Tag Archives: singing

Christmas party

For the last Rainbow meeting of term, we had a joint party with the Brownies and Guides who meet on the same night, plus parents. Lucky we have a big hall!

After a welcome from the Commissioner, the girls and parents got into groups and played Christmas tree beetle. Roll a dice to make a Christmas tree from bits of laminated paper – you have to get a pot first, then a tree, then you can add the other bits in any order.

1=star 2=bauble 3=bauble 4=bauble 5=tree 6=pot

When we’d played that for a while, we had nibbles and mulled fruit juice. Last week Commissioner warned the Rainbows that there’d just be a few bits of party food, not a proper meal. My expectations were greatly exceeded: there was lots of festive party food! I was a bit worried there’d be lots left over, but then the Guides arrived and helped us out with that.

Then a lady came to play the piano and we sang some Christmassy songs: Away in a MangerJingle Bells, that sort of thing that most people knew to join in with. We might have had more joining in if we’d moved all the chairs round near the piano before we started, but as it happened it was nice and relaxed: those who wanted to join in came and sat near the piano to sing, while a few parents and girls (and leaders) who wanted to chat and play at the back of the hall did that.

To finish off, we sang the goodbye songs for the various sections and gave the girls presents as they left. It was a good evening for bringing the different ages together and reminding everyone that guiding is more than just our unit. I spoke to a few leaders that I hadn’t before, and met one of my Rainbows and her mother for the first time, as she hadn’t been to the last few meetings.

So that’s my first half term over, and after Christmas I’ll be getting involved in running the unit. Exciting-stroke-challenging! Come to think of it, I’m not sure which date we’re going back. I should probably find that out…

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Hello Rainbows!

Last week I went to my first proper normal meeting with my new Rainbows.

I met 14 of the 20-ish Rainbows – right now I can remember about half their names, but we’ll see how well I’ve done next time when they change their hairstyles and shoes! I also met the unit helper, and some mothers who stay and help, so they’re really unit helpers too. And I saw my Commissioner again, who’s acting as the unit leader.

I’d forgotten how long an hour is with Rainbows! We played a game and decorated plant pots and planted bulbs, and we were still only halfway through! Then Commissioner read a story (I think it was about being kind, but I was sweeping up soil so didn’t catch most of it), the Rainbows talked about their Promise party next week (it’s Frozen themed, of course) and chose which activities to do. Or rather, they voted to do both activities and games rather than just playing games, and Commissioner suggested a couple of activities and they cheered. Decision-making is easy with Rainbows 😉

Then they voted on where to go on a trip at Easter. We’re going to a rare breeds farm. I’m pretty excited, love a good farm.

The Rainbows had a drink, and we played another round of “Duck, duck, goose” and sang a song they’d learned for their weather badge. It’s a good’un. It goes to the tune of If you’re happy and you know it and the verses are:

If it’s raining and you know it, stamp your feet [stamp stamp]
It it’s sunny and you know it, lick a lolly [lick, lick]
If it’s snowy and you know it, let’s go skiing [swoosh, swoosh]
If it’s windy and you know it, do a twirl [twirl around]

And then it was time for the goodbye song!

I’m in love with the hall where we meet. It’s in a modern building, it’s clean and light and there’s lots of space inside (not sure if there’s an outside, it was too dark to see), there are some break-out rooms and plenty of space to store crafts etc, and there’s a cupboard for tables and chairs and a big kitchen with lots of stuff. It’s 3 or 4 times the size of my dear old Guide hall…

Looking forward to the party next week! I’m debating whether to go in costume, or maybe just crack out the face paints.

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.

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

Wild West camp: day 4

On Tuesday morning we didn’t need to be anywhere in a hurry, so we let the Guides sleep in till 8am.

What was for breakfast, maybe beans on toast?  Ooh, I think also fried potato cakes made from leftover corned beef hash – yum.  After that, we got ready to leave the campsite: bedding rolled, bags on gadgets, packed lunches made (one patrol at a time went to the kitchen to put their own lunches together) – because we were going on a mid-camp excursion to a nearby swimming pool.

