guideydiary

keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

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.

1930sguides

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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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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Delegating, and celebrating

An excellent two weeks just passed at our Guides group, with firstly our older girls’ wide game planning coming off beautifully (even with several kids away!) (yay for girl-led programming, and delegation of responsibility!), and then a lovely evening celebrating two girls earning their Junior BP Award, which is always so exciting!

Firstly – the wide game! The girls (mostly) remembered what they had planned, and how it was all meant to hang together, and had a great twenty minutes running madly about, gathering the equipment they needed, putting things together, and sorting out how the activities they had dreamed up the week prior would actually look – so they ran about hastily rigging up a complicated “laser” maze with red wool, finding suitable hiding places for kids who had dressed up as particular characters, setting up an obstacle course, and practicing the steps to a dance that would need to be copied.

And they had the usual complications that leaders encounter on the day of a wide game – oops, we don’t have X material, quick, lets substitute Y; oh no, that person who was meant to do THIS activity is away, how can we work around it, or adapt it?

They all seemed to have a really excellent time, although they did note that once it was all set up, and instructions passed on, that there were boring bits… which is exactly what the adult leaders find with wide games too- when set up well, they kind of run themselves! All in all, I think it was a highly successful exercise – the girls got a real taste of what goes into planning these types of complicated activities, and got to experience the rush that you get when your plans actually work and the girls have fun bringing the different challenges to life.

The following week, we had a much more mellow evening, where the main activity was setting up, rehearsing, and then holding a ceremony to celebrate two girls achieving their Junior BP (and also one girl making her Promise, and two moving up to the Rangers group! So much growth in one night!). We have been moved out of our hall this term due to construction/repairs, so part of our challenge was identifying an alternative suitable site – and with a bit of re-arranging of outdoor equipment and furniture, we were able to turn the large courtyard into an excellent little ceremony space! Yay for streamers making anywhere look festive!

All in all, an excellent fortnight… and I haven’t even yet told the tale of a fabulous camp in the weekend in the middle… so stay tuned… FOR DINOSAURS!!

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Celebrating!

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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A touch of tradition (and naturally some chaos!)

Last week our program was one of those slightly unstructured let-the-girls-lead nights, where the kids were working towards various badges and presenting or running activities.

To mix things up, I was mainly with the younger girls “we NEVER get you!” “well, aren’t you lucky tonight then?” “ummm….”

Heh.

We started out with explaining a bit about the various awards, and explained that girls in the younger group could also work towards the Junior BP Award if they wanted to, once they’re seven (although we suggest eight is better). Naturally this resulted in the six year olds complaining, and the eight year olds looking freaked out that they’re old enough to do the things the Seniors do!

One of the Senior girls then ran a game or two for the Juniors for one of her badge criteria – and had the decidedly educational experience of finding out just how annoying it is trying to give instructions when the girls chat and get distracted. Given that girl is a particularly frequent offender of chatting-through-instructions, I help but be amused by her irritation… and had fun pointing this out to her 🙂

We then split into age groups to work on different badge criteria, before setting up for a Promise ceremony for two newbies – one Junior, one Senior. As always, it was a lovely ceremony.

Next week: cooking for Juniors, first aid for Seniors. Should be fun!

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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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Awards!

JBP award

A lovely evening at Guides this week, with two of our most dedicated and engaged girls being presented with their Junior BP Awards! To gain the award, the girls need to do 12 activities over 6 areas, plus discuss what they have learnt about leadership. For (nearly all) of the activities, they also need to have a three-way assessment done – assessed by their peers, by themselves, and by the leaders. So its no cakewalk!

Because presentation of this Award is quite rare at our unit (these girls were only the 6th and 7th in five years to earn it), we tend to make quite a song and dance about the presentation – we ask the girls to be in formal uniform (which… most managed… ish), and we include colour party, lots of blue-and-gold decorations (balloons and streamers, and table cloths for the supper and presentation tables), we also had the girls carefully pin up our unit flag and trefoil to form a backdrop to the ‘presentation area’.

We had about a third of the girls occupied in the kitchen preparing supper (mainly chopped veggies and dip, but also fairy bread, because it can’t all be healthy!), and learning how to make cups of tea and coffee for the parents that would be attending. We also made up a ‘punch’ for the girls of orange juice and lemonade, just to make it a party!

