After spending the winter months confined to our Guide hut and other indoor spaces, the cabin fever well and truly sets in. Our excitement and anticipation heads skywards as we eagerly await the clocks changing in March. From then on it’s The Great Outdoors for us, as we seek out Challenge badges, Interest badges and Go For Its that can be earned through al fresco activities. Often a case of the girls suggesting something they’d like to do and we Leaders trying to find a badge they can earn by doing it!
This spring and summer we’ve done the Outdoor Action Challenge, which our Leaders particularly enjoyed, as there were some ‘proper old skool’ guiding activities involved, rekindling our own memories of the fun we had as Guides. We made and flew our own kites, sent morse code and semaphore messages across a lake (in the rain), built shelters, lit fires, cooked dampers, pioneered flag poles and flew the Union flag, explored a local woodland, and followed Swindon’s network of cycle paths from the Oasis leisure centre to Lydiard Park.
Experience had taught us that our girls generally work better in their patrols or small groups, in a space where they can spread out and work together on a relatively short activity before swapping and trying something else. With this in mind, we did the Five Senses Go For It, spending a lovely sunny evening in the garden of a picturesque farm in Braydon, the home of one of our Guides. This was followed by a sensory walk along the towpath of the Wilts and Berks Canal we finished the GFI at Lydiard Park with a barbecue (in the rain) and various other activities. My particular favourite was ‘feel the potato’!
Still to come, we’re embracing the British summer and heading to Cirencester’s historic open-air swimming pool, and sailing at Coate Water as part of the Fastnet Challenge, we’re having a tour of Swindon Town Football Club’s stadium followed by a bit of footie on the training pitches, and we’ve got a weekend camp in deepest, darkest Gloucestershire, where we’ll be working on ‘I’m a survivor Girl Guide, get me out of here!’ Challenge.
We sometimes get asked by parents (usually the newbies) “Are we still meeting at <insert outdoor location> tonight? It’s raining!” and our answer is always “Yes, keep calm, put your waterproofs on, and carry on”. The British weather is too unpredictable to do anything else. They stop asking after a while.
So save your cooking (unless on a camp fire) and crafts (unless it’s the bush variety) for the cold, dark winter months. Get outside, make the most of light evenings, play games (in the rain if necessary) and get girls doing things they wouldn’t be doing if they were at home.
Inspire. Educate. Enjoy!
Heather Ponting-Bather, Liz Radford, Karen Rogers, Loren May, Nicola Lamb, Louise Radford and Laura Leighfield
The team at 1st Royal Wootton Bassett Guides