Category Archives: Leaders’ events

Division Christmas do

After our last Rainbow meeting of term I went out for a meal with some of the other Rainbow, Brownie and Guide leaders who were there, which was lovely and a nice chance to get to know them a bit more outside of guiding.

A few days later I went to my first leaders’ meeting in my new place. I think it was the shortest one I’ve ever been to! Back in my old district we always seemed to have lots to discuss and catch up on, and our termly leaders’ meetings were rarely under 2 hours. At this one we only had a few short bits of business (introductions mostly for my benefit, a few awards achieved, the funeral of a Trefoil Guild member, and our Thinking Day event) and it was all over in half an hour, leaving more time for festive nibbles and mingling. I’m very impressed.

I chatted to most of the leaders there – some I already knew, others I didn’t, and others I’d heard of (“only good things I hope, ha ha”). Luckily in guiding it’s usually easy to get the conversation flowing. I got far with questions like:

  • Which group do you help with?
  • When/where do you meet?
  • How long have you been doing it?
  • How many girls do you have?
  • What have you been doing this term?
  • Are you planning any trips/holidays next year?
  • Are you looking forward to the Christmas holidays? (Ok, that one mostly goes without saying.)

What I’m about to write might not make sense outside the UK, but in my local area we don’t have districts, just a division. I can see the advantage – not so many meetings, a shorter chain of emails and paperwork hopefully more mingling between units, and one Commissioner (and her helpers) for the whole area rather than having to find several every few years when there might not be enough suitable people who haven’t already done it. On the other hand, it’s a lot of units and leaders for one Commissioner to be responsible for, and I’m in awe.

Anyway. It was a good evening, and I’m glad to have met more local leaders. I’ll see many of them at Thinking Day if not before.

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A delicious district meal

The adults and Young Leaders in my district enjoyed our Christmas meal in January so much last year that we decided to do the same again.

A couple of weeks ago, about 25 of us gathered in the hall where most units meet and had a two-course meal cooked by a caterer and brought in.  The food was very tasty, and there was enough that everyone got to taste all the options if they wanted to, but more importantly the company was excellent.  It was nice to see quite a few Young Leaders there, as well as some “lesser-spotted” Leaders, those who for whatever reason I don’t often see.

Between courses, our District President told some silly jokes and puns, and gave us a numbers quiz where she said a phrase and whoever know the relevant number shouted it out: for example, if she said “Gold rings”, we would call out “Five”.  It was good entertainment, short and not too taxing!

Division leaders’ sleepover…and they all lived happily ever after

I recently went to a division night away for adults and Young Leaders.  Our Division Commissioner (who is also my Unit Leader), wanted us to get to know each other, have fun and pick up some new ideas to use in our units.  We stayed at a local hostel, so it was easy for people to come and go if they couldn’t stay the whole time, and were there from Saturday lunchtime to Sunday lunchtime so it didn’t take up the entire weekend.

Great view from the grounds.

Unit Leader enlisted people from our district to help run the weekend, and in a glorious mini-rerun of summer camp, Co-Activity Leader and I ran most of the activities.  We decided (I can’t remember how, but it was late on the last night of camp) on a fairytale theme, hence the snazzy decorations.

Great inside, too.

As everyone arrived, they made paper crowns with their names on – more fun than name badges!  Some were  basic, and others very elaborate.  Later, to encourage crown-wearing, the QMs decided that they would only serve dinner to those wearing them.

We played the helium stick game as an icebreaker, first as a race between groups and then (with bamboo canes taped together) with all 30-odd people together.

Then we cooked lunch on trangias, very ably explained and supervised by Queen’s Guide Buddy.  We stirfried vegetables and chopped-up sausages, which was very tasty but we really mustn’t fry things on borrowed trangias again.  There will be burnt bits, and they will have to be laboriously scrubbed off.  Boiling all the way from now on.  For pudding, we made fruit kebabs and melted chocolate in bowls over hot water in the smaller trangia pan.

