World Thinking Day

This year, on Thinking Day weekend I ended up volunteering at a big Girlguiding Scotland event in Edinburgh attended by about 1,200 members of all the sections of Girlguiding. It was an event that myself and fellow leader Jo had spotted, but because it was in the city where our girls were based, plus we are finding it a challenge to have time to volunteer (all of us!) we ended up not being able to take them. However, for me it was a rare weekend with no plans or work so when an emergency call went out from our County Senior Section Advisor I agreed to apply to volunteer.

At the last minute I decided to bring Olave Bearen-Powell with me, as you know how Olave likes to come along to special outings…


There were several locations around the city with activities for the girls and women to enjoy and take part in. I was certain that I’d be placed in the West End or down at the station to direct lost looking groups – but in the end myself, Olave and a leader from the Scottish Borders found ourselves sent to Scottish Parliament. I was also shocked after walking through security and into the main foyer, when a staff member approached us and seeing me exclaimed ‘Oh!! It’s Olave!!’ (turns out not me she had spotted but the bear in my hands).

Turns out, Olave had been recognised from Twitter, as the staff member had been following the hashtag #WanderTheWorld on the train coming into work that morning.

Claire and I had a great day, welcoming groups from all over Scotland and explaining how they could tour the debating chamber, met 3 members of staff taking turns to do an interactive talk about Parliament with the girls and another member of staff doing activities for Citizen Girl. The staff were so welcoming to all of us, and even tried to see if they could get Olave into the First Minister’s seat for a photo (unfortunately not allowed without permission from Nicola Sturgeon – so Olave’s political aspirations may be put on hold).

I was also really glad I had brought Olave along, as she became a source of chatter and fun throughout the day. Some groups took her along to the talk (a Guide returning her telling me “She was very well behaved, and sat on my lap and listened the whole time”), some groups wanted their own mascots to have a picture with her.


Olave meeting Roger – one of the other cuddly members taking part in Wander the World.

The most fun was a group of Rainbows from Bishopton who were fascinated by her, asking about the badges on her camp blanket poncho, what they were for, where she had come from, her name.

3d1e9b92-b033-4430-a82f-b552d1db8621They even practised their promise with Olave, as it turned out they had won a competition to go on stage to lead the Rainbow promise at the end of the day. I hadn’t understood when the Rainbows told me ‘they were making their promise’. The Rainbows were so excited to be allowed to take Olave around Parliament with them, taking turns holding her to make it fair. When they returned they said “She has learned all about how Parliament works and we’ve given her lots of cuddles”.

Of course Olave also wanted to check out the debating chamber and have a go with the gavel before she left.

She ended the day very impressed by the chandelier at the McEwen Hall, saying her Guide/Senior Section promise with lots of other adults, Senior Section members and Guides.


It was a fantastic day, and I hope it becomes an annual thing that Girlguiding Scotland put something on nationally for Thinking Day weekend.

And of course, at the regular Guide meeting we had the candle ceremony. If anyone is looking for coloured pillar candles and long dinner candles for individuals to hold, I recommend a trip to Flying Tiger. And Leslie, you’ll be happy to know that this year I finally remembered to pop a mention of Agnes Baden-Powell into the ceremony.


We have a number of new members to our unit this year, so for many this was their first time doing the candle ceremony. It’s always very special and something the Guides remember.

What did you do to celebrate World Thinking Day this year?


The Elf Unwrapping Game

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged here, but I wanted to share a game I put together after putting the call out to my fellow Ranger leaders to ask for some party game ideas. Many of the girls know all my games, and as I’ve not been able to be around as much this term I wanted to give them a fun last night of term. Someone mentioned a game where you unwrap a parcel with oven gloves…and so the ‘Elf Unwrapping Game’ was made based on their recommendation.

The premise is similar to the chocolate game where everyone sits in a circle and rolls a dice. If someone rolls a six, they go into the middle of the circle put a hat, scarf and gloves on and proceed to try and cut squares of chocolate with a knife and fork. They can only eat one square at a time, and if anyone else rolls a 6 they have to immediately stop and give hat, scarf, gloves to them…and so it goes on.

