When asked what I do as an adult member of Girl Guides Australia, I always respond with the same thing “Primarily, I’m a Leader, but I do a tonne of other stuff too.” This usually follows with the question, “Which troop?” My response usually is followed by an awkward pause, then a look of misunderstanding by the person asking. Why? Because I’m a Lone Leader.
Lone Guiding is not normal Gudiing by any means. It is by far, more challenging, and a lot of the time, more rewarding when your girls achieve great things? And I hear many of you ask why. So let me tell you….
The beginning of Lone Guiding
Lone Guiding, is in essence, as old as the active movement itself. Beginning in 1912, and established by Agnes Baden-Powell, members of the troop were from all corners of the UK, and kept in contact via postsal service. Some history taught in my old Brownie Unit denotes that one of their pre-promise challenges was to skin a rabbit, and to send some of the skin (or rabbit? I really should check this with my old Leaders!), to their troop leader, who subsequently had lovely roses.
Purpose of Lone Guiding
Guiding is not an elitist or an exclusive movement, and therefore, must be available to all girls, to the best of the State and National organisations (not to mention on a world stage), abilities. In Australia, attending meetings weekly can be difficult for various reasons. These can include, but aren’t limited to: distance to meeting halls, illness, religious and cultural issues, parental reasons, time clashes with other activities and many others. For me, at 15, I was the only person in my district my age, who wanted to participate as a Girl Guide, and so I joined a (back then) Lone Ranger Guide Unit. It was through this uni that I completed my Queen’s Guide Award. Meetings can be held in any format girls want, as long as within the Leaders capabilities, and these include, through monthly magazines, on the internet, and over radio.
My Work with Lone Guiding
At the moment, because of Uni and work, I’ve had to back off on a fair bit of my work with my Unit. I work with another Leader, who on a monthly basis rolls out a magazine with a particular theme, to a group of 10-14 yr olds. This magazine includes acitivities, challenges, and information, not too mention anything sent in by the girls, including updates on what they’ve been doing. I assist by writing a letter for the magazine, and trying to put together some pages on the month’s theme, when time allows. Hopefuly one day we can go back to rotating the responsibility of the magazine.
As you can probably already tell, Guiding via this method can be quite challenging not only for the Leaders, but for the girls. Without regular meetings to see each other face to face, it can make knowing each other, and peer assessing each other, excruciatingly difficult. It can also mean that on those few chances a year they get to meet at region events, it’s a little bit more special to them.
Overall, despite the challenges I’ve faced being a Lone Guide and Leader over the past ten years, it is very rewarding. The girls who are involved really want to be there, and are always challenging themselves to higher and more intense standards. Meanwhile, as Leaders, we are always trying to help our girls achieve their goals, and while we don’t see them every week, and watch them grow up, we can “hear” them grow up through their letters and challenges every month.