It has been two weeks since the big reveal of the new Girlguiding programme, I’m surprised it hasn’t been longer! There has been so much discussion online about the changes and I’d like to share my views too.
At this stage, I have only seen the new books, read some of the skills builders and browsed through the new books. I’ve also done all the e-learning modules to get my head around it all, but none of this has been put into practice yet!
I’m quite excited to get started on the new programme. I want to try it out and see how the Brownies get along with it.
Unit Activity Cards – Pros & Cons
Last year we were given a set of Unit Activity Cards, the new in unit activity instructions that we need to plan time for to allow the Brownies opportunity to earn their Theme Awards. So far our Brownies have run three of these activities and they’ve been a major success. My favourite thing about these cards is that the Brownies can lead themselves. There is little need to prep, aside from sourcing resources. Just go into the unit, give the card to a couple of girls ready to lead and let them loose.
The downside, in terms of the activities going toward Theme Awards, is that they have a preconceived amount of time allocated, and that is all the time the Brownie will get toward their four hours. We did Soapy Solutions last year and I’m sure we spent a lot longer than 15 minutes on it! It also means there actually isn’t that much by way of girl-led guiding, at some point we will need to do all the Unit Activity Cards, whether the Brownies like the idea of not, to fit in their four hours. As more cards come out we may have more than the four hours per theme.
Skills Builders – Pros & Cons
I like that the badges are set up like the Unit Activity Cards, that the Brownies will be able to lead themselves. For our unit and the number of leaders we have I cannot imagine us running more than two skill builders at a time though. I’m looking forward to giving this a try in January, and it is a good excuse to mix the Brownies up into different small groups. (It can be difficult having disruptive Brownies, their six members can get tired of their antics!)
I unfortunately have a lot more cons for skill builders at the moment, firstly the design seems rather boring in comparison to the interested badges. There is so much colour in everything else! It may have been too many different choices, but I picture young women with blankets filled with Skill Builders unable to remember if they earned their First Aid Stage 3 in Brownies or Guides, separate colour edging per section would be nice.
More importantly, my major concern is the five compulsory activities. When we ran badges in the past we would offer more clauses than required to ensure girls who missed one week could still earn the badge. Or a clause is sent home to be completed. The Skill Builders are not set up for either scenario. Having a catch up night will only work if only a handful of Brownies miss a week, and preferably the same week so they can work together in a small group! Five activities, possibly over five nights in the case of Innovate, with two groups, that is potential for ten activities to be repeated. I cannot see us keeping up with that. I also wish the five activities totalled to the same amount of time in each topic and stage, it would make planning a lot simpler.
Interest Badges – Pros and Cons
I like the design of the new badges, the fact that they’re smaller is a bonus too. It is good to see some progression with the sections. I really hope units stick to the new rules and do not run these as programmes within the unit, that’ll take away from the work of those Brownies who do make the effort to achieve something for themselves. I completed my Look Wider a few years ago, my own choice and it gave me the freedom to try new things and build my self motivation. It is exactly what I wanted to see Girlguiding implement. I wish the topics were wider ranged, so the young members could govern themselves more, it’d fit a lot better with being girl-led.
At Rainbow and Brownie age it can be difficult for some to take part in these without their parents’ support. I envision having a district badge event, where girls can use a local meeting place and resources to work on their badges on their own, with local leaders to help support with reading the syllabus and answering queries and questions. The Brownies could also then work in small groups to earnt he badge together, as mentioned in the badge book.
How will we introduce this?
Our Autumn term is taken up by a project that will fill around half the term, with the other half not being long enough to introduce the programme and run a skills builder we will probably save our first one of those for January.
Instead, we will start by talking through the new themes. I’m thinking of using the dice to get the Brownies shouting out about the topics within each theme. Then running some games around which badges & skill builders fit into which theme, like the one in the Guiding magazine. Plus an evening looking at the interest badges, explaining how they are earned and giving them a deadline for ‘badge night’, should they want to bring work in. Then doing some small activities based on the new badges to get them interested. I’m sure we will fit in some unit activity cards, led by our older girls, and then choosing which skills builder each group would like to work on in January!