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.



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. ūüėČ

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.


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.

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. ūüôā

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

To all my Brownies, Guides & Rangers past & present…

It’s safe to say that there are days as a volunteer leader I want to quit. Days where I wonder why I bother because no one is listening or feeling unappreciated or overwhelmed or just plain exhausted.

The downside of the last 48 hours is seeing so many of you upset at not being heard by Girlguiding UK, feeling despondent that you want to be part of a group but aren’t for one reason or another…or soon won’t be because you’ll be over 18. The upside has been that some of you who have ‘graduated’ from units I’ve worked with have been back in touch, and I’ve seen how much you care not just for yourselves but the generations of Guides and Rangers coming up behind you.

I often see leaders complaining about how unappreciated they feel. I’m sure there are days when I’ve got grumpy when you’ve forgotten your stuff again, or been late, or not told me that you weren’t going to show up…. but I also know that so many other days when you when you’ve put in the extra effort to make a cake for one of your guiding sisters or flung yourselves into an activity or come along even when you’ve been feeling rubbish. There are times when you’ve taken the time to encourage me as a leader¬†and told me¬†you’ve appreciated the support I’ve attempted to give you over the years and told me Thank You.

And so I’ll repeat what I said to one of you yesterday when you said you weren’t sure if you’d ever thanked me.

You are more than welcome.¬†You all make it so worth it, and it’s because of how lovely you all are, and how much you’ve all put into it that makes me keep going!

Wherever you go in life, I hope you’ll take good memories with you, remember the values you’ve developed and carry on standing up for them. And¬†as I’m probably always saying #onceaguidealwaysaguide. We will light candles tonight to mark our friendship as part of the world guiding family, but even after they are blown out you’ll all take that Guiding light out into this crazy world we live in for many years to come.

The Camp Blanket

When I was a Guide, we all had camp blankets to take on camp. We were taught in the Guide Handbook how to make your bedding roll Рblanket underneath, sleeping bag on top, camp blanket on top of that pinned to the underneath blanket with kilt pins. My first sleeping bag was this horrible thing made for indoor use only really (not great when you live in Scotland!) patterned black and purple. And so when I was about 15 I got some black fleece and purple fleece to make two blankets. The purple one became my camp blanket.IMG_6541

However, I could not sew if my life depended on it. The badges I sewed on fell off pretty quick, so I did what I started doing when my Mum told me I needed to sew on my own badges to my Guide sash. I invested in a bottle of fabric glue.

The problem? Your badges are stuck in that position. FOREVER. And now I’m older and struggling to remember what badge came when, and realise it would be helpful to have them less spread out and more in ‘order’ (and have room for more) I discovered that my fabric glue was so good this is what happens when you try to remove the badges from your blanket.


I got a temporary job at Christmas that has become a permanent one, building bears. I did warn the manager at my interview that sewing isn’t my strong point. I do believe I even confessed my ballet teacher gave me a lifelong ban of sewing when I was 15 (no, really – and for good reason). They have however patiently (with minimal laughing at some of the sewing pickles I’ve managed to get myself into with a piece of thread and a needle) taught me how to stitch up bears and I decided to use this transferable skill to make a new camp blanket.

On Thinking Day my Mum and I went off to the same shop I got my original blanket from, but this time I wanted the colour to be more of a shout out to my life as a Guide and Senior Section leader. And then our lovely unit helper who is an excellent dressmaker and has this special machine called an overlocker let me come round to her house and she taught me how to use it. Amazingly it wasn’t a disaster, though don’t look at my blanket too closely as you’ll discover the sides are slightly squint. That’s how you know I’ve done it myself! ūüėČ


And on nights when I’ve given up on doing my university work, I’ve undertaken what I like to call some ‘productive procrastination’ by sewing the badges. A few need to be redone as they are very squint, a few that have gone missing that need replaced and there’s still a lot of my badges I’ve collected and earned as a Ranger and an Adult volunteer still to go on, but I really, really love my blanket.


For me, my camp blanket is a bit like a photo album full of memories. Each badge has a story to tell and a memory attached to it. I can remember my Mum teaching me about the lemon cream Jif to clean the bathroom sink so I could earn my house orderly badge. The night my friend and her sister were sick all night after we did the Cook’s badge (her Mum thinks it was the sausages. I never ate them. Phew!). The badges a Guide in ?Australia? sent me after we sent letters to each other for the World Guiding badge. The burn I fell backwards into when my Guides went to stay in the Ranger bothy at Netherurd. Performing on stage with my Guide unit cheering me on in That’s Entertainment. The day me and my friend walked around Edinburgh in the pouring rain trying to find the Tourist Office we’d managed to walk past. Going to dance at the opening ceremony of Castle Ceilidh camp which then got flooded out and made the national news! The camp where I met the girls who invited me and my friend to come and join their Ranger unit. Jubilee Beacon night with my own Guide unit, who had never been to Trefoil before, and the annual campfires that came every summer after. Running down to the fire station to meet other Guides in the division to do my fire safety badge clutching the bargain dress I’d got reduced from ¬£45 to ¬£6 (yes I still remember the price of the dress…it was that amazing a bargain. I wore it to see in the new Millennium). The weekend¬†we went to the London HQ for the finals of the environmental competition and I’d forgotten to pack my pyjamas. Making my promise outside a house with a blue door in Notting Hill. Doing the test for my First Aid badge and having to perform CPR on¬†the farting resusi-Annie doll with St Andrew’s Ambulance. My 18 months volunteering with the Brownies to do my Service Flash. The Brownies¬†threw me a surprise Winnie the Pooh¬†party for my 16th birthday because they knew I loved Winnie the Pooh!

