Blogs for the Foreseeable - Carrots and tomatoes

Written by Helen Beecher Bryant

As the old adage says, ‘sometimes, you plant a carrot, but you grow a tomato’.

When considering the current crisis, in amongst the sadness of the cancellation of everything and isolation from normality, there will be some surprises. I am aware of leaders who absolutely, definitely weren’t going to do anything online, who are now running weekly Zoom calls with their groups. I know leaders who have been contacted by people who haven’t been involved with guiding for some time, now asking how they can come back and get involved again. I am aware of girls whose guiding has ceased altogether being embraced into flourishing online units. Entire virtual units have been set-up and are already thriving – what an amazing way to embrace girls who are of age but languishing on waiting lists.

As leaders, we put things in place to make guiding happen – we sow the seeds, water them and let them grow. Things happen that we weren’t expecting – I diligently planted a carrot from seed, watered it, talked to it, nurtured it, told Sammy to tell his friends to stay away from it (see previous squirrel-related posts); I delighted in the shoots which emerged. But they are not carrot shoots – they are tomato shoots. But I did not plant a tomato; it was a rogue seed from the compost heap which I lovingly procure. I’m also inadvertently growing a cucumber, but that’s a story for another blog-post, although, like the rest of the country, I am now fixated on growing fruit and vegetables – I’ve watched a Facebook video and am reading the snappily titled ‘Grow Your Own Vegetables’ – friends, this is real.

Returning to the point, unexpected things are happening and we need to embrace them in order to continue to strengthen our movement. Our best laid plans may morph into something we weren’t expecting and we need to be humble enough to accept this.

Our Facebook Live sessions for Rainbows and Brownies are usually done in two segments – I do an ‘ad lib’ bit with the squirrel, reflecting on what’s been going on. Last week Sammy was sulking because an ice-cream van stopped right outside the house two minutes before the session was due to start – then we remind the group about the ongoing activities, currently two LaSER pawprints – ‘In the Spring’ and ‘With Insects and Minibeasts’, plus two quirky challenge badges, the Home Sweet Home challenge (with plenty of links to interest badges) and the Happy Laugh Challenge – then we do an activity together, which might be a UMA, part of a Skills Builder, or something else.

I then hand-over to my co-leaders who talk through more activities which the girls can enjoy – this tends to be a UMA or part of a Skills Builder. This means that the Rainbows and Brownies aren’t just hearing from the squirrel and I, but from other leaders too, and this is important - we need to stay familiar to the girls for when we are all able to meet again.

Programme activities explained by our co-leaders have so far have seen Rainbows bug-hunting (Bug Hunt UMA), designing their own shoes (Shoe Shoe UMA), attaching pennies to their shoes and tap-dancing (Tippity Tap UMA); we’ve started on Communicate Skills Builder st2, encouraging girls to act out their daily routine, then communicate a story with hand gestures, as well as the much enjoyed ‘Dance challenge’ part of the Lead Skills Builder. Plus both the Rainbows and Brownies have made boats (Made to Measure, part of Innovate Skills Builder st2). The Brownies have enjoyed all sorts too – creating their very own Room in a Box (UMA), creating fantastic designs with recycled materials (Trash Fashion UMA), considering who they are and what makes them unique (Uniquely You UMA). We’ve also mixed in some promise activities and seen girls make their promise via Zoom calls, which has been magical for them.

We upload the recording straight after the ‘live’ session so that the session flows seamlessly. We circulate the recordings afterwards so that no-one misses out.

We are very clear that there is no time limit with any of the activities – we are providing a suite of activities for Rainbows and Brownies to enjoy at a convenient time. I strongly suggest a very chilled approach to timings at the moment as this makes our activities more accessible. This may mean that someone gets in touch to say they have completed an activity from nine weeks ago, and that’s fine. Make sure everything is being recorded on GO as it is completed – can you find someone to do this for you if you don’t have capacity to do it yourself? A DBS Guiding volunteer though, not a random from a bus. I miss #BusFriends.

Happy gardening, people.

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