Blogs for the Foreseeable: Embracing the squirrel

Written by Helen BB

I think sometimes in the administrative haze, we lose sight of the tangible joy that regular meetings bring to our members, particularly the younger members. My Rainbows skip into meetings; they are happy at the anticipation of an hour of fun in a tiny red uniform, before they even know what we’re doing that night. Of course, we routinely circulate a term plan, but to date, no-one has ever read it.

Rainbow parents tell me that their Rainbows count down the sleeps to the next meeting, but nobody knows how many sleeps it will be – it may be even more sleeps than they can yet count.

This is why we mustn’t lose momentum – in the fog of uncertainty around everything right now, we leaders need to adapt and meet the needs of today’s girl – that is what guiding is all about.

Once we’d sent out the e-mail I never thought I’d have to send – ‘Guiding meetings in person are suspended for the foreseeable’ – I felt it was important to actually tell the young members what we were going to do. Audio is a very useful, under-used medium, but it was the right one to use on this occasion. Indeed, we leaders got together (I hasten to add that this was before the lockdown) and recorded a spoken explanation, directed to the younger members. We didn’t go into any detail as to the reason; we just said that sometimes adults have to make really difficult decisions in order to keep us safe. I didn’t think a massive explanation was needed – no-one of any age will ever forget 2020.

I wrote a little script for the audio file, to ensure that we covered all the points – we started with the songs we always sing at the beginning of meetings, then introduced ourselves and talked through the facts. We kept it very simple – we can’t meet in person, so we’re going to meet in alternative ways. We encouraged the Rainbows and Brownies to find an interest badge to work on in their badge book in the meantime, then we had our closing song.

The idea was that the parents & carers would play the audio file to their Rainbows and Brownies, so that it was us telling them directly. Indeed, I had e-mails detailing how young members had jumped around hearing the familiar songs and our reassuring voices.

As leaders in guiding, young members look to us for reassurance, for information, for guidance. If you haven’t decided what to do yet, or whether to do anything, it’s time to decide.

But this is not an individual decision – you need to speak to your team first. Capacity is key at the moment; your team members’ lives have been turned upside-down as well. Work commitments have changed beyond recognition. People have taken on new responsibilities in the current climate. Some are having to self-isolate or care for family. We cannot make any assumptions about people’s commitments right now as they have all changed.

If you don’t have a team, consult yourself, at length – what capacity do you have right now? Are you well? Are you able to give the time you would normally give? Who do you go to for support? Can they help you but in some other way?

More now than ever we need to be helping each other, sharing ideas. If someone in your area is keen to do stuff online but doesn’t know where to start, can you help them? Can you have a conversation with them and explain how all this stuff works, share ideas, upskill them?

Once you have decided what you are going to do, consider recording an audio file and circulating it to your young members via their parents and carers. At this confusing time, we need to hold them in mind.

I didn’t get to the squirrel bit – I’ll save that for next time.

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