This month we're talking about:

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

A fat, easy target? Not in guiding. Let's lead the way, says Kathryn.

I've been thinking about this idea a lot recently.

Equal. Having the same right as another. The dictionary defines it as: "The state of being equal, esp. in status, rights, and opportunities".

But as we know, it is not as simple as that. 

I saw a great quote yesterday, on Facebook of all places:

"I learned first-hand that fat people are the recipients of the last remaining socially acceptable prejudice. Racism and sexism will get you ostracised in more enlightened communities, but you can mock fat people all you want."

We're fair game, aren't we? A fat, easy target?

So often those of us who are larger than most use humour as a defence mechanism; we would probably laugh, or extend the joke further. By doing this though, are we not saying: 'YES!  It's okay to make fun of me. Continue?'

I was watching, of all things, The Chase (if you're not familiar, it is a game show in the UK with Bradley Walsh), where the 'Beast' came on. Here, on prime time telly, we had a popular face of TV mock a man for his sheer size. No other reason for this. He responded in turn. I can't remember these comments, I was too shocked, and probably too busy frantically tweeting my fury. 

Why am I annoyed?

We know children learn behaviour they see around them. At 7pm on that Sunday, they saw that it was okay to mock someone for being FAT. If it had been race, or disability, or creed, it would have been an OUTRAGE across the social media world. I didn't see anything about it: did you?

No, and that is because it is seen as acceptable. We are showing our children that bullying someone for their size is okay. Who are we to judge?  

So after this realisation, I remembered that I had the perfect opportunity to change this. Even if it was just a little bit. My Brownie pack is brand new - a great chance to instil positive values right from the start.

After our main activity, while some were finishing off and tidying up, I had a chat with some of them about why I love Girlguiding UK; it's girls helping girls, a safe place away from boys and pressure and grading - and it is equal.

If I manage to have this chat with one or two girls a week, and talk about it on their level, it might just go a little way to counteract what they're seeing on the TV.

As a Leader, I'm a role model for these girls, and I need to act like it. I'm not promoting obesity, but I'm also not promoting the diet culture, or striving to be something I'm never going to be. I'm happy in my skin, and hopefully, they will see that too. 

And my fat self is happy with that.

Kathryn, Brown Owl, 9th South Shields Brownie Pack.

Pirate adventures for Helene in Cheshire – and a close encounter of the eagle kind!

Helene arrived in Blackpool and was whizzed off in a coach with Blackpool North Division Guides and Brownies. We were all off to spend a holiday together Cheshire to celebrate the Olympics, and the theme for the week was Pirates! Arrrr!


Helene had a fantastic time…

Wow the zip wire was really fast…" Thank you for the ride Steph!’

The girls were challenged to build a swing. It was wicked!!

‘I’ve only got little legs, thank you for the lift!’

Helene says ‘Watching the falcon display was great until he decided he was going to EAT ME help........................’

Don't worry, Helene fans, she wasn't hurt at all, only bit shaken by her eagle experience!

Helene has made so many new friends and been on lots of adventures. She played with the parrots in the brigg, took part in pirate Olympics, had a sing song round the camp fire, got half eaten by a falcon and was made to walk the plank!!

She was exhausted by the end of the week, and slept all the way home on the coach.

Helene says ‘Thank you Blackpool North Division for a fantastic week and I hope to see you all again soon.’

Now off to her next adventure.............

Friday, 14 September 2012

Helene in Knoxville, discovering how the Girl Scouts began and making friends

The Girl Scouts of Troop 20628 in Knoxville, Tennessee USA were thrilled when Helene arrived for her visit with us!
Doing the 'stadium be my eyes' activity

Before she got here, she missed out on our Olympics evening, where we did the WAGGGS Games Go Global Bronze badge.We wish she would have been here for it, but we are certain that our Troop bear Juliette told her all about it during their chats!  

