Ending the year with fire

Well, the school holidays have officially begun, and there’ll be no more Girlguiding meetings until August when a new school year begins. A tradition I’ve introduced to our Guide unit (and now our Senior Section have told me they’d like to be a tradition with them too) is to have a campfire at the Trefoil campsite near the end of term. Our Guides one went really well – it was a gorgeous sunny night, but as I came home from work to get ready for the Senior Section one this was the view from my bus…

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Our Senior Section group said they’d like to have their own campfire, and we encouraged other Senior Section members who don’t come to our group to join us. A couple of our group are currently on a school music tour in Belgium (as are a few of my Guides…hoping they get to interact with one another in a positive way while on that trip) so there were only 5 girls there. We thought it might end up being just us, but a new District Commissioner and four of her young leaders – two of which have been to our group before – arrived.

We introduced each other, got talking, collected wood and built a fire.

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Our fire was cracking! And we toasted marshmallows on it.

We then decided to sing some campfire songs, and had a laugh as we taught them to each other and the different variations we had learned. Learning campfire songs is a bit like playing Chinese whispers!

We also laughed as the request for ‘Singing in the Rain’ came (with the actions and ridiculousness it brings) and Jenny declared “I don’t know this one”. Then as soon as we started singing exclaimed “OH!! It’s just Singing in the Rain” and laughed hysterically for about two full minutes.

At the end of the night Jenny and our Young Leader turned Adult Leader in Training from Guides (also a Senior Section member) made their promise as Adult members, and our newest Senior Section member made her promise as a member of Senior Section.

Knowing I blog here, those who wanted to jumped in for a ‘Campfire Selfie’ they said I could use for this post. We’ve had a great year. I finish my job on Monday (I got made redundant as the trustees have decided to close the charity I work for) and without another job to go to yet (anyone want to employ me?) I’ll be taking the time to investigate some requests and wishes the girls have given me to see how we can make it happen over the next year.

Campfire selfie

Thanks ladies for another AWESOME year! It’s been a blast and here’s to making 2014/15 even better than the last two!

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I went to a Girlguiding website workshop…

…and this is how it went!

I spend a lot of time on Social Media. I tweet, I facebook and I blog. And I think it was because of my blogging and tweeting about my life as a Girlguiding leader that Jenna from the Digital team contacted me to ask whether I would come along to one of the workshops YooMee were running on June 21st to give feedback on the Girlguiding website.

The workshop I attended was at Leith Academy in Edinburgh, which is a school not far from where I grew up. In fact, it was where we would get assessed for Guide badges when I was a teenager! Despite my familiarity with the location, I had underestimated how far it was on the bus from where I live now so I was a bit late arriving (sorry!) But I did have to laugh as a member of the YooMee team standing by the entrance to the school asked “Are you here for the Girlguiding workshop?”and told me he thought I must be because I had ‘the look of a Girlguiding leader’ (I was assured it was a compliment).

We were split into two groups, with a mix of Senior Section members and Adult Leaders. After doing a bit of an icebreaker where we found it was more difficult than we thought to have seven things our group members all had in common with each other, we got down to the nitty gritty.

What do we want the Girlguiding website to be like in the future?

Andy and Tim from YooMee had five posters on the wall each representing a different type of user/website visitor.

We had…

-The Unaware user who knows nothing about Girlguiding

– The Interested user who knows a little bit but not a lot about Girlguiding and is intrigued to find out more.

– The First Timer who has found out and is new to Girlguiding

– The Regular user who is involved and visiting the website every now and again on fairly regular basis

– The Passionate user – those who are passionate about Girlguiding, know a lot about it and using the website on a frequent basis.

We realised pretty quickly that all of our workshop attendees were passionate users. So we had to do a bit of work to put ourselves into the imaginary shoes of the other potential users of a new Girlguiding website.

