Friday, 29 February 2008

Full of joy!

I need to shout this from the rooftops! Our division held a walk around the local reservoir for Thinking Day and units were asked to give their girls a small bottle of water in the weeks before and ask them to drink it then fill the bottle with coins. We also sent out a link to the WAGGGS water pack to give units a theme for their meetings.

We had more than 400 people turn up to the event and we are still counting the pennies and recycling the bottles - but we have gone over £1000! Everyone got a WAGGGS Think About Water badge.

The money will be split between Water Aid and the World Thinking Day Fund. Though the primary aim of the day was a division Thinking Day event and not a fundraiser, the theme really seems to have been embraced by the girls and leaders and I am so proud of them all for stepping up.

OK, that's it. Elvis has left the building.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

All signed up

and ready to swim.

Today I signed our girls up for the division swimming gala. Units from all over the division compete to win trophies - our Guides have won their section a couple of times but our Brownies have never come close, and that's fine, we do it for the fun!

Of course I say we do it for the fun but as a leader, it means I need to arrange a pre-event to choose who will swim (the Guide Guider set this up though so I just need to pass on the info to parents), print out two sets of consent forms for the whole unit (the pre-event and the gala) plus a note for parents to tell them what is about, complete the form to sign up for the gala and arrange a cheque for the entry fee.

I am just wondering if the assistant guider who is running this week's meeting and texted me to see if I could do part of it as she is so stressed realises what was involved in organising last weekend's events and taking part in the gala and how happy I was not to be doing anything for this week's actual meeting?

Blah, how mean do I sound? It's not like I don't love doing it normally, just that I reached saturation point on how much I could do this week. Normal service will be resumed.

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Rainy chip walk

Biggest hit ever with our Brownies? No, it wasn't:
  • one of the five weekends away we have run

  • going on the London Eye

  • meeting a Guide Dog for the Blind

  • going to Legoland

  • getting a book signed by JK Rowling in person

  • or any of the other amazing things we have done.

It was this:

A rainy chip walk. (You can click on the picture to make it larger to truly see their happy, drowned rat, faces)

It was planned in the schedule as a trip into the nearby village, doing a shop window trail as part of the Adventure Out badge we ran last summer term.

The last time we had walked into the village, it was a scorching day and we had to go into the only place open, the estate agents, and beg for water for a few of our girls.

But this time it absolutely lashed down from the time we set off to the time we returned. We did it on a day the school was closed, so we didn't have the option of calling it off and going indoors.

The girls were getting very cold so we went into the chip shop and asked for some small portions of chips and asked the girls to share each portion between two.

Ever since, they have been begging to do it again - but the rain is as crucial as the chips, otherwise it would not be the same Rainy Chip Walk Of Legend.

Well, we're going to try again, not this week but next. We're doing some work on Fairtrade and our local Co-op has a lot of Fairtrade products so we will go there then to the chippy on the way back.

Fingers crossed for rain!?!

Monday, 25 February 2008

Lost a Brownie

I'm losing three of my favourite Brownies (and two of my least favourite Brownies) to Guides this Easter.

While I was reconciled to that, I am sad to say I am also going to lose one of my other Brownies at the end of the school year, plus her sister who was due to start with us in September, as their family is moving to Switzerland.

Her dad was told: your job is going toSwitzerland, go with it or take redundancy, so of course they are going to have the adventure and move abroad.

I will miss this Brownie who has been one of the most helpful and most keen during her two years with us.

However, I was able to give her mum contact details for...1st [INSERT CITY HERE] Brownies!

Girlguiding UK has a BGIFC branch (British Guides in Foreign Countries). It operates mostly in our former colonies, plus places in nearby European countries where it would be hard for girls living abroad for a couple of years to join local Guiding/Scouting because of the language barrier. It's kind of like US Girl Scouts Overseas that runs at American bases over here and in other countries.

Still going to miss her though. It means two extra places for girls to join us in September but I'd rather keep the one we had!

PS: Go on, you thought I'd actually lost a Brownie, didn't you!

Tired

Don't really feel like I sat down all weekend. The washing didn't get done, the shopping didn't get done.

Totally worth it.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

So glad we met this morning!

It's bucketing down now. Somehow I think our numbers would have been somewhat depleted!

So cold...

My hands and my bottom are freezing!

But what a turnout today - we gave out no less than 346 badges! And that is just girls and leaders, the parents and siblings didn't get one, so I think we probably had about 500 people walking round the reservoir!

