I have gone through pretty much every possible form of girl guiding, I was a Rainbow, Brownie, Guide, Ranger, young leader and now I’m training as/being a guider so would like to think I have a fairly extensive knowledge if it!
To quickly explain the different levels there are – Rainbows aged 5-7, Brownies 7-11, Guides 11-15 and Ranger or Senior Section girls are 16-25. The most important thing that happens in these meetings is that these young girls are put in social situations with other girls outside of school. In the early stages they are only just learning about what it is to socialise and work with other people and associations like this are vital to improve abilities that can be transferred in everyday life and when they are older and in the working world.
The girls are taught to cook, make many crafts, about the world, first aid and responsibility as the sixers are in charge of the girls in their six (Gnomes, Pixies, Elves and Imps).
As you progress through the stages nothing seems as exciting as the prospect of camping without parents. I found the slightly increased emphasis on outdoor and physical activities at this stage to be incredibly fun, some of my favourite memories come from going away as a group.
The level often unknown or forgotten about is Senior Section or Rangers, now there may have only been 4 in my section but my god did we do a lot, including trips to London and to the highest point on the Isle of Wight – singing Disney songs all the way up and having a picnic at the top makes the journey a bit easier.
So so may fond memories are made when you are a part of something as big as Guiding, I've seen it increase self-confidence, fitness, skills in cooking and craft and not to mention the comradeship gained along the way.
It’s because of this that I want to be able to give back so I am currently doing my leadership qualification, having helped at one of my local groups for 2 and a half years on and off I have recently agreed to take it on myself as the current leaders of the pack are leaving/retiring.
I was unsure whether to fully take it on as it is quite a commitment, I was weighing up if it would be viable and if I was up to it. Just as I was about to turn it down one of the youngest and (I shouldn't say it but) cutest Brownies looked at me one evening and out of nowhere says “I don’t want Brownies to ever end”. That was it, that was the moment I decided that it was something I just had to do, seeing how much Brownies means to the girls is why it had to continue. It’s still a fairly terrifying concept, being responsible for 24 7-11 year old girls but I think I am looking forward to it.
As you can tell from reading this I absolutely adore what Brownies do and all the activities that the recent leaders have done with this pack have been fabulous and thoroughly enjoyed. Having said that I am excited about making a couple of changes for them, mostly focusing on completion of badges as well as more physical activities. Most young girls enjoy all the things traditionally associated with Guiding BUT we need to appreciate that times are changing and so are the girls. A big issue we face is the change to Scouts, now that girls are allowed to join and focus on these exciting physical activities – orienteering, fire building, team building games, a lot of girls are leaving guiding to join them.
I intend to get my girls involved in getting active and also learning a lot, the badges that can be earned actually suit this plan perfectly. There are so many that require the girls to improve or learn a brand new ability (swimming, cycling etc), get active and be educated about other cultures, food, charities even environmental issues and science – which I am particularly passionate about.
I have some big shoes to fill and I have no idea if I will make a decent leader for these girls, but I do know that they mean a lot to me and all I want is to ensure they enjoy coming each week, they learn a lot but most importantly leave with experiences they won’t forget and lifelong friendships just like I did. If I do half as well at this as the women I have met throughout my time with the association then I can be proud and know I did well!
Lastly a plea – anyone that has previously been involved in Guiding or simply feels like they might benefit from it please, please contact your local pack and offer your help, even if it’s just every so often, especially if you are a parent of a Rainbow, Brownie or Guide. Guiders and young leaders are always needed to continue this incredible work and help the charity grow... yes Girl Guiding is a charity and relies on donations from people and volunteers to run it, without the dedication of people like my brown owl who gave over 30 years of her life to the same Brownie pack, there is no way it could survive.