Look Wider: Some ideas for you…!

I love the Look Wider programme, for the fact that it gives so much scope for members of the Senior Section to learn within the realms of their interests and let them be wide and varying. The downside of this is that our UK education system is so spoon-fed and limiting that young people often don’t know where to begin with so much choice. In school they are often taught how to think, what to think and the way they are to articulate what they’ve been told. Information goes in, information is to be spurted out.

Through Girlguiding they get to learn in a informal way. Yes there are structures, but we actively encourage respect for differing opinions and beliefs! We actively encourage getting along with people different from yourself. And we actively encourage making your own choices.

We now have a wee routine that we do every January and August (ish) where I get out the big roll of ikea paper, spread it over the table (or a picnic blanket!) and make eight clouds. In that the girls add ideas for things they could do for each octant during the year. Some things they organise, some things myself and the Assistant Leaders will organise (particularly if it requires permission forms, an outside organisation and so on). This then helps us plan the term programmes at the start of each term which we do with the girls. Sometimes there are things that we can’t do that term. For example, one of my groups wants to do a sleep out organised by a local charity. This was suggested a few weeks ago, but the event doesn’t run until March. We will still put it on the sheet, and I keep this so we can dig it out at the next term planning meeting with the girls to remind ourselves of ideas we had but perhaps didn’t get round to doing.


In addition to this, we have the ideas box. Inside there are small pieces of scrap paper and a couple of pens so they can write ideas anonymously (if they want to – we have some quieter members that struggle to speak up in the group). These will again be brought out at our term planning! I put the ideas box in the kitchen while they are making up juice and popcorn.

Using Decopage to design our ideas box

Using Decopage to design our ideas box

I know when we first began it was great to go online and see what other units had done to give us some ideas. I’ve noticed on facebook some girls asking for ideas for their Look Wider planning and I know some of our girls have found blogs of Senior Section members sharing what they are doing for Look Wider really helpful.

Here are some of the things our units have done over the last few years either together as a group on in their own time to complete different octants…

Community Action
Visit from volunteer from Local Foodbank
Collected donations for local foodbank
Taken part in the Remembrance Sunday War Memorial Service
Volunteering in a charity shop
Raised money for the local youth centre doing Color Me Rad 5k
Helped a new member run a bake sale for Scottish Love in Action
Done a community walk and created a map of area using photos
Took part in the Community Fair

Painted Glass Jars to be filled with sweets and sold at a bake sale
Kept a scrapbook of all the activities we’ve done as a unit
Manicure Night
Made invitations for Brownies to invite friends to an Easter Party
Had a Hallowe’en Party
Taking part in County Performing Arts Shows (e.g. Gang Show)
Going to dance classes
Created a blog

Fit For Life
Hula Hooping Class
Tried out a Pilates DVD
Hawaiian Smoothie Night
Took part in the Colour Run 5k
Regularly walk dog
Archery Team
Badminton Team
Dance Classes
Tae Kwon Do classes
Couch to 5k
Healthy Snack/Spa night

Independent Living
Charity Shop Challenge – finding an outfit for under Ā£10 and doing fashion show for Guides
Learning money management by making Give/Spend/Save jars
Make your own pizza night
Attended University Open Days
Created their CV and applied for jobs
Made dinner for their family for a week
Made cakes to bring to Senior Section for people’s birthdays
Organised passports, budget for a holiday
Organised a swishing/swap shop night for clothes & books

Gone on international trips with school or other organisations
World Thinking Day Activities
Written letters to a Ranger Unit in Australia
International Food Night
Backpacked around Europe by train
Learned a second language

Attended First Aid training
Have run the unit for a night
Have organised a party for the local Brownie Unit
Organised a party to celebrate the leaders getting their Qualifications
Done their Young Leadership Qualifications
Invited the Young Leaders Advisor to a meeting to find out more about qualifications
Invited the Queens Guide Advisor to a meeting to find out about Queen’s Guide
Have helped lead a campfire with local Guide Units
Helped facilitate Free Being Me for local Guide unit

Out of Doors
Lit Sparklers for Guy Fawkes Night
Went for a walk up a hill locally
Crossed the causeway to Cramond Island and toasted marshmallows on the rocks
Annual end of year campfires
Taken part in national and international camps
Made their promise as members of Senior Section
Gone rock climbing and abseiling
Visited the local outdoor Christmas Market

Personal Values
Learned about Diwali and celebrated it
Made collages for International Women’s Day
Read autobiographies of people who inspire us
Learned about the Love Fashion, Hate Sweatshops campaign
Taken part in the Girlguiding Promise Consultation
Taught at the local Sunday School
Attended local place of worship regularly
Gone to Auschwitz, and taught younger teens about what they learned there
Made a Promise Tree
Celebrated Pancake Day


Happy 3rd birthday to our Senior Section!


