Four weekends of Guiding

As well as the usual Rainbows meeting every Tuesday, in June and July for four consecutive weekends I was away doing various things with Guiding.  I try and schedule my weekends so I have at least one in three empty, to do things like housework, life admin and generally sit on the sofa and relax.  The events just happened to all be together, and I didn't want to say no to any of them!

The first weekend saw me volunteer at Foxlease for Magic and Mayhem, an activity day for Rainbows and Brownies with a circus theme, and the option to camp overnight in the Big Top.  I went last year with my Brownies, and the girls had a great time although the leaders were a bit disappointed in the organisation and didn't want to go back this year.  I'm a firm believer in giving things another go, especially as last year was only the first year.  So I volunteered, along with my friend S, and we had a fab weekend.  It was a billion times better than last year (every single thing I'd mentioned on my feedback form as needing improvement had been addressed) and whilst it was hard work, we had a great time.  It was a bit of effort getting there on the Friday, I was supposed to meet S at Brockenhurst station, but her train was massively delayed at Southampton.  After an hour of sitting in the car park, eating my lunch, I drove back the way I came to Southampton to pick her up.  Finally at Foxlease just a couple of hours later than intended, we got stuck in with whatever needed doing.  We sprayed glow in the dark paint on tent pegs, marked emergency exits, lugged water carriers around, did a site walk to learn about the plans for the weekend, and S and I spent a long time that evening chatting in the campfire circle.

The Big Top! In a field getting muddier by the footstep!
After a very hot night's sleep (so so hot) we were up early for breakfast and to start greeting the Rainbows and Brownies as they arrived with the leaders.  Units had come from all over the south and there were soon several hundred children on site.  There were six activities for the girls to rotate around during the day, then dinner and a disco for the girls sleeping, before they all set out their beds in the Big Top before lights out.  Everyone I spoke to was having a great time, leaders who had come last year said how much better this year's event was, and the Rainbows and Brownies were chattering away.  I'm hoping to take some Brownies next year, although if I don't have enough leaders as well then I'll volunteer - I do love being part of these big events, Guiding is so much bigger than just the 20 or so girls in a unit meeting each week, and it's great to show the younger sections especially what it is they are a part of.

After everyone had left, we started taking down all the tents and decorations, including miles of bunting.  As it had rained, it was wet, and needed to be dried before it could be put away.  I spent a rather pleasant hour with three other leaders as we proved you can fit quite a lot of bunting in a training room, you just need strong curtain rails and strategically placed tables!

The following weekend I headed off to London to a Discover Day in Greenwich.  My local units weren't going, but my lovely friend G was taking her Brownies and required an extra adult so I headed up to meet her.  The girls enjoyed the planetarium, rolling down hills at the observatory and looking at bugs, butterflies and birds with the RSPB.  We then joined with another unit to do a sleepover in the church hall where they have their meetings.  There were four leaders sleeping over and I'd only met G before - but that's another reason why Guiding's great, you've got something in common straight away and soon we were working together and organising meals and bedtimes and we had a good chat and giggle in the kitchen whilst waiting for the girls to fall asleep!  I was in charge of eggy bread in the morning, which all the girls enjoyed and they've said I can go back and join in their sleepovers again.  Hurrah!

The following weekend was INTOPS, back at Foxlease (possibly my second home, I'm glad it's close to both work and home so it's not too much of an effort for me to get there!) which I wrote about here - have I said that I'm leading a trip to Iceland next year?!

My fourth and final weekend was the Big Gig - it's a gig usually held at Wembley Arena, just for Guides and The Senior Section.  Being a Rainbow and Brownie leader, I only get to go if a Guide unit needs another adult - it's been running for about a decade but I've never yet managed to go.  This year, my lovely friend N was taking her unit and she invited me to go along (I invited myself).  I met them near Portsmouth and we got the train up to London (I am now a pro at taking children on the underground, I've managed not to lose any).  

The gig itself was excellent - I'm not a great fan of gigs, I fidget, and the music is very, very loud - but it was so good to see how much the girls were enjoying themselves.  The venue was sold out, and as it's only for Girlguiding members, everyone there has a role in Girlguiding in one way or another, and that's so great to see.  As we were waiting outside to go in we saw girls (and leaders!) in tutus, in face paint, wearing light up ears, wearing tie-dyed tops, all sort of things, and it's great to be a part of that.  In the arena I managed to meet up with Char, after lots of messages: "Amy, where are you?" "somewhere in the floor bit" "where? I'll try and find you" and it was lovely to see her again, if only for a few minutes before we got told to go back to our seats.  Soon several thousand girls were screaming, and they all had an excellent time.  Not sure if I'd go again, I'm glad I've been and I know what it's like, but I think I'll only go again if needed for ratio!

We had the final Rainbows meeting of the term this week, and won't be back until the middle of September.  Unusually, I'm not going on any events this summer (not sure how that happened), but Iceland planning has begun, we've booked the venues for our two pre-departure weekends and I've sent off the paperwork so I can be assessed for my various Going Away With licence modules.  My uniform may have been washed and hung up, not to be worn for a couple of months, but Guiding never really stops.

I wouldn't have it any other way!


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