guideydiary

keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Guiding again

Cruisey first night back for term 3 – Juniors playing a bunch of games with a ‘nature’ theme (variations on classics fruit salad, tiggy, rob the nest, and kim’s game), Seniors getting started on their Lifeskills (Cooking) trefoil one, with a bunch of activities based around food safety, and the Rangers being overgrown tiny kids playing games in the dark.

It was an easy night for me, as our whole multi-leaders thing swung into action, and I wasn’t needed to run things – my main contribution to the evening being an idea that we could fun-up the food safety activities by having the girls make up short jingles about using up food scraps – which I got to be the judge of – they were hilarious/terrible, but the girls were all having a lot of fun, knowing that they were quite, quite bad! 🙂

This term, we’ve got the Juniors working on the Nature Create-A-Challenge (based off a bunch of suggestions from the girls which seemed to have a surprisingly strong plants and nature focus), and the Seniors doing the “proper cooking” Lifeskills (cooking) badge – we decided that they all keep asking for cooking, so lets do it properly!! They probably won’t want to see the inside of the kitchen after this term for quite a while!

We’ve done the Nature badge previously, but over a camp based around bugs and critters, so we’ll take quite a different approach this time – keeping it interesting for the adults as well as the girls!

Next week – butterfly craftiness for the littlies, stirfry cooking for the seniors.

 

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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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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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Three year blogiversary

So, wordpress tells me I’ve now been blogging for three years! I guess time flies when you’re having fun!

Given this milestone, perhaps it is time to pause and ponder the changes that have occurred over the three years:

Numbers

My unit has gone from struggling to maintain three viable mixed-age patrols across Juniors and Seniors to now having three full patrols in both age groups (so six patrols in total), with enough numbers and age range to the point that we are closing the books for new members in the seniors group until next year, barring any major and unexpected drop off in numbers. The juniors group is also close to full, with only three places available – and two of those earmarked for newbies who came to visit last week. Having a big unit (big for our space and our experience) is a new challenge and one that will take some time to settle I think.

Its interesting how suddenly things transition from “ooh how exciting we’ve got lots of kids!” to “oh my gosh there are so many and how do I manage this?!”. I suppose like every change, it will feel strange for a while, then we’ll start adapting our processes and ways of managing the flow of kids and activities and it will become the new normal. Perhaps in a year’s time I’ll be all blasé about having five patrols in each age group… or panicking about having only one!!

Leaders

Our leadership team dropped down from five to two in quick succession eighteen months or so ago (losing one leader to life pressures, and two to interstate moves), but has over the past six-twelve months has gradually re-grown to now have three full leaders and two in training, which is just wonderful. Of course you never can tell where lives will go, but our new group of five has a ‘long haul’ type feeling to it, so I hope that comes true. I also really hope that we figure how to become a genuine team, with everyone getting the opportunity to both lead and assist, and that we each have time to learn the skills and quirks of each person so we can all play to our strengths 🙂

Badges and program

I think a strength of our unit during this period has been the shift towards doing a badge a term – the structure of the badge requirements provides us leaders with some boundaries, and forces us to be creative in a way that a genuinely “whatever you like” situation would not inspire. I think we’re better for the structure, and I think the girls (and families?) really like that with regular attendance the girls will gradually gain a number of badges, and I think they also appreciate that the rate of badge acquisition slows as they move from Juniors and into Seniors, as the requirements get more stringent and particular, and they often have to add on out-of-unit-time activities to meet the requirements.

Well, I’m sure there is more to ponder, but lets leave that for another day. In general though, this little blog has brought me much pleasure to put together over the past three years, and I hope that it has been of at least some interest to those who stumble upon it 🙂

Onward!

 

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The best laid plans…

…sadly very rarely actually work!

Generally, nights at Guides for me are roughly planned out – unless its something like a wide game, where I will have had to have everything done in advance, then usually, I have just a rough sketch in my head of how we might pull together the various elements.

Last night, however, realising that over this week and the next two that I need to ensure my older girls are meeting quite specific badge criteria for their Achieve A Challenge World Guiding badges, I actually sat down an wrote a proper program, complete with timings, instructions for different activities, and allocating leaders and girls to different parts as required.

And the result?

We ran late on all activities, very few of them translated from the “ooh that will be a fun twist on boring Traditions/Thinking Day/World Guiding” idea into reality, and the girls were generally a bit ratty!!

All in all, a bit of an epic fail! Hopefully my plans for next week – which essentially will be teaching World Guiding via a series of quizzes and games (with prizes to the winning patrol!) will prove more successful!

