This little image has been doing the rounds on Facebook (and if it’s yours, I hope you don’t mind me using it…I don’t know where it originated from to be able to properly give it credit!)
Every day, many Girlguiding leaders turn to our sort of self-run closed facebook group to share ideas and questions about our activities. What makes me sad is that several times a week during term time a leader comes on very discouraged or upset because of parents making their life as a volunteer very difficult.
Most units charge about £25 per term these days. Out of that money we pay for…
-Guiding resources – like Promise certificates, badges, Go For It packs
-First Aid training which all qualified leaders must do (this costs £25 per leader, though I think refresher training afterwards is less?)
-Cost of hall hire
-Trips or subsidising of trips
-Equipment and craft supplies
And every year we have to pay a census for every girl and leader in our unit which in our area is about £30 (always joyful when you get a bunch of girls starting RIGHT before census!).
This isn’t counting the squillions of times that other leaders and myself have paid for things out of our own pockets or unit funds. I think I spent about £100 on ink cartridges printing out letters, programmes and so on last year before my Mum’s printer officially packed in. Then there have been times when we’ve bought decorations, stuff for Hallowe’en parties (have you ever had to clear food out your fridge so you could have four mixing bowls filled with jelly and plastic frogs, eyes and bats?). And I’ve lost count how many times the girls have realised that they need some flour or a box of eggs or a carton of juice or ball of string they don’t have with them for whatever activity they have done and have had money from one of us to nip to the Sainsburys or Scotmid round the corner from our hall!
I have to say that the parents at both my guiding units have been great. I’ve only once in my 2.5 years had a parent really get into me about something, which we settled and actually that parent used to always make sure we knew how much she valued what we did for her daughter after that. There’s always a couple that forget subs and need several reminders. And yes, I dread trips which involve other units for impatient parents wanting to get home so grab their child before we have a chance to acknowledge that they are leaving with a parent and tick them off a sign in/out sheet so we know they are safe.
But when I see messages about parents grumping about a subs increase of a couple of pounds a term, or constantly being late, or not bothering to let leaders know if their daughter is taking up a place in the unit/going away for a month and then just coming back with no communication…
…I wonder if they realise how many hours we put in.
The tagline of this blog is ‘only one hour a week’ – a running joke because often it is the recruitment phrase that volunteering is just an hour a week of your time.
But truth is, we have to type letters, do training, go to the Guide shop, be a treasurer for the unit, post vouchers to Sainsbury’s, work out how the heck we can print off the resource Girlguiding has only created for download, plan programmes, attend meetings…
…and we don’t get paid a penny for it.
We do it because we love seeing the girls achieve things. We do it because we were once their age and know how challenging childhood and teenagehood can be. We do it because we want to give kids and young people in our community a great outlet to be productive citizens. We do it because we do have fun. We do it because we can make friendships for life in Girlguiding. We do it because we see it a privilege to watch these girls grow from little girls to inspiring, wise women.
And truth is, behind every leader of a growing and happy unit is probably a whole bunch of family and friends that have been supporting her. I know that none of us would be able to keep things going without husbands to print things out at work on the sly, or mothers that will turn up to be an extra pair of hands when the new leader fails to show up yet again or be an extra person on trips, or friends that will come to fundraisers or collect newspapers/magazines/glass jars/supermarket vouchers. People we share a home with getting used to cupboards/tables/rooms filled with Guiding stuff.
If you’re the parent of a child of guiding – please thank the leaders. Especially the young leaders – who are juggling teenagehood, school, part-time jobs, college/university applications, extra-curricular activities on top of the work they do volunteering with Girlguiding! Find out if there’s something you can help with if there’s something you can offer (it could be as simple as offering up the use of a printer twice a term!). We get that you’re busy. Just remember that we’re leading busy lives too. We’re attempting to be good bosses, employees, wives, girlfriends, daughters, mothers, sisters and friends at the same time as attempting to be the best Girlguiding leaders we can be.
Thank you to the parents of the two units I’m part of. You are fantastic parents and working with your daughters is a lot of fun and a real privilege. 🙂
I’ll finish off with this great video a girlguiding member created and posted on National Volunteers Day last year.