Monthly Archives: November 2015

Hilltop picnic

It was a beautiful evening to be up on the downs

It was a beautiful evening to be up on the downs

It’s Flashback Friday!

My Guides started the summer term with a picnic for all the division at a local beauty spot.

The motivation was that we were passing on the county camp baton to the next division. It was like a relay in the run up to camp: the baton was passed round every division in the county, so the girls could see it and get thinking about camp. It visited my Guide unit before Easter.

We wanted the handover to include everyone in the division, and all sections, and a “bring your own picnic” evening worked out as the simplest option.

We were very lucky with the weather. You never know in April (or at any time of year, really!), and if it had been cold/raining/cloudy and therefore dark early, it could have been a bit miserable. Instead, it was glorious being up there at sunset.

There were probably a couple of hundred girls there, not every unit, but every section and every district was represented.

We gathered in a big circle for a welcome, then QGB and I led a game where they had to get into groups and make shapes. For example, “get into a group of 10 people, where not everyone is the same age, and make a bus”.

Then we broke off and had a picnic, then got back together at the end to hand over the baton to some leaders from another division. Did we sing anything? I can’t remember now!

I do remember I was glad that lots of my Guides came, including a few brand new ones. And that afterwards, the other Guide leaders and I drove to a village pub and had a nice hot chocolate and planned meetings up to half term.

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Frozen party and Promises

Last week some of my Rainbows made their Promises, and we had a Frozen-themed party to celebrate.

We started with a snowball fight. Each Rainbow got a sheet of newspaper and ripped in half, and half, and half again so they had eight pieces (more or less!) to scrunch into balls. Then we had a free-for-all throwing paper at each other for a few minutes.

Next they made melted snowman biscuits (like the one above) with a digestive base, an icing puddle, a mashmallow head, a strawberry lace scarf, matchmaker arms, and a writing icing face. My Guides made them a couple of years ago, and I have to say there wasn’t much difference in artistic quality between the Rainbows and the Guides!

Then we played musical icebergs (like musical chairs, but dancing between bits of newspaper on the floor), which was good fun except a bit short because our Brownie helper didn’t always get the hang of taking away just one piece of paper each time!

After a round of that, we sat down for a drink and a Frozen cupcake, and parents started to arrive to watch the Promises. We had about 8 girls making their Promise, because a lot joined all together recently. We stood in a circle and the girls came up to get their certificates and badges, then we all said the Rainbow Promise together. I’ve only known them a couple of weeks, but it was still a warm fuzzy guiding moment to pin on the badges and say “Welcome to Rainbows.”

The other Leader and I had a little confused moment where we made the salute and realised the Rainbows were looking at us blankly because they’d never seen it before. It looks like the general consensus is that Rainbows are welcome to make the sign (or try to – some don’t have the co-ordination yet), so I’ll have a think about teaching it to them.

Finally, we gave all the Rainbows a little paper snowman (in the picture) to remind them of their Promise. I’m not sure where they came from, I think the other Leader just found them and thought they’d be nice keepsakes.

Theme park trip!

Drayton Manor

It’s Flashback Friday!

In the Easter holidays, I took my Guides and some from the other unit in town to Drayton Manor.

It’s something that came up every term when we asked what they would like to do, and I thought the time was right to do it. Plus I like a theme park too.

Comparing the market

I looked at a few theme park websites and chose Drayton Manor because

  • I’d heard the Guides mention it as somewhere they’d like to go
  • it wasn’t too far away – about 1.5 hours by coach
  • the tickets were a bit cheaper than other parks
  • not too many rules about age (some of the others I looked at said that under-12s had to be accompanied by an adult all the time)
  • the rides looked about the right level: some scary exciting ones, but gentler ones too

Booking and budgeting

Oh dear, I still hadn’t learned my lesson from the pantomime trip that you should book and budget for a smaller coach and change up if there’s lots of interest. Instead I booked and budgeted for a 50-seater coach and had to change it down because we only had 20 girls coming. That was a perfectly good group size, but it meant the unit funds took a loss from the trip.

