Like most great things, it happened as an accident. The craft group wasn’t quite done and the Guides I was working with couldn’t handle another running game. So we sat in a circle and caught our breath.
“I have an idea,” I said. “Everyone write your name on one of these pieces of paper and throw them in the middle.”
Once done, I said, “Grab a name and say what you most like about that person.”
We went around the circle, each girl pulling a name and coming up with something simple or profound or absolutely wonderful. Answers ran the gamut from “She’s really nice,” to “I like how she always takes time for me,” to “She’s a great patrol leader.”
Some of my favourites included “She’s really quiet but I know I can always count on her,” and “She welcomed me when I was new.” Our two Girl Assistants, both Rangers, said, “She’s the Sam to my Dean,” referencing their favourite TV show. When it was my turn, I happened to pick the name of a quiet girl and I had the opportunity to compliment her on her amazing courage for always trying everything and not giving up.
The best thing happened when a girl couldn’t think of something to say. She floundered and paused and then the rest of the group exploded with suggestions: “She’s a great singer!” “She’s my best friend!” and then the free-for-all began. Compliments were being lobbed faster than we could hear. It was contagious and the girls were enjoying the complimenting as much as the compliments.
“Sunset!” the girls exclaimed, as they pointed to my fellow Guider. “We have to go get her!” We pulled the Guider from the craft table so she could hear what we all thought about her. We pulled everyone into the compliment circle.
It ended as naturally as it began, but I know many of the girls came away feeling recognized and maybe even encouraged by the honest sharing of appreciation. I know I feel amazing after hearing that I am “inspirational.”
When I was a Girl Guide growing up in Regina, Saskatchewan, I have a memory of a Guider complimenting me (thanks, Jo, wherever you are). This became one of the key memories in my life and a building block for who I became as an adult. I am now honoured to be in a position to look for opportunities to start building blocks in the lives of these amazing girls. Just imagine where they can grow with one building block to start from.
Guest post by Kathleen Dueck, a Unit Guider in Mississauga, Ontario.