Promise Activities

I mentioned at the beginning of the year that we had a bunch of new Guides still to make their promise. I’m a strong believer that before making the promise the girls should spend time focusing on what the Promise means and looking at the Guide laws before they decide whether or not they want to make their promise.

I’ve been sort of in charge of Pre-Promise activities for a while now at Guides, and have a few standard things that we do with the Girls to help them understand Girlguiding as an organisation, a little bit of history, and to get them thinking about the Promise and Law – how can they individually and collectively live it out in their daily lives if they choose to make it. I’m now encouraging our Young Leaders to find and create new ideas for things we can do to help our Guides consider what the Promise is about, and what is means to live by it! Many of these activities I have got from old issues of Guiding magazine, or from the Girlguiding UK Member’s Area before it changed up with the new website.

Promise Keepers – (from old edition of Guiding Magazine)

Each Guide takes a piece of paper, pen and envelope. We discuss in a group what keeping a promise means to them – is it something that they make and then forget about, or something you take seriously and make sure you keep it? On the piece of paper they write a promise to another person that they will keep that week. They can decorate the paper if they like. The girls fold up the paper with their promise written on and put it in the envelope, but do not seal it (just in case they need to check what promise they made). The following week you ask the Guides to reveal their promises and talk about whether they have kept it.

*It is also worth discussing the circumstances when you shouldn’t make/keep a promise*

The Guide Law and You

This is a really simple exercise where I get the Guides to think of two examples of how they can keep each of the 6 parts of the Guide law in their daily lives. Occasionally if they take a whole hour on an activity that apparently should take 20 minutes, I’ll get them to take this home and then we share and discuss our answers the following week.

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Sometimes I will also give them cut out strips of the Guide laws, and ask them to prioritise them in order of importance. We then discuss in a group what order of priority Guide has chosen and why she thinks that one is more/less important than the others.

Love our community

The idea behind this is to look at the section of the promise which says we will “Serve the Queen and our community” and “help other people”. While the Guides are playing a wide game at the beginning of our meeting, the leaders not overseeing the game hide post it notes around the hall that spell out a message like “Love Edinburgh” or “Make our city better” – something that is a message about caring about where we live. The girls find all the letters, and then work out what the message is. Then I get them individually or in pairs or groups to come up with ideas on how they can do that making an acrostic with the message. So it ends up being something like*

L – Litter picking

O – Organise a fundraising event

V – Visit old people

E – (Be) Eco Friendly

O – Operate a no put-down zone

U – Upcycle our old clothes

R – Recycle and reduce our waste

C – Cooking for people

I – Include others

T – Teach skills we know to others

Y – You before I

*most of these are real examples of ideas the Guides came up with! Others include: shop Fairtrade, be Positive, Smile at people, be Nice to new people, Look after new Guides, Encourage others to be their best, Cheer on our fellow Guides…I’m sure there’s loads more your Guides and Senior Section could come up with!

Peace Envoy (from Guide Promise Activities)

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In this exercise, the Guides are told they are politicians in leadership of the world. They have to come up with a 5 point manifesto of rules they’d like to bring in to help create and sustain world peace. Girlguiding UK will tell you this takes 15 minutes. What you may have to do is spend 10 minutes explaining what a politician is, and how they become the ones who represent us in the world making laws and policies that affect so many people. And then another 10 minutes of heads in hands, chewing the ends of pencils thinking and saying “this is hard”. You will refrain from making any suggestions because you want their ideas to be well…their own ideas. Before you go away, and they’ve come up with something like this 15 minutes later…

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(As a follow up, you might suggest the girls send their manifestos to their MP/MSPs)

Your Place in Guiding

I found this great template from Activity Village. Many of our Guides will not understand the hierarchy of the organisation – districts, divisions, counties etc. This just helps them understand it, and for them to know what unit they are in. I simply get them to fill in each circle, they can write it, draw pictures in each circle. They cut out the circles and we usually staple them together.

Breaking Barriers (also from Guide Promise Activities)

Give each girl a cube template  and some colouring pencils. They can  write negative words or stereotypes on their template – for example, ‘young people don’t make good leaders’ or ‘girls aren’t good at sport’.Each girl can then fold her template into a cube shape, using sticky tape or glue to secure it.  The girls should then build a wall with their cubes, to reflect the barriers that negative stereotypes can create around us.When the wall is built, the Guides can tear it down however they like! Talk with the Guides about how it felt to see their wall of negativity and how it felt to tear it down.

