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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Maps and road rules – and how to make boring topics fun!

As part of the Wheels Create-A-Challenge badge that my Senior Guides are working on this term, we decided to have a bit of a patrol quiz night on road rules, going with the tried-and-true theory that the best way to handle learning-y and potentially school-ish material is to make it fast, make it competitive, and squeeze in the learning between the giggles.

We started with each patrol getting a copy of a Melways (Melbourne’s main street directory, so standard that people use “Melways” to mean “street directory”, and get confused when in other cities they use something else), and having races to find certain locations. One point was awarded to the patrol that was able to give the first correct map reference for each of the locations I read out. It was quite interesting seeing several of them being a bit mystified at why you’d have such a thing in your car – I guess these kids are so used to smart phones and gps devices that actual maps seem deeply quaint.

Handily, we ended up with enough Melways that I was able to use my one (a super handy mini version!) to confirm if their answers were correct. My original plan had me writing down the references in advance, but time got away from me, and this was actually more fun to properly check, rather than just look at my list. Locations included our nearest cross-streets to our hall, the local pool, the MCG, a local station, the nearest general hospital… etc etc.

We then awarded one point per street name for each member of the patrol – so Sally Marie Jones would have to find a street (or lane, or close, or avenue…) named Sally or Marie or Jones. They all seemed to get a kick out of finding “their” street!

Next we switched gears and focused on road rules. I’d done some print outs of several pages (er… about 35 pages actually!) of the booklet that learner drivers use to get their permits. Each patrol got a set of rules, and it was then a race to answer a bunch of questions correctly – things like “what are two tips for driving safely in tunnels” “who must you give way to in a roundabout” “when can you enter a tramway”. Each of the answers was SPECIFIC, and they were all flinging the pages around desperately trying to find the right tiny paragraph which would answer the question.

We also had a round where they had to quickly draw specific signs (less successful I think – perhaps as it was a bit more individual than team-y), and then finally a round where I told them specific maneuvers – zip merging, hook turns, three point turns – and as a patrol they had to act it out, with points going to the best/most accurate/most creative representation!

So, all in all, a fun night, full of crazy yelling, and lots of excitement, about a topic that I’m sure none of them were psyched to find out about!

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Bringing friends, growing guiding… perhaps!

Two weeks of ‘bring a friend’ nights, which will hopefully (maybe?) grow our units. We’re not struggling for members (woohoo!), but the extra leaders, and a bit of time for us to get used to the current numbers, and we think we could comfortably go up an extra patrol worth in the Juniors, and an extra few in Seniors would be handy, as several are due to head up to Rangers in the next term or two.

We decided to split the  bring a friend activities over two weeks, as there is always added complexity when you have newbies around. Week one, the Juniors brought friends for a Swiss themed night (world guiding: tick!) – we started off with some newspaper skiing races and games, followed by three stations for the patrols + pals to move around. One was a raclette station – co-leader brought long her special tiny little raclette grill pans, and the girls chopped veggies and cheese for grilling. Properly Swiss, and something they certainly hadn’t done before! Another station was chocolate fondue – we had marshmallows and fruit for the girls to dip in the fondue, which of course went down a treat! The final station had three different crafty options – a tapestry-ish bookmark (sewn with wool), a little woven heart shape, and a papercut.

Finally, to bring them all back together and add a touch more ‘play’, we had several rounds of a giants treasure style game, with the object to catch being a small cow figure.

It all went well, I think. But no returns the following week, so who knows??

To be fair, the following week was a bit of a challenge – owing to our landlords letting us know only a few days in advance that they’d double-booked our hall (and had over 400 people coming!!), we had to do some quick work to move for the night. Luckily, we were able to move to another hall in the district, but we did have a drop off in numbers, as the location really wasn’t as convenient for many of our families.

Anyhoo, for the second bring-a-friend we had our Seniors girls inviting their mates for a zombie wide game. I’d done this years ago to some success, and decided to revamp and update it, adding in a de-coding element, which required the girls to travel as zombies (with the limping, lumbering walk, lolling heads and outstretched arms) to their next destination, which added probably an extra 10 minutes, which was enough. They all seemed to have fun, and luckily, although it was reasonably chilly, it was a dry night so we were able to have them all outside for the whole time, so, I’m counting that as a ‘tick’ in the “outdoors” fundamentals column!!

I suppose the next few weeks will show if these efforts lead to any extra friends joining us… but to some extent, I suppose it doesn’t matter: the two nights went well, and our existing members had a fun night to show off to their friends – nothing too earnest to be embarrassed about, but also proper showcases of guiding activities, the mix of cooking, crafting, outdoors, and fun that we try to aim for. So, we’ll see!

 

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Exploring in the rain

Fun, if somewhat wet night at Guides this week, as we took the Seniors girls out around the local streets to come up with a bit of a treasure hunt for a different patrol to follow next week.

It was dark and cold and raining, but that just made it all a bit more exciting and interesting, and you get a different perspective on an area you’ve seen many times.

