Tag Archives: queen’s guide

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

It takes a village to raise a Queen’s Guide, part 2

And I’d also like to thank…

Queen’s Guide Buddy, my sister in guiding, for motivating us to get started with two years to go, and for innumerable other things. I suppose I ought to give her a new pseudonym once it’s all finished.

My Queen’s Guide mentor, who is high up on my list of role models.

My Guides and all the Guides, Senior Section and Leaders who came to camp with us in 2013 for giving me the chance to do my 60 hours’ practical guiding service. 2 terms + a week at camp = 281.5 hours.

The Brownies, Young Leaders and Leaders of the local unit that let me run their pack holiday, a) to take on a responsibility new to me at a residential event, and b) to get my Going Away With licence to be able to do my exploration.

My mentor for my Going Away With licence, another local Brown Owl who also was also my Adult Leadership Qualification mentor, lucky her!

Two local Guide leaders who assessed me for said licence, and the County Indoor Residential Adviser for approving it.

The girls and adults in my division who came on the pantomime trip I organised to take an active part in the planning of an event involving at least two units.

The girls and adults at the region camp where I got involved in a working group/committee (i.e. running an activity zone).

My local Rangers for listening to a presentation about said camp.

My friends and QGB’s friends and boyfriend who joined us for our exploration.

My Guides (again) for joining in with our report of said exploration.

My boyfriend and his family for giving me my first crochet hooks, not to mention lifts, meals, and generalised support.

The volunteers and paid staff at my local public library for letting me join them and answering my questions for my community project.

My district Trefoil Guild for listening to a report of said project.

The Brownies, Rainbows, Senior Section and adults from the town where I live (but don’t do guiding) who let me join in with their holiday to get my residential experience where the majority of participants were unknown to me.

My County Queen’s Guide Adviser, County Commissioner and County Outdoor Adviser, who will soon (short of unforeseen disaster) sign the whole thing off.

It takes a village to raise a Queen’s Guide, part 1


They signed my record book:

  • Unit Leader

  • Another Assistant Leader in my unit

  • Unit Helper

  • District Commissioner

  • A Brown Owl in my district (I borrowed her Brownies for a pack holiday)

  • Another Brown Owl in my district, wise in the ways of crochet and my friend since we were Rangers

  • A Brownie Leader from elsewhere in my county (I helped at her pack holiday)

  • The chairman of my district Trefoil Guild

  • A Trefoil Guild member, very wise in the ways of campfire songs and papercraft, whom I met at Region camp

  • The volunteer co-ordinator at my local library

It gives me the warm fuzzies to look through my book and see the signatures and nice comments of all these women – old friends and new, local and not so local, guiding and non-guiding – who have seen my on the way to getting that book signed off.


A-Z game

This week we had our first Guide meeting of term, and Queen’s Guide Buddy and I used it to present our exploration to the girls, to get that part of the Queen’s Guide Award signed off.

To make it a bit more interesting than sitting and listening and looking at our holiday snaps, we did it in the form of a game (QGB’s brainchild).  After a brief explanation of what the award is about and how this holiday we went on was connected to guiding, we laid out photos of the A-Z of activities we did on the exploration, without the letters showing, and gave them 5-10 minutes to look at them, in pairs or threes, and guess which letter each one represented without knowing what the letter stood for.

For example, a group might look at this picture…

Roast dinner

…and write down a few guesses like “R for Roast?  D for Dinner?  M for Meal?”

For the next round, we gave each group a list of the things that made up the A-Z, and using that as a guide, they went around the photos again and tried to match each one with the letter it represented.

So for the above picture, they could look on the A-Z list, find something that this picture could stand for, and write on their answer sheet “Y for Yorkshire pudding”…

Roast dinner with letter Y

…which, they would find out at the end when we revealed the answers, would be correct.

The Guides went along with the activity fairly gamely, although some of them were a bit confused by the large number of options to choose from.  There were also a few unknown A-Z words where they just had to guess what they meant and which picture they might mean…


This was not the picture they had to guess from – that would have been too obvious!

…like Shambles (a narrow old street in York – and also in some other British towns and cities – which now has lots of pretty gift shops.  The name comes from a Middle English word for market stalls)…


X for Xmas tree would have been cheating.

