From Frustration to Compassion: A Guider’s Journey

Please don’t ask me to lead Sparks or Brownies again. Don’t get me wrong: there is nothing more adorable than a Spark selling Girl Guide cookies, or more wonderful than the unbridled inquisitiveness of a Brownie.  But give me a Pathfinder or Ranger unit – that’s where I belong.

Pathfinders are at an interesting stage: learning their place in school and community; some are discovering how to plan and lead; others are already taking on various leadership roles. Their development in three short years is incredible.

We ask our Pathfinders to each take a night to plan and run as their own. As Guiders, we know there are TONS of resources at our fingertips. For some girls, these meetings come very easy, for others not so much. A recent meeting that was to be run by “Amy” was a test of patience. Amy knew more than two weeks in advance that her meeting was coming up; she had also seen her fellow Pathfinders run meetings. Four days before Amy’s meeting, I asked her if there was anything my co-Guider or the Pathfinders needed to provide. Amy was still thinking about what to do; I reminded her of our planning rules – it can be badge work, service project, outing, or challenge from or the provincial websites. Exasperation mounted as each day Amy told us that she didn’t know what to do, and we continued to feed her ideas.

The day before the meeting, she requested we do a climbing gym outing; we told her outings needed forms and payment in advance and this wasn’t possible, and pointed her again in the direction of ideas and websites. By meeting date morning, she still didn’t have a plan. In five minutes I printed the Earthquake Challenge from the BC Girl Guides website as a backup for the evening, and thought “How hard is that?”. I reflected on Amy’s family circumstances, learning abilities, school and social experiences, and how they all contributed to her struggle to make a plan and implement it for others: in an instant, I went from frustrated to compassionate.

Amy is slowly understanding her roles and growing her abilities. Our goal as Guiders is to help build confidence in the “Amy’s” in our units and to ease their transition into leadership roles. Our compassion is key at any age: for Sparks, Brownies and Guides learning about themselves and their talents; for Pathfinders and Rangers learning and understanding that their impacts are far-reaching, and seeing how what they do affects others.

I love seeing girls develop ideas and take action for a better world at home, in their units, and globally. In my experiences, the flame in a Pathfinder and Ranger burns brighter with each new goal, and those flames continue to warm my heart.

By Guider Robyn McDonald.

What’s New with Girl Guides? March is Youth Science Month, a special day designated by Youth Science Canada to raise awareness among teachers and students about the significance of sound science projects, and to highlight the students behind these projects, as a lead up to the Canada-Wide Science Fair (May 11 – 18, 2013). Looking for related girl programming that you could do with your Unit to celebrate? Here are some ideas to help girls explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics)!

This entry was posted in Girls' Guides and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to From Frustration to Compassion: A Guider’s Journey

  1. Julie Thomson, BC Program Adviser says:

    The link to the Earthquake challenge has changed just this week. The new link is

  2. Nancy Deasty says:

    This extends to all leaders no matter what level of administration you hold in Guiding.

Leave a Reply