Blogs for the Foreseeable: Reality dawns (and finally embracing the squirrel)

Written by Helen BB

We set up new hidden Facebook groups for the various units, battling against the constant fiddling with:

‘I don’t know which e-mail address my Facebook account is associated with’;

‘I definitely haven’t received an invite to the group’ (when it had definitely been sent seventeen times);

‘If all else fails, add me as a friend, then I’ll put you into the group; I won’t be offended if later un-friended’ (but please have no expectation as I wouldn’t be friends with me).

‘I have ethical objections to Facebook and will never use it’. You can’t really argue with this one; we problem-solved it by downloading the recordings afterwards, then circulating them via WeTransfer after the sessions.

To make this online malarkey work, we have to do what works for us as leaders initially, then ensure that we do other things to make sure it is accessible to all. But there is only so much one can do when it comes to enabling engagement, as anyone who has sat through that ‘Enabling Engagement’ presentation I have delivered a few times will know. Once you have done all you can to reach the masses, acknowledge this to yourself, accept that some people will never engage in the way that you want them to, then just focus on delivery for those who have engaged.

I hasten to add – we are physically posting things out to all girls in all groups, regardless of whether they are engaging online. This ensures inclusion for all girls. ‘We are for all girls’ – remember, that’s one of the four key messages. We’ll look at how to embed the other key messages in future blogs (note to self).

Let’s get back to the point - I headed downstairs to make a bucket of tea in preparation for the first online session. I walked past a squirrel hand-puppet who usually calmly sits on the shelf downstairs, minding her own business.

All of the groups had been going to work on Girlguiding LaSER’s In the Spring Paw Print in sessions before this curious ‘new normal’ started to evolve. As I stirred the teapot, I had a thought – why don’t I use the squirrel to explain the Paw Print, which the girls can enjoy in their own settings, in their gardens, or on their daily ‘Boris Walks’? (I coined that term before I heard it on Radio 4 – just saying).

This thought evolved as I took the squirrel to my ‘studio’ (well, my bedroom with my camp blanket masking-taped to the wall – who knew pound shop masking tape was so strong? That said, I do hope this isn’t a permanent adhesive) – why don’t I co-present with the squirrel?!

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the girls in my units prefer anyone who isn’t me. So I sensed that they would warm to a co-presenter, even if it was a mute squirrel.

Without something or someone to engage with, my bit of the Facebook Live session would be a bit of a monologue. Whilst I would be quite happy with this, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

‘Sammy’, as the squirrel immediately became shortly after meeting the Rainbows virtually, was rapidly embraced into virtual Rainbows and Brownies sessions – the Guides and Rangers were less tolerant – and is now the star of the show. Sammy even gets post now.

Joking aside, it gives me something to engage with. Sammy doesn’t speak, but constantly whispers things in my ear, which I then interpret for the Rainbows and Brownies. Inevitably, these are things which may well be what people are thinking:

‘We’re doing a craft – we’re going to make a craft rabbit!’

Sammy whispers into my ear

‘Oh – you don’t like craft’.

Sammy whispers into my ear again –

‘Or rabbits’.


‘Right, well maybe some of the Rainbows do like craft, and some probably like rabbits’.

Sammy shrugs, unconvinced.

Come back soon for the next edition – ‘How not to be a severed head’

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now