Olave the Bear

When I made my new camp blanket early last year, I discovered that metal badges had come off my old blanket (namely my yellow and blue trefoil badges from my time as a Guide). I didn’t want to put the remaining ones back on because if wrapped it around you and leaning against something, metal badges are not the most comfortable! Then I stumbled across this post at The Guide Life about her mascot bear. I thought this was a genius idea, and I asked her about where she got the camp blanket poncho.
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The lovely ‘TheGuideLife’ replied back to my comment quickly saying she got the blanket poncho at Blankets for Bears. It’s run by a leader who makes them, and sells them via her facebook page. I was super lucky she had a leader poncho for a bear in stock and she sent me it as soon as she received the paypal payment. A few days later the bear I ordered from Build A Bear arrived in the post too. I found my old senior section badge tab and the metal badges I had in a box and immediately pinned them on the poncho. I decided to name her Olave, after Olave Baden-Powell. She does still need some clothes for under her poncho (and I think some wellies?).

Thank you so much TheGuideLife and Blankets for Bears for being so kind and helpful. 🙂

If anyone knows of a place where I could get a bear sized leader polo/hoodie, please let me know!

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5 years of Look Wider…

…what have we done? I know a lot of Senior Section leaders say they “don’t get it” or aren’t sure how to plan a programme. It is hard work, but once your girls get it, you will find that they come up with so many ideas.

The great thing about Look Wider is that it is so flexible. I think that can be intimidating for members who have been used to a fairly firm structure (both unit members and their leaders). But it doesn’t need to be intimidating. If your members are really struggling for ideas, then go seek around the world loads of examples of what others have done – they might like the ideas, it might inspire somehing else. Do a game like the one Kelloggsville invented to get more ideas. Ask the girls pertinent questions and give them time and space to think on them. Then support them to use their answers to base your programme on over a longer period.

Over the last 5 years our group has been running we’ve done a range of things.At times we have been limited by the availability of the girls, and the fact that I don’t always have access to a car. Some activities have become traditions that the girls want to do over and over. And some nights it’s just been about chilling and having fun – especially when the girls are on exam leave. These are just things we have done together in our meetings. This does not include what individuals have done as Young Leaders/Adult leaders in training, or during their own time outside of Girlguiding/School/Work/University/College which they can also count as part of Look Wider.

Activities for Look Wider Octants

All of these activities we have done during our meeting times, with the exception of a few things (such as Remembrance Sunday, Color Me Rad 5k, opening of Parliament and the Build A Bear Party which we did on a Sunday morning before the shop opened). Some were away from our regular meeting place, but done during our meeting time.

Community Action

  • Painting glass jars to be filled with sweets & sold for Bake A Little Love
  • Participating in local service of remembrance
  • Inviting a volunteer from the local Food Bank to talk about their work
  • Doing a collection for the local Food Bank
  • Creating a Community Map with photos identifying needs and focal points for the local area.
  • Raising awareness and campaigning for War on Want
  • Learning about voting
  • Raising funds for local community centre doing a Colour Run
  • Inviting volunteer/staff from Refugee Survival Trust
  • Participating in the opening of Parliament
  • Volunteering at local fair to raise money for Division
  • Helping Leaders do the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for MND Scotland

Creativity

  • Nail Painting
  • Hallowe’en Party – fancy dress and creative games
  • Painting glass jars
  • Unit Scrapbooking (we have kept scrapbooks of all our activities as a unit since the beginning).
  • Theatre Trip to support fellow members in Gang Show
  • Designing our own mugs with Sharpie Markers
  • Charity Shop Fashion Show
  • Learning how to knit
  • Mood Boards
  • Easter Baking – making easter egg nests
  • Creating a Timeline of Women’s History
  • Designing T-shirts for their Senior Section Spectacular bears with fabric paints

Fit for Life

  • Rock climbing and abseiling
  • Invent your own smoothie night
  • Pilates for Dummies
  • Color Me Rad 5k
  • Inviting a local Hula Hooping instructor to give us a class
  • Walk around local nature reserve
  • Rest and Relaxation Night (healthy foods, spa treatments)
  • British Heart Foundation Heart to Start Course
  • Learning First Aid
  • Trying a Taekwondo class

Independent Living

  • Invent your own smoothie night
  • Charity Shop Challenge – finding an outfit for ÂŁ10 or under
  • Money Management – making Spend/Save/Give Jars
  • Making Pancakes for Pancake Day
  • Hosting a Swap Shop Night
  • Learning how to make non-alcoholic mulled wine
  • Learning how to knit
  • Bake Off Night
  • Building Ikea furniture
  • Learning how to do laundry
  • Learning how to boil potatoes and eggs
  • Make your own pizza night

