GFI’s and Settling In

The next two weeks were GFI’s. Our four patrols chose: Parties; Communication; 5 Senses and Sports.

We run GFIs in two week blocks, I tend to find anything longer and they really struggle to keep their interest and engage. Two weeks seems to be the correct length of time, as long as it is well planned. They do need to occasionally be checked up on but mostly cope well the challenge of planning.

Highlights of the weeks:

Parties They made fortune cookies! They turned out a bit thick but they had fun trying and apparrently they tasted okay. The next week they were doing henna tattoos, they ordered the henna online and everything was going well till they discovered one Guide had brought hair dye henna instead!

Communication The first week they did really well, they sat quietly and wrote fairy tales in text speak. I was super impressed. The second week wasn’t quite as well planned but they played charades and blind drawing.

5 Senses Week 1 was fruit tasting, they brought in so many different fruits and tried them all. Watching them eat lemon slices was the highlight of my week, so much screaming! Week 2 was identifying foods by touch blindfolded. The previous week, each of them told Merida and I (in secret) what they were going to bring in, so they didn’t have repeats. Watching them touch raw egg was pretty funny.

Sports The first week they walked in with a lot of sports drinks, chocolate and crisps. I went over to ask what their plan was, in a “I’m not accusing you of not doing the GFI” way but I’m interested in how this relates to sport. Turns out the energy drinks were what they were looking at, comparing nutrients and energy (all good). The chocolate and crisps,they just wanted to eat them. Week two involved a lot of weird exercises with balls and hoops, they seemed to have fun.

All in all, it went pretty well and the guides enjoyed themselves.


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.


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.

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.

Get your plan on!

This week the Guides got stuck into planning their year and organising their patrols. We started with a scavenger hunt, I cannot take credit for the list as I found it online but it did keep them amused for a good 20 mins.

1. Prickly and tickly
2. hard and soft
3. rough and smooth
4. long and round
5. white and yellow
6. thin and fat
7. tiny and rough
8. curly and straight
9. shiny and dull
10. feathery and hard

One group arrived in with a mop for curly and straight, I was very impressed with their ingenuity! Lots of daisies for white and yellow and plenty of twigs and feathers for everything else.

This year we are trying to put the girls in charge of more, we want them to choose their own patrols and Patrol Leaders and Seconders. This is twofold, one, gives them the opportunity to have some independence and two, if they form their own patrols, hopefully they will want to work in them and I won’t have to spend all of my time chasing Guides back to their own patrol.

Some of our Guides who are a few months from Senior Section have decided to set up a Senior Patrol and work with Sheetbend since we don’t have a Senior Section at this time. I think this is going to be a good thing, they are all the Guides who were getting a bit restless at the end of last year. I think giving them a separate space will really help them grow.

Our largest patrol is formed of our eldest Guides, most of them were together last year and I know that one of them is particularly good at keeping them on track and entertained. I asked them who was going to be patrol leader and was surprised and impressed that they have decided their quietest member is going to be their PL. I think they want her to step up and come out of herself a bit. She was very surprised herself. I’m not worried about the Daisy Patrol.

The Roses are made up of our 3 last year’s new Guides, a transfer Guide and 2 new Guides. They seem to be getting on well but are a bit boisterous. Their Patrol Leader is a younger sister to one of our new Senior Patrol and I think it will be good to get her out of her shell.

The Poppies are all new Guides who have all moved up from Brownies and they are full of enthusiasm. They haven’t chosen a PL yet and are each going to try it out and see who suits best. They will need more of an eye kept on them since they are so new but I think they will do alright.

With that settled, we gave them a planning sheet and got them to write down their ideas for the year.


The Poppies got super excited about badges, so hopefully the unit as a whole may start taking an interest in completing interest badges! One of our older Guides turned up with 3 badges completed over the summer but she is the first Guide in 2 years to do so.

They wanted to continue with the Patrol Nights so that obviously went down really well last year.

Then Barrel took the PLs for a Patrol Leader’s Council and planned the rest of the term while the other patrol members chose a GFI and started planning for it.


