5 years of Look Wider…

…what have we done? I know a lot of Senior Section leaders say they “don’t get it” or aren’t sure how to plan a programme. It is hard work, but once your girls get it, you will find that they come up with so many ideas.

The great thing about Look Wider is that it is so flexible. I think that can be intimidating for members who have been used to a fairly firm structure (both unit members and their leaders). But it doesn’t need to be intimidating. If your members are really struggling for ideas, then go seek around the world loads of examples of what others have done – they might like the ideas, it might inspire somehing else. Do a game like the one Kelloggsville invented to get more ideas. Ask the girls pertinent questions and give them time and space to think on them. Then support them to use their answers to base your programme on over a longer period.

Over the last 5 years our group has been running we’ve done a range of things.At times we have been limited by the availability of the girls, and the fact that I don’t always have access to a car. Some activities have become traditions that the girls want to do over and over. And some nights it’s just been about chilling and having fun – especially when the girls are on exam leave. These are just things we have done together in our meetings. This does not include what individuals have done as Young Leaders/Adult leaders in training, or during their own time outside of Girlguiding/School/Work/University/College which they can also count as part of Look Wider.

Activities for Look Wider Octants

All of these activities we have done during our meeting times, with the exception of a few things (such as Remembrance Sunday, Color Me Rad 5k, opening of Parliament and the Build A Bear Party which we did on a Sunday morning before the shop opened). Some were away from our regular meeting place, but done during our meeting time.

Community Action

  • Painting glass jars to be filled with sweets & sold for Bake A Little Love
  • Participating in local service of remembrance
  • Inviting a volunteer from the local Food Bank to talk about their work
  • Doing a collection for the local Food Bank
  • Creating a Community Map with photos identifying needs and focal points for the local area.
  • Raising awareness and campaigning for War on Want
  • Learning about voting
  • Raising funds for local community centre doing a Colour Run
  • Inviting volunteer/staff from Refugee Survival Trust
  • Participating in the opening of Parliament
  • Volunteering at local fair to raise money for Division
  • Helping Leaders do the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for MND Scotland

Creativity

  • Nail Painting
  • Hallowe’en Party – fancy dress and creative games
  • Painting glass jars
  • Unit Scrapbooking (we have kept scrapbooks of all our activities as a unit since the beginning).
  • Theatre Trip to support fellow members in Gang Show
  • Designing our own mugs with Sharpie Markers
  • Charity Shop Fashion Show
  • Learning how to knit
  • Mood Boards
  • Easter Baking – making easter egg nests
  • Creating a Timeline of Women’s History
  • Designing T-shirts for their Senior Section Spectacular bears with fabric paints

Fit for Life

  • Rock climbing and abseiling
  • Invent your own smoothie night
  • Pilates for Dummies
  • Color Me Rad 5k
  • Inviting a local Hula Hooping instructor to give us a class
  • Walk around local nature reserve
  • Rest and Relaxation Night (healthy foods, spa treatments)
  • British Heart Foundation Heart to Start Course
  • Learning First Aid
  • Trying a Taekwondo class

Independent Living

  • Invent your own smoothie night
  • Charity Shop Challenge – finding an outfit for £10 or under
  • Money Management – making Spend/Save/Give Jars
  • Making Pancakes for Pancake Day
  • Hosting a Swap Shop Night
  • Learning how to make non-alcoholic mulled wine
  • Learning how to knit
  • Bake Off Night
  • Building Ikea furniture
  • Learning how to do laundry
  • Learning how to boil potatoes and eggs
  • Make your own pizza night

International

  • World Thinking Day Badge Pack from WAGGGS
  • Researching and celebrating Diwali (everyone brought an activity for group relating to Diwali)
  • Writing letters to Rangers in other countries
  • Ready, Steady, Glasgow Challenge Badge
  • Learning about ethics of behind the scenes of how clothes are made by retailers
  • Hawaiian Night
  • Chinese Food Night
  • Celebrating World Thinking Day
  • Learning about the plight of refugees and asylum seekers

