An update: I did write to Girlguiding UK, and I believe some of my members may have done as well. I most certainly encouraged them to tell Girlguiding how they felt, and not just me. A lot of leaders did the same, after facing and dealing with the upset reaction their unit members had about what has gone on. I believe everyone has had the same e-mail or letter back from Girlguiding UK saying that they are taking more time to consider the decisions – particularly in regards to the name change. This is hopefully good news and has given some comfort to the girls who to be honest are now increasingly consumed with studying (or worrying that they aren’t studying enough) for their exams. I’m glad Girlguiding have made the decision, and hope this means they’ll spend more time really listening to the existing members of Senior Section about what they want it to be like in the future.
Happy Thinking Day Eve.
Last night I was getting stuff together for our Guides’ Thinking Day celebration, a party for one of our ‘graduated’ Guides (now a member of my Ranger style group) who had achieved her Baden-Powell at Christmas time, and the enrolment of 5 new Guides.
Then my phone blew up as one of the Rangers posted “Did anyone get a email about voting on the new name for Senior Section”. Cue rage from
1. The Girls that HAD NOT received the e-mail.
2. Me, the leader who HAD NOT received any message from Girlguiding UK that this survey was being done, or that an invitation for members to consult to suggest names had occurred, or that such an e-mail would be going out to members of my group so I could support them and encourage them to have their say.
3. All the girls when they found out what the choices were, and that there was no option to say “we hate them all” (which they seem to do).
I tried my best to message the girls (some of which were coming down to help with the Baden Powell party) and encourage them to speak their mind. But I was so angry that a night that should have been focused on some of the most important milestones and events for those in the middle of their Guiding journey had been marred by some poorly chosen decisions made by somebody at HQ. This is NOT Girls in the lead. This is NOT empowering young women. And it is very disrespectful to the 100s of volunteers who support Senior Section ranger style groups like myself. We are all exhausted. It’s the hardest section to run by far (ok, I’ve never done Rainbows, but it’s most certainly tougher than Brownies or Guides). I know I’m not the only leader who wants to tell Girlguiding they resign from volunteering.
There was also a survey put out during half term about uniform (again, none of my unit want the uniform to change, and they certainly don’t want Guides deciding what it should be) and it’s already closed down before I even got a chance to inform our girls about it.
Needless to say, I’m going to be writing some emails to Girlguiding HQ today. The survey has clearly not been designed by someone from a Community Learning and Development background. And who ever decided half term and the week of World Thinking Day was a good idea to put it out there clearly hasn’t spent a lot of time doing grassroots work with Girlguiding.
How do I explain to the girls that this is not OK? How do I encourage them not to just get up and leave Guiding for the Scouts?
Meanwhile here is the survey. Maybe this one will stay up for more than 48 hours.
An exhausted, disheartened and disappointed Ranger leader.