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 belt 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!

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