Beliefs and Values

This is actually an activity I used to use when running workshops in PSE and RMPS classes in some of my previous youth work jobs. I put a sign that says AGREE on one side of the room, and a sign that says DISAGREE on the other. I will then read out statements and the girls can choose to stand wherever they like between the two signs – they might stand right next to it, or somewhere in the middle depending on how much they do or do not agree with the statement I have read out. It can be as serious as “No one should be allowed to own a gun“, “There is a God“, “It is okay to steal if the person you’re stealing from is rich” to something more lighthearted like “Only Leaders should be allowed to eat chocolate at meetings” or “There should be an International Day of Dressing Up Like A Minion“. I then will ask a few girls who have stood in different places to explain their reasoning. It is important to make sure the Guides don’t feel judged for their opinions, and the idea is to get people listening and thinking about why they believe what they do. I will also tactfully stand closer to a girl if she seems to be the only one choosing to put herself in that spot just to show encouragement that it’s okay to have a different opinion on something.

 

These are obviously just a flavour of what you can do, and we’ve done many other activities over the years to look at individual beliefs, serving our community, being honest and trustworthy. If you have any activities to share that you do with your Guides, please do share !

 

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Leader skills: Risk Assessments

This will be the 4th year that our Guide unit has done a joint campfire with another Guide unit. I came from a very traditional Guide unit, and the Guide unit where I started my warrant training was run by the person in our county who basically ran all the bookings for the campsites. Sadly though, our super close, very handy, holds so many memories for me, Guide campsite had to close last year.

This meant finding a new venue for our annual end of year campfire. And that meant a new risk assessment.
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When organising any kind of trip, planning is key. And hopefully you’ll be able to do a site visit first. Which is what our Unit Leader and I did a few weeks ago. If you look closely in the photo, you’ll be able to see that when we arrived at this campsite it started SNOWING.

Ahh. Don’t you love Scotland in the springtime?!

The visit was important as if we hadn’t gone, we wouldn’t be going into our trip knowing certain things may be an issue. Our old campsite was easily accessible with cars being able to pass each other with ease. We did have a very rickety bridge to cross to the campfire site, needed to know where to collect water and had to bring all our own fire making materials. This campsite is accessed by a single track road, a very cramped and poorly designed car park (which will likely make 56 Guides & Young Leaders being dropped off a nightmare). The toilets are much nicer but quite a distance from the campfire site. We don’t have to bring our own materials and everything will be provided for us by the venue.

And this is where risk assessments come in. You look at the venue, what you will be doing and assess what potential problems will arise. Then you can come up with a plan on how you would deal with them if they DO arise. Hopefully it means that if they do happen – you will be able to stay calm in the knowledge that you have prepared for such an eventuality and do what is needed. Otherwise you might find yourself in a situation of panic.

At our campfire we’ll have a proper site which makes fire safety very manageable. We’ll have water and sand if the fire needs to be put out. We will have leaders in hi-vis jackets monitoring traffic coming in/out of the campsite. We  have several people trained in first aid in case someone trips up while playing rounders or burns their fingers on a marshmallow. The girls have all been instructed to make sure they have their hair tied back to keep it safe from flames while toasting marshmallows. We have food that girls can eat because we know what their dietary requirements are. We have asked parents and leaders to car share as much as possible to ease the flow of traffic at pick up and drop off. We will have a home contact who can be the port of call in an emergency situation.

I’m now training my Senior Section girls (especially as they are getting older and some of them are starting their own Leadership Qualifications) in how to access the Girlguiding manual, and how to risk assess activities outside of the meeting place. Although it got a bit silly and at first they thought it was stupid, as a member shared about something that had happened while on a trip with her Guide unit she volunteers with, the point of risk assessments became more clear.

Because it’s always ‘fine’ until it’s not! And when you do all the ‘silly’ stuff required – consent forms, emergency contacts, alerting your commissioner that you are going on a trip, risk assessments, site visits – it isn’t silly if something does happen because you are prepared. 🙂

Risk Assessment Template 2016

 

Climbing Calamaties & the Senior Section paparazzi

For the last two terms, I’ve been running two Senior Section groups out the same unit. Something I committed to when I thought we had a new leader at our Guide unit….and then she left. It’s been a struggle to keep going, and I’m going to be eternally grateful to other leaders in the area who have stepped in my place at either Guides or the new Senior Section on the nights where I needed to be able to clone myself.

