What’s in our Patrol Boxes?

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Guides are a difficult age group, as you basically begin with a girl who is still a child, and by the time they leave they have gone through puberty and almost at the beginnings of adult hood.

In Guides, you are really beginning to encourage them being able to make their own decisions about the programme and organising themselves. But it is far from easy!

There are a few things we have found that have helped with that, and Patrol Boxes is the main one!

In their patrol boxes they now have

– Their Patrol Scrapbook

-A pencil case with some pencils, pens, a pair of scissors and colouring pencils

-A document wallet which contains

-A copy of the Guide Promise and Law

-A Term Plan

-A copy of the Unit Guidelines

-A Go For It/Badge Planning sheet

-A Patrol X-tra folder (these are actually cheaper than the G-File!)

-A spiral bound notebook

All of these things means the Patrols have ownership of their own box, plans and know exactly where to find everything. It also means that when they try to get us to do the work for them (or they forget) we can encourage them to go back to their Patrol Box and find their planning sheet to see what they need to remember for next time. When they ask what dates we are doing somehting we can tell them to look at the term plan. And if they are stuck on how to work together as a Patrol, there are lots of great activties in Patrol X-tra. We’ve also encouraged the patrols to use the G-File to look at what makes a good leader and how to work as a team when picking their Leaders and Seconds.

The notebook is also great so they can write a list or make a note and rip it out of the book to take home with them!

We have found these simple things to really help our patrols function well, although we do still need to sometimes help mediate in arguments about what activities they want to do or make sure they are staying on task when it comes to planning things – otherwise we get a bunch of Guides finding themselves bored and grumpy with nothing to do at their next meeting.

You download our planning sheet by clicking on the link below.  I created this based on one I found on an old Girlguiding website a few years ago, which I haven’t been able to find since.

GFI-planningsheet

Hope this helps any Guide leaders out there. 🙂

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Cake night with a VIP guest

Last year, we decided to give the patrols a chance to test their teamwork and leadership skills. With the introduction of the patrol boxes and the GFI planning sheets, we really saw them begin to show us that they were capable of getting things done without us having to do everything for them. That was great because as they reach Guides, they are starting to test their independence more as they head towards high school. It was time for the next step: running guides for a night! In 2013, we designated a theme for them which included Chinese New Year, Burns Night and Easter. This year, we gave them more freedom to choose. And so this past week, the first patrol had their turn. And they had chosen the theme of ‘Cake Day‘. A couple of the girls had decorated their nails to match the theme…
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I’ll be honest, the girls would happily make and eat cake and sweets every week if we let them. So I said to this patrol when they told me their theme that if they could show me that they were going to do more than just eat cake and use a bit of creativity to do so…cake day was fine with us leaders.

The only thing I really knew was that last week the girls were preparing and seemed to be spending most of our meeting practising a game they invented called ‘Cake Tig’ and telling me they were doing the rest of their preparation at home, and could they plllllleeeeeasssseee come to Guides half an hour early to set up.

Did I mention that we had a special guest coming to our unit on this night?

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Julie arrived as the girls were setting up, and I was so relieved that she seemed very chilled and down to earth. If I’m honest, I had some anxiety that I’d be inspected in my capabilities as a leader and am so very aware that she follows me on twitter (Girlguiding tweets, commuting rant tweets, churchy tweets and all!). i was a little nervous when she asked me ‘So what’s happening tonight?’ and I had to honestly reply “I have no idea other than the theme is cake day, and the pandas are the organisers of the night”.

So after a game of cake tig (which is like Tunnel tig, only if you get tagged you put your arms above your head to look like a birthday candle, and people can let you back in the game by hugging you and saying ‘happy birthday’), half the girls decorated biscuits with strawberry laces and skooshy cream…

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While the other half made ‘cakes’ with sponges and copious amounts of shaving foam for a ‘cake competition’. I’m partly to blame as I think I helped inspire this idea by suggesting they got people to ‘make a cake’ with other things while telling them about the LaSER event where they had a cake made of LEGO for the Big Brownie Birthday. And you know that no one could resist trying to attack each other with the shaving foam in the process of making these marvellous creations:

There was a game of ‘pin the cherry on the cupcake’…

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And the night ended with a quiz which involved answering questions on ‘Who makes exceedingly good cakes?’ to teams having to collectively make themselves look like a cake.

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We were able to get a quick photo just as Julie’s taxi was arriving (at the wrong hall) to take her back to the hotel and as she left she told us that she was impressed on how clean the hall was after all the cake night carnage. We were too…until we discovered that the girls had left the plates of shaving foam cakes in the kitchen and that the girls toilets were a bit foamy too…

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Luckily, we have an amazing young leader who has serious foam removal skills.

