How do you organize all your Guiding ‘stuff’?

Maybe you have one. You probably know a Guider who does. The Guide closet. (Or storage bin, or room, or basement?) I didn’t have one at first. At first, all I had was an expandable folder. And I thought that would be enough. (It’s okay to laugh. I know, silly me.)

It didn’t take long to outgrow the folder. Soon, it was a large bin, and next, most of a closet. Finally, for most of this year, I couldn’t close the closet doors. Supplies, uniform bits, half-finished crafts, paperwork, lost and found items spilled out from the closet on to the floor. Week after week, I just dumped and ran. It wasn’t a Guide closet any more. It was the close-the-door-don’t-let-anyone-look-there room with a giant Guide closet monster in it. The monster came to life. Left free of proper storage, I swear the scissors multiplied with the glue sticks and the yarn balls tripled. I couldn’t see the floor anymore. Something had to be done.

It was daunting. How could I possibly toss the really awesome handwritten notes? (“I love Brownies because marshmallows.”) And what if we need those 72 empty CD cases? (No, really–72.) And what if there’s a gem of a game in that old activity book?

Here’s the plan I came up with to deal with all that Guiding stuff.

Keep and organize

  • Core crafting supplies, like markers, scissors, glue
  • Badges, crests, pins and program books
  • A few old uniform samples for comparing then and now
  • One (JUST one!) craft sample and instructions for each successful craft
  • Key reference documents and forms
  • A little nostalgia – handwritten notes don’t take up much room

Toss (recycle, give away)

  • Supplies past their useful life – dry markers, chewed pencils, small fabric scraps.
  • Recyclable materials easily obtained. I had been holding on to 30 old water bottles “just in case.” But if we need them, I know I can easily find more.
  • Old resource books and photocopies. We have gone digital. I don’t use the books, and no other Guider in the unit does either. Pinterest and YouTube and all those amazing blogging Guiders out there are more useful now!

Say ‘no’

I am a crafter. And I hate to throw things out. But sometimes, I just have to say no to bringing more things in. I said no to the offer of 40 toilet paper tubes. No to the bundles of flocking. No to the little bag of rocks. (Internal dialogue: “But I’m sure we could do something with that!” “No. I must say no. The closet monster. Remember the closet monster.”)

It’s August and the room is restored. The Guide closet monster is under control. September and store orders and badges and fall camp and enrollment are looming. I got this, right?

Guest post by Kathryn Lyons, with the 12th Ottawa Guiding Group, Sandy Hill, Ottawa. Kathryn has been a Guider with 12th Ottawa for five years, and with Brownies for the past three. The accomplishments, support, encouragement and team work of each of her co-Guiders also make it much more than worth it every year. Check out her previous posts: A Billion Brownies; Should Girls Bring Tech to Camp; Watching Girl Greatness.

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3 Responses to How do you organize all your Guiding ‘stuff’?

  1. Mary Sloan says:

    I too, can become a ‘hoarder’ of many items, and like the article, my cupboard overflows. Please be very careful though about what you throw away. It was mentioned that old books and such are discarded because everything can be found on line. Hopefully you keep, somewhere, in your District or Area, at least one or two copies of those long ago items. Unfortunately because of the new electronic age, a lot of our Guiding history is being lost in different areas because everyone ‘assumes’ someone else has a copy of it somewhere. Please check and see what should be archived and what can be discarded before your local history is gone forever.

    • Thanks for the insight, Mary. The books were mass-publication, non-Guiding specific activity and craft books. I’ve kept the Guiding-specific ones because we don use those in some of our core programming and Thinking Day activities, particularly when want to make tangible connections to the deep roots of the organization.

  2. Kelly radonjic says:

    Please help me to know where to start. Should I have shelves or drawers. I use my basement. Please help

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