At the beginning of the year when we asked the Guides what they would like to do this year, one thing on the wishlist that never went away was ice skating. The problem was the local ice rink wasn’t open to the public on the night the girls meet, and when I contacted them they said there was no possibility of opening on another evening. As the only evening all the girls were free on was the one we meet on, we ended up going bowling instead.
Then we had a brainwave. Every year there’s an ice rink at the Edinburgh Christmas Market. Yes, it’s about double the price of going to the local ice rink…but this year we discovered we could get discounts as Edinburgh residents for the leaders and all the Guides. And so we asked the girls…do you want to do this? There was a resounding yes.
It was 1 degree above freezing the night we went. We met the girls and got the bus into town, and then got our skates on…
One of the parents ended up coming along, and as all three leaders were on the ice (children who are 10 and under have to be accompanied) she very kindly took hold of my phone and took pictures of us on the ice. There was an ice disco – with some lights and music too, which the girls loved. Going over to check someone was ok, this parent insisted that she needed to get a picture of myself and Jo (our unit leader).
I want to give massive props to Jo. Jo has been leading our unit for ten years now, and the last time she had taken the unit ice skating a Guide fell and broke her arm. It wasn’t because of anything bad, just an accident. That was about seven years ago, and the leaders have never taken the unit to an ice rink since! So when the girls started telling us they reeaaallllyyyy wanted to go ice skating, Jo was understandably nervous that history might repeat itself (no one wants to make that call to a parent saying ‘hi…we’re having to take your daughter for an x-ray’). Add the outdoor factor and the discovery that our two youngest and newest Guides had never skated before….and that anxiety gets a little higher!
We fought the fear, we had the knowledge that all 3 of us leaders that were going are trained in First Aid, plus there are staff at the Christmas Market also trained in First Aid, we have a (most of the time) sensible bunch of girls (also trained in First Aid) so if something did happen we could handle it, and it was highly unlikely anyway. Most likely the odd soggy patch and a bruise would be the only likely injuries from falling, plus we’d given plenty of instruction to the Guides on dressing appropriately for the activity.
There were several falls – but what I loved most is that the two girls who had never skated had courage to not just hold onto the edges but really give skating a go! One of our oldest Guides was especially great at helping the two youngest ones get the hang of it and holding their hands to keep them steady. The Christmas Market rink staff were also great, and any time there was a fall, they were over to check everyone was ok (or help us help them back on their blades – there were a lot of Bambi on ice moments with legs going everywhere) and when they realised two of the girls hadn’t done it before they gave individual support and tips on skating.
All in all, the girls had a brilliant night, and Jo received multiple messages from parents in the days after telling her how much their daughters had come home talking about how much they had enjoyed themselves and thanking all of us for taking them. ‘Now we’re going to have to take her skating‘ said one parent. 🙂
I think it’s going to remain one of my favourite Girlguiding memories for a long time to come. 🙂