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Archive for the ‘Key to Guides’ Category

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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This is a quick post to tell you that tonight is our neighbourhood Advancement. All levels will be represented up to Pathfinders and we’re using a favourite ceremony – our simple version of Building a Campfire that originates (as most things do) on Becky’s Guiding Resource. I’ll let you know how it goes, and give you a full post on how we handle “Fly Up” including gifts, crests, and certificates.

Think good thoughts for a sunny evening (or even just an evening without rain).

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We’ve had a blast this year – fantastic girls, super-supportive parents, excellent activities, a Guiding team that works so well together, two terrific camps, and (superstitious Cara is reluctant to say it) no disasters.  And we only have three more meetings (including Advancement).

Here’s what we’re up to:

  • We’re almost full for next year. Online Registration is awesome as far as we’re concerned. It is a little stressful for girls who are moving units (we’re in a bit of a competitive area) and I don’t know if there’s much we can do about that, but it is nice to know we’ll be full and to have a good estimate of Fall Cookie orders to get.
  • Two weeks ago we tried out a pilot for a water safety program. I’ll share more if it gets picked up. If it doesn’t, I’ll share what I can as a meeting in a box (but I think it will get picked up). It was great.
  • Last week we were at the pool to do our annual modified Brownie Splash meeting. Seriously fun. If you can swing it, go during public swim at your pool. You can’t go wrong.

    2013-04-30 iPhone 001

    My fake-out camp blanket – only 5% of crests are sewn on.

  • Tonight we’re doing Brownie Memories – with a friendship bracelet craft.
  • Next week will be our last meeting for the year in our space … we’re going to do bubble experiments and play with bubbles outside. Not sure what the plan is yet, but I’ll share the results with you (pray for sun!)
  • And then it’ll be Advancement.
  • And then Brownie Free Tuesdays (15 of them – but I’m not counting).

Being Brown Owl is one of my favourite things…but even I am running out of steam. Three more weeks. We can do this.

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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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Last night we had a Thinking Day prep meeting – we used the “History of Guiding” Instant Meeting from e-patches and crests as the outline.  I love instant meetings – check out the e-Patches & Crests site for lots of other neat ideas.

6:30 – arrival game – Evolution.

6:40-6:55 – Brownie inspections and Opening Circle

7:00 – Program

  • Read part 1 of the story from the e-Patches and crests History of Guiding Instant Meeting (We skipped the paper hats thing – our local schools have a lice problem and we’re doing our very best to stop the spread.  Blech).  Instead we suggested girls should imagine that they’re pretending to get dressed to join a Scout meeting.
  • Game – Strega Comanda Color from the instant meeting.  Our review: it was a neat game.  The girls loved it.
  • Part 2 of the story
  • Game – Bowitgee (from the instant meeting) – we didn’t have a ball on hand so I used a rubber chicken instead.  The girls also loved this game (possibly more so because of the rubber chicken factor).  I liked it because of its positive message.
  • Part 3 of the story.
  • Discussion about the story … which is rather old fashioned and talks about girls not being able to do things that our girls think of as commonplace.  And about the World Friendship Fund collection… we distributed labeled water bottles as Coin Savers for Thinking Day.

7:30 – Leftover craft from Lunar New Year celebration.  Tissue Paper flowers.

7:55 – Closing.

At the end of every new game we’ve started to ask the girls for a review.  Did they like the game?  What did they like best?  What didn’t they like?  Were the instruction clear?  The questions give us a good idea of what they like (and don’t), and where our weak points are in the explanations of games.

Why there’s a photo of glue on this Thinking Day post.  We’ve known for a while that white glue turns into a gloppy mess if it freezes.  What I didn’t know is that clear glue seems to hold its consistency well if it freezes and defrosts.  Canadian Guiders should consider this if they need to leave glue in a car for any length of time in the winter.  Cool!

