keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Faith and service: exploring the serious side of Guiding

A fantastic day out yesterday, helping around 12 Guides to give service and explore their understanding of faith, and explore the serious side of Guiding in a fun way.

We started the day with an hour and a half of helping out at National Tree Day in a local park, digging holes (with a cool pogo-stick-esq digger) and planting some native grasses along a river bed. The girls all got really into the activity, and luckily the weather was on our side, all bright blue skies which always makes things easier!

The girls really worked well together, with groups of three working on the digging (the digger really needed two to hold steady and one to jump), and being a bit creative in their problem solving around how to get the stakes into the ground (thump it with a stray rock being vastly more efficient than other possibly less injury-prone strategies) (no fingers were harmed in the thumping of stakes!).

After our time planting, we had a mini-change of the guard, with three girls heading off, and two others joining us for the second part of the day, which was exploring places of faith.

Following much wrangling of public transport (train stations are ALWAYS further on foot than they appear on a map!) (especially with 8 year olds busy gossiping rather than moving quick smart!) we made it up to the inner northern suburb of Coburg, where we visited a local mosque, and were given a tour and a brief overview of Islam by some of the mosque’s volunteers, who were all so lovely to the girls – just delighted to show off their mosque and de-mystify their faith. The girls were all facinated by the beautifully decorated Qurans, and were decidedly taken by the lovely dense carpet (many patterns were drawn on the thick pile while listening!). But of course, the thing that really caught their eye? The fact that the mosque had a table tennis table set up in the community room! Heh.

We then had a short break for lunch at  Lebanese restaurant, where the girls feasted on pita bread, dips, salads, and meat. Even FussyEaterGuide managed to find things she enjoyed (pita, hummous, chicken), and for all her fussy eater status, she did have a tiny try of everything, and even agreed that tabouli was “not tooooo bad”. Success! A few more years in Guides and she may even branch out into non-white-food options!

After lunch, we headed back to the city to visit a synagogue. In what turned out to be a stroke of luck, we missed the opening hours of the synagogue by five minutes, but the door was still open. So I went in and apologised profusely for our tardiness and wondered if the girls might have a quick two minute look and then head off? Well, it turned out the Rabbi was still around, and was DELIGHTED to give the girls a private tour and talk (and even show off blowing the new year’s horn), so rather than be in a big group with other people for the open day, they had all their questions answered and tailored attention! Super lucky!

Finally, we had half an hour to check out Melbourne’s Catholic cathedral, which despite being only a five minute walk from my work I’d never been inside – well, it was beautiful, all soaring vaults and stained glass, just gorgeous.

So all in all, we had a great day, giving the girls a wider understanding of faiths in their city, and hopefully giving them a chance to see that there are people of good will and friendliness from many backgrounds. If only we’d had time to fit in a visits to Buddhist and Hindu temples as well to really broaden the experience… perhaps that can be on the agenda for next year!

Overall, I think the day helped our girls meet their Australian Girl Guides Promise to “serve my community and Australia” and “be true to myself and develop my beliefs”… and tick off a couple of clauses in a few badges as well!


Adventures in mud & masterpieces

Great day out today, starting off with National Tree Day (, which is a great service activity for kids – its reasonably short (we did about an hour and a half), everything is provided (although its pretty good for kids to bring kid-sized garden gloves), and you feel like something has been achieved.
This year, the site we chose was at Collingwood Children’s Farm (, which was rather lovely, as it was nearby, and the girls were allowed to have a bit of a wander around after planting and check out the sheep, goats, horses, and pigs.
We were joined by a few of sister unit’s kids (and 2 of their mums!) which was great, its always nice to have a good crowd for these sorts of activities, its much more fun! And our total of 16 kids across the two units was much better than last year’s 3!!

In the afternoon, we backed up our muddy morning by taking just the girls from our unit (minus two planters, plus one extra kid who didn’t want to plant!) into the city for a lunch out, and a visit to the Australian art collection at the National Gallery of Victoria.

