The ideas box

One of our concerns as Senior Section leaders is making sure that the girls have ownership of our programme and what they choose to do, but also to make sure everyone has a say. There were assumptions I made early on about what the girls did and didn’t like and when we did an anonymous online evaluation of our term programmes some of them were correct, and others were not.

We struggle to get the girls to plan their term programme, and I sense that this struggle is normal. We have new challenges now as when we began we had five girls aged 14-16 all from the same high school. Now we have ten girls aged 14-19 and in that group we have 1 in full-time employment, 1 college student, 1 university student and the rest go to three different high schools. So we came up with an idea to try and make this a bit easier – the suggestion/ideas box.

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I brought in an old shoe box from our Guides’ cupboard that wasn’t being used, we all brought in old Girlguiding magazines and Jenny brought in some general magazines and the girls set to work on turning our old shoe box into what you see above using decoupage.

As far as I can tell this involved them cutting bits of magazines out and gluing them to the box, then brushing them down with PVA glue to give it that coated/shiny effect.

(Can you tell arts & crafts is really not my thing?!)

Our last meeting and next meeting we are doing trips outside our meeting place, so it won’t be until our final meeting before Christmas that this will start getting utilised. My hope is to have it there at every meeting with some cut out paper so that when they come up with an idea during the various tangents and chattering that goes on they can write it down, put it in the box and when we come to doing term planning they’ve already got some ideas. And I guess us leaders can pop in ideas as well, and when we are doing a term planning night it hopefully will help!

Or it might not work at all.

We’ll have to see!

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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!)

Spending vouchers

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So the voucher scheme has ended and we all have about 6 weeks to get our  vouchers banked, orders in before the summer holidays in England begin.

Our aim this year was to collect 1,500 vouchers. I’m not sure if we’ve managed to do that yet or not…I still have vouchers arriving through the post and to collect from the girls and other leaders. Once we’ve done that we’ll count them up to see what we have to spend.

Because the catalogue is only available online (which is not particularly helpful when you have no internet access in your meeting place), I go through the catalogue and everything that is within our voucher budget and could be used by our unit I write down on a list, along with how much vouchers they cost.

I will miss out anything that is stuff our unit has already or has access to (like cups – we don’t need cups!) or won’t likely ever use (like flags that need to be put in the ground or basketballs). Everything else – measuring spoons to compasses to torches to footballs to pom poms goes on the list.

I then give this to the girls and ask them to consider what they’d like to get, as long as it’s something the whole unit can use. So when we got hurdles for using in relay races (they like to set up obstacle course relay races) – we got more than one so that there was at least one per patrol. Last year we discouraged them from cooking equipment because we figured we can get things pretty cheaply anyway, but as the kitchen in our church hall we use for Guides is so ill equipped and they bake and make food every chance the get, we may do that. We don’t really have the money in our budget to pay for much just now, so if we can get it for ‘free’ with Active Kids vouchers and they want to get it – that’s fine with me!

So in the next two weeks this list will go to the girls and they’ll hopefully agree on a shopping list, give it back to me so I can put in our order. This year I’m more clued up on the process and the fact I need to arrange for a free postal collection to send the vouchers in.

That’s how we do it in our unit. How do you decide what to spend your vouchers on in yours?