Teambuilding Games…

Animal Farm

You will need: Cards with pictures of farmyard animals

Each person takes a card which will have a picture of a farmyard animal (e.g. pig, cow, sheep, cockerel). They then have to make the noise of that animal and find their fellow animals to make a group. This can be used as a way of getting them into teams to play a teambuilding game.

 

Spaghetti Architects

You will need: A pack of spaghetti, a pack of marshmallows for each team

Split your group into small teams. The idea is that with the spaghetti and marshmallows they must build the most stable and tallest tower they can. Everyone has the same amount of time to do it, and the leaders will then judge towers on stability and height to see who is the winning team.

 

Cups and Downs

You will need: 20+ nonbreakable cups*

Place 20 or more cups in the middle of the room, put half of them upside down and the other half the right way up. Divide the group into 2 teams and give each team a name (ie ups or downs) – the ‘up’ team needs to turn as many cups up the right way as possible, and the ‘down’ team needs to flip them upside down. When the allocated time limit is over, count all the cups and whichever team has the most turned up their way wins.

*reusable plastic ones tend to work best

 

Wizards, Giants and Goblins

This is basically a fun group version of “Rock, Paper, Scissors”

You will need: An open space

Divide the class into two teams. Tell the teams to go on either side of “the stage”. They line up on two sides of the room facing each other. Each team secretly decides if they are going to be Wizards, Giants or Goblins.

The leader counts 1, 2, 3. On each number the groups takes one step forward. On “3” they take up the position of the character the group has decided on:
• Wizards: lean forward throwing their arms forward as if casting a spell and say “Shazzam”
• Giants: put both hands above their head, stretching up really tall and say “Ho, ho ho!”
• Goblins: crouch down, put their hands up to their face as if scratching their beards and make a high pitch laugh.

Giants beat Wizards, Wizards beat Goblins and Goblins beat Giants.

The losing team must run back to their side of the room. The winning team try to “tag” as many of the losing team as possible before they get home. The captives now become part of their captors’ team. Continue until one team has captured everyone for their team and wins.

 

Hula Hoop Race

You will need: Two hula hoops

Your group will be split into two equal teams. Each team forms a circle holding hands and is given a hula hoop. One pair lets go and has a hoop placed over one arm before joining hands again. The team has to work together to move the hula hoop round the circle by stepping into it and pulling it over their heads without any person letting go of the hand they are holding. The team that manages to get the hoop around the circle first, wins.

You can if you want make the challenge more difficult by changing direction and sending the hoop back around the circle in the opposite direction.

Free Being Me – the grand finale

In some kind of nutty diary planning, our grand finale to the Free Being Me project turned out to be waaay more crazy than we realised. Sunday 7th June was the day we put in the diary at Easter for the Guides’ exhibition.

First of all, two school holidays  in the month leading up to the exhibition which meant gaps between meetings so the Guides had less time to get the work done. Secondly during that time the other Assistant Leader was on exam leave. Thirdly, I was getting placement done (and the week before I was organising a wikipedia editathon event and a exhibition at a play as part of that) and fourthly, both Anneleen (our photographer) and myself had our final hand-ins for university hitting at the same time. Oh, and our Unit Leader’s kids had sports days and dance exam rehearsals on the week of said exhibition.

IMG_5568I made my family extremely grumpy as I took over the dining room table that week – with only one laptop (mine) at the final two meetings, and I think the same situation was going on at our Unit Leader, Jo’s house.

The girls had put together some stuff about Free Being Me and chosen photos I’d been taking ‘behind the scenes’ at their photo shoot sessions to put together a bit about what they’d done with Anneleen for the event.

IMG_3322This also included their messages speaking out against the beauty myth (the middle display board).

Despite having to take some of their content to type up, I didn’t correct any of it. None of us had been hovering over them too much, and I was blown away by what they wrote. Two of our oldest Guides had done the ‘About Free Being Me’ board (on the left). I used their words for our Press Release which got published on a local news website and the Girlguiding Scotland website.

The Guides had also decided they wanted to share their Free Being Me wall – they each wrote about someone who inspired them…we had parents, siblings, fish, famous women and even Dobby the house-elf from Harry Potter. I’m sure some adults would have told the girls they could only pick real-life humans, but I think it’s perfectly legitimate to be inspired by fictional characters. Sally Fletcher from Aussie soap Home and Away was a role model for me as a young girl.

