Tag Archives: residential

Nights away

I’ve updated my list of nights away with Girlguiding  (because I’ve recently filled in a form that asked for them). It now covers 11 years, goodness gracious.

2006 – Briefing weekend for region international trip (2); region trip to the Netherlands (14).  Total 16

2007 – Weekend Guide camp (The Sound of Music theme) (2); Guide camp (Grease theme) (6); Brownie pack holiday (Robin Hood theme) (2).  Total 10

2008 – Region trip to Switzerland (14); Guide camp in Italy (7).  Total 21

2009 – SSAGO rally (can’t remember the theme!) (2); Guide camp (Big Brother theme) (2); Guide camp (circus theme) (6); SSAGO group Christmas trip (1).  Total 11

2010 – Guide camp (Malvern Challenge) (2); SSAGO rally (medieval theme) (2); county centenary camp (6); another county centenary camp (6); INTOPS (2).  Total 18

2011 – County training weekend (2); Guides night hike (1); 3 GOLD briefings (6); GOLD project in Russia (21); Guide camp (Alice in Wonderland theme) (2). Total 32

2012 – District Brownie holiday (Ancient Egyptian theme) (2); County Brownie holiday (Queen’s diamond jubilee theme) (2); Guide camp (Queen’s diamond jubilee theme) (6).  Total 10

2013 – Guides night hike (1); Guide camp in Spain (7); region camp (7).  Total 15

2014 – Brownie pack holiday (circus theme) (2); Guides night hike/sleepover (1); Brownie & Rainbow holiday (Down on the Farm theme) (2); Guide camp (Wild West theme) (5); Leaders’ sleepover (1); Queen’s Guide Award exploration in York (4).  Total 15

2015 – Guides night hike (1); Guides county camp (5); Brownie holiday (Around the World theme) (2); Leaders’ sleepover (1). Total 9

2016 – Brownie/Guide holiday (Gingerbread theme) (3); Guide night hike (1); Guide camp (adventure holiday in France (5); Rainbow sleepover (teddy bear theme) (1); Rainbow sleepover (Peter Rabbit theme) (1); Leaders’ sleepover (1). Total 12

Grand total: 169

 

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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!

Found over Christmas

While I was at my parents’ house over Christmas, I sorted and cleared out some of the piles of paperwork I’ve been keeping there.  Among them were some things left over from guiding activities.  I really don’t need them, but they brought back good memories and it would be a shame to forget them, so I took photos before throwing them to the recycling.  I found…

Promise decoration 1

Promise decoration 2

A hanging Promise decoration from a training weekend at Foxlease.

Llygoden deddf Brownis

Brownie law mouse

Brownie law mouse templatesA Brownie law mouse and its templates (tie a knot in the tail every time you do a good turn), which I did with my Welsh Brownies.  Amser da.

Hairdryer

A picture of a hairdryer from those same Brownies: part of a game about what we do and don’t pack for travelling abroad.

Russia map

A map of Russia with the approximate locations I visited on GOLD in 2011.

Thoth neck ring

A neck-ring I made at an Ancient Egpyt-themed Brownie holiday.  That was the one and only time I’ve been a QM, and I enjoyed it very much.  I wouldn’t mind doing it again for an indoor weekend, though I wouldn’t be too keen to cater at camp, at this stage.

Reindeer

Finally, here are the cardboard reindeer from my Guides’ Christmas party.  They had races flapping them across the floor with newspaper.

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

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.

A spooky assessment

A few weeks ago, I visited another Brownie pack holiday to assess a leader for her Going Away With… qualification.  I was interested to see the venue, as it was a place I’d heard of but never seen, a Girlguiding property just outside the county.

I must admit, I had mixed feelings about it.  The house itself was cosy, a bit old-fashioned but very comfortable and full of guiding decor and nicknacks, with plenty of communal space and a good-sized kitchen.  There was a grassy area outside with a campfire circle and space for running around or a few tents, and a track ran around the whole area, making a clear boundary.

However, I found getting to the house a bit spooky!  Maybe it was just because it was getting dark at the time, but it was in the middle of remote-feeling woodland with public footpaths running through it, and the drive went past lots of run-down buildings.  No obvious site warden…not sure I’d want to stay there except in high summer, but other leaders I’ve spoken to assure me that they’ve had perfectly good holidays there.

Anyway, this leader was doing a great job of running the holiday.  It was jungle-themed, and all the girls, Young Leaders and leaders seemed to be having a fun and relaxed time.