keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Odds and sods

Ah, the final night of term. Always bitter-sweet!

Poor attendance this evening – only 13 out of 24! I suspect a few kids are already on school holidays, and when that happens, they *always* forget. There also seemed to be a few events on tonight – three of the oldest girls let me know they were away due to school productions etc.

As is generally becoming customary, we asked the kids to do an evaluation of the term – in recent terms I’ve gone for a single large sheet that everyone puts ticks on. I then have the term’s main activities down one side of the page, and ‘ratings’ across the top axis – ratings are some variation on “great!” “good” “okay…” or “boring!”. This term I went with individual feedback sheets, which was rather interesting. Some of the activities which I thought went quite well (like pot painting and planting) got middling results, while some which I thought might have missed the mark (making ‘eiffel towers’ out of straws) were reasonably popular. Huh.

Interesting too, the variation in evaluation of some of the activities – last weeks ‘green taste test’ was thought “great!” by the littlies, but “boring!” by the oldest girls! Overall though, most activities were marked as ‘good’ or ‘great’, so I think we’re broadly on track. 🙂

tonight’s activities were a bit of a mish-mash! Based broadly around a ‘world’ theme, we had:

  • sock skiing races (for Switzerland, for Our Chalet)
  • making ‘gods eyes’ (for Mexico, for Our Cabana)
  • a Millenium Development Goals ‘bingo’ (not sure any info stuck, but hey, at least it’s integrating some serious world stuff into the program!)
  • Kim’s Game with items from other countries, and the kids had to remember both the item and where it came from.

We also had one of the girls working on her JBP run some activities, which generally worked well – she’d certainly put a lot of thought and effort into them, and tried to tie everything into a ‘world’ theme – so she had the kids building ‘igloos’ out of white sheets and chairs, going ‘ice fishing’ and making ‘fishing rods’ with rope and sticks, doing a quick ‘fill in the blanks’ promise activity, a puzzle, and a matching game. She’d done fabulously in planning and making sure she had everything!

Overall, a quiet night, fished off by presenting a bunch of kids with their world and/or nature badges. I’m really liking our increased focus on badges this year, its great to see the girl’s sashes starting to fill up, and it gives us good reason to ensure each term’s program is different – harder to fall into the trap of too much repetition when you’re totally switching topics term to term – even if you only end up making a small modification – like playing ‘froggy tiggy’ rather than the usual ‘spy tiggy’ – it helps to mix things up a bit.

So, a good term, now time to gear up for the next one!

Leave a comment »

Green night!

Tonight we had a green themed night, which was aimed to fit into the ‘earth theme’ of the term, with the night able to count towards either the ‘nature’ or ‘world’ badge, depending on which badge the kid needed the ‘points’ for.

We started off with a green-themed wordsearch (tailored for each age group), which was surprisingly successful, although not something to do too often, as I’m sure it could become boring quickly. We then had the oldest girls head into the kitchen, where they cut up a bunch of green fruits and veggies for a ‘green taste test’ for the whole group – foods were quite diverse, some the kids were familiar with – green apples, capsicum, celery, green peas, snow peas, cucumber- and some less well known – ‘Chinese hairy melon’ and green mangoes. The girls all really got into the taste test, even MissWhiteFood, a nine-year-old who camp revealed to pretty much eat bread and pasta!

While the older girls were cutting up the food, we had the younger girls playing a couple of games – frog tiggy (with the kids who were ‘it’ jumping like frogs, and progressively catching the ‘flies’), then a froggy version of british bulldogs (froggy jumping again as the catchers, the girls running had to ‘swim’ like tadpoles until caught and becoming frogs), and then ‘fruit salad’, but instead having it as ‘green salad’, as my brains failed me and I could only think of three green fruits, and had to throw some veggies in the mix!

After the taste testing, we did a green flags activity, where they were put into small groups (mixed age, rather than their usual patrols), and had to try and figure out which of 7 green flags I was reading out the description for. Not sure that much stuck in their heads, but perhaps now they’ll all know Turkmenistan exists!

Finally to finish up we had one of our older girls run a Promise and Law game she prepared – similar to Duck Duck Goose – as part of her BP Award activities. It was a simple game, but she had clearly put a fair bit of thought into it, and was properly prepared with copies of the laws. Given the Promise and Laws recently changed, it was a really great way to start to remind the girls of the new wording.

Next week – the final week of term three, with lots of badges to hand out! At least 7 have earned their Nature badge, and 9 their World badge, with up to a further 12 earning it depending on attendance next week. Yikes, hope I ordered enough badges!!

Leave a comment »

Around the world in 80 minutes!

