A Pampering Fundraiser

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As I may have mentioned, we’re fundraising at the moment for a trip to Switzerland.

We’ve done all sorts over the past year – a Cheese and Wine evening, a Pop-Up Restaurant, a Christmas Bazaar, and numerous cake sales and things running on the sides of other events.

Last Wednesday was the latest in our string of big events – a Pamper and Wellbeing evening.

I wasn’t really involved in organising this one – I didn’t even have to provide floats, which was a nice change.  I did count the money afterwards, but I quite enjoy counting money.  I find it soothingly simple.

Other than that, I just turned up and did as I was told.  It felt quite odd, actually.

The event itself was excellent.  We had lots of local businesses – everything from massage, to make up, to chiropractors – who ran stalls.  The offerings varied.  Some were selling things, some were selling experiences, and some were offering free samples to try and attract long term customers.

I had a Hawaiian massage, mostly out of curiosity about what was different about it to any other kind of massage.  It turns out to be very holistic, very smooth and flowing.  It was exceptionally relaxing.

Other than that, there was also a cake stall, free prosecco, and a raffle.  Some of the raffle prizes were excellent; I was hoping to win the sports massage, but alas I won nothing.

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This was before all of the cake had arrived, but it’s still an impressive spread!

All in all, it was a very successful evening.  Everyone had a great time, and we made a reasonable dent in our fundraising requirement.  I’d thoroughly recommend this kind of event to anyone!

What’s your most successful fundraising experience?  You can count success as either financial or fun.

Be Prepared!

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Today I spent most of the day in a field.

I know, highly unusual for a Guide leader, right?  But I don’t normally have to survive in the aftermath of an earthquake!

I took some of my Guides to “Be Prepared“, a resilience event.  It’s run every year, although this is the first one I’ve been to.  I was pretty impressed with how smoothly everything was organised.

The set up is that there has been an earthquake, and lots of damage and so on.  The Guides are split into families, and have to work together to survive and help people they meet along the way.

First they had to choose which items to save from the wreckage of their house – most of them chose wisely, taking blankets, string, passports, and water bottles.

Then they set off around the bases on the field.  They had to do first aid, assess casualties, build shelters, mend water pipes, put out fires, and build rafts, among other things.

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The rafts were a little small to ride on, but that’s ok, because the “river” was a paddling pool.

The fires that needed to be put out were actual proper fires, but they weren’t (as the leader running it tried to claim) in a puppy sanctuary.  More of a metal can / small altar fire.  The Guides had to build a catapult to fire water balloons at it.

The shelter building was entertaining.  They had to pretend they’d lost the use of one arm each, and work together to put up a tent.  In a minefield.  Without being blown up.

The girls I took went home raving about how much fun they’d had, so I’m hoping to take a larger contingent next year as they persuade their friends to give it a go!

 

Year of the Volunteer

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Girlguiding Bristol and South Gloucestershire have brought out a new challenge badge – and this one is for the leaders!

It’s the “Year of the Volunteer” badge, and I’ve decided to take up the challenge.

There are three ways to complete the badge – try it, challenge yourself, or best of both.  I’m going for best of both, which means I have to do six short activities (2 hours each) and two longer ones (6 hours each).

There are six categories, so I’m going for one of my short activities from each category. Here’s what I’ve chosen.

Active Adventures: I’m going to try out a session or two of yoga.  I’ve never done it before, so it’ll be interesting.

Creativity: I’m going to write a short story.  I’ll probably share it on this blog, if I think it’s fit for human consumption!

Leadership: Lead a new activity with your unit.  A bit of a cop-out, possibly, since I do that sort of thing a lot.  Perhaps I’ll help for an evening with a different section, instead.

Personal Development: Think where you want to be in 5, 10, and 20 years time.  I often think about the next year, but I’m not great at long term planning, so the 20 year timeframe may be a struggle.

International: Learn some foreign Guiding songs. Those who know me will know that I like to sing, and I like languages, so this shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone.

Community Action: Partake in a fundraising activity for a local charity.  I’m not sure if this is cheating or not, but my Guides are fundraising for a trip to Switzerland this summer, and I’m attending so many fundraising events at the moment that it felt like the obvious choice.

