Tag Archives: camp

Wild West camp: day 5

On Wednesday we called in the cavalry.  We like to have a themed wide game day on camp, and months ago QGB had the inspired idea of asking the Rangers to run it.

There were many advantages to this: they could be involved in camp even though they weren’t there for the whole week; they got some planning and leadership experience and it counted towards their Octants; it took the pressure of the leaders at camp to some extent; the Guides got some fresh faces leading them, as they were no doubt fed up of us by that stage in the week; and the Guides got to see the joys that await them if they move up to Rangers.

QGB gave the Rangers and their leaders an idea of what was needed, they planned it over a couple of meetings in the summer term, there was much exchange over email and Facebook about equipment, timings, who was coming, etc. etc.  Much was at the last minute when we were already on camp, so thank goodness for QGB having a clever phone that lets her use email.

Before the day’s activities began, we had another delicious breakfast – was it pancakes?  Or hash browns? – with two highlights.  Firstly, Unit Helper finally finished the leftover jelly from several days before, which she had been dutifully having with every meal.  Secondly, one of my favourite lines of the week: we were getting the Guides to complete the lyrics to campfire songs before they could go up to be served.  When we were down to just a few, I tried one from We Are the Red Men.

Me: We come home from far-off shores, greeted by our…?

Guide: ?

QGB: What’s a name for a Native American wife?

Guide: Er…the old dun cow?

Before activities started, the Guides made their bedding rolls as usual, but instead of stacking them on their gadgets, they put all their bedding rolls and bags in the big party tent, dismantled their gadgets, and took out their brailer pegs.  Although we had one more night, we decided to take the patrol tents down today, to give us more time to pack up the rest of camp the next day, and because there was a chance of rain the next day.  Oh, and here’s another favourite line.

QGB: When you’ve taken the brailers out and cleaned them, you stack them up in twos, crossing over each other.

Guide: Yeah, we know, you stack them in a hashtag.

Who says camping skills aren’t relevant to modern life?

Sporting my feather headdress…and also my 5th-day-of-camp look

Sporting my feather headdress…and also my 5th-day-of-camp look

Three Rangers came to run the wide game, although more had helped with the preparations (I think we have about eight in total at the moment?).  They divided the Guides into two groups.  In the morning, half made Native American headdresses with feathers, beads and raffia (simple but went down well) and the other half played piñatas – wonderful home-made papier-mâché cow piñatas that it was sort of a shame to smash into smithereens – and then a Wild West version of the game I call “mafia” or “werewolves”: the one where a narrator tells people when to go to sleep and wake up and some people are murderers and the others have to try to work out who it is.  The Guides loved it – they’re just at the stage where Wink Murder is no longer quite as exciting as it used to be, and this is the cool teenage next step up.

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The pinatas before…



...and after.

…and after.

We had squash and cake, the groups swapped, and then it was lunchtime.  Lunch was one of QGB’s favourite activities: cooking on trangias.  She led assembling-and-dismantling-your-trangia relay races, then the Guides fried sausages, heated sweetcorn, and mixed Angel Delight for pudding.  Yum!  This was followed by a long washing up time to get all the burnt bits off the trangias.

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In the afternoon, the wide game continued.  Again, we really appreciated having the Rangers there to run it, as it meant that some of the leaders could take down the patrol tents, and others (including me) could finish scrubbing the trangias and reunite all the parts, and fill up water balloons for later.  I felt a bit strange not seeing so much of the girls that day, but that must be what the QMs and QGB felt like all week.

In the wide game, one group of Guides went into the woods and made shelters out of groundsheets and string, and the other group did initiative exercises, passing each other through a spider’s web and lassoing a cow-shaped laundry basket (this was the “nuclear waste” challenge where you’re not allowed inside the enclosure and you have to get it out by throwing ropes around it, pulling tight and lifting as a team).  The teams swapped activities, and then they had a water fight (yes, the second of the week) with the shelters they’d made.  Each group had to get inside their shelter and they were given an equal number of water balloons.  The Rangers released one group at a time to go to the other shelters and pelt them with water balloons.  It was quite clever, because they had to decide how many balloons they would take to throw at other groups, and how many they would keep to throw in retaliation when they were under attack.  A whistle helped with keeping order, and at the end, Co-Activity Leader and I were there to make sure no group left the area until all the shelters were dismantled and all the bits of balloon were picked up.