While I was sorting the badges into packets and adding certificates and a water cycle booklet, five or six other Guiders were unscrewing water bottles and tipping the coins out then sorting them into 1p, 2p, 5p, 10p, 20p, 50p and even the odd £1 piles - took them 90 mins just tip and sort and that doesn't even include counting!

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, there were niggles as ever: parking was awful including queueing out on the main road but we got them in as fast as possible and we knew that would be an issue because it is for every event there; people couldn't hear the div comm so we should have got her a loudhailer and finally one runner who was nothing to do with the event said the groups of girls just wouldn't move out the way for him - we should have warned the girls to move beforehand but didn't think of that. You live and learn though.

We can be pretty proud of ourselves I think and we can relax for a while...we don't have to organise anything as a district now till Jul 2009 so a year off before we have to start planning!

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Back from Westminster Abbey

Our group of 22 is back from Westminster Abbey where we were lucky enough to meet first Peter Duncan the Chief Scout (the Brownies were very confused as to why the Guiders were so pleased to meet a Scout till we told them he used to present Blue Peter and it was like them meeting Gethin, THEN they understood), then Lesley Knighton our region's chief commissioner.

I was so excited to see her (I met her once before) that I didn't initially notice she was standing next to the Chief Guide Liz Burnley, but I noticed in time to be able to say hello to her too. So in one day, we met the Chief Scout AND the Chief Guide, very cool.

We had an excellent service, a lot of the water issues dealt with we had covered in Brownies over the last two weeks so the girls knew all about pollution and the amount of water we use in Europe daily.

Our newest Guider made her promise in the Abbey, and then Lesley Knighton was kind enough to come out and see us afterwards to congratulate her, then proceeded to give all 22 of us one of various Midlands badges pulled from her handbag - she was wiped out after that, no badges left
We traded our Warks silks with the 3rd Bridge of Allan Guides too, they each gave us a Scottish silk in return.

Great difficulty getting to use the loos, not because of queueing, we expected that, but because a VERY officious Scout lady wouldn't let us go. After we meekly returned to our seats, a Rainbow leader with two girls tried to get through, was told no, then said she had to go anyway. At which point, our faces of fury made her relent and let our girls and leaders go too.

We had a lovely walk through Whitehall, Trafalgar Square, packed lunches in St James Park, Buckingham Palace and then CHQ of course for the shop. I picked up the new Aim Hi resource there, and School Days, which I know has been out for a while but I hadn't seen yet.

A really good day and some very tired girls when we got home on the train. Now for tomorrow, our division thinking day event at the local reservoir - fortunately I am part of the team running it so I don't have to do the 5 mile walk!

Friday, 22 February 2008

Splish splash

The Brownies were just fab again last night, they really came through with the water bottles! 23 girls out of 24 turned up (not unusual, there's almost always at least one missing through illness or another commitment) and of those 23, 22 marched in proudly with their water bottle stuffed with coins.
One girl had persuaded her dad to empty his small change jar and she had swiped every 1p, 5p and 20p (as those were what fitted!) and had well over £20 in her bottle alone.
My own daughter had taken this week's pocket money in 1ps to boost the coins in her bottle and I know from the amount I put in it myself, it must have been well over £7.
I am confident that as a unit, we raised over £100. Hopefully that is reflected across the division because with around 240 girls (plus over 40 leaders but they weren't collecting) going to the event on Sunday, we could be looking at £1000 for the two charities, which would be absolutely amazing.
Even if we only get half of that, it's a stunning amount.

Anyway, apart from the water bottles, we also wrapped up the water safety badge so I have warned them I want to see impeccable behaviour near the reservoir! We played water safety flag bingo, then an information sheet to reinforce the flags. Then they had a picture of a swimming pool and they had to identify the dangers around it. Finally, I printed off copies of the ROSPA water safety code and they were each given a copy of the code, a sheet of card, a cutout of a girl, some hair and a swimsuit and they were each to produce a poster with the code and the girl on, plus anything else they wanted!
At the end of the meeting, I handed out 16 water safety badges, one girl had missed last week so I emailed her parents to tell her the clauses she missed, and a second girl is taking her promise on Sunday so she will get her badge then.

The remaining 5 girls were working on their Go For It Brownies, which prepares them for Guides, as they are moving up to Guides after Easter. My assistant was running through it with them and 4/5 seemed engrossed, the fifth was much more interested in what we were doing!

