Look Wider: Some ideas for you…!

I love the Look Wider programme, for the fact that it gives so much scope for members of the Senior Section to learn within the realms of their interests and let them be wide and varying. The downside of this is that our UK education system is so spoon-fed and limiting that young people often don’t know where to begin with so much choice. In school they are often taught how to think, what to think and the way they are to articulate what they’ve been told. Information goes in, information is to be spurted out.

Through Girlguiding they get to learn in a informal way. Yes there are structures, but we actively encourage respect for differing opinions and beliefs! We actively encourage getting along with people different from yourself. And we actively encourage making your own choices.

We now have a wee routine that we do every January and August (ish) where I get out the big roll of ikea paper, spread it over the table (or a picnic blanket!) and make eight clouds. In that the girls add ideas for things they could do for each octant during the year. Some things they organise, some things myself and the Assistant Leaders will organise (particularly if it requires permission forms, an outside organisation and so on). This then helps us plan the term programmes at the start of each term which we do with the girls. Sometimes there are things that we can’t do that term. For example, one of my groups wants to do a sleep out organised by a local charity. This was suggested a few weeks ago, but the event doesn’t run until March. We will still put it on the sheet, and I keep this so we can dig it out at the next term planning meeting with the girls to remind ourselves of ideas we had but perhaps didn’t get round to doing.

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In addition to this, we have the ideas box. Inside there are small pieces of scrap paper and a couple of pens so they can write ideas anonymously (if they want to – we have some quieter members that struggle to speak up in the group). These will again be brought out at our term planning! I put the ideas box in the kitchen while they are making up juice and popcorn.

Using Decopage to design our ideas box

Using Decopage to design our ideas box

I know when we first began it was great to go online and see what other units had done to give us some ideas. I’ve noticed on facebook some girls asking for ideas for their Look Wider planning and I know some of our girls have found blogs of Senior Section members sharing what they are doing for Look Wider really helpful.

Here are some of the things our units have done over the last few years either together as a group on in their own time to complete different octants…

Community Action
Visit from volunteer from Local Foodbank
Collected donations for local foodbank
Taken part in the Remembrance Sunday War Memorial Service
Volunteering in a charity shop
Raised money for the local youth centre doing Color Me Rad 5k
Helped a new member run a bake sale for Scottish Love in Action
Done a community walk and created a map of area using photos
Took part in the Community Fair

Creativity
Painted Glass Jars to be filled with sweets and sold at a bake sale
Kept a scrapbook of all the activities we’ve done as a unit
Manicure Night
Made invitations for Brownies to invite friends to an Easter Party
Had a Hallowe’en Party
Taking part in County Performing Arts Shows (e.g. Gang Show)
Going to dance classes
Created a blog

Fit For Life
Hula Hooping Class
Tried out a Pilates DVD
Hawaiian Smoothie Night
Took part in the Colour Run 5k
Regularly walk dog
Archery Team
Badminton Team
Dance Classes
Tae Kwon Do classes
Couch to 5k
Healthy Snack/Spa night

Independent Living
Charity Shop Challenge – finding an outfit for under £10 and doing fashion show for Guides
Learning money management by making Give/Spend/Save jars
Make your own pizza night
Attended University Open Days
Created their CV and applied for jobs
Made dinner for their family for a week
Made cakes to bring to Senior Section for people’s birthdays
Organised passports, budget for a holiday
Organised a swishing/swap shop night for clothes & books

International
Gone on international trips with school or other organisations
World Thinking Day Activities
Written letters to a Ranger Unit in Australia
International Food Night
Backpacked around Europe by train
Learned a second language

Leadership
Attended First Aid training
Have run the unit for a night
Have organised a party for the local Brownie Unit
Organised a party to celebrate the leaders getting their Qualifications
Done their Young Leadership Qualifications
Invited the Young Leaders Advisor to a meeting to find out more about qualifications
Invited the Queens Guide Advisor to a meeting to find out about Queen’s Guide
Have helped lead a campfire with local Guide Units
Helped facilitate Free Being Me for local Guide unit

Out of Doors
Lit Sparklers for Guy Fawkes Night
Went for a walk up a hill locally
Crossed the causeway to Cramond Island and toasted marshmallows on the rocks
Annual end of year campfires
Taken part in national and international camps
Made their promise as members of Senior Section
Gone rock climbing and abseiling
Visited the local outdoor Christmas Market

Personal Values
Learned about Diwali and celebrated it
Made collages for International Women’s Day
Read autobiographies of people who inspire us
Learned about the Love Fashion, Hate Sweatshops campaign
Taken part in the Girlguiding Promise Consultation
Taught at the local Sunday School
Attended local place of worship regularly
Gone to Auschwitz, and taught younger teens about what they learned there
Made a Promise Tree
Celebrated Pancake Day

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!

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).