guideydiary

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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Stepping back in time

Old style Guiding activities took centre stage this week, as our unit celebrated its 85th birthday (yep, we’ve been around a while, in various forms!).

We set up a series of activities, which the girls moved through in patrols at their own pace. Most of the activities harked back to the early years of Guiding – not something that should be done too often, but fun in small doses! We had:

  • Making cups of tea
  • Polishing silver
  • Blindfolded scavenger hunt
  • Skipping games
  • Knotting challenges
  • Marshmallow toasting

Amusingly, the silver polishing and tea-making were probably the most popular activities – I think silver polishing in particular is sooooooo out of the usual experience of the girls that it was just fascinating for them, and not at all like a chore as it was just so out of their wheelhouse!

We also had a little table set up with old photographs (with pics from the 1930s, 1960s, 1980s, and early 2000s), and a bunch of old program books and games and activities books from across the years – the girls were encouraged to have a (gentle!) flick through the old books, which they were surprisingly keen on. I think when the history is properly local, its more interesting than general “Guiding History” – even in the oldest pictures, they could notice local landmarks, which they found fascinating.

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Photos and notes from the 1930s

There was also a little colouring in activity – I had printed out heaps of letters on A4 paper, which spelled out our unit name and “celebrating 85 years of amazing” – the girls all coloured in a letter or two, which we then pinned up and had a photo taken underneath. The girls all seemed chuffed that their colouring contributed to the sign, and were all excitedly pointing out the letter they’d done.

Finally, to finish off the evening we had a little ceremony – one of our newbie Juniors made her Promise, as did our newest Leader (a rare and super exciting thing!). With a nod to history we had one Junior, one Senior, and one Ranger (a few visited for the evening) team up to do colour party, which was lovely. We finished with everyone renewing their Promise in unison, then lit 85 candles on a huge cake, sang “Bravo” and “Happy Birthday To Us!”, then the girls all crowded around and blew out the candles as a big group.

It was really lovely night, with the girls bonding across the age groups – somehow fantastically affirming that while lots of details have changed over the years, the core of what we’re doing continues.

 

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Guiding and golfing: a surprisingly perfect combination!

Sometimes, the simplest evenings can showcase the ‘lessons’ of Guiding perfectly. Last week we had a fun off-site night at a local mini golf park. We were very lucky that the centre was super flexible and accommodating for us, giving the girls basically the run of the place, and despite what looked to be dodgy weather, the rain cleared and the sun came out just in time.

I spent the evening floating and ‘facilitating’, and it was just lovely to see how beautifully the girls were all interacting. The girls were given rough instructions (and most had played mini golf before at some point), but each group effectively had the time and space to modify and adapt the rules to suit themselves – and watching them negotiate that space (and assisting occasionally) was just lovely. For example, I watched one group of littlies – 6 and 7 year olds – tackling a hole they decided was tricky – so they informally agreed that the first section would just not count towards their scores. In contrast, an older group decided they wanted to Do Things Properly – and scored each hole very precisely, taking note of the par for each one and being very competitive… but still friendly and having a giggle. So much of what we try to teach and enable is teamwork, and the social skills around negotiation and cooperation, and strangely, this night of very light supervision and very limited enforcement of structure gave the girls a chance to show how fantastically they’re  developing these skills.

It was lovely having a long night out in the twilight, and so great seeing the girls all laughing and mingling in different groups to their usual. Such a chilled out, easy night, and definitely one to do again at some point in the future.

 

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Maps and road rules – and how to make boring topics fun!

As part of the Wheels Create-A-Challenge badge that my Senior Guides are working on this term, we decided to have a bit of a patrol quiz night on road rules, going with the tried-and-true theory that the best way to handle learning-y and potentially school-ish material is to make it fast, make it competitive, and squeeze in the learning between the giggles.

We started with each patrol getting a copy of a Melways (Melbourne’s main street directory, so standard that people use “Melways” to mean “street directory”, and get confused when in other cities they use something else), and having races to find certain locations. One point was awarded to the patrol that was able to give the first correct map reference for each of the locations I read out. It was quite interesting seeing several of them being a bit mystified at why you’d have such a thing in your car – I guess these kids are so used to smart phones and gps devices that actual maps seem deeply quaint.

