A Thinking day to think about refugees…

One of our Senior Section has been involved in a campaign with some young people from her high school to ask Scotland to do more to welcome refugees seeking sanctuary here in the UK.  While planning for the term, they asked if we could learn more, so I told them about my friend Katherine who had not long started working for a small charity called the Refugee Survival Trust. One of the things that Katherine and the volunteers at RST do is go into schools and groups to help dispel myths and help educate people about what the reality is like for refugees and asylum seekers.

Thinking Day seemed like a good day to learn about such things, so we invited Katherine to come through for that week. And then the Guide unit that meet at the same time as us said they had no current plans for Thinking Day so we decided to join up with them.

The girls did a quiz, saw photos of the Calais Jungle and learned how to say welcome in three different languages including Arabic. We ended with having cake for Baden-Powell’s birthday, and our candle ceremony which Katherine joined in with. Now she has a guiding light too! ūüėČ

If you are a unit based in Central Scotland, particularly if you’re in the Glasgow area where most of the RST volunteers are based, I totally recommend getting in touch with them and inviting them to come talk to your unit. Maybe your unit could even do some fundraising for them?

Thank you so much Katherine for making the time and effort to come through to spend the evening with us. We really appreciated it!


To all my Brownies, Guides & Rangers past & present…

It’s safe to say that there are days as a volunteer leader I want to quit. Days where I wonder why I bother because no one is listening or feeling unappreciated or overwhelmed or just plain exhausted.

The downside of the last 48 hours is seeing so many of you upset at not being heard by Girlguiding UK, feeling despondent that you want to be part of a group but aren’t for one reason or another…or soon won’t be because you’ll be over 18. The upside has been that some of you who have ‘graduated’ from units I’ve worked with have been back in touch, and I’ve seen how much you care not just for yourselves but the generations of Guides and Rangers coming up behind you.

I often see leaders complaining about how unappreciated they feel. I’m sure there are days when I’ve got grumpy when you’ve forgotten your stuff again, or been late, or not told me that you weren’t going to show up…. but I also know that so many other days when you when you’ve put in the extra effort to make a cake for one of your guiding sisters or flung yourselves into an activity or come along even when you’ve been feeling rubbish. There are times when you’ve taken the time to encourage me as a leader¬†and told me¬†you’ve appreciated the support I’ve attempted to give you over the years and told me Thank You.

And so I’ll repeat what I said to one of you yesterday when you said you weren’t sure if you’d ever thanked me.

You are more than welcome.¬†You all make it so worth it, and it’s because of how lovely you all are, and how much you’ve all put into it that makes me keep going!

Wherever you go in life, I hope you’ll take good memories with you, remember the values you’ve developed and carry on standing up for them. And¬†as I’m probably always saying #onceaguidealwaysaguide. We will light candles tonight to mark our friendship as part of the world guiding family, but even after they are blown out you’ll all take that Guiding light out into this crazy world we live in for many years to come.

Thinking Day Candle Ceremony

One of the things I remember doing as a Brownie, but less so as a Guide was celebrating Thinking Day. I shared recently how I was shocked at how many of my Guides and Senior Section had never heard of it and didn’t know what it was, despite having been members of Girlguiding for many years.

This year Thinking Day fell during term time (so often it has been during the half-term holiday) and we were able to do something significant to celebrate. As the Guides have been navigating their G-Files and asking questions, I’ve been telling them more about the history of Guides and the things I did as a Guide. Four new Guides were due to make their promise, as well as our two new Young Leaders so we wanted to do something to make the night special.

I had looked up Thinking Day Candle Ceremonies, and found this one.¬†But for me it didn’t quite sit right.¬†I found some great stuff produced by Girl Scouts in Canada and USA too, and in the end decided to use some of the ideas from each of them and create a “new” candle ceremony.

I managed to get four pillar candles (White, Blue, Red and a yellow-y one – apparently no one sells Gold candles when it’s not Christmas time, so I’m going to nab a gold candle for next Thinking Day next winter!!) and three candles of different colours (scented) that were on sale in my local supermarket. They weren’t quite the colours I was hoping for, but C’est la vie!

Our amazing unit leader spent the weekend making candle holders from cereal boxes so that each Guide (and parents and sisters who came along to join us who wanted to join in) could hold a candle.

I asked our five oldest Guides and our two young leaders if they would light the big candles that we had on a table at the opening of our horseshoe, then from the friendship candle I lit my candle and then with my candle lit the other two leaders next to me and then around the horseshoe each person shared their ‘guiding light’ with the Guide next to them.


This is how our ceremony went…feel free to use or adapt. I based it on the World Flag and this Thinking Day candle ceremony that I found online, I assume it was made by someone in the Girl Scouts of the USA.


For 90 years, on 22nd February, the birthday of our founder and first World Chief Guide we have observed Thinking Day, where we celebrate the international friendship with our sisters in Guiding all around the world.

These candles symbolise what unite us as the World Guiding family  and help us to remember our sisters around the globe.

BLUE: We light this candle to represent the sky and sun that shines over children around the world. We share the same sky and sun whether we are richer or poorer, taller or smaller, older or younger, worship different Gods or no god, come from different countries and have different abilities.

RED: We light this candle to remember our founder, Robert Baden-Powell, and his wife Olave Baden-Powell, our first World Chief Guide. Together they showed young girls and women the way of Guiding and Scouting to ‘Be Prepared’ and do a good turn every day.

GOLD: We light this candle to represent the Promise and Law that we all pledged to keep with the hope that it will become a way of life for all who make that promise.

WHITE: We light this candle in the hope of peace in every country and territory around the world. We remember our sisters who have been affected by war.

PURPLE: We light this candle to remind ourselves to always stay true to our beliefs even when it is not easy.

GREEN: We light this candle to represent our readiness to serve, and to help other people ¬†as expressed in the Guide and Scout motto to always ‚ÄúBe Prepared‚ÄĚ.

PINK: We light this candle in honour of friendship, remembering our sister Guides and Girl Scouts wherever they may be ‚Äď in homes, churches, meeting halls, refugee camps, hospitals and shelters.

We will now each light our own candle from the candle of friendship. Each of these candles are symbols of the Guiding light of friendship and peace we carry wherever we go in our communities and around the world.

It went better than I thought it would, no one set themselves or the hall (or anyone else) on fire with the candles. The girls who spoke did really well, especially considering we had no time to do a practice run. We later re-lit the candles for the girls to make their Promises!


Other highlights of the night were many of our Guides running a bake sale to raise money for the Guide Friendship Fund – they made ¬£60. Many made friendship bracelets, and had created wordsearches and games about World Guiding. It was all a bit chaotic, and we had to encourage them to reach out to parents and family members they’d invited along for the evening to join in! I hope it gave the parents an idea of what they get up to when they leave them under our supervision.

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.



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!