Leadership

  • Planning the term programme
  • Planning and organising Hallowe’en Party for unit
  • Organising an Invite A Friend Easter Egg Hunt & Party for the local Brownies
  • Putting on a Charity Shop Fashion Show for Guides
  • Planning a Swap Shop night
  • Planning an Oscar Themed Awards Party for the Guide & Senior Section leaders getting their ALQs
  • Learning how to do a risk assessment for an outdoor walk
  • Planning and running Hallowe’en Party for a Brownie Unit
  • Look Wider Sweetie Beetle
  • Organising a Bake Off night ‘techinical challenge’
  • Organising games for Harry Potter Night

Out of Doors

  • Christmas Market
  • Rock climbing and abseiling
  • Campfire
  • Community Photo Walk
  • Sparklers outdoors for Guy Fawkes Night
  • Walking around local nature reserve
  • Barbecue on an island (crossing a causeway)
  • Penny Hike
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Colour Me Rad 5k
  • Going to outdoor ice rink

Personal Values

  • Activities looking at the Promise from Senior Section CD Rom
  • Collages to celebrate International Women’s Day – women who inspire us
  • Making the Promise
  • Creating a group Promise Tree
  • Making their own individual Promise Tree Booklets
  • Charity Shop Fashion Show
  • Learning about lent and Shrove Tuesday
  • Planning a Scavenger Hunt
  • Personal Collage/Inspiration Boards
  • Debates on social and ethical issues
  • Scottish Parliament Election Manifestos Debate
  • Watching Suffragette film and writing review for their blog
  • Watching He Named Me Malala documentary
  • Creating an inspiration library
  • Creating a timeline of Women’s history

Just for fun/Other

Please feel free to share more ideas that your unit has done below! We are always looking for inspiration too. 🙂

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!

Thinking Day Candle Ceremony

One of the things I remember doing as a Brownie, but less so as a Guide was celebrating Thinking Day. I shared recently how I was shocked at how many of my Guides and Senior Section had never heard of it and didn’t know what it was, despite having been members of Girlguiding for many years.

This year Thinking Day fell during term time (so often it has been during the half-term holiday) and we were able to do something significant to celebrate. As the Guides have been navigating their G-Files and asking questions, I’ve been telling them more about the history of Guides and the things I did as a Guide. Four new Guides were due to make their promise, as well as our two new Young Leaders so we wanted to do something to make the night special.

I had looked up Thinking Day Candle Ceremonies, and found this one. But for me it didn’t quite sit right. I found some great stuff produced by Girl Scouts in Canada and USA too, and in the end decided to use some of the ideas from each of them and create a “new” candle ceremony.

I managed to get four pillar candles (White, Blue, Red and a yellow-y one – apparently no one sells Gold candles when it’s not Christmas time, so I’m going to nab a gold candle for next Thinking Day next winter!!) and three candles of different colours (scented) that were on sale in my local supermarket. They weren’t quite the colours I was hoping for, but C’est la vie!

Our amazing unit leader spent the weekend making candle holders from cereal boxes so that each Guide (and parents and sisters who came along to join us who wanted to join in) could hold a candle.

I asked our five oldest Guides and our two young leaders if they would light the big candles that we had on a table at the opening of our horseshoe, then from the friendship candle I lit my candle and then with my candle lit the other two leaders next to me and then around the horseshoe each person shared their ‘guiding light’ with the Guide next to them.

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This is how our ceremony went…feel free to use or adapt. I based it on the World Flag and this Thinking Day candle ceremony that I found online, I assume it was made by someone in the Girl Scouts of the USA.

 

For 90 years, on 22nd February, the birthday of our founder and first World Chief Guide we have observed Thinking Day, where we celebrate the international friendship with our sisters in Guiding all around the world.

These candles symbolise what unite us as the World Guiding family  and help us to remember our sisters around the globe.

BLUE: We light this candle to represent the sky and sun that shines over children around the world. We share the same sky and sun whether we are richer or poorer, taller or smaller, older or younger, worship different Gods or no god, come from different countries and have different abilities.

RED: We light this candle to remember our founder, Robert Baden-Powell, and his wife Olave Baden-Powell, our first World Chief Guide. Together they showed young girls and women the way of Guiding and Scouting to ‘Be Prepared’ and do a good turn every day.

