World Thinking Day 2016

So World Thinking Day is coming up. I was shocked to discover that none of our Guides knew about World Thinking Day, many didn’t know who Baden-Powell was and one Guide said in shock to me ‘Lord Baden-Powell was a real person?!’ when we sat on the floor in a circle ‘Brownie Pow-wow’ style to talk about the World Guiding badge which we are doing as a unit.

As someone who grew up in Girlguiding, I find it really sad that the girls – who have pretty much all been growing up in Guiding since they were old enough to join Rainbows – had no clue about World Thinking Day.

Thinking Day in our county used to be a big deal. I remember as a Brownie every year going to a big event with Brownies from all over the county where we played games and then sang songs together. On the meeting closest to Thinking Day we would collect our subs and donations and put them in the shape of the Trefoil and send them to the Thinking Day Fund/Guide Friendship Fund (whatever it was called back then!)

As a Guide, to do your Baden Powell you had to have done your World Guiding badge and I still have the badges on my camp blanket that I exchanged with Guides from other countries as part of this.

This year I’m determined to give our girls the opportunity to celebrate Thinking Day.

Here is how I’m try to help create awareness of the day

1. Wearing promise badge/uniform on 22nd February.


Wearing badge on Thinking Day

We have written to the local primary schools to ask if they will allow members of Girlguiding to either wear all/or part of their uniform on 22nd February. Two out of the three primary schools have replied back with a yes – one we haven’t heard back from.

2. Changing cover photo and profile picture on Twitter/Facebook to include the World Thinking Day 2016 ‘Connect’ banner.


You can do this too by going to the Twibbon website. I’ve also added the banner as our cover photo for our Senior Section unit’s facebook group.

3. Our Guide unit is doing the World Guiding badge in the lead up to Thinking Day.

There are also activities (some of which we are using to complete the badge) in the Connect resource produced for World Thinking Day by WAGGGS, and there is a Brownie version of the World Guiding badge. And Activity Village has some sheets that you can download and print, as well as craft ideas that you can use for Thinking Day.

4. Giving an opportunity to add badges to camp blankets.


On Thinking Day I have a Sale or Return order from Girlguiding Scotland shop which includes camp blankets and the World Thinking Day badge so if the girls want to, they can start their own camp blanket to collect badges. As part of the badge, the girls are going to be running a bake sale to raise money for the Guide Friendship Fund. We are inviting parents to come along to celebrate Thinking Day with us.

5. Sharing our Guiding light.

I’m currently trying to come up with a doable idea for a Thinking Day/Promise ceremony using candles or torches!! Thankfully there’s lot of ideas been shared online, and I think I’ll be meshing them somehow.




Free Being Me – the experience so far

We are now halfway through the Free Being Me resource pack at our Guide unit. It’s been a good experience and the resource pack is very helpful. The youth development worker in me would like certain bits to be a little clearer for the leaders and girls (some of bits are a little bit too cheesey or the activity not particularly well explained) but overall it’s been great and easy enough to use. The most helpful feature is the grid at the beginning of the session telling you exactly what is needed for each task (very helpful to give a quick glance to check there isn’t something we need to get before the meeting that we don’t already have in our resources).

There are some ‘Before You Start‘ suggestions that we’ve used, and some we would have liked to have incorporated if we’d have had more time.

1. Free Being Me wall

We have now set a corner of our noticeboard to be our ‘Free Being Me’ wall. The idea is that we can post quotes, pictures, ideas, stories that inspire us to be ourselves. At our last session, I started our night with a little horseshoe around the noticeboard next to the Free Being Me section, and read the quotes that had been added so far by myself and one of our older Guides. A lot of the girls had already forgotten its existence. By the end of the night, another quote had been added. I’m wishing now we’d started every session at the Free Being Me wall, as I think it would have been a good focus point to begin each session.

**Update 30/03/2015 – we now have a wall COVERED in inspirational quotes and notes by the girls**

2. Treasure Inside Me Boxes

Unfortunately we didn’t quite get this off the ground on the first week as I’d planned due to some unforeseen circumstances. However, on the first night as the girls came in I got them to decorate sticky labels with their names on ready for some small kilner type jars I got in Ikea (80p each). These now sit at the front of our hall with some cut out bits of paper every meeting. The idea is that the girls can leave notes with encouraging and positive messages in each others’ jars. This week there were groups that finished tasks more quickly than others, so I encouraged a group of girls to see whose jars were emptiest and focus on ensuring everyone had a note. It was a delight to then see others then wanting to do the same. It did mean we didn’t get our final task done at the last session though!

3. Secret Friend

We haven’t done this, but I think it would have been a great thing to do. The idea is that every participatnt has a ‘secret friend’ from the group, and they find ways to make their secret friend feel good about themselves without revealing who they are.

Again, time prevented us from setting this up.

Session 1

I really recommend using the Dove Evolution video for explaining the Image Myth. You can find it here (they’ve made it so I can’t even embed it in my blog post unlike most YouTube videos).  I managed to set up my phone 3G to connect to my iPad so we could watch it. I really wish Dove made it available to download the video, as many units like our own, do not have internet access at their meeting place.

