Rice Krispie cakes and other life skills

PUBLISHED: 13:52 16 March 2006 | UPDATED: 13:20 04 May 2010

OH SO RICE: Journeyman Jones makes Rice Krispie cakes with members of the Third Littleport Guides.
Photo: HELEN SOUTH

OH SO RICE: Journeyman Jones makes Rice Krispie cakes with members of the Third Littleport Guides. Photo: HELEN SOUTH

IT S not that I m lazy, but I must admit, I jumped at the chance to spend some time with a Guide unit. Two hours of tying knots and baking Rice Krispie cakes, I thought. I managed to lay my hands on some of the latter, and the fact that there was little e

IT'S not that I'm lazy, but I must admit, I jumped at the chance to spend some time with a Guide unit.

Two hours of tying knots and baking Rice Krispie cakes, I thought. I managed to lay my hands on some of the latter, and the fact that there was little evidence of the former is an indication of how perceptions can shape the way we think.

How wrong I was. But Judith Pruce, assistant Guide leader with 3rd Littleport Guides, is keen to assure me that knots are still an option.

"We can still do knots," she says. "Would you like to do knots? We do them to prepare for camp."

Er, no, it's okay.

"Alright. More Rice Krispie cake?"

Actually, most of the cake is on my notebook, obscuring my scribblings just enough to frustrate. But I still left the evening with a wholesome, warm glow.

Third Littleport Guides having been going since January 2000. They are the only unit still extant in the town, and currently they look after 22 young ladies between the ages of 10 and 14.

"The emphasis in Guides is that it is girl-led," Judith points out. "The girls decide what they want to do each week and then the leaders try to make it happen".

Many of you former Guiders will be pleased to know that the badge system is still in operation, but in almost every other sense, the Guide movement has had to move with the times.

"The girls are here because they want to be here. Not everyone wants to sit in front of a computer," Judith tells me.

But are you still relevant? "Yes, Guiding is a very relevant and modern movement. Guiding challenges the girls to think for themselves and also gives them a lot of life skills. They fend for themselves.

"If, for example, they burn the sausages at camp, it's their fault."

Too right. There can be no wastage when it comes to sausages, in my opinion. Every sausage is vital.

For those who truly take their Guiding seriously, the glamour of a trip to Chelmsford awaits. The Essex cultural hotspot is the venue for the 2007 World Jamboree. I know some of you might be thinking that the poor girls have got a rough deal, but it just so happens that Chelmsford has been chosen for next year's event. The last one was held in Thailand, for example.

Tonight, the guides are learning about fair trade. For those of you who didn't know, it's currently Fair Trade Fortnight, highlighting the importance of ethical purchasing from developing countries.

The Guides have to make paper bags, for which they are paid the measly sum of one rupee. They then have to calculate - and, bear in mind, mathematics is the science of fools - how much money they can make in an hour, then a day, then a month.

Of course, they can never make enough to buy everything, which is the dilemma faced by families in developing countries.

After hearing about the overnight trip to London's Science Museum - where, you will be pleased to learn, no one got left behind on the Tube and the girls "made snot" - it's almost time to go. There's just one task left to carry out, and it appears that I've been suitably stitched up by this cruel bunch.

Together with Hannah and Abby, I have to close the meeting as part of what is known as the 'colour party'. If only I'd stood somewhere else!

So, after 20 minutes or so trying to lower the flag, we can all go home. Good thing, too, as most of the girls had passed through their teenage years and were into adulthood by the time I'd sussed the flag out.

I've had an enjoyable evening and it's worth noting, too, that the Guide leaders, (Judith, Margaret Goodson and Debbie Davey) seem to have got as much from the experience as the girls themselves.

INFO: If you want to be a part of the Guiding experience - remember, you too could learn how to make snot - telephone the county office on 01223 211377.

n If you would like to meet Journeyman Jones, then go along to the Townhouse on Thursday night between 8pm and 10pm.

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