keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Everything is more exciting in the dark!


First night of term last night! Yay!

Its a funny week here in Australia, we’re just after Easter (and the 4 day weekend that entails!), and this week is also ANZAC Day (and so a lovely 3 day weekend!) – so only Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday are ‘working days’. We umm’d and ahh’d about whether to return to Guides this week or not – school has gone back for some schools, but not for others, and we genuinely had no idea how many kids to expect!

In the end, it was worth it – we had the vast majority of girls show up, and most of them (or their parents!) had even read the email requesting they rug up and bring a torch! We also had a SUPER CONFIDENT new six year old join us (shall we spell that HANDFULL?), which was rather nice. She seemed to have a fun night, so I suspect we’ll see her next week 🙂

To go on our hike, we split up the Juniors and Seniors – sending AwesomeCoLeader with the Seniors (only 8 of them), while and I, NewCoLeader and AmericanCoLeader went with the mass of Juniors. I gather the Seniors had fun, certainly the Juniors did! We ranged all over the local area (which has a convienient number of cross streets for this sort of thing), and they all got a turn or two at flipping the coin to determine our direction. We even managed to find the ‘back way’ to the local park (quite by accident!), and so they got to have five minutes running about on the playground in the dark. Pretty much everything is more fun in the dark!

It was interesting chatting to some of the younger ones – I asked how often had they been out at night, and several of them said NEVER, and a couple said “only at Christmas to look at the decorations” – so I guess our simple little walk locally gave a lot of them a surprising new experience.

Oh, we also restructured our Juniors patrols, moving to three patrols. This, and Old Junior moving up to Seniors last term has meant we’ve been able to promote a few more girls into PL and PS roles, and they are all VERY chuffed. Its understood by the girls that not everyone will get to be a PL or PS (although if you stick around long enough your chances are good!), so they do tend to regard it as quite an honour, which is lovely.

So, all in all, a fun, exciting, easy and cheap night, rounded out by handing out the term program and invite to our next sleepover which had the girls all excited! Next week – cooking for the littlies, exploring careers through skits for the biggies 🙂


(Oooh, I nearly forgot: cutest overheard discussion last night –
“Tell your sister [now 6 and old enough] that Guides is REALLY BORING so she doesn’t come”
“Even though its THE BEST THING EVER”
“Not EVER”
“Nahh, Luna Park is the BEST THING. But Guides is the second best!”)


Never Eat Soggy Weetbix… or Waffles, or Worms!

Easy night for me last night as AmericanCoLeader did all the planning and running of the activities!

We went to the local park, where ACL had set up a series of trails for the girls to follow in their patrols, using compasses to guide their way!

Firstly, we went through how to remember the various directions – where we learned that the Australian “Never Eat Soggy Weetbix” is a little different to the American “Never Eat Soggy Waffles”! So of course the girls started brainstorming all the other things it could possibly be, and, naturally they ended up with “Never Eat Soggy Worms” 🙂

Anyway, AmercianCoLeader had set up a fabulous little trail, individual for each patrol, which had them finding various clues which gave different directions – like “go north-west five paces” and “go south 20 paces” etc. Along the way they also found textas, stickers, paper, and smarties. They then had to use the materials they’d found to make a sign – each patrol had a direction to make a sign for, which lead into a quick running around game where they had to run to the named direction, with the last kid to arrive ‘out’.

But our game was interrupted by the soccer players using the park, who very rudely moved their activities into the area we were using without saying anything! There was plenty of the park free that they could have used!! Had the very un-Guidey thought of letting the girls run straight through their game, but chose the high road and sent them off to the playground to run about for a bit before walking back to the hall.

So, an easy night, and lovely to have someone else doing all the planning. I like this team-Guiding thing 🙂


Goodbye 2012

Our final night for the year this evening, always bitter-sweet. We’ve had some lovely girls join during the year, a few sadly leave us, lots of fun nights, and the odd dud.

For our final night, we had an extended evening – meeting at 5.30 instead of the usual 6.30, starting off with singing Christmas carols at the local hospital. It went reasonably well, although I’d forgotten to include Silent Night on the carols sheets! Oops! We had about 12 girls there for the singing. We only sang for about 30 minutes, but they were getting decidedly fidgetty towards the end!

We then walked back to the usual hall, and joined about a further five girls who weren’t able to make the carols, before heading over to the local park for cordial, biscuits and lollies; playing on the playground; having a bit of a run-around (and a bit of a chat), playing one of their old favourites (“camouflage”, a version of hide-and-seek), and finally, to round out the air term – another go at giant bubbles, just using their hands – worked quite well as I’d actually managed to find proper glycerine this time, which worked much better than glucose syrup!

Two interesting things – we had a newbie come for a try (unusual to come on the final night, but she had fun and mum is very keen), and we also had some of the parents asking if we were doing a summer adventure again… we weren’t going to (our original plan was a retention strategy, and of the 7 that attended, only 2 really stuck with us!!), but perhaps its worth considering… it was a fun day out!

