Company/Unit Helpers

Pat, northern BC:

Somewhere I heard a rule of thumb that the older girls should be at least three years older than the girls they are working with. My experience shows this to be true.

Hi all,

Here's another topic up for discussion. The above quote came from Brenda on the WAGGGS-L but I would like to know how other districts/divisions handle this.

How do you handle Guider's tag-a-longs at unit meetings when they are there as "helpers" (usually a slightly older sister). Has anybody created a formal speech to talk to the Guiders as they are interviewed about the pros and cons of having older sister helpers at meetings? How do you handle complaints by parents, other Guiders?

Is it generally a good thing to have a girl help in her mother's unit when the girl is very close in age to the girls? (within one guiding level?)

Usually I find this "older sister" helper is a problem with Guide age girls helping at Brownies (too young to be left at home alone if mom is out helping with Brownies?)

Do other districts/divisions have a "nasty unwritten" rule that says that a girl preferably helps in a unit other than the one her mother runs?

I tried gently and tactfully to broach this topic with one of my Guiders who is going to have her daughter help next fall in the unit. It was like talking to a brick wall - the sort of "other people's daughters might be a problem, but not mine" scenario. And that may be true with her daughter . . . they may be the exception (to what I see is a frequent problem).

When I do interviews, I stress that if siblings must attend meetings on a regular basis, then this should be talked over with the sister Guiders and perhaps with the girls as well. But this doesn't usually happen because at the beginning, the Guiders don't know each other well enough to broach this sensitive topic and later I get the complaints when the Guiders don't want to deal with the problems up front.

Looking forward to hearing some other points of view.

Barb Garber:

The only problem I can remember with my daughter and the occasional Spark older sister that stays at a meeting to help is the crafts. I had to make the rule that helpers can't make the craft. They're there to help the Sparks make theirs.

Dora Masters, Guide Guider from Northern Alberta:

Our District has a policy of paying for the babysitting of any Guider who chooses not to bring siblings to unit meetings. This is one option. However, I would never dream of telling a Guider that her daughter is not welcome at her meetings (sons are quite another matter though.). Flexibility is required. An open line of communications is also essential. If there are complaints, then they should be brought out into the open, and a workable solution found.

If they are too close in age it may be wise to have the girl join in with activities that she is comfortable with (as a girl, not a helper) and to have her bring along other activities to keep herself busy when activities do not interest her. There will certainly be some activities that she can help with, but Guiding is all about the girls learning leadership, so I would not like to see a "helper" leading all the games, songs, etc. The girls should take turns leading for themselves.

Open communications is essential. The girls must also be included in the decision if problems are coming up. No one wants a bossy "helper".

Kathryn Lake Hogan, Guide Guider, Company 91 Windsor, Central District, Webster Division, Trillium Area, Windsor, ON

...asked if her daughter could help out in our unit. What a fiasco!! This girl was fifteen, but acted like one of the Guides most of the time she was with us. No problem, right? Just include her with the Guides. Well, I did this, and at the end of the year her mother was upset that she did not receive any special recognition as being a unit helper. Personally, I thought her daughter got a pretty good deal - going to camp for free, participating in the crafts we did, and being included in our year end bowling and pizza party (Mom forgot to inform me she was coming), etc., and not having to pay a registration fee like the other Guides. What I got in return, was not a "thank-you" for letting my daughter participate, but a rude phone call at 10:30P.M. from her ticked off mother. So my .02 cents, is this: If you want to avoid any problems/confrontation/rude phone call at year's end, state your expectations to any interested moms/potential Guider at the beginning of the year. You'll be happy, and so will they, because everyone will know what to expect.