Monthly Archives: January 2015

First aid part 3

First Aid badge

As a follow-up to our two first aid weeks last term (1 and 2), our Nurse and Former Guide Leader came back to test the Guides for their badge.  This is one of the very few badges we regularly do, the others being Camper and Camper Advanced.

This meeting was much more hands-on for the girls and the leaders than the previous first aid sessions.  The Guides split into four groups (randomly rather than with just their friends, for a change) and Nurse put a leader in each corner and assigned us one thing to practise/test: chest compressions, recovery position, slings and bandages, and first aid kit contents.  The groups rotated around the stations, spending 10-15 minutes on each, and Nurse floated around all of them with questions and advice.

I was on the recovery position, a relief as it’s the thing I feel most confident explaining.  Most of the Guides knew basically what they needed to do, though not without a bit of giggling and self-consciousness, which is fair enough, as it is hard to conjour up what you’d actually feel if you were dealing with an unconscious person, especially someone you know.  They all had no trouble remembering the gory details about what could block the airways, bless ’em.

Nurse and I made sure everyone knew when to put someone in the recovery position (unconscious and breathing), and what its basic purpose was (keep the airways open, stop the casualty from rolling over), and asked them questions like “What would you do once you’ve put them in the recovery position?”, “What information would you need to give to the 999/112 phone operator?”, and “What would you do if they stopped breathing?”.

That took up the whole evening, and at the end Nurse declared that they had (of course) all earned their badge.  Hurrah!


Shiny new Rainbows

Hooray, there’s a new Rainbow unit in my District!

Last summer, one of our Brownie leaders graduated from university, moved back home and found a job in the area, and decided to start a much-needed second Rainbow unit.  The waiting list for the existing one was big enough to fill several units, and some girls were almost ready for Brownies by the time they started Rainbows.

With support from our District Commissioner and others, the new unit opened after Christmas (oh – sudden thought, that’s exactly 20 years after I started Rainbows, also in a newly re-opened unit).  They meet for an hour on Saturday mornings, and for the moment the leader has decided to ask other Guiders to help on a rota.

I went along to their third meeting and had a lovely time.  It brought back happy memories of the unit I was with for three years when I was at university.  Rainbows are great.

There were nine girls, two new but great Young Leaders (Guides in the other unit in town, whom I know from camps and trips), and three adult Leaders.  The theme was fairy tales, so the Rainbows drew pictures of giants, then they played a game finding words on stickers and using them to fill in the gaps in fairy tales, in groups of three.  If that sounds familiar, I ran the same activity for adults at our Division sleepover, but in some ways it was funnier with Rainbows because they didn’t know what some of the words meant, not all of them could read, and they weren’t discriminating about whether they should fill a gap with a verb or an adjective, so the tales came out rather haphazardly.  When they were finished, the big folk read them out, and the Rainbows thought they were hilarious.

Then we had a very special visit from two Trefoil Guilders, who came to present the Rainbows with a welcome pack of activity books.  With them present, we had someone from every section of Girlguiding in the room, except Brownies and Rangers.  We took some photos, the girls spent a while looking at the books and writing their names on them, and then it was time to sing the goodbye song.

I’m so pleased to see the Rainbow leader doing so well, and I’m looking forward to going back sometime later this term and seeing the lovely new unit grow and develop.

Promise pizza

So when we Leaders planned the term programme last week, we filled it up quickly with fun stuff, useful stuff, seasonal stuff, a bit of food, a bit of craft, and were quite pleased with it.  Then we realised that we didn’t have much guidey stuff in there.  Like, you know, the Promise.  And the Law, and Thinking Day, and general Guiding knowledge for our newer girls.  “Hmm,” we said to ourselves, “we’re not doing very well at working to a common standard.  How can we fit these things in?”

The solution was to combine them with a pizza-making night (a request from some of the Guides), which was what we did this week.

We brought in a variety of pizza toppings and tortilla wraps for bases, and divided them into the number of patrols.  The guides sat at tables in patrols, and we asked quiz questions about guiding.  Despite the catchy alliterative title, it wasn’t just the Promise; we also covered the Law, guiding history (e.g. when were we founded, who was the first Chief Guide, why is Thinking Day when it is), local knowledge (what is the name of our unit/county/region/District Commissioner), and current facts (how many Guide interest badges are there, which of the following is not a Go For It!, what is the name of the section of Guiding for girls and women aged 14-25).

We asked the question to everyone and chose a hand that went up.  If that Guide got it wrong, the question passed to the next patrol, and kept passing round until someone got it right.  Sometimes they needed heavy hints, especially with remembering the parts of the Law – to be fair, the other Leaders and I find it hard to remember as well, which is why we like trying new ways to teach it to the girls.

