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.


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.




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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A bit of a mess, really!

Final night of term last night, and it was all a touch scatty! Our plans of ‘edible campsites’ only sort of worked… it seems Guides require a LOT more STUFF than AwesomeCoLeader doing an example at home (they managed to use about 3 times as much chocolate…), and it was the sort of activity where some of them just got it, and figured it out straight away, while others dithered and couldn’t get their bits to fit right, and weren’t sure… etc etc.

So instead of a lovely cohesive activity, we had girls all at different stages, and things definately fraying around the edges! We ended up sending a bunch of kids out into the courtyard to figure out a game themselves (which was actually quite nice, I think they do sometimes quite like a bit of just playing and chatting), and then we got a bunch of the newer girls to each decorate a calico bag from our stash for their handbooks and badges etc, which also worked quite nicely. We’ve had 6 newbies join this term (all juniors, eep!), and none of them had bags yet, so I think they all quite liked having 10-15 minutes to just be together.

Luckily, everything came together in the end, and we held a Promise ceremony for one of our girls who joined late last year, as well as a girl renewing her promise to move up from Juniors to Seniors. I was a little sentimental about her moving up, as she was a teeny wee little one when she joined (juuuust six, and the LITTLE sister of one of our Guides at the time), and now she’s old enough to move up to the Seniors! Can’t figure out if this means I’ve been with the unit too long, or they’re all just growing up too quickly 🙂

It was also nice for our bunch of newbies to see one of our ceremonies before they do their own, I think it helps the unit’s sense of continuity when the girls know the broad brush of how we do things, and it makes it special when they too have their night of candles, flags, and solemnity.

So, to next term. Not quite sure what we’re going to do program-wise – we’re being moved into a MUCH smaller room for at least 6 weeks, probably more like 8 weeks, which is going to make things tricky – especially with the time of year meaning we can’t just move the program outdoors easily. I know lots of units meet in small rooms, and that we’ve been spoiled with a giant hall for ages, but that doesn’t make it easier to adjust!! Lets just hope we don’t get any random friends showing up next term, because there *literally* won’t be any room!


Ceremonial celebrations!

Special night tonight, as two of our girls were presented with their JBP and BP Awards.

The first 30 minutes or so were spent setting up – we split girls up into groups with specific tasks – balloon blowing up, hanging up streamers, putting out the chairs, setting up the front table, helping out in the kitchen – and left them to it, while I drilled the girls selected to do colour party.

There was just enough to be done to keep them all busy for 15 minutes, then we rehearsed the  two songs for part of the ceremony – Bravo, and This Little Guiding Light (just the first verse), and a more complicated version of our usual step in. The girls were all fabulously engaged in the whole process, and listened properly when we had a quick reminder about properly marching into formation, rather than their (all too regular) moseying into circle!

We then had a short break while Awesome Co-leader explained to the girls about how we would be participating in the worldwide Thinking Day Postcard Exchange, and that in order for the postcards to reach their destinations in time for Thinking Day next year, that we would need to write up the cards tonight. It turned out to be the perfect activity for the time slot, and a great way to calm them down before the ceremony proper.

Finally – the ceremony. The girls remembered everything, and all behaved beautifully, marching exactly right, and singing wonderfully!

So pleased and proud, and the two girls receiving their awards (and their families) were delighted 🙂

We finished up with supper – cake, fruit, and chips, and cups of tea and coffee, which the girls helped with serving – or at least, they did in between bites of cake!

Final week next week before our summer break!

Here’s the amazing themed cakes baked by Awesome Co-leader! (After a ceremonial cut each by the Awardees, in case you couldn’t tell!)


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Patrols and Promises

Good but unusual sort of an evening –

For the first half, we finished off our pets badge with a series of activities aimed at enhancing patrol work, with the central aim of getting through a series of challenges while protecting an egg. The original plan was for each patrol to have a blown egg, but time got away from me! Luckily, an emergency trip to the craft shop (which is conveniently 2 minutes walk from my bus stop!) yielded Styrofoam eggs, which worked quite well.

