Earlier this month, I had one of the most amazing opportunities that Girl Guides has ever offered me. I was selected as one of 56 girl delegates from across Canada to attend the 2015 National Conference: Guiding Girl Greatness.
It was an incredible experience. Two hundred girls, Guiders, Provincial Commissioners, the Board of Directors, and provincial and national staff members travelled to Toronto to learn new things, share ideas, and have their voices heard about the future of Guiding. Collectively, we had 3,175 years of Guiding experience, so the ideas came from a strong base!
When I was selected as a delegate, I was beyond excited. Not only was I going to be able to visit Toronto – basically a whole new world for me – but I was going to meet up with old friends, make new friends, and have my voice heard. As it turned out, fifty-six of the country’s most dedicated Rangers showed up, and it was incredible to be able to share ideas about programming, what we love about the organization, and a few things that maybe need a bit of improvement.
Throughout the weekend four girls presented Girl Greatness moments – personal speeches about confidence, courageousness, resourcefulness and making a difference. I was selected to present on confidence, and let me tell you – I did not feel confident enough to do it! Thanks almost entirely to my Guiding experience, I was able to talk in front of the largest group of people I have ever seen about something that is very close to my heart. And who knows, maybe I inspired someone else to be confident. The other Girl Greatness moments were incredible – inspiring, motivating, and emotional, to say the least! I will forever be grateful that these girls found the confidence to step up and speak about their experiences – Guiding brings out the best in all of us.
My favourite session at the conference dived into the question of why Unit Guiders are so important to our organization and why they are central to who we are. In breakout groups, we discussed the most desired attributes and skills of the Unit Guider, splitting them into categories of head, heart, and hands. In a room so full of people I never would have thought that my words would have any impact – but when discussion was encouraged, I spoke up. We talked about how Rangers have experience that needs to be valued, how we should be listened to, and how the meaningful engagement of girls is one of the most important goals a Guider can strive for.
Although essentially we created our ideal Unit Guider – someone who is respectful, organized, flexible, passionate, supportive, innovative, a team player and good at communicating – our session leader said something that stuck: “Guiding does not need an ideal Guider. What Guiding needs is an ideal you.” This led me to thinking – maybe the world doesn’t need a perfect me, maybe I don’t need to be awesome at everything. Maybe I just need to do the best I can.
In another session – I am girl, hear me roar – we were given the opportunity to comment on things we love about Guiding, things that need improvement, and things that should be added to the program. We were put into breakout groups to discuss, and my group filled up six pages with ideas for the future of Guiding!
By the end of the weekend, after meeting so many people from such diverse Guiding backgrounds, it was hard to leave. With 55 new Facebook friends and plans to bring our new knowledge back to our districts, areas, and provinces, we headed home. I learned more than I could ever have imagined at the conference, and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity.
Never before have I been so privileged to take part in something so significant, and the fact that I was able to contribute to the future of Guiding – the future that my daughters will be taking part in – means more to me than almost anything else.
Guest post by Maryna Ell, a member of the 1st Sooke Rangers in B.C.