Monthly Archives: December 2015

This is how we roll

Camping skills (3) - Copy

Today I’m flashing back to my Guides’ penultimate meeting of the summer term. We billed the evening as “outdoor and camping skills”, and had a vague idea what it was going to be but didn’t really plan what we’d do till the week before (because sometimes that’s how we roll).

Camping skills (5) - Copy

The Guides rotated between activities in patrols. We wanted them to be useful to those going on camp this year, but also interesting for those not. In the end they were:

  • bedding rolls: that was me. I like bedding rolls, though alas I’m not as exacting as Laurie’s CoLeader, hence the photos! I did a demo, varying the commentary depending on how experienced each group was, then divided the group between 2 bed rolls (2 or 3 girls on each) and got them to see who could make a decent bedding roll the fastest.
  • packing for camp: our new Young Leader did a game about picking cards with items written on them, and deciding whether or not to pack them for camp. It looked good from what I saw of it!
  • a mystery activity outside. I had a feeling this was something like a goodbye card for me, but I had to wait till the week after to find out exactly what they were up to.
  • Two more things which I’ve forgotten…one might have been fire lighting? The other was some kind of discussion with Unit Leader…maybe about how we stay happy and healthy on camp? She’s very good at getting a good conversation going, so I’m sure the girls enjoyed it, whatever it was.

So, a mixed evening, but I think the Guides were happy and maybe even learned a thing or two!


I found my mouse!

Candy cane mouse paper (360x640)The  candy cane mouse from this Christmas crafty Rainbow meeting, that is. Just so you can see what it looked like. I drew the template freehand as I couldn’t find quite the right thing online, and cut them out (including the slots) so all the Rainbows did was colour them and insert the candy cane. Oh, and write their names on, of course.

Happy Christmas!

A camp meeting and a night hike

Let’s flash back to last summer, when my Division combined a parents’ meeting for camp with a night hike.

We met in the village hall we normally use for our night hikes (because it works very well). First we had a meeting for the Guides and Senior Section coming on camp a few weeks later and their parents. It was a camp for a whole county, with a subcamp for each Division. The subcamp leader (and others where relevant) went through the usual sort of things: arrangements for sleeping, food, first aid, activities, kit required, etc etc. Afterwards, parents had the chance to speak to individual leaders, and the girls told a leader who they did/did not want to share a tent with. She wrote this down discreetly, of course! But it’s better to know this outright, rather than accidentally put together girls who really don’t want to share a confined space for a week.

After that, everyone left except leaders and girls who were going on the night hike, and other girls arrived who were hiking but not coming on camp. We originally meant it to be a chance for the girls on our subcamp to get to know each other, but only about 1/3 of them came, mostly from 2 or 3 units, so we opened it up to everyone.

Have I ever mentioned that I love a night hike?

Oh yes, last year. Well, I do. I love walking in the dark (as long as I know where I’m going), letting my mind and my senses open up, and showing the girls that they needn’t be afraid of being out in the dark.

It followed the same format as always. We set off from the village hall around 9:30pm, walked through the village, up a hill, along a ridge, admired the view, did a Promise ceremony, walked down a hill, through the village, and got back to the hall around midnight. The only thing different this year was the weather. It was moist and foggy so there wasn’t actually much view to admire, but we were lucky it wasn’t raining, as it had been for most of the day.

Back at the hall we enjoyed some lovely hot chocolate made by a leader who’d stayed there. The girls put their beds down, got into pyjamas, and settled down for chatter, games and nibbles. The leaders put out chairs and also settled down for chatter and nibbles. After an hour or two some of the girls (and adults) dropped off to sleep naturally, and we started shushing and settling the rest. I slept from about 2:00-6:30, which is better than some years!

In the morning we had cereal and toast for breakfast and the girls were collected at 8am. Another good night hike in the tried and tested way!

High ropes

High ropes (7)

Let’s flash back to an evening last summer when my Guides did a high ropes course. As you can see from the picture, we couldn’t have asked for better weather.

We went to a place about 10 miles away that we’ve used before, both for unit meetings and on a county camp that took place nearby. We invited the Rangers and the other Guide unit in our district to join us, both because we like them and because we needed a minimum number of girls to be able to do it!

It’s not Go Ape, but it’s pretty similar. Everyone gets harnessed up, we do a short practice course low down, then we go round a high course. If there’s time, there are 3 high courses in total. If there’s even more time, the girls can do a “leap of faith”, where they climb to the top of a telegraph pole, attach themselves to a rope, jump off and freefall for a few metres before the rope pulls them up. I greatly admire the girls who do it. I generally try to be brave and have a “go for it” attitude, but I don’t think I’d manage to leap.

