Active Kids 2015 begins tomorrow

The Sainsbury’s Active Kids scheme begins for 2015 TOMORROW.

Amazingly, for the first time EVER we’ve been sent a pack of stuff – an actual catalogue (no having to go through the website to write my list to give to the girls and trying to describe items to them…!), posters and even a box to assemble to collect vouchers in. I think we even have an envelope to send off our vouchers in!!!! I don’t know if everyone got one, or if it’s because for the last two years we didn’t get anything and had so many issues with putting in our order because we never received our ‘pack’ that this year they pre-empted my annual Active Kids vouchers tweets and e-mails to them.

Anyway, as I’ve not been in the supermarket for the last week, I’m glad they did as I didn’t realise it was starting this month.

If your group isn’t registered, you can sign up to Active Kids on their website. It IS worth doing (I think…even though the ordering part has caused me to wonder if it’s not worth the hassle each year).


Rangers that multiply

I’ve always been an advocate of making sure that Senior Section are SEEN by the younger sections. So many Guides leave Girlguiding altogether because they aren’t aware that Senior Section exists and you don’t have to be a Young Leader to be a part of it.

It’s a constant battle.

However, thanks to some lovely Guiders inviting us to come meet their older Guides, and the fact that I try and find opportunities for joint events with Guides and Senior Section (like trips to the Gang Show, Remembrance Sunday, Campfires) several Guide units now are having girls naturally move on up. It’s fantastic. In two years we doubled our group membership from five to ten girls.

Last term, I was aware of some girls in the area turning 14, including four from my own Guide unit that I help with. We got them working on the ‘Be The Change’ Go For It and looking at the Move On Up resource to get them prepared for moving on from Guides and working out if they wanted to be part of Senior Section and how they wanted to be a part of Senior Section (ie be a Young Leader, or be a Ranger or do both). It was clear there was a need for a second group as the girls were hearing more about our Senior Section unit through friends and several girls who wanted to be part of it couldn’t come on the day we meet.

So we found a location at another church hall on the appropriate evening that the girls could make. At first the other Guide leaders in the area weren’t giving me any info or speaking to their girls to get confirmation if they definitely wanted to go ahead. Our Division Commissioner didn’t want me to start a new unit, which I understand – the concern was that the group would flop and that’s a whole lot of paperwork and faffing to open then shut down a unit. So we are running two units under one unit (if that makes sense).

Before the Christmas Holidays it looked like I may have about seven or eight newbies. Then it seemed like it might only be three when we came back after Christmas.

Cue last week….when I discovered that my unit was going from 10 girls to 21 girls.

I was excited and then I had a brief moment of FREAKING OUT.

The Challenges to this are:

  • Go only lets you have one meeting time/place per unit – so people can’t find out about the second group through Join Us.
  • Because we are officially not a ‘new unit’, there is no start up fund.
  • We have eleven new girls that we will likely have to pay census for – with only some subs (as some of them had already paid Guides before deciding to move up) and no start up fund. AHHHH!
  • I don’t have a car. So moving resources between the two units isn’t really feasible. So I do need to get a second set of basic resources to keep in our second location. And we have no start up fund.
  • It is annoying that I can’t run reports for just one of the groups that are part of the official unit.

The flexible points:

  • Both groups meet fortnightly and I have them on alternate weeks. This means that it’s less stress for me, and I can still give cover to the Guide unit I’m actively involved with, which now clashes with our second group.
  • There is now a Senior Section unit that meets on the same night as several Guide units in the area so the progression is hopefully easier for girls who want to stay in Guiding.
  • Both groups meet in church halls at the same time as Guide units that have several adult leaders. So if worse comes to worse (ie I got really sick or something) the girls could still meet and know that there are qualified leaders in the building that can check on them and they can go to for advice/assistance during their meeting if needed.
  • I’m hoping that other leaders in the area may be able to be occasional unit helpers with the second group so I’m not abandoning the Guides completely!
  • The new group have been able to see what the girls in the first group have done until this point. We are sharing funding from Young Scot at the moment to do the Money for Life challenge (more on that soon!). It also means that the new group can do things that the first group have done before without older members feeling bored.
  • Only one set of accounts to do still – hurrah!

It’s all another experiment, learning from trial and error really. I will of course keep you posted on how it’s going. It’s been really nice to see how enthusiastic the girls are about staying in Guiding, and I wish all the Guiders that have told me that ‘there’s just no interest for Senior Section anymore’ could come and see…THERE IS!

Thank you event



A belated Happy New Year to you all!