It worked out really well – lunching at a Chinese restaurant, which the girls seemed to enjoy – one of our younger Guides was decidedly skeptical about dumplings, but being reminded that Guides rules are “must have two bites”, she gave both the vegetable and the meat dumplings a try and LOVED THEM!

Onto the art gallery, and co-leader had been very organised and found that the gallery offers ‘trails’ for kids to do (, so we had something to structure our time in the galleries, and give the kids something in particular to look for, and analyse, and think about. It worked really well, and I think it made the kids focus, rather than just go through as quick as they possibly could.

Of course, we did have a moment or two in the modern 80s themed galleries, where some of the content was less… kid-friendly than the more traditional collections! A couple of pictures that were decidedly risqué! Ah well!

To finish up, we did a quick activity downstairs for kids, where they could colour in masks, before heading across Federation Square (and having a dance and a pose for the big screen!) and catching the train back out to our meeting point with parents.

All in all, a good day, a bit of service, some new experiences, and a bit of fun!

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A Visit to Chinatown

Yesterday, Co-leader 1 and 2, and sister unit’s Leader and I took 15 Guides (13 from our unit, 2 from sister unit) off to the city for a ‘Chinatown adventure day’. Yes, we were a week late for Chinese New Year, but that was deliberate as I didn’t think we could handle that many kiddos amongst the crowds!

The day was rather warm (about 35 in the end), so it was lucky that the majority of the day was spent indoors at the Chinese history museum and at our lunch!

We started off with a tram ride from our usual hall into the city, which for quite a few of the girls was something of a novel experience (life skills: public transport: TICK!), getting off near one of my favourite small city parks, which has a fabulous water feature which you can sort of step inside – getting sprayed with water, but not actually soaked through unless you really try (which a few of the girls were keen on, but were given A TALKING TO before they were allowed anywhere near the fountain!) – anyway, they all had their snack, had a bit of a play about, and the leaders got coffee before tackling the next part of the day!

So, then down to the museum – I wish I’d scoped it before we went as a group, as the first little ‘journey’ bit you go through, with a bit of animated story telling really needed to be done in small groups, rather than all 15 kids and 4 adults trying to fit into the tiny spaces at once. We should have gone in groups of 3-4 kids per adult, but, oh well, hindsight.

The girls did have fun crawling through the ‘mining’ tunnel (teeny!), and trying on the dress ups, and then later, climbing up through the Millenium Dragon!

Upstairs in the main galleries, the girls got the most out of looking at the tiny shoes from the footbinding era, playing with puppets, exploring their Chinese Zodiac on some interactive touch screens, and doing an origami type activity.

After an hour, they were pretty much done, so we headed first to check out a shop which has dumpling making “on show”, and then off to lunch. Originally, the plan was for yum cha, which when I was expecting about 6-7 kids (numbers we’ve had for other adventure days), would have worked fine. But for 15 kids and 4 adults, ordering off passing yum cha carts simply wasn’t going to work – at least not with our limited budget!! So we ended up negotiating a mini-banquet which worked really well – everyone got a springroll, and then our two tables each got a large serve of fried rice, sweet-and-sour pork, mixed veggies, and honey chicken.

These are generally the types of food I regard as “bad Australian Chinese”, but given a fair few of our girls were skeptical about even TRYING Chinese food, this slightly bland mix was probably a good entry point, rather than trying them out on hot pots and xiao long bao! All the kids (even MissWhiteFoodsOnly) managed to find something they liked enough to fill them up, and they all tried the full range of food, and all at least *attempted* chopsticks! So yay for trying new things! Go Guides!

We then headed back to the same park again for a ten minute break and spray from the water, before tram’ing back to the hall.

All in all, a good day! A couple of new friendships made (one of our shyest girls made a friend! awwwww), new things tried, happy girls and leaders, and good public visibility for Guides with us all wandering about in uniform 🙂

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