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If you are a friend, family member or significant other of a Guider and you’re trying to figure out a gift to give them, I have a few suggestions for things that could make your Guider’s life easier that she might not buy for herself.

This post is modeled on the Gifts For Knitters series on www.YarnHarlot.ca.

Cara’s Gifts for Girl Guide Leaders list:

  • Electric Pencil Sharpener ($40 at Staples) – do you know how many pencils and pencil crayons Guiders have to sharpen during the year?  I have an awesome electric pencil sharpener that I got from a yard sale for $4. I doubt you’ll find one for that price in a store, but look for one that is described as “Heavy Duty” – especially if it might go to camp.
  • Mini Bluetooth/Wired Portable Speaker ($20 at the Source) – whatever the need for music (dancing, a game, or just to listen to), I appreciate having a small but powerful speaker in my kit. 
    • Wired: I have used an iHome Speaker from Walmart ($19) and it was fine (pretty good sound that filled the room).
    • Bluetooth/Wired:I just upgraded to a Gadgetree Bluetooth one from the Source (reg $40, but on for $20 right now).  I like the Gadgetree one because of Bluetooth.  It is really good quality too (the store did a side-by-side demo and this one won hands down).  We played Christmas music last night and it filled the gym nicely over the chatter of the meeting.
  • Music Player – I use my iPhone to play music, but if your Guider doesn’t have an MP3 player, that might be a good gift too.  (If your Guider already has one, check to make sure she knows how to use it – a new skill is a gift that keeps on giving)
  • Appropriate Kid music that won’t drive the Guiders crazy – ModernKiddo’s post Kiddo Dance Party Heck Yeah! has a pretty good list of kid-appropriate tunes that everyone will like.  I’m compiling a Brownie/Kid appropriate playlist for our unit.  It is kind of reminding me of the old “mix tape” days but it is nice to have a set of songs ready to go.
  • Music resources for Guiders to learn Guiding Songs.
    • Melinda Caroll is a Girl Scout Leader in the US with a vast library of Scouting and Guiding Songs.  An iTunes card might make your Guider happy.
    • Sing a Long for Sparks and Brownies from the Girl Guides Ontario Shop (scroll to the bottom) is an EXCELLENT resource for new Guiders.   It is a teaching CD that sets Guiders up to teach songs well. Song List
  • Scissors are always in demand. (Pipe cleaners are murder on them – maybe some small wire snips would be good too)  I like the scissors you get at Ikea (the three pack for around $5) because they’re pretty good quality, but not too expensive so that you’re upset if they get damaged or don’t come home with you.
  • Door Stops (inexpensive/home made) – I’ve asked a woodworker I know to make some doorstops/wedges out of scrap wood from his shop.  The school we use has really heavy doors and there are times that you need them to stay open.  Some “owned by Brownies” doorstops are on my list. (Believe it or not, I’m most excited about this gift idea!  Guiders are weird.)

Now, a small word of caution … make sure you know your Guider before you get her this stuff.  Be careful getting gifts that could be seen to be supporting Girl Guides (and not her).  One recipient might think “wow, something to make my Guiding life easier – this person really cares”, while another might take offense that you didn’t pick something for them personally.

Also, if you’ve tripped across this post as a parent of a Girl Guide, I’d suggest that a heartfelt thank you is all your Guider needs.  The best Guider gift I ever got was a card during Volunteer Week saying thanks for volunteering.

Is there anything that I missed?  Something you love that you think would be an awesome Gift to a Guider?

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GirlGuidesCanBlog reposted my post about What I would tell a new Guider.  I’m so impressed with the GirlGuidesCANblog and I’m honoured they wanted to use my article.  Did I miss any tips?  I know there are more!

If you’ve come here from there … WELCOME!  I hope you find useful material for your meetings.

=)  Cara

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I attended a Guider training in January and it got me looking for resources for storytelling and drama.

Stories suitable for Brownies (especially at bedtime):

