Tag Archives: division

Happy birthday to Her Majesty

queen's birthday 1 - Copy.jpg

Back in the summer, my Division held a garden party for girls, to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Only one of my Rainbows went, and I wasn’t involved in running anything, but it was fun to attend, watch, and be vaguely useful.

The girls made and decorated crowns to wear, constructed a hobby horse (in teams) and did relay races, and did a trail looking for the names of members of the royal family around the garden.

Then we had a tasty afternoon tea and did group photos with an arch some leaders had made, and a cardboard cutout of Her Maj herself. (We’ve still got the cutout, if anyone has a use for it…)

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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.

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!

Hilltop picnic

It was a beautiful evening to be up on the downs

It was a beautiful evening to be up on the downs

It’s Flashback Friday!

My Guides started the summer term with a picnic for all the division at a local beauty spot.

The motivation was that we were passing on the county camp baton to the next division. It was like a relay in the run up to camp: the baton was passed round every division in the county, so the girls could see it and get thinking about camp. It visited my Guide unit before Easter.

We wanted the handover to include everyone in the division, and all sections, and a “bring your own picnic” evening worked out as the simplest option.

We were very lucky with the weather. You never know in April (or at any time of year, really!), and if it had been cold/raining/cloudy and therefore dark early, it could have been a bit miserable. Instead, it was glorious being up there at sunset.

There were probably a couple of hundred girls there, not every unit, but every section and every district was represented.

We gathered in a big circle for a welcome, then QGB and I led a game where they had to get into groups and make shapes. For example, “get into a group of 10 people, where not everyone is the same age, and make a bus”.

Then we broke off and had a picnic, then got back together at the end to hand over the baton to some leaders from another division. Did we sing anything? I can’t remember now!

I do remember I was glad that lots of my Guides came, including a few brand new ones. And that afterwards, the other Guide leaders and I drove to a village pub and had a nice hot chocolate and planned meetings up to half term.

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.

Bag packing April 2015 (1) - Copy

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.