The start of the Autumn term is normally a time for catching up after the summer break, welcoming the girls back and starting new badges. Here, three Bauhinia Division leaders share the amazingly creative ways they’ve adapted this year’s Autumn Guiding programme during social distancing. Be sure to get in touch with any of the leaders if you’d like more information and advice about their virtual Guiding experiences - we’re all in this together!
Making the most of digital tools, and our community - Bethan Clark - Aquila, 424NT Coy
424NT Guide Company began our Zoom programme in August. Before the first meeting, the leaders (myself, Colomba, Monoceros and Phoenix) met with the Patrol Leaders once a week to plan and prepare. The PLs practised running their side room meetings with feedback from the PLs to help work out the kinks before the Big Day, and it was excellent training for ALL of us! We’ve continued to have mid-week Patrol Leaders meetings, and now include the Seconders for the first 20 minutes to ensure they are ready to step in, in case the PL is unavailable. It seems to be working brilliantly!
We also prepared two activity packs, which we sent to the girls before the meetings. These have logbooks, craft materials, badges, rope and whiteboards. It is really effective when every girl is working on the same thing but in different flats – it helps create a feeling of togetherness.
Virtual Guiding has taught us as a Leader team to listen to and trust the PLs to take FULL responsibility for their patrols. Usually, there would be one PL Council a term – but seeing them every week has been really special. It has also made me realise that the girls REALLY want to be Guides. To commit to yet another Zoom meeting each week is a big call, and they have all jumped in with full enthusiasm and commitment. We are all so excited to be able to start face-to-face meetings! I think that even once we can meet, to have Zoom as something in our arsenal for small group planning will be a game-changer.
We’ve also learnt that things will go wrong, and that’s okay! Before the first meeting, we (like everyone!) practised all the tech aspects – breaking into rooms, using the whiteboard, playing videos, changing names etc. However, nothing can prepare you for being thrust out into Zoom Limbo for 5 minutes whilst the rest of the meeting carries on without you. TWICE!!! The first time it worked itself out, the second time we had to cancel the entire meeting and start again. I won’t miss that when we’re back in an actual room.
Getting crafty with Zoom - Gaylene Meeson - Brown Owl - 424NT Pack B Brownies
We let parents know in August that we’d be commencing Zoom meetings before we’d had a chance to plan what to do! After we got some great advice from Bethan we decided to put together activity packs, so headed to Sham Shui Po armed with a list. We filled the packs with safety pins, felt, beads, keyrings, ribbon, pipe cleaners, little eyes, clothes pegs and a few other things. Bethan also gave us the idea for girls to make SWAPS to send to each other in their sixes.
Our first meeting was a flying up ceremony for the Happy Bees who had missed out, and a Badge Awards ceremony for all the badges earned since February. Who knew it was even possible on Zoom?! This first meeting was the funniest when we suddenly realised we couldn't do the planned break out rooms because I hadn't set up the brand new account properly and we had to wing it and think on our feet, making another plan. Fortunately, everyone was just so happy to be together that there was no judgement, just delight at being connected again.
Our main focus has been fun and connecting, and I believe we have achieved that with 23 out of 25 girls regularly attending every week (we also have one who joins from another pack). We even had one girl attending via a taxi ride to Sai Kung for which I insisted she wore her Brownie uniform if she was going to be awarded a badge (she was mad at her Mum for organising a trip in the middle of her meeting!) and another Brownie who attended from her Quarantine Hotel. She is now the only Brownie ever to attend one of our meetings without her uniform!
Of course, things haven’t always gone according to plan: we've had Brownies throw out other Brownies from break out rooms, we've lost Brownies, we've even lost Owls with poor internet connections but we sing, we play games, we make crafts, and we give the Sixers amazing opportunities to lead group discussions.
When we reflect on what we've achieved in the last 5 weeks, we can only marvel at the resilience of our girls and the way they've simply adapted to the new way of doing things. We've even managed to raise over $7,000 for our take action project to buy water filters in Nepal and Q-drums in Africa.
To anyone thinking about Zoom, 424NT Pack B says "go for it!"
Starting a brand new pack during social distancing - Elaine Champion - Brown Owl 433NT Brownies
433NT Tung Chung is a brand new pack, with 24 excited girls and four brand new leaders! We wanted to start with a meet and greet session, but unfortunately due to social distancing measures we couldn’t. Instead, we got creative! We prepared a video to introduce ourselves to the girls, took uniform orders for each girl and packed them up individually into a ‘Brownies starter pack’. The pack included the Tweenies booklet, a quiz about what it means to be a Brownie, a challenge to help the girls start doing Good Turns, a craft activity, and a fact sheet for each girl to fill in about herself. Then, one Saturday, Spirit Owl, Snowy Owl, Sunshine Owl and I hand-delivered them to each girl at their homes!
Even though we’re right at the start of our journey as leaders, we’re adapting and thinking on our feet, and learning that things don’t always go to plan! Being creative has helped us to keep going and make things still happen.
We’ve had lots of great moments so far, but this was a particularly funny one! One of the Brownie’s little brothers was at the door when we dropped off his sister’s starter pack. After we left, he asked his Mum if he was allowed to eat the brownies now! He thought we were there to deliver chocolate brownies!