Campfires and Dogs


This week has involved two exciting Brownie events.

Unit 1 had an evening at a local campsite that we use a lot.  We played parachute games and made s’mores on our campfire.

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Around the campfire we discussed how we could make s’mores more exciting (as if they needed to be!), and I think we’ll be trying a few of the suggestions on summer camp!

At unit 2, we had a special guest.

Snow Leopard, our Guide helper, trains Guide dogs.  Technically, it’s her mum that does it, but that’s close enough.  Their current pupil is 6 months old, and she came in to visit us.

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The Brownies were really well behaved – I think the warning that if they scared the dog we would take her away did its job!

It was interesting learning about all the things that the Guide dogs need to know how to do.  Obviously the sit/stay/come etc that normal dogs do, but some with little additions – like when you come, you have to touch the owner’s hand with your nose so they know you’ve got there.  They also need to learn to walk on the left of the owner, and not race ahead, and pause at the bottom of a flight of stairs.

The Brownies want to raise some money for the Guide Dogs now, a suggestion which they came up with on their own.  It’s nice when they show initiative!

Half Term Holidays


It’s been the half term holidays this week.  You would think that would mean that I’ve had a break from Guiding, wouldn’t you?

Sort of.

I’ve not had any unit meetings – no children.  But I’ve not been idle.

Lightning and I went to visit the site we’re staying on for Brownie summer camp.  We’re taking the Guides to Switzerland, so we decided to take the easiest possible option for the Brownies.  We’re staying in a tented village, on a Scout site that has all the daytime activities provided.

No putting up tents, or taking them down.  It’s already done.

No huge quantities of equipment which we need to carry to the site.  It comes with most things provided.

Very little programme related organisation.  We’re doing abseiling, archery, Jacob’s ladder and the like.  All we need to do is figure out the evenings.

The only hard part is going to be the food, which we do have to buy and cook ourselves.  But even that is easier than it could be, because the tented village has a kitchen tent.  With gas hobs and electricity to run the fridge, freezer, and microwave.

I can’t quite get my head around the microwave.  On camp.


Seriously, what is this?  We might have to rename it “summer glamping”.

After the site visit, we had a meeting about the food for our Swiss trip, which was only partly taken over by chatting and catching up with the gossip.

What are you doing for the summer holidays?  Have you started planning yet?

Fun with food


I have had a food-based Guiding week this week.

The Adventure group (7 year old Brownies) in one unit chose to celebrate Rosh Hashanah by making honey cake and sharing it with the rest of the unit. It came out a bit flat, but it tasted fine, and nobody seemed bothered by the shape.

My other Brownies were a little thin on the ground, as it was the last Friday before half term (and an inset day at one of the schools, too). That didn’t stop us making some excellent peppermint creams, and planning the Rainbow themed party food for the guests we have invited to visit us after the holiday.

We’re having, among other things, Rainbow Salad – tomatoes, carrot, yellow pepper, lettuce, blueberries, and beetroot. Assuming that none of the Rainbow guests are allergic to any of those things, of course!

The Guides were also mostly other places, but five was enough to send four to the shop to get the ingredients for our science experiment while the other one talked to the leaders about starting the Baden Powell Award.

Exciting times.

The science experiment was a dismal failure. We were attempting to make ice cream, and comparing how it worked with cow’s milk and soya milk. However, instead of ice cream we ended up with delicious milkshakes and a lot of mess.

It was fun trying, though.


Pizza Based Evening


On Friday I got to experience two different ways of making pizza.  My Brownies and Guides are both doing a lot of cooking this term, and Friday was designated Pizza Day.

The Brownies made pitta pizza – use a pitta bread as the base, pile high with toppings, and cook.  Simple, yet effective, and allows for a lot of creativity on arranging the toppings.

The Guides, on the other hand, were given some flour, yeast and water, and told to get on with it.

Ok, so they may have been given a little instruction too.  But only a little, because I don’t really know anything about making pizza bases from scratch.

It turns out that bread dough has the same consistency as slime, so they quite enjoyed the kneading part.  And they did amazingly well.  I’ve had worse pizzas from proper restaurants.


Year of the Volunteer Challenge Update


This week, I’ve made some progress towards the year of the volunteer challenge.

Specifically, I’ve had a go at Yoga, one of the Active “try it” challenges.

One of the yoga centres in Bristol has recently changed management and they were having a week of free trial sessions.  As I was intending to try it anyway, I naturally jumped on that opportunity!

The lesson was an hour long and was hatha yoga.  For those of you who are not yoga experts (which I imagine is most of you!) that’s one of the slower and more gentle versions of yoga.  Lots of stretching, breath awareness and guided relaxation.

It was an interesting experience.  I’m not sure that I want to take it up as a hobby, even if I had time, but I’m glad I tried it.

The stretching in particular I found helpful.  I do a little stretching most days already – it counteracts sitting at a desk all day and the muscle tightening that happens as a result of cycling so much.  However doing the longer period, and not rushing it, did make me feel good.  I think I will attempt to put some longer stretching sessions into my routine a couple of days a week.

This weekend I plan to do the Personal Development challenge, which was to think about where I want to be in 5, 10 and 20 years time.  I think the longer time period will be particularly difficult.  I sometimes struggle to remember that I’m an adult, so to think about things that will happen when I’m in my 50s is… odd.

Depending on how the thinking goes, I may or may not share some of the results with you.

In other news, here’s a picture of some cakes decorated by some Guides.  I popped in to their meeting to get a cheque signed and couldn’t resist taking a look at what they were doing!