The main things I remembered from last time were:

  • It takes longer than you think for everyone to get going, so you can’t start too early
  • If you don’t use bug spray you’ll be eaten alive

I went round near the back of the group with some of our younger Guides. We didn’t have time to do all the courses, but they enjoyed what they did. I enjoyed seeing them encouraging each other, and especially seeing one of our very newest and shyest Guides opening up a bit.

It’d be lovely to get round the whole thing one day. I suspect that day will only come if I do it in a group of adults!

Speaking to the older girls afterwards, it was good to hear that those who had done it before managed to do it more easily/quickly/confidently a few years later. Equally, at our meeting the week before I’d asked another older Guide if she’d be coming again and she said no, she’d tried it last time and decided that high ropes were not for her. Which I think is fair enough – it’s an example of how guiding helps us to learn about ourselves, know our own minds and what we do and don’t like, and have the confidence to assert that.

Christmas party

For the last Rainbow meeting of term, we had a joint party with the Brownies and Guides who meet on the same night, plus parents. Lucky we have a big hall!

After a welcome from the Commissioner, the girls and parents got into groups and played Christmas tree beetle. Roll a dice to make a Christmas tree from bits of laminated paper – you have to get a pot first, then a tree, then you can add the other bits in any order.

1=star 2=bauble 3=bauble 4=bauble 5=tree 6=pot

When we’d played that for a while, we had nibbles and mulled fruit juice. Last week Commissioner warned the Rainbows that there’d just be a few bits of party food, not a proper meal. My expectations were greatly exceeded: there was lots of festive party food! I was a bit worried there’d be lots left over, but then the Guides arrived and helped us out with that.

Then a lady came to play the piano and we sang some Christmassy songs: Away in a MangerJingle Bells, that sort of thing that most people knew to join in with. We might have had more joining in if we’d moved all the chairs round near the piano before we started, but as it happened it was nice and relaxed: those who wanted to join in came and sat near the piano to sing, while a few parents and girls (and leaders) who wanted to chat and play at the back of the hall did that.

To finish off, we sang the goodbye songs for the various sections and gave the girls presents as they left. It was a good evening for bringing the different ages together and reminding everyone that guiding is more than just our unit. I spoke to a few leaders that I hadn’t before, and met one of my Rainbows and her mother for the first time, as she hadn’t been to the last few meetings.

So that’s my first half term over, and after Christmas I’ll be getting involved in running the unit. Exciting-stroke-challenging! Come to think of it, I’m not sure which date we’re going back. I should probably find that out…

An evening stroll

It’s Flashback Friday!

Evening stroll

One of my old Guides’ classic summer meeting plans is “walk to a nearby village and play some games there”.

This has variations: there are several different meeting points and villages to choose from, sometimes there’s a scavenger hunt, sometimes we take a parachute, sometimes we take food, etc etc.

This time we walked a couple of miles to some standing stones, had a picnic, and played a couple of games (the sort where you need lots of space and soft grass to fall on). Then we walked down to the car park where the girls got picked up.

It was a nice simple evening and we got lucky with the weather, hurrah!

Christmas wreaths and mice

Last week the Rainbows did some Christmassy crafts.

Well, first we sang the penguin song, because I do enjoy a bit of singing and I wanted to test the waters with how much the Rainbows like it. Good news! Some of them knew it already, and the rest picked it up and got into it, so I think they’re ripe for more songs.

Then they made Christmas wreaths with paper plates, tissue paper and bits cut out of old Christmas cards. I’d pre-punched a hole in each plate and added a hanging ribbon.

This was my attempt:

Christmas wreath (5)

And here are some of the Rainbows’ masterpieces:

Christmas wreath (2) Christmas wreath (6) Christmas wreath (4) Christmas wreath (3)

Christmas wreath (1)When the majority of Rainbows had finished and were running around having a play, I rounded them up for a game of Duck Duck Goose. It feels like we’ve played that a lot – I should probably think of a different game.

Next we made some candy cane mice, like these but much simpler. I’d just cut out mouse-shaped pieces of card, drawn on eyes, nose and ears, and cut out two slots. The Rainbows coloured them in and the leaders added candy cane tails.

Speaking of leaders, I met the unit’s Young Leader (also an older Guide) for the first time, and our 18-year-old leader-in-training. They seem great, so I’m looking forward to getting to know them better next term.

When most of the Rainbows had finished their mice, we sat in a circle and went round saying our name (anything to help me remember everyone’s name!) and something we liked about Christmas. Then the outgoing unit leader reminded them about a trip to the pantomime at the weekend – it was the first I’d heard of it, seems like I joined too late to be invited. Oh well, perhaps next year – and practised their audience responses. (“Oh no they didn’t!”) And then it was time to go. I swear it’s the longest hour of the week!