  • The trainer recommended The Storytelling Handbook: A Young People’s Collection of Unusual Tales and Helpful Hints on how to Tell Them by Anne Pellowski (1995).  I’ve taken it out of the library and it is definitely a good book.
  • Be on the lookout for the book Campfire Activities (1993 Girl Guides of Canada) if you can.  In there you’ll find Lee Piddle Thrigs (a delightful tounge twister that the trainer suggested) and a number of other wonderful other story and drama resources.  Sadly it is out of print, but ask around to see if someone has it, or look at yard sales.  I have it and use the legends frequently for bed time at camp.
  • “The Happy Prince” by Oscar Wilde – this worked beautifully to put a group of Brownies to sleep.
  • Also Riki-tikki-tavi from The Jungle Books, Volume two by Rudyard Kipling is good (but long)
  • Campfire Stories for Brownies has online links to stories.
  • Ten Tall Tales for Brownies by Ailsa Brambleby is just that… ten stories that take about 10 minutes each to read.  I was gifted this wonderful volume by a former Guider and it is one of the best collections of short stories I’ve found.  If you see it in a yard sale, give the seller money.  Worth every penny.
  • I also have a small personal collection of Brownie Stories from around the world (they all seem to have some variation of Twist me and Turn me at the end so the girls will recognize the theme).
  • A note about camp: we always recommend that girls bring a book or two to camp, but we NEVER read their stories as bedtime ones.  If you read one, you will end up reading em all.  Of course, a bedtime story is a good transition activity. I like to bring something like a legend that isn’t scary, but that is unfamiliar to them.  We tell the girls that they may read their own book, listen to me, or go to sleep.   When my story ends, lights go out.

If I was planning a drama or storytelling meeting, here’s what it would look like:

6:30 Arrival Game

6:40 Brownie Inspections

6:50 Brownie Circle

7:00 Program – Introduce Drama (or storytelling as a theme).

Icebreaker Game – as a group

Break into smaller groups – Fortunately, Unfortunately

Read a Story, practice it together, figure out how to present it?  Memorize and dramatize?  Read in parts?

7:30 – Presentations.

7:45 – Campfire and Close.

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You’ve heard about me talk about Brownie Mountain before and how I struggle with dealing with the leftovers from activities….

Take a look at this post from Girl Guides of Canada.  The Crafty Cluttered Guider.

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We had an awesome meeting planned tonight. We were going to go to Loblaws Cooking School. Unfortunately, there was a power failure and we’ve had to come up with a whole new plan on the fly. How do you communicate with your parents? What would you have done?

When Snowy Owl called me with the news at around 1:30 today, my first instinct was to cancel. There’s nothing else planned. We can’t pull a meeting out of the air. We don’t have a space (we are in a rented gym that we’d cancelled already). There’s no way to hold a meeting.

But after a panicked call to the the person who does our booking, and a confirmation that we can’t get a new permit in three hours, and a look at the weather (it is just below freezing – it was -15C the other day so -2C is gorgeous!), we had a brainwave…we’ll go for a walk! If the girls are dressed well it should be no problem. We’ll play outside in the park. No problem!

At around 2PM I e-mailed parents (I’ll include the text here because having a template can be helpful). HINT – for emergency communication, always include the line “please reply to this e-mail to confirm that you got this message – otherwise I’ll be phoning you after 4PM” to save a lot of extra phone call time.

Hi Brownie Families,

There’s a power failure at Loblaws and the store is closed. Cooking School is cancelled… please reply to this e-mail to confirm that you got the message. I will call anyone I don’t hear from after 4PM. Keep reading for our …
New Plan – we have already released our permit for the gym so we can’t get that back… but that doesn’t mean that we can’t go for a walk in the neighbourhood. The weather is supposed to be quite nice.
If you can join us, please go to the School as usual prepared to spend the entire meeting OUTSIDE. Snowpants, hats, mits, neckwarmers, etc. (don’t be fooled by the warm sunshine this afternoon – it’ll get cold in the evening). Bring a flashlight. We’ll have games – we might (no promises) stop at Tim Horton’s (we’ll let you know when you drop off – the plan is a bit fluid at the moment).
We could use one or two adults to help with supervision… please let me know if you’re available.
Thanks for your patience as we figure this out.
Cara

At 4PM there were about 5 people I hadn’t heard from so I called them. It should be a fun meeting. Not quite what we had planned. But it will do.

Happy Tuesday – next week is March Break!!!

Update Post Meeting – this was a fun meeting. Our Ranger volunteer lives in the area and knew of a walking path we had never seen (she is a blessing and we are going to miss her next year when she goes to University). We ended up in a park to do a relay (make a snowball and throw it, then make 5 snow angels, then do a front roll/somersault and run back to your group), then we played Sardines (a favourite camp game). Then it was time to walk back, sing our closing and go home. The temperature was around -2C (2 degrees below freezing – I can only imagine what some of you think of THAT) and perfect … No slush. Nice and crisp, but not so painfully cold that we were struggling. We have to do this meeting again – but we will plan it next time. 🙂

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Holy Cow!  The counter just rolled over to 30,004 hits.  In celebration I have some Ottawa Area crests (Ottawa Area doesn’t exist now so these aren’t available anymore) that I will mail to a random commenter.