Yes, this past week, our unit turned 3 years old. We are officially old enough to get a free nursery place now. šŸ˜‰

Lying on my bed after work, I was scrolling through photos of the antics of our unit over the last three years. Although it seemsĀ ‘just like it was yesterday’, at the same time it feels so long ago since our first meeting. Our third founding member started university this week. Number four is now attending open days as she begins the process of applying to university and is raising funds for the gap year she’ll be spending teaching science in Guyana. Two more girls have completed their Chief Guide Challenge this summer, and several are close to finishing their Young Leadership Qualifications and (adult) Leadership Qualifications.

Our teeny splinter group is starting to get it’s foundations now, they have decided that they want to learn First Aid skills so we have a guy coming in who does First Aid and courses in uses Defibrillators for the Scottish Ambulance Service for their next three meetings. After that they are hoping to learn how to knit – so I’m calling in some local experts for that one too.

Our big ‘original’ group is mostly 15 year olds (or about to be 15 year olds) and they have a few things planned – to run a Hallowe’en Party for the local Brownie unit, planning some kind of hunt/trail in teams to do at one of our meeting nights. They’ve also got a few different ideas of things they’d like to do – it’s a matter of where/when we will do them. Going to Ikea is one of them. Making jewellery is another.

Outside of the unit, I’m starting to see that Guides are beginning to take an interest in what comes after. They have watched one of our girls transition from a Guide to an already very capable Young Leader.Ā One of our 11 year old Guides came up to me at our last meeting and asked me what you had to do to be a leader, and a Young Leader. Several of our Guides are now wanting to be Rainbow and Brownie Helpers and already looking ahead to what they might do once they move on from Guides. It definitely makes a difference when they are getting to see and observe other sections of Girlguiding and aren’t just in their own unit bubble.

The last three years have been worth the hard work, and I hope years from now there’ll be some fun Senior Section reunions…


And we are back…!

We are officially into term now, and for whatever reason it has felt like more a struggle this year. I don’t know if it’s because I usually take a week long ‘Staycation’ in August and instead I was working longer hours than usual. I don’t know if perhaps it’s because I’m in need of an actual vacation away from Edinburgh and haven’t been outside of the central beltĀ since May last year.

Either way…it’s been hard.

Accounts still need to be audited. At Guides, two girls moved on leaving seven remaining and we have seven new Brownies plus a young girl who has joined from another unit. We also have a new Young Leader. It’s lovely to have a fuller unit again, but wow I’d forgotten how noisy it can get. We have a couple of girls who reminded us of the need for risk assessments too and why we all get trained in First Aid, I know they are going to create frustration in their patrols, and this did happen. However I was super impressed with how our older Guides really stepped up. One Guide who has never really been interested or shown signs of wanting to be in a position of leadership who very calmly encouraged some hyper newbies to settle down and get on with the task at hand. Another Guide who had a difficult pair causing trouble who persevered – I think she is going to find being a Patrol Leader a challenge, but I hope that by the end of term she comes out feeling that her efforts are rewarded and her leadership skills developed that little bit more. I had concerns that our Young Leader would not be interested in helping much…and she was on her first evening proactive in seeing a problem arise before it became a disaster, helping girls with tasks and has already offered to take charge of working out an activity for the Challenge Pack the unit has decided they are doing for the first half of this term! I couldn’t be more proud of how our Guides are transitioning through to Senior Section.

At Senior Section one of the girls has moved on to university. We have two new girls bringing a new dynamic. We’ve always had a mix of ages spread pretty evenly. Now we have 9 girls who are all 14/15 (seven of whom are friends from school), one almost 18 year old and two 19 year olds. It’s a new challenge and currently trying to navigate that. However the girls are all seeming really keen, and last week came early so they could decorate our meeting space with balloons and heart shaped post-its as our Assistant Leader had gotten engaged over the summer holidays. We even had one of our original Senior Section members come back for the evening to share in the celebration!

The second group of Senior Section I had to say that I could no longer meet on the night we had been meeting as it clashed with Guides – and the volunteer we had been promised fell through about a week into the new Senior Section group starting. Two terms of trying to find cover for myself at either Guides or Senior Section was just not fair on either unit. Plus a lot of the Senior Section girls weren’t turning up a lot of the time and not bothering to say so – a lot of money was wasted. One night I rushed from my university placement on the bus with no time to get any dinner for only one of the girls to show up. However there was a core few who said “we really want a senior section” – we discussed the best night to meet up, and managed to get a meeting space AND a new volunteer who is interested in training to be a leader….for ONE girl to show up. Again, this happened on a night where I’d really struggled to get there, missing dinner as a result so it was really disheartening.