If you want something doing…


The traditional end to that sentence is, of course, “do it yourself”.  But I would like to suggest an alternative ending.

If you want something doing, make it fun and employ child labour.

This, I suspect, will come as no shock to anyone who has children and has ever needed them to tidy up after themselves.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve played two “games” which fall into this category.

First, my Brownies played the pen-sorting game.  This is a relay race in which there is a large box of unsorted pens in the centre of the room.  The Brownies, in their Sixes, are each assigned a type of pen or pencil – for example “felt tips”, “biros”, “grey pencils” and “coloured pencils”.  If you only had felt tips you could divide them by colours instead.

They take it in turns to run up to the centre and grab something of the appropriate type.  Back in their Six corner, they try it out – if the pen works and has a lid, they put it in their box.  If the pen doesn’t work, they put it in the bin.  If it’s a pencil, they have to sharpen it.

At the end of the game, you have several boxes containing pens which work, have lids, and are separated into types.

They got surprisingly competitive about it.  It probably helped that I promised them Six points based on how many items they correctly collected.

I think the most amusing part was the reaction of our Guide helper.  She listened to the instructions of the game, and then when they had started, she sidled up to me and asked, somewhat incredulously, “are you just making them do chores?”.

Secondly, my Guides – they aren’t very good at cleaning up after themselves.  So on Friday we had a competition – a quality race.

Each group was given a room at random.  We have four areas which we can use for different things, which makes this easier – the groups were “main room”, “messy room” (it has easy-clean flooring), “kitchen” and “bathrooms”.  Each room had a detailed list of tasks, such as “put equipment back in the correct boxes”, “if bin is full, remove the bag, tie the top, place it next to the fire exit, and put a new bin bag in the bin”, “wipe the kitchen benches with antibacterial spray and a damp cloth”, and “vacuum the carpeted areas”.

Then they raced to see which group could complete their tasks quickest and best.  They got points for teamwork and tasks completed, and lost points for complaining (although there actually wasn’t any of that, which surprised me) or getting in the way of another team.

I was amazed that they actually did it very well.  I was expecting more resistance.  I suspect that will come when they realise that over the next three weeks they will be doing the same activity, so that they all have a go at all the rooms…

What tasks have you had your Brownies or Guides do that could be considered “chores”?  How did you make them fun?

The glamorous side of being a Leader


Being a leader in Girlguiding isn’t all trips and holidays, despite what my blog has said over the past few weeks.

I’ve been using the Easter holidays to catch up on a few things.

Like accounts, and tidying the cupboard.

I love our cupboard space. Compared to what some units have, it’s positively enormous. On the other hand, that does lead to us becoming slightly less disciplined about what we keep.

Plus, with four units sharing the space, there are always those items that you don’t know whether you’re allowed to throw away or not. And there’s never enough time in unit meetings to deal with the problem fully.

Hence, tidying.

Over the years we’ve had occasional tidying parties, which can be quite entertaining, with the right mindset. Difficult not to get distracted by the interesting finds at the bottom of the piles though.

Sometimes we make an evening of it and get the Brownies to help.


Does anyone else have a box like this one?

On this occasion, though, I went by myself, with a specific focus.  When we got back from our indoor holiday a couple of weeks ago, we just kind of dumped a whole lot of things.  My aim was to put them away properly, and to make a list of the food that we’d had left over that would still be in date for summer camp.

I only got a little bit distracted.

I actually find tidying quite calming.  There’s just something wonderful about looking at a room where everything is in its place, and knowing that you did that.  And knowing that you had time to do that, without having to spend less time with the Brownies.

I had to go back a few days later and do a little more.

On that occasion, I was sorting paperwork.  There’s a box of things like old accounts, which is supposed to get looked at each year – you put the most recent set in, and take out the oldest one and throw it away.  There shouldn’t ever be accounts in there more than 7 years old.

Yeah, so that doesn’t happen.

The oldest set of accounts I found was from 2004, so it wasn’t too bad…

On the other hand, I did find some treasure.  What it was doing in the accounts box, I’m not sure, but that’s our filing system for you.

In the Brownie Traditions badge, there’s a clause about what Brownies will be like in ten years time.  I found some posters that the girls had made around 2005 (ish, I think, based on the names on some of them, because of course none of them were dated).

It’s been twelve years.  Let’s have a look, shall we?  How close were their predictions?

Uniform: yellow top, brown skirt, yellow jacket.  Pretty close.

Brownie huts: will still have windows and doors.  They got that right!

Every time you come you get a balloon.  Not there yet, but could be do-able if they really wanted.  Not sure about the environmental impact.

Private jet.  I’m still waiting for this one!

Uniform: that dress is pretty swish, actually, and I like the inclusion of the “pretty hair thingy”.  Pretty sure you can actually get Brownie hair “thingy”s from the shop.

Loads of badges: definitely.  Really easily: not so much.  They’re supposed to be a challenge!

Again with the private jet, but this time also a limousine? Got some ambitions these girls!

Robot leaders.  Which they will be promising to serve.  I’m intrigued by the fact that the robots will have “slime breakers”.  Has this Brownie predicted the current slime craze?

I’m also entertained that when I did the same exercise in 2013, robots also came up – but this time as buddies rather than leaders.

I’m still waiting!

That Brownie badge looks like balloons to me.  Do you think they were predicting the Guide Party Planner badge?

Lastly, I will leave you with news that it seems we’re overdue for a change in name, and we all get to retire soon!