Starting our the Guiding year, I am always excited and energized, thinking about ways we can implement our program for our Brownies in new and interesting ways. We brainstorm about activities, ask the girls what they want to do during the year, and find new online resources for games and skill-building activities. Personally, I think we have lots of fun and the girls respond well!
So, this begs the question, why, when I talk to some parents, do they assume that putting their daughter into Guiding is a less desirable option than Scouts?
I have asked people “What is different?” and they say “Oh…um well, they will learn more skills in Scouts, do more outdoorsy and adventurous stuff.” Some start with “When I was in Scouts, we got to plan camping trips and make our own campfires and cook our own meals”. My response is, “But we do that!”
In our Unit, we focus on independence. The girls learn how to put up their tents, how to prepare meals at camp, and they do all the prep work. We teach them skills like how to sew a button (a skill I feel everyone should learn, boys and girls!), conduct science experiments (hurricane in a bottle, anyone?) and go on nature hikes and scavenger hunts. One year we went to an indoor fun park where the girls could go rock climbing. Another year we went to a trampoline gym and learned how to do fun jumps and tricks!
We are somewhat limited in the more adventurous activities by the age of the girls – they are 7 and 8, after all – but I also doubt that kids in Beavers and Cubs are paddling their own canoes in rapids or portaging carrying a pocketknife.
We seem to be at an impasse, where many parents remember an older Guiding program that some (not all) found a little “boring” – focused on making too many macaroni art pictures. Maybe we need to get out in the community in our uniforms more often doing interesting activities to change these perceptions. Sometimes, a parent bringing a new girl to our Unit will tell me that their child wanted to join because she saw Brownies or Guides out doing something, and she wanted to join in. Adding more technology-focused elements to the program is okay, and so is updating every so often to keep up with changing pedagogical models. But in the end, I strongly feel it’s the individual Units that will make the difference in enrollment numbers by being active in the community.
By Guest Blogger, Guider Kristy Martin (Tawny Owl), 25th Ottawa Brownies. Kristy has been working with the 25th Ottawa Brownies for six years. She works for a company that creates educational websites and games for cultural institutions, and loves to extend this into writing stories, plays and planning interactive activities for the troop. Read her previous post on GirlGuidesCANBlog: This Guider Asks
Well said Kristy!
Guiding and Scouting can be boring or exciting, it all depends on the leAders leading /teaching the kids .
Definitely driven by the Guiders, their enthusiasm and interest!!
I am a Pathfinder leader and my husband is the Scout troop leader. We have a 12yr old daughter who is in both programs. 🙂 And she loves it!
I believe leaders are the key. In our district we do a yearly district camp which helps new leaders get a feel for how to manage a camp of their own. It’s helped our district into a more adventerous bunch.
When I was still a guide, I was absolutely in love with it. We went white water rafting! My guiders were big on making things fun and interesting for us. Then I got to Pathfinders and it was all work and no play (we didn’t even go camping) so naturally I stopped going. My boyfriend had the same experience with being in scouts. The leaders are truly the ones who make the difference.
thanks Jasmine! We will always remember you and the good times!
I’m in both. As a girl I preferred Guiding but being a young adult, I much prefere Scouting because they have programs more directed at people my age.
I’m a Girl Scout leader in the USA and enjoy reading the posts on the blog. We get the same responses.
I was a Girl Scout until 5th grade, when it got boring. My younger sister and I tagged along with our brother’s Boy Scout troop, since Dad was the Scout Master. I joined a BSA Explorer post (now called Venturing) with my brother and dad in high school to do more outdoor activities, some of which resulted in broken bones, but all created great memories.
When my daughter was old enough to join Girl Scouts as a Daisy, I signed up to be the leader. I remember the fun I had as a Girl Scout, but I also remember when it got boring. I wanted to be sure my daughter and her troop had fun and learned new things, in an atmosphere where they could be themselves.
Girl Scouts is supposed to be girl led. Our troop should never get boring as long as we’re doing what the girls want to do, be it crafts or camping. My job as leader is to facilitate and guide, but let the girls discover, connect and take action.
It really is all about the leaders and getting girls input on the program for the year.
I know a Guide leader who said her son never left the meeting hall for his 3 years in Beavers. She made sure her Spark/Brownie unit did lots of outdoorsy stuff plus the indoor crafty things the girls liked.
Very good points thanks everyone for sharing, I have been a Guider for over 25 years and i am always loking for input, I try to balance outdoor and indoor activities so the girls get a well rounded program. I volunteer for Sparks 5 and 6 year olds presently and this year we have done 1 outdoor campfire with 6 other units completing the sing ontario sing challenge and last week took them on a fall walk to identify and see the trees and ended with a small fire in our complexes BBQ’s, instead of coal we collected wood and threw a cleaned coffee can with water on the fire for hot chocolate and while that was heating up the girls took turns cooking hot dogs and later marchmallows… a bit hectic but well worth it for these city slickers who never get out….I am planning on taking the girls on another walk it’s only a few blocks and see the trees in the winter and make some snow angels, observe the snow…and end making some s’mores.
Suzanne 630th Sparks,Toronto.
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I’ve been a Guider in southern Ontario for eleven years and I have always been with the younger girls (Sparks and Brownies). I am a BIG believer in making sure that we always have a mix of active activity and crafts in a regular meeting. Last year, a co-leader on my team always seemed focused on badge curriculum and she spent ages talking to the Brownies and I could see how they got restless. It’s all a matter of weaving in creative and active outdoor activity into the badge curriculum. At the same time making sure throughout the year that the girls have many opportunities to go out and do initiative activities throughout the community such as visiting seniors in a retirement home. This helps teach girls ways to be a good citizen. I intend to make sure that the Sparks this year will have several opportunities to go camping and also to go on special field trips to places around that can teach them both about the great outdoors and helping them learn important skills. I intend to make Sparks a fun and friendly place where the girls can have loads of fun and make many new friends 🙂