keeping track of my adventures in guiding!


Two weeks of celebrating the diversity of guiding experiences – ranging from very solemn and traditional through to chaotic and modern.

The first week was a lovely ceremony night, awarding a Junior BP Award (I think only the 8th of our unit??), and having two girls make their promise, and one renew. It was a lovely happy sort of an evening, and while I think there were flashes of boredom from a couple of the girls, they were all beautifully behaved and seemed to rise to the challenge of putting on something of a performance for the various parents and friends who came along to be part of the evening.

Included in the ceremony was a very slow and solemn singing of the first verse of ‘This Little Guiding Light’, which was lovely. I wonder if that is something that should be part of our promise ceremonies more generally… hmmm.

The second week was a visit to the local ‘Showtime’ (similar to ‘Gangshow’), a production by the local guides and scouts. Not my favourite activity of the year (amateur dramatics and musicals not really being my cup of tea), but it was exciting for the girls attending to get to stay up late, and nice for one of our older girls who was in the show to know that we were in the audience!

This week: the leaders are going on strike… stay tuned to learn more!

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Service, supermarkets, and speedy strolling!

A fun, if somewhat not-quite-to-plan evening at Guides this week, as we took the entire group to the local supermarket!

The Church where our hall is based has an annual food drive, which for the past two or three years I’ve been thinking we should assist with as part of our broader service to community… but each year it sneaks up on me and by the time I realise “oh yeah the food drive” its over and done with, agggh!

BUT NOT THIS YEAR! I finally, finally managed to actually have the idea in time for our term planning, and even managed to find and get in touch with the organiser to confirm our participation and signal our willingness to be involved in future! Yay me and remembering in time!

So rather than just collect from the families (although we did put out a note encouraging donations from families too, and got quite a few bags worth of goodies), we decided to take the girls to the local supermarket, and have them work with a defined budget in small groups to purchase suitable items.

So the whole group – travel cards in hand! – walked up to the local tramstop, caught the tram into the main part of town, and we then let them loose on the supermarket (after reading the behaviour riot act of course!). We had the girls split up into their patrols, and then into half again, with the PL and PS each heading up a half-patrol. Each of these half patrols was given $5, and told to do their level best to come in on budget.

In the end, two of the patrols were about 70 cents over budget, but the other came in between 5 cents and 60 cents under budget, so overall, we were pretty close on expenditure, and ended up putting about a dollar worth of change in the little charity collection.

The girls all seemed to really get a kick out of being allowed to wander the supermarket with only ‘light touch’ supervision (the leaders were wandering the aisles and keeping a general eye, but didn’t go around with the girls) and they seemed to enjoy the intellectual puzzle of figuring out how to get the best value for their money… I do hope the food drive recipients like canned corn though – when we looked over what the various groups had bought, it featured unusually heavily in the purchases! Must have been a sale on that I missed!

Unfortunately, our best laid plans came unstuck as we went to catch the tram home, only to have the tram take off just as the first of our group got to the tramstop. We thought the driver would have seen us and waited while the slower girls caught up, but nope, just took off. Usually trams along that route are every 10 minutes or so, but when we checked our handy little tramtracker apps, the next one wasn’t for 25 minutes! agggh! And the meeting was meant to finish with parents picking up in 25 minutes!

So, quick change of plans, we decided to walk back to the hall! 2.3kms of luckily quite straight and flat and well-lit footpath… and as it turned out, we made it back to the hall only five minutes after our scheduled closing time, and without the tram passing us so it was definitely the right call rather than trying to keep 30+ kids safe and occupied waiting for the tram next to a main road!

Next week: candle-y stuff for littlies, knotting stuff for middlies, marshmallows for biggies!

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Faith and service: exploring the serious side of Guiding

A fantastic day out yesterday, helping around 12 Guides to give service and explore their understanding of faith, and explore the serious side of Guiding in a fun way.

We started the day with an hour and a half of helping out at National Tree Day in a local park, digging holes (with a cool pogo-stick-esq digger) and planting some native grasses along a river bed. The girls all got really into the activity, and luckily the weather was on our side, all bright blue skies which always makes things easier!

The girls really worked well together, with groups of three working on the digging (the digger really needed two to hold steady and one to jump), and being a bit creative in their problem solving around how to get the stakes into the ground (thump it with a stray rock being vastly more efficient than other possibly less injury-prone strategies) (no fingers were harmed in the thumping of stakes!).

After our time planting, we had a mini-change of the guard, with three girls heading off, and two others joining us for the second part of the day, which was exploring places of faith.

