Mascot Bear

My Camp Blanket used to hold my pin badges as well as my fabric ones, but it was a bit awkward for use at camp as an actual blanket. So I decided to invest in a mascot bear with a camp poncho for my pin badges. Turns out that there are lovely people on the internet who will make a leader uniform and camp blanket! Celtic offered me a spare bear but she turned out to be too small and I ended up buying a Build a Bear instead.

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The Guides have decided to name her Coco and she comes to Guides every week. The Bumblebees love her and normally end up with her in their patrol circle.

However, spare bear was still going spare so we decided to make her into a Rainbow Bear and gift her to the Rainbow Leader Mrs Whiskers. So I had a friend help me cut out a pattern and I sewed up a little red hoodie out of felt and added a rainbow badge to the back. Mrs Whiskers seemed really pleased 🙂

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My Journey: London Monopoly

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

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, ÂŁ5 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 ÂŁ1 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.

My Journey – County Training Day

Yesterday was our county training day and I’ve been excited about it for a while, I’m not getting a lot of socialising at the moment and after the training a few of us were going out for dinner.

Other than my fellow leaders, I don’t know many people in the county very well, I’ve run into them occasionally at training sessions and the AGM but that’s about it. When I arrived I was feeling a bit shy and awkward but the “B” Brownie Leaders soon turned up and included me in their chat and it was lovely.

We headed into Section Programme Training and the trainer had previously taken me this summer for Accounts and Gift Aid Training. When I was at the previous training, her husband had tried to persuade me to do the walking scheme. This does seem to be a theme in Guiding, “Do you want to get involved in this?”. The section training went pretty well, I was the teacher’s pet as usual, nothing has really changed from school. It worries me a little that very few of the leaders (most of them experienced) were able to talk about the five essentials and the five zones. When I was doing my leadership, it asked you to evaluate your program against them and I’ve continued to do that every week. I did get lots of ideas from other leaders though and chatted to one fairly new leader and gave her some advice.

The organisers had done a run to the play resource centre and picked up lots of craft supplies which we eagerly partook of. My car boot is now full!

After this was packed lunch time and the weather was good so we headed out to picnic tables and started chatting. It was lovely chatting with the Rainbow and Brownie Leaders, we were gossiping and talking about the year ahead and kids who were moving up. Then the Brownie Leader approached me about the concept of a Brownie Camp, she was really keen to take them away and give them the experience. She asked if I would be willing to come along as another leader and somehow I agreed lol. She’s planning to take 21 Brownies and at least 7 leaders. Compared to just me with 11 Guides this year at camp, Brownie Camp sounds like a breeze, although I might not be saying that next year!

The afternoon was international activities, STEM activities and craft. I’m not very artistic but we did learn how to make an adorable reindeer out of jigsaw pieces, I will take a pic of mine when I have a chance (I’ve left it in the car). I think the Guides would really like it, it’s simple but quite cool looking. I’ve recently become a STEM ambassador again so I’m looking forward to doing more STEM activities with my Unit anyway.

I was there from 9.30 am until nearly 5 pm but I learnt so much and enjoyed it. Then about 30 of us headed out to a hotel for dinner. I was sitting with my unit, the Brownie Leaders and the Guide leaders from down the road and we had a brilliant time! We gossiped all night and learnt more new ideas.

At the end of the meal, I ended up chatting with two of the Trainers, one of them I had met when I stayed over at Lorne for my leadership weekend last year. I had so much fun that weekend, it was my introduction to Guiding socialising and the chat that evening was brilliant. However they suggested that I should sign up as a trainer myself. It was something that had crossed my mind previously, I love teaching, I always have and I like working with people. So, in my eternal madness, I sent in my application to be a prospective trainer today. Not sure if its a good idea or if I have time for it but hey, you have to try these things.

I found a song, “This is why I am a Guider” sung to the tune of John  Brown’s Body, and I think its very true. Guiding Leaders tend to take on more than one role and really get involved.

I went along to Guides, just to help them out one day,
I must have done a decent job as I was asked to stay,
I really didn’t have the time to do the job just right,
But the Guiders all assured me that it only took one night.

Chorus:

This is why I am a Guider,
This is why I am a Guider,
This is why I am a Guider,
‘Cuz the others all assured me that it only took one night.

The District meeting came along and I was asked to go,
It’s sad to say the treasurer was ill and didn’t show,
So I was asked to do the job and I replied I might,
‘Cuz the others all assured me that it only took one night.