International

  • World Thinking Day Badge Pack from WAGGGS
  • Researching and celebrating Diwali (everyone brought an activity for group relating to Diwali)
  • Writing letters to Rangers in other countries
  • Ready, Steady, Glasgow Challenge Badge
  • Learning about ethics of behind the scenes of how clothes are made by retailers
  • Hawaiian Night
  • Chinese Food Night
  • Celebrating World Thinking Day
  • Learning about the plight of refugees and asylum seekers

Leadership

  • Planning the term programme
  • Planning and organising Hallowe’en Party for unit
  • Organising an Invite A Friend Easter Egg Hunt & Party for the local Brownies
  • Putting on a Charity Shop Fashion Show for Guides
  • Planning a Swap Shop night
  • Planning an Oscar Themed Awards Party for the Guide & Senior Section leaders getting their ALQs
  • Learning how to do a risk assessment for an outdoor walk
  • Planning and running Hallowe’en Party for a Brownie Unit
  • Look Wider Sweetie Beetle
  • Organising a Bake Off night ‘techinical challenge’
  • Organising games for Harry Potter Night

Out of Doors

  • Christmas Market
  • Rock climbing and abseiling
  • Campfire
  • Community Photo Walk
  • Sparklers outdoors for Guy Fawkes Night
  • Walking around local nature reserve
  • Barbecue on an island (crossing a causeway)
  • Penny Hike
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Colour Me Rad 5k
  • Going to outdoor ice rink

Personal Values

  • Activities looking at the Promise from Senior Section CD Rom
  • Collages to celebrate International Women’s Day – women who inspire us
  • Making the Promise
  • Creating a group Promise Tree
  • Making their own individual Promise Tree Booklets
  • Charity Shop Fashion Show
  • Learning about lent and Shrove Tuesday
  • Planning a Scavenger Hunt
  • Personal Collage/Inspiration Boards
  • Debates on social and ethical issues
  • Scottish Parliament Election Manifestos Debate
  • Watching Suffragette film and writing review for their blog
  • Watching He Named Me Malala documentary
  • Creating an inspiration library
  • Creating a timeline of Women’s history

Just for fun/Other

Please feel free to share more ideas that your unit has done below! We are always looking for inspiration too. 🙂

The Inspiration Library

You might remember a while ago, I mentioned how the Ranger group decided to start their own library. Before last summer, we purchased an ikea bookcase which the girls built (and decorated). They call it the ‘Hawaiian bookshelf’.

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They requested a couple of books and films last year – we had two film nights to watch the DVDs we purchased for the library when they came out. And then they got distracted by other activities…until we asked the question ‘If you could change anything about the world…’ and every single member wrote down equality for women and equality in general. The girls had struggled to come up with more than about 3 or 4 book/film suggestions for the library at the start. Over the last month, I’ve taken a pile of books I had for other projects and from my own bookshelves to meetings to let the girls look through, and from there the girls have also given me more for their list of what they’d like to be included. At least one I think went off and did some book buying research! We have a mixture of fiction and non-fiction books and some films with the idea that the content of them will help us learn and think about our stance on a variety of social issues.

This will hopefully help them fulfil requirements for their Personal Values octant.

They have scheduled a Book club night for our last meeting of this term, and the hope is to take away a book or film over the Easter Holidays and do a little review of it for their blog. They also want to finish their International Women’s Day activity – as they got a little distracted last time looking at the books. Particularly Rad Women Worldwide (a new book published very recently).

Suffragette (film)
He Named Me Malala ( film)
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai*
Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Rad Women Worldwide by Kate Schatz and Miriam Klein Stahl
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Oranges in No Man’s Land by Elizabeth Laird
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr
The Good Immigrant edited by Nikesh Shukla
The Shed That Fed A Million Children by Magnus Macfarlane Barrow
The Imitation Game (film)
Inside Out (film)
The Help (film)
The King’s Speech (film)
Perks of Being A Wallflower (film)
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
How To Start A Revolution by Lucy-Anne Holmes

On the wish list:

How The Girl Guides Won The War by Janie Hampton
The Unseen World by Liz Moore
The Atlas of Women in the World by Joni Jaeger
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Girl Up by Laura Bates
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterley*
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

*both of these books are the Young Adult versions, mainly as I found the original I Am Malala book quite difficult to follow myself as it seemed like it had been edited poorly, I suspect in a rush to publish her story. My friend who studied Children’s Literature and Literacy (and a fellow bookworm) also had a similar struggle when reading the book when it first came out. I don’t know if the latest adult edition has corrected to rectify some of the grammar and sentence structures to make it more readable. It may be we will get both the original and young adult editions depending on feedback from the Rangers.

