Switzerland: Who said adventure was just for the Scouts?

Day 1: High-ropes and these aren’t just any high-ropes but death defying zip-wires over a gorge!

Challenge 1: The high-rope course across the gorge.

All smiles! (until we look down!)


Don’t look down!


Who can spot Gill? She said someone had to stay on the ground to look after the bags…..hmm


All made it across the the first section!

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and the massively unsupported section in the middle, over the gorge.

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Some of the guides abseiled down to see if the leaders were ok…below.

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Proudly making the last section of the high-ropes.

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And because we are guides, the death-defying high-ropes over the gorge wasn’t a challenge enough! Time to abseil from the bridge.

Challenge 2: The abseil down from the bridge.


Safety checks done! Now to climb over the barrier!

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New profile picture I think…..

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Now for Rachel to face her challenge (such a flattering angle!)

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Challenge Number 3 –   Zipwire across the Gorge

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Rachel all ready to jump!

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Now time for Francesca to make the leap!

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What’s that I hear you cry….is it a bird? No! …..Is it a plane? No!…It must be a 1st Henley Guide!


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All action packed out…now to hike back to the Chalet.


Some of us make friends on the way home…..


While others…accidentally knock the head off our new friend!


Oh no Francesca has found another “interesting” river feature!


The hike back is worth it for the views….

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…and the four leaf clover we found. Lets hope it brings lots of good luck for the rest of the trip and beyond.



Switzerland: Arriving in the sun, but not for long!


After the longest 24 hours in history, confined to a small seat, with very little leg room….


We arrive and its sunny! The girls make themselves at home.


Gill phones home…what a view!


We decided to go for a walk and explore the town, but the heavens open and out come the waterproofs!

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Rachel feeling left out as the rest of our unit just happens to have a Geography related degree. She’s pretending to have one too! (at least she looks the part!)


Francesca (being a flood risk analyst) thought this river was the best thing ever! We all had a lesson on the different river courses and the second one being a braided river channel.

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Back to our Chalet just in time for the rain to stop and a rainbow to come out… beautiful!


Switzerland: 24 hour Coach Journey

One hour in and the leaders are already getting restless….and hungry!


while others…..


pose … trying to get some sleep!

After a: 40 minute ferry journey; a chorus of the sound of music; two toilet stops; breakfast stop; Singing along to the whole of Frozen (and that was just one of our leaders!); the whole of Ice age 3,

Finally we see some mountains….which only means one thing! We are nearly there…



Henley Guides pack for Switzerland!

After nearly three years in planning…since at a unit leaders meeting over drinks, when Switzerland was suggested. We finally set off in August 2014!

Packing took much longer than anticipated…you think a family holiday is tough, try packing for every eventuality and 10 children.


Then many hours later…


Packing for every natural disaster and incident!


We were finally ready for our (almost) 24 hour coach journey!

Henley Guides Bonfire Night celebration

This week we celebrated bonfire night with each patrol lighting their own fire and cooking sausages. It wouldn’t be a guide cook out without marshmallows and we didn’t disappoint!

All the girls enjoying their fires…with minimal firelighters.


And the fun really starts when the girls have left and the leaders bring out the sparklers!


It did however take quite a few boxes of matches and a mini bonfire to get them lit. We answered the much asked question: How many Guiders does it take to light a sparkler?!


Three entire boxes of matches, a firelighter, empty match boxes, a mini bonfire and four leaders (three to light the matches and sparklers and one to watch, laugh and take pictures!) to light one sparkler only to watch the wind blow it out in a few seconds! We did succeed and beat the elements, we didn’t give up and eventually all the effort was worth it!


Just look at that expression!

Hope everyone had a good bonfire night and enjoyed all of the fireworks.

The New Guide Promise – a personal view from one of our leaders

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You will no doubt have read in the press that Girlguiding have made changes to the Promise made by girls and women when they join Girlguiding. You may have made it yourself as a Brownie or a Guide.  The news has met a predictable mixed reaction and this blog is the result of my reading of one online forum. I was so annoyed by the ignorance of Girlguiding shown on the blog that this is my very personal reply.  It is my reply and my views may not reflect those of Girlguiding or in fact those of the other leaders of 1st Henley Guides.

As a Guide leader of almost 19 years I was becoming increasingly reluctant to discuss the Promise with the girls. I was aware that the “Love my God” part of the Promise was likely to lead to awkward conversations that I wasn’t sure I wanted to have.  It is no longer the case that all of the girls will attend church regularly; in fact very few girls did so when I was a Guide in the 1970s. However we were expected to attend a monthly Church Parade.

When Girlguiding launched the Promise consultation earlier in the year we spent two of our meetings discussing it with the girls and encouraging them to take part in the survey themselves. The discussions we had were enlightening and it became clear that girls are much more likely to claim to have no Christian or any other faith or to be uncertain.  I think in my heart I knew this hence my reluctance to encourage discussions. At Guide age girls are forming opinions and able to think very clearly about what they are saying when they make the Promise and we have a duty to respect those opinions.

It is clear that Girlguiding is perceived to be a Christian and possibly a Church of England organisation. It is probably due to history that it is thought to be so.  In 1910 most people attended church so including it in the Promise would not have been thought unreasonable.  Mind you in 1910 women couldn’t vote either. The fact that many units have also used Church Halls to meet in over the years probably did nothing to dissuade people that we weren’t a Christian organisation. In my time as a Guide Leader we have welcomed girls of other faiths, and for some years a hijab has been available for girls to wear.

Modern Guiding still offers the same things it used to do. A chance to meet friends, to learn leadership and organisational skills and most importantly have fun.  There is and has always been a chance to build self esteem and believe things are possible- which could explain why so many successful women have been Girl Guides. Much as some sections of the press would like time to stand still it can’t and any knowledge of this organisation that I am proud to belong to will know that it has often been quick to respond and sometimes lead social change.

Although girls will still promise to serve the Queen it will now be the Queen and my community rather than my Queen and country. I’m not so sure about this, what is wrong with being proud to belong to a country.

In all I welcome this change and look forward to discussing the promise with the girls again. I’m not looking forward to learning a new Promise after making basically the same one for 45 years. Oh I forgot to mention something; personally I have a Christian faith and attend church on a semi-regular basis.

Gillian Chappell

Henley May Fair – kickstart to fundraising

The Henley May Fair, on Monday, was a fantastic kickstart to our fundraising for our trip to Switzerland next summer.

Look at all the plants donated from guide parents and friends of the unit (We did call in a few other favours from leader’s parents and neighbours as well!)


Plant sale…


We had a lovely day by the river. The weather was wonderful!


The guides organised all the games themselves and one guide, Wendy, raised a fantastic £20 all by herself with a game of guess the celebrity. She organised, made the game and manned the stall all afternoon! We are very proud guide leaders once again, of both her efforts and the rest of the girls that helped at the fair and grew plants to sell for the big day.

The Mayor of Henley used to be a Henley Guide herself and was happy to pose with us for a photo-shoot!


All the guides did a fantastic job and in total we raised £140 to go towards our trip to Switzerland to mark the unit 1st Henley Guides being 100 next year.