The Rangers learn about Guyana

Last year a couple of our Rangers graduated high school, and we’ve really missed the ones who left our fair city. One of them spent a year teaching science through Project Trust in Guyana, and we were really happy to have her back for a couple of meetings between her return from Guyana and departure to university.

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She very kindly offered to run a meeting giving a presentation about what she got up to, everything she had learned about Guyana, the culture and more. With two of our Rangers about to live abroad for a year, and the rest all at the very least leaving high school to as yet unknown destinations – it was a great night for the girls to learn from one of their peers about how she handled herself in a new situation, dealt with challenges and how to be a good friend to those in need of one when your usual support systems are far away.

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Also, me not having to do anything except show up with the keys for the hall and our cupboard gave me the chance to sit with girls and their Look Wider record books. As a result we now have 4 Rangers who have completed their Chief Guide Challenge Award, and two Young Leaders who have completed their Young Leadership Qualification.

Soon after this came the news that yes, we’ll OFFICIALLY be called Rangers again, but that the age cut-off will soon be in force. All of the girls in our unit are unhappy about the age cut-off. The reality is a lot of them when they get to 17/18/19 stop being able to make regular meetings, but many of them try to stay connected. It is not unusual for one of my ‘ex’ Senior Section to message me (usually on facebook) to ask for advice or tell me what they’ve been getting up to, or how much they enjoyed being part of Girlguiding.

Reflecting on this night, I wonder how to navigate the change, and wonder about having the girls stay connected with the unit by coming back as ‘guests’ for the night or having some reunion parties. Definitely something to think about and discuss with members current and old…

 

 

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Planning our Little Lights Walk…

I mentioned at the start of term how our Guide unit has decided to raise money for Bliss Scotland, a charity that champions the right for every baby born premature or sick to receive the best neonatal care. We know that there are Bliss volunteers who work in the two maternity hospitals closest to us, and as our previous Assistant Leader in training as well as a few Guides were born premature themselves, it was a cause that we felt we had a connection with.

Bliss run three events that people can organise in their own communities throughout the year – Bake for Bliss, Little Heroes and Little Lights. Little Lights runs through the winter, with Bliss holding their own Little Lights Walk close to World Prematurity Day (17th November). So as a way to get the Guides outdoors this winter, we are organising our own Little Lights Walk this November!

We were able to register our walk very easily through the Bliss website (if you click on link above you’ll find the online form to register interest). Within a day or so, someone contacted us by e-mail and had posted us a pack of goodies to use for organising our walk.

We got a poster too but I forgot to take a picture before I added our contact details etc to it, so for obvious reasons I’m not going to plaster that on the internet! 🙂

The Guides decided that they would have a fundraising page on JustGiving which is easy to set up. This way we can give the girls a letter with the web address for them to share with relatives that they maybe don’t see all the time who wish to sponsor them. We are going to get the girls to write what they’d like to put on the page about why they are doing the walk and how it helps at the next meeting. We don’t have internet access in our meeting place, so one of the leaders will copy and paste what they write onto the page later. We were only given one sponsorship form, as usually Bliss asks for people to register to take part individually. However I’ve asked Bliss if we can get sent sponsorship forms – if we don’t, I will likely make up a sponsorship form of our own to print off and give to each of the Guides. We know that there are always people who find doing the ‘old fashioned way’ of paper and handing over cash easier. We will then send in these forms and the money handed in as a unit, and save on postage (and make it easier for parents).

As leaders we gave a few options of locations to the girls. Because the walk is done in the dark, we took into consideration safety – particularly as we’ve discovered from previous activities that our girls are not very road safety aware, especially when in a big group and are busy excitedly chatting to one another. We wanted paths that took us away from roads but were well lit. The girls almost unanimously voted on a route, so that was thankfully settled quickly!

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The Guides also plan to decorate themselves as ‘little lights’. We were able to get glow in the dark bracelets from Poundworld (18 for £1) and I got some UV glow in the dark face paint from Amazon.

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Bliss has also sent us certificates that we can award to each of our walk participants after they’ve done the walk which is lovely! And of course, all the Guides plan to count this as the ‘Community Action’ part of their challenge badge for the year.

I will let you know how the walk goes, we are also really lucky that a local Brownie’s Mum is a Bliss volunteer and is coming to chat to the Guides about the work Bliss do after the Tattie Holidays. I know Bliss also have Community Ambassadors who sometimes give talks to groups too, so it might be worth finding out if there’s one in your local area.

5 years of Look Wider…

…what have we done? I know a lot of Senior Section leaders say they “don’t get it” or aren’t sure how to plan a programme. It is hard work, but once your girls get it, you will find that they come up with so many ideas.