Through all of this I was being observed to see if I’m acceptable as a prospective trainer. One of the trainers came to see if we were following the program correctly and that I was interacting with the other leaders and girls in a good manner. I passed muster and will now be passed on to the shadowing stage.

In another entertaining turn of events, I finally completed everything for my Chief Guides Award and am trying to figure out how to receive it. Sheetbend has no idea, she contacted the District Commissioner, who doesn’t know and who is going to ring the County Commissioner.  I don’t think anyone in our district has done this in a while!

Guess Who’s Back

This week we started back and it was the usual chaos and fun. We had 7 new Guides and hoping we may gain a few more next week and we’ve lost a few of our old Guides to other activities. To be honest, I don’t mind losing them to other activities, I just wouldn’t like to think of them not doing anything. One is heading to a theater group and the other to cadets which are a lot more specialised than us.

We had two rather shy Guides, one was a Brownie who had moved up and was worried that she wouldn’t know anyone and sent her dad in ahead of her. The other was a Guide moving from a unit which had closed, I was quite surprised by her, she was actually in tears, but I found someone she knew and sent them off to chat and she seemed to calm down a lot.

Two of the others were a bit stressful for me! The reason being, they were twins and told me their names and I realised that I had gone to school with their big sister and remembered them being born!

We started by asking them to get into groups of 3 or 4 and they had to find something in common with one another, which no other group had already claimed. Then we mixed up the groups and did it again. It really got them chatting to one another.

The older Guides were taken to the side with Square and Sheetbend and introduced to the concept of Senior Section and asked if they wanted to help with Rainbows and Brownies. While this was going on, I took the younger Guides and introduced the new ones to the idea of interest badges and GFI’s. I had brought along my camp blanket, both to show them and to use it in a game.

We decided to do a brain teaser evening, it allowed them to work in small groups and do some bonding. We just moved the puzzles around each group and let them work on them in their own time.

  • Have the whole group stand on the blanket, without touching the floor they must turn the blanket over to the other side. Further on from that, how small can you make the blanket and still fit the whole team on.
  • Handcuff game – tie the first person’s hand together with string, leaving a long trail in between the hands, do the same to the second person but their handcuff string should pass behind the handcuff string of the first person, causing them to be trapped together. Then they have to get themselves apart.
  • Crossing the river – a farmer needs to get a fox, a chicken and a bag of grain across the river, he can only take one at a time and if left along, the fox will eat the chicken and the chicken will eat the grain. How does he get them all across the river?
  • Crossing the river (Hard) – similar only you have a mum, dad, 2 sons, 2 daughters, a cop and a robber.
  •  Tower of Hanoi – 5 boxes, from biggest to smallest, 3 positions. Box can only be lifted from the top and then be placed in a spot, cannot put a bigger box on top of a small box, have to get them from position 1 to position 3.
  • Give the team a piece of paper and they have to somehow make it so the entire team can make it through the piece of paper.

The Guides really enjoyed this evening, really good feedback from them all and the little groups were already starting to form.

We have told them that they will be forming their own patrols, minimum 4 and maximum 8 and will be choosing their own PL’s and PS’s. I don’t know how it will go but its worth a try!

Take Your Toothbrush GFI

We needed to do another GFI to ensure that all of our Guides had a chance to achieve their Challenge Badge for the year and we were also going to be heading off to camp soon. None of our Guides had been camping before and we were starting to get anxious that we would arrive at camp and it would be a disaster. The Take Your Toothbrush GFI allowed us to run some activities that got the Guides more familiar with some camping skills.

We started by making gadgets from cake pop sticks and string. This wasn’t something I had ever done as a guide, I’d never even really learnt how to tie knots, but I’d developed an interest as an adult and find knot tying relaxing. I reckoned it wouldn’t be too hard to teach the Guides and sure I had 3 other Guide Leaders to help. Well it really didn’t turn out that way!

None of the other leaders had any clue how to even do a clove hitch knot. I had printed lots of instructions and ideas for what the Guides could make and they had a good try but struggled with the knots. I ended up running from table to table, some of the Guides were very interested though, one even took some supplies home to finish their creations!

