keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

co-leaders for the win!

Oh, the pleasure of leading with a team of excellent co-leaders!

This week I took a back seat as NewCoLeader2 and RangersLeader both (separately) organised and ran wide games for the Juniors/Seniors and Rangers respectively.

My only role was to run off some printing and pick up some pavement chalk at the shops!

The wide game for the Juniors/Seniors group was themed around “good old fashioned games”, and used the overarching idea of working the way through a series of the types of games that girls who were engaged in Scouts/Guides at the beginning of the movement would have played – things like elastics, hopscotch, jacks.

At the completion of each activity, the patrols were given a letter, which ended up forming the word ‘Olave’. They all had a great time, and it was a brilliant success for CoLeader’s first time completely running the night from scratch!

Meanwhile, Rangers leader riffed off a couple of wide games found online to come up with a series of ‘international’ activities (this is why we blog people, so other leaders can pinch at will! Share and share about!).

The different activities were in a ‘hat’, and were completed in the order they were selected. Activities included moving cooked rice between bowls using “chopsticks” (that were actually wooden skewers: added complexity!), making biscuit burgers (using biscuits, coloured icing, and dyed coconut shavings to make something which looked a bit like a burger), making little wish boxes, filling buckets with water… etc etc. At the end of each activity, they earned a word, which at the end, they had to re-organise into a quote, which was from Robert Baden-Powell and was “Life without adventure would be deadly dull” 🙂

The girls had a great time, and total kudos to RangersLeader – this too was her first wide game, and she pulled it together in 48 hours and ran it brilliantly! Yay for excellent co-leaders, yay for team guiding, just YAY!


Evaluating, planning, and girl-lead guiding

Our final night of term three had several girls presenting or running activities for their JBP Award, which was pretty great! We’ve got one with only 3 more things to get signed off (one of which she’s already done, just needs to evaluate), and another who has just reached the half way point! Yay!

I’m pretty sure we’ve got a couple more not too far behind either, so super yay! Looks like a big presentation night will need to be planned for term one next year!

JBP activity nights really are the easiest ones on the calendar – the girls do all the planning of the activities they want to run, they organise the games, and really get to demonstrate their skills.

Activities run included a ‘rob the nest’ type game with recycled materials as the objects for robbing (quite fun, although such an arbitrary game!), a morse code activity and quiz, and learning a version of “It’s a Small World” with a guiding bent.

There were also a bunch of activities the girls evaluated – visiting a synagogue and reporting back (complete with lovely photos done up in a scroll style poster to emulate a Torah roll), abseiling on school camp, running a game for the unit a few weeks ago, and leading songs at last week’s campfire. For JBP activities, we ask for three-way evaluation: evaluation by peers, evaluation by leaders, evaluation by self. As we go on further with JBP bits and pieces, the girls are getting better at understanding what is a suitable standard of effort, and really trying to do their best.

We also handed out super exciting new addition to the “stuff” of Guides – small (A4 size) calico bags, which are the perfect size once closed to fit in a handbook, as well as a place to display and/or store badges! Ahh ebay. You do have cool stuff.

Now, to more girl-led guiding. Well, two weeks ago we had the girls gather some ideas and suggestions of badges and activities they would like to do, and the clear winner for the next badge to work on was the Pets Create-A-Challenge. That is not a badge I would have ever chosen, purely on the level of difficulty of doing it during term time. But we’re meant to follow the girl’s preferences wherever possible, so co-leader and I took a week to ponder and consider, before meeting over dinner, wine, and chocolate to consider our plans.

So, taking the approach of “looking wide” as instructed by BP, our approach to the pets badge will include:
• Making native bird bird-feeders
• Making chia pets
• A ‘pets escape’ wide game
• A night in the park where pets can come for a quick “show off” before being taken home again!
• Pet themed plays/skits.

It’s probably not quite the program the girls originally had in mind when they nominated the pets badge, but it should give a reasonable mix of activities!

Of course, all of that is predicated on a having a hall next term, which isn’t necessarily guaranteed… apparently an engineers report has upgraded next year’s “maybe some minor renovations” to “oh yikes there are fairly major structural issues that you need to fix NOW” (!!) so I guess we’ll see what happens!

Leave a comment »

Unexpectedly traditional guiding!

Fun night, as our puppet show night somehow morphed into a night of very traditional guiding! We had patrols, guide laws, first aid, knotting, and guiding history!

We started out with the girls working in their patrols to refine their puppet plays from last week (which included reminding them that they had in fact chosen a guide law to focus on…) (and then reminding them which law…!) but they got going pretty quickly, and had fun rehearsing. After about 30 minutes rehearsal, they put on their plays to… varying levels of success! But they were cute, and all seemed to have fun, and may even have a fighting chance of remembering an extra guide law or two!

After that we decided to crack into the new guide handbooks, which we had finally managed to get a reasonable sub-group of the unit purchasing, as well as a decent set for the unit.