Wearing our tie dye neckers, which turned out ok, if a little pale

Wearing our tie dye neckers, which turned out ok, if a little pale

It was astonishing how much the Guides built up the walk to the pool in advance.  The day before, several asked me and other leaders (imagine the disbelief and horror in their voices) “Is it true that we’re walking for two hours?”  We repeated many times we had allowed two hours for the journey, including rest breaks and bearing in mind that our oldest and youngest campers walk slowly, and that First Aider’s 5-year-old had done the practice walk without complaining.

Still, I think the Guides were presently surprised to find that it really was just a nice 4-mile stroll through fields and villages, over the ring road and the railway, with iconic views of the nearest city.  Each tent group had a laminated route map with instructions to follow, excellently made by First Aider, and even though we all walked in a big (sometimes a bit straggly!) group, the adult assigned to each group encouraged them to check where they were, where they were going next, what features they could see, whether we were halfway yet, etc.

Summer camp 2014 (61)

We stopped for a drink and cake break en route (just because we were offsite didn’t mean we could slack off the cake schedule), reached the swimming pool around lunchtime, had a picnic on the grass next to the pool, and gave the girls two hours to do what they liked within the enclosure.  “Enclosure” makes it sounds restrictive, but actually it was a nice big fenced area with a pool with a “serious” deep section and a “fun” shallow section with a gradual slope and sprinklers; lots of grass round the edge; benches, sun loungers and umbrellas; table tennis tables; and a stand selling drinks, ice creams and burgers.  In other words, plenty to keep everyone busy for the afternoon.

Most of the Guides and a couple of leaders went in the water for a bit.  A few (mainly younger Guides) stayed in all the time, but others (mainly older Guides) were happy chilling at the side most of the time.  We were semi-lucky with the weather.  It wasn’t hot, but it was at least mild with patchy sunshine, and it only rained for 5 minutes.  The water apparently is usually warm, but had been topped up that morning so had a chilly edge if you stopped moving.  I went in for about an hour, and had a marvellous time playing tag, doing handstands, and generally being 10 years old.  The best moment was when, near the end, there were enough people in the pool that the lifeguards turned on the big sprinkle fountain: cue big cheers from the little Guides.

Summer camp 2014 (65)

We got out and dry, purchased last-minute snacks, and walked back to the campsite.  We kept the Guides lively with a scavenger competition.  They had to collect items from a rhyme written (or found?) by First Aider.  It went along the lines of “Something new, something old, something silver, something gold” and carried on for about 10 more verses.  I managed to share one of my interesting plant facts with my group by suggesting a mare’s tail fern as “something old” because it’s existed in more or less its present form since the time of the dinosaurs.  QGB (who’ teaches biology) would be proud of me, I hope.

Back at camp, the Guides had some downtime before dinner.  They were clearly getting worn out, as there was a bit of tent grumpiness.  It was one of those moments where I appreciated having a good team of adults around: QGB was busy greeting visitors and asked me to extract some grumpy Guides from the toilets, and I managed to get them back to camp with sympathy and humour, but then found it hard to change tack, so I gratefully handed them over to another leader to be firm and sort things out.  To be fair, this mild event was almost the only problem we had with the girls: I thought they were an exceptionally easy and good-natured bunch this year.

Dinner – hurrah! – was takeaway pizza, giving the QMs a well-earned rest from cooking.  Then it was beds down, and the Guides were inspected by three special visitors from the Trefoil Guild who were joining us for the evening: our two Unit Leaders’ mothers and our Division President, who have all been many roles in guiding and love meeting the girls and joining in activities, and I want to be just like them when I’m older.  The Guides who have been with us for a few years remembered them from other occasions, and it was nice to hear them saying to each other “here comes M., she dressed up at the Queen at our Jubilee camp”, and so on.

Summer camp 2014 (67)

Meanwhile, I went off with Co-Activity Leader to get the campfire going.  Well, I faffed about and then she got it going with one match.  We had plenty of dry scrap wood, including an old wallpaper table, and it was a bit of a blazing inferno!  Luckily it died down a bit by the time the Guides arrived.