Even more exciting for me, when we arrived at camp, within a few minutes of having the tents up, I had a few Guides crowded around me, asking if I had brought string for them to make a gadget bin. They did ask me where to find sticks, whereby I pointed to the woods!

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It proudly stood outside their tent all weekend.

We had a competition to see which patrol could put up a tent the fastest, although we had to put them up inside since the heavens had opened. Obviously the Guides need to know how to put up tents in the rain but I did not want to have to dry out 3 tents!

The following week we moved onto cooking skills. We asked the Guides to come up with some camp recipes and meal plans and then taught them how to cook on trangias. None of them had ever experienced one before and we decided to cook sausages and then have s’mores. It went down very well, nothing went on fire that wasn’t supposed to be on fire but none of them enjoyed having to scrub the pans at the end!

Fitness GFI and Captainball

In my first year as a leader, we did our GFI’s as a unit. I know that this is not the purpose of a GFI, but Halter and I were so new to all of this and so were our Guides. Only 5 of our Guides were returning Guides and only half of the remaining ones had been Brownies. They had very little experience of planning and making decisions so we started slow.

So we decided to do the Fitness GFI and get the girls interested in exercise and healthy eating.

Other than work and Guiding, my other interest in life is Tae Kwon Do, I’ve been training for 11 years and last year achieved my 2nd Dan Black Belt. I’m also an instructor, teaching our Dragon’s class, ages 4 – 7 years old. So to kick off the GFI, I decided to teach the Guides self defense. I managed to persuade some of my colleagues to come along to help, as 20 newbies is a lot for one person.

We wore our black instructors suits and I tried to look intimidating! Discipline in TKD and Guiding is slightly different. Guiding with teenagers is more about persuasion than giving orders, but teaching them something like this is dangerous. So they were all warned at the beginning that they would been given press ups if they messed around, and if they did it more than once, then they would be made to sit out completely. I wasn’t willing to take the risk that one of them might get hurt.

However no one had to sit out and they all enjoyed themselves. I think they learnt a lot.

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Halter and I had great fun planning the next activity. We went to the supermarket and bought 20 different fruits, some everyday and lots of exotic choices. Each one was placed on a plate in the kitchen and the patrols were challenged to name as many of them as possible. They did pretty well between them, one patrol only missed the Sharon fruit.

After naming we got onto tasting. Once again, we gave them free rein with the knives and soon we had 20 plates of chopped up fruit. They all jumped in and were really keen to taste things they’ve never tried before. One had never had kiwi, she tried it, and disliked it, but at least she tried. One of our D0E helpers refused to try any of it, apparently she doesn’t like fruit *headdesk*

We then asked them to plan some healthy meals and draw them on paper plates. We discussed sweet things in moderation and lots of fruit and veg.

Our final activity was to teach the Guides Captainball as so many of them had never played. It turns out that Captainball is mostly a Northern Irish and Irish Guiding thing these days. I remember playing it as a Guide myself, I was in both our U14’s and U16’s teams, initially as Goal Defense and later as Centre. I showed my Guides a picture of me from the newspaper at age 12 and I think I managed to gain some respect from them for being a competitive Centre.

We have yearly competitions at district, county and country level and have a lot of fun doing so.


So this is the floor layout.

GK – Goal Keeper – Job is to catch the ball thrown by the S. This is a goal.
GD – Goal Defense – Job is to stop goals being scored and get ball to own team S to help score goals
S – Shooter – Job is to get the ball to the GK
SD – Shooter Defense – Job is to stop goals being scored and get ball to own team S to help score goals
C – Centre – Job is to get ball to own team S to help score goals

Centres are allowed anywhere except inside the circles
Goal defense are only allowed in their own 3rd and not in the circles
Shooter defense are allowed in their own and the centre 3rd but not in the circles
Goal Keepers and Shooters must have at least one foot in the circle at all times. If they jump, both feet must land inside the circle.

There are some other rules as well (several pages of them lol) but this is the basic game.

It fills some nights when an activity doesn’t quite take the whole meeting and the its our most requested activity.