We had to watch it more than once for the girls to really understand what was going on, and what they changed.

Another thing that helped was having a big roll of paper – for doing our group discussions on body image. I also struggled to find age appropriate magazines (and WOW are they expensive?!). I ended up getting Teen Vogue, Top Model and Shout.

There were however way too many activities crammed into this session, and they had definitely underestimated the timings in the pack. If you really want to give your girls a chance for discussion (especially if you have a unit of more than 10 girls and are having to split into small groups and then come together as a larger group for feedback) then I would say split your session 1 into two weeks – maybe use some of the first week to create your ‘Treasure me boxes’, set up secret friends, do Guidelines, Free Being Me wall and so on. The discussion part is important, and the girls gain nothing if they aren’t given a chance to learn and critically reflect on the questions and information being put before them.

Session 2

Session 2 was much easier to manage as it was only two activities. Keeping the girls focused to get both done was the main challenge!

Session 3

Session 3 needs leaders. Thankfully all 3 of us were able to be there, otherwise it would have been a struggle, as you needed at least three ‘mission stations’, each one to be manned by a leader.

We’ve also had an additional session with the Photographer who came into do a workshop with the girls to plan their self portraits, as they have decided on how they want them to look, what props they want to bring to help show who they are. Over the next few weeks the girls will be going into the photography studio at a local college campus to get their photos taken. The girls had so many great ideas for this, and also got to hear from a Photographer how photoshop isn’t always a bad and evil thing if used well and not to completely alter the photograph, about setting up shots, how different elements can tell a story or give an impression.

Meanwhile, I’ll let you see a few messages the Guides wanted to share with you relating to the Image Myth:


“Everyone is beautiful in the outside but personality is the thing that counts not photos and make up!”

“Make up doesn’t make you pretty it’s in the name “make up” it makes you something you’re not. Now, wear your smile, you suit it!”

“Make up doesn’t  radiate who you are, it doesn’t make you. It’s your uniqueness that makes you you”

“If you look fake! People won’t know you are real!”

“Even if you cover yourself in cosmetics you will still be the same person!”

“It is your personality that matters, not how fake you look”

“Even the people in the magazines don’t look like that!”

“I want to scream and shout and let it all out – spread the word and say what is right about looks!”

“I really hate the image myth because image myth can be quite hurtful if you are the model being shown”

“Don’t fall for the image myth otherwise the image myth will fall for you”

“What matters is the way YOU are, not who other people are, because you only be you, not a version of another person. Make sure you’re not doing anything that you don’t want to be doing. Make sure you do things for your own benefit”

“Be who you are want to be – not what other people think you should be!”

“The way you look only says a tiny bit about who you are. Make time to get to know the real you and other people”

We only have a couple of more sessions to go, so I’ll keep you posted when I can. Hope this helps any other leaders and peer educators planning to do Free Being Me. 

Happy Thinking Day 2015

Even in the nine years I wasn’t a member of The Guide Association (now Girlguiding UK), I still used to see the date of 22nd February on the calendar, smile and think ‘It’s Thinking Day’.

Thinking Day is a day when Guides and Girl Scouts all around the world think of their sisters all around the world. We express our thanks for the friendships made and the fact we have this international movement we are all part of.

The 22nd February was chosen by international members of Guiding many decades ago, because it is the birthday of both our founder, Robert Baden-Powell, and his wife, Olave Baden-Powell who was the first ever World Chief Guide.

My memories of Thinking Day as a Brownie were bring your pennies, which would be laid in the shape of the World Badge, and would be given to the World Thinking Day fund. We would often learn about the different names Brownies and Guides had in other countries, and learn about the cultures in the countries they lived in. There also used to be big Thinking Day events for all the Brownies in Edinburgh, and I remember it being the only time I got to see how many Brownies dressed in fawn and yellow lived in my home city! There were sooooo many of us!

I would love to see Thinking Day celebrations become a tradition in our county or at least Division. It’s tough as now half-term is a full week long, and always seems to hit on Thinking Day. Arrrggghh (darn you City of Edinburgh Council)!! But these days many of the Brownies, Guides and Senior Section I meet don’t know what Thinking Day is. And that’s a real shame.

For today, I’m just wearing my current promise badge, and this morning searched out all the previous ones I’ve held. I stuck my Brownie and Guide one on my old Young Leader badge tab that I got when I received my Baden-Powell Award and made my promise as a Young Leader (18 months later I made my Ranger Promise in London – back then there were two separate badges for Rangers and Young Leaders). Sadly, my Rainbow promise badge that I got in 1990-ish has disappeared into the ether of “lost things”.


I am super happy that next month I’ll be receiving my Leadership Qualifcation badge – as I finally got my confirmation that I had passed my LQ for Guides and Senior Section as a Unit Leader at the end of last month. I got a really lovely letter from the assessor for our county too, which I wasn’t expecting.

Next year it will be the 100th anniversary of the start of Rangers (now known as Senior Section) and I think it will also be the 90th Thinking Day. Wow. I might need to get planning…

But for now, I’ll just be thankful for the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, all the opportunities it has brought me, everything I’ve learned from my fellow Guides and being part of the Guiding movement and proudly wear my promise badge.