Still, there were a few positive notes – the Senior Guides’ patrol leader elections were finalised, and the three new patrol leaders were thrilled, and the girls they asked to be their Seconders were delighted to accept (I didn’t even need to properly ask if they had accepted, they were grinning so wide!), and I think my hastily re-arranged patrols around the new PLs/PSs will work out quite well. We’ve moved to three patrols of 5-6 girls in the Seniors/Upper Seniors section, which I hope will be sustainable. We don’t have many girls due to move up from Juniors over the next year (I think maybe three?), so hopefully they’ll all have long enough to start properly working as patrols, as that has traditionally been a bit of a weak spot for our unit.

The other highlight was a spontaneous newbie joined us (I’d received a call just two hours ahead of the meeting, from someone looking at our poster in the hall area!), and she seemed to have a great time, despite what I regarded as a bit of a dud evening! If she liked that night, one of our good nights is going to totally blow her mind 🙂

And we also had a promise ceremony for 3 girls that joined us late last year. Ceremony nights are always lovely, so we did at least finish on a high note!

So, I guess we chalk the night up to experience… and realise the take-home message is not to be toooooooo Be Prepared!

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Get ready, get set…

Nearly ready for the start of the new Guiding year!

We’ve had our planning afternoon (much cake was consumed), and have decided that the Juniors will work on their “Eyes” badge this term, while the Seniors (and newly revived Upper Seniors!) work on their “World Guiding” badge. The girls do seem to enjoy it when they’re working on separate badges, and we think that we’ll be able to integrate the two badges reasonably well, with two nights that include wide-game-ish activities focused on both WAGGGS and observation skills!

So the letters to the families are written, the programs are decorated brightly (I do love a bit of clip art and fancy fonts!), and today they’ll be printed and posted, ahead of next week’s first night back!

Exciting times ahead!

Hope you’re all also geared up for the new Guiding year and full of fabulous plans!

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And so we begin again…

Mid January, and my mind turns to planning the guiding year ahead, although we’re still a few weeks from the term beginning!

This year my Guiding “New Years Resolutions” are:

* To figure a way to combine my new family responsibilities with Guiding in a way that ensures I don’t go crazy. (For those of you closely following the wee blog: I now have a Tiny Future Guide in the family!)

* To help my unit have at least one camp in the year – whether that is fully participating or just helping out for a day will depend on the above, but I’m sure I can manage something!

* Get better at asking for help from our parent group – I hate to make people feel obliged to help out with something that is, for me, a fabulous hobby, but for them may well just be “a thing their kid does on Wednesdays”. But I need to remember that a lot of people *love* to be asked to help, and that often they just don’t know how to offer. So more thinking of discrete requests, and being sure to take people up on their offers of assistance, rather than my default response of “oh thank you but we’ll be okay!”

* Improve transition from Seniors to Rangers, and figure out a way to make Rangers a sustainable group.

* Do some recruitment targeted at younger girls, as we’re likely to have quite a few gaps in the Juniors this year… luckily, that is (usually) the age easiest to grow.

* Help RangersLeader get her qualifications signed off.

* Stay on top of the paperwork!! And actually claim my expenses!!

So, hopefully it will be a good year, and I’m looking forward to having Planning And Cake with my excellent co-leaders shortly to get this show on the road!

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A bit of a mess, really!

Final night of term last night, and it was all a touch scatty! Our plans of ‘edible campsites’ only sort of worked… it seems Guides require a LOT more STUFF than AwesomeCoLeader doing an example at home (they managed to use about 3 times as much chocolate…), and it was the sort of activity where some of them just got it, and figured it out straight away, while others dithered and couldn’t get their bits to fit right, and weren’t sure… etc etc.

So instead of a lovely cohesive activity, we had girls all at different stages, and things definately fraying around the edges! We ended up sending a bunch of kids out into the courtyard to figure out a game themselves (which was actually quite nice, I think they do sometimes quite like a bit of just playing and chatting), and then we got a bunch of the newer girls to each decorate a calico bag from our stash for their handbooks and badges etc, which also worked quite nicely. We’ve had 6 newbies join this term (all juniors, eep!), and none of them had bags yet, so I think they all quite liked having 10-15 minutes to just be together.

Luckily, everything came together in the end, and we held a Promise ceremony for one of our girls who joined late last year, as well as a girl renewing her promise to move up from Juniors to Seniors. I was a little sentimental about her moving up, as she was a teeny wee little one when she joined (juuuust six, and the LITTLE sister of one of our Guides at the time), and now she’s old enough to move up to the Seniors! Can’t figure out if this means I’ve been with the unit too long, or they’re all just growing up too quickly 🙂

It was also nice for our bunch of newbies to see one of our ceremonies before they do their own, I think it helps the unit’s sense of continuity when the girls know the broad brush of how we do things, and it makes it special when they too have their night of candles, flags, and solemnity.

