Archive for the ‘Bridging’ Category

I’ve been asked to talk about Bridging Meetings – these are ones where the units below get to see what happens in the next branch up. They come in lots of forms (Thinking Day, moving up preparation, Enrollments, Advancements, etc.), but this post is about Moving up prep.

In our neighbourhood we coordinate this so that the second year Brownies can go to Guides (their space can’t handle our whole unit), and then the whole Sparks unit comes to visit the first year Brownies (which also elevates the firsts to the hostesses… and that’s cool for them).

This year the meeting kind of snuck up on us so for the Sparks go to Brownies meeting, we did an intro game of tag, then we split Sparks up in the Circle Groups (where Brownies taught Sparks the circle songs). Then we did our Brownie Circle, we played Brown Owl’s Rules, did a friendship craft, taught the closing songs, and we were done. Because there’s an element of teaching new stuff, things took longer than usual and that’s ok. Just be prepared for it.

Goals of a Bridging Meeting:

  1. Make your unit appealing for the girls who are likely to join in future.
    • Don’t go overboard – your meetings aren’t a perpetual birthday party, but, give them a taste of what they might see when they join you.
    • But try not to schedule it on a really talky meeting day either.
  2. Show them what happens in your unit – the unit could teach the unit opening and closing. This is the time to be flashy with flags. =)
  3. Show what the older girls get to do. What is expected of you as an older girl? Compare branches:
    • Sparks stay in one big group, but in Brownies we have Circle Groups, Guides have Patrols…
    • Sparks have Keepers, Brownies have Keys and Interest badges…
    • In Sparks and Brownies you likely sleep in cabins at camp, but in Guides and above you will probably sleep in tents and are expected to learn how to put them up.
    • Our unit loves camping, singing, crafts,…
    • Brownie badges usually have three or four parts to complete. But Guide badges are more complicated.
    • And so on for older units.
  4. Pay attention to ratio. Mixing units and putting girls in different spaces requires a glance at Safe Guide.

Some things that have worked for us:

  • Sparks visiting Brownies – this is a two-part meeting where Brownies choose what they’re going to present and puts them in the teacher role. Very cool.
  • Your Day with Spark Guests
  • Brownies Visiting Guides ideas:
    • Camp Skills demos – this was one of the best examples of Brownies go to Guides is one where I found out that most of the Brownies had NEVER lit a match.
    • Games night – The Guides prepared a number of games – one of them was a variation on the hungry hippo human game (or this one) –  but in this unit, they had to crab walk around with a tissue box on tied to their stomach and filling it up with ping pong balls. (super fun)
    • Badge night – they worked on a badge together for the meeting – the unit recorded the work and girls who joined were given credit in September.

Prep for moving up to the next unit is important. It needs to be special to entice girls to stay in Guiding, but not so over the top that they are disappointed when they arrive in September.

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Together with Guider Amanda (a Community Guider and Sparks Leader in Ottawa), I led a session about Ceremonies at the recent January Thaw Event (see Guider Training Days!) and I think it went well. Here are some of our notes.

What is a Ceremony? What kinds of ceremonies do we have in Guiding?

As Becky says in her blog: A ceremony is something a group does to make an ordinary event special, or to add significance to a special occasion. Read on here for Becky’s tips and wisdom on ceremonies.

Guiding has a lot of ceremonies. Some of them are the everyday ones like our Openings and Closings. And others are special like enrollments, advancements and Thinking Day ceremonies.

Traditional vs. non-traditional ceremonies

We set up our presentation as sort of a debate, with me standing up for why we should be doing more traditional ceremonies, and Amanda standing up for innovation, imagination and forward thinking.

In defense of tradition

  • The definition of tradition is the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation (Google).
  • Guiding is memorable…I meet many women who, when they found out I am a Guider, remember fondly the “tu-whit, tu-whit, tu-whoo”; ask if we still “twist me and turn me with the pond and stepping stones?”; or tell me about their Guider who made them practice a flag ceremony over and over and about how, when they got it, they were so proud. I want to give the girls today that sort of memory.

