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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Musing and moaning (just a little)

So, I’ve barely blogged this year. And having barely blogged, I’m out of practice, and feeling guilty that I’m out of practice, and it just becomes a big shame spiral.

The thing is, this year I’ve felt a little funny about blogging my adventures. With my awesome co-leaders taking on more of the load, I don’t feel as able to tell the tales of “my” unit, as it seems a bit weird to talk about the marvellous ideas they’ve come up with, even though I know from comments etc that people enjoy hearing about my team’s ideas as much (or if perfectly honest, more!) than they do about mine. But still, it feels like I’m stepping on toes somehow.

And more generally, I think I’ve lost a bit of my guiding mojo these last few months. Not so much in my enjoyment of the girls and the activities, but somehow my confidence that I’m putting together a program worth sharing, or ideas worth telling about. Our units are doing great – heaps of kids, growing at almost every age group (we’ve even had now 3 new-to-guiding teenagers join us, which is some sort of miracle), and a great team of leaders who are all gelling.

And yet… somehow my confidence is down. I think it started when a couple of big ideas and offers to do specific things for “higher ups” went unanswered… it makes you start to shrink in on yourself a touch, and wonder if possibly previous ideas that had been favourably received were done so more out of politeness…

So, my aim this term is to return to blogging properly – perhaps writing down the great things we’re doing – me and the whole crew – will reassure me that we’re broadly on the right track. Or, of course, it may convince me that it’s time to move on – either from the blogging or the guiding or possibly both. We shall see.

To those of you who’ve been reading and following – stick around despite the whining of this post – I’ve got about four wide games to publish in the next few weeks!

 

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Service, supermarkets, and speedy strolling!

A fun, if somewhat not-quite-to-plan evening at Guides this week, as we took the entire group to the local supermarket!

The Church where our hall is based has an annual food drive, which for the past two or three years I’ve been thinking we should assist with as part of our broader service to community… but each year it sneaks up on me and by the time I realise “oh yeah the food drive” its over and done with, agggh!

BUT NOT THIS YEAR! I finally, finally managed to actually have the idea in time for our term planning, and even managed to find and get in touch with the organiser to confirm our participation and signal our willingness to be involved in future! Yay me and remembering in time!

So rather than just collect from the families (although we did put out a note encouraging donations from families too, and got quite a few bags worth of goodies), we decided to take the girls to the local supermarket, and have them work with a defined budget in small groups to purchase suitable items.

So the whole group – travel cards in hand! – walked up to the local tramstop, caught the tram into the main part of town, and we then let them loose on the supermarket (after reading the behaviour riot act of course!). We had the girls split up into their patrols, and then into half again, with the PL and PS each heading up a half-patrol. Each of these half patrols was given $5, and told to do their level best to come in on budget.

In the end, two of the patrols were about 70 cents over budget, but the other came in between 5 cents and 60 cents under budget, so overall, we were pretty close on expenditure, and ended up putting about a dollar worth of change in the little charity collection.

The girls all seemed to really get a kick out of being allowed to wander the supermarket with only ‘light touch’ supervision (the leaders were wandering the aisles and keeping a general eye, but didn’t go around with the girls) and they seemed to enjoy the intellectual puzzle of figuring out how to get the best value for their money… I do hope the food drive recipients like canned corn though – when we looked over what the various groups had bought, it featured unusually heavily in the purchases! Must have been a sale on that I missed!

Unfortunately, our best laid plans came unstuck as we went to catch the tram home, only to have the tram take off just as the first of our group got to the tramstop. We thought the driver would have seen us and waited while the slower girls caught up, but nope, just took off. Usually trams along that route are every 10 minutes or so, but when we checked our handy little tramtracker apps, the next one wasn’t for 25 minutes! agggh! And the meeting was meant to finish with parents picking up in 25 minutes!

So, quick change of plans, we decided to walk back to the hall! 2.3kms of luckily quite straight and flat and well-lit footpath… and as it turned out, we made it back to the hall only five minutes after our scheduled closing time, and without the tram passing us so it was definitely the right call rather than trying to keep 30+ kids safe and occupied waiting for the tram next to a main road!

Next week: candle-y stuff for littlies, knotting stuff for middlies, marshmallows for biggies!

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Paying it forward

As regular readers will know, I have often spoken about the necessity of maintaining a reasonable life/guiding balance, and not letting the guide leaders natural tendency to say “of course!” overwhelm me.

