guideydiary

keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

At the park

A reasonably easy evening this week, as we took the girls to the local park.

We were joined by Sister Unit, which meant that we had 40 kids (even with a few from both units away… we’ve both grown a lot recently!), which meant that the noise level was higher than usual, and the chaos level was DEFINATELY higher than usual!

We started by getting the girls into groups of 2-3, and blindfolding one member of each group, before walking the two blocks or so to the park. The girls found this hilarious and fascinating, and it was a good activity to even up the girls- some of the 12 year olds struggled just as much as the 6 year olds!

Once at the park, we had the girls mix up into different pairs, and then hunt for a long list (18 items I think) of ‘shapes in nature’ – the shapes included “corkscrew” “letter C” “cone” “cube”. The girls found bark, clouds, leaves, vines… and one group even made the letter c by forming it with their hands, reasoning that they too are part of nature 🙂

We then went to a little wooded area, and played “my friend the tree” which had them again in partners or threes – one girl in each partnership was blindfolded, ‘dizzied up’, and then led to a tree. They had to touch it, smell it, and try to remember it, before being dizzied up again and led away, then have the blindfold taken off. They then had to try and identify their tree! It worked really well, and was again an activity which seemed to be enjoyed by the girls at both ends of the age spectrum.

We finished up with a bit of a play on the playground (there would have been a mutiny if not!), before walking back. It wasn’t the most action-packed evening, but it was nice to get outside, stretch our legs, and give the girls time to chat and muck about a bit!

Next week, badge work, which will, *in theory* be directed by the girls, rather than the leaders. We shall see!

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Science + story = wide game!

A great night last night, which required a lot of preparation, but was well rewarded with a bunch of very happy and engaged Guides of all ages!

We were joined by a couple of girls from SisterUnit, which was fun – their youngest newbie was SO EXCITED and kept saying “This is the first time I’ve done this! And its so much fun! I love it!”

I’ll write up the wide game in full shortly, but essentially the story was that the Evil Doctor Greyzone had stolen the colours, and the patrols were in a race to find all six colours (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple) (I gave up on Indigo, finding six relevant activities was hard enough!!), and then had to bring them together in a rainbow (via bubbles).

To even up the challenge – and to give a little twist to proceedings – I split up the unit into different patrols from usual, and made them mixed-ages. Given some of the challenges (like making slime and making ice-packs) were quite technical, it didn’t seem fair to have patrols of 11 and 12 year olds competing against patrols of 7 and 8 year olds! I also appointed different people to usual to be patrol leaders – it was interesting to see which ones embraced the role, and which ones really just didn’t… and I have to say, a couple of my guesses around who would do well were off the mark. Just because a kid is assertive and popular doesn’t mean she’s necessarily able to bring a group together and get them to cooperate!

Anyway, a good night, lots of fun, and I’ll certainly be having them make ice-packs again (using citric acid and baking soda), as that is probably the most brilliant trick I’ve found on the internet for a while, and the girls were enthralled 🙂

 

 

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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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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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Dramarama

A night of drama at Guides and Rangers this week, in a number of senses of the word!

Firstly, the theme for the night was ‘skits and plays’, with patrols working together to come up with a short play which aimed to “show off Guides”. We ended up with both seniors patrols showing off first aid skills (decidedly dubious first aid skills in one case – I certainly wouldn’t want them treating my broken leg!!), two juniors patrols doing some general ‘games and being friends’ sort of stories, and one juniors patrol ‘teaching new kids to build a fire’.

Most of the patrols worked really well together, but one was unfortunately very dysfunctional. The group includes our newest and youngest Guide, (who honestly is probably too young for the group, and who unfortunately has “whine to the leaders” as her go-to problem solving mode), as well as two friends who we had previously separated but who had begged to be in a patrol together, and who unfortunately are proving the wisdom of our prior separation (in other words – they are both having a marvellous time together, but making life very difficult for everyone else), and a patrol leader who is really trying to do the right thing but is overwhelmed by the diverse needs of the patrol, resulting in tears of frustration! Oh, and one poor kid trying to mediate! Oh dear!