Anyway, our first joint outing was a few weeks ago when the new group decided they would like to go rock climbing. Knowing there were some in the original group who missed out last time or would like to go again, I gave them the opportunity to come along too.

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It was great to see the girls in both groups mingling, and a member who hadn’t been for while being able to join us too. Lots of advice shouting and encouragement as we did the beginner walls and when the girls got to try auto belaying.

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However, as I was the only leader there, I had my phone on a bench near us just in case – as I’m always the first emergency contact during meetings and activities. I always tell the girls where I’ve put the emergency contact list/consent forms just in case something happens and for some reason I’m incapacitated in the event of an emergency.

Why am I telling you this? Well. Apparently one of the most memorable Guiding moments of the year happened while we were there. One of our founding members had been helping with belaying standing against the wall as I was climbing, as one of the girls from the new group was doing the actual belaying. I began to swing as I came down and I was worried about landing on her head…which almost happened and to avoid it I swung off the wall.

You might ask, was the girl ok?

Why yes she was. Because her reaction was

Quick! Grab Laurie’s phone and get pictures!!

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This is one of the nicer pictures – she also took selfies basically with a close up of my backside (cheers for that!) as they were ALL laughing, except the girl who was having to concentrate on belaying so I didn’t simply crash to the ground. She did confess as she and another Senior Section member were telling other Guide leaders at a campfire this week that ‘had I not been belaying, I would have been doubled over laughing too‘.

As I turned round to make sure they were all ok (don’t worry, I was laughing too – laughing so much I couldn’t get back onto the wall in fact) there they were snapping away WITH MY PHONE smiling saying ‘it’s for the scrapbook’. A phrase I have said many times as I’ve taken pictures of them blowing out birthday candles, dressed in onesies, trying out hula hooping, covered in coloured cornflour during a 5k and so on.

I did point out that as they were on my phone I could delete them all, but I haven’t. I will print at least one that they can add to the scrapbook if they wish to.

Not my most noble moment as a Guiding leader.

But I’ll admit it was funny even if it was embarrassing.

Free Being Me – the experience so far

We are now halfway through the Free Being Me resource pack at our Guide unit. It’s been a good experience and the resource pack is very helpful. The youth development worker in me would like certain bits to be a little clearer for the leaders and girls (some of bits are a little bit too cheesey or the activity not particularly well explained) but overall it’s been great and easy enough to use. The most helpful feature is the grid at the beginning of the session telling you exactly what is needed for each task (very helpful to give a quick glance to check there isn’t something we need to get before the meeting that we don’t already have in our resources).

There are some ‘Before You Start‘ suggestions that we’ve used, and some we would have liked to have incorporated if we’d have had more time.

1. Free Being Me wall

We have now set a corner of our noticeboard to be our ‘Free Being Me’ wall. The idea is that we can post quotes, pictures, ideas, stories that inspire us to be ourselves. At our last session, I started our night with a little horseshoe around the noticeboard next to the Free Being Me section, and read the quotes that had been added so far by myself and one of our older Guides. A lot of the girls had already forgotten its existence. By the end of the night, another quote had been added. I’m wishing now we’d started every session at the Free Being Me wall, as I think it would have been a good focus point to begin each session.

**Update 30/03/2015 – we now have a wall COVERED in inspirational quotes and notes by the girls**

2. Treasure Inside Me Boxes

Unfortunately we didn’t quite get this off the ground on the first week as I’d planned due to some unforeseen circumstances. However, on the first night as the girls came in I got them to decorate sticky labels with their names on ready for some small kilner type jars I got in Ikea (80p each). These now sit at the front of our hall with some cut out bits of paper every meeting. The idea is that the girls can leave notes with encouraging and positive messages in each others’ jars. This week there were groups that finished tasks more quickly than others, so I encouraged a group of girls to see whose jars were emptiest and focus on ensuring everyone had a note. It was a delight to then see others then wanting to do the same. It did mean we didn’t get our final task done at the last session though!

3. Secret Friend

We haven’t done this, but I think it would have been a great thing to do. The idea is that every participatnt has a ‘secret friend’ from the group, and they find ways to make their secret friend feel good about themselves without revealing who they are.

Again, time prevented us from setting this up.

