County Day 2015

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Every year our County holds a training day for Leaders.  It’s always good fun.  You get two trainings – one in the morning on something to do with your section, and one in the afternoon on a random topic.

This year, as usual, I was a hostess for one of my sessions.  It always confuses me that there are so few volunteers for being a hostess.  It’s not a difficult job – turn up a few minutes early, meet your trainer and say hello, help her set up if she needs it (many of them don’t), take a register.

This year it was a little more tricky than usual – whoever set up the rooms had put the signs on the wrong doors so I had to wander around a little before I found the right trainer.  Still, it took all of five minutes!

The morning session I did was on making the most of Go For Its.

GFIs are badges which Guides do in Patrols.  They organise it themselves – choose activities from the pack, plan who is bringing what on which week, and run it themselves.

It’s very relaxing for leaders, apart from dealing with the inevitable panic when one girl is ill or forgets her equipment.

The session included some advice on helping them plan – useful for patrols with lots of young members, or where GFIs haven’t really been used much recently.

Some of the GFI packs are pretty chunky – they could spend an entire meeting reading it without even deciding what activities to do!

Our trainer suggested making a cheat-sheet for each one – like a slightly more useful contents page so all the activities are listed out in one place with a brief summary.  Personally I would struggle to find time to do that, but I suppose it only has to be done once for each pack, and perhaps I could delegate to the girls themselves!

I think Girlguiding should think about building that into the packs when they design new ones, too.  That would help everyone.

We also, obviously, tried out some of the activities from a few GFIs.  That was lots of fun.  Did you know it’s possible to balance a malteaser on a blast of air from a straw?

In the afternoon I did a session on outdoor cooking.  It was brilliant.  There were about six different methods of cooking, and we tried them out by cooking some random things.  Some things which I would never have thought to try on a fire.

There was the traditional alter fire, some buddy burners, an oven, and a hay box, to name a few.

Buddy Burners

Buddy Burners.  Can be used to cook more than just marshmallows!

The hay box was interesting.  It was a tea chest stuffed with hay.  You make a hole in the middle the right size for your billy can.  Fill the billy with whatever you’re cooking and heat it through on the fire.  Then put it in the hay box and cover it over.  Come back several hours later and enjoy.

Hay Box

Hay Box

The demonstration was done with a steamed sponge pudding, but it would work with stew – put it on in the morning, come back after your day out – or porridge – cook it over night for a breakfast that’s ready when you are.

It would need some experimenting to get the timings right, but that’s ok.  I’m sure the girls would forgive a little experimentation on camp!

As a bonus, you can also store all your camp kit in the tea chest when not in use.

All in all, a great day.  I love County Day, it’s training and socialising all in one.

Bowling with Guides

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Our Division has a regular Guide bowling competition.  This year was the first year I’ve attended one.

We’ve got eight Guide units, and each one brought two or three teams, so you can imagine we pretty much packed the place out!

IMG_6963Unfortunately our teams had a problem with the lane computer, so we were a little late getting started.  It meant a bit of a rush towards the end, because we were late for the prize-giving.

But despite that, we all had fun.

I got to see one of my old Brownies, who had moved on to a different Guide unit, and she spent some time visiting with her friends.

I’m reasonably certain she told her Guide leader where she was going before she left… at least there was nobody running around saying “I’ve lost a Guide, do you have any extras?”.

We did some Promises too – several on the lane, but one decided she wanted to do it inside one of the pod-like arcade racing games.

I think the tradition of getting Guides to make their Promise at a special event is a good one.  Not only does it ensure that the Guide will remember it, but it also means that Guide units have to go on lots of trips, just to make sure there are enough opportunities!

That can never be a bad thing, right?

The Tooth Fairy Comes to Camp

Missing Tooth
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Many a time, a Brownie has come to me on a Brownie Holiday, tooth in hand. The first question they ask, usually, is “will the Tooth Fairy know where to come?”.

I don’t know about you, but the Tooth Fairy has variable luck on our holidays. It depends a lot on how well the children sleep and how much cash there is in the leader’s purses!

I’ve always thought, as well, that the Tooth Fairy shouldn’t bring money to Brownie Holidays. The going rate varies between families, and it’s hard to be fair. Plus, money isn’t that exciting. Not compared to a Brownie Holiday.

Well, some friends and I came up with a plan.

Tooth Fairy Final Artwork

This snazzy badge is now available to pre-order. We estimate that they will be available by the end of August 2015, but we’re taking orders now, to be dispatched as soon as they arrive.

All the money we raise will be used for the benefit of girls and units in our area who are in financial need.

All the details can be found here – Tooth Fairy Badge.

Flying High in London Town

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In March, we took the Guides to London.

We went up on the train, which was very exciting (although not nearly as exciting as the first time we did it with children, I will admit).

The Guides split off into two groups – the older ones wanted to go to Madam Tussauds and Oxford Street, while the younger ones went off to the London Eye, looking at the street performers on the Southbank, and to Pax Lodge.

I was with the younger group.

While we were there, we worked on the LaSER London Challenge badge.  We got points for seeing various sights, travelling on different forms of transport, and a bonus for doing it all in one day.

It’s a good badge, and reasonably easy to plan your day around it so that everyone achieves it.