Well, 2015 got off to an interesting start. There was a lot of sadness to begin the year with as two good friends and colleagues of mine faced bereavements. I finished my Christmas contracts and had to start a very dehumanising process with the Department of Work and Pensions. I had my final module to finish for university before I had a few weeks break until beginning my practice placement. So by 9th January I was going a little bit nutty with emotion, stress and upset.

Girlguiding Edinburgh had organised a huge event to thank all the Edinburgh volunteers at Murrayfield Stadium on that night. I was feeling sick with a nasty headache, had an essay that was far from finished due on the Monday, a funeral to go to the next morning…but Jo managed to get me out my house and to the stadium despite the rush to get there on time. Thankfully some of our friends from another Guide unit got there before us and saved us seats at their table (Thanks ladies! You rock!). In fact, we had a great time even if we were slightly rebellious and didn’t go to activities because it was just nice to spend some time socialising with each other, dressed up a little bit more than usual. (Certainly more dressed up than we are for Guide meetings in our jeans and Girlguiding hoodies!)

The night ended with an inspiring talk by mountaineer, Jamie Andrew, whose daughters are part of Girlguiding in Edinburgh.

It was a lovely way to begin a year of Girlguiding.

Especially as this coming term is going to be a busy one…

A year of Rangers in pictures: 2014

I’m not sure what the girls will want to do in 2015, but this what they got up to in 2014…not including a trip to Gang Show, looking at the Love Fashion, Hate Sweatshops campaign and writing letters to an Australian Ranger group.

A year of Guides in pictures: 2014

So as 2015 begins and we will be meeting as leaders on Monday before school starts back, here’s our year of Guides in pictures!

Skating Guides

At the beginning of the year when we asked the Guides what they would like to do this year, one thing on the wishlist that never went away was ice skating. The problem was the local ice rink wasn’t open to the public on the night the girls meet, and when I contacted them they said there was no possibility of opening on another evening. As the only evening all the girls were free on was the one we meet on, we ended up going bowling instead.

Then we had a brainwave. Every year there’s an ice rink at the Edinburgh Christmas Market. Yes, it’s about double the price of going to the local ice rink…but this year we discovered we could get discounts as Edinburgh residents for the leaders and all the Guides. And so we asked the girls…do you want to do this? There was a resounding yes.

It was 1 degree above freezing the night we went. We met the girls and got the bus into town, and then got our skates on…


One of the parents ended up coming along, and as all three leaders were on the ice (children who are 10 and under have to be accompanied) she very kindly took hold of my phone and took pictures of us on the ice. There was an ice disco – with some lights and music too, which the girls loved. Going over to check someone was ok, this parent insisted that she needed to get a picture of myself and Jo (our unit leader).


I want to give massive props to Jo. Jo has been leading our unit for ten years now, and the last time she had taken the unit ice skating a Guide fell and broke her arm. It wasn’t because of anything bad, just an accident. That was about seven years ago, and the leaders have never taken the unit to an ice rink since! So when the girls started telling us they reeaaallllyyyy wanted to go ice skating, Jo was understandably nervous that history might repeat itself (no one wants to make that call to a parent saying ‘hi…we’re having to take your daughter for an x-ray’). Add the outdoor factor and the discovery that our two youngest and newest Guides had never skated before….and that anxiety gets a little higher!

We fought the fear, we had the knowledge that all 3 of us leaders that were going are trained in First Aid, plus there are staff at the Christmas Market also trained in First Aid, we have a (most of the time) sensible bunch of girls (also trained in First Aid) so if something did happen we could handle it, and it was highly unlikely anyway. Most likely the odd soggy patch and a bruise would be the only likely injuries from falling, plus we’d given plenty of instruction to the Guides on dressing appropriately for the activity.



There were several falls – but what I loved most is that the two girls who had never skated had courage to not just hold onto the edges but really give skating a go! One of our oldest Guides was especially great at helping the two youngest ones get the hang of it and holding their hands to keep them steady. The Christmas Market rink staff were also great, and any time there was a fall, they were over to check everyone was ok (or help us help them back on their blades – there were a lot of Bambi on ice moments with legs going everywhere) and when they realised two of the girls hadn’t done it before they gave individual support and tips on skating.


All in all, the girls had a brilliant night, and Jo received multiple messages from parents in the days after telling her how much their daughters had come home talking about how much they had enjoyed themselves and thanking all of us for taking them. ‘Now we’re going to have to take her skating‘ said one parent. 🙂

I think it’s going to remain one of my favourite Girlguiding memories for a long time to come. 🙂