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Leading up the stairs were the inspirational people/fish (some with pictures), they wrote who they were, and why they found them inspirational. On the other side, I had typed out every single quote they had written on numerous pieces of scrap paper and the girls had these going up the stairs on the other side…

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I don’t know where half these quotes came from, so I’m sorry if we didn’t give you credit. Most of these came from the girls’ memories or they made them up themselves I think.

And then of course were the portraits.

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My favourite part of the day was when I got to be present to a parent seeing their daughter’s portrait for the first time. So many of them gasped and looked at me, Jo or Anneleen and said ‘It really captures xxxxxx’s personality‘. Which of course was the point – the girls did such a great job working with Anneleen to find what makes them – well – them! And Anneleen really captured it with her camera.

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The girls raised £130 with a bake sale they organised and decided to have for charity. Frustratingly, the charity they’d chosen had closed down (we only discovered this when the girls asked if I’d email the charity to invite them to the exhibition and tell them they were going to fundraise for them). So note to charities – if you have to close down – please say this on your website, or take your website down!! I was proud of how they welcomed members of the public, served them tea and coffee, and also got very into inventing ‘cocktails’ and putting signs about them outside the heritage centre. ‘Borange’ being the main one (Orange and Apple and Blackcurrant squash mixed together in case you’re wondering).

The paper had asked if we could get a high resolution photo of the girls at the exhibition. Unfortunately not all the Guides were together at the same time due to some of them having other commitments such as rowing and dancing. But we giggled at Anneleen standing on a chair and getting attacked by a fan or light switch while she snapped some pictures of the girls in front of their portraits.

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However, much to Jo and I’s chagrin the photo that ended up in the paper was one with the two of us in it. And Anneleen and I have had a giggle that her new artist name should be ‘Anne Leen’ as the editor put in the photo credit rather than ‘Anneleen Lindsay’…

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The girls are getting to take their portraits home to keep at the end of term, and I hope that they’ll remember everything we’ve learned together during this last term and a half doing Free Being Me. Now, there’s just our final campfire and last meeting where 7 Brownies who’ll be joining us after the summer will be coming to help with their transition up the sections.

And it seems like two of the girls have used this term as an opportunity to step out and take hold of the opportunities we’ve been telling them about for so long. They are off to their first ever Guide camp this summer – a national one at that (neither of them have been camping with Girlguiding before) and have decided not to move up to Senior Section quite yet..they want to get their Baden-Powell first. 🙂

I ended up with only five days to do my final assignment for university – but it was worth it to support our Guides to accomplish so much. We, as their leaders, are unbelievably proud of them!

Why do I volunteer with Girlguiding?

Why is it that on my day off when I *should* be filling in job applications or writing my final university assignment, I am writing up a draft press release and panicking that the charity our Guides voted on to fundraise for apparently closed down last month and they just never bothered to shut down their website?

I wrote last year about why I volunteer with Girlguiding. This year, I’m up to three groups of girls (two Senior Section groups and the Guide unit). Last term I finally got my Leadership Qualification badge – and at the same time stood with four new Senior Section members and two trainee leaders (who are becoming good friends of mine) making their promise.

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I love these moments.

Why do I love them so much?

The truth is that volunteering is work. And these moments remind me why I stick it out through the tougher days when it isn’t all silly selfies, eating cake and dressing up!

There are months when you watch girls rip each other and themselves apart, and then you watch them get to a place where they are cheering and encouraging one another on. And doing something nice for each other.

Starting the year by celebrating several birthdays

Starting the year by celebrating several birthdays

It requires you to do a tour of supermarkets, pound shops, specialist shops, retail parks looking for the things you need for an event or project your unit wants to work on. It requires your friends and colleagues to collect magazines, toilet rolls, yoghurt pots, empty glass jars or lend you CDs, costumes and salwar suits

IMG_4619Every year you have the panic of searching every jacket and bag you’ve had for the previous few months for the active kids vouchers you have been handed by lovely friends, relatives, Guides and colleagues as you’ve been saying goodbye or in the middle of doing something else (or is that just me?!). And then you spend a few hours counting them, on the Active Kids helpline because their website isn’t working and vowing you’re never doing it again…

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until of course the stuff arrives, the girls get excited, you see it put to good use…

The girls and leaders collected Active Kids Vouchers and we spent them!

The girls and leaders collected Active Kids Vouchers and we spent them!

