guideydiary

keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

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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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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Sangam & pets & relaxed fun

A lovely evening this week, as one of my co-leaders ran a brilliant program based on Sangam and India for our Seniors, while another co-leader worked with the Juniors on their pets badge, doing skits and learning about animal care.

Firstly, the amazing program put together about Sangam! Co-leader’s family is from India, so she was able to draw on a lot of practical personal knowledge – including being able to bring along and demonstrate the sitar! We had six stations set up around the room, and the girls moved around the various activities roughly in patrols.

The activities were playing the sitar, learning various traditional dance moves (yay for a laptop and youtube clips!), using dyed rice to do rangoli patterns (mainly of trefoils, of course!), trying on saris (which they just adored!), mehendi patterns on their hands (using eyeliner), and writing out hindi/Sanskrit letters.

Unfortunately for such a great program, we were low on numbers (our oldest girls were doing rangers activities off site, and several had school events so were away), but it kind of worked out well as the smaller numbers gave everything a lovely chilled out vibe, and our shyest and youngest girls were able to have a really comfortable night, and really engaged in a way that they don’t always seem to.

Meanwhile, the younger girls worked in patrols on skits about animal care. I formed part of the audience for the final products, and they were surprisingly good! We have quite a set of little dramatists, and they were mostly revelling in the silliness of the activity, all playing with props of leashes and cat toys, and fish food and pooper scoopers etc etc!! It was a good opportunity for the younger girls to work in their patrols, which are still in the settling down stage since a bit of a rejig at the start of term.

Overall, a brilliant night, pitched perfectly at the different age groups!

 

 

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Knots and knots of fun

A fun night with the senior guides, building their knotting and lashing skills as part of the Ropes badge.

As with previous “potentially boring” topics, we made it into a series of inter-patrol competitions, with the incentive (bribery?!) of a bag of jelly snakes for the winning patrol.

The competition rounds were:

  1. un-knotting and then re-knotting a series of reef knots
  2. racing to complete various knots using pictures pulled randomly out of a “hat”
  3. race to use square lashing to produce a structurally sound square of four sticks
  4. same again, but tripod lashing for a tripod able to stand independently
  5. follow a picture to make a “rope person” with the correct knots to form head/body/arms/legs etc.

It all worked fairly well, with the majority of kids engaged and focused. And at least a few of them discovered some latent knotting skills!!

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To finish off the night, we let them play a couple of rounds of camouflage (a hide-and-seek type game), which was fun. About a third of our seniors group are now in high school, and wouldn’t dream of being so uncool as to play such games in public, so it was lovely to have them just being little kids again for ten minutes.

Meanwhile, as part of their Body badge, the Juniors were using their bodies to dance, act, and convey information with a series of theatre games type activities. They were all buzzing with excitement when I checked in on them, and it was really lovely to see! Especially  as it was a session being run by YoungCoLeader, who tends more towards the “correct” rather than “fun”end of Guiding. I know she had a total blast doing it too, so hopefully she’ll get more and more confidence to let her silly side come out with the kids in future!

 

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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!!

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co-leaders for the win!

Oh, the pleasure of leading with a team of excellent co-leaders!

This week I took a back seat as NewCoLeader2 and RangersLeader both (separately) organised and ran wide games for the Juniors/Seniors and Rangers respectively.

My only role was to run off some printing and pick up some pavement chalk at the shops!

The wide game for the Juniors/Seniors group was themed around “good old fashioned games”, and used the overarching idea of working the way through a series of the types of games that girls who were engaged in Scouts/Guides at the beginning of the movement would have played – things like elastics, hopscotch, jacks.

At the completion of each activity, the patrols were given a letter, which ended up forming the word ‘Olave’. They all had a great time, and it was a brilliant success for CoLeader’s first time completely running the night from scratch!

Meanwhile, Rangers leader riffed off a couple of wide games found online to come up with a series of ‘international’ activities (this is why we blog people, so other leaders can pinch at will! Share and share about!).

The different activities were in a ‘hat’, and were completed in the order they were selected. Activities included moving cooked rice between bowls using “chopsticks” (that were actually wooden skewers: added complexity!), making biscuit burgers (using biscuits, coloured icing, and dyed coconut shavings to make something which looked a bit like a burger), making little wish boxes, filling buckets with water… etc etc. At the end of each activity, they earned a word, which at the end, they had to re-organise into a quote, which was from Robert Baden-Powell and was “Life without adventure would be deadly dull” 🙂

The girls had a great time, and total kudos to RangersLeader – this too was her first wide game, and she pulled it together in 48 hours and ran it brilliantly! Yay for excellent co-leaders, yay for team guiding, just YAY!

