Tag Archives: community

Thank you, Lifeboats

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Back in summer my Rainbows visited our local lifeboat station. The following week, they made cards and pictures to say thank you. I took those home and they sat in a bag in my house for 6 months.

Just before Christmas, I finally delivered them to the Lifeboat station. I hope the volunteers there enjoy them!

There with bells on! Rainbows do morris dancing

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Back in the summer, two members of the local morris side kindly came to Rainbows and taught us some dances.

Morris dancing is something close to my heart. I did it for a couple of years with a lovely Cotswold side before I moved to where I live now. I’d been considering joining this local group, so this seemed like a good way to case them out.

They came in their full kit, which caught the Rainbows’ attention, and told us a bit about the history of the group before teaching us a simple(ish) dance. They bravely gave the Rainbows sticks!

The Rainbows made a good effort learning the dance. After a while, they gradually reached the end of their attention, so some went and played with the hoops and skipping ropes while others kept dancing for a while.

It was a good meeting, with no preparation from me needed (yay), and now I think about it, it covered quite a few bases for the girls: exercise, agility, rhythm, working together, and the community they live in.

Rainbows at the beach

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Another throwback to the summer term.

We’re lucky to live in a seaside town, so I was keen to take the Rainbows to the beach in the summer.

We hired a beach hut that’s owned by a local charity. We didn’t need it – we could have just met straight on the beach – but it was good to have it as a base and as a bit of shelter in case we needed it, and it wasn’t much money for an evening. As it turned out, we had a glorious sunny evening, but the Rainbows enjoyed looking around inside the hut.

It was a fairly unstructured evening. As I remember, we did some hunting for interesting rocks, but apart from that the Rainbows were happy just to dip their feet in the sea (oh yes, we were also lucky it was high tide, otherwise they would have been dipping their feet in mudflats), chase the waves, and sit by the beach hut eating ice lollies. We finished with some games and giving out badges.

Brownies, alleys, beaches and chips

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After Rainbows, I went off to join the Brownies. I knew they were somewhere in the town doing a trail, so I cycled around the back streets. It didn’t take long to find them in those hi vis jackets.

They were going around in Sixes finding all the little alleyways between the high street and the sea. There are more than I realised, some with very colourful names.

The Six I joined up finished quickly. We had a bit of time before we had to be at our final destination, so we went down to the beach for a few minutes, then took a trip to the public toilets. Oh the adventure.

We ended up at a takeaway owned by a Brownie’s parents (who are family friends of Brown Owl), where we all had chips and a drink in the garden. All in all a lovely evening, helped by the glorious weather.

Man the Lifeboats

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I’ve lived most of my life a couple of hours’ drive from the sea, so it’s a novelty to me to be living by the coast now. I’ve been keen to have a proper look around the local lifeboat station, and I thought I might as well take the Rainbows too 😉

Two volunteers from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) showed us round. First we chatted about why we need lifeboats, why the sea can be dangerous, and what you should do if you spot someone in danger. Then we had a look at the lifeboat, and learned about the equipment it carries, and how it’s built to give it the best possible chance of staying afloat and completing its task.

We met the crew’s practice dummy, saw the clothes the crew wear (which they can put on in as little as 1 minute), and looked at the tractor that helps the boat in and out of the sea.

Finally we went to the control room and watched some rescue videos.

Our hosts made it fun and as hands on as they could, but the Rainbows did have to do a fair bit of listening. I thought they did a great job. There was a lot to take in, but even if they only remember one or two things it’s raised their awareness. Living where they do, I’m sure they’ll see plenty more of the lifeboat as they grow up.

Several extra parents and grandparents, and a brother, stayed for the visit. It’s always encouraging when you’re doing something interesting enough that people would rather join in than go home or go and have an ice cream on the beach.

Rainbows is a walk in the park

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…it literally was for this meeting.

We walked to a playground near our meeting hall. On the way, each Rainbow got a sheet of 4 photos of things to look out for on the way: special-looking trees, houses, benches etc. They got pretty into it, and most of them found everything.

We had a fun 15 minutes in the playground and managed to get all 10 girls on the roundabout at once (making it literally a Rainbow Roundabout…I’ve only just realised that).

Then we walked back, had a quick Rainbow chat, and it was time to go. Apart from the preparation taking and printing the photos, it was a nice low-effort evening. All we had to do was make sure the Rainbows got there and back intact.

Easter holiday bits and bobs

Guiding things what I did over the holidays:

  • Final signing-off-the-Queen’s-Guide-book meeting.  The book should be winging its way to the Chief Guide now!
  • Summer camp meeting for leaders on our division subcamp (within the larger county camp).
  • Bag packing – in a local supermarket raising money for our International Trip Guides and a bit for unit funds.  The girls (and their mothers and sisters, and leaders and a few other helpful Guides) were there for 9 hours over a weekend and raised over £1100, an excellent total.  We’ll repeat it in a couple of weeks, hopefully not catching too many of the same shoppers.
  • Refreshing the Guides’ display board with recent photos and nice bright backing paper.
  • And the most fun thing: a trip to a theme park with the Guides!  I’ll save that for another post.

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Community Action

Library poster

Do click on it: it’ll get even larger and more legible.

This week I nabbed my local Trefoil Guild branch and spoke to them about the Community Action part of my Queen’s Guide Award.

