guideydiary

keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Wheely wheely fun!

great night last week, as we took the ‘wheels’ badge in a slightly more outdoorsy direction.

Essentially, we went on a penny hike around the local area, travelling via a range of wheels-y contraptions.

Our four dolly trolleys once again got a work out – two just plain (girls mainly sitting or kneeling on them), one with a washing basket on it, and one with a big plastic storage container on it! All four had ropes attached, and the girls worked in pairs and threes to travel about to varying degrees of success.

My toddler’s cheap stroller also got a workout (not entirely sure it will ever be the same!), as the girls ran about with it and sometimes got in for a ride! We also had a ball being soccer dribbled and bounced around, and various hula hooping techniques,  including some very old fashioned pushing along with sticks!

It wasn’t a complicated night in terms of heavy programming, but I think it was quite a “Guide-y” night – the girls were given free reign to figure out the knotting and stabilising themselves, and figure out how best to balance and travel – do pairs work better, or should you be in threes or more – and we also insisted that they do all their own negotiating around who got access to the various bits of equipment, and when they switched roles, and how things should be ‘fair’. Wheeling and running around with dolly trollys, wheeled baskets, prams, hoops, and balls – well, we certainly made an impression on all the locals out to walk their dogs for the evening!

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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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Growing apace

crowd

Not quite sure how its happened, but all of a sudden we’re bursting at the seams – our first night of term had 5 newbies (all prospective juniors) come along, and three weeks later all five have joined. And a newbie from last term who we thought we’d lost is suddenly back, as is her little sister. AND two girls who didn’t come back after term one are back and paid up, plus, one year after she left we’ve got another girl back after zero contact. So that’s 9/10 kids up from the end of last term… out of nowhere. Its just strange. Wonderful, but strange!!

Its such a sudden and significant jump that it’s throwing out our systems a little – we’ve been running at 3 patrols in Juniors for a while now, but at 20 kids in the littlies, we probably should move to 4 patrols, the 4 Seniors patrols we thought were going to slip down to three with several girls moving up to Rangers will stay at four, the Rangers are suddenly big enough for us to think about patrols… And on a more practical level, we probably need a few more sets of scissors, textas etc to accommodate the extras…

I’m sure by the end of term it will all seem normal, but for the next few weeks I suspect everything is going to be just a bit wonky as we try and get the new kids’ names and faces sorted, and get them all used to being part of our little group.

All in all, great problems to have, but I suspect we’ll be feeling a little stretched for a while until this all becomes the new normal!

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Tunnel and track building

Another pretty good night this week, as the girls used various recycled bits and pieces (plus a raid of the cupboards!) to build tracks for a little matchbox-style car, as part of our wheels badge.

We set it up as an inter-patrol challenge, with one single car, so the challenge was to build a track that kept the car running for the longest time – the aim being to have as long a track as possible, with enough of an incline to keep it going but not so little that it slowed and stopped or got stuck.

It ended up being a really fun night, and the girls all got really competitive – constantly testing and refining their ideas, really focused. We only gave them about 30 minutes to work together, before testing (and timing – the longest journey of the little car was only 2.8 seconds!!). We then got the various tracks put together, getting the whole group to cooperate (well, in theory), with the aim of achieving a longer run time than any one group had managed. The eventual longer track did get a bit better – I think the final time was just on 3 seconds – so I’m not sure that the idea of more minds being better necessarily was true!!

Overall, a good evening – it was great seeing them all so invested in building and constructing and thinking through how the pieces could go together!

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Sewing, science, and skyscrapers

Fun and delightfully planned-by-others night at Guides this week, as we split the girls up into three groups (rather than the usual two), separating out our high schoolers (who we refer to as ‘upper seniors’)  from our seniors, and having separate programs for them, and separate again for the juniors.

The Upper Seniors had fun in the kitchen, doing crazy masterchef style ‘molecular gastronomy’ experiments – making ‘cordial caviar’, ‘fruit fettucinni’ and various other concoctions! It was basically science via food, and they all seemed to really get into it.

