Bra Decorating, Year Planning and the Passion For Fashion

The first half term, was a short half term. The unit had started back late, due to the Leader passing away over the summer and was a bit disorganised to start with.

Cancer Research NI was doing a breast cancer awareness and fundraising event in town, and Sheetbend is very involved in the charity so wanted to get the Guides involved. The activity is was to decorate bras which would be displayed in the windows of shops in town.

The Guides and TSS had a great time! There were feathers, glitter and pipe cleaners everywhere and the bras were very bright and entertaining. Two of our Senior Section actually won prizes for their decorating.

The second night we started with some get to know each other activities and then covered a table with a long roll of paper and gave the Guides marker pens. They then drew all over it, with ideas of what they wanted to do for the year. It was very colourful and they came up with some excellent ideas. They wanted to do fashion, not my specialty, but Sheetbend turned up to a planning meeting with the Passion For Fashion GFI.

We had a look through the activities and settled on a few to cover us for the next 3 weeks up to half term.

Week 1: each patrol had to design a fashion range and produce a magazine spread to showcase their work. They did really well, the Daisies produced holiday wear, the Poppies designed shoes and the Daffodils went for gymnastic wear, I thought that was rather specific, but they thought they would have a market.

Week 2: discussion on sweat shops and the concept of beauty. The Guides discussed this fairly well to be honest. The concept of inner beauty and why people wear the clothes they do and why some people decide to makeup and others do not. We then made bracelets from loom bands, the Guides who knew how to make them, gave the others a hand and they all worked together well.

Week 3: The Guides were given scrap material and old clothes and asked to design a Guide Uniform in patrols. It was hilarious, we had a Wedding Guide outfit, a Sexy Guide outfit and a lovely skirt. None of them knew how to sew so there was a lot of glue everywhere.

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My Journey – Getting back into Guiding

At the end of my final university exams, I realised that I was free, but none of my friends were yet. So I decided to go and visit friends elsewhere and headed to Sheffield to see Reed. She was working so I got to chill out during the day and then on the second evening, she asked if I would like to come along to Guides with her 🙂

Of course I said yes! We spent a lovely evening interacting with the Guides as they did arts and crafts and sewed badges onto their camp blankets. Which was a definite inspiration for me to start my own blanket. As we drove home, I questioned why I was not involved.

As soon as I reached uni, I put myself on join us and waited for a call. The lady who got in touch was one of my old Brownie Leaders and the district commissioner at the time. She remembered my name and was very keen for me to get involved. I told her I would prefer the older age range but that I would go wherever I could be useful.

She informed me that the Guide unit had been run by a mother and daughter, Barrel, for many many years and unfortunately the mother had just passed away. Barrel was feeling a bit overwhelmed and didn’t think she would be able to keep attending every week for a while and they needed a bit of help.

I was very excited about my first night back and I didn’t really know how it was going to go. It had been about 9 years since I had been a Guide and the memories were a bit fuzzy, but I like working with kids and I was looking forward to the challenge.

Well it was a bit chaotic, there were a few people there to help, the Senior Section Leader, Sheetbend, was officially in charge, she had two established helpers, who weren’t always available, and she had planned to combine TSS and Guides to enable her to run them both. Another new person, Halter, and I, were aiming to do our leadership and help run the Guides.

The first few weeks were a bit hectic, Halter and I were trying to run a unit, with no access to the bank account and no knowledge of the current Guiding program, nor did I know how to access that learning. I will be doing some posts over the summer about the activities we did, just so that I have a resource which contains all of our ideas, you never know when they might come in useful again!

Being thrown in at the deep end had it’s advantages, I got my leadership book in March and had everything signed off come October and am now able to help other Leaders in Training.

Things that I struggled with were how to contact the parents. I really didn’t have the time to ring or text them all, so I made it my mission to get hold of all of their email addresses and set up a unit email. It has been amazing! I can contact all the parents within minutes and get replies to my phone. I’ve also started sharing pictures with them via dropbox and they have really enjoyed being able to see what their Guides get up to.

The behaviour of the Guides sometimes gets me down. I implemented a rewards chart and that really helped. The chart has pictures of the patrol emblems and they have to work together as a patrol to gain points over the year, with the winning patrol gaining a prize at the end of the year. It was initially started because the Guides were unwilling to help tidy up and Halter and I were having to stay for half an hour after the meeting to get everything clean and it really wasn’t fair. The idea is that the Guides win stickers, which are placed on their heads, with it being their own responsibility to transfer them to the chart at the end of the night.