One day the new Commissioner saw me putting up a tent,
She said with great relief, “My Dear, you must be heaven sent,
I need a Camp Adviser and I know your time is tight,
But I really do assure that it will only take one night

I’ve been so long in uniform, my blood is navy blue,
My friends and neighbors think I’m mad and maybe so do you,
But I’m so proud and happy I’d complain with all my might,
If my many jobs in Guiding really only took one night!!!

My Journey – Buddy Burner

For Phase 2 of the Outdoors octant, I decided to try my hand at cooking outdoors. I’ve cooked on an open fire, a flatstone, a bbq and tried cooking a banana in a juice carton. Tonight I tried to finish the phase by cooking on a buddy burner.

Making the burner went pretty well actually, I managed to melt the wax in a container over a saucepan of boiling water and poured it over the cardboard in the tin and let it cool. I thought everything was going brilliantly.

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Next step was to make the cover can. I brought the tin into work to use the tin snips in there and I ended up having to get one of my colleagues to help, as I wasn’t strong enough to cut through the lip. We got the door cut in and the holes on the other side of the can and I thought everything was going well.

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However when I tried to light it, the match kept blowing out, as you can see from my little pile behind the can. Eventually got it lit and was happy, put the cover over it and discovered the door wasn’t big enough to let enough air in to keep it lit!

I tried to prop the can up with matchsticks but unfortunately it wasn’t enough.

So I made pancakes indoors instead. They did contain some grass.

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I will bring the can back into work tomorrow and cut a bigger hole in it and see if that helps!

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.

My Journey – The Young Years

I’ve decided that I want to write up a lot of my journey in Guiding, as well as updating weekly with what we’ve been up to.

When I was younger, I wasn’t involved in many activities outside of school. We moved house when I was about 9 and one of the girls who lived in the development was a Brownie and encouraged me to come along. I turned up in full uniform, it had been donated by a family friend who had moved up to Guides and I was so excited to start!

I only had a year in Brownies, but I loved making my promise, making new friends and I even got to go on pack holiday! We went to the Ulster Folk and Transport museum and stayed in the dormitories there. I got to visit Lorne (Guide Headquarters in NI) for the first time and go to the shop.  On the last day of the holiday, we were gathered together for Guide’s Own (a bit like a church service but not following any particular religion), and they announced the yearly awards. I received a prize for best new Brownie, they thought I had thrown myself into the pack with enthusiasm.

You have to understand, I didn’t normally get those sorts of prizes, I’m a bit of a bookworm and always have been. Brownies was the first time that no one made assumptions about me and my intelligence. I got to try lots of different things, but I still did my book lover’s badge 🙂 I’ve since sewn my Brownie Badges onto my camp blanket (The picture also shows my Guide badges, I’ve rearranged them since).

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After my year in Brownies, I moved up to Guides. Once again I was in love with an organisation. The first year was pretty enjoyable, I learnt Captainball (Guiding sport, a bit like netball), and remember getting to cuddle animals for my animal active badge.

Things got really good in my second year, I met two Guides, Reef and Bowline, who became my two best friends. They both live in different cities in England, and I can still say that I would trust them with my life and that they are my first port of call when I need a shoulder or advice.

I started reading the Chalet School series, by Elinor M Brent-Dyer. It’s about a boarding school, which starts out in Austria, travels during the war and settles down in Switzerland. In the first few books, they start a Guide Company and I was inspired by how seriously they took their promise and tried so hard to be the Best Girl Guides they could be.

I got the opportunity to go on camp several times, including a mixed Scout and Guide Camp in Crawfordsburn with over 300 people attending.

By the time it got to our final camp, Reef, Bowline and I were pretty sorted with this whole camping thing. Reef was supposed to have moved on from Guides, as she is the year above me, however she had asked to stay with us, but she was also completing her Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award. That year we were staying in two man tents, but were an uneven number, we begged to be the ones that were in a three and didn’t mind squeezing into the small tent. However our Guide leader, Clove was so very lovely and brought her personal four man tent for us to share.

We had very strict rules for our tent:

  • No shoes in the tent – they live in the entry at all times
  • Beds were made up at the same time – to allow overlapping of the ground sheets
  • If it isn’t being used – put it back into your bag

This made it very easy for us, at the end of camp, to pack up and be ready to go. However, some of the younger Guides had not followed the rules we lived by and we spent a lot of time helping them get sorted.

When I finished Guides, I continued with my Bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards with my Guide Leader, Clove and Bowline joined me. We walked our Bronze and cycled our Silver. I got to use a trangia and spent a lot of time having fun with Bowline.

There was no Senior Section near to me so I couldn’t continue into there.

And so ended my Guiding experience until I was 23. More on that next time 🙂