…and by the time the vouchers appear in shops and the girls and your friends ask you ‘Are you collecting the vouchers again?‘ you find yourself saying ‘yes‘.

Active Kids Vouchers 2013

It is work to get up on a drizzly Saturday morning at the crack of dawn when you’ve not slept for two days due to being choked with a cold, or you’ve been off work and on antibiotics all week with a chest infection and do a 5k with coloured cornflour being chucked at you…

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But it’s worth it to hear from parents how much their daughters loved it and hear the girls planning their ideas for how we can do it ‘even better’ next year.

And it’s draining when you care so much, and hear the girls say statements like ‘there’s nothing good about me‘ or ‘Why would anyone care what I have to say?‘ or ‘But I’m fat‘ or ‘I don’t know, I’m stupid‘ or ‘How could I inspire anyone?‘. You will ask advice from fellow leaders, come up with ideas, try to create opportunities and give them encouragement…anything you can think of that you hope will prove to them that they do have value, that people do care what they have to say, that they aren’t fat (and that body size shouldn’t stop them giving things a go anyway), that they aren’t dumb and that they can inspire other people just by being themselves.

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because when you see one of the girls overcome something…the exhaustion and frustration you’ve felt knowing that they could do it but them not seeing it doesn’t matter anymore.

The bottom line is this…

Volunteering is hard work.

But it’s mostly a lot of fun.

And it is definitely worth it.

When your lovely Brownies turn into teenage Guides…

I think once you’ve been part of leading a unit for a while, we all have those nights where you come home and you feel like this:

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And you wonder why you do it, and whether it’s possible that aliens abducted all the lovely girls that arrived from Brownies as super enthusiastic, attentive, polite Guides and exchanged them for clones that look like the same girls but injected them with an attitude that seems designed to destroy your spirit.

A bit like this:

Seem a familiar sight to any other Guide leaders out there? Of course, when we were teenagers, we were never like that. Ahem.

When I turned 16, I got signed up as an Assistant Guider in an inner city Guide unit. It was a large unit, and the area around us was probably one that local authority had labelled as ‘socially deprived’.

It was tough. But eventually with consistency and gaining trust we did get somewhere. But man it was flippin’ exhausting at times!

The unit I have now is nothing like as challenging as that one. I have had some challenging behaviour to deal with at times. But the 10-14 age range in girls is a tough one. I remember going through it myself, I remember my sister going through it, my friends’ younger sisters going through it and have no desire to turn back the clock to do it again.

You will find that some of your girls go through nights when they seem sulky and will moan that they ‘can’t be bothered‘ or ‘don’t want to do that’. You’ll find girls who have been firm friends get into fights or stop speaking to each other. You may have to deal with gossip, or discovery of bullying. Girls may be very self conscious about what they look like. And there’ll just be general moments of ‘attitude’.

So how do you handle it?

1. Consistency. It’s especially important I think in a time where there is so much changing. The girls seem to like routine, though they also enjoy nights that are different every now and again. I find that when we go through phases where we really struggle with the girls, it’s when we’ve been trying to fit too much into meetings or we’re not in a routine they know.

2. Find ways for the girls to learn how to take responsibility. They want to be adults, but are still learning how to be adults. I find that having their patrol boxes, planning sheets and everything helps with this. If they forget something, I don’t ‘save the day’, but encourage them to find something else to do instead, and remind them that this is why it’s important. They do eventually learn to remember things because it results in better, more fun activities!

3. Raising the hand for silence. I don’t want to yell, and when I do it usually doesn’t work because they aren’t listening anyway. Yes, you will get terrific arm muscles, because you may find yourself with that arm raised for a really long time. I don’t speak when I’ve got my arm raised. I’ll just stand there until they are all completely silent.

We also have a whistle which we will use to get girls attention if they continue to be noisy. This was brought in at the request of the girls when making their unit guidelines this year – they told us we should yell at them more often if they didn’t ‘shut up’ (their words!). I said I didn’t want to be yelling, so we did the whistle thing. We try not to use it too often.

4. Time Management. I always give the girls plenty of time to tidy up. I will give them a 10 minute, five minute and one minute ‘you need have cleared up now’. Sometimes they ask to do something extra at the end – they know if they don’t clear up after themselves quickly (and properly) there won’t be time.