GOLD: We light this candle to represent the Promise and Law that we all pledged to keep with the hope that it will become a way of life for all who make that promise.

WHITE: We light this candle in the hope of peace in every country and territory around the world. We remember our sisters who have been affected by war.

PURPLE: We light this candle to remind ourselves to always stay true to our beliefs even when it is not easy.

GREEN: We light this candle to represent our readiness to serve, and to help other people  as expressed in the Guide and Scout motto to always “Be Prepared”.

PINK: We light this candle in honour of friendship, remembering our sister Guides and Girl Scouts wherever they may be – in homes, churches, meeting halls, refugee camps, hospitals and shelters.

We will now each light our own candle from the candle of friendship. Each of these candles are symbols of the Guiding light of friendship and peace we carry wherever we go in our communities and around the world.

It went better than I thought it would, no one set themselves or the hall (or anyone else) on fire with the candles. The girls who spoke did really well, especially considering we had no time to do a practice run. We later re-lit the candles for the girls to make their Promises!

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Other highlights of the night were many of our Guides running a bake sale to raise money for the Guide Friendship Fund – they made £60. Many made friendship bracelets, and had created wordsearches and games about World Guiding. It was all a bit chaotic, and we had to encourage them to reach out to parents and family members they’d invited along for the evening to join in! I hope it gave the parents an idea of what they get up to when they leave them under our supervision.

Look Wider: Some ideas for you…!

I love the Look Wider programme, for the fact that it gives so much scope for members of the Senior Section to learn within the realms of their interests and let them be wide and varying. The downside of this is that our UK education system is so spoon-fed and limiting that young people often don’t know where to begin with so much choice. In school they are often taught how to think, what to think and the way they are to articulate what they’ve been told. Information goes in, information is to be spurted out.

Through Girlguiding they get to learn in a informal way. Yes there are structures, but we actively encourage respect for differing opinions and beliefs! We actively encourage getting along with people different from yourself. And we actively encourage making your own choices.

We now have a wee routine that we do every January and August (ish) where I get out the big roll of ikea paper, spread it over the table (or a picnic blanket!) and make eight clouds. In that the girls add ideas for things they could do for each octant during the year. Some things they organise, some things myself and the Assistant Leaders will organise (particularly if it requires permission forms, an outside organisation and so on). This then helps us plan the term programmes at the start of each term which we do with the girls. Sometimes there are things that we can’t do that term. For example, one of my groups wants to do a sleep out organised by a local charity. This was suggested a few weeks ago, but the event doesn’t run until March. We will still put it on the sheet, and I keep this so we can dig it out at the next term planning meeting with the girls to remind ourselves of ideas we had but perhaps didn’t get round to doing.

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In addition to this, we have the ideas box. Inside there are small pieces of scrap paper and a couple of pens so they can write ideas anonymously (if they want to – we have some quieter members that struggle to speak up in the group). These will again be brought out at our term planning! I put the ideas box in the kitchen while they are making up juice and popcorn.

Using Decopage to design our ideas box

Using Decopage to design our ideas box

I know when we first began it was great to go online and see what other units had done to give us some ideas. I’ve noticed on facebook some girls asking for ideas for their Look Wider planning and I know some of our girls have found blogs of Senior Section members sharing what they are doing for Look Wider really helpful.

Here are some of the things our units have done over the last few years either together as a group on in their own time to complete different octants…

Community Action
Visit from volunteer from Local Foodbank
Collected donations for local foodbank
Taken part in the Remembrance Sunday War Memorial Service
Volunteering in a charity shop
Raised money for the local youth centre doing Color Me Rad 5k
Helped a new member run a bake sale for Scottish Love in Action
Done a community walk and created a map of area using photos
Took part in the Community Fair

Creativity
Painted Glass Jars to be filled with sweets and sold at a bake sale
Kept a scrapbook of all the activities we’ve done as a unit
Manicure Night
Made invitations for Brownies to invite friends to an Easter Party
Had a Hallowe’en Party
Taking part in County Performing Arts Shows (e.g. Gang Show)
Going to dance classes
Created a blog