After lunch, we had a cup of tea and split into groups rotating around three activities:

  • a game like charades with teddies, getting the teddies to act out fairy tales.
  • planting a “magic bean” (a bulb from a mixed bag of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths) in a toilet roll tube, decorating it with a little rhyme instructing them to make a wish when planting it out.
  • a game hunting in the woods for words on sticky labels, which they then stuck onto fairy tales to fill in the gaps.  I ran this game and was quite pleased with it – might write another post about it.

Hunting for wordsAfter everyone had done these, we had a lovely cream tea.  By this stage, some of our newer leaders and Young Leaders had started to notice a feeling that those with more residential experience take for granted, that they were simply drifting from one meal to the next.

Did someone mention food?  Our next activity was building and decorating gingerbread houses.  I have a friend who, for the last 10 years or so, has hosted a gingerbread evening at Christmas: she provides the house pieces and cement (melted chocolate and icing) and the rest of us bring sweets and decorations to share.  It’s a highlight of my year, and I wanted to do something similar for the Guiders.  I had an epic baking session making over thirty sets of house pieces, and for a unit meeting I think I’d just use shop-bought biscuits, but it was worth it on this occasion to see the adults enjoying themselves and getting into the construction and decoration.  I have a theory that knowing that the gingerbread was home-made made them put more effort and care into putting them together.  Whatever the psychology, don’t they look good?

Such a creative bunch. There’s even a garage and a tasty-looking rubble heap!

Gradually as everyone finished, we tidied up, gave the tables a good wipe-down, and had a bit of free time before dinner.  Which was lasagne, delicious and very savoury: just what we needed after all that sweetness.

After dinner, we did some fairytale-themed “minute to win it” challenges, with teams of Rainbow Leaders, Brownie Leaders, Guide Leaders and “Others” competing against each other.  The challenges didn’t all go as expected and my point scoring wasn’t the most accurate in the world, but they had good competitive fun (and the Guide Leaders won, of course!).

That was the end of the organised fun for the day.  We sat on comfy chairs and nattered for a bit, and one of the leaders had brought a Christmassy colouring book – a few of us enjoyed sitting there colouring!  It was nice to do this without having to think about whether the Guides/Brownies were getting to sleep ok.

Likewise, in the morning, it was lovely not to be woken by early-rising Brownies or have to get up early to get the girls up and ready.  I woke up fifteen minutes before breakfast to the smell of eggy bread.  Love the lovely QMs.

After breakfast, Co-Activity Leader and I set out crafts, and everyone dabbled for about an hour and a half.  There were pipe cleaner teddies, decorating horseshoes, cross-stitch memento badges, frog princes, and spinning wool.

Just before home time, we all sat together and said our best bits and reflections.  Another leader and I were awarded our Going Away With certificates and badges, and four Young Leaders made their Promise.  We sang two versions of the Rainbow goodbye song, Brownie Bells, and three versions of Taps.  Most people left, and a few of us cleared up and left an hour later.

There were lots of things I liked about this event.  I enjoyed meeting people whom I didn’t know before, including a very new Leader in my district.  She said that she felt very welcomed, which is a relief.  I liked that it gave the Young Leaders a chance to mix with the adults and be treated as such (the age range was 14-85!).  I know it can be strange to make the transition to having an adult relationship with women who used to be your Rainbow, Brownie and Guide Leaders, and I hope this helps them along the way.  I really liked walking around listening to everyone’s conversations.  It seemed like every time I listened, people were getting to know each other, sharing what they were doing with their units, catching up on news, signing off training books, recruiting for next summer’s camp, throwing around ideas for future events, and having a giggle.  In short, bonding, which was what Division Commissioner wanted.  Not one to put off till tomorrow what she can do today, she’s already booked us in again this time next year.