Well, lately I have failed miserably at that, with this last month involving Guiding commitments on three weekends in a row (Sunday, then Saturday and Sunday, then Sunday again…), plus a Thursday night out with a group of seniors, plus running my unit, and Rangers (although only one meeting so far), and helping out at Sister Unit for the last three weeks! Luckily these extra sessions all ended up being with other crazy overcommitted leaders, so at least I was in good company!

So how did I end up in this Guides overload pickle?

Well, firstly, a bunch of the Senior Guides wanted to try going to a local competitive outdoor camp. *In theory* the preparation for this camp shouldn’t be too onerous, as girls should gradually learn the skills required over their years in Guiding, and only need a bit of time to refine their menus and theme.

*In reality* (at least the reality of my quite-urban-not-very-outdoorsy-unit) the girls required a crash course in old-school camp skills, including cooking A Proper Meal over the campfire, putting up and taking down tents (without the leaders closely directing things!), making wood-and-string gadgets, first aid, camp hygiene… et cetera!!

So the journey started last term with a pre-meeting for potentially interested guides and parents to let them know what they might be in for, followed by a short meeting to confirm who would be attending, elect the patrol leader and second, choose the patrol name, and agree to a basic schedule of training.

This term, we then met at a local pizza/pasta place for planning – the girls had to agree as a group what they would cook (being sure to manage the food desires of each of them with the required menu balance), and the broader menu and thematic elements – and try and negotiate what “bits” they would all organise! It went quite well, and I think it was easier to do an extra night than to try and tack it onto a usual Guides night, especially as the group was a mix of girls from my unit and Sister Unit. Next up, we had two full days of training – the first day was campfire cooking, followed by tents, and a bit of “campsite planning”, which involved the CUTEST little set of campsite/dolls furniture which SisterUnitLeader had found through the magic of ebay. The second day involved cooking on campstoves, gadget making, and drilling in first aid and food/campsite hygiene and safe practices. Both days were long and exhausting, but the girls did seem to learn a lot, and hey, given the kids had to learn to do it all independently, there were also substantial periods where myself, SisterUnitLeader and RangersLeader were all able to sit in camp chairs in the sunshine and merely supervise, which if you’re giving up a Sunday, isn’t such a bad deal! The camp they were preparing for was this weekend, and apparently they did very well, woohoo!

I also managed to get myself talked into helping out for a few hours on two separate Saturdays this month for district shenanigans – once at a sausage sizzle at a local hardware store, and once at a farmers market where we had a (vastly unsuccessful!) promotional stall. Phew!

Annnnd of course I’ve also signed up to help at SisterUnit for a few weeks, as poor SisterUnitLeader doesn’t really have any backup at the moment. I’m just doing the “assistant leader” type role of turning up and being an extra pair of hands and eyes, but I know how much of a difference that makes compared to having to be THE responsible adult. I’m in constant awe of SisterUnitLeader, she’s managed to keep her wee little unit going through thick and thin (even managing to keep the unit going while she was working several hundred kilometres away!!), and is always happy to pitch in and help our unit whenever needed, so a bit of share and share about is only fair!

Finally, had my last day of crazy over commitment to weekend Guiding yesterday, teaming up with AParentHelper, YoungCoLeader and RangersLeader to take a group of kids from my unit and sister unit to Scienceworks, which was actually really fun. We went to the planetarium, and explored lots of exhibits – the ones on town construction and science fiction/space were particularly intriguing. The girls also loved the sports exhibit, which had them testing their balance, strength, speed etc.

So, that should be pretty much it for weekend bits for me for a while. And shortly this little blog will take a wee hiatus too, as I’m soon to be having a break from Guides, even a bit longer than the usual summer pause, as I’ll be on “maternity leave” from Guides (although *really* dedicated leaders tell me there is no such thing!). All going well, I think I’ve got three weeks of Guides left that I’ve committed to, but I guess we’ll see if mother nature agrees with those plans!! 🙂

And that is probably the other reason I’ve been madly saying yes to all requests – paying the karma forward a little so I don’t feel guilty about taking a step back for a while 🙂

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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!

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Shop for service

Short Guiding interlude to my Sunday – one hour of service, with five keen kids, wandering about our local Kmart, finding gifts for the Wishing Tree –  http://wishingtree.kmart.com.au/

Its a service activity I was introduced to back when I was a Guide – the first year it started, my unit walked down to our local shops and bought gifts for the Tree. It must have made a deep impression on me, as every year since, its been part of my Christmas tradition. Since going back to Guides as an adult, I’ve extended the tradition to the two units I’ve worked with. Hopefully it will stick with my Guides as well as it has stuck with me.

