Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Programmes After Dark

Here we are, an exciting new spring term.  A new year, a fresh start, a lively programme.  Problem is, outside it’s dark, it’s cold, and it could easily be raining or snowing, so for the next few weeks at least, there’s a high risk of your programme having to be mainly indoors.  And for an outdoor adventure-based organisation like ours, it’s hard to keep up the enthusiasm and keep the programmes exciting in a dusty hall now the Christmas decorations are down again.


Of course, it does mean we can give a little time to checking up on the progress – how are the girls doing with their Roundabouts/Adventure Badges/Challenge Badges/Octants?  Are there some areas where they are a little behind, are there some clauses we need to make time in the programme to cover, or to improve the balance in what we’re doing?  This year, with the programme changes coming up, we will want to ensure that all the girls get the chance to finish off the awards they are working on in the current programme, so that we can manage the transition to the new programme when the time comes, without anyone missing out. 


We can also plan ahead – teach skills ready for the summer.  Now’s the time to learn some new songs ready for the campfire season.  We can practice skills ready for the sleepovers, holidays and camps in the summer – how to pack the luggage, how to make the bed, how to wash the dishes, how to do simple cooking – yes, now is the time to practice all of that so that when the summer comes we aren’t stuck indoors learning the theory, we’re doing the practical.


It’s also a good time to work on our good turn/be prepared skills – do the girls know simple first aid, and what to do with minor accidents?  Do they know how to throw a lifeline, and other options for water rescue (especially, knowing to stay out of the water when rescuing, no matter how many swimming medals they have, to ensure one casualty doesn’t become two)?  Do they know about home safety, how to spot potential accidents and prevent them? 


There can also be scope for getting outdoors at this time of year.  Have your girls tried looking into the night sky to spot constellations, or visited an observatory, or been shown the night sky by an astronomy enthusiast?  Have they ever looked at animal tracks in snow or mud, made plaster casts of them, tried to identify them?  Is there a countryside ranger or nature club who would be willing to take your unit out to see nocturnal animals?  Have you done torchlit trails using glow sticks, old CDs or tinfoil cake cases on strings?  Have you done wide games in local streets, using the codes on street lamps, or nearby lanes and alleys as a playground?  Have you tried lighting a fire and cooking on it – if you have a car park or slabbed area outside your hall then you can use a metal colander or a foil ‘disposable’ barbecue foil tray on a couple of bricks, as a container to build your fire in.


Because it’s a time of year when people are inclined to hibernate – try to build some exercise and fitness into your programmes.  Outings could be to a swimming pool or skating rink.  You could have a dance session, or a gymnastics session.  Why not recreate some of the winter Olympics sports indoors – could you create a version of skiing, skating, ice hockey, curling? 


And of course, there are lots of festivals during the spring which we can use to bring colour and international interest to our programmes.  So much so that the only one we should mark every year is, of course, Thinking Day – as for the rest, why not try some different ones this year, and give the ‘usual’ ones a rest for once – they’ll be so much fresher if you leave them until next year!

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