6 months ago, I took on a new challenge. A challenge I was passionate about – to start a guiding unit for girls aged 14-25 in our area. It all began when I’d only been a leader at our Guide unit for a few months. 5 girls from our Guide unit were all turning 15 and they felt they’d outgrown Guides. They wanted to know what they could do next – and it was then I discovered there was no ranger unit of any kind in our area. I was gutted for them – because I’d loved being a Ranger and Young Leader and had such fun taking advantage of the opportunities it brought us.
9 months later, and there was me, a fellow lass my age who’d I’d met once for about 30 minutes and 5 teenage girls wandering around a church trying to work out which room we were supposed to be using. And then trying to work out what we should do with our group. Guiding has changed in 10 years since I’d been a Ranger/Young Leader/Trainee Guider before. I wasn’t sure what we could and could not do. They had no idea Senior Section existed until now. We were the pilot unit! I wanted them to lead the way, and the first ‘big idea’ they had was going to do their promise on a ferris wheel in the middle of winter.
They still laugh about how freaked out I was by it.
This term they said ‘we want to go rock climbing‘.
Jenny and I ended up doing it too. As we looked from the cafe into the climbing arena, the girls began to look very nervous. I could tell one of them was close to tears with fear. I reminded them ‘hey, this was your idea remember?’ and told me to ‘shh, don’t remind us of that!‘ I remember some of the Guides we took last term who were so excited in our church hall and weeks later faced with this very high wall and some rope were looking a little pale. Even Jenny was going using a phrase that Miss S doesn’t like people using, along with ‘I don’t like this’.
There was trembling, a little bit of tears and anxiety. I was nervous too – I’m fine climbing up, but I absolutely hate abseiling down! I realised halfway through that my knee wasn’t happy about climbing walls, and it was a little intimidating to be 20ft or more above ground and your knee is trembling or threatening to give way completely. And part of our challenge was that the arena was busy – people shouting advice or commands to the climbers from the ground. I quickly realised the only way to be sure someone was shouting to me was to look down at our group to see who was yelling – that didn’t help when you suddenly realised how high you’d climbed.
By the end of the night the girls had climbed higher than they thought they could climb. I watched them stop halfway up at points, thinking they could go no further. Then they’d push through fear trusting the ropes, trusting the advice from their friends below and continue on. All of them were laughing, smiling and talking about going again. They were cheering me and Jenny on too.
It was a night I’ll remember for a long time to come.
I was proud of them again – as they showed courage in the face of anxiety and fear. All of them (and Jenny) abseiled from the top of the arena which is pretty scary if you don’t like heights – last term, many of our Guides climbed all the stairs only to see how far down they’d be hanging and say ‘No thanks‘ (and I don’t blame them…I didn’t need to climb up to know I’d hate it, which was fine because then I could take pictures).
There will always be things that come our way that we’re afraid of. The trick is not to be ashamed of our fear, but to have the courage not let our fears rule our lives. Sometimes we just need a little encouragement from friends, a few deep breaths to persevere through the things we are afraid of.
And that is when the triumph comes.