QGB and I led the campfire singing, and the interesting thing was that I thought it was one of the best we’ve ever done, whereas she thought it was one of the worst.  I think we just had different expectations and noticed different things.  The Guides, maybe because they were tired from an active day and three nights under canvas, weren’t great at joining in with the loud, active songs – we instinctively didn’t ask them to stand up, because they wouldn’t have wanted to, and some of them fidgeted and made silly noises instead of singing.  So we went into the tuneful songs sooner than QGB would have liked, but they worked brilliantly well.  They were so tuneful and audible that we sang Campfire’s Burning in three parts, which never happens, and Heidi and Land of the Silver Birch, and You’re a Pink Toothbrush (not sure if other groups sing it, but we like it!), and I taught them a new song that I learned at Region camp last year, the Liège Song (which you can find here but without the tune – I think it’s common knowledge among seasoned Anglia members), and they picked it up quite easily.  Our Trefoil visitors and some of the leaders recognised it and said they hadn’t heard it for years.  And Purple Lights and Texas and it was all rather magical.  Some of the Guides said so too, as we walked back.  So I declare it a good campfire.

Back at the campsite, it was – you know the routine by now – hot chocolate, biscuits and bed.

20 years of guiding

When this post comes out, I’ll be on camp.  There will be glorious sunshine, and everyone will be having a lovely time.  Let’s hope.  Meanwhile, it occurs to me that my guiding experience started almost exactly 20 years ago, so settle down and I’ll tell you How It All Began.

My dad is a member of SAGGA, which is a continuation of SSAGO, the Student Scout and Guide Organisation, after you’ve finished being a student.  However, SAGGA is pretty inclusive and you can join without having been in SSAGO, or indeed to university.  They do service projects, they have get-togethers and family camps, and it’s all good scouty-guidey fun.

In summer 1994, my family went to a SAGGA camp at Broneirion, a Girlguiding-owned house and grounds in mid-Wales.  That was my first conscious experience of guiding, and indeed scouting, though I’d been to one or two other events when I was very small.  A few memories stand out: the marquee (I’d never seen such a big tent before!); the smell of paraffin; the mealtime paraphernalia, with all kinds of chairs and stools and name-labelled cutlery; the bushes and shrubberies in the garden, great for secret passages and hidey-holes; the dining room in the house with a portrait of Lord Baden-Powell on the wall; the campfire circle, where I caught the singing bug; and the Brownie house, a little cottage hidden in the grounds.

One day, my mum and I went for a walk past the Brownie house.  It was in use, and I think we went in and chatted with the leaders and saw the Brownies doing their thing.  At some point, then or later, I decided that I wanted in on it.  I wanted to be a Brownie and live in a cottage with my friends and sing songs round the fire together.

When we got home, my parents made investigations (this isn’t my memory now, just their reports and conjecture).  I wasn’t old enough to be a Brownie, but my mum phoned the local Commissioner and asked if I could join Rainbows.  The Commissioner said that the only Rainbow unit in town was pretty full, but there were plans to open a new unit after Christmas…if only they had another adult helper….

Classic recruitment technique, as I now know.  That was how, the following January, my mother and I joined Rainbows together, and started our guiding adventures.

Moose poem

(No prizes for guessing which song inspired this.  Could be useful…er…if we ever have an Elizabethan-themed campfire?!)

I sing of Fred, an elk of great repute,
Of cleanly habit, and of lively mind.
His only vice?  A drink of puréed fruit
Which oft he supped in bed as he reclined.
Alas!  One night he met with dreadful woe,
For, though he paid it all attention due,
His drinking cup did grievously o’erflow
Upon his locks, and on his pillow too.
“Oh lackaday!” cried Fred.  “My silky fur
Is stiff and sticky!  How to make amends?”
He styled a quiff, and soon it did occur
That he was quite the envy of his friends.
In short, if you spill juice upon your head,
Then make the best of it, just like our Fred.