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!

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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!)

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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…

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Planning our Little Lights Walk…

I mentioned at the start of term how our Guide unit has decided to raise money for Bliss Scotland, a charity that champions the right for every baby born premature or sick to receive the best neonatal care. We know that there are Bliss volunteers who work in the two maternity hospitals closest to us, and as our previous Assistant Leader in training as well as a few Guides were born premature themselves, it was a cause that we felt we had a connection with.

Bliss run three events that people can organise in their own communities throughout the year – Bake for Bliss, Little Heroes and Little Lights. Little Lights runs through the winter, with Bliss holding their own Little Lights Walk close to World Prematurity Day (17th November). So as a way to get the Guides outdoors this winter, we are organising our own Little Lights Walk this November!

We were able to register our walk very easily through the Bliss website (if you click on link above you’ll find the online form to register interest). Within a day or so, someone contacted us by e-mail and had posted us a pack of goodies to use for organising our walk.

We got a poster too but I forgot to take a picture before I added our contact details etc to it, so for obvious reasons I’m not going to plaster that on the internet! 🙂

The Guides decided that they would have a fundraising page on JustGiving which is easy to set up. This way we can give the girls a letter with the web address for them to share with relatives that they maybe don’t see all the time who wish to sponsor them. We are going to get the girls to write what they’d like to put on the page about why they are doing the walk and how it helps at the next meeting. We don’t have internet access in our meeting place, so one of the leaders will copy and paste what they write onto the page later. We were only given one sponsorship form, as usually Bliss asks for people to register to take part individually. However I’ve asked Bliss if we can get sent sponsorship forms – if we don’t, I will likely make up a sponsorship form of our own to print off and give to each of the Guides. We know that there are always people who find doing the ‘old fashioned way’ of paper and handing over cash easier. We will then send in these forms and the money handed in as a unit, and save on postage (and make it easier for parents).

As leaders we gave a few options of locations to the girls. Because the walk is done in the dark, we took into consideration safety – particularly as we’ve discovered from previous activities that our girls are not very road safety aware, especially when in a big group and are busy excitedly chatting to one another. We wanted paths that took us away from roads but were well lit. The girls almost unanimously voted on a route, so that was thankfully settled quickly!

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The Guides also plan to decorate themselves as ‘little lights’. We were able to get glow in the dark bracelets from Poundworld (18 for £1) and I got some UV glow in the dark face paint from Amazon.

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Bliss has also sent us certificates that we can award to each of our walk participants after they’ve done the walk which is lovely! And of course, all the Guides plan to count this as the ‘Community Action’ part of their challenge badge for the year.

I will let you know how the walk goes, we are also really lucky that a local Brownie’s Mum is a Bliss volunteer and is coming to chat to the Guides about the work Bliss do after the Tattie Holidays. I know Bliss also have Community Ambassadors who sometimes give talks to groups too, so it might be worth finding out if there’s one in your local area.

Long time, no blog!

Hello!

It’s been a long time since I blogged, and I promise I have a good excuse. At the end of last term, things got a little bit crazy as in May I was having numerous interviews about job opportunities. In the end, I was offered two part-time jobs in the space of 30 minutes (crazy after a THREE YEAR search for work in the CLD sector) so in the last week of term I travelled to London to start a part-time job as a Fundraising Officer for a national charity, and then after helping out as a group leader, worship leader and First Aider at Surf Camp started another part-time job with a youth project to develop services for young women.

Schools went back in Edinburgh this past week, and the Midlothian schools go back this coming Tuesday…so I’m started to get prepared for a new school year in all manner of ways!

As much as I am able to, I will continue sharing what our units get up to. In the hope that it helps other volunteers and youth workers.

Some of the things we have planned for this term is:

Patrols choosing, planning and doing a Go For It badge

Trip to a new trampoline park, roller rink or Gang Show (we had requests, and they will get to vote on which trip they want to do, with potential to do others later on in the year).

Organising a sponsored Little Lights Walk for Bliss (there will be glow bands & luminous face paint!)

Participating in local community services of Remembrance.

Having our first proper Patrol Leader elections (the girls have always asked us to choose, but we would like to encourage them taking more ownership of this…so we shall see. I’ve been asking other leaders about how their Guide units organise leaders and patrols).

Having a visit from one of our local Peer Educators to do Think Resilient.

plus if our Young Leaders get it finished soon, we hope to have a party to celebrate them gaining their Young Leadership Qualification.

We also have a location move this year, where we will be leaving our old hall and moving to a different one. We are still waiting for details to be finalised (in particular for storage space to be made available to us).

And that’s just for Guides!

Senior Section starts back this week, and I’m hoping for more organisation, commitment and flexibility of meetings so they can do more this year. We shall see. It will really depend on what the girls want and decide.

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

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.

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?

A Thinking day to think about refugees…

One of our Senior Section has been involved in a campaign with some young people from her high school to ask Scotland to do more to welcome refugees seeking sanctuary here in the UK.  While planning for the term, they asked if we could learn more, so I told them about my friend Katherine who had not long started working for a small charity called the Refugee Survival Trust. One of the things that Katherine and the volunteers at RST do is go into schools and groups to help dispel myths and help educate people about what the reality is like for refugees and asylum seekers.

Thinking Day seemed like a good day to learn about such things, so we invited Katherine to come through for that week. And then the Guide unit that meet at the same time as us said they had no current plans for Thinking Day so we decided to join up with them.

The girls did a quiz, saw photos of the Calais Jungle and learned how to say welcome in three different languages including Arabic. We ended with having cake for Baden-Powell’s birthday, and our candle ceremony which Katherine joined in with. Now she has a guiding light too! 😉

If you are a unit based in Central Scotland, particularly if you’re in the Glasgow area where most of the RST volunteers are based, I totally recommend getting in touch with them and inviting them to come talk to your unit. Maybe your unit could even do some fundraising for them?

Thank you so much Katherine for making the time and effort to come through to spend the evening with us. We really appreciated it!