Coffee and Pampering

Each year we raise money for a different cause and in 2015/2016 it was for Action Cancer. One of our leaders is very involved in the local branch and was keen to get the guides involved. Just like last year, when we raised money for the Nepal Scouts and Guides, we decided to have a coffee evening and invite the parents of our Guides and the Beavers.

The coffee evening went basically as planned but we had some funny incidents with the Guides and some of our new Senior Section.

First there was the overly guilty looking Guide who came to confess her sins. Her and her friends had snuck out to the garage and bought themselves sweets, they hadn’t thought that it wouldn’t be okay. I ticked them off but then let them eat the sweets anyway.

We had a brand new Guide that night, who seemed kind of bemused by the whole situation but once she found some friends seemed to settle in. In fact she is still with us this year so we must not have scared her too much.

One of our newer Guides and one of the new Senior section asked why they had to stay late that night, when I explained that we would need them to clean up, the shock on their faces! It was as if I had told them I expected them to fight a lion, they couldn’t believe I wanted them to wash dishes.

They did manage to raise about £180 and the Guides had fun and learned how to talk to adults a little better.

The next week was the church’s Week of Mission. Something I find difficult Guiding in Northern Ireland is that a lot of the units take place in Church Halls and the leaders are very nice Church Ladies who have a habit of pushing a religious agenda onto the Guides, which I don’t agree with. But sometimes I have to allow it to happen and can’t really do much to stop it.

Our youth minister is a nice guy and he ran an evening with them which we set up as a pamper evening. He brought beads for them to make bracelets (they did have something to do with Bible quotes but I wasn’t paying attention). We invited in a lady who does makeup, someone else who did hair and Barrel brought along her extensive nail polish collection.

It was interesting to see the Guides interacting with all of the girlie things, some of them jumped right in and others were shy about it or not interested at all. I had a small delegation who asked if they could do my make up and I of course agreed. I try not to wear make up but sometimes being a Guide Leader means making sacrifices :p

The youth minister had brought along a chocolate fountain, fruit and sweets so we sent the Guides home happy and full of sugar!

My Journey: London Monopoly

So this post has nothing to do with my Guides and is about me and my Guiding Journey ūüôā

I’m determined to experience all that I can from the Senior Section before I hit my 26th Birthday and since its the centenary year, there is plenty to get involved in. Reed messaged me and asked if I fancied a weekend in London for London Monopoly and we got Bowline involved as well! That’s me on the left, Reed in the centre and Bowline on the right, notice how short I am in comparison. Occasionally my District Commissioner finds it difficult to spot me when I’m with my Guides.

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I was so excited to spend an weekend in London with my two best Guiding friends and we had an amazing time. It did involve us arriving at Kings Cross at 8.30am though, which made me a little sad. We got handed our starting pack without having to ask, as our NI accents gave us away. The weekend was organised by Bedfordshire Senior Section and was exceptionally well run. Our meeting place was the Birdcage, which actually contains a swing. Bowline really enjoyed the swing!

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Our starting pack contained a cryptic clue tube station quiz, a laminated card for you to write your team name on, the back had all of the places you had to visit, £5 for the Chance cards, a tube map, a London A-Z map and of course, badges! We actually got two for this event.

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There was a countdown to 9.30 am and then we were off. I think we should have planned our route a bit better but we ran off to get Fenchurch Station and London Bridge Station but really should have gotten Whitechapel road while we were at it.

The day was so busy, we walked 27,756 steps according to Reed’s fitbit. The aim of the game was to reach a location, take a picture with the item or the street sign in the background and then tweet it to @bedsmonopsat and you could ask to buy it. If you were the first team there, then you owned the property and any team who turned up afterwards had to pay you rent. I think we owe a lot of respect to the kind Leaders who were sitting in Monopoly HQ trying to figure everything out.