…and xerophyte, which is a plant that has adapted to living in very dry conditions.  Like a cactus or, as here, a spruce tree.

When everyone had done enough guessing, we went through the answers, explained what they were, and passed the photos round.  The York Tourist Board would have been proud of us.  The Guides marked how many they had got right, and added marks for the bonus observation test: which photos did NOT have a toy panda in Rainbow uniform somewhere in them?

City walls

Clearly not this one (W for city Walls)

In the remaining half-hour of the meeting, the Guides got into little groups and brainstormed things they would like to do this term, which we looked at in the leaders’ planning meeting at the end.  To finish off, we had an energetic game of “when your number is called, try to hit a fuzzy dice into a goal and stop your opponent from hitting it into the other goal”.  Snappy name, I know.

After the meeting, the leaders and our New Young Leader, who is really settling into her role after a term, stayed on to plan the term.  It’s a short one – 5 weeks before half term and 5 weeks after – and we quickly filled it up with fun and seasonal things and a bit of badgework and fundraising, before we realised that we hadn’t included many “guiding” things.  Er, like the Promise.  Or Thinking Day (other than an event on the day itself).  After some thought, we’ve managed to work it into the cooking activity next week…I’m looking forward to seeing how that goes!

Queen’s Guide Exploration

I love this sign

I love this sign

Between Christmas and New Year, Queen’s Guide Buddy and I went on our Queen’s Guide Award exploration.

This was the second element of the “Outdoor Challenge” bit of the award (the first element being completing the relevant modules of the “Going Away With” scheme).  The exploration had to last at least three nights/four days, be done in a group of 4-7 people of our age, and

“be at least 30 miles (50 kilometres) from your home, preferably in a location (urban or rural) that is not known to either you or the other members of your group. If you have visited the area or place before, your exploration must challenge and extend your knowledge of it.”

(For more details, see p.10 ff of the Queen’s Guide Award syllabus.)

We had a narrow window of opportunity to do the trip: it had to be between August, when QGB did her “Going Away With” modules at Guide camp, and my 26th birthday in February.  It also had to be in the school holidays, to fit in with some group members’ work.  We couldn’t rustle up enough friends to go in autumn half term, so Christmas it was.  We found three friends to join us for the whole trip, and another two for a day of it, and we chose York and the surrounding area, on the basis that neither of us knew it very well, and we thought there would be plenty of good things there to explore.

P is for pony trekking

P is for pony trekking

We gave the trip some structure by doing an A-Z of attractions and activities (an idea I totally ripped off someone’s Queen’s Guide presentation I watched a couple of years ago).  Some were obvious (M for Minster), some led us off the beaten tourist track (D for Dick Turpin’s grave), some we did in the comfort of our holiday home (Y for Yorkshire puddings), some required a bit of creativity (Z for zebras in a toy shop), and some were just fun things we fancied (P for pony trekking).  We did a mixture of free and non-free things, and part of the planning was deciding how much we wanted to pay for and ask our friends to pay for.

M is for Minster

M is for Minster

We’re doing a “presentation” about the trip to our Guides tonight in the form of a guess-the-letter-of-the-alphabet game, so more about that another day.

C is for Chocolate Story

C is for Chocolate Story (highly recommended)

It was a very pleasant few days, and a good way to fill the quiet days at the end of the year.  QGB and I did wonder if, by going on what was essentially a holiday with friends, we were cheating a bit: it would have been an adventure if we were 17, but hardly such a challenge for 25-year-olds Queen’s Guide candidates.  Still we met the criteria, and we did do much more planning than we would for a normal (non-guiding) holiday, and got more out of it because of that.  I tried a few new things (never been on a ghost tour before), learned some pub quiz facts (Guy Fawkes was born in York – managed not to find that out until we actually got there), got to know a couple of new people, and I feel like I know the city tolerably well now, for what that’s worth.

Onwards and upwards: only a few more signatures in the QG book!

F is for Fountains Abbey

F is for Fountains Abbey

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!

Camp parents’ meeting

A couple of weeks ago, the Guides and leaders who are going on camp left our scrapbook meeting half an hour early to have a parents’ meeting for camp.  (The remaining Guides and leaders finished their evening just fine – we could hear them singing Taps outside.)  We were joined by Guides, parents and leaders from the other unit in town – as usual, we’re all camping together.