    A Jamaican Brownie Pack Enrollment

  • Pro – When we do the traditional ceremonies, the girls see us waving our Guiding flag. Guiding does things just a bit little differently and in order to become a member you need to learn how we do things.
  • Pro – girls will hopefully hear my enthusiasm for the traditions that are important to me.
  • Pro – we keep the magic of Guiding alive by honouring the past and looking to the future.
  • Con – tradition can be stodgy and not with the times. You may hear “not again!”.
  • Con – doing the same old thing is not tradition if you’re doing it “just because.” Sticking with tradition isn’t right if you’re unwilling to do something different because it is hard to change or because it might not work.

In defense of non-traditional ceremonies

  • Non-traditional doesn’t mean that you’re abandoning the purpose of the ceremony.
  • It gives you flexibility in your planning. For example, this fall badge sashes and ties were back ordered in the GGC store and it was uncertain whether or not they’d ship in time for enrollment… so Amanda’s unit did a Halloween enrollment ceremony. Can you imagine a Darth Vader with a Sparks sash? Hilarious, memorable, flexible, and it fit the day.

    Imagine this with a Sparks Sash. =)

  • By going with a non-traditional ceremony, it acknowledges that Girl Guides of Canada is changing with the times.
  • Younger girls benefit from non-traditional ceremonies – they experience a ceremony that they’re interested/engaged in.
  • Older girls are given the opportunity to practice their leadership and organizational skills because they get input.
  • Pro – Planning flexibility.
  • Pro – Can incorporate other badge challenge work or special events.
  • Pro – Inclusive for those girls and leaders who are new to Guiding and who aren’t as familiar with tradition.
  • Pro – Avoids the “we do it this way because that’s the way it has always been done”.
  • Pro – Starts a new tradition.
  • Con – can give too much freedom so that GGC values are not represented or the importance of the moment is lost.

In the end though, there is no wrong way to do it. And why not mix the two?

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Last week our second year Brownies went to visit Guides and the first year girls invited Sparks to be honourary Brownies.  The split is necessary in our neighbourhood because the Guide unit here is huge and their space isn’t big enough for all of the Brownies to go to Guides.  We also like that it gives our younger girls a chance to be the leaders.

Here is a two meeting plan for a really nice Sparks visit Brownies bridging meeting:

Meeting One (Key to Active Living – Say No, Key to Guides – Moving up (2nd year girls), Key to Guides (1st year girls) – Helping Sparks)

One week before the bridging meeting we all had  a lesson on teaching.  The idea is that the first year girls would hone their knowledge on an activity, and then work out how to teach it.

6:30 – arrival game

6:40 – Brownie opening activities

6:55 – Program

  • Say No discussion – how can you say no to someone who suggests you do something that is wrong  or that you don’t want to do?  Girls into 4 groups 6 each. Each group gets a skit to act out. Practice. Remember to face the audience and speak clearly and loudly.  We did this as “on the spot” no practice skits.
    • Some kids are playing at the playground. Your friend tells you that you should go and push one of the kids off the monkey bars. What do you do?
    • You and your friends are getting popsicles at the store. One of your friends tells you to steal a chocolate bar. What do you do?
    • You and your friends are playing outside. Everyone decides to go into one friend’s house, but you don’t have permission. What do you do?
    • You and your friends are selling cookies in the neighbourhood. Someone you don’t know asks you to come inside to wait while they get some money to buy some cookies. What should you do?
  • 2nd Year Program – go through the Moving up bit of the book – when you’re done, join the first year girls as stand-in Sparks.
  • 1st Year Program
    Group 1 – Teach a Game (they picked Ladders– even though the Brownie teachers did a good job, the wiggly Sparks had trouble sitting still while they explained it)
    Group 2 – Teach a craft – Hawk Owl provided an option for a paper weaving craft and a glue and drawing craft.  The paper weaving won.  (I’ll have to ask her for instructions)
    Group 3 – Teach a song – My group chose to teach Sparks Quartermaster Store.
    The girls explained the song “This is a song about a man who goes into a store without his glasses – spectacles are what glasses used to be called – and he sees some strange things”
    Then then sang the verse – sang it line-by-line, then invited everyone to give it a try.

7:40 – Everyone plays the game – finish with the song.  Campfire.

7:55 – closing

Meeting Two

6:30 – Arrival game – once everyone was there, we did a round of Brown Owl’s Rules.

6:40 – Brownie Circle activities – split Sparks into the circles.  Have the first year girls teach the Sparks their circle songs.

