Tag Archives: fire

Dens and marshmallows

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Back in the summer term, the Rainbows did a spot of “camping”.

In the garden behind our meeting hall, we toasted marshmallows over tealights. This only just worked – it was hard to keep the little candles lit in the breeze, and their flames were barely strong enough to toast a marshmallow unless the Rainbows were super-patient (most weren’t). Next time I might use a disposable barbecue or mini-marshmallows instead.

Then the Rainbows got into groups (with an adult to help) and made tents with chairs, sheets and blankets. I got some lovely photos of them hanging out in their dens. Some Rainbows found them so comfortable they almost went to sleep!

We had time for a few “campfire” songs, then it was time to strike camp for the day. If only real camp was so easy to clear up!

Summer cook outs

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It’s another flashback to last summer, since I got out of the blogging habit then.

As usual, my Guides did two cook outs in the summer term. They enjoy them, and it means on the second one they know what they’re doing, make their fires more efficiently, and get more adventurous with their food.

Actually I do my Guides a disservice. This year especially, I was very impressed with them even at the first cook out. Usually they need lots of reminders to collect wood and make a pile (“that fire’s not going to feed itself”), but this time they pretty much all just got on with it. And some of them were already cooking fancy things alongside their burgers and sausages – like wraps and pizzas.

For the first cook out we met at a leader’s house not too far away. Not one of our leaders; she’s the commissioner of another District in our Division, but she’s lovely and generous and has a big garden that she doesn’t mind us turfing up holes in.

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The second time we met at one of our Guides’ houses. It’s up on a hill above town, and they have a paddock behind the house that, again, her parents didn’t mind us making holes in. This Guide was really excited to have everyone over to visit, and we all enjoyed meeting her pets and horses. We were very lucky with the weather here: it’s an exposed place so it could have been miserable if it was windy or rainy, but instead it was a glorious still sunny evening. Oh how I miss summer.

The girls brought their own food and cooking implements, but we have Unit Leader to thank for bringing everything else we needed, from turfing tools and tables to sauces and spare hairbands.

Sparkly new Rainbows

A sparkler, but not one from this meeting

A sparkler, but not one from this meeting

The week after half term, I did my first guiding thing in my new town. Woohoo!

My Rainbows had a joint meeting with another unit. They rotated between doing sparkers outside, making edible sparklers (chocolate fingers dipped very quickly into hot water to melt the end and then dipped into sprinkles), and making firework pictures with chalk on coloured paper.

I was on sparkler duty as I’m always happy to play with fire, along with another leader and a mum. It was slow going because the lighter I as given had run out of fuel, so we had to use matches to light the first sparkler. And most of the Rainbows didn’t have gloves, so we had to share the few that we had, so only a few girls could sparkle and a time. Still I think they had fun!

I didn’t work out which girls were my new Rainbows (not many, I think, because it wasn’t their usual meeting night or place) and which were from the other unit, but hopefully I’ll recognise a few next week when the unit meets as normal.

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.

Pancakes 2015

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Pancake night is something we do at Guides pretty much every year. Last year I missed it, but this year I was there to join in the fun.

We asked the girls to bring along a clean empty tin can with one end intact and holes punched into it. I suggested about 10-20 pencil-width holes, but I should have specified they needed to be in the curved side, because one Guide came with lots of neat holes punched into the flat end – not so useful, because that’s where the batter goes. Well, we’ll know for next time.

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The leaders brought spare cans, household candles, tea lights, matches, hair ties, oil, batter, and toppings. We set the girls up at tables with big plates or baking trays in front of them, and melted the household candles onto the plates/trays so they stayed upright.

The Guides lit their candles and upended their cans over them so the flame heated up the flat end of the can. They put a spoonful of oil on the flat surface, let it heat up, then put on a couple of spoonfuls of batter to make a little round pancake. When it was cooked, they ate it with toppings and repeated.

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For a bit of variety, Unit Leader also brought along some foil jam tart cases which the Guides picked up with clothes pegs to make a mini pan that they could hold over their candle.

NB your average household candle is too tall to fit under an upturned tin can, so the Guides found they had to either break off the bottom of the candle, or let it burn down a few centimetres (meanwhile, they could use the foil tart case and clothes peg), or stand their tin on top of something (e.g. tea lights) so it would fit over the candles.

