Monthly Archives: January 2014

A whistle-stop tour of Japan

Here’s a quick run-down of our Japanese-themed Guide meeting.  We did it in rotating stations, with each patrol spending about 10 minutes on each activity.

Sushi – one Leader brought her sushi-rolling mat and food supplies to go with it: rice in wine vinegar, seaweed leaves, salmon, cucumber.  It was a bit stressful for her cooking the rice just before the meeting, but definitely worth it, as the Guides loved making and eating their own sushi.

Tea ceremony – our Unit Helper set up a stunning tea parlour (she even made a wall hanging!) and took the Guides through a ceremony.  We used red bush tea: not exactly Japanese, but very tasty and healthy!

Set up for a tea ceremony, with cushions, bowls, flowers, and a wall hanging

Karaoke – we got out the karaoke machine (it was bought with Sainsbury’s Active Kids vouchers a few years ago and has since been really useful as a music player), brought along some CDs, and the Guides had a mess about singing and miming along.

Peg dolls – the Guides dressed up dolly pegs in “kimonos”.  They gave their pegs faces and hair (pens) and arms (half a long pipe cleaner twisted round the peg), drew round this kimono template

Paper template for a mini kimono

onto fabric, cut it out, draped it over the doll, and tied a ribbon round the waist to hold it all together – “a bit like a dressing gown”, I told them to give them a sense of the shape.  Some Guides stapled the sleeves to hold them together, but most were happy without.  They turned out quite sweet:

Two dolly pegs dressed in kimonos

Fans – your classic concertina fan, with string at the bottom.  I think someone may have brought some pictures for inspiration of what to draw on them.

Two green paper concertina fans

Origami boxes – the intention of these was for the Guides to use them as money boxes to collect coppers for a fundraising project.  I found a tutorial for a really good money holder on YouTube, but unfortunately I couldn’t find printable instructions, and in any case it was a bit complex for the amount of time we had.  Instead they made these square boxes – if you make two, you can slot one over the other as a lid.

Two origami square boxes

Origami square boxes slotted together to make a lid

So there you have it!  This was one of those nights where we wished the meeting was half an hour longer, as there wasn’t enough time for all the activities, and some groups didn’t get to have a go at everything.  But everyone got to do the big things, sushi and tea.  And at least no one was bored or milling around at any point.

Also, I made a boo-boo and kept calling one Guide by her older sister’s name.  It must have been really annoying…must try harder!

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Planning the term in 12 sentences

“Let’s stay behind after Guides and plan the rest of the term.”

“Oh look, there are leftover marshmallows and Matchmakers from tonight’s activity!”

“I’ve brought my laptop so I’ll type it straight into a document to hand out to the Guides and email to their parents.”

“What events have we already committed to?”

“Which seasonal themes shall we do?”

“I know someone who’s offered to bring their guide dog to meet the Guides.”

“How can we help one of our Guides raise funds for an international trip?”

“Young Leader, would you still like to run a meeting to count towards your leadership qualification?”

“We haven’t done any Go For Its for a year, we should probably spend a few nights on them…”

“Let’s look again at what the Guides said they wanted to do and see how much we’ve covered…hmm, some things but not everything, but they’ll be able to choose their activities for Go-For-Its.”

“Have we filled up all our meetings already?  These other ideas will just have to wait till next term.”

“Who wants the last marshmallow?”

Promise, Guidelines, Go For Its, and Twister

This week at Guides, our Young Leader ran an activity on the Promise, which counted towards her Leadership Qualification.  The Guides drew round their hands on green paper, wrote the Promise on one side and examples of how they could keep it on the other side, cut them out, and stuck them (like leaves) to a tree trunk that YL had drawn.

It was simple and good: the girls seemed quite happy sitting, writing, discussing the Promise (amongst other things!) and in some cases getting very decorative.  We looked at the Promise at the start of last term (along with most other units in the country, I expect), but it’s good to have a refresher, especially as we have a few new Guides who might be making their Promise this term.