Except this time, I had wrapped up an elf holding a chocolate coin. And then I wrapped another layer with a chocolate coin inside. And another layer with a chocolate coin inside…and on the recommendation of leaders I made some layers have cling film instead of wrapping paper. In each layer was a chocolate coin. A more hygienic chocolate game if you will!


And since it was elf themed, I thought to what elves wear in Santa’s workshop. Elf hats…and aprons. So when they rolled a 6 they went to the middle and put on an Elf hat, an apron and put on the oven gloves.

And tried to unwrap a layer.

They also had to try and get into the chocolate coin with the oven gloves on. They weren’t allowed to proceed to another layer until that chocolate coin was eaten.

If someone else rolled a 6 while after the got a coin (but hadn’t got into it or finished eating) they just took the chocolate coin and went back into the circle.


I think I had about 20+ layers – which I realised after the game continued on and on was too many! But I wanted to make sure there were 24 coins for the 24 Guides that would be there. Luckily because none of them had ever played this before, they didn’t lose interest and wanted to keep going. A lot of hilarity ensued, a little bit of cheating (which got the raised eyebrow stare from me) and more heartwarming was a few Guides giving the Guide in the middle tips on how to get into the chocolate coin and even helping them to get untangled from elf hats and aprons quickly.

It is definitely a game we will do again.

Baden Powell Sports Night

One of the challenges of our summer term is that it’s pretty short in Scotland. There are several bank holiday weekends, most of June is taken up with end of year concerts, prize givings or school trips where the girls will be away. And then just as the longest day hits, it’s the summer holidays. By the time the schools go back the nights are dark again for Guides.

We try to be outside as much as possible during this two month period where the nights are light and the weather is hopefully a little bit milder.

The Guides asked for a campfire again this year. We lost our local campfire site as Girlguiding Edinburgh sold it off a few years ago, so we now have to go to the Scout one. It’s a lot more fancy and we do miss the rustic feel of Trefoil (and it’s excellent wood pile). But we’ve got a bunch of Guides doing Baden Powell and so there were several nights that they needed to do things and one of those tasks some of the girls had chosen was to run a sports night.


Our night at the campsite was perfect. The girls were good at letting the leaders know what from our stash of Active Kids donated equipment we needed so we could pack it in our cars for the following week and had everything planned really well to keep the unit well occupied, even taking into account getting groups to mix a bit at the same time as keeping certain clashing personalities apart. We were super impressed. They were well organised, got everything sorted themselves under the eye of two leaders while the other leaders got the campfire ready to go for when the Guides finished*.

*usually we would get the Guides involved in lighting it, but due to time constraints it made more sense to get it built and started while they were doing the sports activities.

We are racing against the clock this year to get a whole cohort of girls completed their Baden Powell before the old programme completely goes away.  The girls who are of age to do BP are of course the group that came up to Guides when we went from a unit of 9 to a unit of 21 in the space of a couple of weeks. Baden Powell Adventure weekends only take 2 girls per unit, so I’m not entirely sure how we are going to swing that one. I am glad to see that change in the new programme that the ‘adventure’ part in the Gold Award doesn’t have to be a BP specific one which will make life easier!


We of course ended the night toasting marshmallows, followed by a bunch of our Guides enrolling after a long wait (they had planned to do it on our end of term trip before Easter on a roller rink, only for the roller rink to change their opening hours so we couldn’t go there for our trip). Promises were made, and we were glad none of their promise badges ended up on the campfire this year (and yes, that HAS happened).

Schools are back now, but due to leaders being away for holidays and work, we are delaying our start back date. Plus the Autumn/Winter term is incredibly long. Two of our young leaders we have farewelled off to university (sob!) but there are rumours of a previous trainee leader returning to our leadership team after a two year break from Guiding while she was completing her honours degree.

And yes, we have been looking at the new Guiding programme and are planning to incorporate that into this term. More on that soon…!