6:55 – Program – Learn a Song and Learn a Craft (we’ll do the game for everyone at the end). Sparks are split into two groups.  They’ll get to do both activities – 15 minutes per activity.  Craft and Song teachers split up, game teachers join a group of Sparks.

7:30 – Learn a game – As I said above, Ladders was a little tough for the Sparks to sit still and learn.  But there are always lessons in failure – and our girls know that sometimes it doesn’t work.

7:50 – Short campfire – everyone sings Quartermaster Store together.  “Owls…eating paper towels” is our favourite one.

7:55 – Closing with Grand Howl for the Sparks.

And that’s it.  It is a simple program, but it really works!

Our neighbourhood Campfire last year.  (because it was a shame to not have a photo with this post).

Our neighbourhood Campfire last year. (because it was a shame to not have a photo with this post).

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I’ve just come back from Bridging Friends Forever (BFF) Camp 2013 hosted by Girl Guides New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island at Snider Mountain Ranch near Sussex, NB.  Now that I’ve had a bunch of naps, I have so many stories to tell you.

There’s one about the great friends I got to see again.

BFF 2013 Mary Dawn Cara1

Photo Credit: Dawn MacNeill
Mary, Dawn and Me at the closing ceremony

BFF 2013 Deb

Deb’s photo is a little fuzzy… but she never sits still so that’s not unexpected. =)

BFF 2013 Lisa and the feathers1

Here’s Lisa and her feathers!

BFF 2013 Bridget

And my new friend Bridget – I can’t forget Bridget. =)

And the one about how important it is to work with a dedicated and hardworking team.  Thanks to our fearless leader Kim, and my co-volunteers Melanie and Shawna for doing such an awesome job – and for making it fun along the way.

BFF Kitchen Crew (without me) serving popcorn one night.  =)  Kim, Shawna, and Mel.

Guiders of the BFF Kitchen Crew (without me) serving popcorn one night. =) Kim, Melanie and Shawna.

That’s especially important when you’re serving 600 breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks!  (It wasn’t just the four of us, Snider Mountain Ranch staff and family members did the catering and we all worked together to make this work in the Guiding way).

BFF 2013 Snider Mountain Ranch Dining Hall1

The dining hall – made especially for us. I think it is going to be moved to shelter horses after we leave.

BFF 2013 Evacuation Drill1

600 of my closest friends. =)

There’s another story about a World Record!  Girls, Guiders, and Guiding friends from NB, PEI, across Canada and even from around the world made an incredible 19,953 Bracelets (the old record was 8,000!).

BFF 2013 World Record Bracelets1

World’s longest chain of bracelets. BFF Camp 2013.

BFF 2013 Heidi Bracelets1

My new friend Heidi (aka Blackie) and her bracelets. She started it all and did an amazing job. So very cool.

There’s yet another story about Hat Crafts and Traders.  You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing the distinctive BFF camp hats – all covered in traders.  Girls really got into this (so did staff at Snider Mountain Ranch … they now plan to incorporate it into their regular non-Guiding program).

One of the neatest ones I saw was the Dragonfly Knot.

And this one called “My pet Mummy. No food. No water. No litter. No mess.”  Very cute.

BFF 2013 hat crafts traders1

Then there are stories about what I learned at camp … you get lots of neat ideas for what to do another time.

Neat boot dryer idea.

Neat boot dryer idea.

And even more stories about how beautiful the province of New Brunswick is.   I arrived about 24 hours before I needed to get to camp so I visited Shediac and Parlee Beach.  I got to enjoy fresh clams, fish and chips and even muscles.  So yummy.

Before Camp Cara Parlee Beach

Me on Parlee Beach in my rain gear. I like rainy blustery days by the sea. =)

Parlee Beach, NB.  On this rainy day, I had the beach all to myself.  I got to walk for an hour to the sound of the waves.  It was pretty wonderful.

Parlee Beach, NB. On a rainy day before Camp started, I had the beach all to myself. I got to walk for an hour to the sound of the waves. It was pretty wonderful.

And also how beautiful Snider Mountain Ranch is – especially early in the morning.

BFF 2013 Foggy Morning1

Kitchen staff get up early enough to take fog pictures.

