12. See the bigger picture

Part 12 of my series on developing great leadership skills based on Girlguiding’s article here:

12 steps to becoming a great leader

“So, when you need inspiration, think of fellow members out there. We’re all different, but through challenge, friendship, fun and adventure, we can achieve great things.”

It can be difficult sometimes to remember we’re all a part of this giant movement, and to encourage the Brownies to look wider than even our own unit.

A few years ago we took part in an exciting project at World Centre Sangaam in India. The Centre was looking to raise money by selling friendship bracelets made by girlguiding members around the world so we spent an evening making bracelets, having spent a couple weeks learning about India, and in return we received a postcard from the centre thanking us for the donation.

I wish there were more projects like this we could get involved in.

We have run international pen pals and postcard exchanges a couple times over the years and this gets the Brownies thinking about those further afield. Plus we had a lovely district day learning all about Guiding in a different region, for us we looked at Asia and learned to wear Saris and henna painting.

And me? I’m yet to have an international adventure with Guiding. I think the two biggest factors against doing it is a) the cost (if there is fundraising to do I’d rather do it for the unit or the church), b) the time away from James – it doesn’t seem fair for me to use my annual leave to go on holiday without him. So I cannot see myself taking on an overseas trip for Girlguiding any time soon. But James and I have our own adventures abroad and I wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂

I do love seeing what goes on in Guiding around the world though, and Facebook is great for seeing this. I’m a member of a few international groups and like a few international pages, such as Free Being Me and Girlguiding South Africa, which gives me a glimpse into the life of memebrs and volunteers around the world.


International – Phase 1

Phase 1 of an octant must be about trying new things and should last for a couple of hours. These are the challenges I faced for Phase 1 of the International Octant …

Phase 1: Thinking Day postcard exchange

For Thinking Day 2013 I organised for the Brownies to take part in an international postcard exchange via www.mythinkingday.com

The initial set up involved contacting Girl Guide and Girl Scout leaders around the world to confirm exchanges, keeping track of names, units, countries and addresses on a spreadsheet, and trying to link with as many countries as possible.

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We exchanged with many UK units, units from different US states, units in South Korea, Australia, Singapore, China and Sweden. I created a postcard for the Brownies using images of UK based activities (the unit at the Olympic stadium, Westminster Abbey and at our diamond jubilee party). The Brownies has a say in what we wrote on the cards and all signed their names on the bottom.

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It was very exciting receiving all the cards from around the world. I used an atlas and a map of the UK to plot where the cards had come from and connected them to their postcards using colour dots. We then held an evening for the Brownies to read all the cards, find where they came from and a quiz on the activities our international sisters did in their units, including walking the Great Wall of China!

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Phase 1: Brownie meeting on Japanese culture

In early 2014, as part of the World Cultures Badge, the Brownies travelled to different countries each evening and one of the most successful was the Japan night. This was held around Hinamatsuri, the Japanese Doll Festival, and the girls all brought in their favourite doll to display.

The activities the girls tried were using chopsticks to eat marshmallows, making origami animals, learning the numbers 1-10 in Japanese using actions to help, and trying sushi.

Each girl tried something new or learned something new during the evening. I manned the sushi table; I explained what the food was in each piece and then gave the girls the chance to try it. Some found a new food they enjoyed; others didn’t like the taste or the texture. Some had tried it before.

We also ran evenings on fairy tales from Denmark, a Brazil carnival and Girl Guide uniforms around the world as part of this badge. The Brownies documented their travels in their own paper passport stamped with different countries to show which evenings they attended.

Phase 1: India Project with Brownies including friendship bracelets to Sangam World Centre

In late 2012 I discovered that World Centre Sangam in India was running a global friendship bracelet project, I thought it was a great idea and wanted to get the Brownies involved. The project involved Girl Guides and Girl Scouts around the world making friendship bracelets and sending them to Sangam to be sold to raise money for local Guiding.


Before making the bracelets I ran a few evenings on Indian culture and Brownies in India.

On the first evening the Brownies all discussed what they knew about India, and worked together to make a Peacock (India’s national bird) using colourful handprints. On the second evening we discussed guiding in India, that Brownies are known as Bulbuls, what their uniform is like, then played a few games Indian Bulbuls play.

Finally we held an evening where the Brownies made friendship bracelets. The Brownies tied a tag to their bracelet with their name, unit and location on so those purchasing the bracelet would know how created it. A few weeks after sending them we received a postcard in response thanking the Brownies for their work.

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