This evening we took the girls on a trans-continental journey! Had the girls moving through a round robin series of activities based on the various continents, as part of the ‘world’ badge.

Activities were:

Antarctica – a penguin walk race – reasonably successful, but would have been better if I’d been organised and included some obstacle course elements or something else with a bit of a twist!

Europe – making an Eiffel Tower out of plastic straws – varying degrees of successful, interestingly, the patrol which was being least cooperative managed to win this one! Creativity through conflict, perhaps!

Asia – using chopsticks to transfer cooked rice between bowls – this was a good one, and gave several kids the opportunity to learn how to use chopsticks! It might be something fun to take the little ones out for dinner one night and make them learn chopsticks for real, as they seemed to get a real kick out of it!

South America – constructing large, brightly coloured paper ponchos – I was surprised how well this one worked, I thought this might be where they would get bored, but nope, struggled to get them to move onto the next activity!

Africa – drumming – found a series of drumming patterns online, and got them to practice using upturned buckets as drums. Honestly, those $1 buckets have been the BEST investment!

North America – mini hamburgers – had the girls use a cookie cutter to cut out a mini bun from a larger hamburger bun, then roll a small amount of meat/breadcrumbs/herbs mixture into a patty and fry it off, use a quarter of a piece of ‘sandwich’ cheese, and a drop or two of tomato sauce, and wha-lah! Tiny hamburger! A very popular activity, and they all ended up with an edible little morsel, only about 4 or 5 bites worth! A nice way to get some cooking into the program while only needing 10 minutes per patrol.

Overall, it was a surprisingly good night – I thought I might have tried to fit too much into the evening, but we actually had enough time to get the girls to do the tidying up themselves, and I only had to yell a tiny bit to get them to focus!!

Sunday arvo sees me helping out at a gadget practice afternoon (YIKES, gadgets are NOT my strongpoint, hopefully I’m only there to child wrangle!), and then next week we’re having “green night”, which will be a mix of nature-y and recycling-ish type activities.


Leave a comment »

Earthy adventures

Last night was a brilliant night of Guiding! Three separate activities (one per section – Juniors, Seniors, Upper Seniors), which were ALL successful, which all the girls seemed to enjoy, and all of which were fun, something new, and fitted into the badge program!

Our littlies made volcanoes, which they seemed to really enjoy – we had them make a dough to shape the volcano shape around a bottle, which they seemed to enjoy – they really like it when we give them a recipe or similar and let them get on with it. I’m guessing for girls aged six to nine, there probably aren’t many times where they get to self-manage an activity, and follow the instructions with minimal adult involvement! Once again, that tiny taste of freedom and responsiblity really seems to work for the younger ones. Younger co-leader ran the activity, and did really well – but she did say for sure afterwards that she prefers the older girls! Fair enough!

Meanwhile, other co-leader ran a brilliant ‘edible gardens’ activity with the Upper Seniors, which had them use various forms of lollies and chocolate to build the layers involved in soil and gardens! So clever, and so much fun – dyed coconut for grass, sour worm lollies for earth worms, made-from-scratch chocolate pudding for the sub-soil… The girls had lots of fun, and were completely surprised by the activity, which was great!

And thirdly, I helped the Seniors out with making terrariums! They turned out really well, each girl got a *teeny* parlour palm, a wee little fern, and various combinations of moss, baby’s breath, and teeny violet plants. They all got really absorbed in the task, and were very excited when I suggested we could also add some beads and things – and very luckily found a box of gorgeous flat glass ‘marble’ type things, which made for brilliant ‘ponds’.

So, three fabulous activities, absorbed kids, and THEY EVEN ALL CLEANED UP WITH MINIMAL WHINGING!! Woohoo!!

Not only all of that, but two newbies! One who came to last week’s bring-a-friend with the younger girls, who dragged mum over at the end, and insisted mum take the forms (cute!), and another who came for the first time last night – apparently she’d seen an ad about Guides, checked us out online, and ended up with us! Got a call from her mum today saying that daughter loved Guides, and she’d pick up the forms next week!

Next week – ‘jumping snakes’ for the juniors, pottery for everyone else. Should be great!

Leave a comment »

We’re goin’ to the zoo, zoo, zoo…

Zoo adventure day!

Co-leader 1 and 2 and I took 8 girls to the zoo, as part of our nature badge activities. It was a long day – ten ’til four – but we needed that sort of time as we also included tram and train trips there and back in the day’s activities… which for kids who spend most of their lives being shuttled via car was a bit of an adventure in itself!