As for the Challenge Yourself section, I’ve chosen one from the “Leadership” section – maintain a blog about what you get up to as a leader in Girlguiding.  Which should explain why I’ve suddenly started blogging again after a long break… I’m committing to one post per week until at least July.  I might post more than that if I’ve done something exciting, but that’ll be my minimum.  Feel free to pester me if I fall behind!

The second longer activity is from the “International” section.  I’m going on an International Adventure with my Guides – as I mentioned above, we’re off to Switzerland in the summer.  Since that was already planned before I started the challenge, I wasn’t sure if it was cheating or not, so I’ve decided to make it a little harder.  I’m going to try to learn the basics of German before we go, so that I can speak to a native person while we’re there.

Are you doing the challenge too?  Comment below (with your blog if you’re doing one), and we can encourage one another!

More Japan

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I’ve been back a few weeks, I should probably mention the second half of the trip!

Last time I put up some photos with no explanation. Kudos to BrownieGuideLeader for correctly identifying the temples. 

After that, we went to Ise, to the grand shrine there, which is in a forest which has trees which are wider than I am tall. 

Which is awesome. In the actual technically correct meaning of the word. 

As in, I was filled with awe at the sight. 

They rebuild the shrine to exact specifications every 20 years – something to do with death and rebirth and the impermanence of nature. 

On the way we stopped at a ninja museum. Because when you’re in Japan with a group of martial artists, why would you not?

  
The last few days of the trip were spent in Okinawa. 

I loved Okinawa. It was warm (think shorts and tshirts and lots of sweating). The people were friendly. The sights were varied and interesting. 

I would very much enjoy going back. 

One of the entertaining things about the trip was the hire car. Which had sat nav. The sat nav had “English mode”, which meant that it gave directions in English. Unfortunately you still needed to read Japanese to be able to program it!

It was certainly educational. 

Anyway, we managed to use it well enough to get places. 

We went to a castle – the royal palace of the Kingdom of the Ryukyus. Which is what Okinawa was before the Japanese invaded. 

  
We went to an aquarium. It was at one point the largest in the world, but then someone built a bigger one. 

   
 
It had sharks in it, and they did not look at all cramped. 

We also visited “Okinawa World”, where there is a long cave full of stalagmites and stalactites, and a bunch of touristy historical stuff. 

  
The last day we went to a museum. Which is where I found some Guiding stuff!

  
We get everywhere, we do!

The museum was great – I learnt a lot and the displays were interesting. Shame we didn’t have a little longer, really. 

Back on the mainland, we discovered our hotel had an onsen built in. Proper traditional set up, which was interesting but meant I got bored very quickly – segregated by sex due to nudity, and by this point in the trip I was the only girl. 

Still, the bath was gorgeously hot and very relaxing. Well worth trying if you ever happen to be in Japan. 

Our flight home was as boring as any 11 hour flight would be, but did have some stunning views. I’ll leave you with this vast desolate lesson in just how much of our planet most of us never see. 

  

Japan

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A couple of photos to reassure you that I’m still alive. 

Bonus points to anyone who can name the places!

   
    
    
    
 

Holidays

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I’ve gone on holiday. 

Yes, in term time. I’m missing Brownies for it. 

I’m fortunate enough to have friends who will step in and be there if I ask nicely. My YL and new assistant leader (I have a new assistant!) are running things, but I’ve lined up some extra help for crowd control. 

It’s important that leaders feel they can take a holiday if they need to, I think. We are all volunteers and if we start feeling that it’s a chore we may all just give up entirely!

Anyway, the point of this post is actually to say that I’m not here, and I might go silent for a bit, depending on internet and time availability in Japan. Don’t worry, I’m coming back!

A Puzzle in a Wood

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Or, more accurately, a Puzzlewood. 

Yesterday I went with my husband and mother-in-law to Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean. 

Dave described it as “looks like the complex nobbly bits from Merlin, probably because it is the complex nobbly bits from Merlin.”

  
It would make a fun day out for Brownies and Guides too. 

Brownies would enjoy hunting for the magic door, dinosaur footprints, and the secret cave (among other things).

  
Guides would enjoy the fact that there are no maps available. If you get lost, then you get lost. A good challenge there!

(Leaders should note that it’s quite easy to pretend you’re lost, but actually quite hard to get completely lost if you have even a basic sense of direction.)

Both age groups would enjoy the small selection of animals and the indoor maze. It’s got tunnels and bridges and all sorts of secret doors.