To win… leave a comment including where you’re commenting from (but not your address!) and your name below by Monday, February 20 at 6PM Eastern.  I’ll do a random draw and let you know on Tuesday who the winner is. All are welcome, not just Canada.  Happy 30,000 hits!

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I’m not big on Valentine’s Day myself (lots of reasons…too commercial, we should say I love you all the time, and I’m single so it is a bit of a downer to see everyone all gushy about each other) but this year, I’m kind of excited about it.  V-Day falls on Brownie Night.

Here are some Brownie friendly crafts and ideas:

  • Hand Stitched Valentine Card craft.  We did this one year –  during a meeting called “Backward Day”.  We found out that when you make valentine cards on backwards day you may get a few “I hate you” cards.  Whoops.  Fortunately, the parents laughed.  I’ve got plans to make kits up for next week too. 
  • Cross Stitched Heart Card – probably better for older girls.  But equally cool. 
  • The Idea Room has photo cards (mabye for Brown Owl to make in advance) and a great list of activites (scroll to the bottom) like Valentine’s Bingo and Heart Yatzee. 
  • From Guider Joanne… How about a Heart Healthy Game (of course!  why didn’t I think of that?)?  Or Valentines for Vets (BEWARE – you need to do this in December or January, but a really nice idea).

What do you do with Brownies for Valentine’s Day?

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The girls love sleepovers.  They get to go someplace neat and see it in an unusual way.  Suggestions: Church Hall (try setting up a tenting site!), Museums, Cosmic Adventures (Guider Sara from Ottawa tells me that the girls can sleep anywhere in the play structure except the ball pit and at the top or bottom of a slide… super cool!)

For Guiders, sleepovers are pretty neat too.  We get to see how the girls react to being away from their parents without being too far away from a pickup if necessary.  It is a nice safety net that can prep us for camp.  We also like to schedule the sleepover on Friday night.  Yes, you work all day on Friday, then have a restless sleep overnight, but by 8AM on Saturday morning, you’ve still got your entire weekend ahead of you.

My goal for these things is that it is fun for the girls, but that we’re not up all night in sleepless chaos.

Last night we slept over in the train room at the Canada Science and Technology Museum (Ottawa) and followed the Puzzle Hunt program.  There are other programs – we’ve done the Astronomy Night before, and Sparks did Scavenger Hunt.  We LOVED the Puzzle Hunt program.  The girls were active and busy the whole night.  In fact, they were so pooped by the end that they were mostly asleep by 10:15!  Huge Success!

Things to think about:

  • Cost – when you’re planning this sort of thing, don’t forget to account for cost of admission for the Guiders. You’re a volunteer.  You should not pay for admission.
  • It isn’t cheap.  Plan to figure on about $40 per girl for the night we just had.  Don’t forget tax in your calculations!  You can fundraise, use cookie proceeds, or get parents to pay for it.  Or some combination of all three.
  • Planning – It is usually a Yellow Level Safe Guide event, but pretty easy to get permission for if you’ve got enough supervision.
  • Sleeping in buildings that aren’t usually occupied – In Ottawa we’re required to advise the Ottawa Fire Service  of the fact that girls are sleeping in a building that isn’t usually occupied overnight.  The idea is that they will prioritize rescue differently for a building with nobody in it than they will if they know there are children inside.
  • Options – For younger groups, think about doing a Mom and Me.  But the cost of extra adults is pretty big (extra adults at Science and Tech is $15 each)so that might be better suited for a church hall.  The neat thing is that supervision is covered and younger girls get to try things with the security of a trusted adult on hand.
  • Bedtime strategies for putting big groups to bed.  You parents (I am not a parent) already know how important it is to handle bedtime properly.  I’m not saying  this is the only way, but here is an amalgamation of all the strategies I’ve learned to help the girls (who usually don’t share a room with lots of other people) to sleep.
    • The girls are going to giggle, whisper, and maybe worry.  Reassure them.  Have a Q&A so they can get things out.
    • The Museum offered us the option of a movie before bed.  We declined.  The girls were drooping anyway, and TV tends to energize some of them.
    • Let them know the rules… boundaries, how to handle bathroom trips in the night (the rules change from place to place), when and how they can use flashlights (no beaming people in the face), etc.
    • Start using quiet voices.  Require them to do the same.  Everyone into PJs, teeth brushed, and into bed.
    • Have a quiet song campfire.  (Make New Friends, Land of the Silver Birch, Barges).  Finish with Brownie Closing (Oh hear us now)
    • Read a couple of stories (NOT ones they’re familiar with – look for a legend or something that they wouldn’t have heard before – I have a copy of Campfire Activities (GGC 1993) that always comes with me to this sort of event and last night I read Lee Piddle Thrigs and Why we have day and night) .  Rules during stories… you may listen to my stories, you may read your own book with your flashlight, and you may fall asleep.  You may not talk to each other.  When my stories are done it is time for lights out.
    • Then you have to supervise the whispering.  A sharp but quiet PSST usually stops a whisperer … and if they need to ask you a question, they can do that too.  It usually works.  (Note, this only works until girls are about 8.  After that they can wait you out.)
    • Lastly…  pick the most no-nonesense of the Owls to make this happen.  The bedtime owl needs to be compassionate, but they also need to have the ability to be stern to shut down silliness.