Anti-Stress Putty

Hi everyone,

It’s been a long, long time since I’ve been able to blog, as I’ve been working a couple of jobs at the same time as well as trying to keep up volunteering with Girlguiding. One of those jobs was developing youth services, particularly for  young women of high school age, and there were quite a few activities and things I did that can crossover into the Girlguiding programme. This activity could work well for Guides and Senior Section in particular, and would definitely fit into the Think Resilient badge or Me in Mind. With many of our girls on exam leave, this is a great activity for a stress reliever.

Equipment needed
-Measuring cups
-Measuring spoons

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
3 Tbsp. cream of tartar
1 Tbsp. oil (we used vegetable oil, but I suspect almond oil would work better)
1/2 cup boiling water
1 tsp purple or blue food colouring
5-10 drops of lavender essential oil
Glitter (optional)

1. Combine flour, salt, cream of tartar, and oil in a large bowl.
2. Add boiling water and stir to combine.
3. Add food colouring and lavender oil.
4. Once you’ve reached the desired consistency (adding more water or flour as needed). You may need to use your hands to get it to mix together.
5. If you want to add glitter, add a tablespoon and roll it into the mixture.

To keep the putty from drying out, you may want to wrap in cling film.

The Guides glow in the dark…

You may remember that earlier this term I shared about how our Guides decided they wanted to do a Little Lights Walk for Bliss, a charity that supports babies born premature or sick. Well, World Prematurity Day was last Friday so we have now completed the walk…23434715_137168853604184_4314540086205780748_n

…Olave was of course on the walk as well, proudly carried by one of the Guides and she has since been taking on the arduous job of collecting in the sponsorship money that has been handed in ‘offline’ in addition to everything that has come in through the unit’s JustGiving page.

The week before the Little Lights walk we had booked volunteer from Bliss come to chat to the girls about the work the charity does, but sadly the volunteer got sick and had to cancel last minute. I cobbled something together and did my best to try and answer questions…but we definitely needed the volunteer.

The night we did the walk we were blessed with mild, dry weather. The route we chose was darker than I expected – my car became a lit up Christmas tree where girls popped flasks of hot drinks for after the walk, consent forms and a long Bliss banner that the charity sent in our pack. The girls were decked out in light up trainers and we gave them glow stick bracelets and for those allowed it UV face paint. One of our Young Leaders had even bejewelled her woolly hat with some fairy lights which proved very useful on our return as quite a few Guides almost walked right past the steps back to our meeting point. Our helpful Young Leader then stayed at the stairs to ‘light’ the way!


We had a few parents tag along too, and the walk was a lovely way of bonding with each other. A lot of Guides who don’t normally chat to me as much did that night, and talked a lot about memories of Guides so far, what they’d like to do in future and just life outside Guides too.

After we got home, our unit leader got message after message from parents saying how much their daughters had enjoyed the experience. And to top it off, a picture I snapped of the girls at the end of the night made it into the local paper. (It’s better than the one below!)


I believe the Little Lights Walks are running through until February, and I would say they are so much fun, and I thoroughly recommend it. We got a great wee pack of stuff to organise the walk, and when I requested more sponsorship forms we got sent them so the girls didn’t have to register themselves. The girls are already asking me if we can take part in their spring time event “Bake for Bliss”.

Now I have the fun task of counting all the money so we can bank it and send a cheque to Bliss…

We will remember them…

…and as I remind the girls every year, I don’t just mean the young men who lost their lives. The civilians too. The Girlguiding members whose childhoods were taken by war. The ones who died trying to save the lives of others. The ones who continued Guiding in secret when their organisation was banned. The ones who kept people’s spirits up and used all they’d learned to help each other survive while interred in prisoner of war camps in the Far East.


I will continue to teach about how Olave Baden-Powell urged girls to work for peace rather than war. How Robert Baden-Powell tried to encourage international friendship to prevent hate against one nationality to another.

There’s a fantastic book written by Janie Hampton called How The Girl Guides Won The War that I highly recommend. I’ve had to buy a new copy as mine has been borrowed so often I don’t know who has it anymore.

Lest we forget.