    There are Guides in there somewhere.

There are Guides in there somewhere.

Then it was time for squash and cake and getting dry, and everyone said a big thank you to the Rangers.  They did us a great favour, did a super job, and I think learned a bit about planning and running activities.

The Guides had some time to do final practising for the evening cabaret, then it was dinner (er…something tasty…I’m writing this several weeks after camp and the details are getting hazy) and time for the evening entertainment.  It was good fun, and featured:

  • a “fashion show” – the Senior Section patrol dressed up one of the QMs, who was a very good sport, in a ridiculous outfit involving a swimsuit and a tutu, and paraded her for all to see
  • a cowgirl-themed play
  • First Aider’s five-year-old singing “ten fat sausages sizzling in the pan, one went pop and the other went bang, eight fat sausages etc.”, holding a frying pan with modelling balloons and popping them with his fork.  We all sang along and it was adorable.
  • The yoga class skit, where Guides sit on top of other Guides who are lying down, so that it looks like they have super-flexible legs
  • A medley of songs, with the lyrics changed to be camp-relevant.  Although it was upbeat, we leaders found it quite moving, as it was full of the guiding spirit and made us proud.  We captured it on video the next day.
  • The leaders’ act.  We jokingly complain about the plays that the Guides make up, because they’re often purposeless, improvised, too long, and hilarious only to the performers…and ours that night was all of those things!  We started off singing Three wheels on my wagon, carrying a box back and forth, and dropping pan lids as the wheels fell off, and then we sang a hastily-written song about camp duties to the tune of We Are the Red Men (“Pow wow, pow wow, can you come for your duties now?” etc.).  The Guides gamely laughed (probably at us) and clapped (probably with relief).  All part of the fun!

Since we had packed up the patrol tents, most of the Guides slept in the tipi, with a few choosing to sleep under the stars (and under lots of layers of blankets and groundsheets).  We tucked everyone in and said goodnight, and then the leaders had a session signing off as much as possible in QGB’s residential qualification book and discussing our favourite parts of camp, and things we would change.  I was pleased when one of the QMs said she was impressed by the variety of evening activities.  We made a valiant effort to finish all the snacks and “leader juice” we’d brought, but eventually had to admit defeat and go to bed.


Wild West camp: day 4

On Tuesday morning we didn’t need to be anywhere in a hurry, so we let the Guides sleep in till 8am.

What was for breakfast, maybe beans on toast?  Ooh, I think also fried potato cakes made from leftover corned beef hash – yum.  After that, we got ready to leave the campsite: bedding rolled, bags on gadgets, packed lunches made (one patrol at a time went to the kitchen to put their own lunches together) – because we were going on a mid-camp excursion to a nearby swimming pool.

Wearing our tie dye neckers, which turned out ok, if a little pale

Wearing our tie dye neckers, which turned out ok, if a little pale

It was astonishing how much the Guides built up the walk to the pool in advance.  The day before, several asked me and other leaders (imagine the disbelief and horror in their voices) “Is it true that we’re walking for two hours?”  We repeated many times we had allowed two hours for the journey, including rest breaks and bearing in mind that our oldest and youngest campers walk slowly, and that First Aider’s 5-year-old had done the practice walk without complaining.

Still, I think the Guides were presently surprised to find that it really was just a nice 4-mile stroll through fields and villages, over the ring road and the railway, with iconic views of the nearest city.  Each tent group had a laminated route map with instructions to follow, excellently made by First Aider, and even though we all walked in a big (sometimes a bit straggly!) group, the adult assigned to each group encouraged them to check where they were, where they were going next, what features they could see, whether we were halfway yet, etc.