Happy Thinking Day!

A letter to Australia…

As part of their International Octant, our unit decided they’d like to become pen pals with a group of Rangers in another country. When I was a Guide, I wrote to another Guide as part of my World Guiding badge (I think?!) through the WAGGGS pen pal scheme. I now cannot for the life of me remember which country in the world she was from. I still have the badges my pen pal sent to me on my camp blanket. Of course since then, most Western homes have access to computers and internet (heck, we even have it on phones we can carry in our pockets and handbags these days…most of us didn’t HAVE a phone in our pocket back in 1999!). Technological advances have sadly caused the ending of the Pen Pal scheme. 😦

We were determined to do it anyway, so, one of our members took on the task of finding us a group to be pen pals with. Finally she was able to get in touch with someone at Girl Guides Australia last winter.

Unfortunately we got thwarted by the fact when we e-mailed it was the Australian summer holidays – so it was a while before we got a response. Then it was our summer holidays. But finally a couple of months ago we got an address of a group of ‘Ranger Roos’ to write to.

At one of our meetings all of us took some coloured paper, pens and each wrote a letter telling about ourselves, our unit and how we are each involved with Girlguiding in the UK/Scotland. Even us leaders wrote a letter! The girls have decorated their letters with Australian flags, Scottish flags, celtic designs – I think Nessie is even on one. This week my job is to send them off downunder.

As much as it is fun to do e-mails, blogs and all the rest, there’s something fun about sending things in the mail.

Which reminds me – I have a Scottish Girlguiding badge to send to my friend Holly so she can add it to her camp blanket! The Royal Mail is going to make a fair bit out of me this week… 🙂


Free to be me

A few weeks ago, we began a discussion at Senior Section (this is a Girlguiding unit I run with girls aged 14-25) and body image came up. I can’t remember where the discussion had begun – it may have been talking about gender equality from one of the challenges in the Commonwealth Games ‘Ready, Steady, Glasgow‘ pack. I think we showed this video

We discussed how girls were concerned about being judged by other girls on how big their breasts were or their body size or what they were wearing.

You want to say it doesn’t matter.

And then you remember what you saw fill your twitter feed the morning after any film or television awards ceremony. And you realise that most of it is to do with what the women wore to the event more than how amazing their art work was that they were being nominated for an award for. I can’t help but cheer on Sarah Millican (who incidentally I think looks lovely in her dress from John Lewis that she wore to the BAFTAs in 2013) when I read this article she wrote in the Radio Times. And be raging at shows like Lorraine who spent time slagging off her outfit the next day.

When will this change?

I still remember a day sitting in a church office chatting the wife of one of our pastors. I ended up helping her with some simple admin stuff while I was in there and I loved having that opportunity to speak with a woman who had a bit more life experience than I. It was lovely to chat until a moment where she said out of the blue ‘Oh, you know if you did X, Y, Z with your hair it would look so much better’.

I smiled and nodded. But inside I felt so disappointed. Yep, I know my hair is mental and messy. Sure, if I got up an hour earlier every morning I could probably do something to make it look slightly more presentable. But really? Does it really matter what my hair looks like? Does my worth come from how good my hair looks? How clear my skin is? How put together my outfit is?

Quite frankly, my hope is that people look past my mismatched hoodie that I’ve shoved on over my outfit to keep warm or the messy tangle of frizz that I’ve tried to get out my face by pulling back into a bun or ponytail that has started falling out while I ran for the bus…I want people to care about the levels of wisdom, intelligence, kindness or compassion I show over how good my wardrobe looks.

I want to be able to do exercise to feel healthy and socialise with my friends rather than to look like an airbrushed photo in a magazine.

And I never want to be one of those people buying magazines or watching television which is just tearing apart my fellow women.

The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts has teamed up with Dove to run a programme and challenge badge for Brownies and Guides called Free Being Me. As I watch some of my Guides walk in with their face hidden in heavy make up and telling me they think they’re fat – I’m seriously considering suggest to my fellow leaders that we should put it on the programme after the summer.

I feel sad that my old pastor’s wife felt the need to comment on my looks that she couldn’t see past them very far to what really counted. I like making the effort to make my nails more colourful, or my hair more tamed and enjoy wearing some crazy shoes every once in a while. But the majority of the time – sleep and comfort have a higher priority, and the highest priority is how beautiful I can make my character over how beautiful the package my character comes in…

I want to be free to be me, and I want my fellow Guides – adults, young leaders, rangers, Girl Guides, Brownies and rainbows to feel they can be free to be themselves too.

I want to be part of creating a world where that can happen…who’s with me?


Searching for pen friends!

One of the things our Senior Section girls would like to do is exchange ‘real’ mail with a unit in a country outside of the UK.

We have a group of 7 girls aged between 14-19 at the moment.

If you are a group connected with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the same age, please do get in touch with us. If you leave a comment, I’ll get one of the girls who has been nominated to coordinating the penfriend finding to e-mail you.

We’ll send you awesome things in the post! I promise!