Fairytale decor

Co-Activity Leader, who is a leader in the other Guide unit in my district and ran the activities on last summer’s camp with me, is wonderful for many reasons.  One is her ability to produce themed props and decorations at short notice.  I said “Please could you bring some fairytale decorations?”, and this happened:

WHV Court Hill weekend (8) - Copy WHV Court Hill weekend (7) WHV Court Hill weekend (6) WHV Court Hill weekend (5) WHV Court Hill weekend (4) - CopyCheck out that mirror!  That rose!  Those goblets, that beanstalk!  (I made the toadstools and another leader supplied the pumpkins.)  And I didn’t even get a photo of the bunting, or the magic cauldron, or Dick Whittington’s bundle on a stick, or the chintzy door hanging, or the wall of fairy lights.  As far as the candlesticks and fairy lights go, Co-Activity Leader proved that if you’re having a wedding, you should always buy decorations that can be re-used at guiding events.

District and Division meetings

This week, when unit meetings had finished for the term, but before we got deep into the summer holidays, everyone decided that it was a good window of opportunity to get together. So my guiding activities this week were a meeting/meal with my District, and another one the next day with my Division team. Both were lovely: a chance to catch up with other leaders and meet some I didn’t know before, put some dates in the diary, wish each other good luck for camps and holidays, say goodbye to some unit leaders and hello to their successors, learn bits of news (e.g. our hall has received a generous grant to buy some new tables and chairs, yay! And we might have a new Rainbow unit opening after Christmas, double yay!), and eat tasty food. Many thanks to the two leaders who welcomed 20+ of us into their homes and provided chairs, drinks and in one case a delicious lasagne.

A delightful District meal

The Leaders and Young Leaders in my District had a lovely Christmas meal – in January, of course – in our Guide hall.  A caterer provided the food, with several tasty options for mains and puddings, and it worked out cheaper than going to a restaurant.  Our District Commissioner and Hall Secretary did a sterling job of organising the evening, collecting numbers, providing drinks, laying the tables, and planning some games.

It was really good to have a chance to mingle with the other Leaders without either being in a meeting or having girls present.  I especially liked that there was a real mix of generations, from 14-year-old Young Leaders to the octogenarian president of our local Trefoil Guild.

Half-finished meals and drinks on a neatly-laid table

I didn’t take any pictures of the food until dinner was well underway!

After the main course, we played “the hat game”: everyone wrote down 3 names of famous people on pieces of paper, folded them up and put them into a bowl.  We got into teams, and the teams took it in turns for 1 person to pick names out of the bowl and describe them without saying their name, with their team-mates guessing, trying to get as many as possible in a minute.  The team kept the correct guesses, and any “passes” went back into the bowl and it was passed to the next team.  Each team got about 5 turns before we ran out of names, then we counted how many correct guesses we had and the team with the most (mine, whoop whoop!) won.  The game ended there, but you can also do a second round where you put all the names back in and do the same but miming the person; and a third round where you can only say one word to describe the person.

After pudding, we played a game that was new to me, but really good.  We were given 26 sealed envelopes, each marked with a letter of the alphabet, with an object inside beginning with that letter (e.g. there was a zip inside the Z envelope).  We had to feel them and guess the objects.  Each team wrote down their guesses and the one with the most correct won.  It could also be adapted so the letters spelled words rather than the alphabet (e.g. “Merry Christmas”), and it could be done individually or in any size of team.  Or you could use a blindfold instead of envelopes.

All in all, it was a really good, fun evening, and I hope we can do it again next year.

Planning the term in 12 sentences

“Let’s stay behind after Guides and plan the rest of the term.”

“Oh look, there are leftover marshmallows and Matchmakers from tonight’s activity!”

“I’ve brought my laptop so I’ll type it straight into a document to hand out to the Guides and email to their parents.”

“What events have we already committed to?”

“Which seasonal themes shall we do?”

“I know someone who’s offered to bring their guide dog to meet the Guides.”

“How can we help one of our Guides raise funds for an international trip?”

“Young Leader, would you still like to run a meeting to count towards your leadership qualification?”

“We haven’t done any Go For Its for a year, we should probably spend a few nights on them…”

“Let’s look again at what the Guides said they wanted to do and see how much we’ve covered…hmm, some things but not everything, but they’ll be able to choose their activities for Go-For-Its.”

“Have we filled up all our meetings already?  These other ideas will just have to wait till next term.”

“Who wants the last marshmallow?”