Ready, Steady, Glasgow: The Commonwealth


So at the moment, our Guides are doing the Commonwealth Games challenge pack Ready, Steady, Glasgow. You can download it here.

Did I mention that when I first went to university aged 17 it was to do a Geography degree? I figured we should start with a simple exercise, and the fact that I was able to get two large world maps in The Works for £3.99 each was a sign that this was the perfect activity to kick off our badge!

So it was the first week back at university where I sat in the library typing out all the Commonwealth countries and printing them off. One of our kind and generous Senior Section girls cut them out for me so I had packets of the country labels.

We split our unit into two teams, gave them a packet of labels, half a packet of blu tac. They went to one end of the hall, and we laid the maps on the floor at the other end. Rather than set a time for the relay (which I’m sure would have resulted in the girls only doing the ‘easy’ countries like Canada, UK, Australia, South Africa), we decided that we would call out a country, then the team would have to find the right label, run down and find the map. Then the girl would get from us the name of the next country, and the next person would find that label.

It meant the girls had to work as a team. We allowed a girl from the team to come down to the map to help the girl with the label if they were struggling to find the country (and let’s face it…it’s not always easy to find Barbados if you’ve already got labels in other countries in the Carribbean hiding it!). But also the girls got to work as a team – laying out the labels so it was easy to find the one they were looking for, getting them ready by having the blu tac on the back ready to be stuck on the map.

It took most of the meeting though, and I very quickly realised that schools no longer teach geography other than what they need to pass assessments. When I was at school we learned about ALL of geography, but always our teachers spent our first weeks of first year teaching us about the continents, countries of Europe and so on. When we learned about the weather, we also learned about the oceans and what they were called.

It was very clear our Guides have NOT had that from their Geography teachers.

When we called out a country, when the girls came down we would give them a clue where to look.

I got asked

Where is Africa?

What is the Carribbean?

Where is the Pacific Ocean?

(and not just from our younger guides).

I was quite shocked at the time (that might have been my inner Geographer talking), but at the same time it made me realise that this is why I’m so glad girlguiding exists. Because we so often help the girls learn things they won’t get to learn at school.

I have to say though, seeing how much our Guides struggled with the challenge, I would question doing the relay activity with Rainbows and think it would have to be adapted a bit for the Brownies too. The girls got a bit discouraged and we had to help them find some of the countries, and helped show them how the flags at the bottom of the map also gave details of the country and where it could be found (the map has faint rectangles marked, so it would say ‘St Lucia: E4’ telling them they could find it in rectangle E4.

By the end, I think the girls felt quite accomplished and they got quite competitive trying to find the country before the other team did! At the end we allowed them to spend time in patrols to get ideas of an activity they could run with the rest of the unit for the ‘Scotland’ part of the activity pack. We are however allowing them some flexibility to do something to represent another Commonwealth country if they wish, as being Scottish we have already done many of the activities they have suggested for things like St Andrew’s Day and Burns Night.

Is your unit doing the Ready, Steady, Glasgow challenge pack? How are you finding it?