I suspect that in some ways it wasn’t a hugely fun night for all the girls – learning to march properly, being checked that their sashes were on, and badges correct, and spending ages blowing up balloons and sticking up streamers… but for one night a year, I think its okay to have them focus on making something special for some of their peers, rather than just coming along for fun. That said, I did advise a prospective newbie that it wasn’t a great night for a visit, and so we’ll see them next week instead!

All in all, it was a lovely evening, and I (and the other leaders) were so chuffed to present the girls with their awards, and they were both thrilled to receive them. Hopefully it won’t be a whole year until the next awards ceremony, as there are several other girls who have been working diligently away on their activities and must be very close to finalising!

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Close with a campfire

A lovely final night of term this evening, as we had a campfire (sadly switched to indoor with candles due to weather), toasted marshmallows (not quite as good with candles, but still tasty!), and Promise Ceremonies for three new Guides.

We started out with the ‘campfire’, which was quite nice. We had about 7 candles lit in the middle of the circle, and all the lights off, so it was quite atmospheric, even in the hall. We started, of course, with ‘Campfire’s Burning’, and included a bunch of favourites including ‘Yogi Bear’, ‘Edelweiss’, ‘Found a Peanut’, and ‘Everywhere We Go’. We finished up with a lovely quiet and slightly introspective ‘Canadian Vespers’. There is something rather lovely about having had enough of the unit be with us long enough (and for the various songs to be repeated often enough) that we don’t need to teach all the songs each time, that they can just start singing.

We were joined by several newbies – one on ‘week three’ of coming to visit (and in uniform!), another on ‘week two’ and asking about forms, and two sisters who were apparently very keen (co-leader spoke to them), and said they’ll see us next term! Given we’re just about to lose two girls to moving house out of the area, a two-for-one replacement rate isn’t too bad 🙂

We finished off the term and the night with a Promise ceremony for three girls (two juniors, one senior), and one Promise renewal, for a girl moving up to Seniors. There is such a nice continuity with the ceremonies and traditions, it seems to anchor the group, and also highlights to the girls and the families that we are trying to do something more than just fun… even if that is the most important thing!

So, a two week break before we’re back to it – switching from this term’s focus on The Arts, to next term’s topic of Science and Technology 🙂

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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!

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Team guiding

Quiet night for me last night, as my two excellent co-leaders ran the main activities without me. Its lovely to occasionally take a back step 🙂

We also had two very excellent helpers – a Mum who offered to stick around and help out (and who is also happy to help next week when we’ll be down on numbers, yay!), and one of our Rangers who emailed me late in the day to ask if she could come and help, even though it wasn’t a Rangers night! Excellent stuff, looks like we may have a junior leader on our hands.

Awesome CoLeader took the Juniors upstairs for a night of “tv skits”, for the ‘lounge room’ portion of the Homes badge. Apparently the girls had a marvellous time playing with the dress ups several of them brought along, although I gather the intended ‘world guiding’ theme didn’t *quite* come through. Perhaps the younger ones just aren’t quite there in terms of their ‘world view’ yet – some of them seem to struggle even with the concept that there are other Guides in our district, never mind further afield! Ah well, a project for another day 🙂

Meanwhile, YoungCoLeader had the Seniors re-learning tracking signs, using glow sticks to make trails for each other to followin the dark. It worked brilliantly, and the girls had a great time, I think in a weird way enhanced by the fact that it was raining a little, so there was a slight element of  ‘ooh I don’t usually get to be out in the dark in the rain’ added to the activity.

While each of the patrols was laying trails, I chatted to the ‘other’ patrol about possible options for next term, and had a bit of a look through the badge books for things that interested them. Seems like the badge best aligned to their interests is the Explore A Challenge: The Arts, so I guess us leaders will need to take a closer look at that one in the next few weeks and see if its viable.

Finally, to round out the night we had an extra Promise ceremony for our teeniest Guide, who was ill at the start of term when she was due to make her Promise, and will be at a school event at our next scheduled ceremony! She’s such a littlie that to pin on her badge and shake hands properly, I had to kneel down 🙂

Next week – I’m not going to usual Guides, as I’m having a night focused on the Rangers, doing a wide game at our local IKEA – should be fun!

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