We had green post-it notes and orange post-it notes which we used to write our ideas of what we thought was needed on the website. On the Green post-its we would put what we wanted to see. On the orange post-it notes were things that we would want the website designers to avoid. We then did this with each different ‘type’ of user in mind.

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All sorts of things were suggested. To give just a few examples:

  • An ‘About’ page giving history, current activities, facts and figures on Girlguiding (so there’s no excuse for journalists to put inaccurate information in their newspaper articles!)
  • Contact directories for leaders to be able to network better
  • Clear contact details to be able to speak to an actual person
  • FAQ pages for both parents and people interested in volunteering,
  • Information for employers about the skills that members acquire from Girlguiding,
  • Maps of the regions and counties and more consistency between the linking of national to more localised Girlguiding websites,
  • Leader ‘toolkits’ for starting up and running a unit or supporting volunteers
  • Searchable ‘wiki’ feature to be able to find activities for the unit under specific themes

…and loads more (as you can see from our post-it covered posters).

I had asked on one of the Girlguiding facebook groups for their feedback ahead of time, knowing that some members would want to have their say but wouldn’t be able to attend one of the workshops. I made sure that all of the thoughts they voices were put on post-it notes too.

Andy and Tim then got us to group all of our post-its under headings which we created based on the similar themes running through our post-it note ideas, generating a great deal of discussion not only about what was needed but the recognition of their need to make sure they speak to parents and outsiders as well as they do their focus groups. They assured us this was all in hand and were already planning on doing this.

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The added bonus to the whole day was not just getting to have our say, or that the folks from Yoomee were so lovely and really listened to us – it was getting to meet with members from all over the UK. People had come down from Dundee and Fife, one leader had got the train up from County Durham to be there and I heard rumours there was also another person who’d come in from Belfast? We had a chance over lunch to chat about our Guiding experiences, challenges we faced, share ideas and to realise how passionate we all were about volunteering with Girlguiding.

There is still a chance to have your say, and you can hold your own Girlguiding website workshops as Yoomee have given us all a ‘How-to’ guide over on the Digital Girlguiding blog. They just need your feedback by 12th July!

You can find out more about Girlguiding UK’s digital vision on the Digital Girlguiding website. (In fact, you’ll soon find this very post on their blog…!)

**UPDATEthis post can now be found on the Girlguiding Digital Team blog (they have referred to me as “Laurie Anne” which is a common mistake people make about my name. The name on my birth certificate is Laura Anne, but that’s a bit of a mouthful so most folks call me Laurie – just to clarify!)**

Campfire Sunday: Thunderation

I was so busy planning for our Guides end of term campfire last weekend that I forgot to share a song for Campfire Sunday! Oopsie.

This is a favourite, and we of course sang it at our Guides District Campfire last week…

Thunder, thunder
Thunderation
We are the Girl Guide
Association
When we work with
Determination
We create a big
(clap when you say big)
Sensation

The idea is that you start singing it in a small whisper and keep repeating it til you get louder and louder each time. Usually it ends up everyone singing at different times as some of your group sing it faster and faster as well as louder and louder. And ‘singing’ may be an optimistic description by the end too! (More screeching/screaming/yelling).

The horseshoe formation

Last Autumn, I shared how we were doing our Traditions of Guiding badge with the Guides. One of the things we did for this was go to visit the other Guide unit in our district to learn how to do the traditional Horseshoe formation. I did this at every meeting as Guide but couldn’t remember exactly how it was done to teach the girls. The girls have requested to do it since and it ends up being a bit of a mess (probably because I yell out the wrong commands!)

I found this really helpful video that has been made by a Guide leader who is (I think) based in Canada.

Chinese Raffle

I love when other leaders blog details on the activities they do in their meetings. It is SO HELPFUL! Kelloggsville was the first ‘Girlguiding’ blogs I found,  and one of the few Senior Section ones (most seem to be Brownie ones). She had posted about doing a ‘Chinese Raffle’ a month or two ago which is something I had never heard of. The girls hadn’t really planned much of this term – they were too preoccupied with exams in April, so aside from telling me they wanted to start a blog, hula hoop and yes they’d like a campfire…there have been gaps to be filled.

