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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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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Bridges!

Fun night this week, as my Seniors worked together to build a bridge between two trees, using nothing but rope… and a sprinkling of problem solving, teamwork, and cooperation!

We are lucky enough to have two large gum trees on the front lawn of our hall, conveniently spaced about three or four meters apart, so the night basically consisted of two large bags of ropes, a bag of fabric scarves (to place under the ropes to reduce the wear on the trees), and the task to work as a whole group (rather than in patrols) to build a bridge capable of holding one of the leaders.

After a bit of fussing about, they all ended up really getting stuck into it, and came up with some really ingenious solutions to the problems they were finding – like throwing a lightweight rope up over a sturdy branch (about three meters up!) to anchor things and help counter-balance, plaiting and sort of finger-knitting the ropes to make them thicker, and just generally really thinking things through. Several girls did ‘test runs’ of the bridge, and provided feedback on problems, that they then collectively nutted out solutions to, ending up with a fairly study contraption.

rope bridge

Early on, one of them said “are you just going to stand there and watch??” to which I replied “yep, its your problem to solve… I might throw in the odd bit of genius advice though!” to which I got a chorus of giggles – I suspect they know perfectly well that I am no knotting genius!!

To finish it off, AwesomeCoLeader tested out the bridge, and managed to get across it in one piece, and not touching the ground! We then got the whole bunch of them (about 15 I think, we had a few away on school camps) to clamber on for a photo, which was pretty great… although after that the structural integrity was a little battered!

Remarkably, they even managed to get it all taken down without whining, including wrapping up the ropes correctly! Hurrah!

All in all, a fabulously Guide-y night, traditional AND fun!

 

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Welcome back!

Term one has begun, and it was so lovely to see the girls again after our long summer break!

Our first night back was rather more chaotic than anticipated, as one of our leaders (who was meant to be running the seniors program) was out sick, another was away, our anticipated new helper had to cancel due to work calling her in, AND we got to the hall to find that the repairs due for completion in early January were still underway and the hall was totally blocked off, our cupboards were in the foyer (with all our stuff on top higgledy-piggledy), and all our ideas of how we were going to organise the activities was thrown into disarray!

Luckily, guides are adaptable (and the weather cooperated!), so my hastily pulled together seniors activities were run on the front lawn, the juniors made do in the foyer, and the Rangers comandeered a small room off to the side!

This term, we’ve got the seniors group doing the Ropes badge, and Juniors doing the Body badge. So week one had seniors girls working in their patrols to plan a ropes-based game, and then run it for the other patrols. They were pretty creative, coming up with a spiders web de-tangling game, an obstacle course, and a relay race of sorts.

The juniors we’re learning to care for bodies, doing a bit of first aid, and having a lovely time bandaging each other up. Truly a tragic sight, so many broken arms, twisted ankles, and terrible snakebites! 🙂

Next week: campfire cooking for the seniors, free form use-up-the-odds-and-ends crafting for juniors!

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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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Paper planes!

Fun night this week, as I mucked about with the Juniors, helping them make all manner of creative paper planes, thanks to Fun Paper Airplanes!

When I did this activity a few years ago, it was with the older group of girls (mainly 10 and 11 year olds), and so I wasn’t quite sure how the 6-9s would go, but it worked brilliantly. I stuck to just the beginners and intermediate level planes, and those were plenty complicated enough for the younger group.

Initially there was some confusion about how the templates worked, with several of the kids going straight for the scissors to cut along dotted lines, rather than read the instructions carefully and use those as fold marks! Still, once they’d got the hang of one of them, and the way the instructions worked, they all did really well! Even one of our girls who is notoriously impatient with anything which requires being methodical got on board with it all, and ended up doing some quite complicated designs.

We had lots of fun flying them all around our little hall, and then went outside to see how far they could go – and even though it was a bit more windy than you’d prefer for that sort of activity, they all had a lovely time running about and challenging each other – after testing outside they were keen to run back in and do an extra one or two for further trials! So we managed to fill the whole hour, and I think it was pitched pretty much perfectly in terms of complexity. Having the range of templates was great, as it let the girls set their own level of challenge, and work up or down from where they’d chosen as they felt necessary.

Meanwhile, the seniors were doing a bit of girl-led Guiding, with two of the girls working towards their Junior BP Award running a ‘masterchef’ night, and doing it so competently that the two leaders helping out with that activity felt quite un-needed!

