keeping track of my adventures in guiding!

Evil Doctor Greyzone and the Great Colour Hunt (Wide game)

Here’s a short (approx. 1 hour or so) wide game developed recently as part of our Science and Technology term.  This was tackled by Guides aged 6-12 in mixed aged patrols – there is quite a bit of reading required, so its not one you’d want Guides under 10 doing without support from older girls.

Read to the unit:

I hope all Guides are very Prepared this evening, as we have quite a difficult challenge for you.

It seems that the Guide hall area has been transported to another dimension, and we have been trapped in a giant grey bubble by the Evil Doctor Greyzone!

Doctor Greyzone works by slowly leaching away all the colours, leaving no light, and no hope.

However, Doctor Greyzone has clearly chosen the wrong group to target tonight, because we are going to FIGHT BACK and rescue the colours!

As always, to defeat the Evil Doctor, everyone will need to be alert, pay attention, and FOCUS on working through the challenges. There are eight challenges. Most of the challenges need to be tackled in a different order by different patrols, so DON’T FOLLOW other patrols, follow your own instructions!

Opening activity: (all patrols complete at once)

Using the periodic table provided, decode the message from Doctor Greyzone:

53 74 13 10 81 22 8 62 52 63 33 71 13 57 103 17 76 3 76 92 75 51


Note: I just found a periodic table on Wikipedia – you can probably get a clearer version than this. The numbers in the table correspond with an element, which the Guides then write down the symbol for. The trick is that only capital letters are required, not the lower case ones. I only provided this hint to the patrols that were struggling, but most figured it out independently. When a patrol thought they had the message correct (which is “I want to steal all colours”) they came up and told me the message, if correct, I provided them with the next instructions.


Main section:

Each patrol was provided with a little list, which had their six colour-themed activities in a certain order. Each patrol’s order was different, but all ended up doing the same activities.

Instructions for each activity (one per patrol) was put in a small envelope with the relevant colour written on top (in the relevant colour, naturally! So there was a pile of green clues with ‘green’ written in green texta, a pile of ‘blue’ written in blue texta, etc).  The envelopes were left in a central location for the girls to collect as they needed them.

Patrols were instructed to do the activities in the order assigned, and when they had completed the activities included in each envelope, to move onto the next on their list.  

Envelopes had both the activity instructions and a short “science” fact/information slip in them to explain why the activity was included in the wide game.

Activity: Yellow

Locate the yellow edible items, and put them away for safekeeping for now. Rumour has it that Doctor Greyzone hides food items in the kitchen.

You may take up to two per person.

DO NOT eat them yet!

Yellow science:

Marshmallows are originally made by mixing together various ingredients and baking them. All types of cooking, but especially baking, involve chemistry to get the right mix of flavours and textures. So each time you cook, you’re also doing science!

Activity: Orange

To find orange, each patrol member will need to (safely and sensibly!) light a candle and toast your marshmallow.

Note: I splashed out and bought orange coloured tea lights to add to the ‘orange-ness’ of the activity, but the flames are pretty much orange anyway!

Orange science:

The tips of matches are made up of sulphur and potassium chlorate. When the matches are struck firmly against the ignition strip on the matchbox, which includes red phosphorus, the ingredients combine to make a brief flame. The wood and wax in the matches then keep the flame going long enough for you to use the match.

Activity: Red 

To find red, you will need to hunt around the grounds for a red butterfly. Your patrol will need to find and retrieve one butterfly, and keep it safe.

Note: the red butterflies were small (about the size of a 50 cent piece) paper butterflies purchased from a $2 shop. You could also use stickers, or paper cut outs, or whatever. They looked semi-realistic, but it was quite clear to girls when they found them that they were what they were looking for. The butterflies were hidden at roughly eye-height (for the girls!) around the garden.

Red Science:

The study of living things is known as “biology”, while the more specific study of insects, like butterflies, is known as “entomology”. Biologists try to understand creatures and plants of all types.

Activity: Purple

To rescue purple, your patrol will need to blow up one purple balloon, and then using the purple straws provided, blow the balloon from one end of the hall to the other. Be sure to keep the balloon safe!