So the series of activities (pretty much made up on the spot by me and co-leader!) for each patrol were as follows:

  • Human knots – get out of, and then back into – a human knot, while protecting the egg
  • Get from the corner to the main driveway, transferring the egg person to person, without using your hands.
  • Get from the main driveway to the next corner, again transferring person to person, without using your hands or arms.
  • Using things you can find in the garden, make a nest for your egg that you can transport to show the leaders.
  • Do Scouts pace one by one up the other footpath, keeping the egg safely tucked into the back of your collar
  • With your egg on a spoon, walk to point one, hop to point two, then skip to point three.

Overall, it worked pretty well, with a couple of the girls commenting that it was a bit like a wide game, with working through a series of challenges in their patrol. Given the group loooooooooooooooooove wide games, I’m going to call that as high praise 🙂

After the girls had mostly got through the activities (some of the patrols didn’t quite complete the final task, but close enough), we quickly got set up for our final Promise ceremony of the year. Three lovely newbies made their Promise for the first time, and two of our Juniors moved up to Seniors.

I say it every time, but gee I love Promise ceremonies. The girls are all so serious and solemn, and the girls making their Promise are both excited and nervous… and so many parents come up afterwards and say “oh I was so proud! I was just about in tears!”. Our very traditional ceremony is, I think, a lovely way to impress on the girls that in being part of Guiding, that they’re part of something special. It also seems to move parents from “oh its a club that little Suzie does because her friend Sally does it too…” to feeling like being a Guide is something different, and something to be proud of. So yes, I love our little ceremonies, with marching in, colour party, and lots of candles!

Next week – more ceremonies as we present our first JBP Award in two years, and first BP Award in three! Woohoo!

One of the ‘nests’ for the eggs – pretty creative!



Snap, Omelette, and Promise

A fun night last night, with the girls running the first hour or so of activities as part of various JBP Awards (and a little bit of Gemstone badge syllabus).

They all did really well, and were all properly prepared, having thought about what they wanted to do or present. I’ve really noticed an increase in the quality and effort that the girls have been putting in over the last few months, I think having a couple of them starting to get close to completion is inspiring the others, as the JBP Award is starting to look achievable. Having specific nights on the program for JBP work also seems to be helping too.

As a marker of the girls’ progress – last night one girl was presented with her Bronze Endeavour (the second one for the year!), and another finished a final activity towards her Bronze… and, very (very!) exciting, SuperBadgeKeenGuide completed her final activity for her whole JBP Award! This is the first one in two years, so I am THRILLED! 😀

At the end of the meeting, we had a Promise ceremony for three of our new girls, which was lovely as always. It was also great to see how keen the girls were to be part of the ceremony – we had girls jostling to be chosen for the colour party, and desperate to be given specific setting up roles.

Also good news – one of the newbies we’ve had visiting for a few weeks will be bringing forms next week, and has ordered uniform, and another visitor came along (she’s visited a couple of times over the last year or so), and took forms… we shall see!

Later, I was on “Rangers duty” – and had a lovely time! This was week one for Rangers (they only meet fortnightly), so had no program so far. I suggested via email that half the meeting be “candle cooking”, and half planning. This was agreed to… but I decided to go a bit elaborate, and give them a bit of a challenge!

So after a bit of a wander about the supermarket, I gathered a bunch of ingredients that they could (in theory!) carry when camping or hiking or something. So I purchased powdered eggs, canned capsicum, canned mushrooms, cheddar cheese (the type that doesn’t need refrigeration), flour, sugar, long life milk… and some mini marshmallows!

I also provided little tin pans (like tart cases), matches, candles, skewers, and some equipment (bowls, a knife, a chopping board).

The Rangers were instructed to find all the items on the list… which I had helpfully hidden around the grounds, and then using only the stuff provided, cook mini omelettes, mini pancakes, and toast mini marshmallows!

It all took much longer than expected, but they had fun, so that’s the main point! Hardly any planning for the rest of the term happened (oh well), and not enough time to properly review one girls’ BP Award activities! Never mind, next time!


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