Our own Olympic rings!
Helene arrived in perfect time for a Girl Scout history program that we were attending called Our Girl Scout Story. We introduced Helene to our Troop bear, Juliette, and they enjoyed a nice chat!
Helene and Juliette getting to know each other
Juliette is named for Juliette Gordon Low, the Founder of Girl Scouts of the USA. Our Troop learned a lot about Juliette Gordon Low, as well as WAGGGS, during the program, and so did Helene.

Helene loves the old-fashioned uniform
Here, Helene is learning about the history of Girl Scouts in the Knoxville and Oak Ridge areas. She also got to try on an early Girl Scout uniform, and she played jacks with us!

playing jacks
Finding out about our guiding world history

While learning about WAGGS and the World Centres, Helene enjoyed some treats from India with us! Some were a little spicy, but the cookie was delicious!

Mmm tasty

Helene joined us during friendship circle too! We were so happy to have Helene with us, and we are proud of her for earning the Our Girl Scout Story badge!
Our badge
In our friendship circle
 After the event, Helene enjoyed a sleepover with one of our Junior Girl Scouts, and they had fun playing with Lalaloopsy dolls!

Can you spot Helene amongst the dolls?
Helene’s last adventure with Troop 20628 was with two of the Troop Leaders. Helene joined them for a Troop camping course at Camp Tanasi in Andersonville, Tennessee. Helene learned how to build a fire, and she also enjoyed a ‘fiery’ treat! With a kiss farewell, we send Helene off to a Girl Scout Troop in Utah. We wish Helene well as she continues her journey!


Helene has the bounciest day ever at Buzz camp with 4th Disdbury Rainbows

Helene had a great weekend with 4th Didsbury Rainbows - she went to Buzz 2012, Girlguiding Manchester's county camp and mini festival!

She started off being looked after Rainbow, Nancy, who was there with her mum, and she visited the creche and went to the opening ceremony where lots of bouncy bee balls were released for the crowd to bounce around while they listened and danced to the singer. 
Helene and her Rainbow friends getting ready to climb
Helene also spent some time at the activities information desk and met loads of Guides and Brownies who popped in in between their activities to collect the activities badges they had earned to pin on their ID lanyard.  She tried to get on film when the BBC came filming for the news, but she must have been edited out...!

When the rest of the Rainbows arrived the fun really started! They all had a go at climbing, high ropes, bracelet making, bunjee trampolining, nail art, a custard run, science magic, glitter tattoos, giant kerplunk, and sooo many more things. One group of Rainbows and Helene went round the activities with Leader Snowy who has just had her 18th birthday, Happy Birthday Snowy!
Bungeeeeee! The Rainbows' favourite activity

Look at her go...

The science bit - we managed to push a kebab stick throguh a balloon without bursting it!

It was an interesting weekend weather wise, which pleased the Rainbows and Helene as they had great fun playing in the mud (I'm afraid Helene got a bit muddy, we have cleaned her up as best we can!)

We've loved having Helene and the Rainbows can't wait to find out what she gets up to next!


Joanna Mellor (Lightning), 4th Didsbury Rainbows


Thursday, 6 September 2012

Making the Games happen - Katy's volunteering story

When, last October, I found out that I had been chosen to be a Games Maker for the Paralympic Games I was so excited!  I had applied to be a Games Maker as soon as the entries opened and was really looking forward to being a part of the Paralympics.

I was part of the Accreditation team working at the International Broadcast Centre and it was our job to print and validate the accreditation passes of all the journalists, photographers and broadcasters working at the Paralympic Games.  Your accreditation pass has a photo of you on the front along with a list of codes which show the venues that you have access to.  They are very important for security and without your accreditation you won’t be allowed into any venues.  It is the most important thing to have with you at all times – if athletes forget theirs they won’t even be allowed to compete!

 My volunteering started two weeks before the Paralympic Games began, and on our first day we arrived to a very quiet Olympic Park.  The Olympic Games had just finished and all the signs, flags and venues were being changed to get ready for the Paralympics.  The International Broadcast Centre was empty as all of the press had gone on a well-earned holiday after all their hard work during the Olympics!

As my volunteering went on, however, people started coming back to work, (of course collecting their accreditation from us first!) and the excitement about the Paralympic Games started to build.  Once the athletes moved into the Paralympic Village I would see them training in the Park when I walked across to work in the morning.

