My journey with the Girl Guides started in the small church hall of St Marks church in Jarrow when I joined the brownies at 7. This church is now a boot camp gym – a reflection on dwindling church goers I guess! Oh and the fact half of the streets surrounding it were demolished to make way for the Tyne tunnel. In the early 90’s we had heard of kettles and bells but not them combined to make a fitness class.
I have fond memories of jumping over the home-made paper mache toadstool, a bird seed concoction made with lard, and playing the classic Kim’s game. No-one knows who Kim is, but it essentially involved a tray of random objects, which you memorised… then an object was taken away and you had to guess what was missing… I was actually pretty good at this and even now I can spot when my kids have messed with my stuff quickly!! The pack holiday trip to the far flung destination of Spennymoor in County Durham, was a highlight and gave me my first taste of independence. Staying away from home in dormitories, earning our upkeep by cleaning and doing the dishes taught me valuable skills in life and gave me a fresh appreciation of the work my parents did at home. To a 7 year old the distance of 25 miles could have been to the moon for all I knew! And no one who was in guiding in the early 90s can forget the Jeff Banks designed uniform complete with culottes! So stylish!
Somewhere over the Rainbows…
Fast forward to the autumn of 2013 and Imogen was invited to join the Rainbows (5-7 year old branch of guiding…something else that we didn’t have in the 90’s)! I found myself helping in the meetings and subsequently taking on the unit as leader in the summer of 2014.
Being ‘Sunshine’ (my rainbow name..no owls here..that’s Brownies) is challenging at times. Just dealing with the admin, planning the meetings and the commitment of turning up every Tuesday is sometimes hard on those cold winter nights. I’m sometimes more Rain Cloud than Sunshine at the thought but once I’m there and the girls are having fun and I’m having a laugh with my fellow guiders any bad mood is soon forgotten!
Rainbow terms are planned around a Roundabout badge and we throw in an odd challenge badge which other guiding units design and have printed themselves. This term we are looking at festivals and completing a Chinese New Year challenge dragon badge..any excuse to eat noodles and prawn crackers! There is a joke amongst guiders that the official guidance is that if you have an hour to spare everyone can volunteer. However, anyone who runs a unit or actively volunteers knows this is far from reality…but we wouldn’t have it any other way!! Rainbows love to have fun, giggle, craft, eat and generally run round like loonies. Hearing their laughter and chat in itself is enough to keep me volunteering with such a fantastic world wide women-led organisation.
For more information on volunteering or if your daughter would like to get involved visit www.girlguiding.org.uk