Hi Folks!

So, it’s been a while since I posted, and I have no excuse – I’ve just been very busy. I expected to be less busy in January/February, but well. No. I had 5 days off from work where I planned all sorts of things, but instead two days before the lovely 5 day holiday I got a massive infection in my gums/mouth/jaw/teeth. Instead I had trips to dentist, antibiotics and 6 days and nights with a lot of pain and very little sleep.

However there’s been lots of activities I’ve been overseeing that the Guides and Senior Section have been doing…plus dealing with Senior Section girls very upset and angry about the announced changes to Senior Section age groups, uniform and ‘new name’. (Just call it Rangers again they say. I have to admit, I agree with them!)

I have a day off tomorrow so I’m going to try and write up some posts to schedule over the coming couple of weeks.

Apologies for my blogosphere absence.

Much love,

Laurie

 

 

Happy 2017!

Happy New (calendar) Year! Just to say, yes I am still alive and guiding. Last term was a tough one, with more Guides, less leaders and officially being the only Senior Section leader now. Somehow we muddled through and have lived to tell the tale. Fingers crossed we have a new volunteer starting with us at Guides this term, and I don’t have any new Senior Section girls starting – and the Senior Section crew have mostly got their term plan already sorted which makes things a little easier. img_7472

This term is all about keeping momentum going, getting all the new Guides working on pre-promise activities (we failed on that front last term) and supporting our three Young Leaders to complete as much of their Young Leadership Qualification as possible before their exams start after Easter.

Phew! Such a lot of stuff to do!

Election Night

Two weeks today, the Scottish Parliamentary elections take place. For the first time, 16 and 17 year olds will be allowed to vote to decide who represents them locally and regionally in our parliament.

IMG_6740

When we first started the Ranger group, it was just after the announcement that 16 and 17 year olds would be allowed to vote in the 2014 independence referendum. The girls were a little freaked out by this prospect, and several of them felt that they shouldn’t be allowed to vote (based mainly on how much they didn’t know). By the time the referendum came about, they were all able to make a decision based on their own opinions.

One of our groups asked to have a night looking at the election. A few of them take Modern Studies, but despite this had confessions that they struggled to get their head around the Additional Member System way of voting that we use. I confessed to them how I had messed up at the polling station last time – I went in not realising that they’d decided to combine a few elections into one day and got so many pieces of paper I was unprepared for that I got flustered and confused and ended up putting a vote for someone that I wasn’t keen on by mistake.

While schools in Edinburgh were closed last week, I asked the girls to go and find anything and everything they could about our candidates. A few of them brought notes from school, leaflets that had been put through their door. I also did my own homework…

While eating birthday cake (we had another 16th birthday to celebrate!) we explained the two ballot papers and how they worked. One that is similar to the general election where they vote for one candidate from a party that is standing in their local constituency, and then the second one where they place a vote for which party should get one of the seven regional seats.

After we’d got our head around that and the differences between the two, we gave each of the girls one of the political party manifestos (sadly there were two parties that hadn’t released them yet, so the leaders took those parties and worked out things from information we could get) and gave the girls 30 minutes to look through them before coming back and making a ‘campaign speech’ on behalf of each party. Then we got to ask questions. Some questions came up to us leaders on what parties meant by certain things (for example, Conservatives’ proposal of graduates paying £1,500 once they were in a decently paid job or Green Party’s proposal of creating jobs in renewable energy). We could have done with longer, but all in all I think the girls felt more able to make an informed choice at the polling station that they did at the beginning of the night.

I hope!

What has come out of this, is a request to do another political night where the girls can invent their own parties and manifestos.

I also want to thank the makers of the Suffragette movie, and Girlguiding for offering the tickets they did when the film was released. A number of our girls have seen it, and been hugely impacted by it. It wasn’t that they didn’t take their right to vote seriously before, but I definitely see a change where they really appreciate that right. It gives me hope that perhaps we can get back to a place in our country where we are all politically engaged and willing to take the time to hold the people we vote into power accountable and know that our vote can make a difference.

Looks like we made it…

IMG_6605

Term is almost over! I’m not going to lie, this year has been one of the toughest as a leader. Our Guide unit continues to grow, but we are trying to meet the challenges of a group of mostly 10 year olds, two girls who are needing support through Baden-Powell, and two Young Leaders who are trying to get through their Young Leadership Qualification. When your unit leader comes past with a tearful girl heading towards the First Aid box and you get told “can you give that patrol what for about safe use of scissors”, and then a few minutes later get informed that the same girl who stabbed a Guide in the eye with scissors is also throwing glue around…yeah.

I’m also very aware that come Autumn, I’ll be finished my degree and that further cuts (redundancies) are being made to Community Education in the local authorities. The chances of me finding paid work here are slim, and I’m likely going to have to look for a job in another town or city. If that happens…who will take over Senior Section? I don’t worry about Guides as there are other leaders to keep continuity. But Senior Section is ever changing and this year has felt like a battle. And yet I have girls that are really wanting to have that Ranger style unit available to them.