I had two shifts during the Paralympic Games and the atmosphere in the Olympic Park was amazing!  I’d been lucky enough to see some athletics during the Olympics and the buzz around the Park was just the same as before.  This shows just how much excitement there is about the Paralympics in London and that it is viewed as the same as the Olympics, with everyone recognising that the athletes have trained incredibly hard and achieve amazing things despite their disabilities.  The media attention that the Paralympics has had this year is much more than at previous Games and is a huge step forward for equality for Olympians and Paralympians alike.


Monday, 3 September 2012

Role models and history makers. Rosy introduces September's topic of equality

This month's Global Conversation focuses on equality, and this topic couldn't come at a more appropriate time.
Girlguiding UK's 2012 Girls' Attitudes Explored Survey highlighted that 55% of girls aged 11-21 in the UK believe there aren't enough female role models.  Girls interviewed for this survey struggled to name sportswomen as role models.  Sports coverage in the UK does seem to focus on men, and it's very rare for coverage to focus solely on women's teams, so this shouldn't be a surprise.  I was, however, surprised by this quote:  ‘I can name guys – Ronaldo…’ ‘Kelly Holmes. Usain Bolt…’ ‘David Beckham.’  Kelly Holmes is such successful female athlete that in 2005 she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for her achievements.  Do girls today actually know who Dame Kelly Holmes is?  Or is the assumption that, because Kelly Holmes is so successful, she is male? 
I've been really inspired this summer by both the Olympic and Paralympic Games.  I've never been particularly interested in sport, so have surprised myself by becoming a little bit obsessed with games I didn't even know existed (wheelchair basketball anyone?!). 

My inspiring stories haven't necessarily been the big stories that were picked up by the media or shown all over the tv coverage (although Ellie Simmonds winning gold in the S6 400m freestyle and smashing the world record by over 5 seconds did leave me, and probably most of the UK, sobbing!)  Instead, my inspiration has come from the individuals who have challenged people's expectations.
Particularly memorable are Sarah Attar, the 19 year old 800m runner, and Wodjan Shaherkani, the 16 year old judoka.  These two women made history this year by being the first women from Saudi Arabia to be allowed to compete at the Olympic Games.  Within their country these two women are by no means seen as equal to the male athletes, and have been the subject of a lot of controversy in Saudi media.  It doesn't matter that Sarah finished her race 43 seconds behind the heat winner, or that Wodjan didn't make it past the first round.  The fact that these young women were given the opportunity to compete in London shows a strength and determination that should be applauded. 

To me, equality isn't about treating everyone the same.  Everyone is different.  If we weren't different the world would be a really boring place.  It's important to recognise those differences, and, for me, that's where equality really comes into play.  Equality should be about recognising diversity and enabling everyone to have access to the same opportunities.

We need to be doing more in the UK to introduce girls and young women to role models from across all walks of life.  I am so proud to be a member of an organisation which supports and encourages girls and young women to be who they want to be.  As a Leader, I should be doing my best to act as a role model for my Brownies and showing that, no matter who you are, you can achieve amazing things.  I hope that, following the success of Team GB in both the Olympic and Paralympic Games, these young women can begin to recognise the significance of women's participation in 2012.
“Just because an animal is large, it doesn't mean he doesn't want kindness; however big Tigger seems to be, remember that he wants as much kindness as Roo” 
You just can't argue with Winnie the Pooh!
Rosy B
PS Check out Girlguiding UK’s inspiring Real Role Models here.           

Friday, 31 August 2012

Out of this World - Helene in Flower Power sub-camp

5th Stopsley Guides, Stopsley South, Luton South - Flower Power sub-camp - Wednesday-Thursday 22nd-23rd August 2012

Helene was invited to visit the Flower Power sub-camp during her time at the Out of this World camp, and arrived just as they were making dinner.  They were having cowboy casserole, it was very tasty.  After they had eaten, Helene made friends with another mascot called Billy-Bob!