This was a particularly special meeting because it was the first one led by Queen’s Guide Buddy, who is running the camp to get her licence as part of her Queen’s Guide Award (I did mine with Brownies in February, you may recall), so that we can do our exploration in the autumn.

The other leaders said they felt strange but proud to watch QGB taking the meeting.  She made a great little booklet for everyone with all the info and kit list in, and worked through it, and it all went fine.  I said my bit about the programme of activities, and others about first aid and catering.  There weren’t even many questions at the end.

The leaders stayed chatting for a while afterwards, arranging a few more things for camp.  It’s only 8 weeks away, yay!

A bedding roll strapped to a bike pannier rack

My demonstration bedding roll, also demonstrating the challenges of being a Guider without a car.

Chain reaction: or, how I learned crochet for my Queen’s Guide Award

No Guide meeting this week as it’s the Easter holidays, so today’s post is about the “personal skill development” part of my Queen’s Guide Award.

“Over a minimum period of 60 hours over 12 months, take an existing skill to a new personal level or start a new skill and develop it.”

This was the first section I started, as I knew what I wanted to do it was easy to get going straight away.  My new skill was (drum roll) crochet.  Like many crochet beginners, I already knew how to knit and was curious about the other thing that people do with wool.

Armed with wool, hooks donated by my boyfriend’s family, library books and YouTube video tutorials, I learned how to make a chain and do double and treble stitches.

Crochet 1

My first attempt.

Learning treble crochet.

Learning treble crochet.

At first I felt clumsy, but gradually muscle memory got established.  For the first couple of moths I was commuting on the train for an hour twice a week, and I found those journeys a good opportunity to practise: using my time and abilities wisely!  I immediately realised that crochet is more public transport-friendly than knitting, as you’re less likely to poke your neighbour with elbows and needles, and you can shove a piece of crochet in and out of your handbag without worrying about losing stitches or making holes in the bag.

Some early attempts at round crochet.

Some early attempts at round crochet.

Round crochet

As soon as I felt comfortable with double crochet, I was keen to make something useful right away.  I made myself some handwarmers by crocheting rectangle and joining them up one edge, leaving space for my thumbs.  They were really simple (and a bit wonky), but I wear them all the time when it’s cold, and they’re still intact a year later.

My first handwarmers before joining the seams...

My first handwarmers before joining the seams…

...and after.

…and after.

Since then I’ve made several more pairs of handwarmers for friends and relations.

For my friend Beth: Aran thinkness wool, a big chunky hook, and alternating lines of double and treble crochet.

For (and on) my friend Beth: Aran thinkness wool, a big chunky hook, and alternating lines of double and treble crochet.

For my friend Jojo: crocheted in the round rather than as a rectangle, alternating black double crochet and coloured treble crochet.

For my friend Jojo: crocheted in the round rather than as a rectangle, alternating black double crochet and coloured treble crochet.

Making sure they work!

Making sure they work!

For (and on) my mum: alternating lines of double and treble crochet (every other treble with a 3-chain gap between stitches).

For (and on) my mum: alternating lines of double and treble crochet (every other treble with a 3-chain gap between stitches).

My Queen’s Guide Buddy gave me a book of crochet patterns for my birthday, and my big project of the year was making her a cardigan out of the book.  It was originally going to be for her birthday in April, but I took too long and it ended up being her Christmas present!

I started it in plain green wool, but after finishing the sleeves I decided it was too dense and stiff and was using up wool too quickly. I’m still waiting for inspiration for what to do with all that wool.

The first cardigan attempt.

Part of the first cardigan attempt.

I restarted in a thinner wool in a nicer colour, teal/purple self-striping stuff from Hobbycraft.  The finished product was alternating lines of double and treble, and every other treble had a three-chain gap between stitches.  It also had lacy edges:


And a chain to tie it together:



The finished cardi!

Queen's Guide Buddy is happy to receive it.  I'm happy that it fits!

Queen’s Guide Buddy is happy to receive it. I’m happy that it fits!

After Christmas, I had a few weeks left before the year on this skill was over, so – inspired by this post by Amy – I learned to make granny squares, from the same book as the cardigan pattern.  I completed six before my 12 months were up.

