keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

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

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!


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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