Blogs for the Foreseeable: This is not an incident hike

Written by Helen BB

It sounds like the beginning of some sort of incident hike that you might do at Guides – ‘Life as you know it will cease. Everything you know will be cancelled. You have to make a plan to work out what you are going to do for the foreseeable. You will have limited resources – there are a series of items which you can take with you from a list - you cannot change your mind. It is not known how long this will go on for, so think carefully’.

But this isn’t an incident hike – this is real, and if you’re reading this, it’s likely that guiding is a significant part of your life. The thought of it not happening is unsettling, not to mention the impending cancellation of all those day-trips and residentials that you will inevitably be dealing with right now. And that ‘series of items’ are all still in a cupboard you didn’t get to access before the lockdown.

Let’s be honest, if you’d have told me three months ago that on Monday 16 March 2020, guiding as we know it would be suspended due to a global pandemic, I would have thought it was part of an elaborate joke. You probably would have too. This situation is outside of anything that any of us have ever experienced.

I still can’t believe how life as we know it has changed beyond recognition and I have no doubt that the girls and young women in our groups, as well as the volunteers, may be struggling at this time.

We know that some leaders immediately moved unit meetings online, seemingly unfazed by the change; others started packaging up bits and bobs to post out to the girls. Others were quite pleased at the opportunity of a break.

This crisis will affect everyone in different ways – some will be worried sick for elderly and vulnerable relatives and friends; others will be unexpectedly trying to educate children whilst simultaneously work from home; others may be stumped by a lack of work and be financially challenged; others might have quickly had to learn what the word ‘furlough’ means; others may be okay but bemused as to what to do with all this additional time.

Personally, I have had to take up ‘exercise’ in order to leave the house – it’s a whole new world.

I run six units of all sections – three Rainbow groups, Brownies, Guides, Rangers. We moved all of the units online within three days of the suspension. We have also taken to sending things out in the post. I thought I might write a series of blogs to share how we are managing the groups in order to give you some ideas as to what seems to work and what really doesn’t. I’m going to write a blog series to endeavour to provide something for everyone, whatever you have decided to do, or been able to do, at this curious time. And if it’s best for you to do nothing, that’s fine too. I promise it won’t be a tirade of platitudes.

It is critical that we keep our young members and volunteers engaged at this time, in a way that works for them, without overloading them, or ourselves. This is a great opportunity to showcase what we are all about; indeed, parents I have never met have been e-mailing me about the badges their Rainbow is ploughing through, now that they have located and actually opened their badge book. We can use this time to ensure that girls and their parents can still ‘do guiding’ but in a new way, such that once meetings can resume, we can all effortlessly glide back into regular guiding.

Come back soon to read the next blog: ‘Embracing the Squirrel’.

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