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.
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.
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.
After 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?
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.