On Thursday evening I smiled as across on the other checkout a woman in Girlguiding uniform was rushing to get some shopping done. I know how that goes, and have several times been caught by friends in the supermarket running to buy popcorn or craft paper or glue sticks in my own Girlguiding uniform.
I bumped into her in the car park, smiled at her and said ‘It’s nice to see another Brownie Guider’ and she laughed. We got talking, and it turned out she is the Division Commissioner of the division I was part of as a Guide and Young Leader – where I began my warrant training. She also gave me news that uplifted my heart.
You see soon after this picture was taken, my friend and I decided to continue as leaders with the Brownie Pack we were doing our service flash with. I won’t go into details here but an upsetting incident led to the Brownie unit closing down. It was terrible. We had a great pack of Brownies, and the leader had been struggling due to a lack of adult volunteers. The incident (though it got quickly resolved) was the last straw. That was over a decade ago.
Apparently in December, the unit reopened. They have 18 brownies now attending every week. 🙂
It’s lovely that volunteers are being celebrated this week. But the truth is I LOVE volunteering. Volunteering with Girlguiding has been hard work at times, but oh how I love it.
In recent months, work has been tough, university has been tough…but Girlguiding has kept me going. Our Guide unit has more Guides than the one I was part of as a teenager ever had. Our seven Senior Section girls attend so faithfully and I’m so proud of all they’ve done to establish our unit which we established with no start-up fund, a teeny room to meet in and no clue about what Senior Section do!
I joined Girlguiding as a Rainbow in 1990. I loved it, and was thrilled to become a Brownie, thrilled when I became seconder of the Pixies, and proud to be their sixer soon after that. I anxiously awaited the graduation to Guides, enjoyed camping and when we knew I’d be moving house I was excited to discover our next door neighbour was a Guider who invited me to join her unit so I could meet girls I would be going to high school with. Two of the girls I met that first week in the new unit I’m still in contact with today.
It was that Guider who encouraged me into the performing arts opportunities in Girlguiding and brought the other Guides to performances to come and cheer me on. I learned all sort of skills from how to do my laundry (an important skill for university) to British Sign Language to First Aid to how to make the best treats on a campfire!
It was going on a national camp that introduced me to Rangers, and I’ll forever be grateful to our Ranger leader who took us on Scout camps down in England and kept a place for me to go to London with the unit even though by that time I was away in Aberdeen at university. The door was always open to join them for meetings any time I was home.
I want to thank those amazing volunteers – each one of the them such different women – who gave me a variety of role models and showed me that there was no ‘one type of woman’ that I could grow up to be. It is because of them that I am a Girlguiding leader.
And then there are our AWESOME Guides and Senior Section. Sure, sometimes they test my patience (mainly the Guides!) but when I think back of my last (almost) 3 years in Guiding I just think of the laughs. We invited the CEO of Girlguiding and made cakes out of shaving foam and played an invented game of pin the cherry on the cupcake. They’ve reenacted their own version of High School Musical. They have made dresses and head gear from binbags and newspapers. They have drawn around each other to learn about where the organs are. They have raised money for international causes. They have got us climbing scarily high walls and abseiling past parents. They have had me meeting church ministry teams while dressed in my pyjamas.
They’ve challenged me and I’ve learned a ton from them.
Like who The Wanted are. And I need never watch Hollyoaks because I get a running commentary of everything that’s happened in ?Chester? every two weeks from one of the Young Leaders. And how my trainers are actually called ‘blazers’ and they are the coolest shoes I could possibly own (apparently).
Plus I’ve made some incredible friends. Jo, Jenny, Ashleigh – I’ve loved leading with you three and hope we’ll be guiding till we’re the oldies no one wants to retire. 😉
So let me raise an imaginary glass to the volunteers past and present in gratitude….and to our Rainbows, Brownies, Guides, Rangers and Young Leaders. I only hope that I can be the positive role model for you that my Guiders were for me. And that as you grow older you’ll look back fondly on your Girlguiding days and be Adult leaders yourselves.