One of the highlights of Guiding for me as a youth was the feeling I got singing at a campfire. Community or campfire singing lifts our emotions; it encourages a sense of inclusion and group spirit.
I wanted to provide an opportunity for girls to have this experience. I found that the repertoire of the local girls was decreasing. How could they enjoy all the benefits of campfire singing if they did not know the songs first? Some Guiders were hesitant to sing either saying they did not know the songs or did not sing well enough.
Thus the idea for the Singing and Leadership Guiding Unit was born. I would (with other leaders) teach the girls songs and how to lead them. They would then take the songs back to their units. I am clear, we are not a choir. I am not musically trained or gifted. But I do love to sing.
In the past five years we have had a varied attendance from 10-20 girls and there is always room for more. Membership includes girls from all branches. Participating Guiders are also welcome. We meet weekly, now in our Mississauga Guiding Centre.
We teach a wide variety of songs; Guiding, folk, silly, rounds, international and teach all the verses to all the songs. Songs tell a story so if we sing only the first verse we loose what we can gain from the songs message. The girls receive lyrics of the songs.
This unit now hosts visiting units with the girls leading and teaching the songs, its leaders are willing to visit other units to encourage singing. We host a campfire programme for parents and friends each year, with the girls taking the lead, of course!
Leading a campfire encourages girls to speak up, to speak clearly to a group, to give instructions so others can follow, and to hold a group together. They learn how to make sure all are included through their choice of songs and how they lead them. This all helps the girls gain the confidence which will remain with them in other situations. Girl Assistants who can lead singing well are always an asset!
Regular singing in the units is an effective way we can help the girls feel included, learn about Guiding, learn to lead, develop confidence, challenge themselves and best of all have an experience that will last a lifetime!
By guest blogger Heather Nutbeem, a Guider in Mississauga, ON.