I could go on and on and on…

A few of my Guides and one of the Young Leaders are now starting their own camp blankets. Most of them are doing it for their World Guiding badge, others doing it so they can have a keepsake of their journey in Guiding.

Because there are some Guiding traditions we really should hold on to. Badges and camp blankets are two of them.


World Thinking Day 2016

So World Thinking Day is coming up. I was shocked to discover that none of our Guides knew about World Thinking Day, many didn’t know who Baden-Powell was and one Guide said in shock to me ‘Lord Baden-Powell was a real person?!’ when we sat on the floor in a circle ‘Brownie Pow-wow’ style to talk about the World Guiding badge which we are doing as a unit.

As someone who grew up in Girlguiding, I find it really sad that the girls – who have pretty much all been growing up in Guiding since they were old enough to join Rainbows – had no clue about World Thinking Day.

Thinking Day in our county used to be a big deal. I remember as a Brownie every year going to a big event with Brownies from all over the county where we played games and then sang songs together. On the meeting closest to Thinking Day we would collect our subs and donations and put them in the shape of the Trefoil and send them to the Thinking Day Fund/Guide Friendship Fund (whatever it was called back then!)

As a Guide, to do your Baden Powell you had to have done your World Guiding badge and I still have the badges on my camp blanket that I exchanged with Guides from other countries as part of this.

This year I’m determined to give our girls the opportunity to celebrate Thinking Day.

Here is how I’m try to help create awareness of the day

1. Wearing promise badge/uniform on 22nd February.


Wearing badge on Thinking Day

We have written to the local primary schools to ask if they will allow members of Girlguiding to either wear all/or part of their uniform on 22nd February. Two out of the three primary schools have replied back with a yes – one we haven’t heard back from.

2. Changing cover photo and profile picture on Twitter/Facebook to include the World Thinking Day 2016 ‘Connect’ banner.


You can do this too by going to the Twibbon website.¬†I’ve also added the banner as our cover photo for our Senior Section unit’s facebook group.

3. Our Guide unit is doing the World Guiding badge in the lead up to Thinking Day.

There are also activities (some of which we are using to complete the badge) in the Connect resource produced for World Thinking Day by WAGGGS, and there is a Brownie version of the World Guiding badge. And Activity Village has some sheets that you can download and print, as well as craft ideas that you can use for Thinking Day.

4. Giving an opportunity to add badges to camp blankets.


On Thinking Day I have a Sale or Return order from Girlguiding Scotland shop which includes camp blankets and the World Thinking Day badge so if the girls want to, they can start their own camp blanket to collect badges. As part of the badge, the girls are going to be running a bake sale to raise money for the Guide Friendship Fund. We are inviting parents to come along to celebrate Thinking Day with us.

5. Sharing our Guiding light.

I’m currently trying to come up with a doable idea for a Thinking Day/Promise ceremony using candles or torches!! Thankfully there’s lot of ideas been shared online, and I think I’ll be meshing them somehow.



Making pennies while kitting out your unit


Sale or Return Orders…

So I don’t know if all Girlguiding shops do this, but the Edinburgh one does.

Basically you can do what is called a ‘Sale or Return Order’. The idea is you can order things to be delivered to an address or for pick up on a certain date from trading via your local Guide shop. You can then sell these items onto your volunteers and Rainbows/Brownies/Guides/Senior Section and then return what is not sold. If you sell ¬£25 or more of merchandise, you get 10% of what is sold donated back to your unit.

I’ve done this with Senior Section for over a year, and recently did it for our Guides since we had 9 new Guides this year and we got our neckers (so I knew a lot of us would want to get woggles for them).

The first time for Guides I found difficult as I had no clue what sizes the girls would be and the parents didn’t either. Now having done it once, I have an idea of what sizes seem to work best and will know to do the order accordingly.

It is definitely worth doing as I truly believe that ‘every penny counts’ when it comes to raising funds for your unit.

To find the contact details of your nearest Girlguiding Shop click here

To find out more about Girlguiding Scotland’s Sale or Return scheme click here.