I was impressed with how much the younger Guides knew: either they’ve learned a lot by osmosis since joining Guides, or (more likely) their Brownie leaders trained them well.

Every time a girl got a question right, her patrol won a pizza ingredient.  We were on a tight schedule to cook them all, so we encouraged everyone to make up their pizzas as they went along.  Oh, and we encouraged them to make them look like trefoils.  I’d printed off some sheets about what the parts of the trefol symbolised, but I didn’t give them out in the end: it would have been information overkill, and we covered some of it in the quiz questions, anyway.

As you can see from the selection below, some of the trefoils were more obvious than others!

Promise Pizza night (8) Promise Pizza night (9) Promise Pizza night (5) Promise Pizza night (6)

When the quiz was over and the pizzas were made, we put them in the oven in batches.  Meanwhile, the girls played the “Christmas card game”, a favourite with us at the start of the year.  You have a pile of lots of Christmas cards (just the pictures, with the messages cut off) in the middle of the room.  Each member of the patrol has a number, and when a leader calls out “number two, find a robin”, all the number twos run to the middle and try to be the first to find a picture of a robin and thus win a point for her patrol.  It works well if you have a mixture of very common pictures, and unusual ones that are only on one or two cards (like a koala – on an Australian card, of course).

They played until the pizzas were cooked, then we sat and ate them (there were enough ingredients for the Leaders to have some!) for the last few minutes of the meeting, and very tasty they were too.  The whole smoosh of guiding values and constructing a tasty snack worked rather well – certainly something to try again.

Found over Christmas

While I was at my parents’ house over Christmas, I sorted and cleared out some of the piles of paperwork I’ve been keeping there.  Among them were some things left over from guiding activities.  I really don’t need them, but they brought back good memories and it would be a shame to forget them, so I took photos before throwing them to the recycling.  I found…

Promise decoration 1

Promise decoration 2

A hanging Promise decoration from a training weekend at Foxlease.

Llygoden deddf Brownis

Brownie law mouse

Brownie law mouse templatesA Brownie law mouse and its templates (tie a knot in the tail every time you do a good turn), which I did with my Welsh Brownies.  Amser da.


A picture of a hairdryer from those same Brownies: part of a game about what we do and don’t pack for travelling abroad.

Russia map

A map of Russia with the approximate locations I visited on GOLD in 2011.

Thoth neck ring

A neck-ring I made at an Ancient Egpyt-themed Brownie holiday.  That was the one and only time I’ve been a QM, and I enjoyed it very much.  I wouldn’t mind doing it again for an indoor weekend, though I wouldn’t be too keen to cater at camp, at this stage.


Finally, here are the cardboard reindeer from my Guides’ Christmas party.  They had races flapping them across the floor with newspaper.

A-Z game

This week we had our first Guide meeting of term, and Queen’s Guide Buddy and I used it to present our exploration to the girls, to get that part of the Queen’s Guide Award signed off.

To make it a bit more interesting than sitting and listening and looking at our holiday snaps, we did it in the form of a game (QGB’s brainchild).  After a brief explanation of what the award is about and how this holiday we went on was connected to guiding, we laid out photos of the A-Z of activities we did on the exploration, without the letters showing, and gave them 5-10 minutes to look at them, in pairs or threes, and guess which letter each one represented without knowing what the letter stood for.

For example, a group might look at this picture…

Roast dinner

…and write down a few guesses like “R for Roast?  D for Dinner?  M for Meal?”

For the next round, we gave each group a list of the things that made up the A-Z, and using that as a guide, they went around the photos again and tried to match each one with the letter it represented.

So for the above picture, they could look on the A-Z list, find something that this picture could stand for, and write on their answer sheet “Y for Yorkshire pudding”…

Roast dinner with letter Y

…which, they would find out at the end when we revealed the answers, would be correct.

The Guides went along with the activity fairly gamely, although some of them were a bit confused by the large number of options to choose from.  There were also a few unknown A-Z words where they just had to guess what they meant and which picture they might mean…


This was not the picture they had to guess from – that would have been too obvious!

…like Shambles (a narrow old street in York – and also in some other British towns and cities – which now has lots of pretty gift shops.  The name comes from a Middle English word for market stalls)…


X for Xmas tree would have been cheating.

…and xerophyte, which is a plant that has adapted to living in very dry conditions.  Like a cactus or, as here, a spruce tree.

When everyone had done enough guessing, we went through the answers, explained what they were, and passed the photos round.  The York Tourist Board would have been proud of us.  The Guides marked how many they had got right, and added marks for the bonus observation test: which photos did NOT have a toy panda in Rainbow uniform somewhere in them?