For bonus points there was a famous location to find for each colour. There was also things to do, buy and find for chance and community cards. For example, get a pic with a police officer, some Boris bikes and a £1 tacky souvenir (we got Union Flag underwear). We also had to get monopoly counter selfies. The best of which was when we found Doug the Pug Therapy Dog and his lovely owner who let us take a selfie with her.

We managed to own some locations and paid rent on others, by the end of the day we had only missed out on 4 locations. Although if  we had planned better, I think we would have managed it. We came 2nd out of 6 in our game and 6th out of 20 overall!

The highlight of the weekend was getting to stay at Pax Lodge. It is one of the 5 World Guiding Centres and since I got back into Guiding, I’ve been keen to visit one. Pax Lodge was lovely and we met some amazing people there.

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The event was for Senior Section Members aged 14-25 so there were some older leaders there to look after anyone under 18 and we mostly ended up talking to them. I asked if they had anyone going to the World Scout Moot next summer and I was lucky to find someone! One leader’s daughter, Overhand, is going and is super excited, just like me. I asked how she was getting to the briefing weekend as I was struggling to find a way to get there and she was amazing and offered me a lift if I could get to Peterborough Train Station. So she is my new best friend. What sort of amazed me more was that Overhand¬†and her mum just accepted that she would pick me up and I could have dinner at their house before we drove up to the campsite. This is something that I love about Guiding, instant friendships.

We had a get to know each other game of monopoly, a modified board which included cards that had someone’s name on, then you had to go find them and ask them a question. It included winning sweets and chatting to everyone and it was really good fun.

Reed and I went a bit crazy in the Pax Lodge shop and I bought a necker and some badges. We also pinned our county badge onto the wall map to show we had been there.

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The morning was very special. We had a flag raising and pinning¬†ceremony. Each World Centre has its own pin and you can only get the pin by going to the centre, you can’t order them or buy them on Ebay, you have to actually be there. When the flag was raised we sang the World Song, which none of us knew but that I’m determined to learn. There is a special pin this year for the 25th Anniversary of Pax Lodge.

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Bowline had to leave early to get her bus home but Reed and I spent the day together in London, I’m an engineer and she is a physics teacher so we headed off to the Science Museum. We had a great day and got to see some cool science things and tried to get some inspiration for our Guide Units. We then headed to platform 9 and 3/4 and may have indulged in buying some badges.

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All in all, I had a brilliant weekend and am so glad we decided to do this.

Poppy Patrol Night – Harry Potter

We like to have each of our patrols run a meeting once a year and first up this year was the Poppies. They are our baby patrol and I had sat with them last week and they decided on a Harry Potter theme. I was very excited, I love Harry Potter and they were just as keen. They asked for people to dress up if they could and I offered a prize to anyone who did. Here is me in my college gown with Fleur Delacour’s wand (Uniform on underneath).

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One of our old Guides, Ariel, who has moved up to Senior Section, joined us last night as the Senior Section was away to Jump Boxx and she had hurt her back. So we let her be our young leader for the evening. TSS aren’t strictly allowed to be YL’s with the Guide Section until they have been away a year, however I’m worried that we are going to lose Ariel, her friends aren’t in TSS yet and she is feeling lonely. Acting as our young leader for the evening, she did a brilliant job, she helped so much and had fun. It might be worth waving the rule.

This week the Poppies came straight in and after a bit of faff got going and started with a sorting ceremony. We got sorted into our houses, I was in Gryffindor, I normally associate myself with Ravenclaw but was willing to play along and our first activity was a quiz. My house was happy to have me! I think I know far too much about Harry Potter, 18.5/19 in the quiz.

Next they adapted Ninja and Splat to use Harry Potter Spells and had everyone up on their feet and joining in.

To end the evening, we had a feast in the Great Hall, they had made Butterbeer cupcakes, strawberry lace broomsticks, marshmallow cauldrons and chocolate spiders.

I don’t think I have ever been as proud of my Guides as I was this week. They had put in so much effort and I had a lot of fun. I was actually teary when I made it home.