Later in the evening, we all headed up to the campfire, where a Guide called Shannon took very good care of Helene.

The stunts at the campfire were great, we all liked the Waterworld 'If I Was Not A Girl Guide' song, and the '12 Days of Camping'  performed by Quackopia.  At bedtime, Helene was so popular as a tent-mate, that she had to stay with the Leaders as the Guides couldn’t decide who should have her! The Leaders gave Helene a present, a badge from Haverings, their local Guide residential centre. 

In the morning Helene was taken to the craft tent by one of the Guides, Keliyah. They helped each other make some beautiful things, including painting a terracotta pot. Everyone got back together for elevenses (yummy mid-morning snacks), then Helene went back to her own subcamp.

She had a great night in Flower Power – thanks to them for looking after her!


Thursday, 30 August 2012

Helene's been Out of this World!

Helene arrived in Bedford and was greeted by Gill Lake the Division Commissioner for Bedford, who was busy getting ready for camp. Gill’s friend Marion made Helene her very own camp blanket, so she’s been collecting badges and having them sewn on ever since...

The first day at camp was VERY hot!

Helene sheltering from the sun with her water bottle
The opening ceremony at camp was great fun - we zoomed away from Earth and met the inhabitants of other worlds like – Cadbury World, Planet Rock, Quackapia, and Water World. Each world’s inhabitants introduced themselves and their customs. These were our sub-camps!

Here’s Helene with an inhabitant of Quackapia

...and some friends that she made in Water World

...and a Scouter from Serbia who was staying with Water World
Helene made it on to the front page of the camp newsletter – The Planet – with an article telling the girls all about her.
She visited mission control to sign in

here she is in Planet Rock with their mascot Robin.

During the camp Helene spent some time with some of the other worlds...
Unfortunately that meant that the camp had come to an end so we all said our goodbyes and prepared to strike the rained all morning so Helene stayed warm and dry tucked up in her camp blanket!!
Helene was back on Water World for the closing ceremony – there was a cool performance by several of the girls who were trained throughout the day by Richard, a West End actor, who had just flown in from America.

Then when it was dark we went outside where each world was sent off as a Chinese lantern – there was even one to support the Paralympics. We all had glow sticks as well and we had great fun singing whilst waving our glowsticks. Helene had a great time with Bedfordshire Guides, who made her so welcome at their Out of This World camp and she says thanks to Bedford Division for hosting her!
Our Chinese lantern

Helene's badge collection is growing already!

Watch out for blogs from the sub-camps that Helene visited, coming soon….

Friday, 17 August 2012

From Yorkshire to the USA, with Helene in tow

This summer girls from Girlguiding North Yorkshire South were selected to take part in a trip to America, and Helene came along too!  It was a long journey to get there: we took a train from York to Manchester, a plane from Manchester to London and another plane from London to Boston but we finally arrived late in the evening. Our first impression was the heat, it's a lot warmer than the UK in America!
On the first day we went on a Duck Tour.  A Duck is an old World War 2 tank, we were driven around the city by Captain Duck Tape and then the tank magically drove into the sea and we had another tour by water (we also got the chance to try driving the tank).

That evening we took a bus to Hartford in Connecticut where we met our host families.  We spent two days with our families and visited the local sights like the local Navy submarine base, the beach and aquarium. We also had a pool party in the evening where we met up with all the Girl Scouts who we had stayed with.

On the Sunday morning we all excitedly packed up our bags and headed to Summer Camp. We were taking part in the Girl Scouts of Connecticut International Camporee.  There were lots of international Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from Japan, Ghana, Nigeria, Canada, Australia and the UK, and of course lots from America.  

Throughout the week we took part in traditional American summer camp activities including archery, boating, canoeing, swimming in the lake, crafts, tie-dye, camp fires, cook outs, etc.
 On the Wednesday we held an International Day for all the local Girl Scouts to come to visit.  We met Daisies (like Rainbows) and Brownies who had been too young to come to camp.  We put on a display about our country and Girlguiding UK.  We also made cream teas and put on a sketch.  The camp was visited by the Senator for Connecticut and the President of Girl Scouts of Connecticut.

