How we celebrate the big awards…

When a big award is achieved, we celebrate with a fun party at the units I help out at. It’s a big deal, and in the five years I’ve been back volunteering (oh wait, no it’s six now!!) we’ve only had 3 Baden-Powells and 3 Chief Guides. This is mainly because we don’t push or force girls into doing either. They are encouraged, they are told the option is there, reminded the option is there…but unless they come to us saying “yes, sign me up” they don’t get put through it.

When someone does complete it, we have a party. With SPECIAL cake. The other girls in the unit are invited to come early to the hall to decorate it. We play party games. Parents and friends of our guest of honour are invited to join us for the fun. With that has come traditions that the girls now request when they know a party is in the offing, and I know that these parties have been memories the girls have treasured years later. A friend of our Senior Section who was in my Guide unit told her she still remembers the BP party we had for two of our girls while she was a Guide and it’s one of her favourite Guiding moments.

A request now at every party is ‘the paper chain game’. The first time we did this the family members of our 2 BP Guides got very competitive as one team. Basically we give each team some paper, scissors, glue sticks and they have about 10 minutes to make the longest paper chain they possibly can.

If you do this at the start of the party, you’ve got some extra decorations! 🙂

Other favourites have included the polo mint on a straw (where you do need a packet of polos handy for each team as polo, after polo, ends up on the floor. The idea is that the team stands in a line, holding a straw in their mouth and has to pass the polo mint from their straw to the next person’s straw without touching the polo. Umpires for each team to assure no cheating (and to quickly replace polo mints) are essential. 🙂 I’ve got some good pics, but unfortunately none I can use for this blog!

The other one we did at our first BP party that was held close to Christmas is the reindeer antlers. Now you know where this picture came from, as one team place their antlers on my head and everyone thought it was hilarious and took lots of photos. As you can see one of my Guides is doubled up laughing. (I did laugh too!).

Each team had got a pair of cheap women’s tights (fairly thick denier, otherwise tights will be ripped to shreds) and a packet of balloons. And well…you get the idea! Balloon antlers abound.

We’ve done musical chairs, corners and other games. And at the last BP party we did pass the parcel. Grateful to our Young Leaders who finished wrapping two parcels each with a layer than contained a glow bracelet and a packet of haribo for all the guests.

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And of course, the cake. We get local commissioners to present the girl(s) with their award and then take pictures of them cutting the cake. I always joke with them they’ll be well practised if they ever get married for the obligatory cake cutting picture. Cake is eaten, grown ups drink tea and then we’ve often ended with a promise ceremony. Sometimes the BP Guides have got enrolled as members of Senior Section with their Ranger/Young Leader pals alongside them who have come along to support them. Other times our Guides have asked if they can make their promise. Sometimes we’ve had both.

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Our Ranger unit and a local Guide unit hosted a party for me, the Assistant Leader and the Guide leader when we all got our ALQs. Two LQ trainees and 4 Rangers made their promise that night.

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New members of Senior Section make their promise

Our most recent BP Party was held the week of Thinking Day, so we had a candle ceremony at the end and some of the new Guides made their promise.

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Essentially, all we want to do is make the night different, informal, fun and different from a ‘normal’ night of Guides. We want to make the person(s) getting the award feel special and celebrate their hard work, dedication and achievement. And we hope (and know it has in the past) inspired younger members to think of taking up on the opportunities offered to them in Girlguiding.

It does cost more money than our normal meetings, and we’re a unit that doesn’t have a ton of extra cash and we don’t have big parties for Christmas where all the girls get gifts like I know some Rainbow and Brownie units have. Normally us leaders put in some money to get a small gift for the award person too. Last time,  thanks to my paparazzi leader tendencies, I was able to put together a small photo album of our ‘graduated’ Guide’s time as a Guide with us. I hope I can continue that as a tradition too, because I think it’s a nice memento for them to have.

Anyway…that’s what we do. Do your Guide or Ranger units have traditions for celebrating the ‘big’ awards?

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The Joy Filled Jars

We actually missed the first proper week back this year, because I had to postpone our meeting due to me being ill with my silly tooth infection and antibiotics. The initial idea was to do something looking at the Promise because we gained two new members just before Christmas and they intimated to me that they’d like to make the promise. News that the girls wouldn’t make our first meeting made me rethink the plans. It was one of those moments I think all leaders have had where we just think “WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH THEM TONIGHT?!”

A conversation with our youngest Guides who were looking at the Guide Promise, plus some blogs from a woman I hugely admire got me thinking. My Mum said she was headed to take a friend to Ikea, and so I requested she buy 10 glass jars. I knew we had some glass paint from a project a member did years ago in our cupboard somewhere…

One of our youngest Guides told me that she thought a great way of serving our communities was smiling at people and putting happiness into the world and that really got me thinking. Miss Val* has talked a lot about choosing to  be grateful for the privileges we have. Over New Year I’d been thinking about the amount I get grumpy about what I don’t have rather than finding joy in the nice things that happen. And so I gave each of the girls a jar (and I bought one for myself) and told them that these were for them to use how they wished – my idea is to put notes of all the good things that happen in. However, they could choose to use it differently – either to hold notes of things they are thankful for, good things that happen, good ideas for positivity….