Then we asked the patrols to come up with ideas for guidelines (unit rules, code of conduct, whatever you call them), as we realised we hadn’t renewed them for over a year.  The patrol leaders got together and made a final version – again, we haven’t had a patrol leaders’ council for well over a year, or official patrols for that matter!

While they did this with two leaders, another leader and I introduced a selection of Go For Its to the rest of the Guides, and they started looking through them and choosing what to work on.  After the patrol leaders returned, they only had about 10 minutes to plan activities for 2 weeks’ time.  It felt a bit rushed, but we were running out of time, and we could make some time to look at them again next week if necessary.

Looking through our collection of Go For Its, only the more obscure ones seemed to be there – we leaders wondered what had happened to Chocolate, Globalistic, Passion for Fashion, and others that we definitely used to have.  Maybe worn to pieces or borrowed by another unit?  Anyway, the ones we found still have lots of good activities (even if some show Guides in the old uniform, i.e. are at least 10 years old, i.e. are probably older than some of the Guides).

Guides' hands and feet playing Twister on a giant board

We finished with a game of Giant Twister, which was just what was needed after an evening sitting at tables.  One of the leaders has an amazing homemade mat, which is the size of about 6 normal mats and takes up most of our meeting space!  Some of the Guides are very agile, and in the end (after adding instructions like “nose on red” and “left ear on yellow”) we declared 3 winners.

5 thoughts for the next Christmas trip

Shortly before Christmas, we had a District trip to see a pantomime.  Nice and simple: get on coach at 11am, into theatre, see show, out of theatre, back on coach, return at 5pm.  Eat packed lunch on coach or in theatre.  Give parents a some time without their girls to get ready for the holidays.

I did the admin bits: booking the theatre tickets, writing and sending out the letters and forms, making sure everyone had paid, handed in consent forms, and was on the coach.  Another leader booked the coach, and the unit leaders were, of course, brilliant at looking after their girls.  It was a good day out, but this is what I’d change next time.

1. Less faffing over where to go

A Christmas trip was first suggested at a District meeting in September, and I offered to organise it (with help), partly because I just wanted to make it happen, and partly to count towards my Queen’s Guide Award (the part where you have to play an active role in an event involving more than one unit).

With a few other leaders (especially my wonderful helpful District Commissioner), I researched a few options, and exchanged many emails with everyone in the District weighing in on what they thought about the costs, timing, and age suitability, before making the final decision.  It was good to get everyone’s opinions, but I felt a bit guilty faffing and sending endless emails rather than just using my intuition and deciding.  Next time I’d ideally do the research nice and early, decide on the maximum price we could ask for and the most sensible day, and be able to present a couple of neat options at that meeting in September.  Haha, in my dreams.

2. Don’t book so many tickets up front…

I booked 100 theatre seats because I thought we could fill them.  Turned out we couldn’t, and we also couldn’t get a refund because the show wasn’t sold out.  We had 73 people going, which is a really good number, but it was a damper for me that we made a loss.  If I did it again, I’d book 50 tickets and add more if we got lots of takers.  We could up the coach to a 100-seater if necessary, and I’d make sure that the cost per person covered both sizes of coach.

3. …Or team up with other Districts

Either that, or we could get more bottoms on seats by running it as a joint District (or Division) trip from the start.  This time, I invited our neighbouring Districts when it became clear we couldn’t fill all the places.  By then, it was only a few weeks before the trip, and understandably we didn’t get many takers as they already had other plans.  However, we were joined by some Guides and their lovely leaders from a nearby village, whom we often camp with.  They seemed potentially interested in doing a joint trip in future.

4. Send out info/consent forms up front

I don’t think there’s a completely simple way to collect information from a whole district, but I could have made it easier.  With the initial letter, I included a “would like to attend” simple slip to be returned with payment.  I should have skipped the slip and just given them info/consent forms to return.  As it was, I sent them out a few weeks later, so parents had another thing to fill in, leaders had another thing to collect, and it was harder to make a list of emergency contact numbers in advance (to give to our home contact and print out for me).  Lesson learned.