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We stopped for a drink and cake break en route (just because we were offsite didn’t mean we could slack off the cake schedule), reached the swimming pool around lunchtime, had a picnic on the grass next to the pool, and gave the girls two hours to do what they liked within the enclosure.  “Enclosure” makes it sounds restrictive, but actually it was a nice big fenced area with a pool with a “serious” deep section and a “fun” shallow section with a gradual slope and sprinklers; lots of grass round the edge; benches, sun loungers and umbrellas; table tennis tables; and a stand selling drinks, ice creams and burgers.  In other words, plenty to keep everyone busy for the afternoon.

Most of the Guides and a couple of leaders went in the water for a bit.  A few (mainly younger Guides) stayed in all the time, but others (mainly older Guides) were happy chilling at the side most of the time.  We were semi-lucky with the weather.  It wasn’t hot, but it was at least mild with patchy sunshine, and it only rained for 5 minutes.  The water apparently is usually warm, but had been topped up that morning so had a chilly edge if you stopped moving.  I went in for about an hour, and had a marvellous time playing tag, doing handstands, and generally being 10 years old.  The best moment was when, near the end, there were enough people in the pool that the lifeguards turned on the big sprinkle fountain: cue big cheers from the little Guides.

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We got out and dry, purchased last-minute snacks, and walked back to the campsite.  We kept the Guides lively with a scavenger competition.  They had to collect items from a rhyme written (or found?) by First Aider.  It went along the lines of “Something new, something old, something silver, something gold” and carried on for about 10 more verses.  I managed to share one of my interesting plant facts with my group by suggesting a mare’s tail fern as “something old” because it’s existed in more or less its present form since the time of the dinosaurs.  QGB (who’ teaches biology) would be proud of me, I hope.

Back at camp, the Guides had some downtime before dinner.  They were clearly getting worn out, as there was a bit of tent grumpiness.  It was one of those moments where I appreciated having a good team of adults around: QGB was busy greeting visitors and asked me to extract some grumpy Guides from the toilets, and I managed to get them back to camp with sympathy and humour, but then found it hard to change tack, so I gratefully handed them over to another leader to be firm and sort things out.  To be fair, this mild event was almost the only problem we had with the girls: I thought they were an exceptionally easy and good-natured bunch this year.

Dinner – hurrah! – was takeaway pizza, giving the QMs a well-earned rest from cooking.  Then it was beds down, and the Guides were inspected by three special visitors from the Trefoil Guild who were joining us for the evening: our two Unit Leaders’ mothers and our Division President, who have all been many roles in guiding and love meeting the girls and joining in activities, and I want to be just like them when I’m older.  The Guides who have been with us for a few years remembered them from other occasions, and it was nice to hear them saying to each other “here comes M., she dressed up at the Queen at our Jubilee camp”, and so on.

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Meanwhile, I went off with Co-Activity Leader to get the campfire going.  Well, I faffed about and then she got it going with one match.  We had plenty of dry scrap wood, including an old wallpaper table, and it was a bit of a blazing inferno!  Luckily it died down a bit by the time the Guides arrived.

QGB and I led the campfire singing, and the interesting thing was that I thought it was one of the best we’ve ever done, whereas she thought it was one of the worst.  I think we just had different expectations and noticed different things.  The Guides, maybe because they were tired from an active day and three nights under canvas, weren’t great at joining in with the loud, active songs – we instinctively didn’t ask them to stand up, because they wouldn’t have wanted to, and some of them fidgeted and made silly noises instead of singing.  So we went into the tuneful songs sooner than QGB would have liked, but they worked brilliantly well.  They were so tuneful and audible that we sang Campfire’s Burning in three parts, which never happens, and Heidi and Land of the Silver Birch, and You’re a Pink Toothbrush (not sure if other groups sing it, but we like it!), and I taught them a new song that I learned at Region camp last year, the Liège Song (which you can find here but without the tune – I think it’s common knowledge among seasoned Anglia members), and they picked it up quite easily.  Our Trefoil visitors and some of the leaders recognised it and said they hadn’t heard it for years.  And Purple Lights and Texas and it was all rather magical.  Some of the Guides said so too, as we walked back.  So I declare it a good campfire.