Fit For Life
Hula Hooping Class
Tried out a Pilates DVD
Hawaiian Smoothie Night
Took part in the Colour Run 5k
Regularly walk dog
Archery Team
Badminton Team
Dance Classes
Tae Kwon Do classes
Couch to 5k
Healthy Snack/Spa night

Independent Living
Charity Shop Challenge – finding an outfit for under £10 and doing fashion show for Guides
Learning money management by making Give/Spend/Save jars
Make your own pizza night
Attended University Open Days
Created their CV and applied for jobs
Made dinner for their family for a week
Made cakes to bring to Senior Section for people’s birthdays
Organised passports, budget for a holiday
Organised a swishing/swap shop night for clothes & books

International
Gone on international trips with school or other organisations
World Thinking Day Activities
Written letters to a Ranger Unit in Australia
International Food Night
Backpacked around Europe by train
Learned a second language

Leadership
Attended First Aid training
Have run the unit for a night
Have organised a party for the local Brownie Unit
Organised a party to celebrate the leaders getting their Qualifications
Done their Young Leadership Qualifications
Invited the Young Leaders Advisor to a meeting to find out more about qualifications
Invited the Queens Guide Advisor to a meeting to find out about Queen’s Guide
Have helped lead a campfire with local Guide Units
Helped facilitate Free Being Me for local Guide unit

Out of Doors
Lit Sparklers for Guy Fawkes Night
Went for a walk up a hill locally
Crossed the causeway to Cramond Island and toasted marshmallows on the rocks
Annual end of year campfires
Taken part in national and international camps
Made their promise as members of Senior Section
Gone rock climbing and abseiling
Visited the local outdoor Christmas Market

Personal Values
Learned about Diwali and celebrated it
Made collages for International Women’s Day
Read autobiographies of people who inspire us
Learned about the Love Fashion, Hate Sweatshops campaign
Taken part in the Girlguiding Promise Consultation
Taught at the local Sunday School
Attended local place of worship regularly
Gone to Auschwitz, and taught younger teens about what they learned there
Made a Promise Tree
Celebrated Pancake Day

Celebrating Diwali with the Guides…

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This year I discovered I was not the only leader who gets uncomfortable with Hallowe’en and so we decided this year to do Diwali instead (we could have probably done both, but our meeting closest to Hallowe’en will be taken up with Remembrance Sunday prep). Our Senior Section had said they had fun when we did it two years ago, and one of our leaders is doing her Leadership Qualification and one of the requirements is to organise activities in the meeting place. So she organised Diwali night!

I had contacted a friend at Glasgow uni who I met at one of the Children’s Literature conferences earlier this year to ask if her family celebrate Diwali. They do, and she was generous in sending on to us some ‘top tips’ for celebrating Diwali.

Our LIT (Leader In Training) went online and discovered a very simple recipe for coconut ladoos. She tried them out and our Senior Section unit got to be her guinea pigs (om nom nom). And we went on a bit of a mission to find some ‘Diwali’ stuff. We discovered a fantastic fabric shop, very well known in our city for providing material for salwars and saris and they were able to give us tips on which shops would sell sweets and food for Diwali and some bindi (the stick on jewels for your forehead). We also discovered they had ready made henna in tubes (we didn’t get any – but it we’ve definitely noted it for future).

A number of my friends at my church have been to India. I was meant to go one of the trips, and ended up staying behind to run the blog keeping their friends and family informed while they were out there. My friend Ruth brought me back a salwar suit which she wanted but didn’t fit her (it actually is a little too small for me as well!)

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When visiting the towns, churches and schools they always wear traditional Indian dress. So I put a call out on facebook. On Sunday I was handed several bags containing several salwar suits and a beautiful sari. In fact a few people had bags for me who couldn’t find me (our church building is pretty large!). The girls got to try these on if they wanted to – I hadn’t realised the sari was in there, and tried to remember how to dress someone in a sari – but I’m pretty sure I got it wrong!

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Our LIT had also found some crafts for Diwali – the girls started doing their own rangoli designs with chalk and coloured crayons and some of them made paper lanterns which tealights could shine through.

