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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Campfire cooking

Yesterday and today’s unseasonably warm and clear day made for a fabulous base to our seniors cookout sleepover!

With less leaders available lately (and so tighter ratios of kids possible for overnight activities), we decided to run a seniors-only sleepover, and to try a different format to usual. This did mean we had quite low numbers (didn’t help that today is father’s day), but 7 girls (was meant to be 8, one didn’t show up, hope everything is okay…) all had a great time, and for what we were doing, low numbers was probably actually preferable.

Traditionally, our sleepovers have run like mini camps, with a long wide game in the afternoon of the Saturday, then dinner, a night walk, and campfire singing. In the morning we would do breakfast, a Guides Own, games, and morning tea before heading home. The girls would have patrol duties, and would help with the cooking but it would primarily be of the ‘assisting the QM’ style, rather than independent cooking.

This time, we mixed it up, focusing the entire theme on outdoor cooking, and having the girls do the vast majority of the work. We decided that the evening would be campfire cooking, and in the morning we would use the little gas cookers.

For dinner, we cooked:
Vegetable shasliks with lemon and pesto marinade
Tortilla pies with sour cream and salsa
Baked apples with custard.

Individual tortilla pies cooking

The girls did really well with the cooking – our initial plan had all girls doing everything, but it quickly became apparent that would take aaaaaaaaages, and probably wasn’t a realistic way to prepare them for the bigger sorts of camps where they might need to do cooking, as dividing the work is the only way you can get these things to work!

We were also losing light quickly, and fair bit of the preparation for the main and dessert were done by torchlight – but that worked as well, in terms of a ‘teachable’ moment about why torches are on the kit list (and that its not really an ‘optional’ or ‘if you feel like it’ list), and also meant that they had to cooperate in order to keep light focused on the various tasks!

After dinner and dishes and clean up, we did a scavenger hunt which co-leader came up with, which was very successful – they had to work out little riddles to figure out what they were looking for (e.g. “I have a head and a tail but no arms or legs” – a coin), which took them quite a while!

Finally to close out the night we worked up the coals a little, and built the fire back up to do some short, quiet style campfire songs (only a couple as we’re doing a proper campfire night in a few weeks), and toasted marshmallows. Off to bed for the kids, and a cup of tea with the fire for adults finished off a very successful night!

This morning, we continued the outdoor cooking, making french toast using the little gas cookers, which most of the girls really enjoyed (MissPlainFoods was decidedly dubious), before going for a walk around the streets (again with a scavenger hunt type activity where they had to find various street names and things), and then into a rope challenge, trying to build a rope bridge between trees about three meters apart. The rope bridge was only partly successful, but they had fun, and it was good to stretch them – even those who’d already done a rope bridge at camp realised that moving from 1.5 meters to 3 meters made things MUCH more complex!

At 11am, parents arrived, girls departed, and leaders set to the final pack up and clean up, which only took 30 minutes, a new record!

A really excellent event, I hope the girls got as much out of it as I did!


Mini camp!

Tonight the Seniors and I had a mini camp! And it was fabulous!

We provided both of the two teeny patrols  (a couple away – I suspect with the heat they’d all gone to the local pool!) a small (two person size) tent, which they put up with minimal adult intervention – and they had a fabulous time doing it!

We set up on the front lawn of our hall, to get a bit of air, give the Juniors some space in the hall without distractions… and to serve as a sneaky PR effort to remind the locals that Guides are around!

The girls all did brilliantly! They worked well together, they were having fun – I have some of the most gorgeous photos of happy excited kiddies (sorry, as this blog is semi-anon, no sharesies!), and, most importantly, they got those tents up into a useable format in less than 30 minutes!! GO KIDDOS!

Once the tents were up we moved into phase two of mini camp: FOOD! Testing a rather interesting idea I found while trawling the internetz, we used tin foil tart cases held together with wooden spring-loaded pegs (both normal clothes-hanging size and decorative crafty mini ones) to cook popcorn over tealights! A bit of vegetable oil on the inside of the foil cases, six pieces of popping corn each, and a lot of patience!! Of course the tealights kept going out, so the girls had a marvellous time wasting matches and re-lighting their candles, and trying to hear if things were popping or not… things started to smell like popcorn after about 25 minutes, but at 30 minutes we gave up, assuming no success.

But then! We opened up the cases, and one girl – who had been most steady in holding her little foil cases steady over her tealights, and who had sensibly positioned herself to protect the candles from the wind so had minimal re-lighting required – actually had all six kernels popped! She was so excited! Two other girls had a couple of kernels popped, and two had no luck at all. Oh well! I was so pleased that at least one had worked properly, as it showed it wasn’t entirely a hare-brained scheme! Still, my plan to repeat the activity next week with the littlies will need some modification – I don’t think my Juniors will happily sit for half an hour to wait for six kernels of popcorn!

Finally, of course, we had to take down the tents, and they did pretty well – managed to get the tents down with minimal assistance, and managed to get the pieces back into the bags they came in. Can’t ask for more than that!

Meanwhile, the Juniors were inside with Co-leader 1, learning about Guiding Traditions. They were all put through “Inspection”, and had their hair and nails checked, made sure they were in proper uniform etc (which they found rather amusing!), learnt how to do Colour Party properly, learned the Guiding History with actions (they were all telling me with glee about the Big! Round! World!), and learned how to tie reef knots using jelly snakes… using the unconventional explanation as put forward by our Guide Helper of “Butt over Head, Head over Butt” (!!). Oh well, they’ll probably remember that for the rest of their days better than “right over left, left over right”!

