Saturday, 21 March 2015

Messy and noisy

Last week was one of those messy weeks where we tried to do too much and everything got out of control.
The new Brownies were finishing off Becoming a Brownie before two took their promise later that night (the others will do it during a trip early next term). One who has missed every Becoming a Brownie session was told she had to bring her book,and turned up without it, so it was hard for the leader with them to deal with two who were ready, two who were ready but not doing it and one who wasn't ready at all.
My More Adventures group were outside playing games in the dark, and had to be brought in because they were just shrieking too loudly and annoying the neighbours, plus ignoring the leader with them. I had to deal with the children's university passports which took me away from them yet again and I felt bad about that.
A stand in leader was working with one set of girls and was surprised at just how noisy they were being. The other two groups were fine!
We did have to tell them off, they weren't paying any attention to arms in the air and we had to finish off to be ready for the promise ceremony.
That went ok but then ignoring started again after and this time I had to read the riot act in front of some parents.
We agreed that this week we would put our hands in the air and wait, not shout. It really worked. They missed out on the end activity, because we ran out of time because of the amount of time we spent with our arms in the air and by the end of the evening you could hear girls telling others to shush and stop and some visible disappointment at missing out on the end activity.
We'll reinforce it next meeting and hope it will continue to improve.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Pax Lodge but where are the Brownies?

Back in February, the seven Guiders who make up our Brownie and Guides leadership team did something very unusual - negotiated three days off from life and headed to London for the weekend!

We're almost all mums - six out of seven of us have kids ranging in age from three to twenty, five of us work, and both organising and not feeling guilty about taking time out from the families is rare, so we really enjoyed ourselves.

We joined a division trip to Pax Lodge World Guiding Centre, organised by a member of the Trefoil Guild working towards an award. It's great that adults in Guiding are able to work towards a few awards too, and we were really happy we got involved.

Those of us with school age kids dropped them at school and then the two drivers scooped everyone up and we headed off in tandem down the M1. We made good time and we able to drop our bags at Pax Lodge and head out again by about 1pm.

Our aim for the afternoon was the British Museum, where one of us had a brother in law on staff. He proceeded to give us a two and a half hour tour of pretty much every corner of the place, telling us the key things to look out for in each area. I've been a few times and I confess that after the Rosetta Stone, the Parthenon statues, the Easter Island statue and the Egyptian gallery, I feel overwhelmed by what's left and don't know where to start, but I do now! We learned so many great things as we went and he was very patient. Highlights included seeing Assyrian statues that basically as we saw them are being destroyed in Syria and really brought home the value of a museum, beautiful centuries old pottery, secret doors to back rooms that he has a key to (very exciting!), a Michelangelo cartoon that few people see because it's on the top floor, and a Doctor Who banknote.

We were flagging by the end of the tour, though he did a great job, but there was only so much we could take in. After that we headed back to North London where the others had arrived at Pax Lodge, where we could chill out for a while, unpack in our rooms, before heading out to dinner.

We found a place nearby that took the 15 of us and had a lovely meal, anyone who is friends with us on Facebook will know that most of the pics we posted all weekend were of us out eating and drinking but we walked miles and miles over the weekend so I reckon we worked most of it off.

Saturday, after flag ceremony in the morning it was up to us what we wanted to do, we picked a few highlights and once again headed out as a seven, there were three groups out of the 15, each working on a different London Challenge so we could earn a badge at the end!

After a trip to Kings Cross to see Platform 9 3/4, we headed for Borough Market first and oh, the food! Lots of tasty samples, if I'd been heading home that night I might have indulged but with no fridge access it was pointless. Then Shakespeare's Globe, Tate Modern, the Millennium Bridge, Southwark Bridge, a walk up Fleet Street, past the Royal Courts of Justice, down Drury Lane (no sign of the muffin man but we did find a primary school!) and into Covent Garden where the next few hours were spent wandering, having lunch, shopping. I picked up wooden rulers for my two kids with their names on, as a reward for some great school news I received for both of them in a call from my husband while we were at lunch.

We headed back up to North London again and this time split, with four heading for Camden Market and three straight back to Pax. We reconvened later, for dinner as a 15 again, this time at Pax followed by an international evening of Guiding which was great fun.

Sunday we had another flag ceremony, received our badges and said our farewells. Some people were heading on to Crystal Palace to see the Girlguiding Centenary Maze but most of our seven had seen it and were happy to head home.

It was a lovely weekend, spent in the company of some fantastic ladies. It brought us closer as a team, and I think made us all value each other a bit more and feel part of something bigger than us. And it was lovely to have a weekend where we only had to look after ourselves, no Brownies with us to constantly count while on the underground! We do love them but it was fun to be away without them for a change.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Tenth birthday

If you track back in this blog, you'll find details of our unit's fifth birthday in 2010, when we had a party with our newly-formed Rainbow unit:

This time around it was our tenth, and we decided to celebrate with our Guides, who started at the same time as us.

It was fairly low key, just party games and music, but they seemed to have fun. We had a badge, and a cake which exactly matched the badge - I haven't included pics as our unit name is on both.

The cake was made by a Brownie mum, and she also made some gluten free cupcakes for the three girls and one leader who can't have gluten and who we of course wanted to include.

We invited our Division Commissioner, and the Division Commissioner from when we started who regards us as one of her success stories. Fun night! 