BFF 2013 the bridge1

The footbridge over to the Rocky Mountain camp.

BFF 2013 Snider Mountain

Everyone heading back up the hill after an evacuation drill.

I had a fantastic time.  Thank you to Girl Guides New Brunswick/PEI.  Until we meet again.

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This tutorial from Make is pretty neat. How to: Bobby Pin Butterflies

Tonight Brownies are doing a big bridging night. Second year girls (grade threes) are visiting a Guide meeting. And First years are hosting some Sparks for the My Day Badge (check out the plan from Guider Janice).  I haven’t forgotten about the blog, but it has been busy around here.

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Last night we held a low key, but fun Thinking Day event for Sparks and Brownies (these things don’t have to be fancy to be fun and effective).chopsticks

Our local Ranger unit talked about it and thought they’d like to lead a Brownie/Spark Thinking Day meeting highlighting Chinese New Year (China is not a WAGGGS country, but there is a Hong Kong Girl Guides Association and Taiwan and a number of other WAGGGS countries celebrate).

Here’s the plan (with some modifications because of a snowstorm and a suspicious package call that made our leaders a little late and kept the Rangers at home):

6:30 Sparks and Brownies play a game – girls choice (They picked Line Tag – not a big surprise).

6:40 (at this point we were contemplating what to do if Rangers didn’t appear.  We had no backup plan in the room – I always have a backup plan!) Brownie Circles – let’s show our Spark Friends what Brownie Circles are all about – teach them your circle song, teach them the Brownie Song, and talk about inspection (show off your stars!)spark chopsticks.  Take your time.  =)

6:55 (still no Rangers) Openings – We spent a bit of time with penny collections for the CWFF, then Spark and Brownie Openings.  Guiders Stephanie and Vicky (of Camp Woolsey fame!) came in in a flurry of snow and concern just as we were almost done with the “We’re the Brownies” song. (relief!).

7:05 – Stations We split the girls into two groups and flipped them halfway through.

Station 1 Learn how to use chopsticks.  They passed marshmallows and cut up carrots around.  Simple but very effective.  A tough skill for the newbies, but lots of fun.

Station 2 Decorate and make paper fans. (fold paper into an accordion and staple one end).

7:30 Learn a fan dance

fan dance7:40 Campfire.  Guider Vicky taught us Today is Monday, then a neat round with one group singing Twinkle Twinkle, another group singing ABC song, and a third singing Bah Bah Black Sheep (all the same tune – how did I not know that??) and we closed with This little Guiding Light of Mine.

And that’s it.  Thank you very much Stephanie and Vicky.  We are so glad you braved the elements and made it to our meeting.

Happy Thinking Day everyone!

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The GirlGuidesCan Blog just re-posted the Friendship Bracelet Post.  Cool.

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Brownies participated in a Guiding Campfire tonight.  There were events planned on Parliament Hill and at a local mall.  Since parking downtown is tough anyway and because you can always predict the temperature and weather inside, we went with the mall campfire – and it was great!

Here’s what we sang:

Thank you to Guider Judith and her team for a great campfire.

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I’ve been preparing to lead a sewing meeting for Guides and the plan is to make sewing kits.  While there are plenty of really cute patterns for sewing books and needle books, there aren’t many that a Guide age girl can do without a sewing machine – or that are suitable for me to teach (and that’s key) to a group.   I’m also looking for projects that we can do with Brownies in January or February.

UPDATE – see what we actually did in Sewing Books Part 2

The Guide Needlework Badge requires: Sew a button, sew a hem, mend a seam, demonstrate the knit and purl stitch, and embroider three stitches.  All by hand.  My two inspirations for this are:

  • Matchbook Needle Book from Make it Do.  As presented it is a good project for Brownies to do, but it could be souped up with a jewelry sized baggie with some buttons, maybe some thread in it.
  • Martha Stewart Sewing Book – We did something like this (using this idea as our starting point) two years ago.  We’ll do it again.