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We also had two church elders visiting our unit that night. This is something they do about once a year to report back to the church session on what the groups using the buildings are doing, and often ask how they can support us etc. While they were ‘interviewing’ me we caught sight of the girls in the kitchen with the hatch open. I had opened the hatch to put a tape player with some Indian music my friend had lent me for the night. One of the tunes that came on was very bollywood, and the next thing we saw is five Guides shouting out ‘moves’ (stroke the cat, the slumdog millionaire, fix the lightbulb…?) as they did some ‘bollywood dancing’ to the music! It was very funny to watch and I wish I’d captured it on video!!

We had sparklers which our unit leader had delivered to me to take down that we still need to use. About an hour before our meeting our unit leader had to cancel due to an emergency, then our new volunteer got called into work at the last minute – add the church elders attending then several girls not turning up and others coming in late… it was a little more chaotic than we thought it was going to be. We are really grateful to one of the local Guide leaders who came down last minute to help us so we could have one leader supervising crafts and another leader supervising the ladoo making in the kitchen, while I was caught up with the elders!

So, sparklers will be used NEXT week (a combined extra late Diwali/early Fireworks night).

All in all it was a great night I think and the memory of the Bollywood dancing will be the once that stays with me.

Thanks to our awesome Leader in Training for organising the night, Soumi for giving us advice on Diwali, Ellie for coming to our rescue and everyone at Central who lent us your music tapes and clothes from India!

Links:

Activity Village – Diwali Crafts

Coconut Ladoos

Love Fashion, Hate Sweatshops

So currently, our Rangers (Senior Section) have decided that they are joining in with a campaign being overseen by War On Want called ‘Love Fashion, Hate Sweatshops‘.

And it wasn’t even a suggestion from one of the leaders.

One of the girls found the campaign all on her own, and e-mailed to ask me if she could do it and whether she thought the rest of the group would join in. I said YES and encouraged her to bring her pitch to the group which has been met with a lot of enthusiasm.

Trying to encourage them to work out what they want to do to raise awareness of the campaign has been the biggest challenge. With some questions to help them stay focused, they have now gone away with ‘homework’ of working out online petitions, if there are petitions that already exist and who their local politicians are and so on…

It’s a complex issue and one that I’ve had on my mind for many years after I took part in Tearfund’s Lift the Label campaign (at least I think that’s what it was called). It involved writing postcards to your favourite clothing stores to ask them to use more fairly traded source materials and production techniques.

I’m really proud of the girls, and during the discussions found out one of our members has written to our local MP about the Girls Matter campaign. She says she got a nice reply back. But then, I don’t see any signs of him taking action on it yet…

A letter to Australia…

As part of their International Octant, our unit decided they’d like to become pen pals with a group of Rangers in another country. When I was a Guide, I wrote to another Guide as part of my World Guiding badge (I think?!) through the WAGGGS pen pal scheme. I now cannot for the life of me remember which country in the world she was from. I still have the badges my pen pal sent to me on my camp blanket. Of course since then, most Western homes have access to computers and internet (heck, we even have it on phones we can carry in our pockets and handbags these days…most of us didn’t HAVE a phone in our pocket back in 1999!). Technological advances have sadly caused the ending of the Pen Pal scheme. 😦

We were determined to do it anyway, so, one of our members took on the task of finding us a group to be pen pals with. Finally she was able to get in touch with someone at Girl Guides Australia last winter.

Unfortunately we got thwarted by the fact when we e-mailed it was the Australian summer holidays – so it was a while before we got a response. Then it was our summer holidays. But finally a couple of months ago we got an address of a group of ‘Ranger Roos’ to write to.

At one of our meetings all of us took some coloured paper, pens and each wrote a letter telling about ourselves, our unit and how we are each involved with Girlguiding in the UK/Scotland. Even us leaders wrote a letter! The girls have decorated their letters with Australian flags, Scottish flags, celtic designs – I think Nessie is even on one. This week my job is to send them off downunder.

As much as it is fun to do e-mails, blogs and all the rest, there’s something fun about sending things in the mail.

Which reminds me – I have a Scottish Girlguiding badge to send to my friend Holly so she can add it to her camp blanket! The Royal Mail is going to make a fair bit out of me this week… 🙂