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Catching up!

Whoops, poor little neglected blog!

So, a quick update on the last two weeks of term:

Our little ones did campfire cooking, doing bananas with chocolate – and very successfully I might add! One fire per patrol, and one adult per patrol, made for a smooth experience. Their work over the term in developing confidence with matches, and the fact that many of them had attended our Juniors sleepover a few weeks ago where they also had to build fires, meant that they’d actually developed and consolidated their skills and were quite competent to set and light and maintain the fires. Go littlies!

Meanwhile, I and NewestCo-Leader (we have a crew now… I need to do some re-blog-naming of my excellent leaders!) led the older girls in ’emergency out of the box’ – we provided a bunch of *stuff* (tarps, ropes, blankets, first aid equipment, clothes, chairs, tables, gadget wood, wool….) in a pile and in patrols they had to respond to various scenarios pulled ‘out of the hat’. Scenarios were things like “there’s been a car crash out the front of the building” “there’s a fire in the kitchen” “you’ve got home and realised you’ve lost your keys and no-one is due home for two hours…”

I’d kind of envisaged they’d pretty much use the bits and pieces to create a vignette of how they’d respond, but it seems we have quite a few dramatic little souls in the group, and so somehow we ended up with these elaborate mini-plays, complete with characters and backstories and HIGH DRAMA! We finished on a silly scenario (“oh my god, the party is in an hour and I have NOTHING to wear!!”) which was a bit of fun 🙂

Our final week of term was a bit ‘bitsy’ – the Seniors did a version of the mini-meal done by the Juniors a few weeks ago (cooking a tiny 3 course dinner over candles), but with the added complication of working with only torchlight – they seemed to enjoy it, but interesting “haaaaate soup” (noted for future camps etc), and got through the task faster than expected. Luckily we were able to fill the time with a bit of “so, what do you want to do next term?”

Meanwhile, the Juniors had a games night, with a bit of leadership worked in – each of the girls had the chance to take the lead in running a game for the group, and it worked really well. We didn’t have a set list of games or of kids, but made it clear initially that we wanted each of them to have a try running things, even if it was only for a round or two of a well known game. They all really stepped up and embraced the task, and it was lovely to see, not to mention, fabulously run by YoungCoLeader, who really does enjoy working with our youngest girls.

Finally finally we had another session of our limping along Rangers group, pulling out our Upper Seniors for the night – they were doing “mini gadgets” (hmm quite a mini theme for the evening, didn’t realise at the time!), using tiny twigs and twine to make doll-house sized camp gadgets. It was… hmm… of mixed success. Still, they enjoyed the time as a separate older group, and have begged for extra sessions next term, so that’s a good sign 🙂

Speaking of next term, our leadership team got together last week for planning term three, and it should be a bunch of fun – we’ll be working on the ‘Girls’ and ‘Other People’ badges for Juniors and Seniors respectively, and I think it should be a lovely relaxed sort of term… at this stage it doesn’t look like we’re attempting to crazily over-program, but I’m sure as each week approaches we’ll somehow find ways to add absurd flourishes to the proceedings!

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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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Lazy leading… or girl-led guiding?

Why not both?!

This week the Senior Guides took charge of the program, with each of the three patrols organising and running a World Centre themed activity. This was the result of two weeks of preparation – two weeks ago they were allocated their World Centre, and given five minutes to brainstorm the sorts of equipment/information/ideas that they would need to bring the following week. One week ago, they had 15 minutes as a patrol to look over their materials and discuss ideas and agree as a group what activity they were going to run. And then this week, they actually did it!

The three groups all had 10 minutes to set up, followed by the activities in order. The ‘Pax Lodge’ patrol ran a scavenger hunt, where they had a bunch of pictures of UK sites and items scattered around the grounds, as well as non-UK relevant pictures. The competing teams of 3 girls a piece got points for collecting relevant pictures, and lost points if they collected an incorrect picture. In addition, 4 members of the organising patrol dressed up (two as Queens Guards in ‘bearskin hats’, one as a ‘British Bulldog’, one as ‘The Queen’) (none of their costumes looked at all correct, but it was a lot of fun!), and the competing groups got additional points if they managed to find one of the characters. Very clever set up, and all the girls really loved the activity!