Note: I purchased purple balloons and oversized purple straws (the type used for bubble tea), which helped theme this one

Purple Science: 

When you blow into a balloon, the air (oxygen and carbon dioxide) you send out is ‘trapped’ in the balloon, and so it stretches out the rubber and expands.

Activity: Blue

The youngest member of your patrol has twisted her ankle. Administer appropriate first aid, remembering RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.

To recover blue you will need to make an icepack and treat your injured team member properly.


  • Citric Acid
  • Baking Soda
  • Tap Water
  • Zip lock bag
  • Measuring cup
  • Plastic teaspoons

What to do:

  1. Put one level teaspoon of citric acid in a zip lock bag.
  2. Put one teaspoon of baking soda in the same zip lock bag. And shake the bag gently to mix the two chemicals.
  3. Fill up the measuring cup with cold tap water (about 30ml).
  4. Here’s where you have to be quick! Pour the water into the zip lock bag and snap it shut fast. Not only does the bag blow up, it also becomes super cold! So don’t forget to feel its temperature.

Treat your patrol member properly before proceeding.

Note: in addition to the ingredients for the cold packs, you will also need a set of crepe/compression bandages for the girls to use. If I were to do this again, I’d also add a couple of drops of blue food dye to the acid and soda before adding the water, so it was actually ‘blue’

Blue science:

Citric acid and baking soda (with the water) form an “endothermic chemical reaction”, which is a type of reaction where heat is absorbed, resulting in something very cold – at least for a while.

Activity: Green

To save green, you will need to make green slime.


  • PVA glue
  • food colouring
  • water
  • Borax
  • 2 plastic cups
  • a sealable plastic bag
  • some paper towels
  • Paddle Pop stick for stirring
  • at least two plastic spoons

 What to do

  1. Measure 3 teaspoons of PVA glue into the a cup.
  2. Add 3 teaspoons of water and stir.
  3. Add a few drops of dye to make green.
  4. Place approximately 1 cup of water into the other plastic cup.
  5. Stir in 1 heaped teaspoon of Borax powder. Once the mixture has been stirred thoroughly you have made a Borax solution.
  6. Add 1 teaspoon of Borax solution to your cup of paste and stir. As you stir the slime should start to form. You might need to add a little more Borax solution. Be careful when you are adding the Borax solution, too much and your slime will go hard.
  7. If your slime feels very wet and slippery (but is not still runny), remove it from the container and kneed it in your hands. In a few minutes, any extra Borax solution will evaporate or be absorbed.
  8. Place the slime into a sealable plastic bag and it should keep for a while.

Make sure you wash your hands after playing with the slime.

Green science:

You are blending together different types of materials to form a non-Newtonian fluid. The borax and glue (in particular) bond together at lots of different points (at a chemical level), to create a flexible, different type of material.


Final activity

Note: This section was read out to patrols who reported that they had done all six activities successfully.

To defeat Evil Doctor Greyzone, your patrol will need to have collected each of the six colours, and now, bring them together into a single rainbow to ensure colour is returned to the world.

Mix together in a bowl:

Water, dishwashing liquid, and 2-3 spoons worth of glycerine

Using your hands, try to send rainbow bubbles into the air to show Doctor Greyzone that he is defeated once and for all, and that the colours are safe once more! Once each member of your patrol has successfully created a rainbow bubble, you will have defeated the Evil Doctor!


Notes: Overall, this wide game was a lot of fun, and was just the right length for a standard unit meeting. If you wanted to add some additional time, the yellow and orange activities could be combined into one, and another activity added, potentially some sort of trail to follow or puzzle to solve.

Hope you have fun defeating Doctor Greyzone! Let me know if you try it out!



Let the plotting and planning begin!

Okay, so its not yet 2014, and I probably *should* have better things to do with my few days of holidays before starting The Great Plotting, but, well, I’ve got an hour or so, and ideas have been swirling in my head in recent days, so what better way to preserve them than blogging?!

