Surprisingly finding things for the Personal Values section, especially the phase three section. However, it hit me that I am already doing something that relates to my personal values. This blog. I have been keeping this blog for a couple of years now and updating it with the important things I have been doing along my guiding journey.
This blog has been used for organising my notes for Look Wider, meaning that I can share with other people what I am doing for each octant and how I have found it. The blog has always helped me to find other guiding blogs and have helped me with finding and sharing ideas for activities and logging.
I have written on this blog talk of activities at Brownies, my personal thoughts relating to Girl Guiding topics, of the time I tried out as a Rainbow leader, of the camps and holidays, everything I have done as a ranger and my ALQ journey.
This blog is an opportunity to get my thoughts towards, share my excitement and in years to come look back and see where my journey have come from and how I got wherever I am.
In the summer of 2013, after joking with a friend that ‘walking is too slow’, I brought myself a pair of Roller Skates and regularly skating for a couple of miles along the canal in my city. This resulted in a lot of bruises but a lot more fun.
Two: Begin Couch to 5K.
Couch to Five K is a fitness programme, designed to take people who do little or no exercise and over a period of 9 weeks get them to a place where they are able to run 5K. This was something I really enjoyed working towards. While I managed to finish several weeks, I was unable to continue it or finish it due to my M.E/CFS.
Three: Walk to work regularly
While I was doing agency work towards the end of 2014, I was working 2 miles from my home and due to the placing, it would’ve taken two buses in order to get myself there. For simplicity purposes, I walked to and from word most days while I was there.
As someone who seems to flit between being very much a city girl to very much a country girl, the idea of camping with the Brownies was both terrified and exciting for me. No one in my current pack has a going away with licence so when we were invited by another pack to join then on a summer camp, it was important to me that our girls be offered the opportunity. My Brown Owl is of the belief that camping should be saved for guides, however, was willing to let our girls go if I was willing to go with them. I was.
Preparing for this Brownie Camp was worrisome, having never done a Brownie Camp before I was worried about leaving something important behind. I must have checked my kit list 5 times before I accepted that I had everything I needed. Important things that were packed included Dill, my small teddy Armadillo and Haribo. Despite all the fuss, I managed to get myself packed completely with four hours to go before I needed to leave, giving me time to do the boring, non-Guiding things I had to do that day.
Once I arrived at the pickup point, I was picked up and we drove to the campsite. The plan was for the leaders to get there early and get the tents up before the girls arrived. I had been camping only once before this trip and knew little to nothing about the process of putting up tents. It was not an easy feat but we got there in the end, with the help of the pack leader’s three-year-old daughter and a couple of Brownies who arrived early.
The camp was greatly enjoyable and I remain completely pro-camp for Brownies. I believe there is a difference between camp for Guides and camp for Brownies and both should have the option to do so. This was only my second time sleeping in a tent and I got considerably less sleep than I would’ve liked [although, more than another pack holiday I’ve been on]. I shared with Izzy (now Snowy Owl) and Rabbit who were young leaders for the pack we were going with. I was glad to be able to make friends with people around my age who were also in Guiding because it seems such a rarity for me.
During the camp, the girls were working on the Circus Skills badge, which meant they got to do a number of fun activities like walking on skills, making juggling balls out of balloons and rice and learning to juggle with them and making balloon animals and flowers. This, of course, lead to a lot of popped balloons and leaders uncomfortable about the sounds.
One of the three girls from my pack, unfortunately, took ill and didn’t make it through all of the camp. It was worrying and sad to see her go from bubbly and excited to quiet and ill. I sat with her as we waited for her Mum and Nan to come get her though, and we spent the time talking about Youtube and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which I suffer from and her Mum had just been diagnosed with.
I had a lot of new experience at this camp, most of which were quintessentially camp experiences. I saw my first campfire and the difficulty that comes with trying to light one. Izzy and the other pack’s Barn Owl [yes that was confusing for the weekend] spend rather a long while trying to get it to light at all, but eventually, Barn Owl found a large branch and when that caught alight the fire continued for hours. Another new experience was camp fire songs which of course is a direct corrolation from the campfire itself.
The final quintessentially camp experience was rain. We were lucky that the rain didn’t come until the last night. But it came overnight and it poured and poured. The grass we were pitched on became saturated and the tent me, Izzy and Rabbit was not the only one to had leaked quick dramatically. Tired and grumpy girls, tired and grumpy leaders and pouring rain certainly is an interesting combination.
