keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Make new friends…

As one of my favourite campfire songs goes:

Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other’s gold. A circle is round. It has no end. That’s how long I want to be your friend.

So in honour of the ‘International Day Of Friendship’ (which was apparently today), we had a ‘friendship’ themed night, which mainly focused on getting the girls to learn a bit more about each other, and particularly, get to know a bit more about someone they don’t usually spend much time with.

We started out with a game of musical chairs (I’m sure when we did the program that had a particular purpose, but for the life of me I could not remember what it was tonight so… we just played musical chairs. It did work nicely as an icebreaker!), and then had a game of ‘stacks’, where everyone has a chair in a circle, and as certain things are called out, if you fit the criteria, you have to move the assigned number of seats, and if someone is already sitting there, just sit on top of them! So ‘criteria’ were things like “if you have a brother, move five spots to the right”, “if you like spaghetti bolognaise, move 3 spots to the left”, “if you are a Junior Guide, move 2 spots left” etc etc. Our tallest stack was five kids deep at one point, which caused much hilarity 🙂

Next we had the girls all choose a partner – with the stipulation that it had to be someone they didn’t know well, didn’t see outside of Guides, didn’t go to school with, and preferably was from the other section (i.e. prefer Juniors paired with Seniors, rather than two Juniors in a pair). The pairs then had three minutes to find three things they had in common, and then share one of those things with the group as a whole.

Those pairs then became part of the next game, which had the smaller of the two pair members in an inner circle, and the taller in an outer circle, each going in a different direction when instructed, before having to suddenly find each other and have the little one sit on the bigger one’s knee, with the last pair to find each other being eliminated. Again, not a lot of *point*, but a lot of fun, and it did get them out of their usual cosy pairs of “besties”.

Finally, we had a little craft/experiment activity, which AwesomeCoLeader had found online, where the girls each had a little flower template to cut out (about five cms across in total), and wrote in the centre one quality that makes a good friend. The petals were then decorated, and folded in, before all being dropped into a dish of water, to, we hoped, open up gently to reveal their words of wisdom. And score, it actually worked! Which had the girls all very excited, as they tried to read what each other had written, and then made a few extra suggestions of words that should be on the list.

So, a good night. We even had two newbies join us who seemed to have a lovely time – one an older sister of a current Guide (unusual, we often get little sisters joining, but big sisters are usually far too cool to want to do their baby sister’s activity!), and one a friend of TinyGuide, who joined in even though TinyGuide was away sick, and was super keen to come back next week and order uniform!

Floating friendship flowers:





Questions on some other blogs, and on the GGV facebook page, have had me pondering how I feel about the uniform.

Not so much its appearance (which broadly I don’t mind, certainly I prefer it to the older style of pale blue), but its role in the organisation. Discussions on the Guiders UK forum have indicated that in the UK, uniform is optional but encouraged in the girls, and that there is quite a diversity of options, particuarly at the ‘Guide’ age group. I’m honestly not sure whether that is also the case in Australia… most likely it is, as we can hardly forbid girls to join in without uniform…

My pondering has been more about what are we trying to do with uniform? Our girls seem to spend half their lives dressed like their peers – school uniforms (and most of ours go to fancy private schools with very particular rules), basketball/netball uniforms, dance uniforms. I suppose its not unreasonable therefore for there to be a Guides uniform, but what are we trying to achieve with it?

I suppose we are trying to create an ‘in group’, very distinctly.  My former unit had excellent compliance with the (old) uniform, to the point that girls who were trying out the unit – and who almost always turned up in pink the first week – would be dressed in blue the next week, just so they didn’t stick out quite to much. My current unit does not have such a clear cut look, but that may also be in part due to the fact that its winter – as much as we encourage long-sleeve tshirts under their uniform top, many just throw on whatever jumper/hoodie/cardi they have around, and with it being so cold (even with the heater on!), I can hardly fault them for that – so we look a lot more rainbow than we should be!

There is one time I feel uniform is really valuable: when we have an out-of-hall activity, particuarly if we go on some sort of excursion. Those uniforms are bright, and being able to spot the girls from a distance as “mine” is really useful! Less useful at a Guide event though….

This has also got me thinking about what I tell our parents when they’re signing up their daughter. When asked about uniform, I almost always say “well, its not compulsory to start with, but she’ll need her shirt and sash for her promise ceremony” – implicitly, I’m saying that to become a full Guide, you *must* have uniform. But that clearly isn’t the case, its the Promise that makes a girl a Guide, not her shirt or sash.  I wonder if I should change my words?

And yet, and yet. I suspect I will continue to encourage ‘proper’ uniform in the girls, as it does have one really useful marker for the leaders – it shows that the kid definately prepared for Guides (or at least remembered in time to grab the uniform before getting in the car!), which hopefully, at least, means they’re ready to begin, and actively choosing to be there.

So, after all that: pro uniform, although I shall watch my phrasing around ‘compulsory’ – no need to send people astray.