guideydiary

keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

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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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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Campfire cooking

Yesterday and today’s unseasonably warm and clear day made for a fabulous base to our seniors cookout sleepover!

With less leaders available lately (and so tighter ratios of kids possible for overnight activities), we decided to run a seniors-only sleepover, and to try a different format to usual. This did mean we had quite low numbers (didn’t help that today is father’s day), but 7 girls (was meant to be 8, one didn’t show up, hope everything is okay…) all had a great time, and for what we were doing, low numbers was probably actually preferable.

Traditionally, our sleepovers have run like mini camps, with a long wide game in the afternoon of the Saturday, then dinner, a night walk, and campfire singing. In the morning we would do breakfast, a Guides Own, games, and morning tea before heading home. The girls would have patrol duties, and would help with the cooking but it would primarily be of the ‘assisting the QM’ style, rather than independent cooking.

This time, we mixed it up, focusing the entire theme on outdoor cooking, and having the girls do the vast majority of the work. We decided that the evening would be campfire cooking, and in the morning we would use the little gas cookers.

For dinner, we cooked:
Vegetable shasliks with lemon and pesto marinade
Tortilla pies with sour cream and salsa
Baked apples with custard.

Individual tortilla pies cooking
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The girls did really well with the cooking – our initial plan had all girls doing everything, but it quickly became apparent that would take aaaaaaaaages, and probably wasn’t a realistic way to prepare them for the bigger sorts of camps where they might need to do cooking, as dividing the work is the only way you can get these things to work!

We were also losing light quickly, and fair bit of the preparation for the main and dessert were done by torchlight – but that worked as well, in terms of a ‘teachable’ moment about why torches are on the kit list (and that its not really an ‘optional’ or ‘if you feel like it’ list), and also meant that they had to cooperate in order to keep light focused on the various tasks!

After dinner and dishes and clean up, we did a scavenger hunt which co-leader came up with, which was very successful – they had to work out little riddles to figure out what they were looking for (e.g. “I have a head and a tail but no arms or legs” – a coin), which took them quite a while!

Finally to close out the night we worked up the coals a little, and built the fire back up to do some short, quiet style campfire songs (only a couple as we’re doing a proper campfire night in a few weeks), and toasted marshmallows. Off to bed for the kids, and a cup of tea with the fire for adults finished off a very successful night!

This morning, we continued the outdoor cooking, making french toast using the little gas cookers, which most of the girls really enjoyed (MissPlainFoods was decidedly dubious), before going for a walk around the streets (again with a scavenger hunt type activity where they had to find various street names and things), and then into a rope challenge, trying to build a rope bridge between trees about three meters apart. The rope bridge was only partly successful, but they had fun, and it was good to stretch them – even those who’d already done a rope bridge at camp realised that moving from 1.5 meters to 3 meters made things MUCH more complex!

At 11am, parents arrived, girls departed, and leaders set to the final pack up and clean up, which only took 30 minutes, a new record!

A really excellent event, I hope the girls got as much out of it as I did!

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Camp survived!

Over the weekend our long-planned Secret Island Camp was held!

There were many girls (27!), lots of fun, little sleep, limited rain, and lovely co-leaders!

Friday night’s bus went well, it really is an easier way to get camp started to have everyone arrive together than coming in bits and bobs (and getting lost along the way!), and I know many of the parents were positively gleeful at saying goodbye to their darlings at 5pm… especially those with only two daughters, both who came on camp!! One of our long-time mums (her elder daughter has been in Guiding 7 years now) barely said goodbye, she was so excited to hand them over and enjoy her weekend! The newer parents were a touch more apprehensive, which was quite cute 🙂

The only major drama on Friday was one of our little ones was quite sick – vomited all over herself, the table, the chair, the floor… poor kid. By the time she was cleaned up etc, it was nearly 10pm, so we decided to see how she went overnight rather than try and get her picked up. This turned out to be the right call, as she was fine overnight (although I was waking up at every sound expecting it to be her!!), and was 100% in the morning, just crazy hungry, as of course you would be after losing all your dinner!