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All in all, it was a fun night. Well done to the Pandas for excellent use of imagination and organisational skills and thank you Julie for taking the time to visit us and accepting all of us just as we are.

Shaving foam, chilly church halls and all. 🙂

A year of Guides in pictures…

So we got up to a lot in Guides this year on a very tight budget after they really hiked up the price of Census in our area! There are many more photos the girls have in their scrapbooks but here’s a taste of this last year in Guides..

Guiding 101: The wonders of boxes, scrapbooks & planning sheets

When I first came back into Girlguiding, I wasn’t sure what the history of our unit was, wanted my fellow leaders to like me and did not want to tread on any toes. I really spent the first 2 terms watching. And trying to work out things like Go For Its, the new badges (there are so few now!) and the G-File. We had 5 girls who were getting older and I watched them struggle with the younger ones. There was a lot of disrepect (the younger ones to the older ones). Sometimes the older ones just did it all out of frustration.

Once I’d got myself a G-File (I use it as a reference) worked out what a Go-For-It was and had chatted with leaders, we discussed ways in which we could improve the overall atmosphere, interactions and encourage the girls to take ownership. We wanted the girls to get as much out of guiding as possible. We observed who brought the best and worst out of each other, and organised the patrols accordingly. We also wanted to have a mixture of ages in each patrol.

Then, at the beginning of this school year, we brought in something from my guiding days that I hoped would help the girls work better as patrols.

Patrol boxes.

Patrol Boxes

Now, one of our Guides came up to Senior Section, and this apparently is a  highlight memory. “Awww! The boxes. I loved my patrol box”. (never mind when we had the Jubilee Beacon night, or went rock climbing. The plastic boxes I got 3 for £10 in Poundstretcher were the highlight – ha ha!)

The other brilliant idea that joined the patrol boxes was scrapbooks. Jo found some bargain ones in Ikea, and bought one for each patrol.

The idea behind these patrol boxes, is that the girls had a place to put their patrol things – bits of unfinished work, the Go For It or Badge resource they are working on etc. In each box I gave them a copy of our Unit Guidelines (which the girls work out and decide on together at the beginning of each year), The Guide Promise & Law and their scrapbook. We may in future put some pens in each one too! I think the night I went to get felt pen packs the shop only had one pack left.

I also made sure the boxes were exactly the same – I knew our Guides would fight/go in huff if one colour got preferred over another, so I bought 4 purple boxes.

The scrapbooks have also been great. Because of the recent ‘anniversaries’ and events like the Queen’s Jubilee, the girls have seen and heard about the history of Guiding. I’ve been encouraging the girls to document their history through the scrapbooks, explaining that one day future guides can see what Patrols did ‘back in the 2010s’.

This term I made sure to take pictures of what all the patrols were doing, and then printed photos so on the last night of term they could use the pictures in their scrapbooks however they wanted.

The difference we see in the girls since we introduced the patrol boxes has been incredible. Like it was something so simple, but the girls seem to like having their own box and it’s brought some extra unity into the patrols. It also means we leaders aren’t finding as much scribbled bits of paper and half finished work and trying to work out which patrol it belongs to!

The last thing we introduced was something I found on an old Guiding website totally by accident. GFI planning sheets.  We usually get them to pick by laying out all the Go For It and similar resources (e.g. On Your Marks) on the stage. We ask the patrol leaders to take a couple at a time to take back to the patrol and help their patrol decide which one they’d like to do. Once a patrol has picked a Go For It, we give them a planning sheet, so they can plan their 4 weeks of Go For It activities. The sheet is then kept in their patrol box. This is especially great if we have a break from usual patrol nights in the middle for an activity outside the uni or there is a bank holiday – when they ask ‘What are we doing next week?‘, we can say ‘Where is your planning sheet? What did you write down?

I have fuzzed out writing to protect identities of the Guides

We’ve also seen a notable improvement in their organisational skills, though we still need to make sure they’ve remember and written down what they need to bring – or check if they need the leaders to bring anything for them for the following week.

One of our ‘graduated’ guides is now working in our unit as a Young Leader, and she has testified to other members of the Senior Section who were in our unit that ‘the girls are so much better now’. The best thing is we’re seeing the girls take ownership and gaining confidence in leadership skills. We’re still struggling with the teamwork aspect at times, and that’s something the leaders will be taking into consideration when we have our planning meeting before the start of the next school year in August.

I hope this helps some other Guide leaders, and if you have any questions, please just ask. We’re always looking to learn as well as share the things we’ve found that work well to run a unit relatively smoothly!