It was quite nice just to be out with one patrol (other leaders took other patrols, yay for lots of adults!), and just being able to chat a bit to them in a relaxed way without having to keep an eye on 20+ kids at once! Nice too for the group to have some time to bond a little bit, and relaxed, quiet walking around made it a really low pressure evening. The purpose of the activity (which will be completed next week) was to observe the local area, and draw a map or create map-like instructions for another to follow – both elements of the World Explore A Challenge badge!

Meanwhile, the Juniors managed to squeeze 15 kids into the kitchen (lucky they’re little!) to make and decorate cupcakes to look like cats and dogs for their Pets badge (any cooking can be made relevant to the badge du jour with a bit of thinking!). Unfortunately the picture examples were forgotten, but luckily not needed as the super creative kids all just figured it out brilliantly themselves, yay 🙂

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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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cooking, campfires, and crazy crafting

Simple evening this week – Juniors having a lovely time raiding our stash of crafty odds and ends to do whatever they wished (which turned out to include puppet-ish things, a castle, and using up aaaaaaaall the stickers), while the Seniors cooked damper on campfires.

I had a pretty relaxing evening, as our leadership team has been a bit more explicit and organised in our planning this term, and has actively assigned the various leaders to be in charge of organising and wrangling each night. So, woohoo, I had a night off! Well, basically I became an assistant leader for the night, but that was lovely. NewYoungCoLeader took responsibility for leading the Seniors for the first time, and she was a little freaked out, but not so the girls would know, and it all went beautifully!

Most of the Seniors are pretty experienced campfire builders these days, and were able to set several little cooking fires with little trouble – well, apart from the requisite whinging about collecting wood! As part of our Ropes badge, they all made damper, plaiting or twisting it into rope-ish shapes prior to cooking.

I had a sudden inspiration and suggestion for the girls on the cooking, and it turned out great so here’s my genius tip – rather than just wrapping the damper in foil (we were  doing loaves, rather than on sticks), we wrapped it in buttered baking paper, THEN the foil around it. The baking paper seemed to almost steam the damper, speeding up the cooking time significantly (always handy when you’ve only got unit time!), and the butter not only stopped it sticking, it helped brown the outside beautifully. So definitely using that trick again!

Meanwhile, the Juniors had a lovely chilled out time using up odds and ends of the craft materials, and chatting and just pottering away. It was a warm night (and our hall is again having renovations!) so the crafting took place in the courtyard which was surprisingly perfect. AwesomeCoLeader commented that it was a lovely night which let “Juniors be Juniors” – where they were able to let their creative minds wander, and come up with elaborate castles and characters and fantastical creatures.

So all in all, a lovely evening.

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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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Dinosaur adventure wide game

This wide game was played over a large area (several acres), but could easily be done in a small area. It took around 6 hours, but this included nearly two hours to cook lunch! There are 12 activities, but this could be trimmed depending on time easily enough.

The basic story was that a strange wrinkle in time had emerged, and a bunch of dinosaurs had come through – but the passage of time had made them tiny! Even tiny, you don’t want a bunch of dinosaurs wandering about, so patrols have been asked to search for the dinosaurs and retrieve them. (The dinosaurs were small plastic models from a toy shop!).  At various points, the activities were linked by ‘footprints’ to show the direction.

Have fun hunting for the dinosaurs!

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Triceratops

A code was provided with the message to look for a three-horned dinosaur near [location]. The location chosen was the furthest point away from base – over the course of the wide game the patrols gradually made their way back to base.

Velociraptor

Raptors are incredibly fast. So you’ll have to run quickly to find their location! But running at full speed is exhausting, so be sure to use fast Scouts Pace: 20 steps running, 20 steps jogging!

Get to [location] as quick as you can, and find a Raptor.

Parasaurolophus

To find the parasaurolophus, you will need to carefully make your way through the Sauropod Swamp, being careful to stick to dry land. When you reach the River, use the ropes provided to build a bridge, and get your full patrol over the bridge.De-construct the bridge before moving further through the swamp to find where the dinosaurs are hiding.

Leader’s note: we used a series of hoops to indicate the path through the ‘swamp’, patrols had to jump carefully between them. The river was a long piece of fabric between several large trees, and patrols were provided with a big pile of ropes to build their bridges from.

Pliosaurus

To find the pliosaurus, you will need to carefully fill a bucket, using the cup running along the rope. You can only retrieve the dinosaur when the water is up to the edge of the bucket.

Leader’s note: the little pliosaurus dinosaurs were placed in the bottom of the buckets, which were at one end of a long rope. At the other end was a larger bucket of water (or you could do this near a tap or similar) – the aim was to fill the cup at one end of the rope, run the cup along the rope and gradually fill the bucket with the dinosaur, until the dinosaur floated to the top. The success of this one will depend on how buoyant your dinosaur is!!

Maiasaura

The Maiasaura are hiding with their nest of eggs. Look for the tracking signs, and follow the instructions to locate the nest. Once you have found the nest, carefully retrieve one Maiasaura, and one egg per patrol member. Carry these with you to [COOKING LOCATION].

Note: The maiasaura ‘eggs’ were oranges, for cooking chocolate cake in oranges over the fire. But you could use actual eggs, watermelons… anything egg-shaped. If you didn’t want to do cooking, the eggs could be something crafty.