It was…ahaha…not my finest performance ever.  I need a lot of practice and preparation to be a decent speaker, and I did not do enough practice or preparation.  I would rather have led them in some campfire songs.  On reflection, perhaps I should have taught everyone a song explaining all my findings about volunteers in public libraries.

Things started off woodenly, but got a bit better once I gave everyone a sheet with statements to consider and the rest of the time turned into a discussion/conversation rather than me rambling at them.  Everyone was very nice about it, and said things like “it’s not easy”.  I felt 15, not 25.

But that doesn’t matter.  It’s done, and that’s another bit of my QG book signed off (or will be when I get the book back).  And my Trefoils are some of the kindest, wisest, brightest, most inspirational women I know, and I’m sure what I know of them is only the tip of the iceberg.  I’m privileged to have spent an afternoon in their company, and part of me wishes I could take time off work to join them every month!

Dickensian evening 2014

A few days after the Guides made those candy cane reindeer, we sold them – and lots of other things – in aid of the district at our town’s Dickensian evening.

 

What do you mean, your town doesn’t have one?  It’s one of the highlights of the year in mine.  On the first Friday in December, the shops and churches and museum stay open late and serve mince pies and mulled wine, and the market place is filled with charity stalls, carol singers, morris dancers, brass bands, donkeys and reindeer, little fairground rides, snow machines, food vans, people selling flashing toys, competitions, and more.  And everyone is encouraged to wear Victorian costume.

This year was particularly impressive because the town has lots of snazzy new Christmas lights, bought with help from winning a “best town centre” award.

I arrived as soon as I could after work – having had some strange looks getting on the bus in my long skirt and shawl – and found other Leaders and Young Leaders from my district putting the finishing touches to our stall (under our Active Kids vouchers gazebo, again – best purchase ever).

We had a tombola, and were selling candy cane reindeer, “sweet bombs” (little wrapped packages of assorted sweets), homemade jam and ginger wine, homemade decorations and Christmassy biscuits, flashing head boppers (left over from the BIG GIG) and a few other odds and ends that kind people had donated.

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The tombola did so well that all the prizes were all gone before the end of the evening.  The candy cane reindeer were popular, too, and we sold most of the 200 we had.  The other things sold reasonably, except the flashing boppers.  We still have lots of them left, and I’m not sure what we’re going to do with them…if we still have them in summer, we could give them to the girls at county camp.  In the meantime, let me know if you’d like any!

We had a good number of helpers through the evening, including a few Guides from both units.  I especially appreciated the Brownie Leader who turned up later in the evening with a flask of hot chocolate and paper cups.  It was very cold, I hadn’t had any dinner and was starting to feel a bit wobbly, and it was a lifesaver!  A lot of Guides past and present visited the stall – always nice that they come back and see us and still think kindly of Girlguiding after they’ve left.

Dickensian Evening 2014 (6)In other good news, we won the “best-dressed stallholders” competition, which means we’ll get our fee back.  I think what tipped it was our bonnets, made by some of our leaders from plant pots covered in fabric, ribbons and lace.

Remembrance Sunday

No apologies that this post is a couple of weeks after 11th November.  If it’s worth remembering, it’s worth remembering on any day of the year.

A couple of weeks ago, my district took part in our town’s Remembrance Sunday parade and church service.  The local uniformed organisations and the silver band meet at the civic hall and march round the corner to the church.  We stand outside by the war memorial and listen to the bells striking 11am, then representatives from the organisation raise and lower flags, and other representatives lay poppy wreaths on the memorial.  We go into the church and have a service.  We come out, re-form the parade, and march around the market square and back to the civic hall, finishing shortly after noon.

Every year it is the same, and I love that.  Many things in life have changed in the almost 20 years since I was first in the parade, but this is one thing that has remained constant.  Well, almost the same: of course, the people in it have got older and come and gone, and some of the hymns in the church service have been replaced (the old ones were better).

Of course, continuity isn’t always a good thing.  A prime example is that the sermon in the service is consistently poor quality.  The parish priest has a good clear speaking voice, so he sounds convincing, but his sermons are too long, unstructured, lacking a theme to bring it the whole thing together, and pitched at the wrong level for the congregation, or rather pitched at too many levels, as they’re full of references to scholarly theological texts and programmes that were on television last night most people probably haven’t watched.  And this is on what must be one of his most crowded Sundays of the year, and what is for many one of the only times in the year when they go to church.  What a missed opportunity.

I should add that I don’t hear many sermons, so sometimes I doubt myself and think, “Maybe this is actually good, but I’m not capable of appreciating it.”  But another leader, who hears lots of sermons delivered by lots of different people, assures me that they can be much better.  Hear endeth the rant.

A great benefit of the almost-unchanging format of the parade and ceremony is that it gives me something to focus my thoughts on during all the moments when there is opportunity for thought.  I am very fortunate not to have been personally affected by war, so it can be hard to reflect on it without feeling detached, theoretical, hypocritical, helpless, and all sorts of other things.  Instead, I remember remembrance days gone by, here and elsewhere, and what my community and I were like then.  Another interesting reflection is to mentally dress everyone around me in period costume and imagine that we are doing this in, say, the 1990s, or the 1970s, or the 1950s.  Or, heaven help us, in wartime.  And with that it becomes much easier, and terrifying, to imagine the effects it would have on my beloved community.

All told, we had about 40 Rangers, Young Leaders, Guides Brownies, and their leaders marching.  I wonder, in 20 years’ time, which ones will be leaders like me, still Guiding in our town, and remembering Remembrance Sunday 2014.