So, to next term. Not quite sure what we’re going to do program-wise – we’re being moved into a MUCH smaller room for at least 6 weeks, probably more like 8 weeks, which is going to make things tricky – especially with the time of year meaning we can’t just move the program outdoors easily. I know lots of units meet in small rooms, and that we’ve been spoiled with a giant hall for ages, but that doesn’t make it easier to adjust!! Lets just hope we don’t get any random friends showing up next term, because there *literally* won’t be any room!

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Constructing Guides

If anyone ever tells you that girls don’t like to build things, well, they’re wrong.

Tonight we had a brilliant night, possibly one of my favourites for quite a while, as I spent some time with the Juniors as they used sticks and rope and tarpaulins to construct small pup tents/shelters.

My role was pretty much just supervising (with the occasional advice/comment) as they all worked brilliantly in their allocated small groups (not their usual patrols), and started to get really creative in their approach to problem solving. Gratifyingly (in terms of our term structure), several of them remembered how they’d got their tripod tents to stay up several weeks ago, and were able to apply that thinking, and explain it to the newer members of the group.

It was particularly impressive that the night went so well, given that we had visitors from Sister Unit (always lovely), plus two girls “brought a friend” (which… that’s great, but a heads up is always nice… and *technically* the Juniors are full…), plus four of the girls are so new they can’t yet remember which patrol they’re usually in, or hardly anyone’s name, so the challenges were potentially substantial! (True confessions time its not just kids having trouble with names: of four newbies this term, there are three girls (sisters and their friend) who look SO ALIKE that I have NO CLUE which is which… I wonder if there’s a way I can work in nametags next week…??)

All in all, a really great activity. Filled nearly an hour, including them gleefully destroying their creations, and then helping (quite well actually) to wrap up the ropes neatly and put everything away.

While all this was going on, AwesomeCoLeader supervised the Seniors (a flip to our usual ways) as they put up and took down little 3 person tents in patrols. Putting them up the challenge was to do so in silence, while taking them down ended up with one of the funniest sights I’ve seen for a while – 4 patrol members blindfolded, one not, and supposedly providing instructions. The results seemed decidedly mixed when I peeked in, but my little tent was returned to me fitting better inside its case than I’d sent it off to them, so I can only assume it at least partly worked!

And of course you’re reading the blog closely (of course), and noticed we’ve only got an hour of programing there – what happened to the extra half hour? Well, that went on a couple of activities and presentations run by a couple of girls for their Junior BP Award, plus a bit of futzing about, and your basic chaos of trying to wrangle 25+ kids!

Followed all that with decoupage at Rangers, and then panic raiding of the shed and cupboards for anything and everything we could possibly need for this weekend’s camp! Fingers crossed all goes to plan (or near enough!) so that I’m not scared off planning others in future! 🙂

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A tentful of possiblities

Tents, tents, and more tents will be our mantra for term one!

Met with Awesome Co-Leader and Newbie Leader on Sunday afternoon for muffins, biscuits, cherries, and term-planning!

Despite all my thinkering about the year to come, I had surprisingly few ideas of what we should do *this* term. Term one is generally a little shorter than the others (although we’ve got nine weeks this time, as Easter is late this year), the weather is generally quite good, and with daylight savings, we generally have good light as well. So we try and make term one an outdoorsy sort of term.

Only problem was, the only concrete ideas I’d had were for activities that could best be done indoors!

So after much chatting (and munching!), we ended up deciding broadly that we should “do something with the tents” and “we should do a different but linked badge for the Juniors and Seniors…”

More chatting and munching, and we agreed (DRUMROLL PLEASE!):

Juniors: Tents Create-A-Challenge

Tent Create A Challenge

Seniors: Outdoors Achieve-A-Challenge (Trefoil 1)

Outdoors Achieve A Challenge

Yay!

So we’ll have a patrol challenge to put up (and take down!) tents in silence, build pup tents (with correct knotting for the Seniors), and do ‘experiments’ with different fabrics/papers/stuff to test what might make a good waterproof teepee!

The Juniors will also have a night of circus tent activities, while the Seniors are off doing a tracking wide game.

And of course, given the time of year, we’ll celebrate Thinking Day.

So, all in all, I’m pretty excited about the term. I’m really pleased that we’ve got two badges which have so much cross over, but that we can tailor for the different age groups, and really stretch the older girls with trickier challenges!

Can’t wait for February!

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