At the end, one of the Brownies was meant to be collected by her (19 year old) sister, 10 mins after the meeting was over she still hadn't turned up so I called the house to find she was still there and "didn't know where Brownies met." I ended up driving the Brownie home (with two others in the car, my own daughter and my neighbour's daughter that I always bring home). There's very few Brownies I would do that for, but this one is a sweetheart and her mum and dad are always very supportive of what we do, it's not their fault their 19 year old didn't follow through on her promise to get her sister!

Well, after a great meeting, it's a Guiding Weekend. Saturday at Westminster Abbey and Sunday at the Division event. Wish me luck!

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Get down, get on up, then celebrate

Nothing I could post this afternoon could be as important as this.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Running total

Running total for our Division Thinking Day event this weekend: 280-300 Rainbows, Brownies, Guides, Senior Section and leaders, not to mention parents and siblings. So even if each participant only raises £1 (likely to be much more) we should have £300 minimum to be split between Water Aid and the World Thinking Day Fund.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

So cute!

Rainbows are 5-7 year old girls (4-7 in Northern Ireland) and this year they celebrate 21 years of existence (just before Guides celebrate 100 years!). They are the equivalent of Daisys in the US and Sparks in Canada.

How cute is this tea towel? It's black and white, and the girls are supposed to colour it in with fabric pens.
They're being sold for £1.40 each plus postage, which I think is great value. I told the two Rainbow units in our district about it, and they seemed really keen.

If you want one, have a look here for details of how to get them. Unfortunately, we don't have a Rainbow unit, just Brownies and Guides, we couldn't get enough volunteers to do all three when we started so we went for the two units that best suited the age of the daughters of those who did volunteer. We've tried twice since but no joy so far.


Monday, 18 February 2008

Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick

By using easyfundraising before Christmas, me and two other people (one of my assistants plus one of the parents) have raised £30 for the unit. For nothing. You log in and then go to do your shopping as usual, and the site gives you a tiny cut of what is spent.

If you're inspired to try it to raise funds for your unit, please get in touch with me as if I refer you, we can get a tiny cut on top of your cut for the referral.

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Oh the drama

Remember I said I would never ever camp?

And our newbie, very enthusiastic Guider said she would be really happy to lead a camp for o
ur Brownies?

So I said OK?

*sighs*

Newbie Guider emailed me yesterday to let me know her daughter wouldn't be able to come to camp because her husband's brother had announced he was getting married that weekend. That of course she would come, and she'd explained to the family she could not pull out, but that her daughter couldn't.

*sighs again*

So I spoke to the third Guider who had agreed to come and we both felt we had to release the newbie Guider from the commitment, that if we were in the same position we both hoped that the others would release us.

We did, and she was really grateful.

So then we had to work out what to do. Lots of options:
  1. Cancel
  2. Limit the number of girls going to 8 so that we could just go with two adults. As we are down to 12 girls interested with the loss of newbie Guider's daughter, that meant leaving out just 4 girls, which would be very tough to do.
  3. Ask one of my other assistant Guiders. 1 hates camping and agrees to do it with the Guides but had pleaded not to be involved this time. 1 is always agreeable when asked but has pulled out of things before and I couldn't cope with having to reshuffle everything again after this drama.
  4. Ask the other Brownie Guider in the district - but to be fair when we asked her we'd have to take some of her Brownies too, and we were actually very happy with having 12 Brownies going, it was closer to the number we were comfortable with for a first ever camping trip as a unit.
  5. Ask our male unit helper to stay, there's plenty of room for a male tent at the site and male facilities. But while he is really happy to help, he doesn't like the idea of staying over on holidays let alone camps and has even come to a holiday, driven back home at night and returned in the morning. I understand why, and I do support him in that.

The other Guider added three more options:

  1. Ask the other assistant Guide Guider to go. She likes camping but she'd have to bring her Guide daughter. We already have a Guide and a Young Leader coming that are the other Guiders daughters so adding another Guide would really mean too many non-Brownies going for the number of Brownies we were taking.
  2. Her husband could go, he has been on Guide camp, is CRB cleared.
  3. Pull out of the big camp and just do an overnight at a campsite near us, whenever is convenient. I wasn't keen on that as the whole point of this was to take part in the county camp and the activities offered, I dread the idea of being at camp and exhausted and the girls looking to me to entertain them!

We decided her husband going would be the least complicated answer, she asked him and he said yes!

So now all we have to do is persuade one of the parents to do the shopping on the Friday and bring it with their daughter (I can do this if push comes to shove but would rather not) and tell the parents that when they come they will need to help put up tents for time's sake - the newbie Guider was going to do the food shop and was going to go the campsite with her husband and put the tents up while I brought her daughter with mine after school.

