We’re currently recruiting for more volunteers in our area. This year I may have to stop doing Guides for about 4 months to do a class for my postgraduate degree, we need a new Brownie unit to meet demand and we have a number of units needing more helpers and leaders.
It’s my three year anniversary coming back into Guiding this month! I stopped volunteering when I got into my second year at university (which I didn’t want to do) and then never came back again until about 9 years later. The main reason for volunteering was to pass on my Guiding skills to another generation, but another reason was that I wanted to make friends in a community that didn’t feel like home to me.
I’ve made three great friends in my fellow leaders. The two leaders I worked with at Guides, and after a year I met a woman who turned out to be exactly my age (we are 7 days apart in age!) who was also looking to volunteer to make friends in the area and we started the Senior Section unit for our Division. Our first attempt to gather leaders in the area for a social last year fell apart as I (the main organiser) got struck down with flu (and I mean real proper can’t move out of bed, crazy fevers, doctors thought I might have meningitis kind of flu). But when tragedy struck one of our young leaders, we decided to gather the leaders of our two units and take her and the other young leader out for afternoon tea after attending Remembrance Sunday services and a tradition was born.
At the end of the school year we gathered at one of our houses for a Pot Luck supper too to celebrate them graduating high school and out of our unit teams celebrating two 18ths, a 21st and two 30th birthdays.
A week ago, we had a new leader bonding experience with some of the newer leaders as they joined me, Jenny and Ashleigh in doing the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise funds and awareness of Motor Neurone Disease. Our Senior Section girls did the bucket honours while parents and some Scout leaders looked on in amusement.
There’s a bond we share in Girlguiding – a slight nuttiness, a dedication to the girls and a shared occasional groaning of bureucratic and communication frustrations. An understanding that we all live in houses that have that messy place where things are stacked and piled ready to be taken to a church hall each week. In fact, since I was 13 I’ve had my ‘camp equipment’ cupboard.
It’s easy to come in as a newbie and feel lost as everyone seems to know everyone. So I’d urge you to welcome new leaders and make an effort to include them in some adult volunteer social activities. Make your planning meetings have a social fun side (I know some Brownie leaders who’ve done their planning meeting in the local hotel bar, have a date kept free before term starts or finishes that’s just for the leaders). Make sure there’s seats for all the folks at your District meeting and take a few minutes for introductions to be done in a non-threatening way if someone new comes along (it’s way too easy just to get down to business and leave wondering who everyone was!).
Girlguiding is not just for the girls – it’s for the women too. And if my experience through the years has taught me anything, is that in Girlguiding you will be able to make friends for life.