Back at the campsite, it was – you know the routine by now – hot chocolate, biscuits and bed.

Wild West camp: day 3

On Monday we gave the girls another 7am wake-up call, as we were booked for some more site activities.  I can’t remember what breakfast was officially, but by this stage of the week the options included puddings from previous meals.  Unit Helper made a noble effort and had jelly and apple sauce with just about everything in an effort to finish it! When breakfast was eaten and washed up, bedding rolls were made, and tents were tidy, the girls started activities.  Half went off to the zip wire, which was reportedly good fun.  They got several turns each, and some were brave enough to do it upside down! Summer camp 2014 (34) The other half stayed at the campsite and did craft.  We used the party tent for shelter, but took off one side because the weather was nice.  There were several dabbling options, and most Guides chose to make dream catchers and/or decorated horseshoes.  These were a load of used horseshoes that First Aider had got free from a local stables, and polished to get the mud and rust off.  The Guides were very happy wrapping these in wool, ribbons, feathers, beads, and so on.  Co-Activity Leader and I sat with the Guides and gave them little bits of help; mostly they were just happy to sit and craft.  Meanwhile, we painted some cactus shapes that I’d made from a bit of foam from work, for a bit of thematic decoration. Summer camp 2014 (31) Something I thought worked well was a half-time energiser: after 45 minutes, we got the Guides up and played a couple of running and catching games, just enough to keep them lively, before going back to the crafts. The other half of the Guides returned, we all had squash and cake, and I think the Guides then had time to get their tents ready for inspection, and a bit of hobby horse-making time, before lunch.

A welcoming tent!

A welcoming tent!

Those pegs spell out "WELCOME". Competition for inspection points was hotting up.

Those pegs spell out “WELCOME”. Competition for inspection points was hotting up.

In the afternoon, the two halves swapped: one group went off to do crate stacking (again, it seemed to go down very well, with much hilarity over the way people’s towers collapsed), and the other half stayed in the party tent and did crafts.  The other activities we’d laid out were rain shakers, which only a couple of Guides made, but I helped both of First Aider’s young sons make their own; and moccasins, which involved cutting a shape out of felt and blanket stitching it into a shoe.  The prototypes looked really good, but no one finished a pair of their own.  I’m sure we’ll be able to re-use the pattern some time in the future. During this craft session, Co-Activity Leader and I took it in turns to sneak away and fill up water balloons, because water games were next on the agenda.  Fortunately the weather was, if not hot, at least fairly mild.  After squash and cake time, the Guides changed into swimming costumes and/or waterproofs, and then we had a few rounds of “drip, drip, splash” (like “duck, duck, goose”, but dripping water from a cup onto everyone as you go round), some relay races with a holed cup, water balloon throwing contests, a sort of volleyball game with water balloons and tarpaulins, and a challenge for patrols to raise and lower a full basin of water between them, using only their feet, lying on their backs.

Dream catchers and Pringles: the ingredients of an excellent night.

Dream catchers and Pringles: the ingredients of an excellent night.

There was drying-off time, there was dinner, there was the resolution of an issue involving an unwanted visitor from another campsite, and then it was saloon night. This was a variation on casino night, which the other unit does as part of their programme every year or two, and was masterminded by First Aider, who spent most of the afternoon working out odds, making signs and labels, and counting poker chips.  Hats off to her.

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We set up several games, all with an element of gambling: net-a-duck, roulette, 21’s, a dice game, toss the horse shoe, and skittles  Each had a leader or Senior Section running it.  The Guides were each given the same value of chips to start with, and had about an hour to go around playing what they wanted.  Just for fun, the QMs made cocktails (ice cream sodas and mixtures of various types of juice and fruit), turning their storage space into a rather snazzy bar, and we set up the “Wanted” sign – with props – for people to pose in before it got too dark.