If it wasn't for the thought that 12 girls would be VERY disappointed, we'd have cancelled. But I think we have found a way to make it work now.

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Success!

Think it is safe to say that our Thinking Day event is popular, we now have 242 people signed up!

We only ordered 250 badges but have now added another 100 to the order to ensure we have enough, I've personally underwritten 40 of them if necessary as I have plenty of Guider friends from outside the division who want one or two and are put off by the WAGGGS minimum order of 10. I'll be able to sell them on for 75p each plus postage - although they are advertised at 55p each, they then add postage and VAT to the total which really bumps it up so 75p is only just above the actual cost (73.2p if you're interested)!

Friday, 8 February 2008

Water water everywhere

Great fun last night at Brownies, we started with what Thinking Day was about then moved onto this year's Thinking Day theme of water.

I had a 4l milk bottle filled with water, and another 53l of milk and juice bottles that I left empty. The girls each held the 4l bottle and had turns in guessing how much an average Saharan-African uses per day (10-20l) and we talked about how the children have to walk for the water so to collect water for the family, you'd have to fill all the bottles in front of us and then carry them miles. So then we got onto how the kids didn't have time for education as a result so it was hard for them to make any changes to improve their life. And how a tap in the village or at least nearer, with clean water, could make a massive difference - I think it really sank in!

So then we told them about the bottle of water they were to take home, drink, then fill with coins and bring back in two weeks and the money would be given half to the World Thinking Day Fund and half to Water Aid.

Then we went onto personal water safety, to make the theme of water easy for the girls to relate to. We talked specifically about reservoirs as we have one nearby they all visit, and then they did an information sheet to ensure they had taken in the information.

After that, a leader had hidden little squares with statements on round the hall and they had to find the right colour statement for their six, then fit it onto a grid all about causes of water pollution. This took AGES, first to find them, then to get the right answers. Much celebrating by the 1st, 2nd and 3rd six, the 4th six was, as usual, the senior six, with two girls refusing to take part.

We spent a little time on the water safety code and how you can help people in trouble in water without endangering yourself, before wrapping up for the night. After half-term we'll finish the badge with more work on the water safety code and a great safety flags lotto game, and any time left will be about Thinking Day.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Parcel

Got my parcel...and it is marvellous - I am like a kid in a toy shop! The free gift for spending so much was a bear with a treasure map, you try to pick the square the bear is hiding behind. We're not fundraising for Brownies as we have enough for now, so we are donating that to the school for their playground appeal. Hopefully will get us Brownie points (tee hee) and it didn't cost us anything!

Monday, 4 February 2008

Character flaw

I do admit that when it comes to Brownies, I have a rotten character flaw. The weird thing is, the rest of my life, this character flaw is not apparent.

We plan out the term and everything looks good. Then we/I find out about something new and exciting and I want to fit it in. And the old plan either gets squeezed to accommodate it or dropped altogether for the term.

Case in point - after half term this term we were going to do Home Skills for 2 weeks and then Home Safety for 2 weeks. Because Thinking Day needs a bit more space to make it worthwhile than we thought not least because I got all enthused about including Water Safety to bring home the water issue, it will run into the first week after half term.

As each of Home Skills and Home Safety need two weeks, one needs to be dropped. And I am not feeling the urge to lead on either, what with all the paperwork around our Thinking Day events and the sleepover. Luckily, one of the AGs is happy to lead, and will pick the badge she think is most realistic to achieve.


But while I admit this character flaw when it comes to Brownies, there is just so much choice of what we can do and I want the girls to get to do as much as possible, it just doesn't hold true in the rest of my life. I am absolutely the person you can bank on to create an Excel spreadsheet and work through a project from the start to the bitter end and deliver a consistent and detailed report at the end. What's up with that?

Parcels and water

I think my parcel with all my Brownie shopping tried to come today - but I was at work so missed it. They are going to try again tomorrow, and have my permission to have a neighbour sign for it if it is when I am out this time.

Did some Brownie photocopying at work today, the boss lets me do a little though I am not sure she would define what I did today as a little. We're doing water this week and at the next meeting for Thinking Day/the WAGGGS theme and I've decided to tie it into the Water Safety badge so the girls learn some useful skills at the same time.

It's a tough badge, not in terms of attainment, but it's basically lots of facts, so I have been looking for ways to make it fun while they learn.

Here's what they have to do:

1. Know why the following can be dangerous:
**outside water, such as lakes, rivers, canals and ponds
**shallow water
**cold water
**standing on iced-over rivers, ponds, lakes and canals.