Here’s the plan for Guides:

6:30 Arrival and regular meeting actvities

7:00 – Needleworker Badge with Brown Owl Cara.  Round Robin: 24 Girls split into 4 teams – Rotate through the stations

  • 7:00 – Intro our task – Break into 4 teams (Patrols?), demonstrate Active Transition Activity (not sure what that is yet, but an active transition activity is going to help the girls focus – any suggestions?).  Distribute pre-made kits (contents TBD)
  • 7:05 Station 1 – Sew a button on the cover of the sewing book.  Assemble envelope/baggie of spare buttons.  Pre-thread a few sewing needles with common colours for your needle book.
  • 7:25 Station 2 – Embroider – Blanket stitch to bind the sewing book.  Decorate the cover – lazy daisy with a french knot in the middle??  (The last time I embroidered I think I was 8 and I remember sewing my hoop to my skirt).  Someone else will be leading this part.
    Supplies – Embroidery Floss, embroidery needles, Big Bulldog Clips to keep the fold in place, scissors, and patience.
  • 7:45 Station 3 – Sew your sewing badge to your badge sash.  The badge task is to hem and mend, but this has actual immediate value.  We’ll also have some pants on hand to mend.
    Supplies: Badges, Easy thread needles, blue thread, thread snips, old pair of pants with fallen hem and maybe a split seam or two, pants hanger with clips that hang from waiste.  Maybe some thimbles, hand wipes, and band aids.
  • 8:05 Station 4 – Demonstrate the knit and purl stitches.  I’m either going to suggest using Knitting Forks OR I will pre-cast on 24 small bracelet sized projects.  I both LOVE and am TERRIFIED of the prospect of teaching Knitting to Guides.  Maybe Crochet will be better.  I’m conflicted.

8:25 – Closing

To you Guide Guiders out there, how do you think this will go?  We’ll have four Guiders on hand and each station can be done in any order without getting in the way of another task.  And how “letter of the law” do Guides get in their meetings?  We’ll adapt this meeting for Brownies in January/February.  I haven’t forgotten about Brownies.

Your feedback is welcome.  I lead the session on November 14.  (and I’ll be updating this as we adjust our plans – and after the 14th, I’ll tell you how it actually went).

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Guider Janice has been a long-time commenter on this site and the other day she e-mailed to ask for my opinion on how to make a talky meeting more fun.  I was honoured to be asked (she is Guider Janice of “It Sticks” fame, after all) and I asked if she’d mind if we posted the final version here for you to see.

This meeting plan centres around the “Your Day” badge in Key to My Community.  Janice’s Brownies have invited a Sparks Unit to join their group as guests – and at the end, they’ll have earned their first Brownie badge too.  My question is, does your unit celebrate individual birthdays?  We don’t.  It is too tough to keep track of, and the summer birthdays are left out.  But we do try to do an “UnBirthday” to celebrate everyone’s big day together.  It is lots of fun!  And good filler for when you’ve run out of program or are transitioning from one key to the next.

6:00 Arrival

  • Attendance/Dues
  • Sparks join circle
  • Write words as to Why are we special?  (Guider will collect these from the Brownies for addition to their scrapbooks).

6:15 Circle Opening

  • Opening Circle
  • Brownie Song
  • Brownie Promise
  • Welcome Sparks
  • Talk about tradtion vs celebration.  Raise your hand if you have ever celebrated a birthday.  Can anyone tell me whether birthdays are a celebration or a tradition?  Celebration.  Give an example of a different celebration?  Canada Day.  What is an example of a tradition?  Remembrance Day.
  • The tradition of Birthday Parties
  • How do you celebrate your birthday?  How are birthdays celebrated in other countries? Let’s compare Canada and Mexico…
    • Mexico – Celebrate two birthdays.  Paper flower decorations.  Three wishes if the child blows out candles in one breath.  Coyote and Sheep Game.
    • Both – say happy birthday.  Cake and candles – Birthdays ‘spanks’ – Piniata – Gifts – Games – Friends and family celebrate – decorations.
    • Canada – Sing happy birthday.  Multicultural activities – one wish after blowing out candle – treat bags – balloons.

6:30 – Program – UnBirthday Celebration – Alice in Wonderland Fun!

7:00 – Game.  Caucus Race from: Caucus Race and other Alice in Wonderland Games and Activities.  Supplies: Music and player, six hula hoops.

7:15 – Campfire, closing, Squeeze, and announcements.  Question – what is the Squeeze?

Thanks Janice for sharing your meeting plan with me (and us!).  I hope the girls have fun with it tonight.

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