Whodunnit?

Recently some unexpected absences led to a panic about what we were going to do at Guides as we had to quickly change what we had planned. Cue our unit helper, Penny coming to the rescue by borrowing an idea from her daughter to play a large Guide themed game of cluedo!img_8679

As you can see we used some masking tape, and equipment we’ve collected over the years from Active Kids (training poles, throw down feet and bean bags) to set up our ‘Cluedo Board’. The Guides loved this so much they insisted on playing it three times, and we are using this year’s vouchers to get a few more things (like a giant foam dice) to make playing this game a more frequent activity and a bit easier to set up.

Penny has kindly sent me the instructions after a Guide leader asked me if I could share how the game works. They are in the PDF document below (click on Guide Cluedo).

I believe it was Professor Laurie Plum, in the kitchen, with the hot chocolate! 😉

Guide Cluedo

Toasting marshmallows on the beach…

There’s a constant challenge with Rangers, trying to keep it girl-led, flexible but also trying to still do something to make it worth coming to. I always feel like I’m not doing a good enough job of providing opportunities to them through Girlguiding.

Due to my job changes, and so many of the girls doing school trips abroad, one off to Camp America and a few on Duke of Edinburgh, we have had to do away with trips we wanted to do…like our end of year campfire. We used to be able to use a Girlguiding campsite that was 10 minutes away, and backed on to our Assistant Leader’s garden (handy if we ever forgot anything!) but it was sold off last year.  We also have several of the girls who have commitments right before our meeting time so often arrive late. Going on a trip is even more difficult because of this.

We did manage one though – we headed down to beach area not too far away in the North West of the city, disposable barbecue in hand so we could toast some marshmallows.

It was wonderfully dry but got very chilly by the end of the night as the barbecue died down and the wind blew! It was a very brisk walk back to the car park, where many of the Rangers hid in my car to keep warm while they waited for parents to arrive to pick them up. They also spotted that someone had tossed rubbish all over a section of the car park and decided to use some Guiding spirit to go pick it up and put it in the nearest bin (as a Surfers Against Sewage supporter, I wholly approved of this initiative). And as the sun started to set, I fully appreciated a night outdoors!

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I don’t just volunteer to meet bunnies…

Because I’m usually the one behind the camera at Guides and Senior Section, there are very few pictures of me ‘at work’ as a Guide leader from the last year.IMG_0695

This one was taken by one of our Young Leaders (I think!) when our Guide unit visited Pets At Home to learn about pet care. One of the Guides got very nervous and scared holding this bunny and in the end I held it while helping her to calmly stroke it. We named the bunny Simba because we thought he looked a bit like a lion. After the holidays one of our Guides ran up to me to tell me that she had found out from the Pets At Home staff that Simba had now been adopted by a family.

I’ve written before about why I volunteer with Girlguiding. Essentially it’s for two reasons. Firstly, to give back to the organisation that gave so much to me as I was growing from a little girl to a young woman. Secondly, because it can be so rewarding to watch and support girls grow into young women.

I’ve been privileged to have some of those young women message me long after they’ve left my unit to say thank you. I’ve watched girls with no confidence make friends and achieve things they didn’t believe they were capable of. I’ve had girls that I constantly had to give my ‘Guider stare’ to or ‘have words’ with become the ones who end up being positive role models for the next generation of Guides. They come to me saying “Oh my goodness, remember when I…” or “I can’t believe how I used to…” and I respond by saying “Oh yes, I remember. But look at you NOW.”

Over the last three years it’s been hard to keep going, with job changes, trying to finish university and other stuff. But it’s made possible by working as part of a team of other volunteers. We take our turns, we help one another out. We don’t just commisserate and cheer one another on during meetings, but share what’s going on in our lives outside Guiding too. That’s why last year I was at the weddings of some of my fellow leaders. It’s why right now me and our unit helper are collecting lego cards for our unit leader’s youngest son!

We keep doing it because we try to make it fun. We keep going through the harder, frustrating times because we have those moments where we realise how much it is worth it!

8 years of my life have been given to volunteering with Girlguiding. More if you count my time as a Guide helper at a Brownie unit! And I hope I can give many more.

Here’s to all the volunteers….past…present…and hopefully future ones!

To find out more about how you can volunteer with Girlguiding head over to their website.

You can read my previous years of Volunteers Week posts here and here.