2. Know the safety signs and flags you might see at a beach or other area of open water.

3.
**Know where it is safe to swim.
**Explain why these places are safe.
**Know why you should never swim alone.
**Explain the role of a lifeguard.

4. Name some causes of water pollution.

5. Know the Water Safety Code.

I appealed for some help from other Guiders, and have some great ideas to get it done now. For 1 and 3, I have some Scottish Water information, first some outline drawings with bad situations and the girls have to point out where the dangers are, and second a little quiz where you fill in the missing words, not too hard.

For 2, I have a flag bingo game a Guider in Cambridge has sent me and for 4, a treasure hunt game where the girls have to find the cards that they need, then work out where they go in the water cycle.

That just leaves 5 - I was thinking maybe we go over the code then each six has to act out one aspect of it?

So over the two weeks we will do this, and also the WAGGGS stuff, talking about water and what it means to us and to others, about water consumption etc. I have been saving our milk cartons since before Christmas (I rinsed and Dettoxed them, don't worry!) and now have 7 6l cartons, 2 4l cartons and a 3l blackcurrant bottle. I'm going to fill them all with water and the girls will have to carry them in their sixes a certain distance back and forth to understand just what it is like for people who have to collect their water daily.

At the end of the first meeting, they will all get a 250ml bottle of clean water and after they have drunk it, they have to bring it back 2 weeks later with as many coins as they can, and that money will go to the World Thinking Day Fund and Water Aid.

I also need to do a very brief bit on Thinking Day and the Baden-Powells just so the girls who have joined us since last February know what it is all about. Enough to fill two meetings no problem!

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Sleepover

Sleepover coming together nicely. The girls should all gain their craft badges while they are there - 3 of the 4 older ones already have it but it's one of the few badges you can earn twice so I am working on tweaking the crafts to ensure they can pass it again.

Menu decided - baked potatoes on the Saturday night with cheese, ham, tuna and beans available as toppings and then ice cream bars for afterwards - we can cook the potatoes ahead of time and bring them with us and put them in the very handy warming cupboard at the hall. Hot choc and biscuits at the indoor campfire. 2 types of cereal and toasted bagels and jam for the morning. Apples, bananas and grapes available in the evening any time to up the fruit and veg quotient, though that matters more over a pack holiday than just a short sleepover.

That covers the various issues we have to consider - one girl has no beef (religious reasons) and is also allergic to nuts, one girl has no meat, no fish and no eggs but it's fine for others to have it as it is not an allergy, one girl and one leader (me and Daughter) have a food intolerance to chillis in all forms.

Cute sleepover badges too, 7 Brownie sleepover for the girls on their first sleepover, 4 Another Sleepover badges for the older girls.

The girls picked animals for the theme so there are lots of crafts lined up and I also picked up two very detailed colouring books of animals and of wildlife yesterday and they can do one if a time filler is needed.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Right to...

Don't think I have put these on here before, if I have, I apologise.

They are the "Rights" badges, based on the UN Rights of the Child.

They are:
  • Right To Be Me

  • Right To Be Heard

  • Right To Live In Peace

  • Right To Work Together

  • Right To Learn

  • Right To Be Happy (it's like the 7 dwarves, you can never name that last one, I had to go and look it up!)

The great thing about them is that they are cross-sectional, the resource has activities for Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Senior Section. So a girl can earn all six across two sections.

Our Brownies have earned Me (lots of praise of individuality and thanks for the people who let them be themselves), Heard (practicing letting everyone have their say and learning about how people have their say in the electoral arena), Peace (got to confess we did this so long ago I can't remember off hand what we did!) and Work Together (pretty obvious, all about working as a team).

I am going to try and squeeze one of the remaining two in this term and the last one in summer term, at the very latest we'll do the last two by the end of the year, as the badges will stop being produced in Feb 2009, as it has been a three year programme - having said that, apparently the Adventure Out badge was originally time-limited and that is still on offer as it is really popular, we did it last summer and it was great.

It's great seeing how the girls display the Rights badges as well, some have them in a row, some have them pointing into a circle, some have them striping across their back...they are really colourful and I will miss them when they go.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Think about...water

Just ordered 250 of these badges - that's a whopping £170 on my credit card, but I am assured I will get a cheque sharpish.

They are for our division Thinking Day event and have been ordered direct from WAGGGS.

At the moment we only (only!) have 176 people signed up for the event but we are expecting more to sign up at the last minute so are trying to cover ourselves by having extra - I am pretty hopeful we'll be able to sell any left over in ones and twos to Guiders as WAGGGS only takes orders in blocks of 10.
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