So, we started our different forms of transport with the train, of course, and then we took the tube to Waterloo, and walked to the London Eye.  We did have to argue quite hard to point out that the London Eye itself was NOT a form of transport, given that you don’t actually go anywhere…

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It was pretty early when we arrived, so the Southbank performers hadn’t really got going yet.  Although there was a guy on the beach building furniture out of sand and proclaiming that we should all vote for the Beach Party in the upcoming elections.

He was pretty enthusiastic, but I’m not sure if he realised that Guides are too young to vote.

When it was our time for the London Eye, we got a pod to ourselves – a very sensible move on the part of the queue-organisers.

IMG_6997We had some Promises at the very top, and then everyone decided they would all renew their Promise.  We didn’t laugh too much at the one who accidentally renewed her Brownie Promise!

I think what surprised me about the Eye was how quickly it seemed to go.  I was expecting it to be slightly slower, I think.

Definitely a good experience.  Afterwards we went to the 4D experience – they throw things at you during the film (which is already 3D).

IMG_7019Entertaining.  Everyone came out with fake snow in their hair.

Then we found some street artists…

IMG_7026And walked over the river, past the Houses of Parliament and along to Downing Street.

Where the girls proceeded to ask the poor policeman a gazillion and one questions.  He was incredibly patient and very friendly.  Thank you Dave-the-policeman!

IMG_7040Tired out of our minds, we took the bus and then another tube to Pax Lodge.  We could have done it all on the tube, but we wanted more transport for our challenge!

At Pax we had a sit down and a snack, a tour, a pinning ceremony, and a phone box challenge.

How many Guides can you fit in a phone box?

How many Guides can you fit in a phone box?

I’m honestly not sure which was the most favourite bit.

Then it was time for a quick tube back to Paddington, to meet up with the older Guides and have dinner at our favourite Lebanese restaurant.

It seems to be becoming something of a tradition to go to that restaurant if we’re in London at the right time – it’s right next to Paddington, has good food and friendly staff, and they seem to be able to cope with large numbers of excited girls.

It was a very full day.  I’m pretty certain at least one person fell asleep on the train on the way home.  But we all had a lot of fun, and we saw some exciting things.

And the girls have ticked off their first World Centre.  Unfortunate side effect – now they want to go to Our Cabaña.  I’m not sure I’m ready to take Guides to Mexico just yet!

Guide Holiday Badge Work

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Our Brownie holiday was not the end of the fun at February half term.

Now that there is a very large overlap between the Brownie leaders and the Guide leaders, we’re doing a lot of things almost-together.

So, about three hours after the Brownies left, the Guides arrived. Same location, different girls. The fresh, Guide-only leaders took the lead for the first day while the Brownie leaders took a slightly more back-seat approach. Which was a good thing!

The Guides were also doing a World Guiding theme, and we did a number of very similar activities – world badge beetle drive, for example, appeared in both holidays.

If you squint, it looks like a world badge.  Bigger biscuit would have helped!

If you squint, it looks like a world badge. Bigger biscuit would have helped!

But Guides being Guides, large parts of the holiday were self-directed.

The Baden-Powell girls helped a lot. They were in the kitchen doing the Cooks badge, and they ran a whole afternoon of co-operative games, during which the leaders did very little.

The Guides also got a bit badge-happy. There was wifi at the hall, so I set up my computer with a Guide user account (child safety features on, Facebook off!) and that proved to be a very popular move.  Every time I turned around there was a Guide or group of Guides sitting there looking up a badge syllabus or doing research for a badge.

And that’s on top of the badges we had already planned into the program – Agility, Holiday, Team Player, and World Guiding.

IMG_6811Our final total was 64 interest badges presented, for thirteen Guides on the holiday!  Plus Nights Away badges, and a couple of Promise badges.

It wasn’t all hard work, of course. We made dampers. No matches needed – flint and steel is where it’s at. Although the fire was a little lack-lustre due to all the rain…

Oh, and lets not forget the pillow fight!  Mature young ladies indeed.

All in all, lots of fun was had by everyone.  I leave you with two final thoughts.

First, what would you do if you saw this?

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I looked, clearly.  I have no self control.

And secondly, in case you were wondering, this is why we lock our medicine boxes.

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Brownie Circus

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In February half term, we took the Brownies on holiday.

It being around Thinking Day, we did World Guiding badge, but we also did the Circus Performer badge.

IMG_6876We made clown faces, and juggling balls, and a lovely man came in to teach us how to do hula-hooping and ribbon dancing.

IMG_6899The girls put on some wonderful clown shows. They were a little worried at first, because they weren’t very good at juggling, but once they remembered that clowns very often pretend to be bad at things, they realised it didn’t matter.

We even had our first outdoor picnic of the year, although I think we all regretted it by the end of the meal.  Just a little bit too cold, despite the sun.

Not all our meals were “normal” child-friendly fare.  Because we were doing World Guiding, we did have a few international meals thrown into the mix, including this proper Indian curry.

IMG_6926Mild, but very tasty.

Breaking News

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I passed my last exam!

Plus side: no more studying every night. I can reliably say how much time I will have for the next three months. 

Down side: all those things I’ve not been committing to because I didn’t know how much time I will have? I have to actually make a decision on them now. 

Also, just because, here’s Isambaard.