January can be a challenging month for some people. We discover how quickly we managed to completely get out of our routine after only a week or two of late nights, lie-ins and overindulging on big family meals and lots of treats. We challenge ourselves to all kinds of ambitious resolutions and then feel deflated when it turns out that there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything. Also it’s cold and dark, and often rainy or snowy (and your bed is warm and soft).
I get it, I really do! But it’s 2015 and it is going to be such an exciting year for IGG that it’s time for us to embrace all of the new opportunities and challenges that come with a new year and to start looking for ways to kickstart it!
Getting the girls involved
The best motivators in Guiding are the girls themselves. They are full of energy and enthusiasm and, with only the smallest bit of encouragement, they can make that energy contagious. If you’re finding it difficult to plan your meetings for the coming term then get your girls together, as a group or in Sixes or Patrols, and ask them to brainstorm some ideas. Yes, of course they may well suggest a trip to Disneyland, or request to do the Chocolate Badge at least once a month, but there will also be some fantastic suggestions that you can use … and who’s to say that Disneyland can’t be a long term plan with lots of learning involved along the way?
You know that mountain of Trefoil News magazines in your attic? Or that box of old Guide books that you inherited when you took over your Unit? Sometimes we have a wealth of useful resources that we simply forgot about. Your girls move through your Unit every 3 or 4 years so it’s fine to root out an old activity that went down a storm back when your current Brownies were still Ladybirds – and it’s brand new and original to them!
There are also some great ideas on the IGG website and Pinterest page and as we all start to get used to using the programme side of our Online Guide Manager there will be so many resources available to us to share.
Building a support network
As a Leader you are part of a team of 1,500 volunteers all around the country and IGG is structured in such a way that there should always be someone to turn to. Get to know the other Leaders in your Unit and in your District; regardless of what amount of experience each person has, you all have different interests and talents which you bring to Guiding and which are worth sharing.
Find out who your District and Area Commissioners are and be assured that they are happy to talk to you about any issues that you are having. Your Regional Development Officer is another key person who can give you advice on anything from training opportunities to recruitment of girls and Leaders. Your local Senior Branch Unit may have young women who would be delighted to help you out with topics that you are not familiar with or to bring a fresh perspective to your weekly meetings.
Try to attend trainings and events when you can. Regional Conferences and local training events as well as District or Area meetings can be a great way to share ideas with other Leaders and to ask any questions that you might have. As your Support Officer, I am also available in National Office every day from 9-5 to point you in the right direction of who to talk to or to answer your queries if I can.
Big changes in 2015
Online Guide Manager (OGM) was launched at the end of last year and many of us are just starting to log in and figure it all out. This is going to be a great new way to keep track of all our Unit admin, managing attendance records, girls’ contact information, even planning programmes and badgework. There are really helpful instructional videos on the OGM website and there are Champions in every Region to give you a hand to get started too.
For those of you who aren’t very confident using computers, this might be just the motivation you need to learn some new skills. If that still sounds a bit daunting, take the opportunity to share responsibilities within your Unit by asking other Leaders or Senior Branch members to take on this role.
We are also launching a new programme this year, which is an exciting opportunity to bring fresh new ideas and activities to our weekly programmes and keep our girls enthusiastic about Guiding. I was still in Guides the last time the Guide Branch programme changed and I remember it all being confusing and exciting at the same time as our Patrol Leaders figured out how the new one worked and started to choose the new challenges that we would try out.
It’s important for us to remember that IGG may be 104 years old, but we are never old-fashioned! This new programme will help us to make sure that we are supporting our members to grow in confidence and skills in a way that is relevant to them and addresses the needs of modern girls.
Bring it on!
I hope you’re starting to feel a little more motivated on a cold and snowing January day! I look forward to meeting lots of you at the TWIGG weekend in March and to speaking to many more of you throughout the year. This year is a really exciting one for IGG and it’s up to all of us to work hard to make it extraordinary. Together we are helping more than 10,000 girls and young women to discover their potential and, even if that’s your only new year’s resolution this year, I think it’s a pretty awesome one! Here’s to 2015!
~ Jemma Lee, Support Officer, IGG