Camp ended all too quickly and we said very sad farewells to all the new friends that we had made.  We then took a bus for the final part of our trip, a visit to New York City.  We had a fantastic three days in the city seeing all the famous sights such as the Statue of Liberty, Wall Street, Times Square, Brooklyn Bridge etc.  We also did lots of shopping including making many of the special edition Girl Scout Build A Bears!
It was then time for our trip to end and we packed our bags for one last time and headed home.  We have so many fantastic memories from the trip and have made so many new friends that we hope to keep in touch with.  Hopefully we will meet up again at another international trip some time in the future.

 PS Fancy going on an international trip yourself? Ask your County International Adviser what's coming up (or if you're a young member, ask your Leader to find out for you!)

Monday, 13 August 2012

Helene's been to BrumJam!

Watching the opening ceremony, Chris Hoy with the flag
Helene arrived the Friday before we went off on camp, hand-delivered by the postman! She really enjoyed the Olympics opening ceremony on the TV, and was a great help on the Saturday, with the shopping for camp.

As soon as we arrived at BrumJam (an international jamboree camp in Birmingham) we were busy doing exciting activities. Our first day was Skills - as part of one of the zones, some of our Guides needed to design and make a gadget all within 30 minutes.  Helene joined this group and helped them design and make our new camp couch. They made it really well and all managed to sit on it, though Helene tested it first as she was the lightest!

Check out our gadget!
On the Monday we had our subcamp day and ate breakfast at a different camp with people we did not know. We all enjoyed making new friends.
After breakfast we joined in the mini-Olympics which was full of fun games like sponge throwing and spent the afternoon trying food, playing games and doing crafts with other groups on the subcamp, before watching BrumJam’s Got Talent. Though our group entered a fantastic dance unfortunately we didn’t get through to the big finale - Helene thinks we cheered the loudest though!

Visiting friends for breakfast
The next day was all about fun in the water. Our group built a fabulous raft with Helene's help, but  she did not fancy going out on the water as the waves were nearly as big as her! The Guides were very brave though. After lunch our group went canoeing, but as the waves were still quite large we tied the canoes together to make them more stable. Helene once more decided that staying inside with the other Leaders was a better option than taking to the water.

After raft making waiting to get on the water
The Thursday was an early start but nobody moaned as it was off to Alton Towers with our Subcamp. Woohoo! The braver members of the group did the big rides such as Nemesis, Air and Oblivion and the others did the less stomach churning rides like Ice Age 4, Rapids and Battle Galleons.

We all had a sleep on the way home from Alton Towers ready for the Subcamp campfire in the evening. Helene enjoyed the songs and skits, some of which we did not know and enjoyed sitting by the fire keeping warm.

Friday and the last day of camp was our Blackwell Adventure day. We were split into groups and each given four activities for the day. Helene’s group started with archery, followed by crate stacking where Helene had a go and managed 5 crates with some of the Guides. After lunch we did the 3G swing and then a tree top trek.
Kieran took Helene with him as she was too small for the harness, he instead tucked her into his hoodie so she could enjoy the views of camp as well!


After dinner we all headed off to the closing ceremony where we watched the BrumJam flag lowered and all voted for our favourite ‘BrumJam’s got Talent’ act and our subcamp, Hercules, won! We had a few speeches and then a final disco to finish the night off.
Helene and all the Guides had a fabulous time - exhausting but a brilliant adventure!

Helene looking tired and ready for a nap after all the excitement :o)

P.S. If you're interested in finding out more about international camps, keeping checking back here or find out what's going on in your Country/Region

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Biscuits or cookies? Helene chats to Michigan Girl Scouts in York

Today our Guides hosted some Girl Scouts from Michigan, and Helene met them too! It's the Girl Scouts USA's Centenary this year - a very exciting time for them.

Here are the Girl Scouts and Girl Guides with the whole group

Our "British Biscuit and American cookie" picnic

Helene visiting the Minster. Helene joined by wearing a UK Centenary Tshirt!