read their program and followed the clothing instructions (sensible shoes, long pants) were allowed to set, light, and feed the fires. But we insisted – short shorts are not suitable for being close to fires, and if we take the time to put something on the program, then yes, we do in fact mean it!

So while the long-pants-wearers tended the fires, the short-pants-wearers made up the damper dough for everyone, which actually turned out to be quite a good split of responsiblities. We ended up relaxing the no-short-pants-near-the-fire rule for the actual toasting of the damper, figuring that as they were sitting on concrete, with long sticks into the embers (no longer jumping flames!), that the risk was pretty low.

About 2/3rds of the girls ended up with edible damper – the others just couldn’t keep their sticks in one place long enough for it to have a chance to cook! But even those girls got a bit to taste from others, and I think overall it was worth it.

Only drama was – ants! So many ants! One of the girls dropped the honey container, and suddenly it was the invasion of the ants – they just came from everywhere, and were all over the dropped honey, the honey container, the jam container next to it…!

All in all, a good night.


Doggies and bunnies and games, oh my!

Thanks to the unreliability of Melbourne’s weather, tonight’s plans of pets in the park had to be abandoned at the last minute, in a flurry of last second emails and text messages!

So instead, we were back in the usual hall – but visited by two bunnies and nine dogs!

The girls had fun showing off their pets, and meeting the pets of others – and they were all fabulously well behaved! Only one dog was a bit ‘over enthusiastic’, but that was okay!

After the last of the pets had headed home with families, we played a few games – first one called “A What?” – which was a bit of a variation on Chinese Whispers, which was quite funny, as multiple pet-related “items” went around the circle… turns out the girls are very unfamiliar with the word “budgerigars”! (Storms of protest: why didn’t you just say bird if its a bird?!) (Because I have to amuse myself as well!)

Followed up with a game of Monkey Tiggy, which was quite funny to watch, and then I put them in pairs and gave each a plastic animal. One of each pair hid the animal, then the other was guided to it with “hotter/colder”. My next suggestion of Duck Duck Goose was vetoed (girl lead guiding!) and they organised themselves into a game of Run the Gauntlet instead, keeping it in theme by using the little animals as objects to collect at one end of the gauntlet.

Finally, we had 15-20 minutes left, and I was over the noisiness, so decided I’d give them a quick first aid challenge. A bit of whinging ensued “we KNOW how to wrap ankles already!” “Excellent, you won’t need the book then and can show me that you can get it right first time” “Okay!” Heh. Anyway, despite the whinging, the whole group ended up practicing, and even those who thought they didn’t need the book ended up learning a bit and improving. So glad I invested in a set of bandages just for practice a while ago!

Next week we’ve got games outdoors, followed by a Promise ceremony for 3 newbies. And in other excellent news, awesome co-leader will be back, and we had a third visit from another newbie, so I think we’ll be signing her up properly next week 🙂


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Unexpectedly traditional guiding!

Fun night, as our puppet show night somehow morphed into a night of very traditional guiding! We had patrols, guide laws, first aid, knotting, and guiding history!

We started out with the girls working in their patrols to refine their puppet plays from last week (which included reminding them that they had in fact chosen a guide law to focus on…) (and then reminding them which law…!) but they got going pretty quickly, and had fun rehearsing. After about 30 minutes rehearsal, they put on their plays to… varying levels of success! But they were cute, and all seemed to have fun, and may even have a fighting chance of remembering an extra guide law or two!

After that we decided to crack into the new guide handbooks, which we had finally managed to get a reasonable sub-group of the unit purchasing, as well as a decent set for the unit.

So we split the girls into various age groups, and gave them the relevant handbooks (if they had one they were also encouraged to get theirs out), and started by asking them all to find the first aid section of the book, and try out one of the techniques. We had some good ankle wrapping, recovery positions, treatment for bleeding, and they all seemed to have fun.

Next we asked them to find out “something about a person called Robert” in the book, which was kind of fun, as well as “what is special about 22 February?” and “Who else’s birthday was that?”. Quick and stealthy guiding history in less than 5 minutes!

Finally, we got the girls to find knotting in the books, and asked them to try something out – we had a bowline, lots of square lashing, a couple of reef knots, and a few other bits and pieces. Again, lovely focused and engaged guides!

Still not quite sure how we pulled an almost entirely traditional night out the hat, but it worked really well, and the girls loved it! I know we often avoid knotting and history bits and pieces in particular for fear of being “boring”, but perhaps this is the way – bite size pieces, rather than a whole night focused on the one thing.

This weekend, Cookout Sleepover – 8 girls are coming along to cook outdoors, go for a night scavenger hunt, and (hopefully!) have a lovely time.

And here’s one of the sets of puppets 🙂

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Bandages and slings and Promises, oh my!

Fun times tonight, as I took the Senior guides for first aid!

We only had about 40 minutes (between opening and Promise ceremony), so I decided to go with a couple of really practical skills, and had one patrol using crepe bandages to practice treating sprained ankles and wrists, while the other patrol used triangular bandages to practice slings, each had about 15 minutes on the activity, before switching.

I’d had the (rather brilliant if I say so myself) idea a while ago that if we were going to do first aid, we should have a box of bandages and bits, separate to the actual first aid kit!! So they could play around to their hearts content, and I didn’t need to stress 🙂

I think they all learned a bit more technique, and we had a good chat about what you’re aiming to do when you bandage a sprain or use a sling. They all agreed that they’d learnt something, and seemed excited to teach it on next term (we’ll see!). Even our girl with a mild intellectual disability managed to improve her sling technique, and her bandage rolling, although her ankle wrapping left something to be desired! All in all, a really good close out to our Be Prepared badge, I feel confident that they’ve genuinely learnt new skills, and it was lovely to have a session where they were all really engaged with something that was so explicitly being taught, rather than something which had the learning buried in the fun set up.

Meanwhile, the Juniors and co-leader were making apricot and coconut balls in the kitchen (finishing off the food badge), which went very well (I had the pleasure of tasting the evidence!) – co-leader reported that the girls were absolutely brilliant: quiet, engaged, focused, and all producing edible food! Apparently the trick is the quantity of activity: if they each essentially reproduce the recipe themselves (rather than working as patrols for example), then they are each focused and don’t have the time/inclination to either disrupt others or complain about being bored, or end up arguing for whose turn it is to chop/stir/put something in/read the recipe… etc!

In other news, I ended up having the Seniors vote for seconders for their patrols – interestingly, the result was exactly what I would have nominated! But much better that it comes from them, not only is that more traditional, but it also underlines that they’re considered more responsible in Seniors than Juniors, where the leaders select the patrol leaders and seconders.

Finally, to close out the night, we had a lovely little Promise ceremony for two of our newbies, both SUPER enthusiastic, and really lovely additions to the group.

… and then after the kids all left, co-leader and I completely raided the shed and cupboard of anything and everything we could POSSIBLY need for this weekend’s camp! I hope we’ve packed everything!

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