Hello and welcome to another Chiefs’ Chat!
We've been keep super busy with guiding during the past few weeks which has added some fun and positivty to our lockdown routine - which seems to be the new normal!
As I write, I am sat colouring my Girlguiding bunting ready for a street party on my new street. It was all hands-on-deck last weekend as we moved into our new home – a bit of excitement despite the circumstances! Within minutes of moving in, we had two invitations for a socially distant street party to mark VE day – it was a great chance to meet our new neighbours.
The whole street party reminded me of the street party for the Queen’s Silver Jubilee when I was a Guide, of which I have fond memories of running around and eating my body weight in cake! I also remember being in the parade when the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh came to open a park in my hometown. The Duke of Edinburgh spoke to the Guide next to me; I can’t remember what was said but it was quite the thing at the time. Since then, I have been lucky enough to meet the Duke of Edinburgh through the DofE Award on several occasions; it has always been a lovely interaction.
Recently you will have seen the popularity of the 2.6 challenge on social media, which I too got involved with. When my husband and I first saw that the 2.6 challenge would be an alternative to the London Marathon during this time, my husband said ‘great, we can walk 2.6 miles on our daily walk’ - but I had other plans. I thought that would be a bit too easy, as we usually cover that number of miles anyway and I really wanted to challenge myself. So, I decided to run up and down 26 stairs, 26 times. Golly, it was tiring to say the least, but therein was the challenge and I am happy to have raised some money for Girlguiding North West England as a result.
I am still keeping in touch with the other chiefs and CHQ as we continue to stay positive during this time. We’re hopeful that we can get back to face-to-face guiding before too long. In the meantime, I would like to say a huge thank you for all you are doing remotely; from virtual county camps and campfire sing-alongs to #Uniform4Uniforms and weekly zoom meetings. I was also thrilled to see Emma’s fantastic Facebook Live that she did for Brownies recently. Please keep an eye out for more Facebook Fun – coming soon!
Just last week, Julie Bell, who was Region Chief Commissioner before me, received her well-deserved Laurel Award. I am delighted that we have national recognition for one of the most dedicated leaders I have ever had the privilege of working with. Julie is an inspiration to everyone and we are honoured to have her as a leader and role model to girls and young women in the North West region.
I hope you’re all keeping safe and well. My job in financial services means I am still going into the office most days, while having lots of virtual meetings. My day job isn’t the only thing that has shifted online– we, like many of you, have had to adapt the way we connect with our girls too! But, I am very grateful that, amid all that’s happening, there is positivity in that we can still interact with our young members and continue to offer them great experiences.
Talking of great experiences, I think we can all agree how fantastic the county virtual camps have looked. Recently, I was thrilled to see a huge one at Girlguiding Cumbria South. Over 500 girls from across the UK and even Australia, joined in on the camping experience – with a virtual twist – involving putting up proper tents in gardens, make-believe tents under tables, and dens with blankets and pillows. Together, they did all things you would expect from a traditional Girlguiding camp - eating eggy bread for breakfast, holding midnight feasts and completing a whole range of challenges. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Girlguiding event without a bit of silliness. These events illustrate the fantastic solidarity Girlguiding has and shows that, even when we’re apart, we’re together.
I imagine we’re all looking forward to the Girlguiding Adventures at Home festival too – it’s taking place on Saturday 23 May, so not left to go now! It’s going to be a day of music performance, football challenges, magic and more - plenty of guiding excitement to add to your week.
I am confident that we will be seeing plenty more fab things continuing within Girlguiding; continuing to show how we will always get through things together and adapt to finding new ways to do things.
To end, I want to add a huge congratulations to Julie Bell, Deputy Chief Guide, who you might remember as our former Region Chief Commissioner. Many of you will have had the privilege of seeing Julie’s commitment to Girlguiding, resulting in her receipt of the Laurel Award.
No surprise here, but this month has been a little different to normal! The first major change for me was university moving online and buildings like the library closing, meaning that various assignments and my dissertation were to be completed from home.
Then, face to face guiding activity was suspended, but not before we hosted an amazing colander campfire for my Guides. Everyone learnt some fire safety and science, cooked veggie kebabs and, of course, had a good sing song! It’s nice to know that, whilst we’re unsure when we’ll next meet, we ended on a fantastic high!
I’ve since moved back to my family home so, even though I’m apart from my friends, I’m spending more time with my family, which is a big positive in all this. My younger sister and I have had some great fun keeping ourselves busy - think obstacle courses in the garden, Wii tournaments and scavenger hunts - so basically reverting back to childhood! Whenever we’ve been stuck for ideas, Adventures at Home and Boredom Busters have been great sources of inspiration and, so far, we’ve been lucky to never really have a dull moment.
Guiding has also kept me busy and feeling positive - our virtual meetings are definitely the highlight of every week and we’ve had lots of fun with both programme and non-programme activities. We’ve welcomed new Brownies, awarded skills builders and theme awards, and seen so much interest badge work. As much as I can’t wait to get back to face-to-face guiding, I think I’ll quite miss virtual meetings when that day comes. There’s something quite special about 20 girls and leaders saying their promise to a computer screen!
The lockdown hasn’t stopped the Advocate Panel either. We’ve had regular zoom catch ups to check in on each other and discuss ideas. Sewcial distancing was our first lockdown initiative - it developed almost accidentally but turned into a big success, with so many members sewing and sharing badges. We also jumped on board the social media bingo trend and created our very own Girlguiding bingo grid. It was great for members to reflect on all they’d already achieved in guiding, but also what they hadn’t yet achieved and so could look forward to doing in the future!
Our next idea was #Uniform4Uniforms, which we even produced our very own video for. We thought it was important for members across the UK to be reminded of their guiding family and to feel connected to everyone, so encouraging everyone to wear their uniform at the same time seemed a perfect answer. Thousands of members united as we clapped for our key workers and showed just how grateful our organisation is for those working on the frontlines.
And then, of course, I was happy to deliver some Facebook Fun for Brownies recently where we had some emoji fun. The Brownies who tuned in and I explored different uses of emojis, with members commenting some of the emojis they wish existed. We had a 'bad hair day' emoji, a 'hiccup' one, a 'bag of crisps' one and a 'promise' emoji, to name a few! Those would be super helpful to have! Some adult members got involved too! You’re never too old to have some skills builder fun! I am looking forward to seeing more Facebook Lives for more sections.
As always, you can find us on Twitter where you can ping us if you have any questions or to simply share all the incredible work that you are doing.
Julie, Kathryn, and Emma.