keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Thinking about our sisters in guiding (and scouting!)


Postcards, poems, and politeness were some of our themes this week as we marked World Thinking Day. We started the evening off with going through the postcards we had received from the World Thinking Day Postcard Exchange. The girls seemed pretty excited to receive information about Guides/Scouts from America, the UK, Dubai, and South Africa. It definitely provided a more tangible way of talking about the international aspects of guiding than the usual “no, seriously, we’re everywhere!”.

We split the activity into two, with the Juniors going through the postcards while the Seniors voted on Patrol Leaders, followed by the Seniors reading postcards while the Juniors did a treasure hunt, looking for a Promise Badge and a World Badge which had been hidden in the building (surprisingly successful!).

We followed that up with a ‘serious’ interlude, with a short (about 10 minutes) Guides Own that I’d put together, which focused on what it means to be a Guide, what the various parts of the world badge symbolise, the meaning of the salute (the three-part promise), and a poem I found online about guiding sisters around the world, which I cut up into sections and had a couple of the older girls read a stanza each. We also sang ‘Make New Friends’ and ‘This Little Guiding Light’. A fairly successful little ceremony, I think, and the girls seemed engaged throughout, which is the main thing. We finished it quite nicely with “please close your eyes for a moment or two and think about your sisters in guiding across the world, and how they’re thinking about you too… when you’re ready, stand up, salute, and quietly go into the next room”. It was very sweet to see even the three newbies who’d joined us for the night attempting to properly salute, and being very solemn in their exit 🙂

Next, we went for a bit of international fun – learning how to say ‘hello’ in several languages so you could greet your interational sisters (we went with greetings in Mandarin, Arabic, German, French, Hindi, and Swahili), and played a game where everyone stood in a circle and threw the ball across the circle, and named a country where one of those languages were spoken (China, Egypt, Germany, France, India, Kenya), and the girl catching the ball had to say hello in the correct language or get out. I wasn’t sure how it would go, but they seemed to get into it pretty well.

Then to round it all out and add a bit of chaotic fun, NewLeader organised them all into a game of Cat and Mouse, with different rules to how we’ve usually done it (which is generally a version of Streets And Lanes), and this new version was MUCH more successful, so I think we’ll keep that one in the box of tricks! Finally finally we played their old favourite of Not-Fruit-Salad. This weekend – more Thinking Day!


Camp – the full story!

So, camp!

We had five leaders for the full time (and one extra from Saturday arvo), and twenty-one kids. The youngest was juuuuuuuust seven, the oldest fourteen and a half. The girls were drawn from my unit, sister unit, and another unit, who I hadn’t really had anything to do with before (not in our District or anything).

And we had a great time!

Friday night ended up going a little astray, as the original plans to have dinner ready when the kids got there simply didn’t happen, so we didn’t get the girls fed until well after 8pm, which probably wasn’t ideal… by the time we’d then cleaned up etc, we didn’t even have the kids in their rooms until 10pm, so it wasn’t entirely surprising that the leaders didn’t get to bed until after midnight, what with wrangling the last of the kids into quiet, if not actual sleep. Naturally it was the tiniest ones who stayed up the latest!!

Saturday started well enough, but I managed to throw out the timelines for the wide game hugely by not having brought along any ropes! I’d consciously chosen not to, as where we were staying usually has heaps of that sort of equipment, and I was already bringing heaps of stuff. But unfortunately, we chose the one weekend where the caretakers were away, and so we had no keys to access the equipment sheds!! So I spent a solid 30 minutes (with assistance from some others) making ‘ropes’ out of twine, because (of course), the ropes were needed for one of the core activities that formed part of the badge the wide game was supposed to work towards!

So we got started late.

And then all but the eldest kids managed to get themselves entirely off-course, lost, and out of whack within about 30 minutes! So an activity that should have taken maybe 30-40 minutes took about an hour and 30 minutes…. which pushed back all the other activities. And then setting the fire to cook lunch took longer than anticipated (damp wood will do that)… so lunch, instead of being at about 1pm as originally planned, ended up being at about 3pm! On the upside, hunger is a marvellous flavour enhancer, so lunch was most tasty!

Anyway, they got through the final challenges, and by the end of the day, they’d all bonded in patrols, completed the activities, and apparently had a brilliant time, so I guess it doesn’t matter that the timings were out, and that they all seem to need some serious map-reading classes (personally, I blame GPSs, but then, I don’t like them at the best of times!).

Saturday night we had tacos for dinner, and then went outside for a proper campfire, complete with singing and toasting marshmallows, which all went really quite well. Co-leader had organised the program, and had a good mix of songs, including enough new ones to keep things interesting! After the campfire, we gave the girls a hot milo, then sent them off to bed – MUCH easier on the second night, as they were all utterly exhausted – still had to get SCARY LEADER out a couple of times though, particularly with the older girls. At one point, I’d opened up the door to their room, told them to shoosh, and then closed the door. I was still standing outside five seconds later when they started talking again!! So I opened up the door again and said “SERIOUSLY?! I was still outside the door!! How stupid do you think I am? SHOOSH AND SLEEP!”