Following much wrangling of public transport (train stations are ALWAYS further on foot than they appear on a map!) (especially with 8 year olds busy gossiping rather than moving quick smart!) we made it up to the inner northern suburb of Coburg, where we visited a local mosque, and were given a tour and a brief overview of Islam by some of the mosque’s volunteers, who were all so lovely to the girls – just delighted to show off their mosque and de-mystify their faith. The girls were all facinated by the beautifully decorated Qurans, and were decidedly taken by the lovely dense carpet (many patterns were drawn on the thick pile while listening!). But of course, the thing that really caught their eye? The fact that the mosque had a table tennis table set up in the community room! Heh.

We then had a short break for lunch at  Lebanese restaurant, where the girls feasted on pita bread, dips, salads, and meat. Even FussyEaterGuide managed to find things she enjoyed (pita, hummous, chicken), and for all her fussy eater status, she did have a tiny try of everything, and even agreed that tabouli was “not tooooo bad”. Success! A few more years in Guides and she may even branch out into non-white-food options!

After lunch, we headed back to the city to visit a synagogue. In what turned out to be a stroke of luck, we missed the opening hours of the synagogue by five minutes, but the door was still open. So I went in and apologised profusely for our tardiness and wondered if the girls might have a quick two minute look and then head off? Well, it turned out the Rabbi was still around, and was DELIGHTED to give the girls a private tour and talk (and even show off blowing the new year’s horn), so rather than be in a big group with other people for the open day, they had all their questions answered and tailored attention! Super lucky!

Finally, we had half an hour to check out Melbourne’s Catholic cathedral, which despite being only a five minute walk from my work I’d never been inside – well, it was beautiful, all soaring vaults and stained glass, just gorgeous.

So all in all, we had a great day, giving the girls a wider understanding of faiths in their city, and hopefully giving them a chance to see that there are people of good will and friendliness from many backgrounds. If only we’d had time to fit in a visits to Buddhist and Hindu temples as well to really broaden the experience… perhaps that can be on the agenda for next year!

Overall, I think the day helped our girls meet their Australian Girl Guides Promise to “serve my community and Australia” and “be true to myself and develop my beliefs”… and tick off a couple of clauses in a few badges as well!


Catching up

Well, this has been a poor neglected little blog these last few weeks. Suffice to say life has been a bit full of late with both work and personal life a little busy, and guiding and the blog has had to take a back seat!

So, lets catch up the last few weeks.

Firstly, we had a ‘codetastic’ sleepover with 14 kids from our unit, and 7 from sister unit. It was awful cold and rainy day which made things a bit of a challenge – the intended plan of having each of four patrols light fires to cook their afternoon tea didn’t happen! But we did manage to get one fire going, although it took so long (it really had rained hard, and the wood was soaked through!), that we ended up having the ‘apple crisps’ as dessert instead of afternoon tea!

The wide game for the sleepover was unfortunately not as successful as previous ones, mainly as the slightly more free-form concept of ‘do the activities in any order’ seemed to confuse the girls – they couldn’t keep up with what they were up to. I think if I did that kind of strategy again, I would add a checklist for them to tick off as they went, so they could keep track. The activities themselves seemed quite successful – they included making a shelter, following compass instructions, decoding some fairly complicated codes, and doing puzzles.

Overall, it was reasonably successful (despite the rain), and the girls all seemed to have fun – it was also great to see the girls from both our unit and sister unit blending together so well – by the end, they’d all meshed in together 🙂 Also realised that one of the girls from Sister Unit is old enough for Rangers (although wants to wait until next year), so that is exciting.

Back to normal Guides – last week I (and three lovely mums who responded to our pleas for extra adults!) took the Senior Guides to the local supermarket on the tram to purchase ingredients for the final night’s cooking. It was part of the Lifeskills badge, with the girls having planned the recipes the week before (including budgeting), and then travelling via public transport to get the groceries, and then this week cooking the food.

The girls were all pretty good, although I suspect a bit more cheeky than they would usually be if their mums were not around!!

Finally, this week (final night of term), the Junior Guides had a ‘bathroom’ night as part of their Homes badge, which included a towel turban relay (quite hilarious!), and a bathroom themed version of The Chocolate Game, which had the girls dressing up in a bathrobe and shower cap when they rolled a six.

The Seniors, meanwhile, did their planned cooking – chocolate balls for one patrol, and chocolate cake for the other (bit of a chocolate theme for the last night of term!). Unfortunately for the chocolate cake girls, the oven was broken – the pilot light was out, and we could not get it restarted! So we attempted a bit of alternative cooking methodology, doing some in cupcake cases in the microwave (which looked like it worked, but actually resulted in burnt cupcakes), and some in a slice tray floating in a larger tray full of water, which we boiled on the stove, bain-marie style. Unfortunately, we ran out of time, and it didn’t quite cook, but I think given an extra 30 minutes or so it would have worked, perhaps with a bit of foil over the top to seal in the steam and cook from above as well as below. It was rather fun though, trying to figure out emergency cooking alternatives!