The first night I introduced the chart was hilarious. I had mentioned it a few weeks before but hadn’t got around to implementing it. So that night, I was a bit stressed, the place was a mess and I was ready to give up. I told Barrel and Halter to not push individuals to help tidy, nor to tidy themselves. We made one announcement to tidy up and then I went around and put stickers on the heads of the Guides who were helping. The Guides were so funny, the ones getting stickers were confused, asking what they were for, the Guides without stickers were frustrated and kept asking if they could could have stickers, to which I just kept replying “I don’t know, can you?”. There were two sessions of tidying up and there were only a handful of Guides who didn’t have two stickers. When I explained what the stickers were for, the Guides without two started to look a little guilty and for the next few weeks, everyone helped tidy up.

My next journey post will talk about my leadership award and then the journey into Look Wider.

Snores and S’mores Camp

Camp was finally here! This year, like last year, we attended the Snores and S’mores Camp arranged by GirlGuiding Ulster at Lorne Guide House. There were 150 Guides and around 30 leaders attended the camp which took place from the Friday night to early Sunday afternoon.

As a leader, it was a pretty easy camp, I only had responsibility to ensure my Guides were well behaved and turned up to activities on time (although some of the other leaders didn’t manage that very well). All the food was provided.

This was only my second camp as a leader and my LiC, Barrel, isn’t very reliable and informed me a few weeks ago that she would be disappearing on the Saturday and may not make it back for the Sunday. To which, I mentally questioned why she was coming at all. Admittedly, we only had 11 Guides and our ratio is 1:12 so even if Barrel wasn’t there, I would still be okay. However it didn’t really seem fair.

One Fridays, I finish work early at 2.30pm, so I made it to the camp site by 3.30pm and to my surprise, there were already tents up! A few weeks before, they had held a Brownie Camp and had decided to leave the tents up for us. I went to ask where my girls were going to be, as I had brought a leaders tent with me. It’s a 6 man tent with 2 pods to allow us to have our own space.

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They hadn’t quite got the allocations complete so I went to help transport food instead. I had a good laugh with a couple of the activity instructors and when we were assigned a spot, I started on the 6 man tent. It took me an hour and some creative engineering with duct tape, to get the tent constructed by myself, but I felt very proud afterwards.

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While putting up the tent, I got a text message from Barrel, stating that she would be down later, she did not specify when. I ignored the text because I really couldn’t deal with the situation. She then whatsapp’ed me, asking if I had received her text, I replied that I had received her text. She then asked if I was okay with her coming down late, I replied “sure”. She then asked again and I replied, “yes”. I was being rather passive aggressive, I understand that, but I’ve really reached the limit of my patience with her.

The tent was up by 5.30pm and I had all my gear in and my bed made up by 5.50pm, the Guides started arriving at 6pm so I was feeling pretty happy with myself. I had even had time to stick their names on the signs outside the tent!

The Guides all arrived and got themselves sorted and settled in and ran off to chat to one another. That left me sitting outside my tent alone and I didn’t really know what I was going to do. However I was in luck, a Guider I had met during my training, Butterfly, was two tents down and came to chat. Throughout the weekend, if she saw me alone, she would call me over with a cry of Norma No Mates :p

We had an opening ceremony and the Guides were all up on their feet dancing. While a leader’s meeting was held, the Guides got to explore Lorne and collect items to build a little man. We were the red team along with 12 Guides from another unit. My Guides didn’t really cope with the necker very well, they had them tied around their heads, but at least they were wearing them!

Supper was doughnuts and hot chocolate and then came the challenge of getting the Guides to bed. By 11pm I had them all in their tents with an order to go to sleep. At this point Barrel finally turned up. So not really much use to me at all.

Saturday dawned and we had a busy schedule of activities to enjoy. We started with the climbing wall. Two of my Guides are sisters, the elder, Ariel, is in her last year with us and is scared of heights, she tried the climbing wall last year but wasn’t up for trying it this year. The younger one, Belle, is also scared of heights but really impressed me with her courage in having a go. She actually tried twice and got about half way up the wall!

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After a quick snack, we headed off to team fun, lots and lots of team building activities which was really well run by the instructors. They had a go at the arm twisting game where you get all tangled up and have to untwist into a circle, rearranging themselves on barrels in order of name and birth month, team skis, directing a blindfolded partner through a mine field, tanagrams and many many more. Barrel left for her day trip about half way through this activity and I was left alone with my 11 Guides.

