Tag Archives: district

Bonfire night

Normally this is a glorious view. Today it was just very foggy

Normally this is a glorious view. Today it was just very foggy

My first “back to guiding” activity was with my old district. We had our annual bonfire and I went back to do the singing with QGB.

It was on that day when it was really foggy. I walked up to the place where we were having the fire, and as darkness fell it was…atmospheric. I wouldn’t have wanted to do it if I didn’t know the route well!

It was a good night as usual, lots of girls from all sections, lots of enthusiastic singing, sparklers and tasty sausages, and it was nice to have catch up with people and find out what my Guides have been up to. Their recent highlights include epic amounts of cake baking and fundraising, and the BIG GIG.

World Thinking Day 2015

This year we had our Thinking Day celebrations on actual Thinking Day, since it was a Sunday. We did it as a district, nothing fancy, just a couple of hours of international-themed activities, squash and cake, renewal of Promises, a little singsong, and off we all go.

We had six rotating activities based on the three countries our international trip Guides and Young Leaders are visiting this year:

  • Japan (origami and races moving things with chopsticks)

  • India (making/decorating card elephants and drawing round hands then drawing on henna designs)

  • USA (s’mores and making the Golden Gate Bridge out of marshmallows and spaghetti)

I was on s’mores, along with Queen’s Guide Buddy and our old Young Leader who was back from university for a few days. The girls toasted marshmallows/veggie jelly sweets on skewers over tealights, and smooshed them with a square of chocolate between two digestives. Om nom nom. And only a couple of “burned” fingers. Yes, we did have a handwashing/cooling bucket to hand, and the girls did tie back their hair.

The girls went around in mixed-age and mixed-unit groups, decided by coloured name stickers as they arrived, which meant they got to hang out with some new people and the older ones could help the younger ones.

We also had the second round of the Great Girlguiding Bake Off. The three(ish) winners from each unit brought along another three decorated cupcakes, and our judges (a couple of Trefoil Guilders) named a winner and a runner up from each section. One of my Guides was runner up, but the winning Guide was from the other unit – she’ll be making something else for the Division round in March.

I’m relieved to say I didn’t win the adult competition, as I think my housemates are getting fed up with Victoria sandwich!

As expected, there were a lot of Rainbows and Brownies, but only a few Guides – and most of them were only there because they were in the Bake Off. Maybe a bit of a shame, as Thinking Day should be for them too, but they have more pressures on their time and I can see why a “fun activity afternoon” isn’t enough to tempt them. There were quite a few Senior Section helping out with activities, and some Trefoil Guilders, so we did at least have someone from every section of the guiding family.

A belated happy Thinking Day to my friends in Girlguiding and Girl Scouting everywhere.

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!

Shiny new Rainbows

Hooray, there’s a new Rainbow unit in my District!

Last summer, one of our Brownie leaders graduated from university, moved back home and found a job in the area, and decided to start a much-needed second Rainbow unit.  The waiting list for the existing one was big enough to fill several units, and some girls were almost ready for Brownies by the time they started Rainbows.

With support from our District Commissioner and others, the new unit opened after Christmas (oh – sudden thought, that’s exactly 20 years after I started Rainbows, also in a newly re-opened unit).  They meet for an hour on Saturday mornings, and for the moment the leader has decided to ask other Guiders to help on a rota.

I went along to their third meeting and had a lovely time.  It brought back happy memories of the unit I was with for three years when I was at university.  Rainbows are great.

There were nine girls, two new but great Young Leaders (Guides in the other unit in town, whom I know from camps and trips), and three adult Leaders.  The theme was fairy tales, so the Rainbows drew pictures of giants, then they played a game finding words on stickers and using them to fill in the gaps in fairy tales, in groups of three.  If that sounds familiar, I ran the same activity for adults at our Division sleepover, but in some ways it was funnier with Rainbows because they didn’t know what some of the words meant, not all of them could read, and they weren’t discriminating about whether they should fill a gap with a verb or an adjective, so the tales came out rather haphazardly.  When they were finished, the big folk read them out, and the Rainbows thought they were hilarious.

Then we had a very special visit from two Trefoil Guilders, who came to present the Rainbows with a welcome pack of activity books.  With them present, we had someone from every section of Girlguiding in the room, except Brownies and Rangers.  We took some photos, the girls spent a while looking at the books and writing their names on them, and then it was time to sing the goodbye song.

I’m so pleased to see the Rainbow leader doing so well, and I’m looking forward to going back sometime later this term and seeing the lovely new unit grow and develop.

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.

Dickensian Evening 2014 (1)

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.

District bonfire

District bonfire 2014 (1)

The district bonfire is an annual tradition, stretching back…hmm, at least 11 years that I can remember, but it might well be longer and I either didn’t go or don’t remember!

We meet at a hostel/study centre up on the downs above our town (the same one where I led campfire songs for another district in the summer), where the views down across the vale are glorious by day or night.  At night, it’s much easier to locate all the towns and roads, because of the lights, and at this time of year you can sometimes see tiny fireworks going up in the distance.

The evening is quite a smooth operation by now.  Some volunteers build and light the fire; others bring sparklers and water buckets; others bring flasks of hot chocolate, trays of sausages and rolls, ketchup (very important!), tables, cups, napkins, and serving tongs; Queen’s Guide Buddy and I lead the singing; and everyone looks after their girls.

This year, it was the perfect night for a fire: cold, dry and clear.  Everyone met their girls in the car park, then we gathered in a semicircle round the campfire and sang for about half an hour.  Then everyone got a hot dog and hot chocolate, followed by a sparkler, then we said goodbye to the Rainbows, did another half hour of singing, and rounded the evening off with Brownie Bells and Taps.

I was really pleased with the singing this year.  I think the Guides, especially the older ones, can set the mood, so when they’re a bit don’t-want-to-join-in it makes the whole thing less fun, whereas when they join in enthusiastically, the younger girls respond to that (and so do I).  Luckily we had some nice keen ones bouncing off each other!

At the end, I showed another leader around the hostel (it felt sneaky because we didn’t see anyone inside) – it was a good chance to get an idea of it, as we’re helping to plan a leaders’ sleepover there in a few weeks.

All in all, it was a lovely bonfire night, and I’m sure it’ll be on the cards again next year.

District bonfire 2014 (6) - Copy