Guides love crafts! So for their Christmas party, we decided to make a cute elf of felt and cardboard rolls. I was new to this unit and checked that we had glue guns, but didn’t realize we were really short on electrical outlets! The Unit Guider assured me that the “tradition” part of the evening wouldn’t take that long, and we’d have time for all 30 girls to make the craft, which was my job.
Chaos and disgruntlement ensued. I was annoyed that the “tradition” took most of the evening; less than half the girls had time to make the craft at the limited glue-gun stations. I tried to put on a happy face but I was frustrated and felt the girls were disappointed. Focused on my labours helping the crafting girls, I had barely glanced across the room where the “tradition” was being performed.
After that Christmas meeting a couple of years ago, I often heard the girls talking about the “tradition”. It’s one of their very favorite things about Guides! They ask to do it on other occasions (but it’s only for Christmas). I started to see that they were bonding over the “tradition” far more than they would over a craft or most other activities.
Ok, ok. The TRADITION consists of eating donuts hanging from a string without using your hands. In our meeting space, they are hung by a string from a rope tied between two posts. We hang five or six donuts at a time and they come forward as a patrol and master the art of eating a donut-on-a-string. (We tarp the floor below the rope to deal with any mess.)
Why do they love it? I don’t know but they feel great when they do it and own the bragging rights. Last year a few weeks before the Christmas party we slightly teased the first-years by talking in secretive tones about the TRADITION. I actually heard myself saying “You thought you became a Girl Guide at Enrolment, but you’ll really become Girl Guides when you do the TRADITION!”
So last Christmas I carefully prepared for the other activity, decorating cookies for the local outreach program, while fully recognizing that the TRADITION was the focus of the evening. The cookies did get decorated, too.
After a couple of years running one unit with a large group of 30 girls, we added another unit to our location (and now have two units of about 20 each). Some of our girls transferred to the new unit. By the second meeting, they were already asking the leader if they could do the TRADITION, too.
This year at our Christmas meeting, it’ll be just the TRADITION and board games. I don’t think we need to accomplish anything but having fun.
PS: If you do this with your Guides, don’t allow it to become a race. There is a risk of choking when people try to eat as fast as possible.
By guest blogger Linda, a Guider with 2nd Dartmouth in NS.