Next up was the Our Cabana patrol, who had organised to make and bring in various bits and pieces to make soft tacos – all the girls put together their own combo, and I think most of them even tried something a bit different to their usual. Even WhiteFoodGuide gave it a decent try, and discovered she quite enjoys spicy meat and beans! This patrol also had a poncho based activity organised, but very few girls had remembered to bring an old blanket or sheet or whatever, and we had limited time, so it ended up just being the food activity. Still, they did very well in all remembering everything, and having appropriate off site and on site preparation!

Finally, the Sangam patrol put together a ‘display’ with bits and pieces about India, and dressed up in saris and shalwar kameez to present a few facts and figures about India. The patrol’s original plan was to put on a skit, but they had several girls away ill and decided to go with a cut down version. Not quite as successful as the other patrol’s activities, but still well organised.

To close out the night, I did a very quick “okay, what do we remember about World Guiding from the last few weeks?” – collectively they could easily remember all of the WAGGGS regions, what WAGGGS stands for, where the world centres are, listed about 15 Asia Pacific region countries without struggle, and were aware that each country had a slightly different Promise and Law. Not bad!! Looks like a fair bit of what we’ve been doing has indeed stuck!

The upshot of all of these patrol activities was that I pretty much sat and supervised, only needing to do the occasional “you need to clean up X, Y, and Z” “this is how you use the industrial dishwasher” “the cloths are on the sink”. EASY!

Meanwhile, AwesomeCoLeader and YoungCoLeader were Juniors-wrangling. AwesomeCoLeader was running the show, which was part of their Eyes badge, and focused on ways to convey information without seeing. The majority of this was focussed on Braille, and she used a very clever way of introducing the Braille code system – six cup muffin pans! Using the muffin pans as the ‘base’ for the six-dot basic braille system, the girls used a giant stash of jelly beans to practice the alphabet, and then did some de-coding of braille dots. As it was an ‘Eyes’ night, they also played The Postcard Game (which involves matching postcard halves scattered around the gardens), as well as a quick game of Camouflage.

So, all in all, a really good night.

With our larger numbers, we’ve lately been running the two groups semi-separately, almost as proper “Guide” and “Brownie” units. The next three weeks, however, we’ve got everyone back together. It will be interesting to see how we manage that, as the numbers of kids if everyone turns up is getting pretty large (34, I think?), and the age range (and more importantly, capacity range) is also getting pretty huge – from 6 year olds in prep to 12 year olds in year seven! I suspect we may need to have an excellent cup of tea waiting at home after those nights!!

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Making World Guiding facts fun and fabulous!

Want to strike fear of a boring night into a group of Guides?

Tell them you’ll be working through the criteria for the “World Guiding” Achieve A Challenge badge. The clauses include such scintillating requirements as “know what WAGGGS stands for and who can become a member”, “Name all of the WAGGGS countries of the Asia Pacific Region”, “locate the four World Centres on a map”.

Guaranteed snoozearama, right?

At any rate, certainly the type of information which could very easily be reduced to “read this” “list this” and “memorise this”.

I’m sure I speak for 10 year olds everywhere when I say BORRRRR-ING!!

BUT!

After much pondering, I came up with what I thought might be a way to get this info into a fun package – and WOOHOO! – it actually worked!

So how do you make boring into fun? Add competition, speed, and prizes!

Essentially, we ended up with a quiz night, with four rounds of activities, with patrols competing for points/markers (as indicated by coloured paddlepop sticks) at each stage, and the overall winning patrol getting a prize.

Round one: World Centres

Each patrol was given an atlas, and I read out the address (broadly) of the world centres. The first patrol to find the location, raise their hands, and point it correctly out on the map won a marker.

We started off easy with “Pax Lodge, London, United Kingdom”, then progressed to Sangam, Our Cabana, and Our Chalet in the same format. Then as a bonus round, there were five points up for grabs as I read out the five countries which have been involved in the Fifth World Centre project (Ghana, South Africa, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria) – all they had to do was find the country.

Round two: WAGGGS member countries

Using the atlases again (although we switched them around, as each patrol had a different format atlas, and each had good and bad points), the girls competed to correctly name WAGGGS countries in each region.

