guideydiary

keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Stepping back in time

Old style Guiding activities took centre stage this week, as our unit celebrated its 85th birthday (yep, we’ve been around a while, in various forms!).

We set up a series of activities, which the girls moved through in patrols at their own pace. Most of the activities harked back to the early years of Guiding – not something that should be done too often, but fun in small doses! We had:

  • Making cups of tea
  • Polishing silver
  • Blindfolded scavenger hunt
  • Skipping games
  • Knotting challenges
  • Marshmallow toasting

Amusingly, the silver polishing and tea-making were probably the most popular activities – I think silver polishing in particular is sooooooo out of the usual experience of the girls that it was just fascinating for them, and not at all like a chore as it was just so out of their wheelhouse!

We also had a little table set up with old photographs (with pics from the 1930s, 1960s, 1980s, and early 2000s), and a bunch of old program books and games and activities books from across the years – the girls were encouraged to have a (gentle!) flick through the old books, which they were surprisingly keen on. I think when the history is properly local, its more interesting than general “Guiding History” – even in the oldest pictures, they could notice local landmarks, which they found fascinating.

1930sguides

Photos and notes from the 1930s

There was also a little colouring in activity – I had printed out heaps of letters on A4 paper, which spelled out our unit name and “celebrating 85 years of amazing” – the girls all coloured in a letter or two, which we then pinned up and had a photo taken underneath. The girls all seemed chuffed that their colouring contributed to the sign, and were all excitedly pointing out the letter they’d done.

Finally, to finish off the evening we had a little ceremony – one of our newbie Juniors made her Promise, as did our newest Leader (a rare and super exciting thing!). With a nod to history we had one Junior, one Senior, and one Ranger (a few visited for the evening) team up to do colour party, which was lovely. We finished with everyone renewing their Promise in unison, then lit 85 candles on a huge cake, sang “Bravo” and “Happy Birthday To Us!”, then the girls all crowded around and blew out the candles as a big group.

It was really lovely night, with the girls bonding across the age groups – somehow fantastically affirming that while lots of details have changed over the years, the core of what we’re doing continues.

 

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Campfire!

Lovely multi-age program this week, as we integrated our Juniors/Seniors and Rangers programs for evening.

Our units meet at a slightly separate time – the Juniors/Seniors together from 6.30 to 8.00pm, the Rangers from 7.00 to 8.30pm. So rather than having a fully integrated program, we went with a slightly staggered approach.

From 6.30 to 7.30 (ish!), our younger girls all worked on making situpons. At a district camp at the start of the year we noticed that another unit had a set of lightweight situpons that they were able to easily stack and carry, and started thinking about how we could do something similar.

Cue leaders pondering!

Our original plan was to use a heavyweight plastic tablecloth, but on pricing it out, it was going to be quite an expensive little project. Which is fine (what are fees for if not to buy cool things?), but I got to pondering. Luckily, on a trip to Ikea, inspiration struck in the form of a whole bunch of their iconic shopping bags being on sale – a slightly smaller size than usual (hence I guess why they were getting rid of them), and only 49 cents each! And we could get two situpons out of each one! BARGAIN OF THE CENTURY.

Anyway, back to the girls. They all worked to do their own interpretation of the one I’d mocked up, cutting out the two pieces from the bags, edging them with heavy packing tape in bright colours, and then doing various designs on them in permanent markers. Our plan is to stash them in our shed and have them as our ‘unit set’ of situpons for as long as they last! And the particularly brilliant thing about them being based on Ikea bags, is that if the unit grows, or we lose a bunch, or they wear out or whatever, we can easily replace them. WOOHOO!

situpon

Here’s the example one I did for the girls – its hard to tell the scale here, but they’re about 45 cms long, and about 30 cms wide. Plenty big enough for even a chunky bottom to stay dry on the went ground!

So that’s what was happening from 6.30 to 7.30. Meanwhile, at 7.00 the Rangers group commenced, and they were tasked with setting and starting our campfire outside. I expected a bit of complaining (wood collecting always brings it on!), but they were pretty chirpy and cooperative, which I think was aided by the fact that I’d managed to raid my work’s recycling stash and had come well prepared with heaps of newspaper, so we knew at the very least we’d get some decent flames happening with minimal effort.

At 7.30, the whole unit joined together, putting the new situpons into action, and singing a bunch of campfire songs, using a program put together by one of the Rangers girls as part of her BP Award, and including a few songs led by one of our Juniors as part of her Junior BP Award! We finished up with a Promise Ceremony for two of our littlest members, then said goodbye to our Juniors and Seniors, leaving the Rangers with half an hour to toast some marshmallows (their reward for doing the hard work of the fire prep!) and then douse the fire and clean up.

