Girlguiding was a huge part of my life; from starting Rainbows at 5 to being a Young Leader at 18. I learnt new skills, made friends and had opportunities and experiences that normally a working-class girl can only dream of.
As an adult I knew I wanted to be part of the chances and memories that the next generation would have. When I settled in Clapham, I got in touch with Girlguiding UK to express my interest in being a volunteer. After meeting the leader of a Rainbow unit, I started to attend the meetings every Monday as a new volunteer.
These meetings were different from my own as a Rainbow, as for most of 2020-21 Girlguiding UK moved online. Rainbows via Zoom was still energetic and engaging, with the added bonus of some girls having virtual bunny ears now! Altering the games, tasks and songs to the world of video chats was certainly a challenge but with the help of eager Rainbows and creative leaders we even managed to complete a badge during the Spring term.
However, we can all agree that Zoom fatigue hit us at one point or another, and I for one am not the most confident in-front of a camera. Some of the Rainbows felt similar, preferring to see the other girls’ drawings than show off their own or participate in a game but not lead. To then see the girls in person and watch their confidence grow, even volunteer to start a game or shout suggestions and answers within the group, just further confirms why Girlguiding is so important.
I think it’s fair to say all of us, Rainbows, leaders and volunteers, appreciated the in-person, outdoor meetings even more after our Zoom days. Seeing slices of ‘normality’ during a difficult and mainly virtual year was such a highlight. As fun as glitchy and ‘you’re still on mute’ Simon Says is, it doesn’t fully compare to the panting giggles of stuck in the mud.
On our last meeting of the term, we were able to award the badge the Rainbows who had attended the Zoom meetings had completed. For some of the girls, all they had known was a virtual version of Rainbows, not even realising that all the creative tasks we’d been doing over the weeks lead to a badge to sew onto their brand-new uniforms. Clutching their new prized possession and excitedly showing it to their friend next to them (who had the exact same one), then running over to mum and dad with a wide smile and waving the badge for them to see.
The girls are excited for next term and hopefully a new badge and so am I. I look forward to Monday evenings. Helping the next generation of girls be confident, allow them to have a safe space, and find their voice, knowing it’s important that they’re heard.
Katie – Rainbow Volunteer