So that one patrol ended up taking about 90% of the available leader attention, as we tried to assist without being too directive and reinforcing the idea that they didn’t need to sort themselves out… no idea if we succeeded, but on the upside, all this drama did turn out well with their skit ending up probably the most cohesive and structured out of all of them! Funny how that sometimes happens, but then I guess if they all have enough capacity for drama to have flouncing, yelling, and crying during rehearsals then they might just have a naturally dramatic bent!

After Guides, I joined with the Rangers, who were (reasonably successfully) planning the rest of the year. RangersCoLeader was directing these discussions really well, so I’m sure the program she’ll pop together on the back of it will be great 🙂

In some bad news, one of the girls said she was planning to leave, as the group was too small (irony alert!). No idea what to do about that. Attracting new girls at the older age group is incredibly tricky, and the oldest bunch of girls from the senior guides won’t realistically be ready for Rangers until probably mid next year, and Sister Unit only has one old enough currently (but who wants to wait until the start of next year), and possibly one more mid-next year. Older groups are always difficult – there are just so many competing demands once kids are in high school. Guess we’ll just do what we can. Even if it all falls over, we’ve at least given the current crop of Rangers a few extra terms of guiding!

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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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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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Lazy Sunday

Sunday afternoon SisterUnitLeader and I took 5 girls canoeing on Lilydale Lake. It was a gorgeous day – about 25 degrees, sunny but with a breeze… lovely.

SisterUnitLeader is working towards her canoeing instructing qualifications, so she did all the wrangling of the girls and the boats, while I served as ‘base unit’ and first aider… which essentially meant that I had an afternoon lazing in the sunshine on the banks of the lake. Guiding is tough sometimes!

5 turned out to be a good number, as SisterUnitLeader was able to be in one canoe with two girls, and three others were in another canoe. They went along together, and all five girls got to have time in each position in both boats, so they all got a really good turn.

We’re thinking that maybe next time we’ll try the river that’s quite near our two units… over the longer term, we might even be able to have the odd unit night down on the river during the summer months… guess we’ll see how it goes!

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Butterflies + Dragonflies + Worms + Ants = critters camp!

Combine 16 Guides, 3 leaders, 1 parent helper, an activity day, a bunch of insects and critters great and small and what do you get? A happy and (mostly!) successful camp!

‘Crazy Critters’ was our theme, so bugs and insects wove in and out of the activities, decorations, patrols, and food. It probably wasn’t a theme our girls would have chosen (we planned the camp so far ahead they had no say this time!), but they all really got into it, and it was a great one for helping the leaders be creative!

So, the details –

Friday night I got up to camp early and set up as much as I could – I’d found some fake ivy in a $2 shop, so that plus some little lady bug clips formed our table centrepieces, on top of a luridly lime green plastic table cloth – I haven’t done the table cloth/centrepiece thing much before, but I really liked it – it themed the main room for the whole weekend, and made it look a bit special, while being really easy to clean up!!

The table decorations:

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The girls all arrived on the bus at about 7pm, unfortunately this was only 5 minutes behind my QM (SisterUnitLeader) who had got caught at work! So much for our plan to have dinner on the table when they arrived! But it didn’t matter – by the time I’d welcomed them all to Crazy Critters Camp, presented them all with their themed scarves (thank you quilting sale pile!), sorted them firstly into patrols, and then secondly into rooms, and then got them AND ALL THEIR STUFF into their rooms, SisterUnitLeader and Parent Helper had platters of chopped up veggie sticks and dips ready, which they all just gobbled down! Luckily the main meal was just sausages in bread, so that didn’t take too long to sort out. After we’d cleaned up from dinner, we went for a night walk around the campsite, which was both exciting (Ooh spooky bush sounds! Being out after dark!) and also useful – as we were able to point out some of the main landmarks which they’d need to know the next day!

It was also useful in that a bit of physical activity seemed to calm them down a touch, and we had an easier bedtime than at recent camps – we put the lights out at about 10.20ish, and I think the last time I SHOOSH’d a kid was at about 11pm, which is decidedly better than two years ago when I had to go and find poor AwesomeCoLeader who was sitting in the cold outside one of the rooms to force them to shut up at 1am!!