A lovely thing happened last week when Guiding magazine came out – we discovered from a local leader (who got her copy a day before a lot of us did) that our Senior Section had a very large photo in the Autumn issue! Some of them have seen it, others don’t get the magazine so I’m looking forward to showing them next week. It’s been lovely to have the chance to share about our units, as over the summer I was asked to write about our Guides’ Free Being Me project for the Girlguiding blog, and literally about a week later I had been asked about Senior Section unit for an article they wanted to write around the ‘Girls Can’ theme.

So yes, I’m feeling overwhelmed right now. Life has been tough going this year not just for me, but my fellow leaders too…it’s not always easy to keep working in your voluntary job as a Girlguiding Leader. But then as I’m writing this looking back at the week and reflecting on how amazing our girls are doing even with some changes – realising they are doing so well in the face of new challenges makes me realise that I really shouldn’t be worrying! They are awesome and growing in confidence, and branching out.

My goal this year is the same: to encourage the girls in my units to take advantage of the opportunities they are offered through Girlguiding, to have fun and to feel like they’ve achieved and accomplished something, learning skills they’ll be able to take through life with them to make the world a better place for themselves and others.

A little bit of a stream of consciousness blog post today, but I think one that even if it doesn’t help you…it’s been helpful to me to write to process my thoughts!

Getting to Know You Games

Hi Everyone,

It’s been a while since I posted. The cafe I work in gets crazy busy during the Edinburgh Festivals so August was manic, and I haven’t had the same amount of time to deliver accounts to Division Commissioners and organise planning meetings as I usually do! Now that things this week are getting back to normal I thought I’d share some ‘Getting to Know You’ ideas that I’ve used in various settings for both training adults and working with young people.

Getting to Know You Bingo

You will need: Prepared ‘Bingo Grids’ for everyone in the meeting (go to my blog post for more details)

I’ve used this at Senior Section this week, as we have a new volunteer and two new starts. This worked really well. The idea is that each person (including leaders) are given a grid with different facts about a person. For example ‘Someone who has an older brother’ or ‘Someone who goes to a different school from you’.Ā Ā The idea is that you have to mingle with people in the room to find people to match each one. You can only use each person in the room’s name once (although if you have more spaces on the grid than people show up to your meeting, I say that if you’ve used up everyone in the room on your list, you can use a person no more than twice!). You can at the end gather in a circle to discuss what they found out about each other as a result.

Catch the Name

You will need: A spongey ball

Everyone stands in a circle. Go around the room and introduce yourselves. After that you say a name then throw the ball to that person. Continue until everyone has had a turn at catching the ball.

Name Association Game

You will need: NOTHING!

Everyone sits down in a circle. A person starts by saying their name and something that she likes. For example “My name is Laurie and I like chocolate cake”. The next person will go “My name is Jo and I like running. This is Laurie and she likes chocolate cake”. The person after that will say “My name is Lindsay and I like to dance, This is Jo and she likes running. This is Laurie and she likes chocolate cake” and so on until some poor person (hopefully a leader) is last repeating all the names and likes of everyone in the circle! Actually going last is easy because you’ve heard it all so many times. šŸ™‚


You will need: A pack of playing cards

You will need an even number of people to participate in this game. Take out your cards and put them into pairs. Only have enough cards for everyone in the room participating. Shuffle the cards and hand them out. Each person has to find the person with the card that matches their own (ie Queen of Clubs and Queen of Spades, 3 of Hearts and 3 of Diamonds). Once everyone in the room is in a pair, shout out something that they should share with each other. It could ‘Your favourite Guiding memory’, “your favourite subject at school and why”, “your goal for what you’d like to do at Guides this year” etc.

Toilet Roll Game

You will need: A toilet roll

Everyone sits in a circle and passes around a roll of toilet paper. They are told they can take as much or as little toilet paper as they like. Once everyone has done that, they should pass their sheets of toilet roll to the person beside them. After that, for every sheet of toilet roll they share a fact about themselves.

Two truths and a lie

You will need: Pens and paper

Everyone is given a pen and piece of paper, and some time to think of three facts about themselves. Two will be true, one will be a lie.

You can either do it so that everyone shares in a large group one at time their three facts and the group has to guess. Or you can ask them to pair up with someone they don’t know very well and share their facts with each other. Then in a large group the other person tells the group which fact they think is the lie. The latter way works betterĀ if you have a group of people that includes friends that know each other very well.

Spiders Web

You will need: A ball of wool

Everyone sits in a circle, and person with the ball of wool shares their name and a fact about themselves before unravelling some wool and throwing it to another person in the circle. Eventually you should have a tangled web where everyone in the circle is connected by the web of wool.

Are there any good ‘getting to know you’ games that you’ve used in the past that I’ve not shared about? Please do in the comments – I’m always looking for new ones!