We broke the kids into age groups to go around for the day – five juniors together with two leaders, two seniors and one upper senior with the other leader – and had both groups go around trying to find the answers to a set of questions organised earlier in the week. It seemed to work well, and they all seemed fairly happy when the two groups met up for lunch. We just did a simple picnic of bread, cheese, savoury biscuits, dips, cut veggies, fruit, and some chocolate chip biscuits for dessert. I’m sure they would have preferred chips and hot dogs, but they seemed reasonably content, and ate enough to keep them going for the rest of the day! We managed to get around a fair proportion of the zoo, and honestly, I don’t think it would have been worth staying much longer than we did, as the little ones in particular were getting seriously slow in their walking, and probably wouldn’t have kept their tempers much longer!

Overall, it was a fun day out, although we’ll all – girls and leaders! – sleep well tonight!

Leave a comment »

Cooking and patrol building

The program took on a minor detour from our core ‘Earth’ focus this week, with a night of outdoor cooking. To try and play into a bit of a world guiding theme, we had the Juniors cooking ‘crepes’ with nutella (for Switzerland/Our Chalet), and the Seniors & Upper Seniors cooking corn tortillas with sour cream and salsa (for Mexico/Our Cabana). Clever co-leader did all the planning and organising, and I have to give props for touching on world guiding in her plans!

We decided to use the little gas cookers we purchased earlier in the year, luckily we bought enough for five patrols (which is what we currently have!), and after a quick investment in $4 frying pans from Ikea, we were sorted – we’ve been a bit more clever this year about what we purchase, and making sure we use and re-use things.

The all girls worked pretty well together in their patrols, I’m really pleased how they’re all coming together. I think after quite a wishy-washy start to patrols earlier in the year, we’ve really consolidated them since about mid term two, and it really does make managing the group overall a bit easier. I think the way we’ve been doing our opening ceremony of late is also helping – having the girls line up in their patrols, with Juniors in one line, and Seniors/Upper Seniors in the other line – this means the patrols form before we step in, and stand together while we’re in circle. This also has the sideline benefit of splitting up (most!) of our problem pairings at the beginning, as they’re (usually!) in separate patrols.

Interestingly, the group we were a bit worried about – the Seniors –  really bonded as a patrol tonight (after a bit of a ‘talking to’ about working together!). Our newest girl in that group, who was previously a Guide interstate, has decided to properly join, and, in a couple of weeks time (presuming current behaviours keep up), we think she might make a good seconder for the patrol – she actually seems to have a bit of ablity to pull the group together, which is fabulous.

In general, it was a good night – the kids all got to be reasonably independent, following the recipes etc with very limited assistance, doing all their own measuring out, cooking without assistance from the leaders… etc etc.

In other news, our moves towards having the girls come in proper uniform took a good step forward, with about half of the girls wearing their sashes, hurrah! And the new way of doing patrol points, getting the PLs/2nds to fill in the details was MUCH more efficient than leaders trying to chase around and check which kids had their badges on their collars!

Leave a comment »

Painting pots planted with pansies

Return of Guides for Term Three!

We only had a two week break, but it felt like a long time!

Tonight we started off our earth theme term, with planting up little terracotta pots with pansy seedlings, and then painting the pots.

The activity worked fairly well (a nice one to do in patrols, as then you could actually have a manageable number of kids per table and per set of paint colours), but we were unfortunately a bit under-leadered for the evening. For some reason, we had two girls who really needed one-on-one attention this evening, and with only two adults, 22 kids, and an activity requiring a fair bit of supervision, this didn’t really work. (Yes, we are meant to have five leaders, but one is overseas, one was sick, and younger leader can be… flakey. She’s great, but flakey).

So why was were we under-leadered? Afterall, 2:22 is still a reasonable ratio!

Firstly, the blog-famous Crying-Miss-Six returned to her roots, and decided that she was overwhelmed by the noise and people, and that she didn’t remember anyone’s name, and that she just wanted to go home because she misses her mum. Yikes. After half an hour of us not being able to get her to calm down properly, I ended up calling her mum, and having her chat to C-M-S. We ended up convincing C-M-S that she may as well pot up a plant while she waited for mum, and got her to sit down with her patrol at her table… and she then started painting. By the time Dad came 15 minutes later to collect her, she was so absorbed in the task that she didn’t even notice he’d arrived! He ended up having a word with her quietly, and they decided she’d stay! By the end of the night she was all smiles! Hopefully we won’t have a repeat of this at the start of next term!!

