North, South, East and West

We have a new LiT (Leader in Training), kind of, she’s called Timber and she’s a fully qualified leader with Brownies, who is doing her module 1 for Guides this term, and Rainbows next term, to allow her to mentor more people through the ALQ (Adult Leadership Qualification). She doesn’t have a permanent unit at the moment and is more interested in exploring mentoring. So she has to plan a few of the activities this term to fulfil some of the ALQ clauses.

Together we set out to organise an evening in the local chalk pit around the theme of direction and trails. Our original idea was the TV programme Taskmaster, but a lot of the tasks didn’t really lend themselves to a group of 24 Guides.

We set up 4 positions, labelled 1-4, and from each position there were two compass directions to follow until they found an unusual item, they were to leave the item alone and write down what it was. At the end, the first letter of each item, would make the phrase, “Well Done”.

We thought it would take them about half of the meeting to complete so had also given them a sheet explaining how to lay trails and another one with semaphore on it. However it actually took them the entire meeting.

None of them had seen a compass before, even after explaining how to use one, and demonstrating it, I still had one Guide hold it vertical and exclaim that it wasn’t pointing north. Several of them decided that the paper plates denoting the starting positions were the items they were supposed to find. *headdesk*

But after a lot of learning and fun, they figured it out and had a whale of a time. A very successful evening.2017-04-05 17.55.59

Easter Tea with the Senior Citizens

As our final night of last term, we held an Easter Tea with the Senior Citizens and it went really well. I was impressed that basically all of our Guides turned up and really interacted with the Seniors.

Celtic had written an Easter quiz with questions suitable for both younger and older team members, so they had to work together. There was lots of chatting and they all did pretty well in the quiz. Our young leaders did a good job running the quiz.

The Guides then served their guests tea and hot cross buns and did it very well. I think the Guiders were more stressed in the kitchen, listening to all the orders.

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We finished up with Campfire singing, which somehow I ended up leading. I have never lead singing before and I’m not sure I ever should again! It was a good laugh though. They introduced me to some new songs and I brought some new ones to them. My personal favourite was “A Pizza Hut” with the addition of the Guiding Verses:

A tall Girl Guide,

A tall Girl Guide,

A skinny little Brownie,

And a tall Girl Guide.


The leaders,

The leaders,

A skinny little Brownie,

And a tall Girl Guide.

For which the actions are to show tall, show skinny and show voluptuous breasts. I think I was a bit over enthusiastic with the action on the last one and I had a couple of the senior citizens in tears of laughter.

It was a very fun night!

Tesco’s Farm to Fork

It’s the little things that get Guides excited, like my last unit going Christmas shopping. They requested to go to Tescos and mostly they were excited about getting to do shopping and put stuff through the till.

We arrived at Tescos to be greeting by two employees who were going to be looking after us and they did a brilliant job. They engaged with the Guides really well and kept them entertained.

We had two activities for the evening, the first was a tour of the bakery and the second looking at the price of Fresh, Tinned and Frozen fruit and veg.

We split in half and my group started with the bakery. The baker was excellent, he showed them how to make bread in the huge mixer, how the sifting and cutting machines worked and let them have a go at shaping the dough into buns and plaits. We got to see the huge proving oven and the cooking and steaming ovens. The Guides were engaged and interested and then we all got to taste a selection of breads and cookies. They were very happy and full of sugar.

Next we headed off to the fruit and veg section and they went off with their clipboards to find the price per kg of fresh, frozen and tinned, raspberries, peas and peppers. It was an interesting activity for them and they really enjoyed running around the store. I hope we didn’t annoy to many shoppers but I think they did pretty well.

The final activity Trinity had put together, she gave each patrol a chicken dinner list, one patrol had Tesco Everyday, one had finest, organic and the last had ready made. They ran around to find the prices and then compared them against one another.

We had one enrolment to hold that evening and the Guide decided to make her promise in the Fruit and Veg Section. I like that this unit is happy for us to have enrolments outside of the meeting place!

All in all, an excellent evening and I picked up my week’s shopping afterwards 🙂

Happy World Thinking Day!

Hello Everyone, I hope you have had an amazing Thinking Day! Since I finally have a formal shirt, I wore it to work with my Promise badge and I also painted my nails to have Trefoils on.

Tonight the plan was to have an evening out of the meeting place in a local orchard and plant some daffodils for the Thinking Day theme of Grow. Sadly Storm Doris made things a bit more complicated. Branches had been falling all day and we didn’t deem it safe to go wandering around. So a small delegation went to plant the bulbs with Trinity and Windsor and the rest of us stayed in the hall and played Guiding Top Trumps.

It was written by Quoll who is at Pax Lodge this year as a volunteer and my Guides loved it! They have however decided they never want shirts or tunics as uniform.

We played a couple of games of Stalking in the dark with a torch until the planting delegation came back. Lots of running around screaming!

I had written a Thinking Day scavenger hunt, the plan was to have the answers hung on trees with Glow Sticks in the plastic pockets and send the Guides out with the question sheet and torches. We ended up running the hunt in the hall instead. They had a brilliant time and learnt some things about Guiding.


Afterwards, they each got one of the Glow Sticks and put it on their right wrist and made the promise sign. It was our way of bringing the Guiding Light to our meeting. I did take a picture but sadly my phone decided to shut down and didn’t take the picture!2017-02-23-21-15-49

This is making me making the promise sign with a Glow stick on my wrist.

