8th Upper Tooting Brownies and Guides have been online and meeting outdoors during the pandemic.

We started Zoom meetings for Guides after Easter with about half the unit participating, we completed Reflect 3 and Explore 4 Skills Builders and at their request continued over the summer with fun activities – particular hits were a virtual escape room, baking soda-bread and microwave mug cakes (great activities to do on-line as there is no clearing up for the leaders to do!).

8th Upper Tooting Leaders

Since September we met outdoors having negotiated with our local Scout group that we could use their grounds (& toilets). Luckily for us the Scouts erected a shelter and have floodlights installed as we’ve had several wet evenings. We’ve had a small group of 5-6 Guides and a parent rota for the 2nd adult as my regular leaders were not able to join us. The parents have appreciated seeing what the Guides do and how they interact in a different environment. The Guides really enjoyed completing the Innovate 3 Skills Builder and this week were treated with an evening of fun activities in the dark. The rest of the leadership team have run Zoom meetings for the 3 Guides unable to join the outdoor meetings and have completed Feel Good 3 Skills Builder. We’ve reached 9 of 12 Guides by offering both options.

Guides meeting outdoors

The Brownies were slower to engage with virtual meetings, a combination of too much screen time and requiring more parental input meant we only had a few join us on Zoom but they did complete Reflect 2 Skills Builder. In September we divided the unit into 2 groups and met alternate weeks outdoors at the Scout grounds working on the Camp 2 Skills Builder and on Zoom completing UMA’s. Our leadership team were able to support with the type of meeting which suited them best and where needed a parent sat in on the Zoom meeting. 20 of 23 Brownies have joined in with one or both types of meeting.

Brownies toasting marshmallows

We planned to move indoors after half-term but due to the size of the Brownie unit we expected to continue meeting alternate weeks on Zoom and Face to Face. However, our plans to return to indoor meetings were thwarted by the second lockdown so we are back on Zoom, working on Live Smart SB with Brownies with activity worksheets emailed to the girls who don’t enjoy Zoom. The Guides are working on a mixture of UMA’s with materials they are not likely to have at home being delivered to them.

It has been a learning curve for us all firstly getting to grips with Zoom and gradually becoming more adventurous with our activities. Working out the logistics of outdoor and then indoor meetings was a challenge. As well as looking at imaginative ways to adapt activities to suit virtual or socially distanced meetings remembering that some girls are not comfortable speaking on Zoom. I won’t pretend its always been easy but it has been worthwhile and the girls and parents have been very appreciative.

Guides meeting outdoors

We also set up a Facebook page and shared Adventure at Home activities and offered a County Holiday at Home Challenge badge.
I did find that I received a higher response to setting up the Zoom meetings than asking the parents what they wanted so I’d recommend giving it a try.

Barbara Littlechild, 8th Upper Tooting Brownies & Guides