Granny squares

Of course, I didn’t have to stop crochet just because it no longer counted towards my Queen’s Guide, and since then I’ve been a bit mad on granny squares.  I’m currently joining up my first blanket (7×8 = 56 squares, in the four colours above) and have started squares for another.  They’re so easy and portable!

In one year, I went from zero crochet skill to knowing the basic stitches and a few techniques, using a range of thicknesses of wool and hooks, being able to follow a pattern and work some things out my own way, and having made four garments and the start of a blanket.  I think this counts as development.

Have I done 60 hours?  I logged my time at first, but lost count.  I’d estimate I took 3 hours for each set of handwarmers (12), 1 hour for each granny square (6), and spent 12 hours just practising and unpicking early on (12).  That’s 30 hours so far.  I’m sure I spent over 30 hours making the cardigan, including (and even excluding!) the two sleeves which didn’t make it into the final garment.  I got through quite a few TV series while working on it, anyway.  So I’d safely say that I’ve completed this section of my Queen’s Guide Award to satisfaction.  I’m very pleased that doing the award gave me the push I needed to start crochet, as I’m now…(puts on sunglasses)…hooked.

Pack holiday happened

Wall display saying "Pack Holiday 2014"

I ran a Brownie pack holiday in February half term to get my holiday licence.  (I need my licence to go on an expedition, I’m going on an expedition to get my Queen’s Guide Award, I’m getting my Queen’s Guide Award to catch the fly, I don’t know why I swallowed a fly…).

I’m pleased to report it went well and I, the other leaders, the Brownies and my assessors were all happy.  Hurrah!  I feel like I could get several posts out of it, so I’ll start with a general overview of the holiday.

(As an aside, I keep wanting to call it a weekend even though it was midweek – to the point where I actually printed “Friday, Saturday, Sunday” on the duties rota and didn’t notice until a Young Leader pointed it out on the first day!)

Duties rota with the wrong days of the week crossed out and the correct days written in

Day 1

2pm: Leaders arrive, induction from site warden, unpack food and activity kit, put up signs, sort our bedrooms out, have a cup of tea and a long break as we possibly got there a bit too early.

6pm: Brownies arrive, hand in forms and food, put kit in bedrooms, goodbye to parents, start diaries and craft

6:45pm: Welcome talk, explain safety, rules, leaders’ roles, the fun things we’ll be doing etc.

7pm: Team games/races/challenges for Six bonding

7:30pm: fire drill

7:45pm: indoor campfire with tealights and torches

8:30pm: drink and snack

9pm: into pyjamas, story time

10pm: first attempt at bedtime

12:30am: leaders go to bed

3:15am: last Brownies go to sleep (apparently.  My head hit the pillow and I didn’t wake up till my alarm went off, but the other leader in my room wasn’t so lucky)

Day 2

7:15am: leaders start stirring

7:30am: officially wake the Brownies up.  All are already awake.  Not all are quietly resting as they were instructed!

8:30am: breakfast

9am: duties, room tidying and inspection

9:45am: songs outside to get fresh air

10am: circus workshop!

11am: drink and snack, then more circus workshop!

12 noon: adventure playground

1pm: lunch

2pm: rest time (for everyone!)

3pm: rotating activities: scavenger hunt, face painting, making pizzas, cross stitch, souvenir and tuck shop

4:30pm: drink and snack

4:45pm: free time to practise entertainment for later

6:30pm: dinner

7pm: putting on costumes, final getting ready

7:30pm: circus entertainment from the Brownies

8:30pm: into pyjamas, drink, share best moments, story time

9pm: bedtime.  Only one attempt needed tonight!

12 midnight: leaders go to bed

Day 3

7:15am: leaders start stirring

7:45am: wake up the Brownies.  Most are asleep, all are quietly in bed

8:30am: breakfast, which includes cake and a song as it’s my birthday!  I blow out all the candles in one go: very proud moment.

9am: duties, packing up, moving bags out of rooms, cleaning

10:15am: drink and snack

10:30am: final song, chat about the holiday, say thank yous

11am: goodbye Brownies!  Leaders do final tidying and cleaning

12 noon: hand back keys and leave