Handily, we ended up with enough Melways that I was able to use my one (a super handy mini version!) to confirm if their answers were correct. My original plan had me writing down the references in advance, but time got away from me, and this was actually more fun to properly check, rather than just look at my list. Locations included our nearest cross-streets to our hall, the local pool, the MCG, a local station, the nearest general hospital… etc etc.

We then awarded one point per street name for each member of the patrol – so Sally Marie Jones would have to find a street (or lane, or close, or avenue…) named Sally or Marie or Jones. They all seemed to get a kick out of finding “their” street!

Next we switched gears and focused on road rules. I’d done some print outs of several pages (er… about 35 pages actually!) of the booklet that learner drivers use to get their permits. Each patrol got a set of rules, and it was then a race to answer a bunch of questions correctly – things like “what are two tips for driving safely in tunnels” “who must you give way to in a roundabout” “when can you enter a tramway”. Each of the answers was SPECIFIC, and they were all flinging the pages around desperately trying to find the right tiny paragraph which would answer the question.

We also had a round where they had to quickly draw specific signs (less successful I think – perhaps as it was a bit more individual than team-y), and then finally a round where I told them specific maneuvers – zip merging, hook turns, three point turns – and as a patrol they had to act it out, with points going to the best/most accurate/most creative representation!

So, all in all, a fun night, full of crazy yelling, and lots of excitement, about a topic that I’m sure none of them were psyched to find out about!

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Musing and moaning (just a little)

So, I’ve barely blogged this year. And having barely blogged, I’m out of practice, and feeling guilty that I’m out of practice, and it just becomes a big shame spiral.

The thing is, this year I’ve felt a little funny about blogging my adventures. With my awesome co-leaders taking on more of the load, I don’t feel as able to tell the tales of “my” unit, as it seems a bit weird to talk about the marvellous ideas they’ve come up with, even though I know from comments etc that people enjoy hearing about my team’s ideas as much (or if perfectly honest, more!) than they do about mine. But still, it feels like I’m stepping on toes somehow.

And more generally, I think I’ve lost a bit of my guiding mojo these last few months. Not so much in my enjoyment of the girls and the activities, but somehow my confidence that I’m putting together a program worth sharing, or ideas worth telling about. Our units are doing great – heaps of kids, growing at almost every age group (we’ve even had now 3 new-to-guiding teenagers join us, which is some sort of miracle), and a great team of leaders who are all gelling.

And yet… somehow my confidence is down. I think it started when a couple of big ideas and offers to do specific things for “higher ups” went unanswered… it makes you start to shrink in on yourself a touch, and wonder if possibly previous ideas that had been favourably received were done so more out of politeness…

So, my aim this term is to return to blogging properly – perhaps writing down the great things we’re doing – me and the whole crew – will reassure me that we’re broadly on the right track. Or, of course, it may convince me that it’s time to move on – either from the blogging or the guiding or possibly both. We shall see.

To those of you who’ve been reading and following – stick around despite the whining of this post – I’ve got about four wide games to publish in the next few weeks!

 

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Eggy delicious

A few weeks late, but oh well!

As part of our cooking badge work, one of the criteria was to cook a simple meal using a frying pan. To mix things up a little, we decided that we’d make this an outdoor activity!

So we built a little fire (in our patented foil-tray-on-bricks method), slid our little grill over the top, and then popped the frypans on top of the grill! Perfect!

Our ‘simple meal’ was fried eggs, popped on top of toasted English muffins, with a slice of cheese slightly melted on top. Tasty, easy, and hopefully something the girls can easily re-create at home.

We did this with two of our four seniors patrols, while the other two patrols were inside in the kitchen, baking cakes, also on the cooking badge criteria. The following week, we switched the roles around so they all got to do both activities. I think it was a good decision to get part of our cooking skills outside, even though that element wasn’t explicitly included in the criteria – mixing it up keeps the term interesting, and woohoo, brings in the outdoors and fire element that the girls don’t really get elsewhere!

