This week’s meeting came from the feeling that it had been a while since our Guides had done any traditional-and-useful outdoor skills like maps, compasses and knots. Based on a meeting we did a couple of years ago (when I wasn’t around), we leaders discussed a few ideas then agreed to go our separate ways and each turn up with instructions for 2-3 activities could be put in envelopes for the patrols to grab and complete.
Luckily, thanks to Guider-telepathy, there was no duplication of tasks! We did end up doing as much inside as outside, despite billing this week as “out-and-about challenges”, which some of the Guides noticed and commented on. Never mind: next week will be very much outside.
1. Rope ladders
Using string and pencils, the Guides had to make a rope ladder with at least 6 rungs, fastened with clove hitches, and hang it up somewhere. I was envisioning a traditional ladder like this:
But some patrols went for the cheating (or at least less stable) version:
2. Grid references
A tricky one to gauge, as the oldest Guides have done 6-figure grid references ad nauseam at school, while the youngest ones haven’t come across them yet. As a compromise, we did 4-figure grid references. The Guides got a “quick guide” sheet based on this Ordnance Survey page, a photocopy of the Landranger map of our local area, and a list of 4-figure grid references. They had to colour those squares in on the map and work out what word they spelled. (It was “HI!”)
3. Compass co-ordinates
“Direct a blindfolded member of your patrol to step out the patterns listed below. Use the compass to work out which direction to tell her to step in. Draw the shape she walks out onto a piece of scrap paper as evidence.”
Shape 1: 3 steps west, 2 north, 1 east, 5 south, 2 east, 2 north (rectangle with a square in the corner)
Shape 2: 2 steps south east, 2 east, 2 south west, 2 south east, 2 west, 2 south west, 2 north west, 2 west, 2 north east (star)
4. Friendship knot swaps
Vaguely related to knot-tying, the Guides had to tie a friendship knot with ribbon using these instructions, stick it onto a luggage label, and swap it with a friend. It seems I wasn’t clear enough, as some patrols made one between them, while others made one each. It also gets them familiar with the knot before we tie them in our neckers on camp.
5. Guide Law
This was prepared by Queen’s Guide Buddy, who is on a long-running mission to familiarise the Guides with the law. It’s not the easiest thing to remember, even for leaders, but frequent revisiting helps. The Guides got an envelope with all the words of the law chopped up, and they had to put them in the right order. Each law was in a different colour – it would have been cruelty otherwise.
6. Scout’s pace
Unit Leader explained Scouts Pace to the patrol (walk for 15 paces, run for 15 paces – or a different number if preferred – to move quickly without getting too tired) and timed them while they went around the block, about 5 minutes for most groups. I’d love to know if they kept it up diligently the whole way round or if they just legged it as soon as they were out of sight!
One leader kept a tick list of who had done which challenge.
It was interesting to watch how the patrols worked, as the dynamics have shifted quite a lot since last term. We’ve had a lot of new 10- and 11-year olds since Easter (8 of them!), several Guides have left, and a group of friends who used to be inseparable are now amicably splitting into two smaller groups. It feels like everyone is still finding out how they fit into the new setup. I noticed proudly that the older patrols were pretty good on their teamwork, getting everyone involved on different tasks. The younger patrols needed help with this, but somehow still managed to be the first to finish everything…not sure how that happened, maybe because they got more help, or rushed more, or just spent less time chatting!
In other great news, we got a new leader this week, or rather an old leader returned. She’d moved back to the area less than a week before – that’s how keen she was to come back to Guides. Hurrah!