Girl-Centred Planning

“I wish we could pick berries or go to the apple orchard.”

“I would like to have a haunted house.”

“Let’s visit the Sparks again!”

“We should plant seeds in an egg carton.”

“I wish we could have an extra sleepover.”

In June, we asked our Brownies what they would like to do in Guiding. These are their suggestions. Now that it’s fall, we’re taking some of their wishes and turning them into plans for the new Guiding year.

Guiders across the country are planning another exciting year for their units, and the girls that make up these units can be an important part of the planning, too. Involving girls in planning means that activities are more likely to meet their needs and build on their strengths. As Guiders, girl-centred planning offers you information about your unit that can help you make Guiding engaging and inclusive. When girls are included in the planning, they are building confidence and exploring possibilities. They are learning about each other and contributing to their own Guiding experience.

Here are a few ways that you can involve Sparks, Brownies or Guides in your unit’s planning. With each of these activities, you can take the information you receive from the girls and use it to plan future meetings or activities.

  • Program Carousel: Explain to the girls that there are different areas of the Guiding program that you will cover this year (e.g., different Keys in Brownies) and briefly explain each area. Have one piece of chart paper for each program area and lay them out around the room. Divide girls into the same number of groups as there are programs areas. Have each group start at one piece of paper, then rotate through each piece of paper, writing down ideas for activities related to each specific program area.
  • Visual Carousel: As above, have one large piece of chart paper for either each program area, or for the different event that will occur throughout the year such as a sleepover or camp. Ask the girls to visualize each event or program area (“What would you like a Brownie sleepover to look like?”). Girls then draw and label their ideas for the sleepover, or activities they would like to do in each program area. As they rotate through each station, they can add to each others’ ideas and drawings.
  • Visual Brainstorm: Have each girl draw a small picture of something she would like to do in Guiding this year. Have everyone glue their picture onto a large piece of paper, or into a Unit planning book.
  • Craft Cupboard Planning: Either show the girls, or provide them with a list, of a number of craft materials that the unit has. Ask them to decide what they would like to make with the materials on hand.
  • Design-a-Meeting: In small groups, have girls design their ideal Guiding meeting, either in general or around a specific theme. While you probably won’t be able to use the meeting exactly as they describe, you can use elements of what they suggest in future meetings.
  •  Choices Graph: As Guiders, brainstorm a number of choices for day trips, guest speakers or outdoor activities (skating, hiking, swimming) that you could do with your unit. Create a large bar graph on the floor of your meeting space using masking tape. Use construction paper to make signs for each of the choices and put these signs under the x-axis. These are the labels on the graph. Explain the choices to the girls. Girls will then form the bars in the bar graph as a way of expressing their preferences. Have the girls stand in the graph, forming a line in front of their first choice.

It is the beginning of another Guiding year. Across Canada, Guiders are flipping through program books, composing emails to new parents and counting out enrolment pins. We’re checking our rosters, choosing Challenges and gathering in schools, churches, homes and community centres to plan another year for our units.

This week, I’ll sit in a local coffee shop with my fellow Guiders to discuss sleepover themes, service projects and day trips for our Brownie Unit. Our planning starts here, around a small wooden table in our bustling neighbourhood café, and it continues a few weeks later, around a toadstool and an owl, in a circle of bubbling girls full of ideas.

By guest blogger Melissa. Melissa is a Guider with the 5th Ottawa Brownies and will be spending the next four months volunteering with WAGGGS at Sangam in India. Melissa has also written previous posts for Girl Guides of Canada’s blog: Healthy Friendship Recipes, Brownies on IceGuiding ParliamentA Silent Meeting, Using Children’s Books in Meetings, It’s Not a Box!, One Plus One Equals Brownie MathThe World Girls Want for the(ir) Future, Young Women’s World Forum 2011: Wrap-up from Switzerland, and was one of our reviewers for two books from our adult book club: Flight Behaviour and Everything We Ever Wanted.

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