On Wednesday we called in the cavalry. We like to have a themed wide game day on camp, and months ago QGB had the inspired idea of asking the Rangers to run it.
There were many advantages to this: they could be involved in camp even though they weren’t there for the whole week; they got some planning and leadership experience and it counted towards their Octants; it took the pressure of the leaders at camp to some extent; the Guides got some fresh faces leading them, as they were no doubt fed up of us by that stage in the week; and the Guides got to see the joys that await them if they move up to Rangers.
QGB gave the Rangers and their leaders an idea of what was needed, they planned it over a couple of meetings in the summer term, there was much exchange over email and Facebook about equipment, timings, who was coming, etc. etc. Much was at the last minute when we were already on camp, so thank goodness for QGB having a clever phone that lets her use email.
Before the day’s activities began, we had another delicious breakfast – was it pancakes? Or hash browns? – with two highlights. Firstly, Unit Helper finally finished the leftover jelly from several days before, which she had been dutifully having with every meal. Secondly, one of my favourite lines of the week: we were getting the Guides to complete the lyrics to campfire songs before they could go up to be served. When we were down to just a few, I tried one from We Are the Red Men.
Me: We come home from far-off shores, greeted by our…?
QGB: What’s a name for a Native American wife?
Guide: Er…the old dun cow?
Before activities started, the Guides made their bedding rolls as usual, but instead of stacking them on their gadgets, they put all their bedding rolls and bags in the big party tent, dismantled their gadgets, and took out their brailer pegs. Although we had one more night, we decided to take the patrol tents down today, to give us more time to pack up the rest of camp the next day, and because there was a chance of rain the next day. Oh, and here’s another favourite line.
QGB: When you’ve taken the brailers out and cleaned them, you stack them up in twos, crossing over each other.
Guide: Yeah, we know, you stack them in a hashtag.
Who says camping skills aren’t relevant to modern life?
Three Rangers came to run the wide game, although more had helped with the preparations (I think we have about eight in total at the moment?). They divided the Guides into two groups. In the morning, half made Native American headdresses with feathers, beads and raffia (simple but went down well) and the other half played piñatas – wonderful home-made papier-mâché cow piñatas that it was sort of a shame to smash into smithereens – and then a Wild West version of the game I call “mafia” or “werewolves”: the one where a narrator tells people when to go to sleep and wake up and some people are murderers and the others have to try to work out who it is. The Guides loved it – they’re just at the stage where Wink Murder is no longer quite as exciting as it used to be, and this is the cool teenage next step up.
We had squash and cake, the groups swapped, and then it was lunchtime. Lunch was one of QGB’s favourite activities: cooking on trangias. She led assembling-and-dismantling-your-trangia relay races, then the Guides fried sausages, heated sweetcorn, and mixed Angel Delight for pudding. Yum! This was followed by a long washing up time to get all the burnt bits off the trangias.
In the afternoon, the wide game continued. Again, we really appreciated having the Rangers there to run it, as it meant that some of the leaders could take down the patrol tents, and others (including me) could finish scrubbing the trangias and reunite all the parts, and fill up water balloons for later. I felt a bit strange not seeing so much of the girls that day, but that must be what the QMs and QGB felt like all week.
In the wide game, one group of Guides went into the woods and made shelters out of groundsheets and string, and the other group did initiative exercises, passing each other through a spider’s web and lassoing a cow-shaped laundry basket (this was the “nuclear waste” challenge where you’re not allowed inside the enclosure and you have to get it out by throwing ropes around it, pulling tight and lifting as a team). The teams swapped activities, and then they had a water fight (yes, the second of the week) with the shelters they’d made. Each group had to get inside their shelter and they were given an equal number of water balloons. The Rangers released one group at a time to go to the other shelters and pelt them with water balloons. It was quite clever, because they had to decide how many balloons they would take to throw at other groups, and how many they would keep to throw in retaliation when they were under attack. A whistle helped with keeping order, and at the end, Co-Activity Leader and I were there to make sure no group left the area until all the shelters were dismantled and all the bits of balloon were picked up.
Then it was time for squash and cake and getting dry, and everyone said a big thank you to the Rangers. They did us a great favour, did a super job, and I think learned a bit about planning and running activities.
The Guides had some time to do final practising for the evening cabaret, then it was dinner (er…something tasty…I’m writing this several weeks after camp and the details are getting hazy) and time for the evening entertainment. It was good fun, and featured:
- a “fashion show” – the Senior Section patrol dressed up one of the QMs, who was a very good sport, in a ridiculous outfit involving a swimsuit and a tutu, and paraded her for all to see
- a cowgirl-themed play
- First Aider’s five-year-old singing “ten fat sausages sizzling in the pan, one went pop and the other went bang, eight fat sausages etc.”, holding a frying pan with modelling balloons and popping them with his fork. We all sang along and it was adorable.
- The yoga class skit, where Guides sit on top of other Guides who are lying down, so that it looks like they have super-flexible legs
- A medley of songs, with the lyrics changed to be camp-relevant. Although it was upbeat, we leaders found it quite moving, as it was full of the guiding spirit and made us proud. We captured it on video the next day.
- The leaders’ act. We jokingly complain about the plays that the Guides make up, because they’re often purposeless, improvised, too long, and hilarious only to the performers…and ours that night was all of those things! We started off singing Three wheels on my wagon, carrying a box back and forth, and dropping pan lids as the wheels fell off, and then we sang a hastily-written song about camp duties to the tune of We Are the Red Men (“Pow wow, pow wow, can you come for your duties now?” etc.). The Guides gamely laughed (probably at us) and clapped (probably with relief). All part of the fun!
Since we had packed up the patrol tents, most of the Guides slept in the tipi, with a few choosing to sleep under the stars (and under lots of layers of blankets and groundsheets). We tucked everyone in and said goodnight, and then the leaders had a session signing off as much as possible in QGB’s residential qualification book and discussing our favourite parts of camp, and things we would change. I was pleased when one of the QMs said she was impressed by the variety of evening activities. We made a valiant effort to finish all the snacks and “leader juice” we’d brought, but eventually had to admit defeat and go to bed.