I posted Jenny the link and we set off for B&M stores to find some random things to wrap one Sunday afternoon before some of the Guide leaders met at her house for a potluck tea and then we quickly wrapped them before the other leaders arrived!

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Our plan was to keep the idea as a surprise fun activity for the last meeting of term, because the girls have been exhausted lately from exams and also they’ve come so far this last year in all sorts of ways. We ended up with only a handful of the girls coming – three were away, but also had a visitor in the form of a Leader in training who is about to set up a Senior Section unit in another Division. Myself, Jenny and our Adult Leader in Training at Guides (also a member of Senior Section) had met her at First Response training back in April.

Our first 45 minutes of the meeting was spent being inundated with folders, record books and apologetically explaining the Leadership Qualification fiasco. We also had the leftovers from the Brownie Birthday tea party (we regularly end up being handed leftovers from Brownies, Guides and even Church elders meetings that meet just before or at the same time as us!) and popcorn to make. And I had laid out felt pens and a huge sheet of paper to get ideas from the girls about activities we can do next year as part of the Look Wider programme. Once we’d done that it was Chinese Raffle time!

The rules of Chinese Raffle are…no one knows what the gifts are. You sit in a circle and take turns rolling the dice. All the presents are put in the middle in a big pile. You can only have 3 wrapped gifts in your possession at any one time. Once you have unwrapped a gift you keep that gift and any remaining wrapped gifts in your possession go back in the centre pile and you stay out of the game until everyone else as unwrapped a gift as well. After everyone has wrapped one gift, everyone is back in play. You keep repeating this until you have no gifts left.

If you roll the dice and it lands on…

1 = put a gift back in the centre pile

2 = unwrap a gift you have in your possession

3 = steal an unwrapped gift from someone else

4 = pass one of your gifts to the right

5 = pass one of your gifts to the left

6 = take a gift from the centre pile

The girls had a laugh as sometimes they oohed at a gift someone unwrapped (like a cool journal or a nail art kit) and other times we were laughing (like a tin of Baked Beans or a Dolly the Princess washing up brush).

All in all, I think the girls enjoyed this activity (when the visiting Leader was asking them for suggestions about things she should do with her new group they said “things like this” and “popcorn*”).So it will likely be an activity we bring  back for a party or celebration in the future. I reckon it would also work well for Guides too. Especially as we’ve got our first member who has completed her Chief Guide Challenge! 🙂

*If you haven’t already worked out from previous posts about our Senior Section group, popcorn seems to have become an important factor of their meetings. When a couple of our girls visited a group of Guides to tell them about Senior Section and the Guides asked what Senior Section do, our girls replied “We eat popcorn”. It also seemed to be the main activity talked about to our newest member by two of our girls when they were encouraging her  to come along to our unit once she turned 14. If anyone from Girlguiding HQ or any parents are reading this, I promise you that we do more than just eat popcorn.

A Guide to Qualifications for Young Leaders

Well it’s been a tumultuous, frustrating and challenging week as a Senior Section leader as less than two weeks after going through the Young Leadership Qualification and giving packs to all the girls…Girlguiding changed the syllabus. At least a few Leaders in our area had not realised that there was a Young Leadership Qualification the girls could do when they were 14 and that it was not just ‘Module 1’ of the Adult Leadership Qualification (which seems to now be called simply ‘Leadership Qualification’).

So. I thought I’d share my knowledge after spending almost every evening this week undoing the work of the last 6 months-year, which was spent trying to get the correct information and correct packs to the girls who are Young Leaders. Plus I know there are other Leaders out there who are confused about what the girls can and can’t do.

All our girls who are under 18 have decided they want to do their Young Leadership Qualification before going on to do the Adult version.