Meanwhile, the Seniors were working in patrols to tackle a series of skyscraper challenges, building towers out of skewers and marshmallows, legos, straws (strong enough to hold a tennis ball), and various games based on towers, like jenga. I peeked in a couple of times and they were all really engaged, with lots of giggling, plus a bunch of gentle of teasing the opposing patrols.

I was mainly working with the Juniors for the night, doing sewing. Newest co-leader (leader #6, yes, we’re super lucky!!) had arranged for the girls to sew little echidna shapes out of a stretchy fabric, which was then filled with dirt and grass seed, with the idea that with a bit of love, care, and water, will end up having echidna ‘spikes’ of grass in a week or two!

Once again, the juniors were fantastic at the sewing, really engaged, and quietly focused. They all did both hand-sewing of two button eyes (and even our littlest 6 year olds managed this just fine), plus at least some of the machine sewing of the pieces together. We did have a few sneaky cheats to help progress – a mum helper got a production line going of pre-threaded and knotted sewing needles, so we didn’t have to fuss about that, and our new junior leader (well… not yet official, as she’s not *quite* 14) was fabulous at wrangling the filling of the echidnas with dirt, and generally trouble-shooting. Anyway, a great night, and one where all of the girls seemed happy and settled.

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Campfire!

Lovely multi-age program this week, as we integrated our Juniors/Seniors and Rangers programs for evening.

Our units meet at a slightly separate time – the Juniors/Seniors together from 6.30 to 8.00pm, the Rangers from 7.00 to 8.30pm. So rather than having a fully integrated program, we went with a slightly staggered approach.

From 6.30 to 7.30 (ish!), our younger girls all worked on making situpons. At a district camp at the start of the year we noticed that another unit had a set of lightweight situpons that they were able to easily stack and carry, and started thinking about how we could do something similar.

Cue leaders pondering!

Our original plan was to use a heavyweight plastic tablecloth, but on pricing it out, it was going to be quite an expensive little project. Which is fine (what are fees for if not to buy cool things?), but I got to pondering. Luckily, on a trip to Ikea, inspiration struck in the form of a whole bunch of their iconic shopping bags being on sale – a slightly smaller size than usual (hence I guess why they were getting rid of them), and only 49 cents each! And we could get two situpons out of each one! BARGAIN OF THE CENTURY.

Anyway, back to the girls. They all worked to do their own interpretation of the one I’d mocked up, cutting out the two pieces from the bags, edging them with heavy packing tape in bright colours, and then doing various designs on them in permanent markers. Our plan is to stash them in our shed and have them as our ‘unit set’ of situpons for as long as they last! And the particularly brilliant thing about them being based on Ikea bags, is that if the unit grows, or we lose a bunch, or they wear out or whatever, we can easily replace them. WOOHOO!

situpon

Here’s the example one I did for the girls – its hard to tell the scale here, but they’re about 45 cms long, and about 30 cms wide. Plenty big enough for even a chunky bottom to stay dry on the went ground!

So that’s what was happening from 6.30 to 7.30. Meanwhile, at 7.00 the Rangers group commenced, and they were tasked with setting and starting our campfire outside. I expected a bit of complaining (wood collecting always brings it on!), but they were pretty chirpy and cooperative, which I think was aided by the fact that I’d managed to raid my work’s recycling stash and had come well prepared with heaps of newspaper, so we knew at the very least we’d get some decent flames happening with minimal effort.

At 7.30, the whole unit joined together, putting the new situpons into action, and singing a bunch of campfire songs, using a program put together by one of the Rangers girls as part of her BP Award, and including a few songs led by one of our Juniors as part of her Junior BP Award! We finished up with a Promise Ceremony for two of our littlest members, then said goodbye to our Juniors and Seniors, leaving the Rangers with half an hour to toast some marshmallows (their reward for doing the hard work of the fire prep!) and then douse the fire and clean up.