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Stitches and stuffings

For me, this week just gone was an easy and simple affair – I was in charge of a mere seven girls, and had three adult helpers with me!

The reason for these odd numbers? We were playing with sewing machines, where you really do need to keep things to a very high helper-to-kid ratio, especially when those kids are all the under-nine set.

Of course, this wasn’t all the unit was doing – our Senior group was out in the foyer area with two of my lovely co-leaders, making “swaps” for three of our girls to take to an upcoming interstate camp (with, I gather, decidedly mixed results… oh well), and the other half of the Juniors group was in the kitchen making gingerbread girls.

So anyway, back to the sewing. AwesomeCoLeader had found a great fabric recently which had this oversized print of stylized paper-doll style girls, and bought it “as I’m sure we’ll think of something to do with it!” – well, we did. Each Guide cut out one of these ‘dollies’ with a reasonably generous seam allowance, and then cut out a matching shape from our stash of bright fabrics left over from various previous projects. They then sewed the two sides together using the sewing machine (leaving a gap at the feet), stuffed them with cushion stuffing (of which I now realise I insanely over-purchased, in fear of not having enough… so need to come up with at least three more projects using stuffing…), and then the girls could choose whether to sew up the feet using the machine, or by hand.

It was a lovely, peaceful, chilled out evening, and all the girls were just delighted with how their cushion/dolls turned out (they looked a  bit like matroyshka dolls), and it was lovely to have three helpers (two mums and a grandma). I don’t often like to call on the parent cohort for help (I know there are mixed views out there on this, but I don’t generally think that just because I enjoy volunteering that others should be made to sign up!) but it was nice to have help for a discrete task like this, and two of our three helpers were ex-costume makers, so this was right up their alley!

Next week- the Juniors are doing the same again (but switching, so those who baked last week sew this week and vice versa), and the Seniors will be cooking outside on the campfire. Fingers crossed its not too rainy!!

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Taking a back seat

Our first week back for the term this week, and I did basically nothing.

I’m not quite sure how I wrangled it, but I did no planning, no running of activities, and barely even any parent-wrangling! So hurrah for co-leaders!

So what was I doing for two and a half hours (Guides plus overlapping Rangers)? I had the thrilling (?!) task of sorting out our cupboards in the hall! This followed on from an absurdly long and freezing cold (but very satisfying) afternoon last week with AwesomeCoLeader when we COMPLETELY sorted out the shed. We were utterly ruthless, it was glorious! Sometimes you really need to just admit that if a particular resource has survived 5 clean outs “because we might use it…” but has NEVER been used in the 6+ years you’ve been with a unit then it is only taking up space and it is time to move on. Sorry little paw print tracking cards in the overly large old fashioned wooden box that takes up 3x as much space as it should, but the love just isn’t there!

So all I can say about the activities was that Juniors and Seniors did a bunch of activities broadly around a theme of ‘the developing world’ – all a bit Worthy and Appropriate and Sensible, of course mixed up with some games. Meanwhile the Upper Seniors skived off to Rangers for the night and used Proper Recipes to make a lovely and hearty vegetable soup and chocolate cake.

Next week: I’m on holidays! Yes, I am abandoning my fabulous team for a week of (hopefully) sunshine, so little blog will be having a rest until the following week 🙂

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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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Mmmm delicious wide games

Fun night at Guides this week (and an easy one for me!) as Awesome CoLeader organised a nutrition-based wide game for the girls.

The basic gist of the wide game was that the various parts of the nutrition ‘plate’ had gone missing, and the girls needed to find them. So there was a dairy based activity (‘milking’ using rubber gloves), vegetable activities including vegetable carving, tasting purees, and brainstorming a list of veggies, protein activities like frying an egg, etc etc etc.

From my perspective, the most successful activity was the ‘fats and oils’ activity which had the girls using glass jars, cream, marbles and muscle power to make butter! How brilliant!

Awesome CoLeader has given me permission to publish the full wide game on her behalf, so keep an eye out for that in the next week or two 🙂

We also ran ‘Rangers’ this week (which ended up just being our upper seniors, annoyingly), and for them I’d organised (and RangersLeader ran) a ‘paper cut art’ evening. I purchased a bunch of craft knives (like delicate Stanley knives) from Kmart ($3 each, including spare blades!), and in a stroke of cost-saving genius, bought $1.40 individual vinyl tiles from Bunnings to use as cutting mats! A bit of a hunt on Google image search gave me a bunch of examples of different types of paper cut art, including fancy letters, floral pieces, and more traditional Chinese paper cuts, which the girls used as both inspiration and as tracing templates. It was a great activity for our slightly longer Rangers sessions (2 hours rather than 1.5 for the younger girls), and nice to give them an activity which we simply wouldn’t think was sensible/safe to do with littlies 🙂

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