Lunch was provided by Subway, before camp, everyone had filled in a menu choice and each person got a box with their name on. The leader picked up their Guides’ boxes and everyone was fed very efficiently. The food was also very good and we got both a packet of crisps and a cookie.

The afternoon started with grass sledging and a visit to the shop, the Guides were already tired so we cut this session short and let them have half an hour free before the river run. They did enjoy the sledges though, a couple of Guides didn’t quite stop in time and ended up in the bushes.

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Then it was time for the river run, the Guides had a blast! Drenched and covered in mud they emerged, so very happy. They played lots of games in the water and the instructors were excellent.

Then came the challenge of 8 showers vs 23 very muddy Guides and dinner in half an hour! They were pretty good and managed to get sorted but I did have to pre-warn about only taking 5 minute showers, Belle was still slightly muddy at dinner.

Dinner was a food van serving chips and either a hamburger or chicken nuggets. I had the chicken and it was really good. They only problem was the van only had one fryer so serving was very very slow! It really wasn’t a high maintenance camp for either the Guides or Leaders.

We were asked that each group contribute a song, sketch or dance to the campfire in the evening and I kind of panicked, I don’t know a lot of campfire songs off by heart. The previous evening, one of the instructors had taught them the army, clapping version of “I’m a little teapot” and they were all up for it, I had, in fact, heard it several times today. I was happy for them to do that song but asked them what their plan was, if someone else sang it before they did. They all launched into “Baby Bumble Bee” and amazed me, they all knew the words and actions and gave it their all. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my Guides come together and show this much interest in anything. They all got up together at the campfire and gave a rousing rendition and I was so proud to be their leader.

Barrel turned up just before the campfire and we all joined in and enjoyed the singing and dancing. Afterwards it was Smores time! The Guides all lined up and were given marshmallows on skewers and chocolate digestives and really enjoyed roasting the marshmallows.

After all the Guides had eaten, it was the time of the leaders to get their smores and we all lined up too. I think as leaders in Guiding, we have to retain our childhood joy to be able to understand what the kids want. I’ve found this applies no matter your biological age, I’ve met Leaders and Trefoil Guild from the ages of 18 to 80 and they all have this in common, the ability to laugh no matter what happens and to enjoy the excitement of children and get stuck in.

I ended up chatting to a couple of leaders around my age and really enjoyed the chance to pick up ideas and talk about our journeys. I think I persuaded one to apply to the World Scout Moot next year. I don’t think I’ve mentioned that I’m going but I will be doing a post about this soon. In the meantime, my dear Guides decided to stuff my sleeping bag with balloons, I’m glad I had put away my underwear! The Guides asked if we could stay up a little later since this was going to be my last camp with them and I agreed. I reckoned that five or ten minutes wouldn’t do them any harm. However that was not what Barrel had in her head, she started playing music (while the other units were trying to sleep) and kept saying “no, its fine, they don’t have to go to bed yet”. I knew the Guides were exhausted so I put my foot down and scurried them off to bed.

While we were sitting talking, the Guides decided to tip my chair back and leave me stranded on the ground! It was very funny and they were very gentle. And the pic gave a pretty decent showing of my camp blanket. I’d been wearing it as a cape in the late afternoon and the Guides have nicknamed me Anna from Frozen!

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On Sunday, we arose, somewhat bright and early, and a bit bleary eyed to start into archery with an excellent instructor who my Guides decided to name Ian, after the evil guy in Alvin and the Chipmunks. He was fantastic and took it really well. They were kept interested and dynamic.

Our last activity of the weekend was bushcraft and I don’t know about the Guides but I certainly learnt a lot. We all got to build fires, and light them using a striker tool. Once the fires were up and running, the Guides wrapped up potatoes in foil and also scooped out the centre of a potato and cracked an egg inside, reapplying the lid. Then we placed them in the fires to cook. The Guides were so very excited to eat their own cooked food. I think I would be interested in trying to cook on an open fire at camp some time.

At camp this year, we were awarding a few prizes, we had a prize for the Guide who threw themselves into the weekend and really gave everything a go and this year, it went to Belle, she was so helpful and enthusiastic and tried her best at everything. The second lot of prizes, was for the tent who worked together best and got along with everyone to the best of their ability. This year it went to Belle and Ariel’s tent, along with their other two tent members. I had bought adult colouring books with colouring pencils, since they seem to be really popular at the moment.

After that came packing and closing and shipping the Guides home with their parents. I had a lovely time at camp but was very tired and slept for 3 hours when I got home. I’m looking forward to doing my Going Away With licence in the next couple of years.