Saturday had the epic wide game I’ve been planning for weeks, which ended up going really well. All the clues and instructions made sense, even the little ones were able to figure what they were meant to do with only the smallest of hints, and they pretty much spent the day working their way through the challenges!

The big hits of the day were using ropes to build a ‘bridge’ over the ‘river’ (extra kudos to the oldest patrol who even took the time to attempt proper knots!); hunting down the butterflies I’d carefully scattered across the campsite; cooking lunch over the fire (we did pizza pockets and chocolate cake in oranges), and finding Princess Rimi. Actually, the poor old Princess was quite the hit, especially with the younger Guides! They tried to love her to death, poor girl, so she had to be re-rescued by me and put back together… I think I’ll have to do some work to restore her skirts, as they were put quite askew!!

In the evening we had an indoor campfire as it had started to rain quite a bit, and given the trouble we had lighting the fires to cook our lunches on (when it was blue skies!)…

Before the singing began, we had the girls do their skits – some were just awful, but others were completely hilarious! The highlight was a bunch of girls dressed in grass skirts and leis who started doing hula dancing which then morphed into an ’emergency’, where they quickly whipped out the slings they’d prepared earlier, before continuing to hula!

Saturday night the majority of the older girls slept outside in tents, with the little girls and a couple of less-keen older kids indoors. MUCH QUIETER indoors without 3 noisy Rangers keeping the tiny ones awake!!

Sunday, usual co-leader and I had just the Juniors, while sister units two leaders took the older girls on a hike into the local state forest.

To keep the Juniors entertained co-leader did a shorter wide game (based on one I did years ago with a spy theme), which they all loved! I think they enjoyed competing against themselves, as they could see quite early in the larger wide game that even with some activities modified to be harder for the older girls that they were waaaaaaaaaaaaay behind the eight ball, whereas with the little wide game, they felt they had a solid chance of winning 🙂

After a quick outdoor lunch of baked potatoes (baked in the oven!!), it was time to say goodbye. It was a fabulous weekend, one almost enough to make me reconsider my generally anti-camp sentiments 🙂

It really does make a difference when you mesh well with your co-leaders. Last year’s camp I had no real issue with 2 of the other leaders, but also just didn’t really *get* them. This year I felt that all four of us were broadly on the same page in terms of our views about what the girls should be getting out of the weekend, and how we related to the kids. It also seemed like the four of us were much more in tune and consistent in how we chatted with the kids, and the rules we put down. So much less stressful!

Here’s a picture of the “beautiful” Princess Rimi, for your viewing pleasure!

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Getting prepared for the Secret Island!

Very exciting developments, our camp with Sister Unit and Rangers Unit is starting to come together! And unlike previous years where we’ve really struggled to get numbers interested, this year we’re nearly full! And its still five weeks away!

We’ve got 15 signed up from our unit, 7 from Sister Unit, and 3 from Rangers Unit, which is just fantastic. Each of the three units is reasonably small, so as a proportion of total girls possible, we’re doing amazingly.

To give you a sense of how big a change this is, our first joint camp two years ago included 5 girls from Sister Unit, 2 from my unit, and 1 from another neighbouring unit. Our camp last year was barely any better – 2 from Sister Unit, 6 from my unit, and the balance (around 12) made up by a unit from out of District.

So you can see why I’m psyched at the response rate!

Also hugely positive – I’ve started putting together the wide game, and after a slow start, its finally coming together. The central ‘theme’ is a runaway princess, who got scared by all the noise and lights of the place being invaded by a bunch of Guides! Tasks will include building a rope bridge over a ‘river’, decoding a message, using a compass (very briefly), a little bit of knotting, some crafty activities, following a trail, and of course, most importantly, cooking lunch over a fire.

All in all, its shaping up to be a great camp! Fingers crossed it stays that way!

 

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