Saturday we had the most elaborate hot breakfast I’ve ever had at Guide camp – SisterUnitLeader took everyone’s breakfast orders the night before and then provided everyone with their own tailored breakfast – I had mushrooms, ‘hash browns’ (potato gems), fried eggs, baked beans, and butterfly toast (toast with a butterfly cut out using a cookie cutter) (the other option was dragonfly). Other people had boiled eggs or scrambled eggs, bacon, sausages, spinach… honestly, I’ve never seen such a diverse breakfast – usually we just do a big pot of something and serve it up!!

We then had a brief Guides Own, not one of my most successful ones, but oh well. I was running a bit short on inspiration when I put it together, but the girls did at least all have a part to play, and all managed to read out their bit reasonably well. For the record, I’m thinking that mid-morning Guides Owns just are not as effective as ones in the dark or twilight. I’m sure dawn would also be fabulous, but unless we start camping mid-winter when dawn is at a suitable hour for me to be nice to small children, that’s not going to happen anytime soon!

For the main part of the Saturday, we had the patrols move through four different activities. To manage this, the patrol leaders were all given a watch, and wrote down the times and activities that they had to be at. We were camping at Britannia Park, which is a fabulous, but GIANT Guide campsite, so they were all under STRICT instructions to never lose their patrol, and that people had to be in at least pairs at all times. I brought the seconders in at that point and reminded them that they were also responsible for ensuring timing and not losing their patrol!! (Can you tell I was a little obsessed on this point? To be fair, its about 20acres or so, and they were going to be without direct adult supervision, so this was not entirely unreasonable…)

The four activities were: Making and eating their lunch at the cabin, Making a bug-themed dessert at the cabin for everyone to try at dinner time, going on the open day activities (which included a jumping castle, circus skills, making damper etc) while hunting for 10 bugs that we’d hidden all over the campsite, and helping out with taking tickets etc at the jumping castle, which was our assigned activity.

Lunch and helping out generally took less than their appointed hour, so they were free in that time to continue bug hunting and activity-day-ing, which they did with gusto. The bugs, as I’m sure you’re curious, were brightly coloured plastic bugs (e.g. an orange millipede, a blue beetle, a yellow scorpion), which we put in small glass jars about the place. Their general location was marked on a map given to each patrol, but they definitely took some hunting, and some very careful observation! By the end of the day, the two older patrols had managed to find all 10, but the two younger patrols gave up after finding about 5 each!

On the program we intended to do a hike after the activity day, but they were all whiney about the prospect, and the weather looked to be coming in… so a bit of a re-think, and we decided to use the ‘Challenge Valley’ obstacle course equipment instead, which was conveniently just across from the cabin, and which they all really got into. Interestingly, several of the girls really struggled with the concept of having to wait before your whole patrol had completed a challenge before moving on… I suppose there aren’t many times where they’re reliant on other people’s capacity to complete something.

Dinner was reasonably standard camp fare – spaghetti bolognaise – but they all ate it enthusiastically. SisterUnitLeader did give the meal a bit of extra pizzazz by serving “bug juice” – green cordial with sour worms in ice-cubes, which the kids thought was just the most brilliant thing! I think at this camp we were a bit more minimalist with the food than last time – we had food available for morning tea and afternoon tea, but it was more just platters of cut fruit or a few savoury biscuits, rather than anything substantial. I think this was actually the right call – no one went hungry, but they were all more enthusiastic about the main meals, and we didn’t have so much food left over, as the kids were actually having the planned second serves of pasta etc, rather than just one as they’d filled up at snack time. Mind you… we did follow up standard spaghetti bolognaise with the four ‘bug desserts’ the girls had made earlier in the day – firstly apples and cheese cut up to look like The Very Hungry Caterpillar (shared between two), followed by individual ‘tasting plates’ of honeycomb, butterfly cakes (with cream and jam), and spider chocolate crackles (crackles with liquorice legs and eyes). They looked great, and were all delicious, and the girls were all pretty chuffed to share their hard work.