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Bringing friends, growing guiding… perhaps!

Two weeks of ‘bring a friend’ nights, which will hopefully (maybe?) grow our units. We’re not struggling for members (woohoo!), but the extra leaders, and a bit of time for us to get used to the current numbers, and we think we could comfortably go up an extra patrol worth in the Juniors, and an extra few in Seniors would be handy, as several are due to head up to Rangers in the next term or two.

We decided to split the  bring a friend activities over two weeks, as there is always added complexity when you have newbies around. Week one, the Juniors brought friends for a Swiss themed night (world guiding: tick!) – we started off with some newspaper skiing races and games, followed by three stations for the patrols + pals to move around. One was a raclette station – co-leader brought long her special tiny little raclette grill pans, and the girls chopped veggies and cheese for grilling. Properly Swiss, and something they certainly hadn’t done before! Another station was chocolate fondue – we had marshmallows and fruit for the girls to dip in the fondue, which of course went down a treat! The final station had three different crafty options – a tapestry-ish bookmark (sewn with wool), a little woven heart shape, and a papercut.

Finally, to bring them all back together and add a touch more ‘play’, we had several rounds of a giants treasure style game, with the object to catch being a small cow figure.

It all went well, I think. But no returns the following week, so who knows??

To be fair, the following week was a bit of a challenge – owing to our landlords letting us know only a few days in advance that they’d double-booked our hall (and had over 400 people coming!!), we had to do some quick work to move for the night. Luckily, we were able to move to another hall in the district, but we did have a drop off in numbers, as the location really wasn’t as convenient for many of our families.

Anyhoo, for the second bring-a-friend we had our Seniors girls inviting their mates for a zombie wide game. I’d done this years ago to some success, and decided to revamp and update it, adding in a de-coding element, which required the girls to travel as zombies (with the limping, lumbering walk, lolling heads and outstretched arms) to their next destination, which added probably an extra 10 minutes, which was enough. They all seemed to have fun, and luckily, although it was reasonably chilly, it was a dry night so we were able to have them all outside for the whole time, so, I’m counting that as a ‘tick’ in the “outdoors” fundamentals column!!

I suppose the next few weeks will show if these efforts lead to any extra friends joining us… but to some extent, I suppose it doesn’t matter: the two nights went well, and our existing members had a fun night to show off to their friends – nothing too earnest to be embarrassed about, but also proper showcases of guiding activities, the mix of cooking, crafting, outdoors, and fun that we try to aim for. So, we’ll see!

 

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Campfire cooking

An excellent final night of term, as our seniors group embraced the cold and expanded their campfire cooking skills.

We had a slightly smaller group than usual, as several girls were already on holidays, plus the usual winter illnesses (although not too bad, still 15 kids) –  but that worked quite well, as we were able to have the whole group working together in various configurations.

We used our usual fires-in-tinfoil-trays set up, but had two of them together, so that we could slide our little cast iron grill top (which has legs about 40cms tall) over the top to cook on.

As usual with cooking and with fire, we didn’t quite get finished in time, leaving the leaders to put out and clean up the fire, but at least we were organised enough that the girls had done the cleaning up of the left over kindling and washed and put away the dishes!

We cooked vegetable skewers, using eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, capsicum, and red onion. Chopped the pieces finely, and drizzled a bit of oil over them – mostly they turned out quite well, and even our veggie-averse kids mostly seemed to enjoy them… or at least parts! The zucchini was particularly popular, with several girls seeming a little shocked that they actually liked zucchini done that way!

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For dessert, we put some crushed plain guide biscuits in muffin tins (with muffin cases), added a marshmallow, a slice of banana (or pear, for a couple of banana-allergic kids), and a large chocolate drop. The first set were probably left on a bit long (the biscuits at the bottom were a bit too… well, charcoal. But the second set which had about half the time on the heat were delicious!

While all this was going on, the juniors group went for a night time expedition to the local park, and had fun playing games in the dark and cold.

All in all, a good term, looking forward to a couple of weeks without the kids… but with planning and tackling cleaning out the cupboards!

