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Weekly Discussion: Do all residentials need a theme?

Discussion in 'General Guiding' started by badgemad4, Feb 3, 2018.

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Do residentials need a theme?

  1. Yes

  2. Yes section depending

  3. No

  4. Other not covered

Multiple votes are allowed.
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  1. badgemad4

    badgemad4 Veteran (100+ posts)

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    Many units have started to plan for residentials at Easter (or the next half term holiday, bank holiday weekend etc) and so questions have started to pop up- what theme can I use for a residential, we’ve done the obvious themes what can we do next, the girls really want to do X but several parents have expressed disapproval/banned their daughter from coming, I can’t find a good challenge/ badge…

    But do residentials even need a theme?
     
  2. badgemad4

    badgemad4 Veteran (100+ posts)

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    I think themes can make things easier, they can become a springboard for activity ideas. A theme can also be very simple, during the 2012 Olympics I saw a spots v stripes camp inspired by the Cadbury campaign.

    For many girls just going away with the unit is magic enough, especially getting to do tasks that they might not be allowed to do at home (so many times I’ve seen girls thrilled at washing up!). But there can also be some pressure on leaders to make residentials better than the best sleep over ever, with personalised trinkets on arrival, very detailed themes etc. I’ve witnessed a small backlash against themed camps for this reason. But personally I don’t see any harm, quite often a theme is just giving names to existing activities and food!
     
  3. kingfisherblue

    kingfisherblue Veteran (100+ posts)

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    For your GAW, you need a theme. You need to provide evidence of how the girls had an input into the theme as well.
     
  4. fenris

    fenris fenris GuiderPlus

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    For your assessment, yes.

    Otherwise, only if it will be useful to. If it helps to narrow down an excess of activity ideas, and creates atmosphere, then a theme is worthwhile. But if you find yourself scrabbling for ideas to fit the theme, or equally, are trying to find ways to fit your activities into the theme in tenuous ways, then it may be easier to do without.
     
  5. browniebeth

    browniebeth Brownie Leader Staff Member Moderator GuiderPlus

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    Themes are very useful, certainly. They're where unofficial resources really come into their own. They give a leap pad selection of ideas which definitely reduce planning time, no scouring Google for a whole range of ideas. They work for time-restrictive volunteers who feel they "should" offer a weekend away but worry they don't have time to plan, in addition to sorting menus, food, paperwork, and money.

    I think sometimes we think themes are a recent concept, a product of the challenge badge explosion, but themes have been a thing for longer than we think - I remember doing an Olympic theme at a Brownie Holiday, World War II, Survival themed camps, all around the turn of the millennium. I'm sure there are others here who have similar memories from even longer ago.

    That's not to say that all themes are equal...in fact I'd say the broader the better actually makes it easier to mould whatever you want to do into it. But by the time you've had food, washed up, done duties, quiet time etc, you only have a few hours of themed content to cram in...a good residential will pretty much run itself.

    And of course, by theme, some may choose an interest badge to bounce from - maybe circus performer, entertainer, toymaker...badges that take an unusual skill or extended amount of time that is difficult to do in a regular unit meeting. Often girls work on their Brownie or Guide Holiday or Camper badges, but these alone do not provide enough content to use these in isolation, so it's unsurprising that people look elsewhere for inspiration.
     
  6. Trinny

    Trinny Veteran (100+ posts)

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    Themes can be as simple or as detailed as you like. Personally, I like broad, general themes - Pirates, Jungle, Alice in Wonderland. Lots of ideas and activities to choose from.
    I think some leaders can get a bit bogged down in details, such as decorations. Again, I favour a laissez-faire approach - if you use a bit of imagination then it can be just as fun, and then the space is more flexible. I've seen examples of leaders going to incredible lengths themselves, such as inserting golden tickets into chocolate bars and then rewrapping, or making 30 individual Harry Potter scrolls as invitations. That is definitely not necessary, as those things will probably go straight in the bin after the initial 'wow', and there is no educational value for the girls (whereas if they were making scrolls themselves, there would be a bit of craft and skill involved).

    I think a theme also helps for girls to remember camps individually. I still vividly remember an Aladdin's Cave of Treasures camp when I was a Brownie (I was in the Ruby six), and a rather un-PC Native American theme camp (where I was a Comanchee).
     
  7. fenris

    fenris fenris GuiderPlus

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    They date from at least the mid-1970s, long before unofficial challenge badges were thought of.
     
  8. MsLaurie

    MsLaurie Veteran (100+ posts)

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    I like broad themes. Some of our best have been “secret island” (tropical theme) and “crazy critters” (insects etc).
    These themes gave us a base for wide games, ideas for food (things like chocolate spiders and jelly with cocktail umbrellas), and names for the patrols.
    As gorgeous as the Harry Potter etc themes can look, I feel like they are almost a little commercial?? I think we shine more when things are a bit more free-form, and give space for the creativity of the leaders and the girls.
     
  9. ker-stee

    ker-stee SGP Enthusiast GuiderPlus

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    We normally do a ‘broad theme’ but this year we’ve been a little more specific and chosen Christmas!

    We told the girls the theme as we’ll be asking them to bring a small/cheap ‘secret santa’ type gift.

    We’re doing the Brownie Skills Badge this year, we’re going to do activities that tick off clauses!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  10. Epona

    Epona Veteran (100+ posts)

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    Need; no. But it's more fun with one.
     
    Quack likes this.
  11. nutty_angel

    nutty_angel Veteran (100+ posts) GuiderPlus

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    I find that a theme helps me think of ideas for my wide game otherwize I find the options too wide open!

    I also agree with Trinny it definatly helps my lot remeber each camp as they don't discuss them by year, they discuss by theme!

    With decorations I tend not to do much, I just re-do the normal posters etc with the new theme, things like the menu, duties chart and ground rules.

    So I like themes but I'm really not very strict with them.

    Oh I also always get the girls to choose them which has ended up with some interesting ones like 'Pirates, Princesses and Ninjas!'
     

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