Sleepovers are great ways to have a pre-camp preview of how your girls are going to handle being away from home.  They can be pretty expensive… but there are ways to do it on a budget.  Just make it fun.

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You may remember my post about Guiding in the Cloud in late December. Well, Tierney Smith from www.techsoupcanada.ca saw the post when Guiding picked it up and wanted to reprint it.  Based on comments I got here and on Facebook, and the fact that the audience needed more explanation about Guiding, I actually ended up rewriting it.  With some big help from Kathleen and Christine I submitted the article to TechSoupCanada last week.  Take a look at the new and (hopefully) improved Volunteering in the Cloud

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I haven’t had the opportunity to take a Guider training in a while and I had kind of forgotten how valuable they really are.  Thank you to the organizers of January Thaw Guider Training Day in Ottawa.  I had a lot of fun yesterday and it was an extremely useful mix of leader skills, networking, and interesting sessions.

Here’s what I took:

  • Finance Training – Ontario is on centralized banking and this was long overdue.
  • Storytelling – Brownies love stories and it would be nice to be able to entertain them, and to teach them how to become proper storytellers too.  This was a fun hour.   The leader was lovely and sure does know her stuff.  She is part of a resource team that visits meetings – just ask at Guide House for information about storytelling resource contact details.
  • Personalities exercise – (apparently, I’m a North East – control freak organizer – are you surprised at that?  I didn’t think so).   Those of us who work in offices have had to suffer through Meyers Briggs sorts of things, but this was the first time I’ve ever really “got it”.  I knew I’d be a North.  But yesterday I was reminded of the value of having a mix of personalities on a team.  Like a West – someone who has creativity, ideas and enthusiasm, but who never wears a watch (that last part would drive me nuts).  Or of a South – someone with compassion and caring and who eases us into things.  Or of an East – the organized.
  • At lunch we learned the Jamaican Camp Grace (Scout Version)  Jamaican Camp Grace with Music (Susan Wichers)  This would be easily changed to suit the event – and was presented without the last line so it was non-denominational.
  • After lunch I participated in a Singing session.  The music resources in our area (I have their contacts if you need em) lead us through songs on the Sing Ontario Sing list (Brownie Version).  We learned:
    • Ira Congo (lovely);
    • Whene’er you make a promise;
    • The Guide Law (new promise) Song (taught with big laminated cards with one line each of the song on it for us to hold around the room – really neat way to learn a new song without printing song sheets);
    • Barges;
    • Land of the Silver Birch (in two groups, try singing the verse and the chorus at the same time – like a round);
    • My Paddle (note: in two groups, try singing My paddle and LOTSB together – really pretty);
    • Its a Small World (again, in groups, try starting the chorus and the verse at the same time – also very pretty);
    • Our Chalet (the trainer wrote out the words on a white board, and as we learned it she started erasing random words);
    • then Taps in French
  • Then a STEM session.  The group was split into two to show us Goop, and Squishy Circuits.  All from stuff in the kitchen.  I had done this before so it wasn’t new but it was fun to get messy again.
  • Oh, and best of all… there was a SHARING TABLE where we were encouraged to bring in craft items and books we no longer have use for.  Put something on the table, take something away you need.  Brilliant in its simplicity.  Brownie mountain is a little smaller today – and I picked up some crests and a few pins for my collection.

Thank you to the organizers for finding us a central location with lots of parking.  I hope the Pathfinders who fed us as a fundraiser were happy.

For me, I see that we need to do more things that we want to do – and invite a wider group of people.  Someone suggested a good old fasioned Brownie Revel.  I am not familiar with that idea, but I am willing to do the paperwork if you come up with the ideas.  =)

It was a good day.

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