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There’s nothing like a camp blanket to visually represent your time in Guiding.  It shows what challenges you’ve done, who you’ve met, where you’ve been, and what you like to do.  2013-04-30 iPhone 001

The photo here kind of implies that I’ve got my act together and have dutifully sewn on all of my crests… but that is a fib.  There are about six crests actually sewn on, but seeing it laid out in its potential glory is encouraging.  Guider Marie suggests that it is best done with a needle and thread.  She uses “thread to match the outside threads on each badge/patch.. it takes time, however I like the result… ”

Tonight’s meeting was about Brownie Memories.  We mostly re-used the meeting from two years ago with a little bit of revision.

6:30 – Earth Day Word search we didn’t use last week Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Word Search (from alschutzman.com)

6:40 – Brownie Inspections

6:50 – Brownie Circles

7:00 Program

We put away the toadstool and Snowy Owl and I showed the girls the crests that we’ve collected through the years.  I had my old Brownie scarf and belt, and Snowy had her Guide and Pathfinder sashes.  And I just talked about the different kinds of crests and badges that we had.  It was neat to show them the traders and swaps I had and how the different challenge crests actually look when they’re put together.  I was pretty surprised at how interested they were in this.

7:10 – Brownie Memory books from 2011 Meeting – have you used Pocket Mods for Memory books?  They take a bit of time, but are a bit of magic.  Check out the post for links to templates.  Practice putting one or two together before the meeting.

  • 10 minutes assembling the books
  • 10 minutes getting autographs and decorating

7:30 – we cleaned up the gym and went outside to play some games – Time Bomb is in the list on this site: http://www.girlguidinghantswest.org.uk/games/30sec_1/menu.php

7:50 – Campfire and Close.

I have lots of stuff to catch you up on, and I will (might be a summer project).  But we have four more meetings to go till Brownie Free Tuesday.

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As posted on the GirlGuidesCanBlog, Here’s Alberta Guider Shannon’s homemade “Guiding Traditions” video demonstrating how to tie a reef knot.

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Today’s post from Shift Mama (and reposted on the GGCBlog) has a great suggestion… let’s start saving World Friendship Fund Pennies NOW.  Go to A challenge to all my Girl Guide Friends, make a penny saver, and be ready with a CWFF donation in February.

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Our district advancement is tomorrow night (technically, we don’t have districts anymore in Ontario, but what do you call them?  Communities, I guess?).  Anyway, you know what I mean.  Sparks, Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers will be gathering for a big advancement ceremony… this is where 2nd year Sparks become new Brownies, 2nd year Brownies become new Guides, and so on.  It is meant to be a nice and simple send off for our girls.  (Sad and Happy at the same time).

Here’s the plan:

We’re doing a Campfire (without fire – so a ceremonial one).

6:15 – Guiders arrive – set up chairs in the Gym.  Arrange certificates, gifts, pins, etc.

6:30 – Arrival Game – I’m hoping Rangers can lead this (tag?)

6:45 – Campfire Advancement Ceremony – based on a really great ceremony idea from on Becky’s site called “Building a Campfire” that we simplified – it also draws on some of the Edible Campfire concept.

  • Brown Owl (me) to welcome parents and guests.  Please be seated.
  • Each Branch do our openings in order.  Brownies and Sparks each finish their section with their Promise (Brownies may throw in a Grand Howl?). At the end, everyone say the Guiding Promise.
  • Introduce the Guiders
  • SET UP: Pre-arranged representatives from each unit to gather off-stage.  2 Guiders, 2 Sparks, 2 Brownies, 1-2 each of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year Guides, and Pathfinder and Ranger.
  • Introduction: Through all the years of Guiding, campfires are a favourite experience and they truly represent the progression through Guiding.  I love campfires because you get to sing, dream and laugh (and roast marshmallows).  And tonight as we celebrate Guiding and as each level advances to the next, we’re going to symbolically build a campfire.