City walls

Clearly not this one (W for city Walls)

In the remaining half-hour of the meeting, the Guides got into little groups and brainstormed things they would like to do this term, which we looked at in the leaders’ planning meeting at the end.  To finish off, we had an energetic game of “when your number is called, try to hit a fuzzy dice into a goal and stop your opponent from hitting it into the other goal”.  Snappy name, I know.

After the meeting, the leaders and our New Young Leader, who is really settling into her role after a term, stayed on to plan the term.  It’s a short one – 5 weeks before half term and 5 weeks after – and we quickly filled it up with fun and seasonal things and a bit of badgework and fundraising, before we realised that we hadn’t included many “guiding” things.  Er, like the Promise.  Or Thinking Day (other than an event on the day itself).  After some thought, we’ve managed to work it into the cooking activity next week…I’m looking forward to seeing how that goes!

Queen’s Guide Exploration

I love this sign

I love this sign

Between Christmas and New Year, Queen’s Guide Buddy and I went on our Queen’s Guide Award exploration.

This was the second element of the “Outdoor Challenge” bit of the award (the first element being completing the relevant modules of the “Going Away With” scheme).  The exploration had to last at least three nights/four days, be done in a group of 4-7 people of our age, and

“be at least 30 miles (50 kilometres) from your home, preferably in a location (urban or rural) that is not known to either you or the other members of your group. If you have visited the area or place before, your exploration must challenge and extend your knowledge of it.”

(For more details, see p.10 ff of the Queen’s Guide Award syllabus.)

We had a narrow window of opportunity to do the trip: it had to be between August, when QGB did her “Going Away With” modules at Guide camp, and my 26th birthday in February.  It also had to be in the school holidays, to fit in with some group members’ work.  We couldn’t rustle up enough friends to go in autumn half term, so Christmas it was.  We found three friends to join us for the whole trip, and another two for a day of it, and we chose York and the surrounding area, on the basis that neither of us knew it very well, and we thought there would be plenty of good things there to explore.

P is for pony trekking

P is for pony trekking

We gave the trip some structure by doing an A-Z of attractions and activities (an idea I totally ripped off someone’s Queen’s Guide presentation I watched a couple of years ago).  Some were obvious (M for Minster), some led us off the beaten tourist track (D for Dick Turpin’s grave), some we did in the comfort of our holiday home (Y for Yorkshire puddings), some required a bit of creativity (Z for zebras in a toy shop), and some were just fun things we fancied (P for pony trekking).  We did a mixture of free and non-free things, and part of the planning was deciding how much we wanted to pay for and ask our friends to pay for.

M is for Minster

M is for Minster

We’re doing a “presentation” about the trip to our Guides tonight in the form of a guess-the-letter-of-the-alphabet game, so more about that another day.

C is for Chocolate Story

C is for Chocolate Story (highly recommended)

It was a very pleasant few days, and a good way to fill the quiet days at the end of the year.  QGB and I did wonder if, by going on what was essentially a holiday with friends, we were cheating a bit: it would have been an adventure if we were 17, but hardly such a challenge for 25-year-olds Queen’s Guide candidates.  Still we met the criteria, and we did do much more planning than we would for a normal (non-guiding) holiday, and got more out of it because of that.  I tried a few new things (never been on a ghost tour before), learned some pub quiz facts (Guy Fawkes was born in York – managed not to find that out until we actually got there), got to know a couple of new people, and I feel like I know the city tolerably well now, for what that’s worth.

Onwards and upwards: only a few more signatures in the QG book!

F is for Fountains Abbey

F is for Fountains Abbey

Community Action

Library poster

Do click on it: it’ll get even larger and more legible.

This week I nabbed my local Trefoil Guild branch and spoke to them about the Community Action part of my Queen’s Guide Award.

It was…ahaha…not my finest performance ever.  I need a lot of practice and preparation to be a decent speaker, and I did not do enough practice or preparation.  I would rather have led them in some campfire songs.  On reflection, perhaps I should have taught everyone a song explaining all my findings about volunteers in public libraries.

Things started off woodenly, but got a bit better once I gave everyone a sheet with statements to consider and the rest of the time turned into a discussion/conversation rather than me rambling at them.  Everyone was very nice about it, and said things like “it’s not easy”.  I felt 15, not 25.

But that doesn’t matter.  It’s done, and that’s another bit of my QG book signed off (or will be when I get the book back).  And my Trefoils are some of the kindest, wisest, brightest, most inspirational women I know, and I’m sure what I know of them is only the tip of the iceberg.  I’m privileged to have spent an afternoon in their company, and part of me wishes I could take time off work to join them every month!