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. 🙂

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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!

The Look Wider Alien Sweetie Beetle

I’ll always be grateful for the lovely blogger Kelloggsville who is a Ranger leader. Her blog helped me a ton in those first months of panic when I was trying to support the five girls in our original group get our unit established and going.

We have had a fair few of our older members moving on in the last year, and a chunk of newbies joining. The last couple of terms have been hard going, mainly due to the new Scottish Secondary School curriculum which involves constant tests, exams and coursework that ends up having to be done at home as there isn’t enough class time (and that’s with some of our girls only doing 6 subjects as opposed to the 8 that was the norm for as long as I can remember for the O Grade/Standard Grade/Int 2/GCSE level of study).

Several of our new girls are not yet familiar with Look Wider, older members seem too tired to come up with and follow through on new ideas. So I decided that for the first nights back both groups would do a variation of the Octant Beetle.

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First was finding sweets to fit dietary requirements that could be used for parts of the beetle. Because gluten free foods tend to be more expensive, I did do some that had two options.

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Body = Gluten Free Brownie or Malted Milk Biscuit

Head = Jaffa Cake or Coconut macaroon

Eyes = Dolly mixtures or jelly beans

Legs = Strawberry laces or Strawberry Fruit yoyos (these are vegan & gluten free)

Feet = Cola bottles

Antennae = Strawberry pencils or Mango fruit yoyos and strawberry bonbons

Spots = Chocolate buttons

The Girls and leaders took turns in throwing the dice. I had a poster on the wall of what the beetle should look like, and what each number on the dice could contribute to, and what you could make it with. We played by the rules that you needed to start with a body or head, and you couldn’t add anything that would be ‘floating’ (ie you can’t add a foot before you have a leg for it)

1 = Body and Head

2 = Eyes

3 = Antennae

4 = Legs

5 = Feet

6 = Spots

I decided not to complicate things by having 8 things represent each octant. Instead, I had a blank Look Wider chart on the wall with sections to represent Phase 1, 2 and 3 of each of the octants. Any time someone got something to contribute to their beetle, they had to go up and add an idea for something they could do for Phase 1, 2 or 3 of one of the octants. Once the chart was full, we just added extra ideas until everyone had completed their beetles.

We also made it a new rule that if your turn came while you were still standing up trying to come with an idea, the next available person in the circle took a roll of the dice for their turn. This kept the game flowing better so that everyone had a completed sweetie beetle (or an almost completed one) by the end of the meeting.

At the end of the beetle game we had a bit of a sugar high and played pass the parcel (as there were birthdays, plus the prize inside was to help start an idea one of the groups had last year that we hope to act upon this term). But we also now have a two pieces of paper filled with ideas for how to complete Look Wider.

And yes, it has been long established that drawing (or anything that comes under the ‘arts and crafts’ bracket really) is not my strong suit. Please don’t judge my circle/octagon being more ovalish. Luckily the girls were able to follow it regardless.

The girls in the first group told me that ‘This was a great idea’. I was relieved that they thought that, and it went much better. It was a bit more challenging on the second night as we had as many Rangers as Leaders.

I totally recommend doing this as a pre-term planning activity or if you find your unit struggling to get into Look Wider. It was good having girls who have already completed (or almost completed) the Chief Guide Challenge there as they were able to share ideas from what they or past members had done.

 

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

Unexpected Visitor

Planning a term is one of those things that I think gives all Girlguiding Leaders a feeling of dread at one point or another. I’ve seen some leaders just think of all the cool things they can do and organise it all. I’ve seen leaders tearing their hair out as girls suggest things that they don’t have time, money or the licenses to do. I’ve seen leaders want to make the whole thing as girl led as possible and the girls staring right back at them shrugging their shoulders saying they don’t care or ‘I don’t know’.

The first meeting of a new term at Senior Section is always one that I get a mixture of emotions for: excitement (What ideas are the girls going to bring?!), anxiety (how the heck are we doing to do that) and frustration (communicate with me puh-lease!).

We’ve now got into a nice wee groove in our third year with the first Ranger group and I realised that a ton of their great ideas they had last June were ones we couldn’t do in the Autumn term due to the nights already drawing in. So I’ve now realised that the Summer term is one where we need to try and do as much of their ‘Outdoor’ ideas as possible if they are only going to meet in the evenings. (We have discussed trips at weekends, but many of the girls work or have extracurricular activities. And now I work weekends too).