All in all, a really lovely night, and a good one to bring together the various age groups in a way that used all their individual strengths.

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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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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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Celebrating!

Two weeks of celebrating the diversity of guiding experiences – ranging from very solemn and traditional through to chaotic and modern.

The first week was a lovely ceremony night, awarding a Junior BP Award (I think only the 8th of our unit??), and having two girls make their promise, and one renew. It was a lovely happy sort of an evening, and while I think there were flashes of boredom from a couple of the girls, they were all beautifully behaved and seemed to rise to the challenge of putting on something of a performance for the various parents and friends who came along to be part of the evening.

Included in the ceremony was a very slow and solemn singing of the first verse of ‘This Little Guiding Light’, which was lovely. I wonder if that is something that should be part of our promise ceremonies more generally… hmmm.

The second week was a visit to the local ‘Showtime’ (similar to ‘Gangshow’), a production by the local guides and scouts. Not my favourite activity of the year (amateur dramatics and musicals not really being my cup of tea), but it was exciting for the girls attending to get to stay up late, and nice for one of our older girls who was in the show to know that we were in the audience!

This week: the leaders are going on strike… stay tuned to learn more!

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Fire safety shenanigans

Simple evening at Guides, focusing on fire safety.

The younger girls brainstormed fire safety rules, then read through some statements about fire safety to decide which ones were correct, and then did fire safety ‘relay’ – with the hope that The Power Of Three would help at least *some* of it stick!

They then practiced lighting matches to light a tealight candle each, and toast a marshmallow over the top. My co-leaders report that as per usual, there were a few kids very apprehensive about lighting matches, but that with a lot of coaxing, they all got there – one of the littlies was so pleased and proud she had to show her mum once mum arrived 🙂

Meanwhile, the older girls did maps of their homes and found the logical escape routes in the event of a fire, and did a scavenger hunt of sorts around the hall and grounds to find the fire blanket, extinguisher, hydrant, maps of evacuation points, and external taps. They got surprisingly into it – anything with an element of inter-patrol competition seems to get them excited!

We then had a quick fire drill, and I discovered exactly how little the girls actually listen, and how much they follow the crowd – I’d given instructions firstly to the Seniors that we would shortly be having a drill, and the seniors would be going to the carpark evacuation point, and the juniors to the front lawn point. Then when all the kids were together, I told all the girls that they were to do as they’d been instructed, and if they were unsure, to follow their patrol leader.

Well, I waited in the carpark with (most of) one of the three seniors patrols, plus a stray from another patrol… but well under half. It took a further five minutes of them running back and forth trying to convince their fellow guides to come! It seems a) their short-term memory is pretty poor and is quickly over-ridden by ‘the crowd’ and b) that some of them can’t even remember who their patrol leader is, so *that* is interesting!!

Anyway, we closed out the night with a Promise ceremony for two teeny 6 year olds, and a renewal for one of our long standing guides moving up to Seniors. Lovely as always 🙂

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The best laid plans…

…sadly very rarely actually work!

Generally, nights at Guides for me are roughly planned out – unless its something like a wide game, where I will have had to have everything done in advance, then usually, I have just a rough sketch in my head of how we might pull together the various elements.

Last night, however, realising that over this week and the next two that I need to ensure my older girls are meeting quite specific badge criteria for their Achieve A Challenge World Guiding badges, I actually sat down an wrote a proper program, complete with timings, instructions for different activities, and allocating leaders and girls to different parts as required.

And the result?

We ran late on all activities, very few of them translated from the “ooh that will be a fun twist on boring Traditions/Thinking Day/World Guiding” idea into reality, and the girls were generally a bit ratty!!

All in all, a bit of an epic fail! Hopefully my plans for next week – which essentially will be teaching World Guiding via a series of quizzes and games (with prizes to the winning patrol!) will prove more successful!

Still, there were a few positive notes – the Senior Guides’ patrol leader elections were finalised, and the three new patrol leaders were thrilled, and the girls they asked to be their Seconders were delighted to accept (I didn’t even need to properly ask if they had accepted, they were grinning so wide!), and I think my hastily re-arranged patrols around the new PLs/PSs will work out quite well. We’ve moved to three patrols of 5-6 girls in the Seniors/Upper Seniors section, which I hope will be sustainable. We don’t have many girls due to move up from Juniors over the next year (I think maybe three?), so hopefully they’ll all have long enough to start properly working as patrols, as that has traditionally been a bit of a weak spot for our unit.

