Hello and welcome to March's Chiefs’ Chat!
For March's Chiefs' Chat, our three Chief Commissioners are looking forward to coming out of lockdown and meeting face to face!
As I write this I am ready for an Escape Room activity as part of an event celebrating the success of the Motivate project so far, and, most importantly, its amazing Sport Young Leaders. What a brilliant occasion it was and so good to have the opportunity to acknowledge the fabulous opportunities so many young women have had since the start of the project and great news that 95 sport young leaders are wanting to continue to participate in the future. Although the Sport England funded element of the project is coming to an end, we will be continuing the project and encouraging more young members to participate and for all units to book a Motivate session – either virtual or when we do get the chance face to face! We were all very impressed with the presentations made by the Sport Young Leaders - the project has certainly done so much to give them confidence as leaders, with Motivate, various sports, as Girlguiding leaders and beyond! We may even see one of them playing for England in the future! Opportunities in Girlguiding really do help open the potential of our young women, and bring them endless opportunities. Thank you to everyone involved in the project and for bringing all the opportunities to so many inspirational young women!
It has been just over a year since my school closed and since many of us had any face to face unit meetings. We have come a long way in the last year and learnt so much that will change the way we continue Girlguiding, but I am sure so many of us are ready to have some face to face activities and are looking forward to the summer and the prospect of more adventures indoors and outdoors and maybe even sleepovers! I went back to unit guiding again during lockdown and I am Assistant Leader with a new Rainbow unit which started in October. We have only ever met as a virtual unit but we have still had some great events, and we're now planning for face to face meetings as soon as we can. Our first face to face unit meeting is going to be at a Viking settlement near we were live, with a traditional longhouse, stone circle for a campfire and a really good idea for Rainbows– toilets! I can’t wait and will definitely share some photos with you all.
Whatever you are planning for the rest of this year, I am sure we will still share a lot more virtually as it brings us all so much closer together, things will change but I think we will keep the best of what we have learnt over this year to make Girlguiding even better. We began 110 years ago with just 19 girls and are now this huge worldwide organisation in 150 countries with around 10 million members, I am so proud to be part of that family.
Like many I was very happy to hear we are a step closer to face to face meetings – not sure if the weather will be kind enough to be meeting outdoors at the end of March – but am very happy to start planning and getting the risk assessment ready! I know my fellow unit leaders are also looking forward to that, but recognise we need to be prepared for some nervousness and uncertainty along the way.
The blended option is not going away any time soon and we will still need virtual. Indeed, I think there are some key skills and options we have acquired along the way this last year and we really need to make sure we keep that learning as we move forward.
One great advantage we have with zoom means I can join one meeting with other leaders across the country as we discuss returning to face to face guiding – and then later link up with a Guide unit on the Lancashire coast and hear all about what they have been doing for the last year and join in their quiz, all without leaving the sitting room!
There is a sense though that spring is really here and we have a lot of reasons to be optimistic for the year in Girlguiding ahead of us.
I hope everyone who attended the Stronger Together conference left feeling just as refreshed and relaxed as I did! From the hilariously relatable Zoom toolkit to the informative sessions on how to avoid your stress bucket overflowing, I think it was the perfect way to acknowledge all our volunteers have done, and continue to do, throughout the pandemic. Self-care is so important, and Stronger Together was a very apt reminder for everyone to look after themselves as well as others. On a lighter note, please would someone reassure me that I wasn’t the only one feeling seriously achy on Monday morning after the mindful movement!
We’ve marked several important dates recently; Stronger Together, International Women’s Day, British Science Week… this week has also marked a year since normal unit meetings were suspended, and since many of our members took to Zoom. I’ve acknowledged this ‘anniversary’ with my Brownies and Guides by reflecting on our favourite memories of the past year, in particular focusing on things we simply wouldn’t have been able to do under normal circumstances. I was told my enjoyment of the glitchy singing of Taps would soon get old, but a year on it’s still one of the things I find most special about virtual meetings!
My units have also been looking ahead and planning for our return to face-to-face guiding. This half term we’ve launched into the 50th Birthday Challenge Pack, of which one activity involves writing a bucket of 50 guiding things to complete in 2021. There was no limit to our girls’ ideas: all being well we’re going to a theme park, the beach, Houses of Parliament, eating chocolate, eating sweets, trying paddle-boarding, having a movie night, grass sledging and meeting the Queen! As well as this, everyone is just as excited by the little things; playing games that don’t work virtually, properly catching up with friends, restarting our termly badge ceremony. Whatever ‘normal’ looks like when we get back to face to face, I know it will be fantastic and fun filled and very much enjoyed by all!
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.