Young Leadership Qualification

Girls can start their YOUNG Leadership Qualification when they are 14 if they are volunteering at a Rainbow, Brownie or Guide unit.

The new syllabus in a downloadable workbook format can be found if you click here.

The girls do not need a mentor who has done mentor training like they do for the adult version. Any leader can be their ‘supporter‘ (which is the equivalent of the mentor role). This can be one of their Senior Section leaders, one of the Leaders of the Unit they volunteer with or their Young Leader Adviser. I would probably recommend encouraging the girls to choose someone they get on well with and has done or is going through a leadership qualification so they can give them good advice and understand what is involved.

Also, if you are a Young Leader Adviser/Senior Section Leader/District Commissioner, I would recommend encouraging any unit leaders with Young Leaders volunteering to check out this document from Girlguiding which is really helpful.

I would also suggest encouraging the girls to keep evidence of what they’ve done  – especially if they are showing signs of wanting to continue onto the Leadership Qualification. This way they have already put the evidence keeping skills into practice, and I imagine it would be easy to use some of their YLQ stuff to count towards their Leadership Qualification where applicable. But that’s just my own opinion!

Leadership Qualification

Girls can start working on their (adult) Leadership Qualification from the age of 16.

Elements of their Young Leadership Qualification can count towards their (adult) Leadership Qualification as long as there has not been too long a gap between finishing their YLQ to starting their adult one. Much of the Young Leadership Qualification has the same principle elements as Module 1 and bits of Module 2 of the (adult) Leadership Qualification.

They will need to speak to their District Commissioner to get their Disclosure/PVG check done, their leadership qualification booklet and a mentor.

They will not be awarded the qualification until they are 18. Once they are 18 they can wear the ‘Adult Member’ uniform if they wish and become an Assistant or Unit Leader.

You can find some more information on the Senior Section website here.

**Please also note that the girls can use what they do as part of both these qualifications towards the Leadership Octant of the Look Wider programme**

I’m hoping this will be helpful to other Leaders around the UK (especially those who are in the position that Jenny and I were in when we first began Senior Section in an area where no one really knew what Senior Section did and we were fairly new volunteers). Good luck, and if you have anything helpful to add, please leave a comment! 🙂

My Look Wider badge box…

Ok. I just caught wind that Girlguiding are doing a consultation about the Senior Section programme. I’m not a happy camper, but we JUST got into our groove with the current one and it seems to be working quite well!  And I’d like to insert a rant right here about the fact that none of their focus groups are in Wales or Scotland Hello? Are the Welsh and Scottish Girlguiding members not part of this organisation too? Not cool Girlguiding, not cool.

ANYWAY, back to being in our groove…a good number of our girls have been trying out activities inside and outside of meetings and are beginning to complete octants. Some are pretty darned close to finishing their Chief Guide too. So while I was with a friend in Ikea, I kept a lookout for the tubs I’ve used for birthday candles as I thought they’d be good for keeping badges in – better than the paper bags I currently have that easily get lost in the bags filled with Senior Section stuff!

I found the tubs eventually (a tip off from a friend sitting in the café feeding her baby who said there was a ‘Children’s bit’ just next to the cafe that looked like it might have the things I was looking for) but ended up finding something much better!

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This tub called ‘Glis’ (I think) is advertised as being a great pencil box, but comes with these plastic dividers you can add in. A maximum of six which makes for 9 ‘sections’ of the box. PERFECT for Look Wider with its eight octant badges. And then I have a ninth one for the promise badges.

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I also got a small plastic storage box to keep the certificates, Look Wider Record books and the Young Leadership Qualification packs in. I also got a big roll of drawing paper for £3 which I hope we can use to help with term planning after one of the leaders on the Senior Section Leaders facebook group said they used a white board or flip chart to help write dates for term. We don’t have a white board, but figure that this paper roll could be mounted on wall or table with blu tac during planning meeting so everyone can see the ideas and dates easily.