Finally to close out the term we had a Promise ceremony for two girls who joined us towards the end of first term, and a Promise renewal for three girls moving up to Senior Guides, which is always lovely. One of the girls moving up has been with us for more than three years in Juniors, and has been a really fabulous an enthusiastic Guide right from the start – it will be fantastic to have her in Seniors, although it does make me feel old!

And finally finally we had Rangers – four of the five girls came along for ‘Christmas in June’ which was meant to be both crafts and cooking but ended up all cooking as they futzed about and ran out of time! Still, the ginger cookies (which had to be emergency ‘baked’ on the bbq due to the same oven issues the Senior Guides had) turned out edible (although much more like ‘ginger crumbles’ than ‘ginger cookies’), and the non-alcoholic mulled wine was a great success. They all had fun, and seemed keen to be back next term, so all is well.

Non-alcoholic mulled wine:

1 litre orange juice

1 bottle sparkling grape juice

2 cinnamon sticks

5-10 cloves

1 cup of sugar

peel of one orange

flesh of one orange cut finely


Put all ingredients in a large pot or kettle, and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Strain and serve into glasses or mugs. Enjoy!


IKEA’ing it up

Just a quick recap of this week’s adventures – an evening spent with the rangers group, doing a scavenger hunt at our local ikea!

Super easy night for the leaders – hand over the instructions, and let the girls go! They had to find a bunch of things, and come up with a couple of ideas – like “something to use as a mascot for rangers” – which if they’d really got into something I would have bought, but given they did a half hearted choosing of a smiling cloud stuffed toy with the half-hearted explanation of “oh it seemed… happy?”, I figured we wouldn’t waste our money at this point!

More successful was “find the quirkiest object” (winner was an odd-shaped trivet), find at least 10 things with product names starting with ‘R’, and find 3 things that were exactly 180cms wide/tall/long (all Besta in the end… to my chagrin, I failed to include “must be from different series” in the instructions, but I suppose part of the fun is finding the loopholes!). They also found the three objects that I’d given product names for, although it came out after a couple of giggles and guilty looks that one of them had whipped out her phone to help them identify what they were looking for!

All in all, a fun night out, and quite nice to have an evening just with the ‘old’ girls 🙂

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Lazy Sunday

Sunday afternoon SisterUnitLeader and I took 5 girls canoeing on Lilydale Lake. It was a gorgeous day – about 25 degrees, sunny but with a breeze… lovely.

SisterUnitLeader is working towards her canoeing instructing qualifications, so she did all the wrangling of the girls and the boats, while I served as ‘base unit’ and first aider… which essentially meant that I had an afternoon lazing in the sunshine on the banks of the lake. Guiding is tough sometimes!

5 turned out to be a good number, as SisterUnitLeader was able to be in one canoe with two girls, and three others were in another canoe. They went along together, and all five girls got to have time in each position in both boats, so they all got a really good turn.

We’re thinking that maybe next time we’ll try the river that’s quite near our two units… over the longer term, we might even be able to have the odd unit night down on the river during the summer months… guess we’ll see how it goes!


Reinvigorating rangers… I hope.

Pizza and planning last night, as I met up with the Rangers group and New Rangers Leader to tackle planning for terms one and two. With the girls only meeting fortnightly, we decided to do both terms at once, otherwise its like 20% of their unit time is taken up with thinking up what to do!

We had some good ideas come up, and they were pretty excited about a bunch of suggestions I had, including idea of an Ikea wide game, and making teeny tiny gadgets out of twigs. They had some great ideas about doing crayon craft, decorating t-shirts, and box-cooking

We’ll also be going to Luna Park in term two each ride one ride, and renew our Promises while on the ride.  I thought they’d all want to do it on the rollercoaster, but apparently some of them are such scaredy cats that even the merry-go-round will be a challenge! So they’ll each choose something that’s a “challenge to them”. We’ll then have fish and chips on the beach 🙂

Only drama was… 3 of the 7 girls who had RSVP’d didn’t show. I have no idea why. If there is only 4 girls going to be part of the unit, then its hardly worth the time and effort… And I don’t understand why all three would take the time to email to say they would come, only to not show?

I don’t know. I mean, obviously, lots of people run small units… Sister Unit has had occasions where its down to 5 kids coming reguarly! But it just seems like the benefits are fewer with so few people participating, while the work of preparation remains the same… well, I guess we’ll see what happens. We agreed last night that if we didn’t have 3 people committed to come each week, then it would be cancelled. So I suppose the unit will live or die depending on their committment.

