Tag Archives: trefoil guild

World Thinking Day 2015

This year we had our Thinking Day celebrations on actual Thinking Day, since it was a Sunday. We did it as a district, nothing fancy, just a couple of hours of international-themed activities, squash and cake, renewal of Promises, a little singsong, and off we all go.

We had six rotating activities based on the three countries our international trip Guides and Young Leaders are visiting this year:

  • Japan (origami and races moving things with chopsticks)

  • India (making/decorating card elephants and drawing round hands then drawing on henna designs)

  • USA (s’mores and making the Golden Gate Bridge out of marshmallows and spaghetti)

I was on s’mores, along with Queen’s Guide Buddy and our old Young Leader who was back from university for a few days. The girls toasted marshmallows/veggie jelly sweets on skewers over tealights, and smooshed them with a square of chocolate between two digestives. Om nom nom. And only a couple of “burned” fingers. Yes, we did have a handwashing/cooling bucket to hand, and the girls did tie back their hair.

The girls went around in mixed-age and mixed-unit groups, decided by coloured name stickers as they arrived, which meant they got to hang out with some new people and the older ones could help the younger ones.

We also had the second round of the Great Girlguiding Bake Off. The three(ish) winners from each unit brought along another three decorated cupcakes, and our judges (a couple of Trefoil Guilders) named a winner and a runner up from each section. One of my Guides was runner up, but the winning Guide was from the other unit – she’ll be making something else for the Division round in March.

I’m relieved to say I didn’t win the adult competition, as I think my housemates are getting fed up with Victoria sandwich!

As expected, there were a lot of Rainbows and Brownies, but only a few Guides – and most of them were only there because they were in the Bake Off. Maybe a bit of a shame, as Thinking Day should be for them too, but they have more pressures on their time and I can see why a “fun activity afternoon” isn’t enough to tempt them. There were quite a few Senior Section helping out with activities, and some Trefoil Guilders, so we did at least have someone from every section of the guiding family.

A belated happy Thinking Day to my friends in Girlguiding and Girl Scouting everywhere.

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The Great Girlguiding Bake Off, round 1

Anglia Region is holding a Great Girlguiding Bake Off this year (because everyone loves a bake off, right?) and we had the judging for the first round, at unit level, at the silent auction.

There were two Guide units there, and any Guide who wanted to had to make and bring in three decorated cupcakes. I was very impressed – I’m not much of a cake decorator so they were better than anything I’d do.

Two Trefoil Guilders did the judging and decided on 1st, 2nd and 3rd places for each unit.

There was also an adult round that leaders in our district could enter with a Victoria sandwich cake. I came 3rd, but before you get too impressed, there were only three entries!

Silent auction and bake off (9) (1280x960) Silent auction and bake off (8) (1280x960) Silent auction and bake off (4) (1280x960) Silent auction and bake off (3) (1280x960)

Shiny new Rainbows

Hooray, there’s a new Rainbow unit in my District!

Last summer, one of our Brownie leaders graduated from university, moved back home and found a job in the area, and decided to start a much-needed second Rainbow unit.  The waiting list for the existing one was big enough to fill several units, and some girls were almost ready for Brownies by the time they started Rainbows.

With support from our District Commissioner and others, the new unit opened after Christmas (oh – sudden thought, that’s exactly 20 years after I started Rainbows, also in a newly re-opened unit).  They meet for an hour on Saturday mornings, and for the moment the leader has decided to ask other Guiders to help on a rota.

I went along to their third meeting and had a lovely time.  It brought back happy memories of the unit I was with for three years when I was at university.  Rainbows are great.

There were nine girls, two new but great Young Leaders (Guides in the other unit in town, whom I know from camps and trips), and three adult Leaders.  The theme was fairy tales, so the Rainbows drew pictures of giants, then they played a game finding words on stickers and using them to fill in the gaps in fairy tales, in groups of three.  If that sounds familiar, I ran the same activity for adults at our Division sleepover, but in some ways it was funnier with Rainbows because they didn’t know what some of the words meant, not all of them could read, and they weren’t discriminating about whether they should fill a gap with a verb or an adjective, so the tales came out rather haphazardly.  When they were finished, the big folk read them out, and the Rainbows thought they were hilarious.

Then we had a very special visit from two Trefoil Guilders, who came to present the Rainbows with a welcome pack of activity books.  With them present, we had someone from every section of Girlguiding in the room, except Brownies and Rangers.  We took some photos, the girls spent a while looking at the books and writing their names on them, and then it was time to sing the goodbye song.

I’m so pleased to see the Rainbow leader doing so well, and I’m looking forward to going back sometime later this term and seeing the lovely new unit grow and develop.

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!

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.

Scrapbooking and bedding rolls

This week I must admit the programme wasn’t as exciting as originally planned.  We were going to be practising camping skills like putting up tents and making gadgets, but it turned more theoretical because we remembered that the deadline was looming for a challenge/competition set by our local Trefoil Guild for the Guide units in the Division.  We thought we’d better show willing and make some kind of entry: only two other units have, so at worst we’ll come third!

The challenge is to present a plan for a dream camp, complete with a programme, kit lists, costings and so on.  When we leaders first saw it, we were…not burning with enthusiasm, I’m afraid.  We’d hoped the challenge would be more active, something like a Monopoly challenge or a badge with lots of different sections.

Anyway.  After our mini-campsite night back in April, we thought we’d better do a bit more towards it and put it all together in a scrapbook.  So the Guides got into patrols, and each group considered one aspect of planning a camp – catering, equipment, programme, and transport – and with coloured paper and pens made pictures/labels/diagrams/lists/mind maps for Unit Guider to take away and put together (on a ferry crossing to France!).

We also did a bit of teaching how to make bedding rolls, so the evening wasn’t entirely impractical.  And we were outside, which was pleasant.  In fact, for the first time were were using the garden of one of our new Guides, which has a lovely big lawn and paving slabs and garden furniture, and is right next to our hall, and her parents say we can use it any time.  Hurrah!  There was a tense moment when a few raindrops fell, but luckily they didn’t amount to anything (a massive downpour came later, just as the leaders were leaving).