We finished the evening in the dark with the Glow Sticks singing Taps.

The Promise, Christmas and a Tea Party

Our first night back after half term, we held a Pink themed Tea Party to raise money for our local branch of Action Cancer. Some lovely ladies came to give us a talk about checking for breast cancer and we had also invited the Guiding parents to come listen as well. Then we had a lovely tea party of pink foods only! Ended the evening with bobbing for apples, the Guides surprised me by being very competitive and getting stuck in.

When I was a Guide, I made a promise:

I promise that I will do my best,

To love my God,

To serve my Queen and my country,

To help other people,

And to keep the Guide Law.

and to be perfectly honest, part of it made me uncomfortable, I didn’t personally follow the Christian faith and the God mentioned in the promise, to many, is the Christian God. However, Guiding was never meant to be confined to those of the Christian faith. It has a spiritual basis but members are free to interpret this however they desire.

This is why I feel more comfortable with the new promise, this is the promise I made as a leader.

I promise that I will do my best,

To be true to myself and develop my beliefs,

To serve my Queen and my community,

To help other people,

And to keep the Guide Law.

I think it allows members, from all faiths and none, to stand together and comfortably say the promise as one.

Many of the leaders in my region have really struggled with this change. Most GirlGuiding UK Units in N.Ireland are run in Protestant Churches, there are two separate Guiding organisations for Catholic Girl Guides. Girls outside of these areas don’t always make it into Guiding unfortunately. I think I rationalised the promise by interpreting “My God” to mean my personal “God”, but others may have struggled.

Even though the promise changed a few years ago, a lot of the information about it has not made its way to the Girls. I have had several arguments with Guides, who insist that Guiding is a Christian Organisation, to which I point out the Hijab, sold by Guiding for its Islamic members. The surprising things is, that when I mention this, the girls all agree instantly that the new promise is more appropriate. So obviously, no one has ever pointed this out, which is shameful.

We did lots of activities with the Guides to help them understand the promise before they undertook it.

Overall, we drew a promise tree, each part of the promise was a branch, and the twigs were ways for them to achieve the things.

To help other people

We hid paper hands with a letter written on the palm around the hall. Each Guide had to find one and come up with something they could do to help people, using the letter.

To be true to myself and develop my beliefs

We made boxes with notes about things the Guides liked about themselves, this was an examination of how they thought about themselves and learning to believe in what they can do.

To serve my Queen and my community

The Guides discussed what they would do if they were a politician for the day and gave 5 ideas in their patrols.

After our weeks of promise activities, we turned to Christmas. The Church was doing a Christmas Tree Festival, different Church groups decorated and made trees, to be shown in the church and raise money for their missions and donations to people in the community.

For some mad reason, we decided that we could make a tree, instead of just making our decorations, and to make it worse, our theme was, “There was no room at the Inn”. Well it was all a bit of a disaster.  Halter and I are not artistic, and we really struggled coming up with ideas and implementing them.

I had some cardboard to make the tree, it was basically two trees cut out and a slit at the top of one, and the bottom of the other and slid together. I was struggling to draw the outline and one of the Guides kindly offered to help 🙂

The Guides decorated felt with doors and no entry signs, and we hung up our promise trees and coloured boxes of positivity. We added Guide Badges and our “star” was a trefoil flag topper.

It was terrible looking but at least we tried I suppose!

Our Christmas party got off to a bad start when there was a security alert on the main motorway and none of our leaders could get the the hall until just before the meeting started. The youth worker who knew how to set up the projector, ended up having to go with the Beavers to the Planetarium, since their leaders were on the motorway too.

So the food came at different times and we didn’t get to watch the whole movie but the Guides seemed to enjoy it. However, we were feeding them party food and pizza and I was rather worried when one of them commented that we were trying to make them all fat. I haven’t worked much with teenage girls and hadn’t come across it before.

Our final treat for the year was a trip to the local shopping centre. Our Guides don’t really get the chance to go shopping in a big centre without parental supervision, so it gives them the chance to buy presents for their family and hang out with friends. We also went to McDonalds for a sneaky snack before getting on the bus home. I thought I would find it more stressful than I did but the Guides were well behaved.

Then I got two whole weeks off to rest.

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.


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.


Cinema Trip

Lark and I took 11 Guides to the cinema for our end of term trip. We had managed to earn enough money through easyfundrasing to enable us to fund the trip on a Tuesday night, since it’s crazy Tuesday and only £3 each.

Last year, every one of our Guides came to this end of term outing but this year we had only half. I think I can contribute that to the choice of movie this year. Last year we went to see Pitch Perfect 2 and it was brilliant, however this year, we had the choice between, Alice Through The Looking Glass or Ninja Turtles 2, we settled on Alice.

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The Guides were pretty good actually, a bit of chatting and giggling throughout the movie but nothing major. They seemed to join it and ate an alarming amount of sweets.

Afterwards I stood outside waiting for them all to be picked up. I had asked the parents to pick them up at 8.30pm. We got out of the movie at 8.15pm and all of the Guides text their parents, but I didn’t mind waiting until 8.30pm of course. However, one mother kind of took this to an extreme and didn’t turn up until 8.50pm!!! I was rather annoyed.

Next weekend is camp, I’m a bit nervous since I’m now going as the only leader, I’m hoping to get there early and have my tent up before the Guides arrive. That way I can concentrate on them and helping get their tents up.