5. Say thank you. It’s really easy to nag and find things to criticise. ‘Jane you’ve made a huge mess on the floor, go get a brush to clean it up’. ‘Tracy, why are you standing chatting when the rest of your patrol is doing all the work?’. Even if it’s something you’d expect them to do, and especially if some of them are getting on with it and others aren’t – say thank you. ‘Thank you for putting that chair away’. ‘Well done that’s a great job with the dishes’.

6. Be encouraging. Compliment them when they’ve planned their Go For It activities so they all know what they are doing. Tell them “it’s lovely to see you working well as a team” when they are. Encourage the girl who participates even though she some times gives up because she feels there’s no point if she’s not going to be the best.

7. Remind them of their Unit Guidelines. Our girls all have a copy of the promise, Guide law and the unit guidelines we create each year together in their patrol boxes. They are also posted on our noticeboard in the meeting place. I remind them that they made them, and I also remind them of the promise we all made. I also tell them that if they catch me not keeping them, they should pull me up on it too! For example: one of our unit rules is electronic devices (like phones & iPods) are put away and not brought out during the meeting because it can be rude. It goes for the unit leaders too. Sometimes if a leader is running late or a girl isn’t there, I’ll say to the girls ‘I’ve got my phone out just in case we hear from x because they don’t seem to be here yet. Is that ok?‘ that way they know I’m not just texting my friend and not paying attention to them. I’m checking to see if my phone going off is because a leader has got caught in traffic or a parent is letting me know her daughter has come down sick.

Equally, I will say to the girls they can use their phones if it is for a constructive reason (e.g. finding a recipe for an activity they want to do).

8. Talk to the girls privately when difficult situations come up rather than with the whole unit as an audience. Be calm. The two times there has been hitting in our unit, I’ve taken the girls involved aside while the rest of the unit are engaged in activity and talked them through it in a way that gets them thinking about what they are doing, and how our actions can affect others, and how we can communicate/act in more constructive ways when we feeling angry or frustrated. Last time ended in two girls giggling because I mentioned periods and PMT and how even though we may feel like it, we can’t go about hitting people when we are feeling a bit wonky with all the hormones. “I can’t believe you mentioned periods!!!!” was the response as two girls who two seconds before had been engaged in a fully fledged cat fight went off to their patrols best pals again, tension lifted.

9. Keep hold of your sense of humour. It’s much easier when you can find the funny side of things.

10. Be yourself, and accept that you are in their eyes ‘a grown up’ and therefore don’t understand, are very uncool and don’t know anything. You’ll find that when you openly admit to being boring and uncool instead of being ‘down with the kids’, they take you more seriously and may even compliment you and giggle with you on a rare occasion. They may even ask you for advice (!) (which is rare because obviously teenagers already know everything).

One final thing: Take heart and don’t give up, because if you don’t you may find the lovely ten year old that disappeared into a teenager for a while, becomes a fabulously mature and helpful older teenager a couple of years later…just in time for her to move up to Senior Section! 😉

You’ll (hopefully) find all those nights you came home with extra grey hairs was worth it…

Moving on up

You know when you want to write a post, and then another fantastic blogger writes exactly what you’d want to write. Only more eloquently?

Well that’s what has happened today. There’s a great post on Kelloggsville’s A Guiding Life blog about moving Guides up to Senior Section which I couldn’t agree with more.

What do you think we can do as leaders to help girls be more comfortable and confident moving up to the next section of Girlguiding? Would love to hear your thoughts!

End on a positive note…

It would be very easy for me to write and share on this blog like I’m the best Guider in the world ever.

Some days I do a great job.

Some days I fall short.

I fell short on Monday night as a Guider.

Last night, myself and another guider went to one of our city’s theatres to see Class Act 2014. Class Act is a project where pupils studying English or Drama get the opportunity to be playwrights. Through a series of workshops they get the chance to write a short play, and then see it performed by professional actors. Two of our young leaders and one of the girls who used to be in our Guide unit had written plays and we got two complimentary tickets to see the performance.

As the pile of pupils, parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, friends, teachers (and us guide leaders) piled into the theatre one young lad was having a conversation with one of the young leaders. I think it was to do with being nervous about others seeing his play, I’m not sure. I just heard the following sentence:

“I won’t be mean to you. I can’t be mean to you in front of my Guide leader anyway!”

To which I piped in with: “I would hope you wouldn’t be mean even if I wasn’t here!” and we all laughed (because I just can’t imagine this girl being mean anyway).