Sunday morning, and the girls were definitely fading – we had to actually wake them (apart from the tiny ones who chirped “I KNEW it was morning!” when I went in to tell them it was time to get up!), and they were pretty quiet at breakfast. Luckily, the second leader from sister unit had prepared a reasonably quiet program for the morning’s activities (although to be honest, some of it was toooo quiet and long, and had them sitting there a bit bored, which was unfortunate). The younger girls had definitely lost resilience by this stage though, minor injuries/incidents (of a scale that would usually be laughed off) were resulting in major tears and freak outs – oh well, luckily I’ve been doing this for a while now, and know not to take the number of tears as indicative of severity! Finally, to close out the program, we had a fairly simple Guides Own, which was a bit more religiously based than I generally prefer (I usually like the more thankful/generally spiritual/nature ones), but did include a nice little bit where each girl said the thing she enjoyed most about camp – which for a lot of them was making new friends, and also ‘getting lost in the wide game’. Heh.

By 3pm, all the girls were off, and by 3.30, the leaders were gone too. I finally got home a bit after 5pm (the campsite is a fair way away from home, plus we had to stop for coffee, and I had to drop off co-leader), and when I got home, all I wanted was a long, hot shower, some wine, and pizza. Luckily I got all three, and so ended up a chirpy Guide leader, who might even consider doing it all again!

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Sleepover survived

The sleepover is done and dusted!

Despite my apprehension about having my first sleepover as truly ‘leader in charge’, especially with lots of newbies in attendance, it all went reasonably smoothly.

It began concerningly – the youngest one in tears (again… at first I was worried – what are we doing to cause tears each time we see this kid? – but now it just seems like her ‘thing’, and she seems to perk up quite quickly afterwards!), several other kids late, those who were on time getting antsy, and the first part of the wide game – a set trail – was not set! aggh!!

But it all got settled, and despite starting the wide game about 20 minutes later than anticipated, that proved to be pretty much the only hitch! They were all able to follow the trail, decode the code (although it appears I needed another little instruction in there about that you needed to decode, as they all went ‘uh, what do we do next…?’), and had a marvellous time with each patrol building a proper fire and then cooking banana boats on the fire (bananas with chocolate inside, then baked). The other unexpected success was the rope trail they had to follow blindfolded. When they were looking at the ropes strung across the yard, I heard several comments of ‘eh, that’s easy!’ – but of course things are very different once you’ve been blindfolded and dizzied up, and it ended up being the bit they were most positive about (apart from the fire!).

The aspects that didn’t work so well was copying the knots left by the Jinn – the patrols all decided to try and undo the knots before reading the instructions about having to re-create them (and it turns out even our ‘old’ guides are more than a bit shakey on the old reef knot which worries me!); and I think the ‘close’ needed to be a bit stronger than just putting out a candle with the water pistol.

After the wide game, we got straight into organising dinner, which my fabulous co-leaders sorted with ten junior guides all in the kitchen at once – amazing! Meanwhile, I wimped out and helped the older girls begin planning the Guides Own, for in the morning.

Dinner was mexican wraps, which were pretty successful, but oops, we forgot to do dessert… oh well!! They’d already had ‘dessert’ for afternoon tea, so that was our story, and we were sticking to it! After dinner, we did a quick walk around the block, and a campfire which seemed to go quite well, especially as most of the girls had never sung those songs, or knew how to sing in rounds etc.

This morning we had breakfast (pancakes & rice bubbles), and did the usual packing up wrangling. The older girls ran the Guides Own, which turned out really well (note to self, remember the technique of giving relevant materials and equipment but letting them run with bringing it together!), and then played games etc.

Overall, I think it was a really excellent few hours, and for those girls who attended, it really did extend the Guide program fabulously for them.

Also, despite my hesitation at having so many new girls attend (and having crying miss not-quite-six come along), I think it will prove to have been enormously beneficial in getting those girls to bond with the group who have been around a while, and giving them a good grounding in ‘how we do things at Guides’.

So, no longer feeling overwhelmed by our sudden numbers jump, just excited and pleased to have a new bunch of brilliant kids in the unit. Yay!

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Sleepover plotting and planning

I’ve been having far too much fun – and spending far too much time! – putting together a wide game for our sleepover next week.

At this stage, the game is going to include some of the staples – knotting, first aid, setting a fire and cooking over the fire – as well as some cuter flourishes, including making sparkly masks (for stealthier jinn-hunting), and learning to say hello and thank you in Arabic (because jinns are from the Middle East, and are nicer to people who are polite). Naturally this also means I’ve been busily construcing a magic lamp for the jinn to have escaped from – regrettably,  the lamp currently looks like a mildly deformed teapot… I suspect all the bronze paint in the world is not going to be able to rescue it!!

I’ve also been pottering about finding resources for a fire-theme Guides Own. Initially, I was going to just present the Guides Own to the girls, but a bit of reading reminded me that for it to truly be a Guides Own service, the girls need to have planned it and implemented it themselves. So, latest idea is that I will provide them with a bunch of poems, sayings, and *stuff* which they can use to plan the Guides Own – and I think I’ll limit it to just the older girls doing the planning. I’m sure they’ll come up with something suitable, so long as the ‘raw materials’ are useful enough – afterall, it really is a tough ask to try and come up with something out of nothing, and I think this may be where we’ve gone astray before.

So, here’s hoping.

In all this, I realise I’ve neglected to plan my part in this week’s usual unit activities… and I haven’t heard from any of my co-leaders that they’ve done their planning yet either!! Plans are for first aid, evaculation drills, how to call for help, etc etc. We’ll have to put some thought into how we manage that with our wide age range. Food for thought.

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