I made big apologies to my unit leader. Luckily we’re ok for funds and she’s a generous woman who knows we all make mistakes (and hopefully learn from them).

Drayton Manor were great with our ticket booking, I’d really recommend them. I phoned them to give a provisional number about 6 weeks before the trip, and they said fine, I could pay a day or two before. I phoned the day before to give them final numbers, and they said fine, I could pay when I got there. So if anyone had been unable to come at the last minute we wouldn’t have needed to pay for them.

It was really easy to get in, too: I queued and paid at the ticket booth while the others waited at the side, then a member of staff let us in through a side gate. I guess 24 people is a drop in the ocean to them.

A grand day out

We set up a base for everyone’s bags, the first aid kit etc on a picnic table, then sent the girls off in groups, asking them to report back in a time slot (eg between 11:00 and 11:30, so that if it got to 11:00 and they were queuing for a ride, they could go on it and then report back).

Most of the girls have been on trips with us before, so they know how it works. We had a couple of cases of groups getting separated by accident, but generally they were very good.

There were 4 of us leaders, including a new Rainbow leader who I was glad I invited – I think she had a good day with us and it wasn’t something she could do with Rainbows! We took turns to stay at the base while the others went on rides. I went on a couple of scary ones with the leaders, a really scary plummetty one with Guides (I definitely screamed more than them), and a couple of gentle ones with Guides.

Drayton Manor was the perfect size for a trip like this. It’s compact (you can walk from end to end in 10 minutes), not huge and sprawling like, say, Thorpe Park. As I said, there’s a good mix of different types of rides, so something for everyone.

As with all these places in the school holidays, the queues for the really big rides were really long, but I guess that was an exercise for the Guides in weighing up whether they were worth the wait, or whether to do something less exciting but with a shorter queues – working out how to use their time and abilities wisely! It was a bit disappointing that the log flume was closed for the day, but there were plenty of other things to do.

The younger Guides loved the fairground stalls. Every time I came back to our base, there were more huge cuddly toys sitting there. The parent’s faces were priceless when they saw their girls getting off the coach carrying giant minions and pink fluffy things.

Drayton Manor

Our extra passengers on the ride home

I had a thoroughly good day out, and I hope the girls did too. Definitely a trip I’d do again, to the same park or somewhere else.

Hello Rainbows!

Last week I went to my first proper normal meeting with my new Rainbows.

I met 14 of the 20-ish Rainbows – right now I can remember about half their names, but we’ll see how well I’ve done next time when they change their hairstyles and shoes! I also met the unit helper, and some mothers who stay and help, so they’re really unit helpers too. And I saw my Commissioner again, who’s acting as the unit leader.

I’d forgotten how long an hour is with Rainbows! We played a game and decorated plant pots and planted bulbs, and we were still only halfway through! Then Commissioner read a story (I think it was about being kind, but I was sweeping up soil so didn’t catch most of it), the Rainbows talked about their Promise party next week (it’s Frozen themed, of course) and chose which activities to do. Or rather, they voted to do both activities and games rather than just playing games, and Commissioner suggested a couple of activities and they cheered. Decision-making is easy with Rainbows 😉

Then they voted on where to go on a trip at Easter. We’re going to a rare breeds farm. I’m pretty excited, love a good farm.

The Rainbows had a drink, and we played another round of “Duck, duck, goose” and sang a song they’d learned for their weather badge. It’s a good’un. It goes to the tune of If you’re happy and you know it and the verses are:

If it’s raining and you know it, stamp your feet [stamp stamp]
It it’s sunny and you know it, lick a lolly [lick, lick]
If it’s snowy and you know it, let’s go skiing [swoosh, swoosh]
If it’s windy and you know it, do a twirl [twirl around]

And then it was time for the goodbye song!

