Hello and welcome to another Chiefs’ Chat
Welcome to another Chiefs’ Chat! We can all agree that it's important to remain positive right now and what better way than to reflect on our favourite guiding memories, of which it was hard to pick just a few to mention!
I was inspired by Emma and her sharing of #SewcialDistancing, which geared me up to sew on all the badges that are clogging up my sewing boxes. It was when I got my blanket out of the cupboard that I had a major memory boost and an amazing one at that. I started my blanket in 1975 when I was a Guide in 3rd Washington (Blackfell) Guides in Girlguiding North East England, Durham County. Every badge brings with it a whole host of fantastic memories from when I would buy a badge from every place I went to.
As part of my Queen’s Guide -which my two friends and I were awarded with – I did a service as a Young Leader with Cubs, which involved me going to camp with them at Durham Scout and Guide camp; it was always an absolute riot but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
I'm on the front now, second to far right, with my leader, Kim to my left and my two friends to my left.
Also as part of Queen’s Guide, I walked a fair amount of Hadrian’s Wall, before it was even a thing! We walked via my Grandma’s house at Ebchester where she made lunch for five of us before we set off.
My camp blanket has been with me for 45 years now. Before being mine, it was my Grandma's, making it at least 80 years old! It was thread bare in places, so I crocheted a load of squares to sew onto the back – that makes it super warm and in my university days when I lived in the attic of our student house, it made my bed super comfy!
My camp blanket has been with me throughout my journey and all the experiences that came with it. Now, I am sewing on all those badges I have been given over the first year as your Region Chief Commissioner, which has been a brilliant experience to add to all the other years. It only makes me look forward to the next four years when we will reinvigorate all we do and hopefully bring lots of new members with us.
My favourite guiding memory is very hard to pick; I couldn’t pick just one, so here are three.
As a Ranger leader I have vivid memories of one Ranger abseiling down a tower on an activity day – something none of us, not even her mum, ever thought we would see her try! The sheer joy and feeling of accomplishment on her face at the end was amazing to see and she still talks about it to this day. This memory is particularly important to me as it illustrated just how brave, courageous, and adventurous our young members are and how our incredible volunteers help to unlock their potential.
As Division Commissioner I was able to take a whole lot of Brownies and Guides from my Division - three coaches in fact - to the World in One City event in Liverpool in 2010. As we arrived in the city, we saw Brownies and Guides and other members of Guiding everywhere. One young Brownie could not help exclaiming ‘look! There are millions of them!’. I’m pretty sure there were only thousands of us on the day but realising you are part of something that huge was so wonderful.
A more recent memory that has stuck with me is from last year’s Juliette Lowe group; I thoroughly enjoyed their international event at Waddow Hall and it was great to share the common purpose and values of Guiding with so many representatives from different countries across the globe, highlighting true sisterhood and commonality.
I’ve done so many amazing things as a member of Girlguiding North West England and wider Girlguiding, it’s hard to choose just one!
I definitely agree with Julie that a blanket is a great way to document all of your guiding memories. I started mine when I was 12, before I headed off on my first Guide camp but have since backdated it to include all of my old Rainbow and Brownie badges while, of course, proudly displaying all the badges I earn as an adult member.
Some of my favourite memories are with my Brownie Unit, such as the Pack Holiday a couple of years ago where we celebrated Christmas in April. We decked Guys Farm out with decorations, cooked a full Christmas dinner and organised a Secret Santa gift exchange. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the excitement on the girls’ faces when they walked through the front door to blaring carols and a Christmas tree!
At the moment, we’re still all connecting using our Facebook group and digital meetings and I’m sure in the future this will become a favourite guiding memory. We’ll look back and remember how funny it was to say our promise through a webcam and to sing our Brownie song even though there was lots of glitches and buffering!
Another favourite memory relating to my camp blanket is attending the 18-30 weekend at Waddow Hall last June. In the evening we all sat in the lounge showing our blankets to one another, swapping badges, and sewing. I made some great new friends that weekend and had the added pleasure of introducing Waddow to those who had travelled from all across the UK.
I’m also incredibly proud of the social action and advocacy I’ve been involved in, both in our region and nationally. Action for Change and the Girlguiding Advocate Panel are both incredible experiences and the respective badges take pride of place front and centre on my blanket! I’ve had multiple once in a lifetime opportunities through Girlguiding: attending a meeting at the Home Office, speaking on a panel with our CEO at Conservative Party Conference, contributing to press statements and media interviews for various campaigns - all with the purpose of being a voice for our young members and making sure they’re listened to by decision makers.
While life is a bit strange for everybody, I’d love to hear other people’s guiding memories and badge stories. For every badge you sew onto your blanket or uniform, share how/where you got it on social media with the hashtag #SewcialDistancing. It’s nice to reflect on our favourite guiding memories in the midst of all this uncertainty.
As always, you can find us on Twitter where you can ping us if you need any support or to simply share all the incredible work that you are doing.
Julie, Kathryn, and Emma.