Thursday, 20 February 2020

Why I'm becoming a Brownie Leader

One thing that you're sure to recognise from your childhood is Girlguiding or Scouts as they've been around for over 100 years. Although they've changed a lot throughout the years, they've always been a place where you can go to meet with friends and learn outside of a school setting. I myself was a Brownie (the second group in the hierarchy of GirlGuiding from age 7-10) although I don't recall much from those days except an abundance of crafts and lots of outdoor activities.

I'll get into why I'm becoming a Brownie Leader, but first a bit of background. In 2018, in early January,  I was in the 'new year, new me' phase. I needed to find something else to introduce into my life, a new hobby, maybe volunteering.  As luck would have it, I was browsing Instagram and I stumbled across an advert for Girlguiding, looking for volunteers to spare time to help local groups. At the time I had ambitions to possibly go into teaching, although this didn't pan out, so I thought it would be the perfect thing to do.

It's a nerve-racking thing to do, join an established group when you don't have much experience around kids or anything like this but sometimes you have to put yourself in these situations to get something out of them. And get something I did. It took me a while to find my feet, start interacting with the girls and understanding how I could be of some help but when I did, every week it felt more and more rewarding.

Images of Brownie Girlguiding Pack

For over a year I was a Unit Helper, coming into the meetings every Thursday night to support the leader's sessions, helping out with games and generally supporting the girls in their activities. In the Spring of 2019, I was asked about becoming one of the leadership team within the unit I attend. At first, I wasn't really up for it, and at the time I was going off for a few months to retrain, so I put it on the back burner. When I came back in September, I had a discussion with our Brown Owl and decided I had nothing to lose, so why not give it a go.

The process of becoming a leader is much like an NVQ or something similar in that you have a booklet of tasks you need to complete and evidence you need to collect whilst getting parts signed off as you go. I'm probably around 75% of the way there, so I'm hoping to finish before the end of Spring, maybe sooner if all falls into place.

So, why did I decide to become a Brownie Leader, and why do I value my volunteering position as much as I do?

Brownies (and other sections of Girlguiding) provide girls with an opportunity to meet with friends, make new friends and generally just be around local girls without pressure or judgement. Before I started attending the sessions, I didn't realise how much I think young girls need this. With mounting pressures starting with girls younger and younger, a place where they can just have fun without people thinking they look silly or learn new and exciting life skills with the support of other young girls is so important. I've heard a few of the girls in our unit mention themselves in a negative way or compare themselves to others and I value the opportunity to rebuttal their statements and empower these girls to think positively about themselves providing a platform for them to grow in the future.

Further on this point, it is a chance to help shape a young girls future. We do such exciting and creative things at Brownies, whilst we also talk about issues and fight stereotypes. We want to show the girls that no matter what they want to do when they are older or whoever they want to be, it's possible. I think that it is extremely valuable to do this.

Thinking about more selfish reasons for becoming a Brownie leader, I feel a sense of self-fulfilment in helping the girls to realise their potential. It's a great position to be in and its a pleasure to go in every week to speak to the girls and see how they are growing.

When at Brownies, we get to do lots of cool crafts, I do love a craft, and we get the opportunity to visit places with the group. For example, we went to the panto on ice before Christmas, have been to Whitby on pack holiday and we're looking to go to Flamingo Land in September. We're not travelling across the World or anything (although you can) but I enjoy getting out and experiencing things I otherwise wouldn't.

Finally, I think becoming a Brownie Leader is just fun. I get to go for an hour and a half every Thursday to spend time with some fantastic leaders and bright young girls to play games, do crafts and complete activities. If that isn't a reason in itself to be a part of Girlguiding, I don't know what is.

If you're considering applying to volunteer at a local Girlguiding (or Scout) group, I'd definitely suggest you go for it. There are different age groups you can help with and varying levels of commitment you can offer and you can, of course, take time off when you need. Please get in touch if you have any questions, want to talk about what the leadership booklet entails or you're currently going through it. It would be great to speak to other leaders-to-be!

Oh, and did I mention you get a cool owl name? The girls decided that I'm 'Happy Owl'. I'm pretty sure they don't know me too well...

Also, if I've inspired you to enrol your child, get her to a session, I'm sure she will love it.

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