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!