The other highlight was a spontaneous newbie joined us (I’d received a call just two hours ahead of the meeting, from someone looking at our poster in the hall area!), and she seemed to have a great time, despite what I regarded as a bit of a dud evening! If she liked that night, one of our good nights is going to totally blow her mind 🙂

And we also had a promise ceremony for 3 girls that joined us late last year. Ceremony nights are always lovely, so we did at least finish on a high note!

So, I guess we chalk the night up to experience… and realise the take-home message is not to be toooooooo Be Prepared!

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Memory, and memories.

Something of a disjointed night last night, but several real highlights.

For the Junior and Senior Guides, we had a night focused on getting activities/presentations completed for kids working on their JBP or BP Awards, and three girls were actually organised with specific activities, which was great (these nights can be decidedly hit and miss!!). One which did seem to get a fair bit of engagement from the girls was a Greek version of a ‘duck duck goose’ type game, which was interesting, although the girls really didn’t quite understand the differences between the words they were attempting to say. Still, nice to move away for once from games from the UK/Canada/New Zealand, which is what we usually get for these international activities.

The other really great activity was a ‘memory’ card game about Guiding, which had the classic cards face down and the girls had to pick up various cards to try and find pairs. The twist was that the pairs were questions and answers about Guiding, both international “Where did Guiding begin?” “England”, and more local “When did [Unit] begin?” “1931” (Yep, we’re old!), as well as “What do all Guides have?” “World badge” and “What is the Guides colour?” “Blue”.

The game was cleverly put together, but most amusing was the girls playing – one patrol of senior guides, split in two to form teams, and they were HYPER COMPETITIVE! Absolutely into it and sooooo excited and yelling and going crazy trying to remember the matches. One of the funniest things I’ve seen for a long time as they *really committed* to playing to win!

Also exciting was that such a successful activity ended up being the final activity for WhiteFoodGuide’s JBP. We had a chat afterwards (what had she learnt, how had she changed during the work towards the award, etc), and I was utterly delighted (and she was utterly delighted!) to agree that she had met the criteria for the award, and would be presented formally with it later in the term! Yay!! Only the 6th girl to get her JBP at the unit, and very deserved 🙂

Later, I joined the Rangers girls, for a bitter sweet night. Our nearly-17-year-old Guide has decided (reluctantly) to finish up, as schooling is getting too much, and she was missing so many nights it was hard to justify continuing to pay membership fees. We said she was welcome to visit anytime, and I really hope she will 🙂

We’ve also had two other Rangers move on – one who’d been with us for years and years, but again, school was too much; and another who (rumor has it!) may have moved over to Scouts. Not entirely surprising, given her family is heavily into Scouting, but interesting that she’d made it to nearly 14 in Guides before heading over. On the upside, we had a prospective new Ranger from SisterUnit come to try (just turned 13), and we have a crop of Senior Guides in both my unit and SisterUnit who will be due to go up to Rangers progressively over the next year, so if we can keep it going for another six months or so with teeny numbers, we should be well placed to grow. It’s hard though, very difficult to justify the time and effort for only 3-4 girls at once.

On the other end of the recruitment/retention scale, however, is Senior Guides is now FULL, and Junior Guides gained another member last night, a younger sister of a new Senior. Little Sister is seven and shy, but perked up reasonably once we’d paired her up with a couple of the little ones. I guess our unit can be alarming if you’re shy and seven, as a bunch of noisy, over-confident 11 and 12 year olds will seem very LOUD and very TALL!! Now we just need to decide if we can squeeze in a Promise ceremony before the end of term for the newbies (two seniors and four juniors!!), or whether they’ll need to wait to first thing next year. Occasionally our comprehensive programming complicates things!

Til next week then… 🙂

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Close with a campfire

A lovely final night of term this evening, as we had a campfire (sadly switched to indoor with candles due to weather), toasted marshmallows (not quite as good with candles, but still tasty!), and Promise Ceremonies for three new Guides.

We started out with the ‘campfire’, which was quite nice. We had about 7 candles lit in the middle of the circle, and all the lights off, so it was quite atmospheric, even in the hall. We started, of course, with ‘Campfire’s Burning’, and included a bunch of favourites including ‘Yogi Bear’, ‘Edelweiss’, ‘Found a Peanut’, and ‘Everywhere We Go’. We finished up with a lovely quiet and slightly introspective ‘Canadian Vespers’. There is something rather lovely about having had enough of the unit be with us long enough (and for the various songs to be repeated often enough) that we don’t need to teach all the songs each time, that they can just start singing.