The great thing about Look Wider is that it is so flexible. I think that can be intimidating for members who have been used to a fairly firm structure (both unit members and their leaders). But it doesn’t need to be intimidating. If your members are really struggling for ideas, then go seek around the world loads of examples of what others have done – they might like the ideas, it might inspire somehing else. Do a game like the one Kelloggsville invented to get more ideas. Ask the girls pertinent questions and give them time and space to think on them. Then support them to use their answers to base your programme on over a longer period.

Over the last 5 years our group has been running we’ve done a range of things.At times we have been limited by the availability of the girls, and the fact that I don’t always have access to a car. Some activities have become traditions that the girls want to do over and over. And some nights it’s just been about chilling and having fun – especially when the girls are on exam leave. These are just things we have done together in our meetings. This does not include what individuals have done as Young Leaders/Adult leaders in training, or during their own time outside of Girlguiding/School/Work/University/College which they can also count as part of Look Wider.

Activities for Look Wider Octants

All of these activities we have done during our meeting times, with the exception of a few things (such as Remembrance Sunday, Color Me Rad 5k, opening of Parliament and the Build A Bear Party which we did on a Sunday morning before the shop opened). Some were away from our regular meeting place, but done during our meeting time.

Community Action

  • Painting glass jars to be filled with sweets & sold for Bake A Little Love
  • Participating in local service of remembrance
  • Inviting a volunteer from the local Food Bank to talk about their work
  • Doing a collection for the local Food Bank
  • Creating a Community Map with photos identifying needs and focal points for the local area.
  • Raising awareness and campaigning for War on Want
  • Learning about voting
  • Raising funds for local community centre doing a Colour Run
  • Inviting volunteer/staff from Refugee Survival Trust
  • Participating in the opening of Parliament
  • Volunteering at local fair to raise money for Division
  • Helping Leaders do the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for MND Scotland

Creativity

  • Nail Painting
  • Hallowe’en Party – fancy dress and creative games
  • Painting glass jars
  • Unit Scrapbooking (we have kept scrapbooks of all our activities as a unit since the beginning).
  • Theatre Trip to support fellow members in Gang Show
  • Designing our own mugs with Sharpie Markers
  • Charity Shop Fashion Show
  • Learning how to knit
  • Mood Boards
  • Easter Baking – making easter egg nests
  • Creating a Timeline of Women’s History
  • Designing T-shirts for their Senior Section Spectacular bears with fabric paints

Fit for Life

  • Rock climbing and abseiling
  • Invent your own smoothie night
  • Pilates for Dummies
  • Color Me Rad 5k
  • Inviting a local Hula Hooping instructor to give us a class
  • Walk around local nature reserve
  • Rest and Relaxation Night (healthy foods, spa treatments)
  • British Heart Foundation Heart to Start Course
  • Learning First Aid
  • Trying a Taekwondo class

Independent Living

  • Invent your own smoothie night
  • Charity Shop Challenge – finding an outfit for £10 or under
  • Money Management – making Spend/Save/Give Jars
  • Making Pancakes for Pancake Day
  • Hosting a Swap Shop Night
  • Learning how to make non-alcoholic mulled wine
  • Learning how to knit
  • Bake Off Night
  • Building Ikea furniture
  • Learning how to do laundry
  • Learning how to boil potatoes and eggs
  • Make your own pizza night

International

  • World Thinking Day Badge Pack from WAGGGS
  • Researching and celebrating Diwali (everyone brought an activity for group relating to Diwali)
  • Writing letters to Rangers in other countries
  • Ready, Steady, Glasgow Challenge Badge
  • Learning about ethics of behind the scenes of how clothes are made by retailers
  • Hawaiian Night
  • Chinese Food Night
  • Celebrating World Thinking Day
  • Learning about the plight of refugees and asylum seekers

Leadership

  • Planning the term programme
  • Planning and organising Hallowe’en Party for unit
  • Organising an Invite A Friend Easter Egg Hunt & Party for the local Brownies
  • Putting on a Charity Shop Fashion Show for Guides
  • Planning a Swap Shop night
  • Planning an Oscar Themed Awards Party for the Guide & Senior Section leaders getting their ALQs
  • Learning how to do a risk assessment for an outdoor walk
  • Planning and running Hallowe’en Party for a Brownie Unit
  • Look Wider Sweetie Beetle
  • Organising a Bake Off night ‘techinical challenge’
  • Organising games for Harry Potter Night

Out of Doors

  • Christmas Market
  • Rock climbing and abseiling
  • Campfire
  • Community Photo Walk
  • Sparklers outdoors for Guy Fawkes Night
  • Walking around local nature reserve
  • Barbecue on an island (crossing a causeway)
  • Penny Hike
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Colour Me Rad 5k
  • Going to outdoor ice rink

