Hello and welcome to April's Chiefs’ Chat!
This month, our Chief Commissioners are sharing their thoughts on the merits of blended guiding - a mix of indoor, outdoor and virtual meetings. Plus, Julie reflects of the death of HRH Prince Philip.
Hello everyone, hope you had a great long weekend over the Easter break and a peaceful school holiday – I certainly welcomed it after being back full time for four weeks to cover for a colleague, I enjoyed a good few lie-ins, and catching up on some reading as well as time with my grandsons and eating too much chocolate! I have to be careful of chocolate as it is one of my food intolerances – but I can’t resist!
It has been great ‘visiting’ so many of you as part of the 50 visits for 50 years and whilst we all love Zoom, I am now starting bookings for outdoor meetings too, my own Rainbow unit had their first meeting outdoors and it was so different to meet them face to face – they were quite shy as they have only ever seen us on Zoom as we are a brand new unit, but it was so much more fun. We talked back in September about blended guiding and I do think this will be the way forward, a mixture of indoor, outdoor and Zoom, whatever works best for each of us at any particular time, there are some units without meeting places, some units with fewer leaders, fewer girls and we will need to have a blended approach for some time to come I think. Please don’t feel that you have to meet in any way, just do what is right for you and the girls. It was great fun to join in with the Spring Social too and what a lot of great activities they managed to cram in, there will be more from Girlguiding to support whatever blended approach works best for you as time goes on.
I have also joined my local Trefoil Guild during lockdown and they too are looking at a blended approach – some Zoom meetings, some outdoor ones booked – weather permitting and indoors hopefully come September, and of course I got to meet some great Girlguiding friends over the holidays – managing ice cream whilst we walked and talked in the snow! Raining definitely makes an outdoor meeting a challenge, but snow is fun!
I wanted to add the following in light of the recent passing of HRH Prince Philip.
I never had the opportunity to do the Duke of Edinburgh's Award as it wasn't offered where I was at the time. I did do my Queen's Guide and learnt a lot of the skills there that would stand me in good stead as a pioneering instructor on a summer camp in Massachusetts. When I got my first teaching job I quickly became involved in the Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme operating at our school and was an instructor, supervisor and assessor for Bronze, Silver and Gold with walking and canoeing expeditions. It was an amazing experience with lots of happy memories and as a supervisor I attended four different presentations with Prince Philip both at at Holyrood and St. James Palace and attended Buckingham Palace with a good friend of mine who was awarded the MBE for services to education and also the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. One year I had the opportunity as an adult to do the Platinum award which involved me carrying out challenges as part of each section - I am so disappointed that I can't find my certificate since I moved house but having not been able to do the award myself as a young person, it felt very special to get the special Platinum award for volunteers involved in supporting youngsters. Needless to say, all that I had learnt as a Guide was what I put into practice and continue to do so. The Duke of Edinburgh's Award scheme has done so much for the young people we have the absolute privilege to work with and couldn't be a better epitaph for the Duke himself.
I’m sure many of you are completing risk assessments – as am I for my unit – and looking forward to meeting outdoors very soon. We haven’t given up zoom meetings just yet and as a leadership team of the unit we have been reflecting on all that we have learnt over the last 12 months. What has worked and things we probably won’t try again! As we are a Rainbow unit we’ve seen much more of the parents than we have ever before - spotted the good singers and those with a flair for crafts! - and we really want to make sure those relationships are developed as we start to meet face to face again.
We certainly think that we will use blended guiding a lot more in future – even if its only for some occasions such as when our hall gets used for the local pantomime and we can’t have access for a couple of weeks or when its used for voting! And, we know that some units will have to wait a while until they can access their meeting place and so blended guiding is definitely needed. For everyone who has done any cooking on zoom – everyone agrees it has been so much easier to leave the clearing up to the girls (and the parents)!
As I write this, my Brownie Unit’s risk assessment for outdoor meetings has just been approved, and as you read this, we will have had our first face to face meeting in over a year! All of our girls and leaders are equally excited to see each other in person again, and also to properly meet some of our newer members for the first time.
For at least the next half term we’re going to offer a mix of outdoor and virtual meetings. This especially suits me, as while I’m still away at university I’m sadly not able to join everyone at the outdoor meetings. Blended guiding means that I still get to see everyone every other week on Zoom rather than not see them at all! So far for outdoor meetings we’ve planned a badge presentation ceremony, an Earth Day activity, and, to celebrate World Bee Day, seed-bomb making. Then for virtual meetings we’ll be finishing a Skills For My Future Skills Builder and doing some fun science experiments.
As well as face to face meeting there’s something else on the horizon which I’m looking forward to: #5KMay. The challenge became popular in Lockdown 1 and involved completing 5K, donating £5, and nominating five people to do the same. I must admit, it was the only thing which actually got me out on a run throughout those first months of the pandemic! I’m planning to take part again this year but also use it as an opportunity to fundraise for Girlguiding North West England! I haven’t decided by exactly what means to complete my 5k so am welcome to any suggestions. I did buy a skipping rope recently and jokingly mentioned skipping my 5k, but I’m not sure about the funny looks I’ll get from happily skipping along in Manchester City Centre! To join me and help raise funds for our region, you too can sign up here!
We hope you enjoyed catching up with us again this month. As always, you can find us on Twitter, where you can ping us any questions or simply share all of the incredible work that you are doing.
Julie, Kathryn, and Emma.