Guiding VS. Leading

Jennifer Walker
Provincial Link Adviser
Edmonton, Alberta

Raela wrote (several weeks ago actually):

I have 10 & 11 yr old Jrs. ...I am giving them the responsibility of planning and executing their troop activities for the coming year....Instead of having leader meetings I can see where I am going to be having girl/leader meetings all happening simultaneously at our weekly meetings. ...I feel my role is to become more of an advisor or shall I say 'guide' <wink> than a 'leader'.


Just noticed Raela's phrase as I was going through a bunch of posts I had saved about older girls and keeping them interested, etc., from a few weeks back (doing a Pathfinder training this week, and looking for ideas and discussion-provoking statements...this is certainly one!)

I just wanted to point out, that it is for the very reason that Raela is outlining, that in Canada we are referred to as Girl Guide "Guiders" rather than Girl Guide "Leaders" (though it's usually easier to explain to non-Guiding people that you are a leader rather than a Guider- often get blank stares until you say, "you know, a leader").

We are "supposed" to be "guiding" the girls, helping them make their own decisions - rather than "leading" them which implies that they are simply following. I know that this often doesn't happen however - "but how can I get 5 year olds to decide anything? I have to plan it all, they aren't capable",etc. You have to start simply and build on previous skills, so I applaud Raela's efforts to have her Juniors doing a lot of the planning.

Too often, girls here come up to Pathfinders (Cadette-age) and we expect them to start planning their own activities and they have no clue how to go about it, because they were never given any sort of opportunity in Guides (Junior-age).

A Guider I know was telling me about her Spark camps. The girls "chose" what they were going to eat at most of the meals - there were lots of choices and they got to put their meal together. She had things like tortilla shells out, and cheese whiz, jam, veggies, peanut butter, meats, etc...apparently the #1 choice among the Sparks was cheese whiz and jam. Perhaps not what the Guiders would have chose, but the girls loved it and loved being able to decide for themselves, an opportunity lots of them hadn't had at the age of 5 and 6. You start with small decisions, then work up as they get older - what fillings on your tortilla shell, to planning the meal, to planning the activities you want to do at camp, to planning the activities for the year or planning a whole camp including shopping and transportation and fund-raising.