keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Guiding and golfing: a surprisingly perfect combination!

Sometimes, the simplest evenings can showcase the ‘lessons’ of Guiding perfectly. Last week we had a fun off-site night at a local mini golf park. We were very lucky that the centre was super flexible and accommodating for us, giving the girls basically the run of the place, and despite what looked to be dodgy weather, the rain cleared and the sun came out just in time.

I spent the evening floating and ‘facilitating’, and it was just lovely to see how beautifully the girls were all interacting. The girls were given rough instructions (and most had played mini golf before at some point), but each group effectively had the time and space to modify and adapt the rules to suit themselves – and watching them negotiate that space (and assisting occasionally) was just lovely. For example, I watched one group of littlies – 6 and 7 year olds – tackling a hole they decided was tricky – so they informally agreed that the first section would just not count towards their scores. In contrast, an older group decided they wanted to Do Things Properly – and scored each hole very precisely, taking note of the par for each one and being very competitive… but still friendly and having a giggle. So much of what we try to teach and enable is teamwork, and the social skills around negotiation and cooperation, and strangely, this night of very light supervision and very limited enforcement of structure gave the girls a chance to show how fantastically they’re  developing these skills.

It was lovely having a long night out in the twilight, and so great seeing the girls all laughing and mingling in different groups to their usual. Such a chilled out, easy night, and definitely one to do again at some point in the future.


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Future focused

An interesting night this week, as we wriggled our planned program to account for the weather (oh Melbourne how you taunt us!) and also to fit in some activities designed to feed into the national program review.

The program review team had come up with a full night’s worth of programming, but we didn’t have space for the whole kit and caboodle, so we modified and tried to get to “the guts” of what is being asked – namely, what is good (and not good!) about Guiding currently, and where would you like it to go?

We had the girls work in small groups (different to their patrols – based roughly on ages and on ‘time in guiding’), and had them spend about 5 minutes per question on “What do you like about Guides now?”, “What do you NOT like about Guides now?”, “What would you like [Unit] to do in future?” and “What would you like included in Guides Australia in future?”

Satisfyingly, the responses were nearly all positive – lots of requests for more cooking, more games, more wide games, more camps… And less rules and less traditions! While we can be a bit strict about some things, I don’t think looking across the world of Guiding that my unit is particularly rule-heavy, so I suspect the girl who made that comment may get a little shock if ever she moves units 🙂

And as far as traditions go – really, apart from our Promise ceremonies and opening/closings, I don’t think we are particularly tradition heavy… but perhaps she was reflecting on some of the heavy going work required last term around Thinking Day which certainly did drag a little. So, I think I’m pretty happy with the general tone of the comments. Especially ones like “Guides is Awesome!” and “I love girl guides because we all have lots of friends” 🙂

After that was completed, we had our campfire – sadly changed from a proper one to an indoor candles fire, as heavy, steady rain is just no fun – nor really possible to do an outdoor one! In the end, we had about 30 minutes of singing, including the introduction of a new song from one of our Guides working towards her JBP Award, and that was almost the perfect length. I think in previous sessions we’ve had about 45-50 minutes of songs, and it gets a bit exhausting after a while!

This weekend – a sleepover just for juniors, and then next week, a wide game for Juniors/Seniors, and Paper Cut Art for Rangers!


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Back again!

A somewhat frustrating evening this week as we returned for term two, and had an evening that just didn’t quite work in terms of programming and timing.

I think the issue is that the girls haven’t seen each other for a couple of weeks (not many of our group are out-of-guides-friends) so they are madly trying to catch up on everything, and don’t have the patience to engage in the program, particularly (for the Seniors at least) when it was mainly a discussion-ish based program. So, note to self: next term, week one – something that requires them to use their hands in pairs or threes, to keep them busy and the noise to a functional level!!

Over the holidays, the leadership team (now with an extra leader-in-training AND a new unit helper I AM SO EXCITED WOOHOO EXTRA PEOPLE!!) decided that we would have the Juniors working on the Fire Create-A-Challenge badge, and the Seniors/Uppers would work on the Emergency Achieve-A-Challenge badge. The Fire badge we’ve done previously, but long enough ago that the few girls still around from then are now safely into Seniors 🙂

So this week’s badge activities for the Juniors were based around myths of fire, getting them to learn a few myths (Prometheus and others) and then have them develop their own little skits based on fire. Meanwhile, the Seniors were learning about how and when to call for help in an emergency, and we had quite long chat about when and how to use 000, and how using that or 112 will basically override everything on mobile phones.