Finally, after dinner, we had an indoor ‘campfire’, as the rain was absolutely bucketing down. In place of fire, each girl had a glowstick in a jar at their feet, and we had a bunch of the jars in the middle, which was very effective. Kids were in bed and quiet a bit earlier – I think the last SHHHH was at about 10.20pm 🙂

Sunday we got up a tiny bit later (a princely 7.30am!), and insisted on the girls packing and cleaning their rooms prior to breakfasting – which worked quite well with two of the rooms, but one was soooooo scatty and soooooo disorganised, that they ended up delaying the start of the wide game beginning as it took them one and a half hours to get to breakfast!!

The main part of the day was spent on a brilliant wide game put together by AwesomeCoLeader (I’ll see if I can convince her to do a Guest Post with the details!), the central concept of which was: the Professor of Entomology from the local university has been kidnapped, and as uni students are on holidays, the Guides have been asked to track her down!

Challenges included in the game included building a shelter facing north (like termites), doing a dance to share a message (like honeybees), building a spiders web, using a compass to walk in a certain direction and observe what sounds and critters were around, and collect some bugs from the site, and of course, cook lunch over the fire. Naturally, it finished with hunting down the kidnapped professor 🙂

After that, we pretty much just packed up, had a short closing ceremony, and then sent the kids home! The last girls left at about 3.20pm (so much for the 2.30-3.00pm pick up!), and us leaders left at about 4.00pm, which wasn’t too bad.

Overall, a pretty good camp – the girls seemed happy (and 16 was a lovely number!), the leadership team worked really well, and even the parent helper was great, really happy to pitch in wherever, always asking if there was anything extra she could do to help. So, all in all, I think I’d be willing to do it again, and after chats with the girls and AwesomeCoLeader, I think we’ve got themes for the next two already sorted! Titanic Camp and Dinosaurs Camp, here we come!

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Constructing Guides

If anyone ever tells you that girls don’t like to build things, well, they’re wrong.

Tonight we had a brilliant night, possibly one of my favourites for quite a while, as I spent some time with the Juniors as they used sticks and rope and tarpaulins to construct small pup tents/shelters.

My role was pretty much just supervising (with the occasional advice/comment) as they all worked brilliantly in their allocated small groups (not their usual patrols), and started to get really creative in their approach to problem solving. Gratifyingly (in terms of our term structure), several of them remembered how they’d got their tripod tents to stay up several weeks ago, and were able to apply that thinking, and explain it to the newer members of the group.

It was particularly impressive that the night went so well, given that we had visitors from Sister Unit (always lovely), plus two girls “brought a friend” (which… that’s great, but a heads up is always nice… and *technically* the Juniors are full…), plus four of the girls are so new they can’t yet remember which patrol they’re usually in, or hardly anyone’s name, so the challenges were potentially substantial! (True confessions time its not just kids having trouble with names: of four newbies this term, there are three girls (sisters and their friend) who look SO ALIKE that I have NO CLUE which is which… I wonder if there’s a way I can work in nametags next week…??)

All in all, a really great activity. Filled nearly an hour, including them gleefully destroying their creations, and then helping (quite well actually) to wrap up the ropes neatly and put everything away.

While all this was going on, AwesomeCoLeader supervised the Seniors (a flip to our usual ways) as they put up and took down little 3 person tents in patrols. Putting them up the challenge was to do so in silence, while taking them down ended up with one of the funniest sights I’ve seen for a while – 4 patrol members blindfolded, one not, and supposedly providing instructions. The results seemed decidedly mixed when I peeked in, but my little tent was returned to me fitting better inside its case than I’d sent it off to them, so I can only assume it at least partly worked!

And of course you’re reading the blog closely (of course), and noticed we’ve only got an hour of programing there – what happened to the extra half hour? Well, that went on a couple of activities and presentations run by a couple of girls for their Junior BP Award, plus a bit of futzing about, and your basic chaos of trying to wrangle 25+ kids!

Followed all that with decoupage at Rangers, and then panic raiding of the shed and cupboards for anything and everything we could possibly need for this weekend’s camp! Fingers crossed all goes to plan (or near enough!) so that I’m not scared off planning others in future! 🙂

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