5. Ask for a shout-out

This didn’t occur to me at all, so I was delighted when the dame pulled out a list of people to say hello to, and it included “W. Guides, Brownies and Rainbows”.  We gave a big cheer!  Luckily, one of our on-the-ball mothers had phoned the theatre a few days in advance to ask for a shout-out.  She found that the Guides were already on the list, as I had made the booking in our name, and she added the Brownies and Rainbows.  Day=saved.

Ready, steady, snow!

First meeting back after the Christmas holiday!

Most years at this time we play games with Christmas cards, such as relay races to pick particular designs out of a big pile, or cutting cards into jigsaw pieces for the Guides to put them together.

This year I fancied doing something a bit different and offered to plan some snow activities.  First we made melted snowman biscuits (shamelessly copied from all over Pinterest).

Biscuits decorated as melting snowmen

Each Guide used 1 paper plate, 1 digestive biscuit, plain icing, 1 marshmallow, half a matchmaker, 3 chocolate chips, and writing icing.

Next we had a snowball fight!  I’d brought two carrier bags full of scrunched-up paper “snowballs”.  Another leader scrunched a few more while the Guides were decorating biscuits.  We split the Guides into two teams, one at each end of the room behind a table which they weren’t allowed to pass or touch.  Each team got a bag of paper, which was plenty.  On each table were a few mixing bowls.  The winning team was the one that got more “snowballs” into the other side’s bowls.  We played two rounds and had great fun.

Then each patrol filled a bowl with “snowballs” and we challenged them to make a snowman (or snow-woman or other snow-thing) in 10 minutes using the paper, sellotape, and any other props to hand.  They were very inventive – one patrol made a sweet little traditional snowman, one made a very lifelike snowdog, and the other three turned one of their Guides into a snowguide!  When time was up, the patrols took it in turns to stand up and introduce their creation to everyone.

A Guide's hands making a "snow" sculpture from scrunched-up paper

That left just enough time to get into a horseshoe, hand out letters, and talk about forthcoming events: Thinking Day and, very excitingly, summer camp.

After the meeting, our Young Leader said she’d been expecting to play Christmas card games and (jokingly) was disappointed!  It just shows that even if something seems a bit overdone to leaders, the girls might enjoy the tradition of it.

In fact, our Unit Guider had brought her stash of Christmas cards just in case we needed another activity, and we’ve left them in the cupboard in case we need a filler in future.

This week in guiding

We haven’t started the term yet, so all my guiding activity has been via email: planning some getting-ready-for-pack holiday meetings, gauging interest from Guide parents about a potential trip, letting local leaders know about a fundraising/recruitment day I’ve booked, learning from others about our Thinking Day event and a District meal.

Oh, not quite all via email.  I also bought some supplies for a food activity at Guides next week.  Do love a good food activity!

Three guiding plans for 2014

These are new year’s plans rather than resolutions, because I already know they are going to happen (short of some unforeseen disaster).

1. Gain holiday licence

Pack holiday is only seven weeks away, whoopee!

2. Complete most of Queen’s Guide Award

After Pack Holiday, the main remaining bits will be going on an expedition (in October half term: a few destinations have been mooted but nothing confirmed) and doing the community project (a bit of a grey area: I have possibly started my research, but need to commit to a theme and decide on an actual project).  My end date is February 2015, so most of it ought to be done by the end of 2014.

3. Summer camp

This is where my Guide Leader buddy gets her camp licence (also towards her Queen’s Guide Award).  She’s visited the site, set a date, and chosen a theme.  I’m sure it will go brilliantly, and I’m already looking forward to helping to plan the activities.

So all these things are Queen’s Guide-related.  That’s ok, as I feel that most of the big Guiding things I do this year should be counting towards the award.