Secondly, one of our quietest Seniors decided that she didn’t want to be with her group, she wanted to be with the Upper Seniors (one of whom was running an activity for the Juniors & Seniors as part of her JBP, while the others helped get things from co-leaders’ car) – apparently she doesn’t like it when they’re with the little ones, she wants to be with the older girls, wants to be with J (her particular friend/protector/ally in the Upper Seniors). So she pretty much refused to be with her patrol all night. I had a long chat with her (a bit worried that this was going to be an ongoing issue – if so we’d need to figure something out…), and we agreed that she could hang out with the older girls for this week, but that next week she’d be back with her patrol. We might need to look at some ‘patrol building’ activities to assist that group, as its a bit rag-tag at the moment – the PL has patchy attendance (seems to be one of those kids who gets ill often, but is a dedicated Guide when there, and is working towards her BP Award), this girl is very quiet, there are two good friends who are a bit wild (both making their Promise next week, yay!), and (hopefully!) two newbies.

And yes, that’s the other news! Newbies! The prospective Upper Senior from last term has returned, and her little sister, a prospective Senior, has also come along for the first time! Dad has taken forms, and has apparently already tried to buy uniform for them both! Aaand, in other news, we also had another prospective Senior join us for the first time. She’s apparently previously been a Guide (interstate). She seems like a nice kid, and seemed to fit in reasonably, so hopefully…! It will be nice to be growing the older girls groups again, after so much expansion in the Juniors earlier in the year, and losing several older ones in a hurry.

Also exciting – spoke to some of our ‘older juniors’, about possibly starting work on the JBP award, and six of them are keen! Fabulous stuff, very exciting!

Its going to be a big week of Guides – this weekend we’re off on camp with sister-unit and another group, and then next week, we have a Promise ceremony for five of the girls who joined us early last term – the other two who joined at the same time won’t be making their Promise with our group, as they are moving overseas, so will join the equivalent of Guides in their new country, and make the Promise there (their Mum’s choice, and it makes sense). It will be our first ceremony using the new words, so I really really hope we all manage to do it well and not mangle it!!

Leave a comment »

Earth calling!

Forward planning for the next term has got earlier and earlier at our unit – the most extreme example is that we’ve already planned which badges we’ll be working on next year! (Eyes, Ears, Hands, Feet) (yes, we quite like themes!) (our theme this year has been ‘elements’ – so water term one, fire term two, earth term three, and air term four).

We realised mid-last year that leaving our planning until the holidays meant that we had kids unsure of the date we were starting back, and meant that we always had to have a very low-key night on the first week, as we couldn’t require the kids to bring anything specific, or wear anything particular etc. Therefore, in an effort to get the kids ‘stuck into’ the term straight away, we’ve started planning earlier, and handing out the program two weeks before the end of term – so we get the kids primed for the next term before the current one is even finished.

So, my three of my co-leaders and I met yesterday arvo (other co-leader was unavailable at the last moment) to sort out term three, with a very civilised Sunday afternoon planning session which included cake and macarons!

Unfortunately, unlike our Water, Fire, and Air themes, there isn’t a specifically ‘Earth’ badge – so we’ve decided that the girls will work towards two badges – the ‘world’ create a challenge, and the ‘nature’ create a challenge! It should be a fabulous term – we’ll be making volcanoes and terrariums, doing some pottery, having a night all about flags (flag protocol, a couple of games, designing personal flags…), a ‘race around the continents’… and a trip to the Zoo!

Not sure how other units manage the very wishy washy requirements of the ‘create a challenge’ badges, but what we’ve gone with is that we set out specific nights in the program which will count towards each badge (with one extra specific night required for the older girls). If the girls attend those evenings, they get the badge, if not, they have to complete additional activities from home. While girls can get the ‘world’ badge from straight attendance, to get the ‘nature’ badge is going to require that they either come along to the zoo day or help out at National Tree Day.

We’ve also decided for the first time since I joined the unit (although I understand it used to happen) to have a night during the term which is just for the Juniors, and a second night (on the Thursday) which is just for the Seniors and Upper Seniors. Both of these nights will be bring-a-friend activities, and run in conjunction with our sister unit. The first night will be a usual at-the-hall night, with lots of games, while the second night will be held at a local shopping centre, where there’s a bowling alley – so kids will be able to have a game of bowling and then we’ll go to the little cafe in the centre for pizza and gossip.

This plan has come about as I noticed at our last bring-a-friend activity that the friends of the older girls looked mildly freaked out by the presence of a bunch of tiny little friends (aged five, six, seven), several of which were overwhelmed (with a couple of tears) – I think it emphasised our wide age range, and probably made Guides look less fun for the older girls than it really is – and it also suggested that our unit was run more ‘together’ than it really is. With our Seniors and Upper Seniors in their own patrols, we’re moving more and more towards a split program, but our bring-a-friend evenings to date really haven’t reflected that.

Anyway, it should be fun to have a night just for the littlies, and then a night just for the middlies & biggies! And fingers crossed, we’ll get a couple of extra kids out of it!

Leave a comment »