As calling Triple 0 for practice purposes is not exactly encouraged, I decided to go with a different approach – part of what we were aiming to learn was how to give and receive information on the phone. So patrols were allocated two organisations/companies each to call for information. The patrols had their questions pre-approved by me (things like opening hours, price of tickets, group discounts etc), and then one kid from each patrol was allowed to call and ask the questions, using my phone on speaker function so the whole group could hear. It actually worked really well, and the girls doing the calls were stressed but excited and proud that they’d done it, and it was really great how encouraging the other guides were of their efforts. And now I know that a group of guides would get the schools-rate discount at ice-skating… 🙂

I had intended that we’d also take a walk up the street to a local payphone and get them to try that out, but with all the gossiping and mucking about, we ran out of time!! Ah well. The guts of what we needed to do was achieved, and I think they generally had fun!

Next week: fire safety (merging the two badge requirements helpfully!) and a promise ceremony 🙂

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Make new friends…

As one of my favourite campfire songs goes:

Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold. A circle is round. It has no end. That’s how long I want to be your friend.

So in honour of the ‘International Day Of Friendship’ (which was apparently today), we had a ‘friendship’ themed night, which mainly focused on getting the girls to learn a bit more about each other, and particularly, get to know a bit more about someone they don’t usually spend much time with.

We started out with a game of musical chairs (I’m sure when we did the program that had a particular purpose, but for the life of me I could not remember what it was tonight so… we just played musical chairs. It did work nicely as an icebreaker!), and then had a game of ‘stacks’, where everyone has a chair in a circle, and as certain things are called out, if you fit the criteria, you have to move the assigned number of seats, and if someone is already sitting there, just sit on top of them! So ‘criteria’ were things like “if you have a brother, move five spots to the right”, “if you like spaghetti bolognaise, move 3 spots to the left”, “if you are a Junior Guide, move 2 spots left” etc etc. Our tallest stack was five kids deep at one point, which caused much hilarity 🙂

Next we had the girls all choose a partner – with the stipulation that it had to be someone they didn’t know well, didn’t see outside of Guides, didn’t go to school with, and preferably was from the other section (i.e. prefer Juniors paired with Seniors, rather than two Juniors in a pair). The pairs then had three minutes to find three things they had in common, and then share one of those things with the group as a whole.

Those pairs then became part of the next game, which had the smaller of the two pair members in an inner circle, and the taller in an outer circle, each going in a different direction when instructed, before having to suddenly find each other and have the little one sit on the bigger one’s knee, with the last pair to find each other being eliminated. Again, not a lot of *point*, but a lot of fun, and it did get them out of their usual cosy pairs of “besties”.

Finally, we had a little craft/experiment activity, which AwesomeCoLeader had found online, where the girls each had a little flower template to cut out (about five cms across in total), and wrote in the centre one quality that makes a good friend. The petals were then decorated, and folded in, before all being dropped into a dish of water, to, we hoped, open up gently to reveal their words of wisdom. And score, it actually worked! Which had the girls all very excited, as they tried to read what each other had written, and then made a few extra suggestions of words that should be on the list.

So, a good night. We even had two newbies join us who seemed to have a lovely time – one an older sister of a current Guide (unusual, we often get little sisters joining, but big sisters are usually far too cool to want to do their baby sister’s activity!), and one a friend of TinyGuide, who joined in even though TinyGuide was away sick, and was super keen to come back next week and order uniform!

Floating friendship flowers:




Friendships developing

Interesting developments this week with our shy one (see…shy-little-one/ for the backstory).

After about three months absence from the unit (pretty much from that post until 3 weeks ago) due partly to family illness, shygirl and her sister have suddenly reemerged as part of the unit.

And they seem to have bonded with one of the older guides… to the point that the three of them are went to each other’s houses on the weekend!

How lovely to have them back, and have real outside-of-guides friendships emerging!

On another issue – last night was the first time this term (possibly all year…) that we had full attendance! Woohoo!

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