I’m in love with the hall where we meet. It’s in a modern building, it’s clean and light and there’s lots of space inside (not sure if there’s an outside, it was too dark to see), there are some break-out rooms and plenty of space to store crafts etc, and there’s a cupboard for tables and chairs and a big kitchen with lots of stuff. It’s 3 or 4 times the size of my dear old Guide hall…

Looking forward to the party next week! I’m debating whether to go in costume, or maybe just crack out the face paints.

Sparkly new Rainbows

A sparkler, but not one from this meeting

A sparkler, but not one from this meeting

The week after half term, I did my first guiding thing in my new town. Woohoo!

My Rainbows had a joint meeting with another unit. They rotated between doing sparkers outside, making edible sparklers (chocolate fingers dipped very quickly into hot water to melt the end and then dipped into sprinkles), and making firework pictures with chalk on coloured paper.

I was on sparkler duty as I’m always happy to play with fire, along with another leader and a mum. It was slow going because the lighter I as given had run out of fuel, so we had to use matches to light the first sparkler. And most of the Rainbows didn’t have gloves, so we had to share the few that we had, so only a few girls could sparkle and a time. Still I think they had fun!

I didn’t work out which girls were my new Rainbows (not many, I think, because it wasn’t their usual meeting night or place) and which were from the other unit, but hopefully I’ll recognise a few next week when the unit meets as normal.

Bonfire night

Normally this is a glorious view. Today it was just very foggy

Normally this is a glorious view. Today it was just very foggy

My first “back to guiding” activity was with my old district. We had our annual bonfire and I went back to do the singing with QGB.

It was on that day when it was really foggy. I walked up to the place where we were having the fire, and as darkness fell it was…atmospheric. I wouldn’t have wanted to do it if I didn’t know the route well!

It was a good night as usual, lots of girls from all sections, lots of enthusiastic singing, sparklers and tasty sausages, and it was nice to have catch up with people and find out what my Guides have been up to. Their recent highlights include epic amounts of cake baking and fundraising, and the BIG GIG.

Back to guiding!

We need a montage

Hello again! It’s been a while since I last wrote, so here’s a quick whiz through the last few months:

I did guiding business-as-usual in the summer term, but I got out of the habit of writing about it. I hope I’ll catch up on some of it here.

I went to county camp with my Guides in the summer holidays and that was pretty good all round.

At the end of the summer I moved to a different part of the country, following my partner’s work. And then – brace yourself for a shock – I had a whole half term away from guiding!

No guiding?

No guiding. For, like, more than two months. I highly recommend it if you get the chance, and moving to a new place was a very good chance for me to have a breather. I deliberately didn’t rush into finding a new unit because I knew that once I started it would be hard to stop again.

It’s been lovely having so many free evenings and weekends, and not constantly having whatever I need to plan for the next meeting/event in the back of my mind.

Apart from flick through Girlguiding magazine and sewing a few badges onto my blanket, I didn’t think or read anything about it at all.

As it happened, in the first week of my new job I met a colleague whose wife is a leader in the town where I live. I blurted out “I’m a guider too!” and over the next few days heard so much about how the district could do with more help that I put myself into Join Us! earlier than I’d intended. It worked out alright as it took a while for the Commissioner and me to arrange to meet up.

…and back

Over half term I met my local Commissioner for a coffee and almost straight away she offered me a choice of two Rainbow units. At the moment she’s running them on top of her own unit because they don’t have another willing leader. I chose the one that meets closer to my home, and arranged to start the next week!

I’m looking forward to being a Rainbow leader again. I did Rainbows all through university (my goodness, those girls will be Guides now), I’ve helped at various events involving Rainbows since then, and I always enjoy hanging out with them.

I don’t really know what I’m letting myself in for becoming a Unit Leader (the plan as I understand it is I’ll get more involved in running the unit between now and Christmas, and take over from Commissioner in January). We shall see!