Building a Campfire Text:

  1. 2 Guiders with a Blanket
    One of the most important things to remember when building your campfire is the foundation.  The foundation keeps the fire safely in place and guards it so that it may be enjoyed by all.  The foundation of Guiding is its leadership.  Guiders, please find a good spot for our campfire.
  2. 2 Sparks (with two Rangers) with a few rolled up balls of paper
    We know that paper and dry grasses would be a good starter material for our campfire.  Just like tinder, our Sparks represent the beginning of Guiding.  Sparks, please bring the Tinder to the Rangers (who will stay in the circle and build the campfire)
  3. 2 Brownies with small twigs or sticks
    Next we need some small twigs and dry sticks for kindling to help with the fire.  Just as kindling needs tinder to start, so too have the Brownies built on the skills they learned before.
  4. 1-2 1st year Guides with some bigger sticks
    Now we need some bigger fuel to make sure that this campfire doesn’t go out.
  5. 1-2 2nd year Guides with some bigger logs
    And next we’ll need logs – the second year Guides have a solid foundation behind them.  Their contribution will make our campfire a roaring success.
  6. 3rd year Guide – with a bucket and shovel
    To make our campfire a safe success, we always make sure we have safety equipment on hand.  As girls grow, they take on more responsibility.
  7. Pathfinders and Rangers are putting the fire together…
    Let’s see what we have so far for our campfire… we have the foundation, the starter, the kindling and logs.  Is that everything we need?  NO!  We need a match!  Pathfinders and Rangers, it is up to you to keep the fire going!  UPDATE Idea – we’ll give the Pathfinders and Rangers some battery tea lights so there is light in our fire!

Sing Fire’s Burning (Start with Sparks and add a group as we start over).  Now, as our imaginary fire starts to catch and build to a roar, we’re going to help it along with Fire’s Burning (but don’t join in until you’re called).  Start with Sparks, then Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders, Rangers, Guiders and finally parents.  So seven rounds of it should make it really loud at the end!

Advancement Ceremonies:

  • Advance Sparks (Guiders to stand up and say who is advancing, give the girl your goodbye gift – shake hands, and then send them to the Owls who will be ready to welcome the girls – then they’ll go sit with Brownies)
  • Advance Brownies.  Owls will stand up, identify who is leaving, give them their goodbye gift and send them off to Guides for welcome).  And so on…
  • And so on, advancing Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers.

Finish with Make new Friends.

Brown Owl – Ladies and gentlemen, you have watched our girls build a campfire just as we have watched them develop over the years. But none of this is possible without the Guiders who lead, guide and mentor your girls.  These are volunteers who have taken an oath to give these girls, your girls, the most precious gift they have to offer – the gift of time.  (Big Clap!)

Now we’re going to do our closings  Then cake and fruit (water). – And Photos!

This is a fairly simple advancement ceremony that we did a few years ago and we were out of ideas so we will repeat it.  Are you finishing this week – or do you have some time to go?  Or are you in the Southern Hemisphere and just starting up?

Post event review – This was a stunning success.  Even if it rained and we had to go inside (Jen – you were right, erg!).  Thank you to all of the Guiders who baked, clapped, participated and contributed.

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 I am looking forward to the end of the year (I always do), but I’m also always a little sad to see it go.  If I’m honest, (and as much as I love Brownies) the best day of the entire year is the first Tuesday without Brownies – June 7 is so close!

We have one more regular meeting  (tonight) and then next week is the End of Year Banquet where the girls advance.

Tonight’s plan:

6:30 arrival game (Girls Choose) – The went with Octopus.

6:40 Brownie Circles

6:50 Brownie Ring

7:00 Program

Brownie Memories – This is where we talk about the past year and make a Memory Book.

Memory Book template using the Pocket Mod idea (although the site was frustrating, it was fairly easy to figure out how to make it myself):

  1. I made my own Pocket Mod that looks like this…Brownie memories – It really is a simple table printed on one sheet of paper.  I made a template using PowerPoint…  Click here for my end of year booklet template. 
  2. Girls will need to cut off the two short edges.
  3. Then make folds (as shown in How to fold your Pocket Mod).
  4. Then make cuts in the centre of the page as shown.
  5. Girls really took to this project.  I will do this again.

Then we went outside to play a game:

Time Bomb was very cool.  It is the sixth from the top on this site: http://www.girlguidinghantswest.org.uk/games/30sec_1/menu.php

We closed with a Campfire – girls requested songs and we finished with Make New Friends.

Easy peasy.  Happy almost last night!

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