I did have to tell them that I’m moving to England at the end of November, I finally got a new job and found a house and a new Guide unit. I will miss my Guides though.

Promise, Laws and Guides During the War

To start with, we split the promise into 4, one part per patrol and asked the patrols to make a poster:

  • To be true to myself
  • To develop my beliefs
  • To serve my Queen and my community
  • To help other people

This worked moderately well, some patrols were struggling to work together but one produced a really nice bubble thoughts poster.

I got a box of Celebrations, gave each patrol a list of the laws and six different sweets and asked them to match the sweet to the law. This was a brilliant exercise, the Guides really talked about the laws in depth and came up with some great ideas.

  • A Guide is honest, reliable and can be trusted
  • A Guide is helpful and uses her time and abilities wisely
  • A Guide faces challenge and learns from her¬†experiences
  • A Guide is a good friend and a sister to all Guides
  • A Guide is polite and considerate
  • A Guide respects all living things and takes care of the world around her

My favourite match was a twix for, A Guide is a good friend and a sister to all Guides because there is two in a packet. A good runner up was Galaxy for, A Guide respects all living things and takes care of the world around her.

We then asked the Guides to put them in order of importance.

I set up a wide game for the Promise, each word of the promise was written on a sticky label and attached to a glow stick and then hidden around the church grounds. Set the Guides free to find them as quickly as possible and place them in the correct order.

To finish off our couple of weeks of promise and law work, I sat the Guides down and talked about how the Girl Guides won the war. I read the book and wanted to pass on some of the stuff I learnt to my Guides.

I started by asking them what they knew about the world wars, they told me about the Blitz and I replied saying, the Guides taught people how to cook outdoors on Blitz cookers made of bricks from destroyed houses.

They mentioned Auschwitz and the concentration camps and I told them the Guides were there. They had secret patrols and one girl hid her promise badge in her mouth while they were searched because it meant so much to her. There was a school in China, all of the pupils were interned and the teachers kept them occupied with their schoolwork, Scouting and Guides.

Guides volunteered as as nurses, they ran homes for evacuated children and ran messages for the war office. In Poland they helped run the underground railway and several were executed for refusing to give up other Guides.

These Guides kept their Promise through extremely tough conditions, it meant a lot to them and I wanted my Guides to have an insight into what this promise is about.

Designing, Dancing and Dallying

This week the Poppies redesigned chocolate bars, mostly it seems like they want to change the taste of dark chocolate. But they had some pretty drawings and they are really bonding as a patrol which is nice to see. After they completed the activity, they started planning for the Patrol Run Night next week. Each patrol takes it in turns to run a night and they get to be fully in charge. I’m super excited about the poppies plan, they are all big Harry Potter fans and their night will revolve around this.

Daisies learnt how to Hula Dance with grass skirts and everything and by the end of the evening gave us a show and they looked very graceful.

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The Roses were down a couple of members who were supposed to bring essential ingredients for their bath bombs. They did not cope with this very well and dilly dallied and didn’t really achieve much. They managed a whisper game from the pack though and planned for the next week of GFIs.

On Monday night I’m shadowing a training session for the first time, I’m really excited about making this step towards being a prospective trainer. I’ll be shadowing Brownie Programme Training, hopefully I’ll learn a lot myself.

Bring a Friend

Part of my ALQ last year involved introducing more people to Guiding and at the time, GirlGuiding Ulster was encouraging units to run, “Bring a Friend” nights and giving out free badges to the Guides and their friends. (I also claimed one since I managed to convince a friend to go and help with Rainbows)

We wanted to introduce the friends to lots of aspects of Guiding and get them interested in coming back. That night we had 29 girls, I know for a lot of units, this isn’t very many but in my first year we were operating on an average of 15 Guides a night!

When we look at our program (wide and varied as it is) it generally boils down to: Games, Craft and food!

