Our Guiding Vibe blogger, Charlotte Mellor, shares her experience of completing the Queen's Guide Award, in the midst of a worldwide pandemic.
I can’t believe I’m nearly at the end of my Queen’s Guide Award, with only a couple of sections left to go. It’s taken a little longer than expected, given almost everything I’d had planned (camps, residentials, skills building activities, research projects, events…) was cancelled due to COVID, but thanks to the flexibility of my mentor and guiding as a whole, I’m on track to finish by the end of the year. I’ve had to change my plans a fair few times, but I reckon I’m richer for doing so. It’s certainly been quite the experience!
Juggling completing my Queen’s Guide Award with starting a PhD hasn’t been easy (but then, the whole award is a huge commitment, so I doubt anyone finds it easy). That being said, I think being pushed out of my comfort zone has helped me too. I’m currently on a committee organising a research showcase for around 150 participants - I doubt this time three years ago I’d have been as comfortable with the idea as I am now. That’s thanks to the fact that I organised a division bowling event as part of my Queen’s Guide Award, and am currently also gaining my Going Away With… qualification by organising a weekend-long holiday for my Guides in summer. Suddenly, risk assessments and budgets and event planning for large numbers don’t seem as scary. In fact, I’ve had the confidence to challenge budgets and find innovative ways to adjust timetables and cut costs for the event, all based on situations I’ve had to deal with as part of my Queen’s Guide Award.
Furthermore, the pandemic led to me taking the lead on our Zoom guiding sessions. Since we’ve slowly gone back to in-person guiding, I’ve found that it’s less scary for me to try and participate in crafts, or to communicate with parents and guardians. I’m still learning, that’s the beauty of guiding - you’re always growing - but I can see the personal growth I’ve undergone thanks to me choosing to do my Queen’s Guide Award.
As I think forward to my last few events to get my award signed off, I’m thankful for the support I’ve received. From Mel, my Queen’s Guide mentor, Christine, my Going Away With mentor, and my fellow leaders, who have let me take the lead and encouraged me to do things for my award and beyond. To my family and friends who have supported and joined me on some of my Queen’s Guide Award adventures, and also from the wider guiding community. It’s a lovely feeling to go back to in-person events after so long and have people I’ve not seen or spoken to in years greet me and ask if I have indeed managed to do my Queen’s Guide Award, or if the pandemic halted it. Yes, the pandemic did halt it. If I look back at my original plan, it’s laughable how little of it I actually adhered to, but it didn’t stop me. It forced me to discover new ways of doing things in an unprecedented situation. It forced me to grow. And I for one can’t wait until my final sections are signed off, and I can look back on the whole thing with pride.