Part of my ALQ last year involved introducing more people to Guiding and at the time, GirlGuiding Ulster was encouraging units to run, “Bring a Friend” nights and giving out free badges to the Guides and their friends. (I also claimed one since I managed to convince a friend to go and help with Rainbows)
We wanted to introduce the friends to lots of aspects of Guiding and get them interested in coming back. That night we had 29 girls, I know for a lot of units, this isn’t very many but in my first year we were operating on an average of 15 Guides a night!
When we look at our program (wide and varied as it is) it generally boils down to: Games, Craft and food!
We started with the game, get the guides into groups of 3 or 4 and give them a couple of chairs. Then I would call out body parts which were allowed to touch the floor per group, “3 feet, 2 hands and a nose” etc and they would have to twist around and support on another to achieve it. It was a very good icebreaker and had them all laughing and working together.
The craft for the evening was dreamcatchers, we had a quick discussion about what they were and I showed them an example I had done. They were pretty simple. I got hold of a lot of cheap wire bangles, but you could use wire and bend it into circles instead, they wrapped coloured wool around them which took a lot of time. Then used embroidery thread to make the web in the centre, some of the Guides had more patience than others at this point, some got bored and just wrapped it any old way. The last part was decorating with beads and feathers before showing them off to one another. The craft gave them plenty of time to talk.
The food portion was tealight smores, this has since become a firm favourite with our unit. They all got to have a go at lighting a candle and then melting their marshmallow and eating their smore.
One of the visitors was frying my head and I had the very bad thought that I hoped she decided not to join, I know we aren’t supposed to do that but I wasn’t getting a lot of support at the time and I knew she would be hard work. Unfortunately (or so I thought) for me and fortunately for her, she did stick around. She turned up every week and was even one of the first to sign up for camp. And even though she has annoying days, she really improved and threw herself into Guiding Life. It really taught me a lesson and made me think about how I deal with the Guides.
When I handed her, her first badge, she looked at me and asked “What am I supposed to do with this?”, I replied that she could sew it onto her uniform or a camp blanket. She said she couldn’t sew and I told her to see if her mum or grandmother would teach her and there was a very doubtful look on her face. Next week she turned up proudly with it sewn onto her t-shirt and came right up to tell me. She has now moved up to Senior Section and is excited to continue her journey in Guiding.
All in all, it was a successful night and we gained 4 new Guides who have stuck with the unit and are enjoying themselves.