All in all, a really lovely night, and a good one to bring together the various age groups in a way that used all their individual strengths.

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Journey to Japan (while still in a Guide hall)

Journeying to Japan was the theme for this week, and so our full kit and caboodle of kids, both Juniors and Seniors, progressively worked their way through a bunch of Japanese themed activities!

Once again, my splendid team of co-leaders had mostly taken the reigns, so I had minimal organising or wrangling to do! Its still a little shock to me how many nights I’ve been able to not be in charge this term – and I admit, its a little disconcerting! But it is genuinely wonderful to feel able to let go and let others take responsibility, and I’m absolutely sure its a better long term plan than having one or two people feeling like they can’t really have time away, or that the group would be at risk of closure if they had to move. Teams are definitely more sustainable than individuals!

The activities we had running for the girls included:

Origami – the traditional cranes, as well as a couple of simpler designs

Peg dolls – dressed up in little pieces of fabric and pipecleaners to look like they were wearing kimonos

Bookmarks – these were a design that sort of used origami type techniques

Hiragana – writing out Japanese Hiragana letters, and using these to roughly write the girls names (while knowing that technically names would be translated into Katakana, but my skills in Katakana are even rustier than my Hiragana, so…!)

Sushi and gyoza – making both reasonably from scratch – the girls had great fun perfecting their sushi rolling!

With seven patrols, but only five activities, we decided it was easiest to just have the girls move between activities as they chose, in whatever groupings they wished. We’ve done that sort of thing a few times lately, and it does seem to work well, and result in quite a nice relaxed vibe, as the girls can move as they’re ready, rather than having to wait for the slowest members of their patrol to finish. In the end, not all the girls got to do all the activities, but they all seemed happy! Our original grand plans for the night included some sort of ‘flying’ to Japan, and having passports and setting up the different activities as various cities… etc etc etc. But time got away from us, and seeing as the girls didn’t know how elaborate our original ideas were, they didn’t miss the extra flourishes!

This week: a campfire, with the program being planned by a couple of our rangers girls. Lets hope the weather clears up, or we’ll be doing panic buying of red and yellow glow sticks to create an indoor campfire! Not that we need to be entirely sheltered from the weather, but in tiny campfire versus driving rain, I suspect the campfire won’t end up being very festive!

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Exploring in the rain

Fun, if somewhat wet night at Guides this week, as we took the Seniors girls out around the local streets to come up with a bit of a treasure hunt for a different patrol to follow next week.

It was dark and cold and raining, but that just made it all a bit more exciting and interesting, and you get a different perspective on an area you’ve seen many times.

It was quite nice just to be out with one patrol (other leaders took other patrols, yay for lots of adults!), and just being able to chat a bit to them in a relaxed way without having to keep an eye on 20+ kids at once! Nice too for the group to have some time to bond a little bit, and relaxed, quiet walking around made it a really low pressure evening. The purpose of the activity (which will be completed next week) was to observe the local area, and draw a map or create map-like instructions for another to follow – both elements of the World Explore A Challenge badge!

Meanwhile, the Juniors managed to squeeze 15 kids into the kitchen (lucky they’re little!) to make and decorate cupcakes to look like cats and dogs for their Pets badge (any cooking can be made relevant to the badge du jour with a bit of thinking!). Unfortunately the picture examples were forgotten, but luckily not needed as the super creative kids all just figured it out brilliantly themselves, yay 🙂

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Bridges!

Fun night this week, as my Seniors worked together to build a bridge between two trees, using nothing but rope… and a sprinkling of problem solving, teamwork, and cooperation!

We are lucky enough to have two large gum trees on the front lawn of our hall, conveniently spaced about three or four meters apart, so the night basically consisted of two large bags of ropes, a bag of fabric scarves (to place under the ropes to reduce the wear on the trees), and the task to work as a whole group (rather than in patrols) to build a bridge capable of holding one of the leaders.

