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.

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Toasting marshmallows on the beach…

There’s a constant challenge with Rangers, trying to keep it girl-led, flexible but also trying to still do something to make it worth coming to. I always feel like I’m not doing a good enough job of providing opportunities to them through Girlguiding.

Due to my job changes, and so many of the girls doing school trips abroad, one off to Camp America and a few on Duke of Edinburgh, we have had to do away with trips we wanted to do…like our end of year campfire. We used to be able to use a Girlguiding campsite that was 10 minutes away, and backed on to our Assistant Leader’s garden (handy if we ever forgot anything!) but it was sold off last year.  We also have several of the girls who have commitments right before our meeting time so often arrive late. Going on a trip is even more difficult because of this.

We did manage one though – we headed down to beach area not too far away in the North West of the city, disposable barbecue in hand so we could toast some marshmallows.

It was wonderfully dry but got very chilly by the end of the night as the barbecue died down and the wind blew! It was a very brisk walk back to the car park, where many of the Rangers hid in my car to keep warm while they waited for parents to arrive to pick them up. They also spotted that someone had tossed rubbish all over a section of the car park and decided to use some Guiding spirit to go pick it up and put it in the nearest bin (as a Surfers Against Sewage supporter, I wholly approved of this initiative). And as the sun started to set, I fully appreciated a night outdoors!

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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. 🙂

When Rangers become Rainbows…

After last year’s Colour Run, the first thing that went on their wish list of activities for this year was ‘COLOR ME RAD’. And so we were on the ball ready to register for the best discount in January. Unfortunately most of the girls who said they wanted to do it, didn’t end up signing up, so I opened it up to other Senior Section members in the division who are not Rangers. We ended up with two Young Leaders and two of their friends from school (one also a Girlguiding Young Leader from a neighbouring division, the other not a member of Girlguiding), as well as three Rangers signing up. It was also going to be the last day of volunteering for our newest Assistant Leader in training, who sadly has had to move away.IMG_6880

The most important part is the before and after shots. The idea is you wear as much white as possible so the colour has the most effect.

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This year there were a lot less people doing Colour Run – I think perhaps because they had it scheduled on the same weekend as the Edinburgh Marathon Festival. This meant the start area was much closer to the registration tent, there weren’t the portaloos this year and our meeting point was much more crowded than usual. I was thankful I had decided to wear some blue fairy wings and quickly messaged the girls to tell them so they could find me.

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After I did a backward roll through the yellow colour station one of the girls told me I looked like a ‘Rainbow Pixie Fairy’ as all the colour floated off my wings as I was jogging away. She snapped this picture for me (Thanks A!)

We also had the Mum of two of the girls running in our team stay to watch and she snapped some lovely photos of us at a few of the colour stations and at the end. It was super kind of her. I do believe she had hosted a sleepover for a few of the girls at her house the night before too.

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they were starting to run out of colour by the end, and so folks were running back into the startions to try and get as much colour on them as possible. Somewhere in that cloud is our team! (the two folks at the front are just participants of that we don’t know).

All in all, it was a great way to start a Saturday, and if the girls want to do it again next year we will hopefully be able to all sign up again. Especially as the Aunt of one of our Rangers has alerted us to the wonderous invention of T-Shirt pens. Something for next year! 🙂

We’re going on a penny hike…

This term one of the Senior Section groups wanted to do a scavenger hunt/treasure hunt. The only problem was that the girls who suggested it weren’t at the following meetings. Add a whole pile of schoolwork, exhausted, tired Rangers came who weren’t sure what the other girls meant and ended up chatting about other things…and nothing got planned. The following meeting, not many girls showed up, but I figured if they weren’t going to do a scavenger hunt, we were going outside so I suggested a short penny hike. IMG_6009

The idea is that you go outside, take a penny, decide if heads means left or right, and flip the coin…and you follow that direction. We actually had a lot of fun doing it. Everyone took turns flipping the coin, and groaned when the coin suggested turning a direction that meant walking further up the hill (most of Edinburgh sits on it’s seven hills, if you’ve visited our fair Auld Reekie, you’ll know that you find yourself walking up and down hills a lot!). Most of the units I’ve seen do this seem to be in more rural areas, we are in an urban setting. However there was a scream when one Ranger almost stepped on this guy…

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He’s either a long way from the river or from someone’s garden pond!! We also spotted cats and a fox.

It was a good way to get the girls moving and us leaders too, and would love to do this in the summer months a bit further from our meeting place.

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

Climbing Calamaties & the Senior Section paparazzi

For the last two terms, I’ve been running two Senior Section groups out the same unit. Something I committed to when I thought we had a new leader at our Guide unit….and then she left. It’s been a struggle to keep going, and I’m going to be eternally grateful to other leaders in the area who have stepped in my place at either Guides or the new Senior Section on the nights where I needed to be able to clone myself.

Anyway, our first joint outing was a few weeks ago when the new group decided they would like to go rock climbing. Knowing there were some in the original group who missed out last time or would like to go again, I gave them the opportunity to come along too.

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It was great to see the girls in both groups mingling, and a member who hadn’t been for while being able to join us too. Lots of advice shouting and encouragement as we did the beginner walls and when the girls got to try auto belaying.

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However, as I was the only leader there, I had my phone on a bench near us just in case – as I’m always the first emergency contact during meetings and activities. I always tell the girls where I’ve put the emergency contact list/consent forms just in case something happens and for some reason I’m incapacitated in the event of an emergency.

Why am I telling you this? Well. Apparently one of the most memorable Guiding moments of the year happened while we were there. One of our founding members had been helping with belaying standing against the wall as I was climbing, as one of the girls from the new group was doing the actual belaying. I began to swing as I came down and I was worried about landing on her head…which almost happened and to avoid it I swung off the wall.

You might ask, was the girl ok?

Why yes she was. Because her reaction was

Quick! Grab Laurie’s phone and get pictures!!

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This is one of the nicer pictures – she also took selfies basically with a close up of my backside (cheers for that!) as they were ALL laughing, except the girl who was having to concentrate on belaying so I didn’t simply crash to the ground. She did confess as she and another Senior Section member were telling other Guide leaders at a campfire this week that ‘had I not been belaying, I would have been doubled over laughing too‘.

As I turned round to make sure they were all ok (don’t worry, I was laughing too – laughing so much I couldn’t get back onto the wall in fact) there they were snapping away WITH MY PHONE smiling saying ‘it’s for the scrapbook’. A phrase I have said many times as I’ve taken pictures of them blowing out birthday candles, dressed in onesies, trying out hula hooping, covered in coloured cornflour during a 5k and so on.

I did point out that as they were on my phone I could delete them all, but I haven’t. I will print at least one that they can add to the scrapbook if they wish to.

Not my most noble moment as a Guiding leader.

But I’ll admit it was funny even if it was embarrassing.