My post-Guides Girlguiding journey (so far!)

Lydia Harrison tells us the amazing opportunities that Girlguiding has given her!

My post-Guides Girlguiding journey (so far!)

My name is Lydia Harrison and I am 18. I am a Ranger at 1st North Meols Phoenix Rangers and a Unit Helper at 64th St Cuthbert’s Brownies.

When I was a Guide, I noticed that many of my peers left Guides at around the age of 12 or13 and did not return to Girlguiding. After speaking to other people within Girlguiding, I have found that this is a fairly common occurrence. Therefore, I wanted to write this blog in order to share my experiences of Girlguiding after Guides, to shed a little light on the opportunities available for (slightly older) young members of Girlguiding.

To provide a little insight into my guiding journey, since finishing Guides at 14, I have been a Young Leader at both my old Rainbows and Brownies units and also been a founding member of 1st North Meols Phoenix Rangers. Seeing as I thought my guiding journey had ended after Guides, I don’t think I’ve done too badly!

My experiences as a Young Leader provided my first insights into what Girlguiding can offer to young members after Guides. I was introduced to the role of a Girlguiding Young Leader when I was searching for a volunteering role for my Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award. Taking on the role of a Young Leader at my local Rainbows unit fitted really well around my school commitments, as well as being a wonderful environment that nurtured and encouraged youth leadership and involvement. Volunteering at Rainbows helped me along the way to achieving both my Bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh Awards, before I then moved on to Brownies for my Gold Award.  I remember being reminded so often at school and college about the importance of ‘soft skills’ alongside academic qualifications; being a Young Leader fitted the bill perfectly. The role of a Young Leader is wonderfully diverse, but regardless of the activity, I was honing my ability to communicate effectively, working as part of an amazing team and becoming a lightning-fast problem solver. My CV and personal statement for University both thanked me greatly, as did my mental health, as refereeing dodgeball provided a wonderful contrast to school and college!

I left Guides in 2016; at this point Rangers did not exist as an offer for 14-18-year-old members. Hence, it wasn’t until 2018 when my Guide leader contacted me to say she was setting up a Rangers unit, that I returned to being in a section.  Two years later, 1st North Meols Rangers is an amazing group of young women, learning together, inspiring one another and making a difference in the community. A point I think it is very important to share is just how different Rangers is to Guides. At Rangers, you call the shots; you choose the activities, the commitment level, what adventures you want to go on - it really is yours to create. Yes, the Girlguiding programme plays a big part, but with the changes to the programme made in 2018, it is now far more adaptable, relevant and allows your own interests to grow. For example, in the 2019 ‘Future Girl- Planet Protectors’ campaign, I co-led the activities on plastic pollution for my unit as I am interested in climate change and sustainability; I later shared this experience in my university application and interviews. Our unit has also had many amazing adventures over the past two years including going to Mersey Moot (a huge camp with members of Scouts and Girlguiding from across Merseyside), taking part in the London ‘Monopoly Run’ with 6,000 other participants and helping out at a local 10k run.

Rangers for me has been an excellent catalyst for two things: expanding my interests in social action and community connection and finding out more about what else I can get involved in through Girlguiding. By taking an active role in supporting my unit’s recruitment campaign, I have been able to explore in depth how our unit can be a source of social action within our community, as well as being far more confident using social media. I am also in the process of completing my Commonwealth Award, which I set myself as a challenge as part of my journey of discovering what other opportunities I can engage with within Girlguiding. I am definitely considering completing my Queen’s Guide and I am really intrigued by the GOLD programme. Alongside all these amazing opportunities, Rangers has also been a great source of laughter, connection and fun, all of which are much appreciated when tackling A-Levels.

Hence concludes the ramble through my adventures in Girlguiding as an older younger member (so far)! My next adventure will be being a part of the SSAGO at University, which I am sure will lead to many more incredible experiences. Happy guiding everyone!