The girls decorated them, and I loved watching their creativity in doing so! They’ve said they’d like to maybe bring them in later in the year so we can share all the positivity, joy and gratitude stories they contain. I’m all for that!

*For those not in the know, Valorie Kondos-Field (known as Miss Val) is the legendary coach of the UCLA Women’s Gymnastics Team. The UCLA team are famous for their creative routines on beam and floor especially – one went viral in 2016, and even my Senior Section girls with no interest in gymnastics saw it on social media. 🙂

Proud Guider moment alert!

In the Summer of 2014, I had my first member of Senior Section to complete Phases 1 and 2 of all the Look Wider octants. I signed her book off, emailed County, she had to leave our group due to cutting down on commitments, and so we never got to celebrate. And that kinda sucked.

This summer, two more of our unit completed Phase 1 and Phase 2 of everything, and as our County Secretary had left, I got put through to Girlguiding Scotland who gave me the forms and went into the Guide Shop to have an envelope pushed towards me containing this:
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Other members of the unit decided we should have a celebration with an ‘Afternoon tea’ theme, I got in contact with the lady who had made us a cake for our first Baden-Powell party at Guides back in 2013, and our Leadership Qualification ‘Oscar’ party back in March to see if she’d make a Chief Guide cake!

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We had Grannies, Mums, Dads and brothers, most of our Senior Section girls, the leaders of units the girls volunteer with as Young Leaders and our Division Commissioner. Sadly our two Assistant Leaders ended up not being able to make the evening, but was so grateful to our Guide leader who came along early and stayed late to help with set up and clear up.

Some of the Senior Section had made a ‘Pin the cherry on the cupcake for the occasion, and by request during our Penny Hike, I made up a Disney themed quiz. Our Division Commissioner baked scones, myself, several girls and one of the Brownie leaders made cakes and provided teapots and cake stands.

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Even though it didn’t run exactly as planned due to a lack of help to set up (which was due to circumstances outwith our control), it was still (I hope) a good night, and an opportunity for the girls’ parents to see what they do as Senior Section members and for the girls to feel special and their accomplishments valued and celebrated. At least that was the aim!

They both got to go to the County reception for all the awards receivers (Baden Powell, Young Leadership, Chief Guide, Queen’s Guide etc) and once again our unit had the only Chief Guide receivers at the reception in our whole county. I’m hoping as other Senior Section units in Edinburgh are popping up and developing that our girls will be meeting other Senior Section members also receiving the same awards at the awards receptions soon!

 

 

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!)

Hula girls

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Every term we try and get the girls to tell us what we would like to do, and collectively we try to find out if and how we can make it happen. When we first started almost two years ago, the girls weren’t sure what they could or should be doing, and it took me a while to figure out what the whole Senior Section CD rom was all about until they finally ran a Senior Section leaders training in our county.

(Anyone else find that events and training for senior section leaders are as rare as I don’t know…a working tram with people on it in Edinburgh?)

I now try to encourage the girls when they get stuck for ideas or can’t decide on something as a group to take into consideration the Look Wider programme. Last summer I made them folders so it would be clearer for them and so they could take it to music teachers, dance teachers, netball coaches and so on to get signed off. Most of the girls still love having something to work for and I think all of them like getting badges even if they may not readily admit that…!

One of our members has a sister who does hula hooping, and she spoke to her to see if she’d be willing to come and give us all a lesson. She was and last night she brought her music and a selection of hula hoops and set about teaching us how to hula hoop in all sorts of ways. Walking with them, swinging around our heads, turning, different stances, limbo hooping…

It was great fun. At first the girls were self conscious, protesting at me taking any photos for our scrapbooks…but soon they were at ease as we all together tried it out and experimented. And we all laughed with each other, and cheered one another on as we began to master a few skills. I’ll confess that I almost took out the other leader (sorry Jenny), the instructor (sorry Kim), the girl who is a young leader with our guides (sorry) and the daughter of my friend who is a local Brownie leader (sorry). I’d love to say this was on purpose so the other girls wouldn’t feel intimidated by their leaders masterful hooping skills, but that would be the be a huge fat lie. My main skill seemed to be feeling so shocked that I’d managed to do it then promptly letting the hoop fly across the church hall at high speed.

Awesome.

All in all, we had a great laugh and it was fun to try something a bit different.

And several girls have now got another Phase 1 activity to be signed off for their Fit for Life octant/Chief Guide challenge! Bonus!