Category Archives: Guide meetings

Potato people

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Last week at Rainbows, we started Northop Brownies’ Vegetable Challenge badge. I’d planned to do Roundabout Healthy Eating, because according to the badges of my oldest Rainbows it was the only Roundabout they hadn’t done. (I’ve only been with this unit for a year, so some of the older girls were there before me .) But it was out of stock in the guiding shop, so I found a challenge badge on the same sort of topic.

Anyway, we made Potato People. My unit helper read a storybook called Potato People (I found a cheap second-hand copy of the book, and it was too perfect not to get), then the Rainbows made their own by rolling a dice to tell them which part to add.

  1. Googly eye
  2. Nose or mouth (draw with a felt-tip)
  3. Hair (wool, glued on)
  4. Arm (cocktail stick)
  5. Leg (cocktail stick)
  6. Button (push pin)

It’s a bit of a weird craft, and as my partner pointed out when I showed him the prototype, it ends up quite spiky with all the cocktail sticks poking out of the potato. The Rainbows enjoyed the game, and no one got stabbed. Most of the potatoes ended up looking similar-but-different, with the same number of features in slightly different places and styles. But my youngest Rainbow decided that four limbs were not enough, so she kept adding arms and legs until she had a sort of alien-octopus-potato. It was excellent.

After Rainbows, I led the Guides and older Brownies in an activity about being “true to myself and develop[ing] my beliefs”.

They stood in a line, one behind the other, I asked them a question with two options, and they had to jump one way if they agreed with the first option, and the other way for the second option. Then I asked another question, and they jumped one way or the other from where they were standing, so they soon ended up scattered around the room. Or that was the idea. We were in a small room so it wasn’t very scattered.

The idea was to get them thinking about how easy (or not) it was to go your own way and not be affected by other people’s choices.

The questions were a mixture of fun and serious ones (like “Do you prefer cats or dogs?” or “Which is more important to you, following fashion or being an individual?”).

Then they chose patrols and Go For Its, and planned their activities for the next couple of weeks.

The Guides are a tiny group, now that 3 of the girls are over 14 and are dipping between going Guides activities and being Young Leaders with the Brownies. We haven’t fully planned the term yet, but it looks like I’ll be leading a lot of their meetings although I’m not officially the unit leader (Brown Owl is, but she has a Brownie unit to run at the same time). I’m happy to, but I’ve been concentrating more on Rainbows, so I feel guiltily like the Guides aren’t getting anyone’s full attention. We can but do our best!

 

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Snowmen and Jelly Babies

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First night back at Rainbows, and we made snowmen with toilet roll tubes (which has made a good dent in my stash), cotton wool, and bits of fabric, paper and stickers – and lots of PVA glue.

An hour or so after Rainbows finished, it actually snowed, for the first time this winter, more heavily than expected. I felt pretty smug that I’d accidentally chosen a timely activity!

Then we played the Christmas Card Game. It’s my go-to activity for the first meeting after Christmas with any section (for example, I did it with Rainbows last year and Guides in 2014). You need a big pile of old Christmas cards and some teams of girls. You call out something to find (like a snowman, a robin, some glitter) and one girl from each team runs and tries to find it on a card. The first one to find it gets a point for her team.

It was a pretty quiet evening, with only 11 out of 16 Rainbows there. We had two new girls, who both have friends in the unit and settled in so well I hardly remembered they were new.

I stayed on to help with Brownies and Guides (all together tonight), and they did a Jelly Baby-themed evening in sixes and patrols:

  • A game where a leader called a word and the girls had to do an action – after a while, the girl who did it last/did the wrong action/wasn’t in a group of the right size was out and joined the judges
  • A relay quiz: each group stood in a line with one leader, who had a question sheet and pen. The leader read the first question to the first girl in the line, she ran to the middle of the room to find the answer on a packet of jelly babies (for example, one question was “What is the sell-by date?” The girl ran back and told the leader the answer, then the next girl got a question. When the first team finished, everyone stopped and marked the answers
  • Each group designed a new jelly baby and presented it to everyone

Then I took the Guides and the oldest Brownies off separately and we brainstormed what they’d like to do this term. Most of their ideas were big and outside the meeting place, so then we had a brainstorm of how they could raise money to do them. I collected the ideas, so now I need to sit down with the other leaders and work out a plan.

I found I was surprised at how well-behaved and generally pleasant the Brownies were (ok, they went a bit crazy when it started snowing, but let’s face it, it is THE MOST EXCITING THING when you’re 8). This made me realise how tired and hyper they (and we leaders) were getting towards the end of last term, though I didn’t notice at the time.

So this is encouraging. I’m refreshed, the Brownies are quite nice actually, and things are looking up for this term.

Guides, beans and toast

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After my bubbly Rainbow meeting, I stayed on to help at Guides (who meet at the same time as Brownies) because they were short of leaders.

There were just 8 Guides (out of a total 12 ish), who were working on their personal safety badge. We went out to the garden – avoiding the wet slippery bits the Rainbows had left – and they cooked baked beans and toast on little gas stoves. I tried to throw safety questions at them while they were cooking, but I may have lost some credibility halfway through, when one Guide said, “Shouldn’t I have my hair tied back?” Oops. Why yes, yes you should.

The Guides ate their snack (safely), washed up (safely), and joined in a game and circle time with the Brownies to end.

The Guides have a different group dynamic from my old, lively, huge unit – not better or worse, just different. It was nice to have a chance to hang out and get to know them a bit.

Summer cook outs

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It’s another flashback to last summer, since I got out of the blogging habit then.

As usual, my Guides did two cook outs in the summer term. They enjoy them, and it means on the second one they know what they’re doing, make their fires more efficiently, and get more adventurous with their food.

Actually I do my Guides a disservice. This year especially, I was very impressed with them even at the first cook out. Usually they need lots of reminders to collect wood and make a pile (“that fire’s not going to feed itself”), but this time they pretty much all just got on with it. And some of them were already cooking fancy things alongside their burgers and sausages – like wraps and pizzas.

For the first cook out we met at a leader’s house not too far away. Not one of our leaders; she’s the commissioner of another District in our Division, but she’s lovely and generous and has a big garden that she doesn’t mind us turfing up holes in.

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The second time we met at one of our Guides’ houses. It’s up on a hill above town, and they have a paddock behind the house that, again, her parents didn’t mind us making holes in. This Guide was really excited to have everyone over to visit, and we all enjoyed meeting her pets and horses. We were very lucky with the weather here: it’s an exposed place so it could have been miserable if it was windy or rainy, but instead it was a glorious still sunny evening. Oh how I miss summer.

The girls brought their own food and cooking implements, but we have Unit Leader to thank for bringing everything else we needed, from turfing tools and tables to sauces and spare hairbands.

This is how we roll

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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).

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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!

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

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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.