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The Guides’ gambling behaviour was interesting to watch: most latched onto a favourite game and stayed there most of the time; some were cautious with their money whilst others were reckless.  As for me, I really enjoyed running the roulette wheel – perhaps I should start a new career as a croupier.

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At the end, First Aider got all the Guides to line up in order of how much money they had left.  What’s meant to happen is that the ones with the same amount they started with are well above the median, illustrating that the odds are in the casino’s favour.  It didn’t quite work this time, as some of the odds were a bit generous to the Guides, but I really like the principle: lots of fun with a life lesson. The Guides’ day finished with hot chocolate, of course, and the leaders’ day finished with an unexpected sleepwalking Guide, just as we were heading to bed.  How do others handle this?  She woke and was surprised but not distressed, and we returned her to her tent, moved her bed from next to the door to the middle of the other Guides, and laced the door up tight.  It didn’t happen again on camp, but it gave us food for thought, as none of us had had sleepwalkers on camp before, and hadn’t asked parents if there was any chance of it happening.

Wild West camp: day 2

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Sunday dawned bright and cold, and the girls had a prompt 7am wake-up call, as they had adventurous activities booked for 9:30am.  We had breakfast (the cooked element was porridge, yum!), made bedding rolls, packed daysacks, and the Guides were, impressively, ready to leave at 9:15am.

The Scout site were were staying at offers a lot of instructor-led activities.  Our budget allowed for each girl to have 3 sessions.  This morning , half did archery and the other half went on the 3G swing (two people are harnessed into a seat, the rest of the group pulls a rope to winch them up really high, and then…they swing).  They returned for the campsite for squash and cake, then my co-activity-leader introduced them to the camp challenge booklet she’d made (it’s wonderful – I have a feeling she’ll be asked to do all future ones), and the time before lunch was spent getting tents ready for inspection, having inspection, and starting the booklet.

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The plan was to put up the name of everyone who completed the challenges in the booklet up on the wall of fame (a groundsheet with “wall of fame” painted on it, first used at region camp last summer), but no one finished it in the end.  I saw some people working on it, but possibly the Guides didn’t have enough free time to do it justice.  Or maybe the wall of fame just wasn’t enough incentive!

Lunch was a tasty ploughman’s with…maybe jelly and ice cream?  We definitely had jelly at some point that day.  QGB’s assessor came for lunch, a leader from another District in our Division whom most of us know.  Apparently – and unsurprisingly – she was very impressed.

After lunch, the girls had a bit of time to mooch and roam to the shop, before another adventurous activity.  The groups swapped over for archery and the 3G swing.  I watched both for a bit – the swing looked terrifyingly fun, and although archery wasn’t new to most girls, I liked that everyone had plenty of turns to try to improve, rather than just two or three experimental goes as sometimes happens, and that the instructor upped the game halfway through by doubling the shooting distance.

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After another squash and cake break (with every Guide bringing a cake, we had to eat a daily quotient to get through them all), we started the Hobby Horse Challenge.

Co-activity-leader and I had decided early on that we should make hobby horses, and we’d also decided that, rather than just giving the components to the Guides, they should do a challenge to earn each piece, like a mini-wide game.  We had some ambitious challenges up, but in the end we abbreviated them, as there just wasn’t time for everything.  I was both disappointed and relieved not to attempt to lead the Guides in milking PVA glue out of rubber gloves (the cow theme, innit)!

To earn the broom handle for the horse, the Guides had to make a fire and make smoke signals: two puffs per person.  We took them to a campfire circle and each tent group built a fire.  When the fire was established, they put damp grass on the fire to make a lot of smoke, then used a square of damp thick fabric to cover the fire, remove, and cover again, creating a puff of smoke.  None of the leaders had tried this before, let alone the Guides, but fortunately it worked and the fabric didn’t put the fires out or anything.