Session 1

I really recommend using the Dove Evolution video for explaining the Image Myth. You can find it here (they’ve made it so I can’t even embed it in my blog post unlike most YouTube videos).  I managed to set up my phone 3G to connect to my iPad so we could watch it. I really wish Dove made it available to download the video, as many units like our own, do not have internet access at their meeting place.

We had to watch it more than once for the girls to really understand what was going on, and what they changed.

Another thing that helped was having a big roll of paper – for doing our group discussions on body image. I also struggled to find age appropriate magazines (and WOW are they expensive?!). I ended up getting Teen Vogue, Top Model and Shout.

There were however way too many activities crammed into this session, and they had definitely underestimated the timings in the pack. If you really want to give your girls a chance for discussion (especially if you have a unit of more than 10 girls and are having to split into small groups and then come together as a larger group for feedback) then I would say split your session 1 into two weeks – maybe use some of the first week to create your ‘Treasure me boxes’, set up secret friends, do Guidelines, Free Being Me wall and so on. The discussion part is important, and the girls gain nothing if they aren’t given a chance to learn and critically reflect on the questions and information being put before them.

Session 2

Session 2 was much easier to manage as it was only two activities. Keeping the girls focused to get both done was the main challenge!

Session 3

Session 3 needs leaders. Thankfully all 3 of us were able to be there, otherwise it would have been a struggle, as you needed at least three ‘mission stations’, each one to be manned by a leader.

We’ve also had an additional session with the Photographer who came into do a workshop with the girls to plan their self portraits, as they have decided on how they want them to look, what props they want to bring to help show who they are. Over the next few weeks the girls will be going into the photography studio at a local college campus to get their photos taken. The girls had so many great ideas for this, and also got to hear from a Photographer how photoshop isn’t always a bad and evil thing if used well and not to completely alter the photograph, about setting up shots, how different elements can tell a story or give an impression.

Meanwhile, I’ll let you see a few messages the Guides wanted to share with you relating to the Image Myth:

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“Everyone is beautiful in the outside but personality is the thing that counts not photos and make up!”

“Make up doesn’t make you pretty it’s in the name “make up” it makes you something you’re not. Now, wear your smile, you suit it!”

“Make up doesn’t  radiate who you are, it doesn’t make you. It’s your uniqueness that makes you you”

“If you look fake! People won’t know you are real!”

“Even if you cover yourself in cosmetics you will still be the same person!”

“It is your personality that matters, not how fake you look”

“Even the people in the magazines don’t look like that!”

“I want to scream and shout and let it all out – spread the word and say what is right about looks!”

“I really hate the image myth because image myth can be quite hurtful if you are the model being shown”

“Don’t fall for the image myth otherwise the image myth will fall for you”

“What matters is the way YOU are, not who other people are, because you only be you, not a version of another person. Make sure you’re not doing anything that you don’t want to be doing. Make sure you do things for your own benefit”

“Be who you are want to be – not what other people think you should be!”

“The way you look only says a tiny bit about who you are. Make time to get to know the real you and other people”

We only have a couple of more sessions to go, so I’ll keep you posted when I can. Hope this helps any other leaders and peer educators planning to do Free Being Me. 

Starting a Senior Section unit

I’ve noticed a lot of leaders asking on facebook about starting a new Senior Section unit. Our struggles came from the fact that many don’t realise Senior Section exists and like Trefoil Guild seems to often get ‘forgotten’.

So when it came to starting our unit, which began when five Guides approached me with the asking “We’re feeling too old for Guides, we don’t want to leave, but what can we do instead?” we began with no start-up fund, no idea about the programme a leader who had been away from Girlguiding for a almost a decade (and still had no access to Go! due to an admin/communication breakdown) and a leader who hadn’t been part of Girlguiding since she was a Brownie.

Yes. We were CLUELESS.

However, we were all clueless together. We were brand new, and being the only Senior Section unit in the whole Division there was no precedent. I had thankfully been a Ranger and Young Leader myself at the turn of the Millennium, so I was at least able to tell them a bit about the sorts of things I’d done to give them an idea of what was possible.

Our first meeting, Jenny (my co-leader) brought tons of nail varnishes, I brought popcorn and after introducing ourselves and explaining which Guide units everyone came from, and whether or not they were Young Leaders we just asked the question “What do you want to do?” They really wanted to know what others had done. Once they had a few suggestions put to them, the ideas flowed back from them to us. We would say “Ok, let’s see how we can make that happen!