There are some books I suggested or took down in the piles that I was surprised they didn’t want (such as Malorie Blackman’s Noughts and Crosses series, which was very popular with my younger sister and some of my ‘graduated’ Rangers). They actually told me they really didn’t want certain books, and most of the time it is because they now hate them having been forced to analyse every inch of their pages at school. Ugh. It’s a real shame but I also understand. I’m constantly having to remind them not to put that pressure on when they have decided on a project like this…that we are not marking the work they’ve put in, it doesn’t have be done any particular way. The whole point is learning and enjoying the process of thinking, discovering and sharing that with others.

We shall see how this idea develops…they are certainly getting me reading more!

Thanks to my friends from the Women of Colour Feminism Conference, A Mighty Girl website and The Book Fairies for giving me some suggestions of books to take along when the girls were struggling for book ideas at first.

How we celebrate the big awards…

When a big award is achieved, we celebrate with a fun party at the units I help out at. It’s a big deal, and in the five years I’ve been back volunteering (oh wait, no it’s six now!!) we’ve only had 3 Baden-Powells and 3 Chief Guides. This is mainly because we don’t push or force girls into doing either. They are encouraged, they are told the option is there, reminded the option is there…but unless they come to us saying “yes, sign me up” they don’t get put through it.

When someone does complete it, we have a party. With SPECIAL cake. The other girls in the unit are invited to come early to the hall to decorate it. We play party games. Parents and friends of our guest of honour are invited to join us for the fun. With that has come traditions that the girls now request when they know a party is in the offing, and I know that these parties have been memories the girls have treasured years later. A friend of our Senior Section who was in my Guide unit told her she still remembers the BP party we had for two of our girls while she was a Guide and it’s one of her favourite Guiding moments.

A request now at every party is ‘the paper chain game’. The first time we did this the family members of our 2 BP Guides got very competitive as one team. Basically we give each team some paper, scissors, glue sticks and they have about 10 minutes to make the longest paper chain they possibly can.

If you do this at the start of the party, you’ve got some extra decorations! 🙂

Other favourites have included the polo mint on a straw (where you do need a packet of polos handy for each team as polo, after polo, ends up on the floor. The idea is that the team stands in a line, holding a straw in their mouth and has to pass the polo mint from their straw to the next person’s straw without touching the polo. Umpires for each team to assure no cheating (and to quickly replace polo mints) are essential. 🙂 I’ve got some good pics, but unfortunately none I can use for this blog!

The other one we did at our first BP party that was held close to Christmas is the reindeer antlers. Now you know where this picture came from, as one team place their antlers on my head and everyone thought it was hilarious and took lots of photos. As you can see one of my Guides is doubled up laughing. (I did laugh too!).

Each team had got a pair of cheap women’s tights (fairly thick denier, otherwise tights will be ripped to shreds) and a packet of balloons. And well…you get the idea! Balloon antlers abound.

We’ve done musical chairs, corners and other games. And at the last BP party we did pass the parcel. Grateful to our Young Leaders who finished wrapping two parcels each with a layer than contained a glow bracelet and a packet of haribo for all the guests.

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And of course, the cake. We get local commissioners to present the girl(s) with their award and then take pictures of them cutting the cake. I always joke with them they’ll be well practised if they ever get married for the obligatory cake cutting picture. Cake is eaten, grown ups drink tea and then we’ve often ended with a promise ceremony. Sometimes the BP Guides have got enrolled as members of Senior Section with their Ranger/Young Leader pals alongside them who have come along to support them. Other times our Guides have asked if they can make their promise. Sometimes we’ve had both.

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Our Ranger unit and a local Guide unit hosted a party for me, the Assistant Leader and the Guide leader when we all got our ALQs. Two LQ trainees and 4 Rangers made their promise that night.

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New members of Senior Section make their promise

Our most recent BP Party was held the week of Thinking Day, so we had a candle ceremony at the end and some of the new Guides made their promise.

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Essentially, all we want to do is make the night different, informal, fun and different from a ‘normal’ night of Guides. We want to make the person(s) getting the award feel special and celebrate their hard work, dedication and achievement. And we hope (and know it has in the past) inspired younger members to think of taking up on the opportunities offered to them in Girlguiding.

It does cost more money than our normal meetings, and we’re a unit that doesn’t have a ton of extra cash and we don’t have big parties for Christmas where all the girls get gifts like I know some Rainbow and Brownie units have. Normally us leaders put in some money to get a small gift for the award person too. Last time,  thanks to my paparazzi leader tendencies, I was able to put together a small photo album of our ‘graduated’ Guide’s time as a Guide with us. I hope I can continue that as a tradition too, because I think it’s a nice memento for them to have.

Anyway…that’s what we do. Do your Guide or Ranger units have traditions for celebrating the ‘big’ awards?