Once everyone had puffed and put their fires out, we did the next bit of the challenge, which was water pistol target shooting.  We hung three balloons from a stick (with water in them so they hung down) and one at a time, each Guide had to hit all three with a water pistol.  Then they were given the materials for their horse’s head.

At this point, the challenge broke down a bit because putting the horses’ heads together took so long.  They were made from two large bits of foam underlay (Co-Activity Leader happened to have loads left over from decorating: win.  The fact that it was turquoise made the horses even better), stapled together around the edge and turned inside out, with two small foam ears poking through and stapled in place.

Some finished horses, chilling in the corral.

Some finished horses, chilling in the corral.

We started putting the heads together outside, then moved into the tipi as it was more contained and less windy.  While some Guides stapled, others made eyes out of paper, post-it notes and googly eyes.  Co-Activity Leader (the mastermind behind the horse heads) was here, there and everywhere answering cries of “what do I do next?”.  Meanwhile, I took a few Guides at a time outside to do a wool trail (winding up a long piece of wool that had been wrapped around trees) to find nosebags for their horses (=sandwich bags) containing strips of fabric for the reins.

The horses were still in progress at dinner time, so we pushed the heads to the side of the tipi, tidied up the craft things, and left them for another day: the beauty of having lots of group space.  All those horse heads, some with eyes, some without, did made it look like the site of some bizarre sacrifice…

Sunday dinner was memorable, as it was delicious roast pork/nut roast with veg, roast potatoes, apple sauce, gravy, the works.  QGB sent a photo to our Region and County Facebook pages, where there was much praise for our QMs.

After dinner, we played some games “in the dark” – it was a clear evening and took a while to actually get dark – including one that I improvised based on a game I used to play when I was a Brownie.  Each patrol had to take off their shoes, lie down and pretend to be sleep.  When the leaders shouted “the bandits are coming” and banged on a dustbin lid, the patrols had to wake up, put on their shoes, hold on to each other in a conga line, run around a big circle, and race to be the first patrol back to where they started.  It took a lot longer to explain than it should have done – the Guides had listened to a lot of instructions over the day and were losing capacity by that stage – but once they got it, it was very entertaining and we played twice.

When it was properly dark, we had a glowstick quiz.  We hung 20 jam jars in the trees with glowsticks inside, and a question stuck to them.  Each patrol was given a bundle of post-it notes (a different colour for each patrol) with the answers written on them, and they had to decide which answer went with each question, and put the answer in the jar.  Again, their attention spans were seriously flagging as I explained what to do, but once they understood, they got on with it and worked well in their groups.

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The questions were assorted facts about Native Americans.  I found it very educational putting the quiz together – it’s not a topic I know much about or studied at school.  Download the questions, answers, and extra facts.

As each patrol finished, we sent them back for hot chocolate, followed by an earlier night than the first one!  Co-Activity Leader and I collected the jars, and we counted up the correct answers and went through them with the Guides at breakfast the next day.

Wild West camp: day 1

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Having loaded up vehicles the night before, the leaders, plus helpful family members, arrived on site at 9am to unload and start setting up.  We had to miss our planned tea break and sit-down, but by the time the Guides arrived at 11:30 we were ready to welcome them.

As the girls arrived, they handed in health forms and home-made (well, almost all home-made) cakes, left their bags in the party tent, collected name badges, and joined me and another leader for games (mainly monkey football, fruit salad, and stuck in the mud).  We played for about half an hour, and I was pleasantly surprised that everyone got into it, because when we did the same at our last camp, it was a bit awkward and lifeless.  Not so here: phew.

Queen’s Guide Buddy, when she was ready and happy with the arrival paperwork, took the Guides on a tour of the site (toilets, shop, bins, out-of-bounds areas etc.), and then we sat down to eat our packed lunches.  This introduced those not familiar with it to our standard camp mealtime routine.  We sit in a circle with leaders on camping chairs and Guides/Senior Section on sitters, with the patch of grass in the middle becoming the “table”, which no one is allowed to walk across.  The patrol on hostess duty lays out the sitters and chairs, makes a table decoration, lays out the grace sheets (QGB had made some new ones, laminated, with a selection of secular and God-mentioning graces on one side, and the words of the Promise on the other side), and chooses a grace to sing.  When there is food to serve, we send a few Guides at a time up to a table where the leaders and Senior Section serve them, observing a one-way system.  After the meal, each patrol does their own washing up, and sometimes a share of the leaders’ and kitchen washing up, in a bowl on a stand.