Overall, after feeling a bit down with a few kiddies leaving, I’m feeling like we’re ending the term on a positive note, and I’m hopeful that we’re going to have a good 2013.

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Cute is the word?

Last night’s stroll to the park with the littlies did have a mildly distressing aspect, which I’ve been stewing on.

Miss Crying-Barely-Six, who has already made it onto this blog several times in its two month history, is once again the star of our show.

While walking to the park, I was half listening in (as you do) to the chat Miss CB6 was having with another girl, who is slightly older (seven and a half, I think), and now her natural pal at Guides. The two of them paired up at the sleepover very productively, so we decided to reinforce that bond with our rejigging of patrols last week.

Anyway, Miss CB6 was chattering away to her new pal, and I tuned in when she said “but do you actually like me because me, not because I’m cute? Because I’m cute, lots of people like me just because I’m cute”.

All this was said in a very matter of fact way that little kids say things that are just ‘true’ to them. While its true that she is, indeed, a cute kid (small for her age with big eyes tends to get positive feedback in little girls), I found this to be such a strange statement to make – it suggests that a lot of people have only ever praised this kid as ‘cute’, rather than as ‘smart’ or ‘interesting’, or any of the other many things you could say.

And it was very revealing (to me), about how we need to think about helping this girl to grow – she is, genuinely, an interesting little person, full of ideas about the world. After her initial tears at the sleepover, she got stuck into the activities, had no fear about helping build a fire, totally handled being blindfolded and made to follow a rope course, LOVED going on the night walk, etc etc. So why has this girl got it into her head that other kids would only like her because she’s ‘cute’?

So, I think that will be something to be aware of, really thinking about how we try and build a positive self confidence in these kids about WHO they are as people – interesting, brave, and adventurous little people.


Be prepared… easier for some, apparently!

This evening we continued our new pattern of splitting activities, and breaking off the various sections. The plan was that the Seniors and Upper Seniors would do sewing – in particular updating their blankets and sashes. Which would have worked beautifully… except only one out of the five girls that showed up actually brought their bits and pieces!

So much for Guides being prepared….

Oh well, the Juniors were slightly better organised – most of them remembered to bring their equipment – torches and warm coats, as I was going to take the Juniors to play torchlight games outdoors, while my lovely co-leader wrangled the older girls and sewing.

An earlier googling had suggested that most torchlight games needed plenty of running-around space, so we walked the kids a block or so over to a local oval, where they could run about without needing to worry about steps, and buildings, and plastic garden furniture, et cetera!

We played ‘code pairs’, where the girls were paired off and had to come up with a secret code each, using the torches (so, one pair might have three short flashes as a code, another might have a swirling pattern), and then had to run off in different directions, and then find each other again after the whistle, in the dark, only using their codes.

It ended up working better in small groups of 4 girls than in pairs, with one girl from each group staying behind while the others ran off across the field. When the whistle was blown, the girls running away then had to stay on the spot, and could only do their code signal to help their ‘left behind’ team mate find them.

After that we played ‘firefly’, where one girl had to run away from the group, and had to signal once with her torch after every count to sixty. The other group chased after the firefly, and tried to find her in the dark.

Finally, we played ‘camouflage’, which is similar to ‘forty-forty’, and is rapidly becoming a firm favourite of the little ones. It has a definite advantage in terms of getting the kids to know each other too, as in order for girls to go out, the ‘hunter’ needs to identify the girl by name and hiding location – a strong incentive for knowing who everyone is!

We had two friends join us tonight for a try and see, both seemed like nice girls. I guess we’ll see if they come back, although given they would mean yet more juniors, I’ll be okay if it turns out to have only been a visit!

After the games, we headed back to the hall (actually slightly early for once, I have a bad habit of leaving the walk back from the park too late), and actually had time to sit the girls down to do a little bit of brainstorming about ideas for next term (a world/earth theme). It turned out to be a surprisingly useful exercise (having attempted planning nights with little ones previously I had low expectations), with the kids coming up with some really interesting ideas. To get them on the right track, I first told them the theme, then got them to say all the words they could think of that would fit in the theme – so we had things like soil, animals, oceans, volcanoes, plants, people. I wrote down their ideas as we went, and then read them all back, and asked for what activities we could do at Guides that would fit in some of those ideas – they came up with some good suggestions, like making mini gardens (I’d already thought of terrariums, so that fits perfectly!), some crafty bits, and lots of games.

The older girls also did some thinking during their sewing exploits (which I found out later involved sewing not their own things, but a ‘surprise’, that apparently I’m not allowed to know about… I have a bad feeling I may end up with a “special” blanket….. uh oh), and came up with a list of activities, which, interestingly, seemed pretty close to what the Juniors arrived at. So, planning afternoon tea in a week or so will probably turn out easier than anticipated – so long as we can fit everything in!

Next week we’re off to visit the Fire Museum in the city, which should be an interesting night out. They’re opening up the museum exclusively for us, so it will be a really great experience, I hope!

Moral of tonight’s story: only trust the little ones to bring their equipment!


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