I finished my Bronze Voyage Award!

You may know I’m a Guide & Ranger leader. You may not know I’m a member of the Trefoil Guild. That’s “Guiding for Adults”, although I usually describe it as “Brownies for grown-ups”. The Trefoil have meetings, do what they like and have no unit leader responsibilities. All the fun, none of the hassle.

However, the Trefoil, which began as a group for girls who had become too old for Guides, has somehow turned into a club for retired leaders. A great many of them will tell you it’s only for retired leaders and you have to be sixty-five to join. Most of them believe this. It’s not true. Anyone over eighteen can join, whether they’ve ever been involved with Guiding in their life. Even men. When the Senior Section finishes evolving in a year or two and throws out the 19-to-25-year-olds who currently make up a good chunk of their membership, a lot of them are probably going to end up in Trefoil Guilds and a lot of the over-65s are already panicking about having 19-year-olds in their midst.

My local guild is on the elderly side and it meets on Guide night so I’m a member of the Internet Guild, where our meetings mostly happen over Facebook. Mostly I’m a member because I wanted to do the Voyage Award, the closest thing I’ve found yet to the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award for adults and this week I finished my Bronze level. It’s taken just over a year.


All Guiding awards involve a service element. For Voyage Bronze, you need to do 40 hours and in its suggested activities it says “If you already work with a unit, take on a new role”. Hahahahaha. I’m already qualified with three out of four sections and I am not becoming a Rainbow leader for this. I took my Guides to Sparkle & Ice. Now, that’s relatively easy, you might think. It’s a national event, there’s no real organising involved. Well, there’s forms, there’s parent meetings, there’s First Aid & medical preparation, there’s getting hold of the relevant equipment, there’s figuring out how to get half a dozen Guides, Rangers, their luggage and the camping equipment to Lyndhurst on the train. Then there’s getting their tents up in the dark, the wind and the rain, camping in early February (this is the first ever time under canvas for all the Guides), getting them around the weekend, looking after them at night, sending the ill ones home, getting the equipment down, packed and transported home. And then there’s a week with three tents up in the back garden trying to scrub the mud out of them. I put a conservative 62.5 hours on that one.


This is the Voyage equivalent of the Look Wider “Personal Values”. Basically, this is your free square. A hobby, a skill, a qualification, an activity, some research. Anything goes. I learnt Norwegian. Mostly I learnt Norwegian because I had an idea of moving there but it fitted in both the time frame and the hours needed – 40 again. I started in November with a phrasebook and then moved onto the Mondly app and then onto the Duolingo one as well. From November to mid-February I did a session on each app religiously every day, took a break of about a fortnight and then carried on again until the end of April, at which point I kind of set it aside and forgot about it. Today I sat and attempted to add up the hours and although I can’t be sure, I used a points-earned to minutes calculation someone on a Duolingo forum suggested to convert my 5852XP to about twenty-five hours. So the Mondly hours must be similar, plus a few because I started Mondly a couple of weeks earlier and because they include a weekly quiz as well as daily lessons. I came out at an estimate of 57 hours.

Norwegian Duolingo progress

Norwegian Mondly progress


This was originally supposed to be a half-district day out but then in July I realised that we’d been organising camp for the last six months and if that didn’t cover “work with others, carry out and take part in an event”, I don’t know what does. I looked back through the programme and noted down every evening we’d stayed behind after Guides to discuss another part of the camp – Pixie was doing her Going Away With licence and it’s also her first real Guide camp, and it’s my first camp where I’m actively a major part of planning it so we went over everything in a lot more detail than leaders might usually. That plus the parent meeting plus the introduction to tent-pitching for the girls plus getting the equipment and so on came to 12.5 hours and then the camp itself lasted 50. I thought about whether the nights should count. But you’re still on duty, you’re still getting up to yell at them for being noisy and you’re still listening out for any who are ill. Oh yes, the nights count. I definitely exceeded Bronze requirements of 10 hours, including an event lasting at least two hours.

Alice camp - five or ten minutes before the Trangia caught fire


I did my Archery GB Instructor Award! Now, admittedly, I’d booked this before I even joined the Trefoil but the actual thing happened after my start date. This is one of those things that Girlguiding offer to benefit the girls and I have run a couple of sessions now but mostly I did it for me. Same as I joined the Trefoil for me. Last week I celebrated (literally; my Rangers sprang a surprise party) ten years as a leader. A couple of years ago I realised everything was about the girls and the leaders aren’t necessarily getting much for themselves, which is why I started going to the walking weekends, to YOYO, to Try Inspire Qualify. I don’t think there’s anything in the world I’m more proud of than my archery qualification. 20 hours for skill, just at a squeak covered by the qualification weekend, topped up with my first ever teaching session. Now I have a certificate & a licence card & a bag full of archery games.

1Archery GB Instructor Award qualification weekend

Explore My World

This one is about getting out, or for the housebound, finding out. I went to Norway. I read, researched, booked. I explored Tromsø, I went to look for the Northern Lights, I snowshoed, I went reindeer-sledding, I went out to a bar until 2am and I made a quick trip into Oslo. 20 hours. And I didn’t count sleep-time for this one. My archery teacher signed off Skill, Pixie signed off the other three but this one was harder. Who can sign that you’d been to a place when you go on your own? Fortunately, I went out to that bar until 2am with an outdoors journalist of my acquaintance who signed it in Edinburgh (while looking a bit bewildered: if you read this, thank you! It means I got my book sent off two or three weeks earlier than I otherwise could!).

Northern Lights over Tromso

I need to write up the Norwegian lessons and the summer camp for my evidence folder. It’s not urgent because the verifier will take what’s written and signed in my record book but I want the evidence folder finished for its own sake.

And then I have to do it all over again for Silver but with double the hours for each. I’m volunteering with Brownies this term (possibly swapping them permanently for Guides…) and I’m going to polish up my Norwegian, which I haven’t touched since April, and I’m going to organise Thinking Day and do my own Going Away With licence.

But for now, I’m quite happy to have completed my Bronze.