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Stegosaurus

In [location] you will find a cache of stegosaurus back-plates (and a stegosaurus!). Follow the instructions to make your lunch.

Note: the stegosaurus ‘back plates’ were tortilla chips, which formed the base for over-the-campfire nachos, but you could make anything!

Pachycephalosaurus

Using materials you can find (sticks, leaves, grasses etc), quickly make everyone in the patrol a ‘crown’ like the pachycephalosaurus. Once everyone is disguised, sneak up to the dinosaurs’ hiding place in the white reeds on the far end of the field.

Note: these dinosaurs had a helmet/crown shaped protrusion on their skull, hence the activity. The white reeds were a bunch of sticks painted white that we’d had from a previous activity, but you could use anything.

Ankylosaurus

Tie your patrol together (at the ankles) in a long line, with one person at the end of the line tying on the tennis ball-stocking ‘club’. Travel together as a patrol across to the [next location], where you will find the ankylosaurus on top of a blue stick. Use your stocking/ball club to knock down a dinosaur – no hands until it’s on the ground!

Note: you’ll need to provide a bunch of fabric strips to tie the patrol together, plus a stocking or long sock or similar with a ball for your ‘club’.

Allosaurus

Taking turns, play the memory match game to find out all about Allosaurus. When all the pairs have been matched successfully, you can hunt for the Allosaurus – it won’t be far away!

Note: to do this activity you’ll need to make a memory match game – ours had a bunch of facts and pictures about the allosaurus dinosaur.

Brachiosaurus

Brachiosaurus are hugely heavy! To find the brachiosaurus, the whole patrol will need to work together to act like a brachiosaurus. You will need to form four huge legs, a long tail, a big body, and a long neck and tiny head. Each member of the patrol needs to be part of the brachiosaurus shape! When you’re in brachiosaurus formation, walk as a brachiosaurus would to the far end of the field and hunt for the dinosaurs.

Tyrannosaurus Rex

Use the long bandage provided to wrap (in turn) each patrol member’s arms to their body, at elbow height, to create ‘t-rex arms’. Using your t-rex arms, take all the puzzle pieces out and put them back in again. Once each patrol member has completed the puzzle, hunt around for the dino.

Note: we had the patrols put together a simple puzzle (aimed at a 2 year old!) but any challenge that needed them to use their hands while stuck in t-rex position would be fun!

 

Pterodactyl

Work your way as a patrol through the challenges of the [obstacle course] until you find the flying pterodactyls.When you locate the pterodactyl, you will have the full set of dinosaurs, and will be able to make your way to the finishing point. Hurry!

Note: this part was done in a obstacle course/ropes course area, with the pterodactyls tied high on a swinging rope (so they were ‘flying’).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Leading, following, teaming, promising.

A bit of a bitsy night last week, as I and NewCoLeader2 worked with the Seniors to develop their leadership (and follower-ship!) skills.

We started off with a fill-in-the-blanks worksheet, which was talking about the good qualities of a leader. Interestingly, 9 times out of 10, they had all chosen exactly the same word. I don’t know if the sheets were written in such a way that there was only one realistic answer, or if they don’t have large vocabularies, or if they were trying to be ‘right’ rather than ‘creative’, but it was interesting. I thought that going through everyone’s answers together would give us some interesting discussions, but it turned out instead to be more of an echo chamber! Perhaps next time I’ll have to offer lollies in exchange for the most creative-but-sensible word choice!

We then decided to enjoy the gorgeous summery weather, and played a bunch of teamwork/leading/cooperating games- a series of 3-legged races, and blindfolded leading about races. I insisted on the girls pairing up with someone they didn’t know well (had to do a little enforcing of this “but we don’t go to school together, and she’s not in my patrol!” “yeah but you’ve both been Guides for three years – find someone else!”) – in the end they all had a lot of fun, and particularly in the leading-a-blindfolded-team activity, it was lovely to give some of the newer and shyer girls the opportunity to be in charge. One of our most socially awkward newbies was the leader of her little group, and she was just sooooooo chuffed, especially after having been paired with one of the “cooler” girls earlier on. I think she got a real boost in confidence, and felt like she was part of the in crowd, rather than watching from the sides… not that she was ever excluded (we are lucky in that all our unit members are excellent about including everyone), but there is a difference between being formally included and feeling like you are really part of the team!

Meanwhile, the younger girls were doing some weather experiments as part of their Air badge, making mini tornadoes in glass jars, practicing making thunder out of paper bags, and creating static electricity with balloons rubbed against their hair! Not really my cup of tea, but several of the girls were very excitedly reporting the goings-on to their parents at the end, so it seems it was well-aimed at the younger girls!

Finally, to round out the night we had a Promise ceremony for two of our girls moving up to Seniors, a ‘moving up’ ceremony for our oldest girl moving properly to our Rangers group, and (first for many years for me!) a Promise Ceremony for our two new Leaders, which was super lovely. It was really great for the girls to see that the leaders also make the same Promise, and get the same Promise and World badges!

Next week: cooking for the older girls, paper planes for the littlies.

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