Firstly: Rangers. I’ve been thinking a lot about what to do about the Rangers group. Since the Rangers leader left very unexpectedly – and with no notice – at the beginning of term three, co-leader and I have managed to keep the group limping along. But how we’ve been going is simply not sustainable. Both of us have been taking it in turns to take the fortnightly Rangers meetings in addition to our weekly Guide meetings. There’s a half-hour overlap between the groups (Junior & Senior Guides from 6.30 to 8.00; Rangers from 7.30 to 9.00), and by the time we tidy up after Guides, whichever leader is helping with Rangers only joins the girls from about 8.15, meaning they have 45 minutes effectively unsupervised. Which isn’t terrible – they’re teenagers (13-16 year olds), we’re in the next room, its hardly like they’re being left alone, but it seems that unless they’re doing something planned by the leaders, or using the kitchen, that they are a bit directionless.

In theory, the Rangers plan their own program, and implement it. But the reality is, without a leader there to keep them on track, they tend to drift. And I’ve noticed that they’re re-enforcing that drift by having poor attendance on non-cooking nights. I think also with growing homework pressure, if what is planned is just ‘games night’ or similar, which they have to prepare, then it becomes easy to just not go.

Co-leader has also commented that she doesn’t really like the late nights – and I know her natural inclination is towards the brownie-aged Juniors anyway, so Rangers isn’t her natural cup of tea.

So, my current thinking is as follows – still to be discussed with co-leader, mind you!:

I’ll take on Rangers as a default, at least for two terms. For ‘week A’, I’ll do as we’ve been doing so far – spending the full night with the Guides, and when that’s finished, moving into ‘lightly’ supervise the Rangers. For ‘week B’ though, I’ll spend the first hour with the Guides, and when the Rangers arrive at 7.30, I’ll join them for the full hour and a half, with the idea that I will run the activities that week – so they only need to turn up and engage. That will leave co-leader ‘alone’ for 30 minutes at the end of the meeting, but if we structure the program reasonably well, that should be fine. We also have a mum who has been helping occasionally, and I *think* she would be willing to commit to helping out on those nights specifically.

I’m also thinking that rather than going back on week two of term one, I’ll see if the Rangers are willing to start week one – perhaps we can have an outing and plan the term – maybe even two terms at once – over noodles?

So, that’s my Rangers thinking. I guess we’ll see how it goes.

As for Guides – well, we’ve already got a camp booked and planned, and 10 girls signed up with deposits (two have actually already fully paid!) (there are 24 spaces available, so 10 already is pretty great!), so that is exciting! It will be the ‘Crazy Critters Camp’, with a nature/insects/bugs theme. I’ll be getting assessed for my indoor camp qualification, which is scary/awesome. 🙂

In terms of programming – I’m thinking we’ll try and get the Seniors to aim for at least one patrol attending Lady Stradbroke Cup camp, which is a competitive, very traditional patrol outdoor camp – we’ll need to increase their outdoor cooking skills, and do lots of knotting and gadget work. I saw some fabulous fun ideas for making mini-gadgets recently, using twigs and fine string, rather than sticks and rope, which looked like a lot of intricate fun – you essentially end up with dollhouse sized camp gadgets! For the Juniors, I know co-leader wants them to work towards the ‘homes’ badge, using the old brownies ‘hostess’ syllabus, which I think they’d really love… and finally, I have an odd hankering to do the ‘numbers’ badge at some point (perhaps in the winter terms), as I’ve had a bunch of ideas around codes, number patterns, counting in other languages, games based on numbers, etc. I think there’s a fabulous wide game in there somewhere too!

So, much to consider. We always lose girls over the long summer break, but I think retention this year should be reasonable – I think of our 24 girls enrolled, we should have about 20 of them return in February… fingers crossed!!


Evaluating, planning, and girl-lead guiding

Our final night of term three had several girls presenting or running activities for their JBP Award, which was pretty great! We’ve got one with only 3 more things to get signed off (one of which she’s already done, just needs to evaluate), and another who has just reached the half way point! Yay!

I’m pretty sure we’ve got a couple more not too far behind either, so super yay! Looks like a big presentation night will need to be planned for term one next year!

JBP activity nights really are the easiest ones on the calendar – the girls do all the planning of the activities they want to run, they organise the games, and really get to demonstrate their skills.

Activities run included a ‘rob the nest’ type game with recycled materials as the objects for robbing (quite fun, although such an arbitrary game!), a morse code activity and quiz, and learning a version of “It’s a Small World” with a guiding bent.