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It was a good evening, not only because it resulted in tasty pancakes all round, but also because it had the Guides thinking about way to overcome the various problems they encountered (flames going out, candles falling over, batter spillages, pancake stuck to the can, etc. etc.), experimenting with fire and cooking (we had some marshmallows as toppings, and it wasn’t long before a couple of Guides tried putting them on top of their pancakes while they were cooking; soon everyone was doing it), and working together (“Could you hold my tin steady while I scrape off the charred remains of this pancake?”). As usual, some of the girls who were most squeamish about lighting a match at the beginning of the meeting were happily playing about (safely!) with their lit candles by the end. Blog Pancakes (8) - Copy

Glowsticks, candles and torches

Last week at Guides we had a night in the dark (intentionally, not a power cut!) which we billed as “glowsticks, candles and torches night”.  Actually, we didn’t really do much with glowsticks in the end, so we have quite a lot of uncracked ones spare.  We’ll certainly find a use for them at some stage.

We played some games by torchlight: traffic lights (with leaders shining torches through red, white or green paper to indicate whether to run, walk or sit down); “hide your partner’s shoes in and get her to find them with a torch by saying ‘warmer’ or ‘colder'”; and wink murder with the Guides lighting up their faces when they were still alive, and switching their torch off when they were murdered.  It would have been a bit spooky if they’d done it in silence, but with all their nattering and giggling it wasn’t spooky at all!

Then they got into groups and made quick shadow puppet plays, and showed them to everyone else, with some leaders shining a torch through a sheet.  They came up with an impressive range of shapes, including rabbits, butterflies, dogs, llamas and crocodiles.  Most of them seemed to meet violent ends in the plays!

Finally, they toasted marshmallows and veggie-sweets over tea lights.  It was a fun, loud, fairly active evening, which was just what they needed after a couple of weeks of listening carefully about first aid.  Having got that out of out systems, we continue the balanced and varied programme with some Christmas crafts next time, huzzah!

District bonfire

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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.

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Campfire night at Brownies

A couple of weeks ago, I went along to the Brownie pack that meets just before my Guides, to be a qualified leader when their Brown Owl couldn’t make it.  This was the pack that I took on holiday back in February, so it was nice to see them again, and meet the new Brownies who have joined since.

They were having a campfire-themed evening.  First, each Six made a log out of a kitchen roll tubes, coloured paper, scissors and sellotape.  We showed them one that a leader had made earlier, and let them work out how to copy it without many more instructions.  When they were done, we put all the logs together in the middle of the room to make an indoor “fire” (with a bucket of water next to it, of course!).

Brown Owl had left us things to make edible fires – chocolate biscuits, matchmakers and strawberry laces – as well as tealights and mini marshmallows, but we decided to skip the construction and just let the Sixes toast the marshmallows on the tealights and make fancy s’mores with the rest of the food.  I don’t think I’d ever toasted mini marshmallows before, only big ones, but I liked it as they were ready within seconds!  Another advantage was that there are lots in a packet, so each Brownie got at least 10 or so.  The Brownies were happy to spend quite a lot of time doing this, experimenting with different techniques and finding out what happens when they toast other things, like strawberry laces…and wooden skewers!

Finally, we all sat in a circle around the “campfire” and sang a few songs.  It was a fun evening, and nice to spend time with a unit that is smaller (in numbers and in girl size!) and younger and even a bit quieter than my Guides.

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.

Cook-out (2nd of 2014)

This week the Guides had their second cook-out of term.  We usually do two each summer for various reasons: they’re popular with the Guides, they can learn/remember the basics the first time and build on what they’ve learned the second time, we can explore different sites, we can have a joint meeting with another group.

Cook out 1

This time we used the same leader’s garden as before, together with another Guide unit from our division.  We often go on camps and trips with this unit and we know the leaders quite well. Some of the girls recognised each other too, and it turned out that one of our Guides has a cousin in the other unit!

Cook out 2

Our Unit Helper had kindly gone there earlier in the day to turf out little fire pits.  When we all arrived it was pouring with rain, but even so the usual number of Guides turned up – hurrah!  We had some dry newspaper and kindling wood to get things started, and within half an hour the sky had cleared into a fine evening and all the fires were hot enough to add damp wood.

Cook out 3

All that remained was for the Guides to cook and enjoy the food they’d brought.  Some groups stuck with tried-and-tested sausages and burgers, while others got more adventurous.  Our youngest Guides very impressively brought along a kettle to make hot chocolate and a biscuit tin to cook mini pizzas in, and our Young Leader helped them to rig these up.

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What I like about cook-outs – beside the food and fire – is having time to chat with the girls.  I learned much more about them this evening than I do in a “usual” meeting, and we discussed the camp programme and possible ideas for a trip next term, as well as all sorts of random stuff.  This was my last Guides night before the summer holidays, as I’m away next week.  What will I do with my Monday evenings?!  Wait, I know…plan for camp.