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Go Global

On Saturday, Feb 21st, we took part in Go Global, an event for Midlands region girls, winding up the end of our Art Explosion challenge which has been so much fun. Our challenges had included making elephants out of milk bottles, hiding them on an elephant trail, and a fashion show in front of parents, to name just a few things.

We signed up for this final event with a little trepidation. It wasn't cheap: £20 for a ticket and another £10 for a coach place. We've been to a lot of county and region events and sometimes they can be a little samey - for instance we learned Banghra dancing about three times last year, we were practically experts, there are so many forms of dance and it was the same single style that kept appearing! These events are always organised by volunteers and we are grateful, but we had kind of decided that if this event wasn't amazing, we were going to think again about future ones.

Guess what, it was amazing! (also yes, there was Banghra dancing but our girls weren't assigned to that anyway!)

So first up we all, around 3,000 of us, met up in a large hall at a county show ground for the launch. There were videos and music to keep the girls occupied while we waited for everyone, and we were immediately assigned into our colour and number group - our Brownies were in Orange 1 with some Nottinghamshire Brownies and our Guides and Senior Section were in Blue 1.

The directions to move around the four workshops and lunch break over the day were great, there was plenty of time but not too much time in between each, allowing toilet trips (even this was carefully regulated with groups advised which loos to head for at each stage).

First up, we made a Guidy Giggle.

The Guidy Giggle was what they called it just to give it a fun twist, in reality, it's a cushion! The fabric pouches had been presewn, one lady we spoke to had made 200! There were 30 tables, with room for 12 to sit at each, and each manned by a member of the Trefoil Guild. Each girl got a plastic bag with a certificate and a pouch. They collected stuffing, then went to a row of tables in the middle of the room that had fabric scraps, ribbons, felt, netting, wool, buttons, fake flowers, and chose what they wanted to use then went back to their table, stuffed their cushion and decorated it. It needed to have a hole of about 4cm sewn up at the top after stuffing.

Great though was given to each section: Rainbows were given glue to add their decor, Brownies were helped to thread needles, and Guides and Senior Section just got on with it. Leaders of older girls made theirs on the day, Leaders of Rainbows and Brownies were encouraged to choose a few pieces so they could make theirs later. I didn't get to start mine while I was there but I made it the next day.

Then we moved on and the girls were taught a dance from Hairspray. They enjoyed it, and learned a lot in a short time. While our group did that, the other Orange groups learned different dances and roleplays. Next up was lunch, and we went back to the big hall for that which was good, gave us a chance to catch up with our guides and Senior Section.

Next was a kind of bits and pieces session. There was an elephant trail, a quiz, musical instruments, a graffiti wall, a gorgeous Guide Dog, it was kind of like everything they had thought of that didn't fit elsewhere was put here. It was fine, and as it was contained in one area we let the girls roam in small groups and come back to us, but it was a little chaotic and probably the weakest element in a very strong day.

Finally we had a Chinese ribbon workshop. Our Guides had had this same workshop earlier in the day and they had tipped us off that there were clean loos up in the room where it was held, so we headed straight there and were able to use the loos in our little group of 35, rather than with a few hundred others! The ribbon dancing was great, the girls learned a lot again in a short space of time and it was very effective. We were tiring towards the end of a long day but they did very well.

Finally, we gathered again in the big hall with everyone else and had some more entertainment, including a Katy Perry lookalike who was very good and kept them all entertained! Then it was waiting for your coach number to be called and off we went home. It was a long day, about 11 hours, but they really enjoyed it and the leaders were very impressed, we sent a thank you email the next day.

All in all a great day, and one which really enthused us for future regional events.


I have so many great things to tell you about: our trip to a regional event which was just amazing, our unit's tenth birthday party and a weekend in London for all our adult leaders from Brownies and Guides.

I want to give each the time I need to write them up properly, and I'm swamped with work at the moment, including this weekend, so I'm setting them aside for a little while longer. What I do want to tell you about now, because I know it is more time-sensitive, is a really great challenge that some Guides from another county have created. One of them contacted me and asked if I could mention their challenge here. I was impressed by her initiative and even more impressed by the resource behind their challenge, so I agreed.

One of the great things about Guiding is that there are opportunities for older girls and leaders as well as for the younger girls. The weekend that I still need to write up was spent at Pax Lodge, one of five World Guiding Centres, which happens to be in London. My daughter stayed at Our Chalet, the Swiss World Guiding Centre last summer, and she had to raise all the money for her to go, which she managed through a combination of grants, bag packing, fun events like a ceilidh and a race night, and more.

The Worcestershire Guides will be going to Our Cabana in Mexico during August, also a World Guiding Centre (the other two are Sangam in India and a pop up centre in Africa) and have to raise £2500 each. So as part of their fundraising, they have created this challenge.

They've made sure the five Guiding Essentials are in there, and have marked every activity for the appropriate age group. There's crafts, history, geography, food, templates, everything you could think of, laid out in easy to use pages and obviously thoughtfully researched and compiled. Though I haven't used it for my own unit as our girls have already got us planned up to the summer holidays, it's an excellent resource I could easily see us using over a number of weeks. 

If you would like to get a copy of the resource, which includes details of how to order the gorgeous badges above through Worcestershire Guides, click here, it's quite slow to download because it is 77 pages long but worth the wait. Good luck guys!

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