At this camp, I also learnt that mass making hot chocolate is done using a giant jug and that waking up to a Brownie bringing you tea is a delightful wake-up call.
Other things, I relearnt include that sleeping in a tent is really uncomfortable and that my sleeping bag is particularly loud when you move around a lot in the night. All in all, I would really love the opportunity to attend another Brownie Camp if I was invited.
A few summers back, when I was between years at university and didn’t have the energy both physically or mentally to hold down a job, I needed something to do with my free time, so I took up a voluntary job with Oxfam in my city centre. This allowed me to be a lot more flexible with my hours that a paid job would have done and turned out to be a wonderful experience for me.
During the summer, I worked two or three days a week, for between four and eight hours and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. In my city, Oxfam is split into three stores, one generic, one music and one for books and while I spent the majority of my time in the generic one, every so often I was ‘stolen’ by the music shop.
While working there, I met some fascinating people including a Dutch lady who spoke fluent English but would swear in Dutch when something went wrong and an older lady who had been to a David Bowie concert ‘back in the day’.
The work itself varied from work on the tills, sorting stock, redressing mannequins, cashing up and uploading information onto the online store. The most fun came in dressing the mannequins and being able to decide what they wore before they were placed back into the window for everyone to see, it certainly felt like I had a lot of power.
The charity itself was one that I knew only the basics about before I joined them. I knew they worked to help people in third world countries but I didn’t know a lot about what they did. During my summer there, I learnt a lot about specific projects of theirs, including the ‘Shwop’ deal they had with Marks and Spencer.
In a continuation of one of the activities in phase one, I wanted to talk more about Dartmoor and the time I have spent there. Dartmoor is one of my favourite places, a place I feel as though I really come alive. I have visited Dartmoor a few times over the last few years, each time different from the others.
My trip to Fingle Bridge with my friend Shawn was the first time I used my ‘Short Ish Walks on Dartmoor’ book. We parked the car by a pub and the bridge itself and then took a walk that eventually circled back and ended again at the car park. The walk took up along the river, up some hills, past a building that looked a lot like Hagrid’s hut and passed the back of Castle Drogo. Once we returned to the car, we had some well earnt doughnuts.
Once again with Shawn, only this time we went to Haytor. Haytor is one of the first tors you get to when driving to Dartmoor from Newton Abbot or Bovey Tracey and at the weekend or school holidays is always crazy busy. However, we were lucky when we went that it wasn’t particularly busy. We went exploring around the tor, finding what I called a geocache but was, in fact, part of letterboxing, we also stumbled across Haytor’s Quarry which neither of us knew about beforehand.
With my friend Tasha this time, we went to Hound Tor. We explored up and around the tor itself before wandering down a hill towards an old medieval village. We continued after the village, making friends with dogs along the route, playing pooh sticks at a stream and wandering off the path. All in all we walked around 4 miles around Hound Tor and had such a wonderful time.
I don’t have a video of the final area of Dartmoor that I want to talk about. Again with Shawn and this time we took the Short Ish Walks book with us and went to Belstone. This was an absolutely beautiful village and an amazing walk that I am torn between wanting to do again and not because it was difficult with the valleys and hills. Along the walk, we passed a viaduct, streams and a naked man. We felt ridiculously accomplished when we finally made it to the stone circle, although the circle itself was smaller than we expected. Back at the car it took a long longer than you would expect to get out of the car park because there were ponies on the road that were not wanting to get out of our way.
This doesn’t count as visiting a different place as it’s a place I have been to before. Shawn and I took our friend Laughing Owl to Hound Tor when she was down to visit a couple years ago. We actually climbed the tor this time which was a huge achievement for me as I had always been too scared to actually climb very far.
For the second phase of the independence octant, I wanted to take advantage of the fact that I have moved house in 2015. Moving to a new flat meant having walls completely white, a blank canvas. Being now in my early to mid-20s, I wanted to move my bedroom away from what felt very teenage (posters lining the walls, etc) to something that I felt more represented who I now am. I mean no offence to anyone’s choice of decoration in their room, this was just where I felt mine needed to go.
I did not particularly have a plan for what I wanted to do with my bedroom but I had the idea that I wanted it to be something to do with travel. I am someone who is itching to travel but is currently unable to for one reason or another. One morning, I woke up with an idea and instantly picked up a pencil and wrote ‘Take me away’ on the main wall in bubble writing. I knew that even if I decided against what I had written, I could simply paint over it, it didn’t need to be permanent.