This year, we did it as a weekend activity, rather than a unit night activity, just because we had too packed a term!

As for the activity itself – its very girl-directed. They’re given a set amount of money, and allowed to walk around in a group, staying broadly in the same area as a leader, but don’t have to explicitly stay with us.  As a group, they have to work out what age and sex of person they wish to buy for, and then set about deciding on gifts. The girls were given $30, and they decided to split this into three gifts – for a 3 year old boy, a 3 year old girl, and a 9 year old girl. They looked at books, and stationary, and toys, and sports equipment, and ended up – after much discussion, checking of prices, and negotiating! – deciding to get a mix of things for each gift, including a soft toys, crayons, colouring books, play-doh, and soccer balls.

It was a very guidey activity – building teamwork, negotiation, decision making skills, while being oriented towards service and helping others. And they had fun!

This week – final Guides and Rangers. Should be fun!

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Scone service!

Fun day today – the Church where my unit meets was celebrating a major anniversary, and had a fete type event to celebrate. So my unit helped out with serving scones and cups of tea – a nice and easy way of being visible and providing service.

Service of course is one of the seven fundamentals of the Guide program, and I find it can be a tricky one to integrate well into the program, so opportunities like this are good to seize when they happen. I really like service activities where the girls can see a clear link between the work they’re doing, and the recipient – rather than, say, raising money for a distant “good deed”. Today’s activities also had some useful skills training – learning how to make cups of tea properly, cut up the scones, whip the cream etc. The girls also helped with the cleaning up – gathering plates and cups, stacking the dishwasher correctly, and wiping up as we went along.

But it wasn’t all hard work, with seven Guides helping out, there was really too many to help in the kitchen at any one time (three was the maximum, really, to be useful rather than in each other’s way), so they were able to go off in pairs and groups and check out the other activities – a jumping castle, a reptile show, mini golf etc. So, it was a fun day, just a couple of hours, and raised our profile as well – at least a few kids and parents seemed interested in Guides, so I guess we’ll see if anything comes of that 🙂

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Adventures in mud & masterpieces

Great day out today, starting off with National Tree Day (http://treeday.planetark.org/), 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 (http://www.farm.org.au/), 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 (http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/learn/ngv-kids/trails-and-activities), 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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Chatty hands

Back for term three, yay!
Bit of a slow start to the term, with 8 girls away (out of 20!), which is high even for our historically poor first week attendance.
We did, however, have a newbie come to join us, which was lovely (especially as by the end she was nagging mum about getting her uniform!), and also a new adult helper! She’ll only be around for a term (originally from America and will be heading home), but she seems lovely, and extra pairs of hands are always very welcome.
To start our Hands Create-A-Challenge term, we had the girls work in pairs to send messages to each other using the Auslan alphabet, which was actually really successful! We gave a copy of pictures of the alphabet to both members of the pair, and then one girl (the message sender), picked a word out of the hat (mainly guiding type words – promise, friends, knotting…) and had to get her partner to de-code the word and write it down, before swapping roles.
I thought they might find it boring, but nope, they were going back to pull extra words out of the ‘hat’, and all really engaged with it!
After being so quiet, we had to have a bit of a run-around, and had a quick game of “fruit salad”, which for WHATEVER REASON has absolutely NOTHING to do with fruit according to the way its always been played in this unit!! They all love it, and its *that game* that needs to be rationed, or they’d insist on playing it each week.
Next up, we did an activity I called ‘happy hands and service hands’ – they each drew around both hands onto coloured paper, and cut out their hand shapes, and wrote their name on the palm of each hand. On one, they wrote different service/lend a hand activities that they would try and do (one on each finger), and on the other, they had to pop their hands into the ‘hat’, and take out someone else’s, and write along the fingers something nice about the person whose hand they’d picked out.
Finally, to round out the night we had a quick chat about the term program and all the paperwork they’d been given (various permission slips etc), and then did a little bit of campfire singing – I know they weren’t so keen on that last term, but a couple of quick songs saved my sanity as I was out of games ideas and they didn’t need another round of fruit salad! By including Eidelweiss with the clapping motion, I can pretend its part of the theme!
Next week: JBP activities for a bunch of kids, and a quick Promise renewal for the girl moving up to Seniors who missed her ceremony late last term.

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