All in all, I’m really hoping for a good chocolate supply this coming fortnight between Easter and my birthday. 🙂 I’m needing it.

The Look Wider Alien Sweetie Beetle

I’ll always be grateful for the lovely blogger Kelloggsville who is a Ranger leader. Her blog helped me a ton in those first months of panic when I was trying to support the five girls in our original group get our unit established and going.

We have had a fair few of our older members moving on in the last year, and a chunk of newbies joining. The last couple of terms have been hard going, mainly due to the new Scottish Secondary School curriculum which involves constant tests, exams and coursework that ends up having to be done at home as there isn’t enough class time (and that’s with some of our girls only doing 6 subjects as opposed to the 8 that was the norm for as long as I can remember for the O Grade/Standard Grade/Int 2/GCSE level of study).

Several of our new girls are not yet familiar with Look Wider, older members seem too tired to come up with and follow through on new ideas. So I decided that for the first nights back both groups would do a variation of the Octant Beetle.

IMG_6392

First was finding sweets to fit dietary requirements that could be used for parts of the beetle. Because gluten free foods tend to be more expensive, I did do some that had two options.

IMG_6400

Body = Gluten Free Brownie or Malted Milk Biscuit

Head = Jaffa Cake or Coconut macaroon

Eyes = Dolly mixtures or jelly beans

Legs = Strawberry laces or Strawberry Fruit yoyos (these are vegan & gluten free)

Feet = Cola bottles

Antennae = Strawberry pencils or Mango fruit yoyos and strawberry bonbons

Spots = Chocolate buttons

The Girls and leaders took turns in throwing the dice. I had a poster on the wall of what the beetle should look like, and what each number on the dice could contribute to, and what you could make it with. We played by the rules that you needed to start with a body or head, and you couldn’t add anything that would be ‘floating’ (ie you can’t add a foot before you have a leg for it)

1 = Body and Head

2 = Eyes

3 = Antennae

4 = Legs

5 = Feet

6 = Spots

I decided not to complicate things by having 8 things represent each octant. Instead, I had a blank Look Wider chart on the wall with sections to represent Phase 1, 2 and 3 of each of the octants. Any time someone got something to contribute to their beetle, they had to go up and add an idea for something they could do for Phase 1, 2 or 3 of one of the octants. Once the chart was full, we just added extra ideas until everyone had completed their beetles.

We also made it a new rule that if your turn came while you were still standing up trying to come with an idea, the next available person in the circle took a roll of the dice for their turn. This kept the game flowing better so that everyone had a completed sweetie beetle (or an almost completed one) by the end of the meeting.

At the end of the beetle game we had a bit of a sugar high and played pass the parcel (as there were birthdays, plus the prize inside was to help start an idea one of the groups had last year that we hope to act upon this term). But we also now have a two pieces of paper filled with ideas for how to complete Look Wider.

And yes, it has been long established that drawing (or anything that comes under the ‘arts and crafts’ bracket really) is not my strong suit. Please don’t judge my circle/octagon being more ovalish. Luckily the girls were able to follow it regardless.

The girls in the first group told me that ‘This was a great idea’. I was relieved that they thought that, and it went much better. It was a bit more challenging on the second night as we had as many Rangers as Leaders.

I totally recommend doing this as a pre-term planning activity or if you find your unit struggling to get into Look Wider. It was good having girls who have already completed (or almost completed) the Chief Guide Challenge there as they were able to share ideas from what they or past members had done.

 

Making pennies while kitting out your unit

IMG_3803

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.

EDINBURGH: Help the homeless this Christmas

This post is aimed at any Edinburgh Guidey-Scouting folks.

I’ve been informed tonight by someone who works for The Bethany Christian Trust that the Bethany Winter Care Shelter is currently experiencing an unprecedented number of rough sleepers. This means that their stock of blankets and sleeping bags is running low and they are struggling to meet demand.

If you as an individual or your unit has any sleeping bags or blankets in decent condition to spare, please do consider donating them to Bethany so they can pass it on to someone in need of it.

Donations of sleeping bags and blankets (no duvets please) should be handed into

Where?

Bethany Warehouse
40 Jane Street
Edinburgh
EH6 5HD

When?

8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday

Also, if your unit is looking to help children, The Big Issue is doing a shoebox collection for the children of The Big Issue sellers. They are looking to get 61 shoe boxes for following age groups:

19 x Age 1-5
14 x Age 6-10
27 x Age 11-16

If you can fill a shoebox with goodies for one of those age groups, it would be much appreciated.

Suggestions for what you can put in the shoebox are:
-unperishable sweets
-toys and games
– hygiene products (toothbrush, shower gels)
-clothing or accessories (hats, gloves)
-colouring books and pencils
-Christmas Card, books

It is requested that you don’t make the gifts gender specific.

Shoeboxes can be handed into

Where?
The Big Issue Office
31 Queensferry Street
Edinburgh
EH2 4QS

When?
Monday-Friday 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Saturdays 10a.m.-12 p.m.

before Saturday 19th December