Anyway, during this lunch, QGB said a proper welcome and went through roles, rules, explanations, and so forth.  Afterwards, we got on with the fun.

All the Guides started off painting totem poles: each tent group had a long carpet roll tube (begged from a local carpet shop), and used acrylic paints (8 200ml bottles in a selection of colours was about right for 6 totem poles, though the Guides used up the bright colours before we leaders made our pole, so ours was mostly brown and grey!).  They got really into it, and it was a good way to encourage tent team spirit.

Meanwhile, I called out a tent at a time to tie dye their neckers.  We knew we’d need camp neckers for our excursion later in the week, and QGB thought that if everyone decorated their own, they’d be more positive about them than about our usual old neckers.  So I cut up a bedsheet into 34 triangles and she hemmed it (an experience she doesn’t want to repeat), and the Guides tied elastic bands round them and left them in a tub of blue dye.  It was nice sitting around with each tent, chatting with them as they twisted rubber bands.

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Meanwhile again, other leaders called out a tent at a time to pitch their tents.  They were very efficient: every time I looked, another tent had gone up.

After a squash and cake break (a staple of camp), we had originally planned to start another activity, but it looked like everyone would be happy to have more time for painting and pitching and settling into their tents, so we let them carry on and taught them how to make gadgets, and postponed the activity to another day, rather than rushing it.

Before dinner, everyone put their beds down, and we all sat in the tipi and introduced our teddies (an idea I’d stolen from pack holiday a few days earlier).  I wish I could remember what meals we ate each day, but most of them have blurred together in general tastiness.  I know that on the first night both the main course and the pudding were things that our QMs had prepared at home and warmed up in the camp kitchen…maybe casserole and apple crumble?  Delicious, whatever it was.

Our evening entertainment was line dancing!  First the Guides put on boots/wellies/cowboy hats if they had them, then they made spurs* in what I like to call a flash-mob craft because it was fairly speedy.  Once everyone was spurred, our chief QM, who does line dancing, taught us all a few dances.  Everyone picked the first two up, and I saw some Guides doing them by themselves later in the week; the third was more rhythmically complicated and not many people got it, but it was all good fun.

Then it was time for hot chocolate and a biscuit (another camp staple) and bed.  One of my favourite quotes of the week came when QGB was explaining the bedtime routine.

QGB: You’ll need to hammer in all your brailers and tuck the sodcloth under your groundsheets, because you don’t want to wake up soggy.

Guide: Who’s Soggy?

We hoped the dancing might help the Guides to get to sleep at a reasonable time, and it sort of worked: I think the last time we had to speak to a tent was 11:30pm.  The leaders turned in somewhat later!

* How do you make them, I hear you ask.  Cut out card from this Welly spur template, cover the star in silver foil (or metallic pens, or use metallic card), punch holes through the shaded circles, cut along the dotted line to make two “legs”, bend one leg forward and the other back, sit them on the back of your ankle so that the legs wrap around your ankle and the star sticks out at the back, and tie elastic between the two holes.

The finished totem poles

The finished totem poles

Wild West camp: meet the camp

Summer camp 2014 (10)

I’m back from a lovely week and a half of guiding holidays: two nights with Brownies and Rainbows from near where I live, whom I didn’t know before (I’ll write about that in due course), then one night at home before going on camp with my own Guides.

Now that I’ve caught up on sleep and stopped hearing phantom Guide/leader voices and waking up in the middle of the night half-dreaming that I’m surrounded by Guides awaiting instructions (does anyone else experience this?), it’s time to write up what happened before I forget.  In brief, of course, because time at camp is much fuller than it is anywhere else, and it would be impossible to write down everything that was done, seen, said and thought.

