The first time I acted as a Junior Leader it was unofficial. I was 13 and my aunt was a Guider for Sparks after school, I used to go over with my cousin and help with crafts. I don’t remember being particularly helpful in anything but crafts, but if you needed your googly eyes to line up, I was your girl!
During the end of my high school career I returned to Sparks as a Junior Leader again. I didn’t know the Guiders very well, but I did have a friend who was also trying to be a Junior Leader. We took absolutely no initiative. If we were asked to do something we did it (I was still good at googly eyes), but for the most part we hovered in the back of the room.
Looking back, I am extremely grateful to the Guiders who tolerated my presence. I was 17 and stuck at an awkward stage, too shy to interact with the grown-ups and too uncertain about how to interact with the girls. But even though I was self-admittedly useless, the Guiders never made me feel that way. They never said a word to make me think they were anything but pleased with my presence and effort.
I learned so much. Yes I was shy, and overall unhelpful. I knew a bunch of songs and games, but I never felt confident enough to volunteer that information. Instead I watched the Guiders and added their games and songs to my inventory. I learned by observation how to interact with the girls, even if I didn’t feel comfortable doing it myself yet. I absorbed it all like a sponge.
And six years later I took over. I felt comfortable in my position as a Spark Guider from the beginning because of my experience as a Junior Leader, and by then I’d matured enough to confidently interact with other Guiders, parents and girls.
If you have a less than helpful Junior Leader in your midst, I encourage you to tolerate their presence. Try assigning them in specific tasks with clear guidelines (a rabbit themed craft, a 10-minute team game, a new action song to teach). Reassure them that they’re doing well, and give them lots of opportunity to offer input (even if they choose not to). If you’re lucky you’ll be influencing a future Guider.
I want to note that this is in no way a commentary on my group’s Junior Leaders. Catherine and Mallory are much better than I ever was, and the girls adore them. They’ll make excellent lead Guiders one day.
By guest blogger and Guider Ashley. Read Ashley’s previous post for GirlGuidesCANblog, Breaking the ‘One Night a Week’ Myth.
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