After a bit of fussing about, they all ended up really getting stuck into it, and came up with some really ingenious solutions to the problems they were finding – like throwing a lightweight rope up over a sturdy branch (about three meters up!) to anchor things and help counter-balance, plaiting and sort of finger-knitting the ropes to make them thicker, and just generally really thinking things through. Several girls did ‘test runs’ of the bridge, and provided feedback on problems, that they then collectively nutted out solutions to, ending up with a fairly study contraption.

rope bridge

Early on, one of them said “are you just going to stand there and watch??” to which I replied “yep, its your problem to solve… I might throw in the odd bit of genius advice though!” to which I got a chorus of giggles – I suspect they know perfectly well that I am no knotting genius!!

To finish it off, AwesomeCoLeader tested out the bridge, and managed to get across it in one piece, and not touching the ground! We then got the whole bunch of them (about 15 I think, we had a few away on school camps) to clamber on for a photo, which was pretty great… although after that the structural integrity was a little battered!

Remarkably, they even managed to get it all taken down without whining, including wrapping up the ropes correctly! Hurrah!

All in all, a fabulously Guide-y night, traditional AND fun!

 

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Relationship building

Last week, we had planned to have a night of the girls using mainly pipecleaners to make little human shapes – for the younger girls, a free choice of design, for the older girls, they were to base their people on Guides from the Asia-Pacific region uniforms.

But looking over the course of the term, we’ve had an unusually high number of crafty type nights – ones that when we first did the program didn’t seem particularly craft-y (e.g. the International Year of Light evening, and our Whatever night) ended up being craft-dominated.

So instead of spending the whole night doing the pipecleaner people, we decided to do a bit of a round-robin of activities – yes the pipecleaners, but also team-building-y type games, and a torchlight scavenger hunt.

We’ve also noticed in recent weeks that our group has got quite large (and with a wide age range), and quite a few of the kids don’t even know each other’s name, yet alone anything about them. So we decided to pair up our Juniors and Seniors patrols for the night, and have those pairs move through the activities as a group. I was running the ‘games’ ‘station’, and made sure that at the start of each of three sessions, that the girls in the paired patrols had all shared names, and were chatting a bit. Interestingly, even when the third set of patrols came through, they had not taken the initiative themselves to introduce each other… perhaps they were a little embarrassed to admit that they couldn’t remember each other’s names and needed introductions??

As for the games, we did:

human knots – stand in a circle, reach across and grab the hands of two different people, attempt to un-tangle the knot without breaking the chains

circle sit – stand really close together, all facing one way, then sloooooowly sit down on each other’s knees – in theory the circle should balance so the weight is distributed and not heavy

Mexican wave chain – hold hands in a long line, and raise hands in a row Mexican-wave style, while also bobbing up and down (to get the wave really moving), AND walk around the room.

For one of the groups, we also did wheelbarrow races, and a kind of crawling conga line.

It was lots of fun, and for the human knots and circle sit, NewCoLeader and I got in there with the kids and fully participated, which they found hilarious! I’m often in a “directing” rather than “participating” role with the kids these days, and it was nice and novel (for both me and the kids!) to be more actively involved. I think I used to be more a participant, but as the group has grown, the directing type role seems more necessary…? Or perhaps I’m just changing in my leadership style gradually. Regardless, its nice to mix things up every now and then.

The other activities – the pipecleaner people and the scavenger hunt – seemed to go fairly well. Unfortunately, the pipecleaner people probably did need a bit of a longer session (at least for some kids), as a few were getting frustrated that they didn’t have time to complete to the standard they wanted, as it was time to move ahead to the next activity. Ah well, you can’t get everything right!

Overall, I think it was a good session, and I think it was good to get the older and younger girls to interact with each other. There is no point having a large group of possible friends, mentors, peers… if you don’t even know each other’s name!!

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