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Adventures in mud & masterpieces

Great day out today, starting off with National Tree Day (, which is a great service activity for kids – its reasonably short (we did about an hour and a half), everything is provided (although its pretty good for kids to bring kid-sized garden gloves), and you feel like something has been achieved.
This year, the site we chose was at Collingwood Children’s Farm (, which was rather lovely, as it was nearby, and the girls were allowed to have a bit of a wander around after planting and check out the sheep, goats, horses, and pigs.
We were joined by a few of sister unit’s kids (and 2 of their mums!) which was great, its always nice to have a good crowd for these sorts of activities, its much more fun! And our total of 16 kids across the two units was much better than last year’s 3!!

In the afternoon, we backed up our muddy morning by taking just the girls from our unit (minus two planters, plus one extra kid who didn’t want to plant!) into the city for a lunch out, and a visit to the Australian art collection at the National Gallery of Victoria.

It worked out really well – lunching at a Chinese restaurant, which the girls seemed to enjoy – one of our younger Guides was decidedly skeptical about dumplings, but being reminded that Guides rules are “must have two bites”, she gave both the vegetable and the meat dumplings a try and LOVED THEM!

Onto the art gallery, and co-leader had been very organised and found that the gallery offers ‘trails’ for kids to do (, so we had something to structure our time in the galleries, and give the kids something in particular to look for, and analyse, and think about. It worked really well, and I think it made the kids focus, rather than just go through as quick as they possibly could.

Of course, we did have a moment or two in the modern 80s themed galleries, where some of the content was less… kid-friendly than the more traditional collections! A couple of pictures that were decidedly risqué! Ah well!

To finish up, we did a quick activity downstairs for kids, where they could colour in masks, before heading across Federation Square (and having a dance and a pose for the big screen!) and catching the train back out to our meeting point with parents.

All in all, a good day, a bit of service, some new experiences, and a bit of fun!

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Girls leading the way!

Tonight was a pretty good night – in which I had to do next to nil preparation!
We had a night focused on Junior BP activities, and had a bunch of girls presenting work, running games and activities, and generally being rather brilliant.

Activities the girls were running included a short trail using traditional trail signs; a quiz on Italy (unfortunately she forgot to include a guiding element, so that will apparently come next week!); an activity using recycled objects; origami balloons, and finally, morse code using a torch!

Apart from the trail (which was, honestly, barely a trail… it was about 6 meters long!), they all did really well, and it was great to have a night where the girls were really providing the impetus to the evening… not to mention rather great to have a night requiring limited leader effort 🙂

To round out the evening, we were joined by our District leader, as part of a lovely little ceremony, which included a Promise renewal for one of our girls moving up to Seniors, awarding a Bronze Endeavor badge (half way to Junior BP Award) (first Bronze badge in about two years!), and awarding of full leader Quals to lovely co-leader. Yay!

In other good news, we had three ‘newbies’ – our new girl from last week came back again (and took forms!), a girl who left us about a year ago has returned (out of nowhere! brilliant!), and a girl who has got too old for another local unit came to try, and has already emailed me this evening to say she wants to come along for our weekend adventures!

Next week: National Tree Day and a visit to the National Gallery of Victoria on Sunday, and then sewing for the Seniors, and cooking for the Juniors at our next unit meeting. Should be fun!

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Let the planning begin!

This weekend just gone, awesome co-leader and I sat down for some delicious lunching at her place, and three hours of focussed term-three planning duties!

I do enjoy trying to bring the term together, figuring out how to balance the various elements of the program, trying to bring in more of what the girls have particularly asked for, while not neglecting to cover the seven fundamentals (Promise and Law, Outdoors, Service, World Guiding, Guiding Traditions, Leadership Development and Patrol Systems), as well as making sure we don’t have three nights in a row of craft… It really is quite a puzzle!

Anyhoo, after three solid hours, and a bit of stewing later and some emails, we’ve pretty much agreed on:

  • just doing one main badge this term – the Hands Create-A-Challenge
  • having a day out in the city, going to lunch and to the art gallery for a touch of culture!
  • a sleepover just for the over-10s, as the littlies have a regional camp available early term four
  • doing a big push on the Junior BP Award (JBP), with the hope that in term four we’ll be able to have a presentation ceremony for one or two girls (fingers crossed!).

Not sure why, but I’m not looking forward to this term as much as last term… somehow I feel the overall program structure isn’t *quite* there. Perhaps with another week and half before the start of term I can figure out what is missing and tweak it! And if not, I’m sure the bones of the term are good, so it should be fine. I’m pretty sure that what we’ve got included will be enough to make the kids happy, so that’s the main thing!

Wish me luck on either finding the missing ingredient, or deciding it was there all along! 🙂

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