We split up the meetings by doing a ‘fun’ activity one week, and something from the Senior Section CD ROM the next week which is what led to a great long debate about the Guide Promise.

Here was our first ever Term Programme (it’s not perfect, but it might help to get people started and give other members ideas of what they might like to do).

September 12th – Nail Painting and Getting to know each other

September 26th – The Hunger Games

October 10th – The Hunger Games/Looking at Senior Section Promise

October 31st –  Hallowe’en Party

November 11th  (Sunday) – Remembrance Sunday services

November 14th – Creating Promise Tree

November 21st – Trip to see The Gang Show (with local Guide units)

November 28th – Planning for the spring term and activities from Senior Section CD ROM

December 12th – Trip to Christmas Market, making Senior Section Promise on Christmas Ferris Wheel.

The Promise Tree. The discussion that came along with doing this was what made us think Girlguiding UK had been bugging our meetings. We were so happy to hear about the Promise Consultation and all of us took part in January.

As each term came, the girls grew more confident in sharing ideas of things we could do. We also began to understand the Look Wider programme better, and I gave them each a Record folder to record their progress in each of the Octants. This would also inform their term planning, because they could see which Octants they needed to do activities for. We could then encourage them to come up with an activity to try at meetings together under the different Octants.

Over the next two terms this included:

-Taking part in the Girlguiding Promise consultation (Personal Values)

-painting glass jars to be filled with treats and sold for a fundraiser (Creativity/Community Action)

-making collages about women that inspire them for International Women’s Day (Personal Values)

-Pizza and Pyjama Party (we made our own pizzas to count towards Independent Living)

-trip to learn Rock Climbing & Abseiling (Out of Doors)

– visit from our local Young Leader advisor (Leadership/YLQ)

-Smoothie night (Fit for Life/Independent Living)

-Pilates (Fit for Life)

and we have kept a scrapbook of everything we’ve done, which can count towards Phase 2 Creativity.

The girls decided at the beginning of this year that they wanted to start a blog, in the hope that it might help other Senior Section members around the world to get idea of what you can do and share ideas. At the moment they’ve only got as far as setting up their blog. The content is still to come!

Anyway, I hope this helps some new Senior Section units out there. I also recommend this activity which I’m keeping a record of for the future when we have new members to our group which gives an introduction to the Look Wider octant programme. (Thank you K-ville!)

A year of Senior Section in pictures…

Not all of our activities are recorded here, and again there are a lot more photos in our unit’s scrapbook. It’s also made me realise that the other leader has photos on her camera that we need to get printed of some of this last term’s activities before we start back in January! Our unit turned 1 year old in September, and we are looking forward to gaining a new member next term.

Spring 2014 bucket list for Senior Section…

Our unit has rocked in 2013. In September 2012, we began with 5 girls. 3 came straight from Guides, the other 2 came after having been away from Girlguiding for 8 months after leaving Guides with nothing to go on to.

By the next summer, we had all 5 girls still there, plus 2 more who had moved up from Guides having completed their Baden-Powell Awards.

In the first term, we did work every second meeting doing activities looking at the Guide Promise and what it meant to apply it. The other meetings the girls chose activities they wanted to do which included a film night and doing their promise on the Ferris Wheel at our city’s Christmas Market.

Here are some of the things we’ve done since…

…a onesie party (a great way to destress during exam leave)

…smoothie night

…making collages on women who inspire us for International Women’s Day

…visited a local Guide unit to tell them about Senior Section

…had our Young Leader advisor visit to tell us more about the leadership qualification

…several took part in performing in the Girlguiding Edinburgh County Show

…tried out Pilates

…made our own pizzas

…gone rock climbing

…learned and made lanterns to celebrate Diwali

The girls are a great bunch. Our newest member wants to become  a Young Leader, but sadly I’ve struggled to find her a unit to volunteer with on the day she is free. They already have next term planned and this is what they hope to do:

…start a blog

…become pen pals with Girl Guiding members in another country

…find out about our local food bank with a view to fundraising for it

…run an easter egg hunt for a local Brownie unit

After that it will be the Easter holidays and most of the girls will be on exam leaves sitting their various exams (the Scottish education system has changed again unfortunately creating a lot of stress and confusion to what qualifications the girls will end up with who are essentially guinea pigs for the new set of qualifications replacing Standard Grades).