We were joined by several newbies – one on ‘week three’ of coming to visit (and in uniform!), another on ‘week two’ and asking about forms, and two sisters who were apparently very keen (co-leader spoke to them), and said they’ll see us next term! Given we’re just about to lose two girls to moving house out of the area, a two-for-one replacement rate isn’t too bad 🙂

We finished off the term and the night with a Promise ceremony for three girls (two juniors, one senior), and one Promise renewal, for a girl moving up to Seniors. There is such a nice continuity with the ceremonies and traditions, it seems to anchor the group, and also highlights to the girls and the families that we are trying to do something more than just fun… even if that is the most important thing!

So, a two week break before we’re back to it – switching from this term’s focus on The Arts, to next term’s topic of Science and Technology 🙂

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Catching up

Well, this has been a poor neglected little blog these last few weeks. Suffice to say life has been a bit full of late with both work and personal life a little busy, and guiding and the blog has had to take a back seat!

So, lets catch up the last few weeks.

Firstly, we had a ‘codetastic’ sleepover with 14 kids from our unit, and 7 from sister unit. It was awful cold and rainy day which made things a bit of a challenge – the intended plan of having each of four patrols light fires to cook their afternoon tea didn’t happen! But we did manage to get one fire going, although it took so long (it really had rained hard, and the wood was soaked through!), that we ended up having the ‘apple crisps’ as dessert instead of afternoon tea!

The wide game for the sleepover was unfortunately not as successful as previous ones, mainly as the slightly more free-form concept of ‘do the activities in any order’ seemed to confuse the girls – they couldn’t keep up with what they were up to. I think if I did that kind of strategy again, I would add a checklist for them to tick off as they went, so they could keep track. The activities themselves seemed quite successful – they included making a shelter, following compass instructions, decoding some fairly complicated codes, and doing puzzles.

Overall, it was reasonably successful (despite the rain), and the girls all seemed to have fun – it was also great to see the girls from both our unit and sister unit blending together so well – by the end, they’d all meshed in together 🙂 Also realised that one of the girls from Sister Unit is old enough for Rangers (although wants to wait until next year), so that is exciting.

Back to normal Guides – last week I (and three lovely mums who responded to our pleas for extra adults!) took the Senior Guides to the local supermarket on the tram to purchase ingredients for the final night’s cooking. It was part of the Lifeskills badge, with the girls having planned the recipes the week before (including budgeting), and then travelling via public transport to get the groceries, and then this week cooking the food.

The girls were all pretty good, although I suspect a bit more cheeky than they would usually be if their mums were not around!!

Finally, this week (final night of term), the Junior Guides had a ‘bathroom’ night as part of their Homes badge, which included a towel turban relay (quite hilarious!), and a bathroom themed version of The Chocolate Game, which had the girls dressing up in a bathrobe and shower cap when they rolled a six.

The Seniors, meanwhile, did their planned cooking – chocolate balls for one patrol, and chocolate cake for the other (bit of a chocolate theme for the last night of term!). Unfortunately for the chocolate cake girls, the oven was broken – the pilot light was out, and we could not get it restarted! So we attempted a bit of alternative cooking methodology, doing some in cupcake cases in the microwave (which looked like it worked, but actually resulted in burnt cupcakes), and some in a slice tray floating in a larger tray full of water, which we boiled on the stove, bain-marie style. Unfortunately, we ran out of time, and it didn’t quite cook, but I think given an extra 30 minutes or so it would have worked, perhaps with a bit of foil over the top to seal in the steam and cook from above as well as below. It was rather fun though, trying to figure out emergency cooking alternatives!

Finally to close out the term we had a Promise ceremony for two girls who joined us towards the end of first term, and a Promise renewal for three girls moving up to Senior Guides, which is always lovely. One of the girls moving up has been with us for more than three years in Juniors, and has been a really fabulous an enthusiastic Guide right from the start – it will be fantastic to have her in Seniors, although it does make me feel old!

And finally finally we had Rangers – four of the five girls came along for ‘Christmas in June’ which was meant to be both crafts and cooking but ended up all cooking as they futzed about and ran out of time! Still, the ginger cookies (which had to be emergency ‘baked’ on the bbq due to the same oven issues the Senior Guides had) turned out edible (although much more like ‘ginger crumbles’ than ‘ginger cookies’), and the non-alcoholic mulled wine was a great success. They all had fun, and seemed keen to be back next term, so all is well.

Non-alcoholic mulled wine:

1 litre orange juice

1 bottle sparkling grape juice

2 cinnamon sticks

5-10 cloves

1 cup of sugar

peel of one orange

flesh of one orange cut finely

 

Put all ingredients in a large pot or kettle, and bring to the boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Strain and serve into glasses or mugs. Enjoy!

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