So we split the girls into various age groups, and gave them the relevant handbooks (if they had one they were also encouraged to get theirs out), and started by asking them all to find the first aid section of the book, and try out one of the techniques. We had some good ankle wrapping, recovery positions, treatment for bleeding, and they all seemed to have fun.

Next we asked them to find out “something about a person called Robert” in the book, which was kind of fun, as well as “what is special about 22 February?” and “Who else’s birthday was that?”. Quick and stealthy guiding history in less than 5 minutes!

Finally, we got the girls to find knotting in the books, and asked them to try something out – we had a bowline, lots of square lashing, a couple of reef knots, and a few other bits and pieces. Again, lovely focused and engaged guides!

Still not quite sure how we pulled an almost entirely traditional night out the hat, but it worked really well, and the girls loved it! I know we often avoid knotting and history bits and pieces in particular for fear of being “boring”, but perhaps this is the way – bite size pieces, rather than a whole night focused on the one thing.

This weekend, Cookout Sleepover – 8 girls are coming along to cook outdoors, go for a night scavenger hunt, and (hopefully!) have a lovely time.

And here’s one of the sets of puppets 🙂

Leave a comment »

Here we go again: changes to the Promise (UK this time!)

The UK branch of Girl Guides has just announced that they are changing their Promise, to one that is very very similar to the ‘new’ (now a year old!) Girl Guides Australia Promise.
(my thoughts on the topic originally are here):

It has been interesting seeing identical arguments, mis-interpretation, and (to be fair) praise, for the changes as occurred in Australia a year ago.

Once again, it appears that there are a few misconceptions about Guiding around.

Firstly, Guiding is not and was never a ‘Christian’ organisation. Lord Baden-Powell was very clear in his writings that while he thought faith was important, it was always the case that this faith could be to any religion or creed. Anyone looking around the world at the spread of Guiding cannot truly believe that only Christians can be Guides. Guiding is in over 100 countries around the world, certainly not all with a majority Christian population!

Secondly, it never ceases to amaze me how many people who are not and will never be Guides (mainly middle-aged or elderly men) feel the need to stick their noses in and have an opinion on what Guides agree to Promise!


Anyhoo. As you may have guessed, I’m hugely in favour of the change to the UK Promise (although I think Australia’s is better!), and a year on in the implementation of the revised wording in Australia, I have nothing but praise. We’ve had Guides from Christian, Muslim, and Hindu backgrounds all make the revised Australian Promise with no issues at all, as well as a bunch of not-really-any-faith girls make their Promise too. Each of them has taken the Promise seriously, understood what they were saying, and said the words with pride and delight. You can’t ask more than that!

Leave a comment »

Feminism and Girl Guides

In recent months, I have come to regard my role as a volunteer Girl Guide leader as probably the most feminist role I have.

And Girl Guides as the most feminist organisation I know.

At Guides, girls and women can be themselves. They can be quiet or loud, shy or confident, interested in traditional home skills or really invested in camping and outdoors activities. They can mosey along doing whatever badges happen to be included in the program or they steadily work their way through the books and cover their sashes in brightly coloured mementos of achievement.

The history of Girl Guides is a history of girls and women actively choosing to be part of the program, and of doing more than just asking nicely. At the famous Crystal Palace Rally which started it all, girls were not expected. Lord Baden Powell had called together his scouts, children who had been reading “Scouting for Boys” and had started to put the plans into action. Up the end of the rally was a bunch of girls, who had decided they too would be part of this new movement, and insisted they had the right to be there. So right from the start, girls were there by choice, and making the movement fit them.

With each unit operating semi independently, and each leader having different interests, there is of course a wide variation in what Guides can and does offer each kid. But regardless of whether the unit tends to do a lot of baking or a lot of building, each one does it with women, and for women. There is no question whether a girl can be a patrol leader, or treasurer.  No question of whether its ‘right’ for a girl to be interested in the building or the baking. Because of course she can – there are examples all around.

I know that volunteering isn’t always regarded as “feminist” – surely giving time for free is not the best road. But I don’t care – I’m lucky enough to earn plenty of money in my day job, Guides is what I do for pleasure. On the nights where I realise I’ve helped a kid learn something new, conquer a fear, or suddenly feel accepted, I come home glowing. Of course, the flipside is, when a kid decides to leave, I’m devastated! But that’s growing, and caring.

This week co-leader and I will be talking to the parents about the upcoming camp. While we do that, our 13 year old helper will be running the games and activities. A girl who is sometimes little too loud, and a little socially awkward has found a way to grow as a person, learnt to soften her edges, and ask nicely for others barely 2 years younger to please follow her instructions. And they do. Perhaps she would have learnt these skills elsewhere, who knows? But for her, she has taken the skills given through Guides – to cooperate, to lead, to help – and they have helped her grow.

So when people say to me “oh, Guides is so old fashioned”, I think, yes, perhaps in some ways it is. But given the history of Guides, and the fabulous pushy little girls who started it, I really hope that it is, and remains so.