This week, I took my Rangers ice skating.
It’s one of the things Girlguiding should be about – oh, not necessarily taking them ice skating, but doing fun things, having new opportunities and trying new activities. We spend far too much time in the meeting room where the girls are more interested in Snapchatting each other than in anything doing anything. But it was the last meeting of term and we generally go out – usually for a meal but with various issues affecting this particular group, eating out together can be tricky. Besides, after taking the Guides ringoing and ski-bobbing a couple of weeks ago, it was time for the Rangers to try some winter sports.
Of those four who turned up, two of them can’t skate.. They spent the first half an hour clinging to the edge and dragging themselves along using upper body strength and the last ten or fifteen minutes gaining the confidence to let go with one hand with the one-to-one help of the two girls who can skate.
I grew up in the early nineties during the Great Inline Skate Craze. We didn’t have a computer and we definitely didn’t have tablets or smartphones so if I wasn’t at school or reading encyclopaedias – actual paper books as heavy as I was – I was outside on my bike or my skates. We did roller discos at school, I took my skates to my friends’ houses and we skated around their streets. It’s no transition at all from inline skates to ice skates and when I was younger, I was pretty good at it. Not so good that they’re begging me to go on Dancing on Ice but I can skate, I can steer and I can control my speed.
But it’s been a few years since I last went skating. My feet had forgotten how to do it and my brain had forgotten how to trust my feet. It took me at least four laps of the real ice rink (no non-slip plastic here!) for me to stop wobbling and shuffling and waving my arms and to figure out what I was supposed to do, while watching my two competent skaters and thinking “I used to be able to do this. I used to be better than them!” It came back eventually – I noticed it once or twice just for a few frustrating seconds and then click! There I was, just skating.
The three of us helped out the non-skaters as much as we could, helping to slide them across gaps in the wall and past groups of skaters hanging out on the side. We borrowed an aid – a sit-on seal and I took one of them for a spin around the rink before leaving it for the girls to play with. That was fun, a bit like pushing a fully-laden supermarket trolley with a wonky wheel.
We might go again next year. I might even be brave and take the Guides. It was also good practice for Sparkle & Ice in February, a big winter camp at three of Girlguiding’s TACs. I’m taking three Rangers, all of whom were there this week, and five Guides, and one of the attractions is an ice rink. We’re all very excited and also expecting to be very cold.
(About the photo? I have permission for all of them but although I’m happy to put pictures on our own dedicated Facebook, Twitter & Instagrams, it doesn’t feel fair to put their faces on a blog they don’t even know exists.)