There were also a bunch of activities the girls evaluated – visiting a synagogue and reporting back (complete with lovely photos done up in a scroll style poster to emulate a Torah roll), abseiling on school camp, running a game for the unit a few weeks ago, and leading songs at last week’s campfire. For JBP activities, we ask for three-way evaluation: evaluation by peers, evaluation by leaders, evaluation by self. As we go on further with JBP bits and pieces, the girls are getting better at understanding what is a suitable standard of effort, and really trying to do their best.

We also handed out super exciting new addition to the “stuff” of Guides – small (A4 size) calico bags, which are the perfect size once closed to fit in a handbook, as well as a place to display and/or store badges! Ahh ebay. You do have cool stuff.

Now, to more girl-led guiding. Well, two weeks ago we had the girls gather some ideas and suggestions of badges and activities they would like to do, and the clear winner for the next badge to work on was the Pets Create-A-Challenge. That is not a badge I would have ever chosen, purely on the level of difficulty of doing it during term time. But we’re meant to follow the girl’s preferences wherever possible, so co-leader and I took a week to ponder and consider, before meeting over dinner, wine, and chocolate to consider our plans.

So, taking the approach of “looking wide” as instructed by BP, our approach to the pets badge will include:
• Making native bird bird-feeders
• Making chia pets
• A ‘pets escape’ wide game
• A night in the park where pets can come for a quick “show off” before being taken home again!
• Pet themed plays/skits.

It’s probably not quite the program the girls originally had in mind when they nominated the pets badge, but it should give a reasonable mix of activities!

Of course, all of that is predicated on a having a hall next term, which isn’t necessarily guaranteed… apparently an engineers report has upgraded next year’s “maybe some minor renovations” to “oh yikes there are fairly major structural issues that you need to fix NOW” (!!) so I guess we’ll see what happens!

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Feminism and Girl Guides

In recent months, I have come to regard my role as a volunteer Girl Guide leader as probably the most feminist role I have.

And Girl Guides as the most feminist organisation I know.

At Guides, girls and women can be themselves. They can be quiet or loud, shy or confident, interested in traditional home skills or really invested in camping and outdoors activities. They can mosey along doing whatever badges happen to be included in the program or they steadily work their way through the books and cover their sashes in brightly coloured mementos of achievement.

The history of Girl Guides is a history of girls and women actively choosing to be part of the program, and of doing more than just asking nicely. At the famous Crystal Palace Rally which started it all, girls were not expected. Lord Baden Powell had called together his scouts, children who had been reading “Scouting for Boys” and had started to put the plans into action. Up the end of the rally was a bunch of girls, who had decided they too would be part of this new movement, and insisted they had the right to be there. So right from the start, girls were there by choice, and making the movement fit them.

With each unit operating semi independently, and each leader having different interests, there is of course a wide variation in what Guides can and does offer each kid. But regardless of whether the unit tends to do a lot of baking or a lot of building, each one does it with women, and for women. There is no question whether a girl can be a patrol leader, or treasurer.  No question of whether its ‘right’ for a girl to be interested in the building or the baking. Because of course she can – there are examples all around.

I know that volunteering isn’t always regarded as “feminist” – surely giving time for free is not the best road. But I don’t care – I’m lucky enough to earn plenty of money in my day job, Guides is what I do for pleasure. On the nights where I realise I’ve helped a kid learn something new, conquer a fear, or suddenly feel accepted, I come home glowing. Of course, the flipside is, when a kid decides to leave, I’m devastated! But that’s growing, and caring.

This week co-leader and I will be talking to the parents about the upcoming camp. While we do that, our 13 year old helper will be running the games and activities. A girl who is sometimes little too loud, and a little socially awkward has found a way to grow as a person, learnt to soften her edges, and ask nicely for others barely 2 years younger to please follow her instructions. And they do. Perhaps she would have learnt these skills elsewhere, who knows? But for her, she has taken the skills given through Guides – to cooperate, to lead, to help – and they have helped her grow.

So when people say to me “oh, Guides is so old fashioned”, I think, yes, perhaps in some ways it is. But given the history of Guides, and the fabulous pushy little girls who started it, I really hope that it is, and remains so.