The next stage in this decoration was buying the paints. I knew I wouldn’t need an awful lot of paint for the words, so I just brought three ‘tester pots’ from Wilkinsons. After painting over the words, I wanted to do something more and found myself painting spirals around the outside of it.
Adding the postcards was a given. It showed how many places I have friends in and was able to show the world even if I was currently unable to get out there and explore it. However, I wanted to do something that showed what I had done as well. Inspired by the Taylor Swift album 1989, which came with polaroid style pictures of her life, I searched online to find a website where I could upload pictures and have them sent as polaroid printouts with captains on them. I used pictures of days out and holidays with friends and family added captains either of song lyrics or some funny comment on the day.
Then they finally arrived (the waiting did feel like rather a long time) I added them in and around the postcards finally getting the wall to a place where I was happy with it.
Elsewhere in my bedroom, I needed to get my books out of the boxes they had travelled in and organise them. My bedroom has a small closet in it, it didn’t have a shelf or rail so I wasn’t able to use it as a wardrobe, so instead I stuck all my bookshelves in is. It has become like my library. My books are organised in alphabetical order by author, classics and then everything else. I had to put some in front of others, and some under my bed as there was not enough shelf space for the amount of books I have.
As someone who is passionate about writing and blogging, I felt it important to have a desk area that I could work in. There was already a desk I could use, but I had to buy a desk chair to go with it, I also took advantage of it being ‘back to school’ time and brought a desk lamp and some new stationary cheap in Wilkinsons.
I also created a ‘Bronte Sister’ corner in my room, where I put up the print out of a quote that a friend got me for my birthday as well as the Bronte Family tree and some postcards of their books. My corkboard has an important place in my room and has some photos on it permanently while also every so often being added to with leaflets or information for activities I have on.
All in all, it was great to take on the project of making my bedroom my own. It appealled to the creative side of me and was a new experience. I like the way it turned out and feel more connected to my room than I did to the room just before we moved.
Working on my Adult Leadership Qualification was an almost four-year journey full of false starts, a lack of understanding and stressing out about what things meant. However, as time went on my confidence in myself as a leader grew, making it easier for me to work through the qualification and eventually actually finish it.
I first started my LQ while with my first Brownie pack in my university city. However, with them, I felt rather rushed and some things that were ticked off I did not feel as though I had done or done well enough to have ticked off. Because of this when I moved home after uni and started with my current pack, I requested to start my leadership again. This was by far the best decision I could’ve made. The pack, when I joined only had three girls and the Brown Owl was also new. Between us we grew the pack into what it now is, gaining new girls and seeing them move on to guides. Although I did not take the name, I was acting in the position of a Tawny Owl. This meant that I was and am extremely hands-on in the running of the pack, I take on a number of activities, attend all the planning meetings, and get involved with the parents when it is necessary.
Due to this hands on approach I had and have with the pack, I was able to get work through my LQ in a way that I was confident and happy with. The fact that this Brown Owl gave me a lot more support was also helpful. The LQ is split into four modules and the fact that I have done all four of them means that technically I could be Brown Owl of my own pack, although I do not feel close to ready for that. One day though.
For the LQ, I had to work on a number of different things, including planning activities, attending district and planning meetings, arranging an activity outside of the meeting place, participating in Powwows, discussing subjects with individual girls and working with the Brownie Finances. In truth, I felt confident as a leader long before my LQ was officially all signed off, but due to struggling to find a Safeguarding training that I could get to officially finishing it was delayed.
However, in October last year, I finished it and the District Commissioner signed everything off for me. At the Thinking Day event this year, I was present with my Leader’s badge which was a wonderful moment and it now proudly resides on my badge tab.
Learning Danish for me begun as a bit of a joke. I was working in Tiger at the time, which originates in Denmark, so I thought it would be fun to learn some Danish so I could show off to some of the customers. One thing and another happened and I am not longer working in said shop but what surprised me to the most is that I fell in love with the Danish language. When I began on Duolingo I was sure that I would not last long, many times I’ve tried learning other languages and not been able to stick with it, so I didn’t put much hope in myself for this.
I was wrong.
The orange flame in the above picture signifies the number of days in a row I have been on duolingo and done a certain amount of language learning. At the time of marking this picture I was beaming with pride at having got a streak of 50 days, a few more days have passed since then and I am still continuing the streak with no plans of letting it end. My thoughts on learning Danish are pretty simple “Jeg Elsker Dig” – I love it.