 

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Campfire!

Lovely multi-age program this week, as we integrated our Juniors/Seniors and Rangers programs for evening.

Our units meet at a slightly separate time – the Juniors/Seniors together from 6.30 to 8.00pm, the Rangers from 7.00 to 8.30pm. So rather than having a fully integrated program, we went with a slightly staggered approach.

From 6.30 to 7.30 (ish!), our younger girls all worked on making situpons. At a district camp at the start of the year we noticed that another unit had a set of lightweight situpons that they were able to easily stack and carry, and started thinking about how we could do something similar.

Cue leaders pondering!

Our original plan was to use a heavyweight plastic tablecloth, but on pricing it out, it was going to be quite an expensive little project. Which is fine (what are fees for if not to buy cool things?), but I got to pondering. Luckily, on a trip to Ikea, inspiration struck in the form of a whole bunch of their iconic shopping bags being on sale – a slightly smaller size than usual (hence I guess why they were getting rid of them), and only 49 cents each! And we could get two situpons out of each one! BARGAIN OF THE CENTURY.

Anyway, back to the girls. They all worked to do their own interpretation of the one I’d mocked up, cutting out the two pieces from the bags, edging them with heavy packing tape in bright colours, and then doing various designs on them in permanent markers. Our plan is to stash them in our shed and have them as our ‘unit set’ of situpons for as long as they last! And the particularly brilliant thing about them being based on Ikea bags, is that if the unit grows, or we lose a bunch, or they wear out or whatever, we can easily replace them. WOOHOO!

situpon

Here’s the example one I did for the girls – its hard to tell the scale here, but they’re about 45 cms long, and about 30 cms wide. Plenty big enough for even a chunky bottom to stay dry on the went ground!

So that’s what was happening from 6.30 to 7.30. Meanwhile, at 7.00 the Rangers group commenced, and they were tasked with setting and starting our campfire outside. I expected a bit of complaining (wood collecting always brings it on!), but they were pretty chirpy and cooperative, which I think was aided by the fact that I’d managed to raid my work’s recycling stash and had come well prepared with heaps of newspaper, so we knew at the very least we’d get some decent flames happening with minimal effort.

At 7.30, the whole unit joined together, putting the new situpons into action, and singing a bunch of campfire songs, using a program put together by one of the Rangers girls as part of her BP Award, and including a few songs led by one of our Juniors as part of her Junior BP Award! We finished up with a Promise Ceremony for two of our littlest members, then said goodbye to our Juniors and Seniors, leaving the Rangers with half an hour to toast some marshmallows (their reward for doing the hard work of the fire prep!) and then douse the fire and clean up.

All in all, a really lovely night, and a good one to bring together the various age groups in a way that used all their individual strengths.

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What do we teach? (part 3)

Returning again to ponderings from 2013 (part one and part two) around what is it that we do in Guiding.

Recently, I’ve been reading Mama OT quite bit, and some of the posts over there around children’s skills in self regulation, the usefulness of outdoors activities in building resilience, social and emotional skills, and the focus on the importance of a mix of gross motor skills and fine motor skills have struck me as the types of skills and knowledge and experiences which we aim to give girls via Guiding.

Over the course of each term we explicitly aim to balance activities which use different skills and capacities – activities such as building rope bridges, putting up tents, even building crazy constructions with boxes etc, all build gross motor skills, as well as requiring cooperation and teamwork in order to achieve the tasks. On the other hand, the crafty bits and pieces we do – sewing, and origami, and even things like cupcake decorating – use fine motor skills, and a degree of focused task concentration which is so important. The other major thing the program offers is a real ‘traditional childhood’ focus on games and play, often in a less structured way than many other children’s activities. We often have full nights just dedicated to games, the girls are able to suggest their own additions and modifications, or run their own versions. And who can forget the teenagers spending a full hour and a half playing versions of hide and seek in the dark?!

We’re not perfect by any means – and ALWAYS there is room to improve – but I think what I love so much about Guides is that we aim to build the whole girl, rather than just aspects of her skills or personality. Now if only I could somehow articulate that in a thirty second elevator pitch!

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