Colour-coded forms show it’s time for a Guide trip

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My daughter is away for a week with the Guides. She’s been away before, for a night or two, but this is a full-on week under canvas in the New Forest.

As she’s recently joined the Guides, I did wonder how the expedition would be organised. Guides feels more laid-back than the Brownies, with less uniform requirements and no sashes. But how does that compare to Scouts?

I have enjoyed my son’s progress through the Scouting movement and the scrunched up slips of paper which somehow manage to act as information, booking form, medical details and kit list all in one. You pay some cash, send your child and pick up two days later.

My daughter’s trips via the Brownies however, were colour-coded encyclopaedias of information for one night away, plus more clothing options than either of the girls took for a month backpacking around India.

That’s the essential difference though isn’t it between the male and female sides of the movement? The girls pack for everything; wellies, sun cream, trousers, dresses, dressing gowns, sarongs (and then wear every item for at least, ooh, a minute), while the boys are well aware that they’ll spend the entire time in the clothes they went in, and then act surprised on returning home when they take off their socks and realise that yes, that smell which they thought was a dead badger in the woods is indeed themselves.

I wondered which side of the line the Guide organisation would fall and was surprised to find that as well as colour coding forms, it travelled back in time.

For example, the kit list included four blanket pins and a groundsheet. It turns out that the Guides don’t take a sleeping bag in a bag. They roll their sleeping bag in two blankets (secured with pins) before cocooning it in a groundsheet and tying with rope. Packing that up with my daughter made me want to crack open lashings of ginger beer and take a trip to an island in Kirrin Bay, probably on a boat named Swallow.

Don’t get me wrong, I love this. I love the need for waterproof trousers and aprons, and the fact that none of the tents have metal poles in them, and that there’s a sick bay tent. It’s almost worth the angst of the colour-coded forms.