But it did make me realise something, that it’s probably another thing in my culture that the girls have picked up on from my interactions with them.

I don’t like people being rude or mean to each other.

So let’s go back to Monday night at Guides. It started off well with us all gathering in a circle to talk about the feedback they’d given to us about what they’d like to do this term and me updating them with some new information about the possibilities of making it happen. There were the usual tangents, but then I had to use my stern voice as a few girls began talking loudly between themselves when other people were trying to contribute or ask questions. It was really rude, and I explained that to them (as I have done a few times before). The girls broke into their patrols to plan their activities for the term – doing Go For Its and the theme night each patrol was going to host for the unit. Some got on great. But then one patrol descended into chaos as two ignored the others in their group planned things the rest of the girls didn’t want to do which as far as I could tell was based around wanting to make a heart shaped carrot cake.

At the end the girls took so long clearing up – one patrol had littered their area of the hall with balls of scrunched up paper on the floor, and the lids of the new felt pens we’d bought them only the other week. Abandoned. One quieter member of the patrol saw it and began to pick it all up – the rest of her group all chattering away with other patrols having cleared and tidied away already. Sort of. Another group hadn’t bothered to put their tables back properly left them, and then other girls could get their tables away.

I was already stressed out knowing I had a research paper due in a couple hours after the meeting still unfinished. And I think finding the brand new pens treated so carelessly got to me.

And so as they gathered in a horseshoe telling me they hadn’t got to play a game (I’d said they could if they got tidied up on time – they hadn’t). I  thanked the three girls who had taken the intiative to clear up what others had abandoned. I explained to the unit how if they had tidied up more quickly and all helped they would have had time to play a game. then I told them that I’d been disappointed at seeing the way they were treating each other, our resources and the hall.

I saw them deflate.

And then the meeting ended.

As they walked out, I felt deflated too. Because I’d ended on a negative note.

I hadn’t told them how so many of them had come up with such great, imaginative ideas for their theme nights. Or how it was great to see one of the patrols working so well together after struggling to do this last term (yay for Teamwork Go For It!).

It must have been so discouraging, and I ‘d broken one of my golden rules. Yes, it’s important to address issues like rudeness, meanness or laziness – why it’s unfair to leave all the tidy up to one person, or to leave a mess for someone else to fix instead of just asking for help or why we don’t sit with our phones making fun of folks from school ignoring others in the group…but it’s also important to find more things to praise that to criticise.

Next week, I’m going to aim to do better. And apologise.

Sainsbury’s Active Kids Scheme

Last year, we got on board with Active Kids voucher collecting. I’d tried to find out about it in 2012 and not really succeeded, but in 2013 as soon as I saw the vouchers appearing I was on the internet getting us registered!

I’ve collected vouchers for years. A few of my friends are teachers, after school club workers and one used to be a Beaver Scout leader so there was always a group to collect them for. Over time a few of my friends give me vouchers knowing I would have a group to pass them onto! In 2013 though, more stepped up to help collect for our Unit.

Active Kids Vouchers 2013

The power of social media meant that I could say thank you and keep friends updated – several friends posted me vouchers after they’d finished collecting, and our unit was so grateful. We ended up with over 1000 vouchers, and on the last night of term, I’d copied down what we could get with our vouchers and how many vouchers each item would cost. The girls then took this and by the end of the night gave me their ‘shopping list’. We felt it was important they decided, and they did this with very little input from the leaders.

It was a good month or so into the term that a package arrived at my house. In fact I think it arrived at my neighbour’s house as I was at work the day it was delivered…

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We got some training tracks, hurdles, a ball pump and two dodgeballs. I did add a kitchen timer to the list (as it required hardly any vouchers and we had some leftover) because the girls cook a lot and have a habit of forgetting to remember how long they’ve had the oven on for. The girls like making obstacle courses and creating new team games, so I hope that over the next few years we can take care of what we’ve got and add to it by collecting more vouchers.

I’d really encourage anyone who’s not done this to get involved either by registering their unit, district or division with Active Kids and get  collecting, or make an effort to collect vouchers and give them in to a group who will use them. It’s starting up again soon and you can find out more about how your Guide Unit can be involved here.

A wee tip – always ask the person at the till if they have any spare vouchers. Some staff will keep aside vouchers not claimed by customers to give to the next person who is collecting. All they can say is ‘No’…but I’ve often got extra vouchers this way, and sometimes people in front of me in the queue will give me their vouchers too.