Before embarking on a blow-by-blow account, here’s the background detail.

My Guides camped, as usual, with the other unit in our District.  We stayed at a Scout activity centre about 12 miles from home, so the girls’ parents provided their own transport.  We were there for 5 nights, from Saturday to Thursday, and we were lucky, nay blessed, with the weather.  It wasn’t particularly hot – though most people were down to t-shirts for at least a couple of hours most days – but it was almost entirely dry and not aggressively windy.  We were only affected by rain in that we had to put waterproofs on for a couple of adventure activities, and we moved two meals inside to avoid a passing shower.  Couldn’t really ask for more.

We took 8 adults: all the leaders of the two units, plus our District Commissioner.  My Queen’s Guide Buddy was doing her licence (needed for her Queen’s Guide Award so that we can go on an expedition) and overseeing operations, then there were two first aiders (one of whom dropped in and out of camp as her work allowed), three caterers, and two activity people (one being me).  We’ve been guiding together for years, some for decades, and it was a very good, comfortable team with no difficult characters.  QGB commented that it only worked because everyone was pulling their weight and more all the time, and one more full-time adult would have been useful to relieve some pressure.

We took 25 girls, although we only ever had 24 at a time.  There was a bit of coming and going, with a few arriving on day 2 having been on family holidays, and one leaving on day 2 for an appointment.  QGB handled the coming and going well, and I didn’t notice it unsettling the other girls.  We had a little Senior Section contingent: two 14-year-olds who are both Guides and Young Leaders at other units, one Ranger, and one ex-Guide who is coming back as our Young Leader in September.  For the sake of being brief, I’m likely to call them all Guides in this and future posts.

We also had the two young sons of one leader, who were brilliant free entertainment.  All the Guides became big sisters to them, and a few in particular did a lot of looking after/playing/helping/chasing around the campsite.  Hats off to the leader, too, who somehow always manages to be fully functioning both as a Guider and a parent.

Our campsite was a lovely space enclosed by a hedge, some woods, and a building.  Yes, we’d chosen the luxury of an indoor kitchen and a small hall which the QM team took over as a storage/preparation area.  In our evaluation chat at the end, they all said that having a proper kitchen was something they’d do again next time.  The building also had a veranda and a sunken patio area.

Tent-wise, the girls were in 5 Icelandic tents (green canvas, bedding rolls and gadgets), plus one storage tent for a group of 6 older Guides, so they could all sleep together without being crushed by bags.  The leaders were in two modern tents, and we also had a modern tent with a pod for first aid and activity storage, two party tents (we brought our own, and the campsite staff pitched another on day 2 because it was needed for the next group who were camping), and a tipi (from a contact of one of the leaders, to fit with the theme).  Really, we were spoilt for sheltered space, and it was lovely to be able to, say, leave craft materials out in one tent while we ate dinner in another.

The theme of the camp was the Wild West, inspired by the wooden veranda.  It ran strongly through most of the week, as we managed to find activities, crafts, food, decorations, and even tents, to fit.  Is that all you need to know for now?  I think so.  On with the camp!

Summer camp 2014 (13)

How to make a rain stick

Home made rain shaker stick

Here’s another craft from camp. The picture doesn’t do justice to the pleasant rattling sound it makes.

My original plan was to poke cocktail sticks into the cardboard tube, but that would have left pointy bits at the sides.  I see from various online instructions that you can poke nails or tacks into the tube…but internal silver foil was the easiest and cheapest material to obtain, so it won.

I asked all the leaders to collect and bring along cardboard tubes, and we had a mixture of kitchen roll inners, silver foil inners, and the tubes that glowsticks come in – it sounded like a monsoon when they were all rattling at once!

Download a rain stick instruction sheet – feel free to use it in a legal and non-profit way 🙂

I returned from camp yesterday, so no doubt posts about how it went will follow soon!