Guiding 101: The wonders of boxes, scrapbooks & planning sheets

When I first came back into Girlguiding, I wasn’t sure what the history of our unit was, wanted my fellow leaders to like me and did not want to tread on any toes. I really spent the first 2 terms watching. And trying to work out things like Go For Its, the new badges (there are so few now!) and the G-File. We had 5 girls who were getting older and I watched them struggle with the younger ones. There was a lot of disrepect (the younger ones to the older ones). Sometimes the older ones just did it all out of frustration.

Once I’d got myself a G-File (I use it as a reference) worked out what a Go-For-It was and had chatted with leaders, we discussed ways in which we could improve the overall atmosphere, interactions and encourage the girls to take ownership. We wanted the girls to get as much out of guiding as possible. We observed who brought the best and worst out of each other, and organised the patrols accordingly. We also wanted to have a mixture of ages in each patrol.

Then, at the beginning of this school year, we brought in something from my guiding days that I hoped would help the girls work better as patrols.

Patrol boxes.

Patrol Boxes

Now, one of our Guides came up to Senior Section, and this apparently is a  highlight memory. “Awww! The boxes. I loved my patrol box”. (never mind when we had the Jubilee Beacon night, or went rock climbing. The plastic boxes I got 3 for £10 in Poundstretcher were the highlight – ha ha!)

The other brilliant idea that joined the patrol boxes was scrapbooks. Jo found some bargain ones in Ikea, and bought one for each patrol.

The idea behind these patrol boxes, is that the girls had a place to put their patrol things – bits of unfinished work, the Go For It or Badge resource they are working on etc. In each box I gave them a copy of our Unit Guidelines (which the girls work out and decide on together at the beginning of each year), The Guide Promise & Law and their scrapbook. We may in future put some pens in each one too! I think the night I went to get felt pen packs the shop only had one pack left.

I also made sure the boxes were exactly the same – I knew our Guides would fight/go in huff if one colour got preferred over another, so I bought 4 purple boxes.

The scrapbooks have also been great. Because of the recent ‘anniversaries’ and events like the Queen’s Jubilee, the girls have seen and heard about the history of Guiding. I’ve been encouraging the girls to document their history through the scrapbooks, explaining that one day future guides can see what Patrols did ‘back in the 2010s’.

This term I made sure to take pictures of what all the patrols were doing, and then printed photos so on the last night of term they could use the pictures in their scrapbooks however they wanted.

The difference we see in the girls since we introduced the patrol boxes has been incredible. Like it was something so simple, but the girls seem to like having their own box and it’s brought some extra unity into the patrols. It also means we leaders aren’t finding as much scribbled bits of paper and half finished work and trying to work out which patrol it belongs to!

The last thing we introduced was something I found on an old Guiding website totally by accident. GFI planning sheets.  We usually get them to pick by laying out all the Go For It and similar resources (e.g. On Your Marks) on the stage. We ask the patrol leaders to take a couple at a time to take back to the patrol and help their patrol decide which one they’d like to do. Once a patrol has picked a Go For It, we give them a planning sheet, so they can plan their 4 weeks of Go For It activities. The sheet is then kept in their patrol box. This is especially great if we have a break from usual patrol nights in the middle for an activity outside the uni or there is a bank holiday – when they ask ‘What are we doing next week?‘, we can say ‘Where is your planning sheet? What did you write down?

I have fuzzed out writing to protect identities of the Guides

We’ve also seen a notable improvement in their organisational skills, though we still need to make sure they’ve remember and written down what they need to bring – or check if they need the leaders to bring anything for them for the following week.

One of our ‘graduated’ guides is now working in our unit as a Young Leader, and she has testified to other members of the Senior Section who were in our unit that ‘the girls are so much better now’. The best thing is we’re seeing the girls take ownership and gaining confidence in leadership skills. We’re still struggling with the teamwork aspect at times, and that’s something the leaders will be taking into consideration when we have our planning meeting before the start of the next school year in August.

I hope this helps some other Guide leaders, and if you have any questions, please just ask. We’re always looking to learn as well as share the things we’ve found that work well to run a unit relatively smoothly!


Remembrance Sunday has always been important to me. I wish there were no wars, but I absolutely agree with remembering all the people who’s lives have been lost in the line of duty.

As a member of the Guide Association, I went to church twice a year. Once in February for Thinking Day, and once in November for Remembrance Sunday. I would come with a skirt and my Guide jumper on (the skirt was forced upon me) and my collection money with the poppy on my sash next to my Promise Badge.

A couple of months into my first year of uni, I was questioning whether I had made another huge mistake in my life by going to university at 17. I believed I hadn’t, but words of doubt from others were ringing in my head, and I was homesick. It was the beginning of November, so carefully avoiding my friend who went to a church that sounded nuts, I asked the other Christian girl on our floor if she went to a ‘Church of Scotland’ church and whether they had a Remembrance Sunday service.

They did, and she let me come with her.

It was a dreich morning, and I was pretty sleepy from partying the night before but at 9.30 a.m. I walked with her and several other students from our halls of residence to the little church in Bridge of Don.

I was shocked to find many more students there, and more who came after us – including a girl from one of my tutorial groups.

I was impressed at the friendliness and the genuine community there.

I asked my friend if I could come back with her every Sunday. I was worried about treading on her territory. I asked her to come and drag me out of my bed each Sunday morning if that’s what it took.

And she did.

Fiona – if you are reading, I’ll forever be grateful to you for doing just that. I know that it couldn’t have been easy to come and wake someone who is not only awful in the morning, but was often a little bit hungover as well.

11th November 2001 was the day I went to church voluntarily for the first time, and the beginning of a journey of healing.

I went to Alpha at that church where they accepted me and my friends who I invited to come with me. Those nights of being in a house and having our alpha leaders rather large guide dog plonking herself on my lap are ones I’ll treasure forever. And I’m thankful that even when I stopped going to that church, those 2 alpha leaders kept in touch with me right up until I went out to Australia 4 years ago.

It’s weird to think I’ve been going to church for 10 years now. I find it hard now to try and picture the 17 year old (terrified) girl who was so nervous about being there she called herself ‘Laura Anne‘ because she thought she had to be formal. The girl who’d go to church in vest tops, massive baggy jeans and skater shoes with her bible in the big pockets. The one who feared telling anyone her big dark secret for fear they’d banish her from their community.

This 27 year old is almost unrecognisable from that 17 year old.

In the best possible way. :)

Thank you church and thank you God!


Girl Guide 101

When you lack the finances to replace your entire wardrobe, this is where my years as a girl guide come into good use.

Girl Guide 101? Use your intiative to make do with what you’ve got.

And hair bobbles have many uses…

…and I’m thankful for long tops & dresses to wear over my jeans so no one will ever know…

(unless they read my blog, twitter feed or facebook page…!)