We started with the game, get the guides into groups of 3 or 4 and give them a couple of chairs. Then I would call out body parts which were allowed to touch the floor per group, “3 feet, 2 hands and a nose” etc and they would have to twist around and support on another to achieve it. It was a very good icebreaker and had them all laughing and working together.

The craft for the evening was dreamcatchers, we had a quick discussion about what they were and I showed them an example I had done. They were pretty simple. I got hold of a lot of cheap wire bangles, but you could use wire and bend it into circles instead, they wrapped coloured wool around them which took a lot of time. Then used embroidery thread to make the web in the centre, some of the Guides had more patience than others at this point, some got bored and just wrapped it any old way. The last part was decorating with beads and feathers before showing them off to one another. The craft gave them plenty of time to talk.

The food portion was tealight smores, this has since become a firm favourite with our unit. They all got to have a go at lighting a candle and then melting their marshmallow and eating their smore.

One of the visitors was frying my head and I had the very bad thought that I hoped she decided not to join, I know we aren’t supposed to do that but I wasn’t getting a lot of support at the time and I knew she would be hard work. Unfortunately (or so I thought) for me and fortunately for her, she did stick around. She turned up every week and was even one of the first to sign up for camp. And even though she has annoying days, she really improved and threw herself into Guiding Life. It really taught me a lesson and made me think about how I deal with the Guides.

When I handed her, her first badge, she looked at me and asked “What am I supposed to do with this?”, I replied that she could sew it onto her uniform or a camp blanket. She said she couldn’t sew and I told her to see if her mum or grandmother would teach her and there was a very doubtful look on her face. Next week she turned up proudly with it sewn onto her t-shirt and came right up to tell me. She has now moved up to Senior Section and is excited to continue her journey in Guiding.

All in all, it was a successful night and we gained 4 new Guides who have stuck with the unit and are enjoying themselves.

Baby Guides and GFI’s

I’m really loving our group of Guides this year. The older ones who were struggling to stay interested have moved up to Senior Section and are starting to flourish there and we have 7 new Guides, 5 of whom were Brownies and are full of joy and interest.

We got them to plan their first week of GFI’s and this week they carried them out.

Our eldest patrol, the Daisies, are doing the Party GFI and this week made orange whips. They scooped out the flesh of oranges, mushed it up with jelly and condensed milk, then placed it back into the oranges and left it to set. Apparently it was disgusting and they will never make them again!

The middle patrol, The Roses, are doing the Five Senses GFI. They were smelling, touching and tasting different kinds of fruit. They really pushed themselves to try new fruits, one did ask if it was okay to eat pomegranate seeds though! Overall, they liked the pomegranate, passion fruit and the more regular fruits, but they disliked the figs.

The young patrol, our baby Poppies, are brand new to planning and doing GFI’s, they are doing the Chocolate GFI (not surprising!) and decided to make chocolate chip cookies. One of them came up to me and said she forgot to bring the eggs. My reply was, “Well, it’s going to be difficult to make cookies without them isn’t it? Your patrol is going to have to find something else to do aren’t you?”

Of course, I was going to relent and send them over to the shop, but I wanted them to remember that I wasn’t always going to be able to solve their problems. I let them stew for a while and then let them go to the garage for eggs. In the meantime, the Guide’s mother showed up with two eggs, very apologetic. I calmed her down and told her that, it was her daughter’s responsibility, not hers and that next time, don’t bother coming down if her daughter forgot to bring something. It was amazing, the mum turned around and was like “You are totally right!”

Teaching the Guides to take responsibility and be prepared is important and having parents on board with this helps.

I think this was the first time the Poppies had ever been left to their own devices in a kitchen. It was such a hilarious disaster! They put in two eggs, instead of one, and added more flour and the cookies tasted gross. So they fed them to the rest of the Guides.

After watching them cook and eat all evening and looking at their plans for next week, I decreed that no group was allowed to cook next week. They were all completed shocked and dismayed, so next week will be fun.