Duolingo splits the learning of a language into sections beginning with ‘Basics’ and moving and increasing in complication. The site itself tries to motivate you with an owl by the name of Duo who gets upset if you don’t do your learnings.
In the time that I have been working on Duolingo at Danish, according to the website I have gotten to 48% fluency. I am not sure that I would feel confident in calling myself that level of fluent in Danish, but it is great to see how far I have come since my shaky beginning.
As well as Duolingo, I have been doing some further studying in order to try and make what I learn stick better in my mind. I have a hardback notebook which is now dedicated to the Danish language and every time I learn something new, I make a note of it so I am able to come back to it. Like Duo itself, my notebook is split into sections. Examples of sections are animals, dates/time, people and pronouns, etc.
As a way of bringing my own interest into the meeting place, I am going to be teaching my Brownies some basic Danish in a few weeks. We are working on the Communicators badge and one of the clauses we have decided to do is Language. For this, they have to learn to count to ten, introduce themselves and order food. I can’t wait to share my love for this language with them.
Here are two particularly interesting Danish words.
Somerfugle – Butterfly (Direct translation of Summer Bird)
2016 has certainly been a negative year in many senses and in a lot of ways I am grateful to Guiding for keeping me sane throughout a lot of the year. While I look back on 2016 with a lot of pain in the knowledge of people lost and bad political decisions and know that there are many things even in Guiding that I meant to do that did not come to fruition, there are many great things that did.
Finish my Adult Leadership Qualification.
This year was the year that I was finally able to say that I am a Brownie Leader, rather than a leader in training. It has been a long time coming, I have been with Brownies for four years now and a lot of bumps along the way have prevented me from finishing earlier, finally this year, with a trip to another city for a safeguarding session, I finally had everything signed off.
This is definitely the biggest and most important thing to have happened this year within Guiding. I have done everything from modules 1-4, meaning that in theory, I could run my own pack. I don’t in any way feel ready to but the knowledge that I could is amazing to hold on to.
Although I have no received my badged, nor have I even got a record book to write things into, I have done a lot of work on my Look Wider octants. I have been posting on here the write ups on the things I have been doing, I turned 24 this year, so I am running out of time to finish Look Wider, so I’m a little close to desperation in getting this done.
Creativity Octant, complete. This was always going to be the first thing I worked out when I started, creativity is my thing. It was an exciting opportunity to try new things and continue others. Many other octants only need one or two things added to them.
At the moment, the printed out version of my notes is with Tracey, my Senior Section Leader and I am hoping to get them back in the new year, in order to continue and receIve a log-book and the badge.
Update my blog with all Brownie events
There is perhaps one or two more blog posts I need to make regarding things we have done, but for the most part, I have successfully kept this blog up to date with things that I have done with my Brownies over the course of 2016, which is great to be able to look back over.
For this phase I want to write about when I was at college and going through the process of getting ready for university. Applying for and starting university was one of the most stressful periods of my life so far. Many times I sat down with my A-Level teacher discussing my best options and which course I felt like I should take. And then, choosing a course was only the smallest of steps along the way.
Countless hours were spent trying to explain how I was a good candidate in 4000 characters. Getting the necessary formal tone as well as a sense of my personality was important and lead to goodness only knows how many rewrites. In the end I must’ve found at least 5 ways of saying I loved literature and was passionate about writing – I was applying for Creative Writing.
Visiting the universities was important to me. I didn’t want to get into a university and find that I hated the location and hated the way it was set up. The first of the two open days I attended was at Winchester and meant getting a train at around 3 or 4am in order to get there for 9 or 10am. I had never been to Winchester before so this was a terrifying prospect, especially when I had to change trains in a station I didn’t know. However, I learnt a lot from that open day. I learnt that I didn’t want to be that far away from home as well as a lot about the whole workings of university. After that open day I felt better prepared for continuing applying and getting myself into university.
The second of the two open days I attended was at the university I ended up attending. It was only an hour away from home on the train and the open day was wonderful. I spent the majority of the day at the university. I got the chance to see different halls, the set up of the lecture and seminar classes, I was able to talk to students who were already there about the universities atmosphere. Most importantly for me, though, I was able to talk to one of the Creative Writing lecturers about the sorts of things involved in the course. By the time I left, I knew I wanted to go there.
After the rigmorale of writing a personal statement, applying, picking universities, explaining my health things and visiting, all that was left to do was wait, knowing that I had put everything I could into getting in. And then I got there and learnt that the whole independent living thing was only just beginning.