Personal Values

  • Activities looking at the Promise from Senior Section CD Rom
  • Collages to celebrate International Women’s Day – women who inspire us
  • Making the Promise
  • Creating a group Promise Tree
  • Making their own individual Promise Tree Booklets
  • Charity Shop Fashion Show
  • Learning about lent and Shrove Tuesday
  • Planning a Scavenger Hunt
  • Personal Collage/Inspiration Boards
  • Debates on social and ethical issues
  • Scottish Parliament Election Manifestos Debate
  • Watching Suffragette film and writing review for their blog
  • Watching He Named Me Malala documentary
  • Creating an inspiration library
  • Creating a timeline of Women’s history

Just for fun/Other

Please feel free to share more ideas that your unit has done below! We are always looking for inspiration too. 🙂

Rangers leading Ranger meetings

I know a lot of Senior Section leaders often tear their hair out. We are undervalued, get very little support, communication isn’t great (or very last minute) through national/regional/county level for Senior Section events and we are dealing with a section of Girlguiding members who are undergoing one of the most difficult life transitions – childhood to adulthood.

You are no longer dealing with parents – communication goes directly to the members of your unit and many of them haven’t learned the art of diary and time management. They are learning to do it themselves having all their lives had their parents do it for them. It is understandable that sometimes they make mistakes. They forget when they have exams, or rehearsals or family holidays when it comes to planning a programme that is more flexible.

This year, I had to make the difficult decision of telling one of my Ranger groups that I couldn’t keep running their group. There were only 3 of them, they weren’t able to recruit more members to their group and they seemed reluctant to run themselves despite being aged 17-20. I think the knowledge that this happened made the younger group realise that if they didn’t step up there would be no group at all. Now I’m the only Senior Section leader, and this year I’m working more and later hours with longer commute.

And so when we made up a term programme, I compromised the usual pushing for nights to be more obviously octant related with the fact that each night 1 or more members of the group are in charge of that evening. So in the last month we have had a Harry Potter games night and a Fancy Dress night with Hallowe’en style games. Both organised by the group’s members with me not having to bring anything but the register and the petty cash and receipt book. So far, all the girls have managed to accomplish this.

Harry Potter Pictionary

Harry Potter Pictionary

How did we do it?

Deciding who is best suited to each night – bringing something for Harry Potter games night was good for a couple of our members who arrive late due to other commitments (one attends a dance class, the other volunteers with another section of Girlguiding at a different venue). We could do games brought by other members and move onto theirs once they arrived. Also if the girls know that there’s a week where they are going to be super busy with rehearsals for a school show or university coursework – we’ll note that so they aren’t down to be in charge that particular week.

I set up facebook events through our secret group. On the event info I post who agreed to be in charge of what so they can go back and refer to it. Not all the girls are on facebook, so I usually ask the girls to remind those not on the group if they can. They are very good at doing this.

The girls set up their own what’s app group which all but one of them are members of. They can remind each other, clarify and check things. They added me to it, so I can reply back if they want to check something with me quickly. (From a safeguarding perspective, I prefer a group what’s app chat over being sent a personal text message as it’s obviously being seen by everyone in the group making communication between me as the ‘responsible adult’ and young people as transparent and open as possible). I will also sometimes do a wee reminder 1-2 days before, and on the day if needed.

I thank the girls in charge for what they’ve brought and remembering. I like to try and do this publicly on the group too, so that they know how much their effort is valued by me as a leader. It’s even more lovely when the other members join in with their thanks too.

I think I have an advantage though as I’m also a Guide leader. Many of the girls now have known me as their Guide leader (or friend’s Guide leader) and I now actively try to help my Guides learn responsibility, consequence and organisation so that it’s not a huge shock when they move up to Senior Section. Some of my Senior Section were just told what to do and handed badges during their time in Guides with no idea what it really was they were doing. Others did little to no badges, and many didn’t have things like Patrol Leaders Councils.

Senior Section members being Mummified...

Senior Section members being Mummified…

It’s also important to remember that young people now have way more homework and extra-curricular activities than previous generations of teens. Schools seem to do a lot of ‘youth work’ now, which means that curriculum work ends up having to be done at home instead of during class time. As much as Girlguiding is about action, for many of my Senior Section girls, they just want to come along and chill out for a couple of hours, meet with friends, make new friends and have a laugh in a safe environment where it’s cool to not take yourself too seriously. Look for the opportunities to help the girls’ – while they were eating doughnuts from string and setting up boxes of slimy things we had talks about school uniforms, recognition (or lack of recognition) for consistently attending and performing well in the classroom, how to write a CV and more. Not because I’d planned for us to have those discussions, but because these conversations were brought up by the members. We are probably now going to have a ‘job hunting’ workshop at some point this year now because of those conversations.