Sharing reviews and Thirteen Reasons Why

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Our library is now up and running, with the Senior Section giving ongoing requests for books to add to our bookcase. Over the easter holidays, most of the girls took books or films home and a few of them wrote up reviews for their blog at our last meeting. We had a little bit of chat about one of the books that many had requested, Thirteen Reasons Why as over the holidays a Netflix series based on the book was released and has caused quite a lot of controversy. I was intrigued because the girls had mentioned the book so many times, plus I’ve been a long time supporter of the charity To Write Love On Her Arms which raises awareness of mental health. I did have concerns about the show as the episodes went on though. A friend asked me my opinion after seeing some articles about it on social media and I advised her not to watch for fear certain scenes would be a trigger for her. Several of our members have been watching the series – as I know many teens have (several of young people who I have known from surf camp, as well as teen sons and daughters of my friends have posted about it on social media). I think that the post that Jamie Tworkowski (founder of To Write Love On Her Arms) has written in response to the show is a measured and sensible one. And the TV series for sure has taken quite a few liberties from the original story in the book. I’m guessing for ‘dramatic’ effect (and I suspect, reason to create a Season 2).

Anyway, if you are interested in our members’ opinions on books and films they have been reading and watching you can find them over on their blog. They are doing this as part of their Phase 2 or Phase 3 of Personal Values octant.

Perks Of Being A Wallflower (film)

The House on Mango Street (book)

Thirteen Reasons Why (book)

The next month sees us in school exam season, so we will be having some chilled out nights with less serious discussion I imagine! 🙂 We shall see.

The Women’s History Timeline…

The girls decided they wanted to do something for International Women’s Day, and I guess because of the library have been thinking more about inspiring women of late. So they suggested that we all come to the meeting (myself as well) with a woman that inspired us. We each chose a decade/era so that no one would have the same woman or group of women, and we came prepared to share about our women. I think the idea was to dress up as well, but none of us ended up doing that!

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They also decided to use their research  to create a timeline of women’s history. It was by no means all inclusive – there’s just so much we could add. All our chosen women were of course main features, and from some of the books which they had requested and arrived in time for that meeting like Rad Women Worldwide had female historical figures they decided to add.

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We got distracted by putting our library together the night they planned to do this, so it was only last week that it finally got finished. I left them to it, chatting to girls about their Look Wider books, and lending out my laptop to some of the girls who were taking turns to use it to write blog reviews on books and films they read/watched over the Easter holidays.

Sometimes I worry with activities like this that it might be too much like schoolwork. But as it came from them, I didn’t get concerned about it. And actually it’s inspired me more to get back involved with sharing women’s history and making it better known. The simple fact is we don’t get these history lessons in school. They also seemed to be invested in the project, and satisified with the end result.

 

Guides rising to the challenge…

A long, long time ago we decided that our unit would do the Rise to the Challenge badge in the second half of the spring term. The challenge badge involves 5 challenges under the themes of

  • Nature
  • Creating
  • Survival skills
  • Construction and Engineering
  • Baking

I really can’t take credit for organising any of this. It was all the other leaders. I was present, and helped tidy, made sure people stayed alive and took lots of pictures but I’m so grateful for the other leaders giving me some downtime this last term while I’ve been facilitating Senior Section solo. The themed nights also gave a great opportunity for each of our three young leaders to take charge of facilitating and organising a meeting solo (obviously with our support, but they were the ones taking the lead). This is something they have to do as part of their Young Leadership Qualification which we are supporting them through with the intention of them completing it before they start S6 and doing UCAS applications.

It enabled everyone to use their skills too. Our unit helper has green fingers, so was super helpful person to have with the Nature night as they made their own gardens in strange recepticles!

One of our young leaders is really into Science, so was a perfect fit for the Construction/Engineering night, where we brought lots of recyclable materials for each patrol to build their own bridges.

Another young leader loves to bake, and actually got me pretending to be Sue Perkins when she did a ‘technical challenge’ bake off competition for our Ranger unit. She took charge of baking night as each patrol baked rock cakes, each with different fillings in halved oranges. They used the orange juice to make icing. And I must say being a baking judge is such a difficult challenge…to have to try each of those yummy bakes was just one of those things you have to do as a leader. 😉

The girls designed Guide uniform accessories for their ‘Create’ challenge. And I believe there may be a plan to take this one step further and try and make them…

And our first Young Leader who loves the outdoors took on the survival night. Tins with holes, a pile of tealights to make pancakes with different toppings. I was super sad I ended up ill and unable to go that night.

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Units, Leaders and Trefoil Guild groups can still take part in the Rise to the Challenge badge all through the summer term. I believe there’s a big day out at Glamis Castle at the end of the summer holidays.

If you’re interested, download the activity pack here.

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!