We started off this term by doing our term planning in the little patch of garden at our meeting place…and we had an unexpected visitor.

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This cat is often hanging around on our way in and out of the hall, so I get that maybe it shouldn’t have been all that unexpected. He wasn’t too impressed that we hadn’t left any popcorn for him – or cupcakes that one of our Rangers had made for the group. So soon he was trampling over our ideas for activities…
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Our big roll of Ikea paper has been one of the best investments I’ve made for our unit. Now about twice a year I roll out a chunk, make big clouds for each of the Look Wider octants and the girls get felt pens and fill the clouds with their ideas. The one in the picture the girls made in January – and I brought it back out so they could use it to plan this summer term.

In Scotland our summer term is shorter – especially as this year the summer holidays are starting a week earlier than usual. We have a very loooonnnnggg Autumn term starting in August.

I’m now trying to find ways to get our term plan done for the newer Ranger group. Only 3 of them showed up this week. They told me they definitely want the group to continue which is lovely (but also in my head I’m wondering how long I can sustain it for). We have continued challenges with a fight for space with a very large Guide unit that meets at the same time, and the fact that several of the girls seem to have their foot in both doors being ‘Young Leaders’ at Guides and ‘Rangers’. Trying to plan activities and where we will do them (and working out if they girls will come) is a bit stressful. I’m toughing it out until the summer, and plan to do a survey like this one that I got our original group to do. One of the questions I plan to ask is if they’d be willing to meet on a different night of the week. Because the current situation is less than ideal.

Anyway, hopefully our term plans will work out, I won’t have a breakdown and the weather will be good to us (Is that Mother Nature laughing at us already?)

We shall see!

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!

Welcoming the start of a new year at Guides

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The week before it was all about the planning. Taking the girls ideas and feedback they’d given us last term and working out how we could do it this term.

E-mails, phone calls, term programmes, A LOT of printing and some supply shopping…

…and on then it was time to put the uniform back on for our first Guide meeting of the new school year.

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Our Young Leader is now an Adult Leader in Training, and officially made her promise at the end of last term. We weren’t sure if all the girls on our register would return, but all of them did. We’ve only got 12 Guides this year to start with, the Brownie unit that ‘feeds’ into our unit meets on a different night so we keep losing the graduated Brownies to a Guide unit that meets on the same night as them. We were also aware that some of the girls are hiting 14 (a few already have) and we’d noticed a couple of them beginning to show signs that they were feeling a bit ‘old’ for Guides, and others really not ready yet to move onto Senior Section.

So we put a plan to the older girls which they seem excited about – for the oldest Guides who are 14 or will turn 14 this term to be in their own Patrol. As  a Patrol they are going to work on activities that are still Guide activities but are more like the sort of things they would do as Rangers/Senior Section. The other great thing is that they all remember our newest Adult leader from when she was still a Guide and asked her lots of about Senior Section. I’ve basically told the girls to ask her when I’m not there so they know they aren’t getting biased answers. 😉

The only down point was when I mentioned that there was a new uniform – the words ‘there’s a new uniform you can now get in the Girlguiding shop‘ were barely out of my mouth before the girls who apparently have seen pictures of it started passionately yelling about it (not in a good way). Two of the girls have grown out of their uniform and were most upset when they heard they couldn’t get the old one anymore. I’m glad for those of you who have seen it in person and told me it looks better than it did in the pictures. I said that to them, told them it is a bit like the Senior Section one just different colours and that if still felt very strongly about it when they saw it in person they should give feedback to Girlguiding about what they’d like the uniform to be like.

(Have any other Guiders faced this negative feedback from their Guides? How are you dealing with it?)

We did our Unit Guidelines, the girls have given me more ideas for the coming year and were really happy to find out that we’ve managed to organise a request they made at the beginning of the calendar year – to learn First Aid. We’re super excited to have a volunteer instructor from British Red Cross coming to teach First Aid to the girls for 3 evenings later this term. We’re going to be tying this in with a night just before Remembrance Sunday about what Girl Guides did during the World Wars.

Next week the girls will choose their Patrol Leaders and Patrol Seconds and pick what Go For It, Challlenge or Badge they want to work on during Patrol Nights this term.

Meanwhile, I’m off to get more ink cartridges for my poor overworked printer…

The Guiding year has begun!