Firstly, I put out a map of the regions, and got them to have a proper look at it – the WAGGGS regions don’t match directly with continents, which was going to make things a bit of a challenge!

Then, I had a list (broken up by region) of all of the member countries. The girls’ task was to use the atlases to identify and name WAGGGS countries in the various regions. The trick was, they had to pick a country which was a member, and not repeat one already said by another patrol, and not hesitate for more than five seconds!

Each patrol had 10 markers (in a different colour to the ‘points’ markers) – for every incorrect/repeat/hesitation answer, they lost a marker. The winner would be the last patrol left with markers.

So we started with Africa Region, and the girls pored over the maps, yelling out countries, while I ticked their answers off the list. A fast game is a good game, so we raced through, and when about half the countries in the region had been successfully named, I then read out the other possible correct answers, before we went on to Arab region, Western Hemisphere, Europe, and finally Asia Pacific. For each region, I moved on once we’d ticked off about half – much more fun than insisting on finding *every* WAGGGS country – it would take ages, and would get really boring through repeats. But possibly you could aim for the full list if sticking to one region? The winning patrol was then awarded two markers towards their total.

Round three: WAGGGS membership

This round took an “open book test” approach. Each patrol was given a copy of the WAGGGS membership requirements (http://www.wagggs.org/en/about/About/membership) and given two minutes to read it through.

I then sat with my copy, and asked a series of questions – for example “what are joint organisations?” “what do full members need to pay?” “what name rules are there for full members?” etc etc. For each question, the patrols quickly glanced through their sheet, and once they’d located the answer put up their hands – the first correct response then earned a marker! We only did about 6 questions, but it was enough to focus their minds, and I’m sure the first time any of them had even considered that WAGGGS might have membership rules!

Round four: Asia Pacific Region

Our final round was essentially a game of “memory” – the classic “match two cards” game. Patrols took it in turns to attempt to match the cards. The winning patrol was the one with the most pairs at the end.

I’d made up special Asia Pacific Region cards – one half of the pair was the name of the country, the other half was a picture of the guides from that country, which worked really well. Sometimes World Guiding is so remote from our girls, so having pictures of the guides – proper “having fun” photos, rather than drawings of their uniforms or logo or flag, made it all seem a bit more real. Most of the pictures were from the WAGGGS site (http://asia.wagggs.org/en/organisations), some from their individual organisation websites.

IMG_0234Some of the memory cards

The girls were also super excited when they realised that the photo of “Australia” Guides was a picture of them engaged in an activity from last year 🙂

All in all, it was a huge success, and I’m super thrilled at how it turned out – not something I expected to say when I first turned my mind to meeting the badge criteria!!

Finally, we rounded out the night with 15 minutes as patrols to plan their World Guiding/World Centres activities for next week. The planning actually seemed to go well, so hopefully we’ll end up with a good program of guide-led patrol activities… but I might just have some back up activities *just in case*!

Eagle-eyed readers will realise that I’ve not even mentioned the Juniors yet – I was so engaged with the Seniors that I hardly noticed them (also helped by us splitting the physical space – the Juniors were in the hall, the Seniors were in the foyer area), but they were working on their Eyes badge, making glasses out of pipecleaners and cellophane, and then putting different bits of paper over the glasses ‘lenses’ to simulate different types of vision problems – like cataracts, or retinopathy etc. It seemed to go fairly well, but I suspect it was a bit too intricate for some of the younger ones – we seem to have had a sudden influx of 6 and barely-7 year olds, and I’m not sure we’ve yet adjusted the program to account for their more limited fine motor skills, and smaller attention span.

Speaking of influx, we seem to be suddenly bursting at the seams, to the point that I’m seriously considering if we need to move to a waiting list type situation. Unless we get another leader soon (hi universe, are you listening??), we’re probably going to need a parent roster, and to close the books – if the newbies all sign up (which it looks like they will…) then we’re at 18 in the Seniors/Uppers, and 16 in the Juniors, which I think is the biggest we’ve been in my 6 years with the unit. No doubt now I’ve said that we’ll have a massive drop off after Easter and I’ll be wondering what on earth just happened!

Well, we can only take it “one week at a time” as they say on the football shows, so I guess all there is to do is gear up for patrol-led World Guiding, and ‘Reading Without Seeing’ activities focused on Braille, audiobooks, and other marvellous things!

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