And our newbie Juniors sisters returned – in uniform! And another 7 year old newbie came along, and was SUPER excited!

And finally finally – our Rangers unit seems to be going from strength to strength! The two sisters who have returned to Guides to be part of Rangers seem very settled – the younger one has even bought the “teen” uniform, which she didn’t have previously, and one of the girls had brought along a friend! So eight of them were happily “mystery box” cooking this evening, making a racket, and having a marvellous time!

So, all in all, our little unit/s had a great night, and I was super energised by it! Next week: Mini Camp for the littlies! Think we’ll do marshmallows instead of popcorn, and I suspect the tents might require a *bit* more adult assistance!! Lets hope for good weather!!


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The Big Box Patrol Challenge!

New Patrols, new patrol names, new PLs and Seconds… what better way to make it mesh than giving them a bunch of cardboard boxes and saying “go for it”?!

To be fair, there was slightly more structure than that… kids all brought some cardboard boxes from home… and co-leader and I bought a couple of extras (woohoo, finally got rid of some moving boxes!) – so they had about 40 minutes to work together using only the boxes, scissors, and a roll of packing tape to make WHATEVER. We gave examples of creating a game, an obstacle course, making a doll house, a cubby, a robot, doing a play… anything they liked! The only catches were:
* They had to work as a patrol – all members of the patrol had to agree with what they were doing, no one was allowed to feel left out!
* They had to ‘present’ their work to the unit at the end of the 40 minutes – explain what they’d made and show it off.
* While they were building, they had to consider patrol emblems and agree (as a whole group!) on their preferences for new patrol names.

All in all – quite a success! Our new patrols seem to be working well (although we had a couple of girls away, so I guess we’ll see if the dynamic changes when everyone is there), we have agreed new patrol names (Blue Wren; Brumby; Kingfisher, Possum), and a cheap, interesting, good-for-the-earth (and the bank balance!) activity which let them use their creativity and really work in groups with limited adult “management” – true patrol time!

In other good news – two of our Ranger girls are going to try being Guide Helpers! We might have some assistants coming up!

Sunday takes us out for an adventure in the city – we’ve got 13 from my unit/s, 2 Rangers, and 2 to 4 from sister unit – will be quite a crowd!

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Earthy adventures

Last night was a brilliant night of Guiding! Three separate activities (one per section – Juniors, Seniors, Upper Seniors), which were ALL successful, which all the girls seemed to enjoy, and all of which were fun, something new, and fitted into the badge program!

Our littlies made volcanoes, which they seemed to really enjoy – we had them make a dough to shape the volcano shape around a bottle, which they seemed to enjoy – they really like it when we give them a recipe or similar and let them get on with it. I’m guessing for girls aged six to nine, there probably aren’t many times where they get to self-manage an activity, and follow the instructions with minimal adult involvement! Once again, that tiny taste of freedom and responsiblity really seems to work for the younger ones. Younger co-leader ran the activity, and did really well – but she did say for sure afterwards that she prefers the older girls! Fair enough!

Meanwhile, other co-leader ran a brilliant ‘edible gardens’ activity with the Upper Seniors, which had them use various forms of lollies and chocolate to build the layers involved in soil and gardens! So clever, and so much fun – dyed coconut for grass, sour worm lollies for earth worms, made-from-scratch chocolate pudding for the sub-soil… The girls had lots of fun, and were completely surprised by the activity, which was great!

And thirdly, I helped the Seniors out with making terrariums! They turned out really well, each girl got a *teeny* parlour palm, a wee little fern, and various combinations of moss, baby’s breath, and teeny violet plants. They all got really absorbed in the task, and were very excited when I suggested we could also add some beads and things – and very luckily found a box of gorgeous flat glass ‘marble’ type things, which made for brilliant ‘ponds’.

So, three fabulous activities, absorbed kids, and THEY EVEN ALL CLEANED UP WITH MINIMAL WHINGING!! Woohoo!!

Not only all of that, but two newbies! One who came to last week’s bring-a-friend with the younger girls, who dragged mum over at the end, and insisted mum take the forms (cute!), and another who came for the first time last night – apparently she’d seen an ad about Guides, checked us out online, and ended up with us! Got a call from her mum today saying that daughter loved Guides, and she’d pick up the forms next week!

Next week – ‘jumping snakes’ for the juniors, pottery for everyone else. Should be great!

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Promoting and propagandising the local population

The weekend just gone I helped out our ‘sister’ unit from the next suburb with their stall at a local festival. Yes, this was altruistic, but given the suburb is close enough to walk to (and I did, go me!), it was certainly worth my while to be promoting my unit as well, heh.

Sister unit had set up two fantastic activities – the first was cooking marshmallows over tealights (which, honestly, although a great idea, I was a little sceptical about – I’m hesitant enough about letting kids I know play with fire, not very keen on random kids being allowed near flames!!), and the second was decorating mini cupcakes or biscuits with brightly coloured icing and sprinkles. Genius! An activity which is fairly low cost to set up, the kids can do and complete with very minimal instruction or assistance, and which gives them a bit of a treat. What a fantastic idea, and one I am totally stealing next time I’m silly enough to agree to a community festival event!

As to whether or not it was worth it, initial signs suggest it was. I’ve already had one prospective parent call about her daughters (and their best friends) coming to try and see! Huzzah! Lets hope they love it and want to join, especially as eldest daughter and friend are just the age for my middlies. Fingers crossed!

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