So to my fellow Senior Section leaders – take heart. Your effort is worth it, and it is possible for young people to lead!

Neckerchiefs & Remembrance

After my Mum and my neighbour’s comments asking why the girls weren’t in uniform when they were, this year we wondered about getting unit neckerchiefs. Another unit in our area had got some for their whole unit and that leader passed on the email address of her contact so we could get something similar.

I e-mailed Steph from One Stop Scouting and within two days she had sent me a set of swatches and idea of how long our order would take. I then took the swatch samples and held a bit of a ‘Pow-wow’ (yes I know that’s a Brownie thing!) with our Guides. I suggested that the main necker colour should be some shade of blue as that’s the colour associated most with Guides (Red for Rainbows, Yellow for Brownies, Blue for Guides, Turquoise for Senior Section), but that they could pick any colour they liked for the border. With 16 Guides we worried that it would be a nightmare to get consensus, but they very quickly as a whole group chose two colour options to vote on for the border and two for the main colour. I always say on things like this they can vote more than once, so we can get an idea of majority that will be happy with what is decided on. They decided on Marine Blue neckers with a Grape border.

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The girls seemed to forget about the order until a few weeks later when they began to ask what had happened with the neckers and when they would arrive. In the end they came about a week before Remembrance Sunday but as we didn’t want them get lost or forgotten between our meeting day and Sunday we decided just to wait til the Sunday to give the girls their neckers. And they seemed to like them. They most certainly looked smart with them on, and we quickly realised their benefits in a crowd.

They also wore them to Gang Show (a night of the year that fills me with a lot of anxiety and stress) as crowds of kids and teens all looking the same.From years of joint trips to help with leader:child ratios now two of our Guide units and the Senior Section have the same meeting point, and the two Guide units have grown a fair bit in the last year. So it was wonderful to be able to immediately recognise who was one of ‘mine’ at a glance due to that purple (sorry, grape) border.

The Senior Section also have got unit neckers, which some of the girls are pleased with, and others are not impressed with. They chose grey neckers with a turquoise border to match the current uniform. It did make them look smart, and several people commented to me how well turned out the girls were looking this year and well…noticed that the girls were in attendance. Previous years some people haven’t even realised that there were members of Girlguiding in attendance at the War Memorial.

Unforunately I can’t share the photo I got of all the Brownies, Guides and Senior Section that I snapped after the church’s youth service for remembrance with their flags, but a photographer for the local heritage trust made a video of the War Memorial Service.

You can get the neckerchiefs in two sizes (Adult and Youth), and you will definitely need the Adult size for Senior Section. I think they were £4.95 each, and your minimum order is 25 (this can include both sizes).

We hope in future to have a deposit scheme where Guides can pay £5 deposit for a necker, then at the end of their time at Guides they can either keep it, or give it back and if it’s still in decent condition we will give them their £5 back.

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

Happy 3rd birthday to our Senior Section!

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Yes, this past week, our unit turned 3 years old. We are officially old enough to get a free nursery place now. 😉

Lying on my bed after work, I was scrolling through photos of the antics of our unit over the last three years. Although it seems ‘just like it was yesterday’, at the same time it feels so long ago since our first meeting. Our third founding member started university this week. Number four is now attending open days as she begins the process of applying to university and is raising funds for the gap year she’ll be spending teaching science in Guyana. Two more girls have completed their Chief Guide Challenge this summer, and several are close to finishing their Young Leadership Qualifications and (adult) Leadership Qualifications.

Our teeny splinter group is starting to get it’s foundations now, they have decided that they want to learn First Aid skills so we have a guy coming in who does First Aid and courses in uses Defibrillators for the Scottish Ambulance Service for their next three meetings. After that they are hoping to learn how to knit – so I’m calling in some local experts for that one too.

Our big ‘original’ group is mostly 15 year olds (or about to be 15 year olds) and they have a few things planned – to run a Hallowe’en Party for the local Brownie unit, planning some kind of hunt/trail in teams to do at one of our meeting nights. They’ve also got a few different ideas of things they’d like to do – it’s a matter of where/when we will do them. Going to Ikea is one of them. Making jewellery is another.

Outside of the unit, I’m starting to see that Guides are beginning to take an interest in what comes after. They have watched one of our girls transition from a Guide to an already very capable Young Leader. One of our 11 year old Guides came up to me at our last meeting and asked me what you had to do to be a leader, and a Young Leader. Several of our Guides are now wanting to be Rainbow and Brownie Helpers and already looking ahead to what they might do once they move on from Guides. It definitely makes a difference when they are getting to see and observe other sections of Girlguiding and aren’t just in their own unit bubble.

The last three years have been worth the hard work, and I hope years from now there’ll be some fun Senior Section reunions…