Encouraging the Girls to Plan

Jane Maddin
1st Orleans Pathfinders, Orleans, Ontario, Canada
Guide Zone Gatherer of Games, Inspiration and Themes

These are what we perceived as the reasons why third year guides DON'T go on to Pathfinders:

A change of schools - so you switch to a new school AND a new unit in the same year.
Their friends don't go, so they don't go.
Or they perceive Pathfinders as not being cool, or in....
AND they have NO idea what Pathfinders do, because they NEVER see them.

So this year we decided to have an early advancement. Our theory is that the girls (it was tonight!!!!) can come to the next 4 meetings, where we will do a challenge night, plan a camp, and go to camp. At the end of camp we will do our Enrolment.

There are two units feeding into our Pathfinder unit, so we were surprised to discover that there were 17 third year guides in our district - 11 of them on Thursday night and 5 on Monday. Since our meeting is on Monday night we were not anticipating any trouble with a Monday night advancement, and we will get 4 out of those 5 girls for our meetings.

Thursday night, all the girls but one could attend the advancement. A couple of them do not intend to come to Pathfinders. Two of them can not attend on Monday nights (comflicting activities, which didn't conflict when they were doing Thursday night Guides!)

We gave them the option of coming to camp, even if they couldn't attend the planning meetings for camp - and they will be enrolled in Pathfinders at the end of camp.

After camp we have one regular meeting, and then our end of the year party. As well, we will be going to District Camp and are planning to have all those girls with US - so by Fall, Pathfinders will be old hat....

Our aim is: To make Pathfinders something that they have already started, so that they are not doing EVERYTHING new in the Fall. Hopefully, more of their friends will be able to continue and that will knock out that problem too.

And, we did the KEWLEST advancement ceremony that we could!!

All the girls were asked to come in Beach Wear, except the third year guides and the two pathfinders who did Colours. They were to change into their beach wear (worn under their uniforms) behind a large beach umbrella.

The Guiders told the girls how proud they were that they had done so much hard work and that now they were all set to buckle down to the serious work of Pathfinders....

Then we played the Beach Boys hit, that starts off Ha ha ha Wipe Out (from the George of Jungle Soundtrack) which I lipsyneched to. (This portion of the Ceremony is thanks to Wendy Baker, who, among Other things, is the Gatherer of Ceremonies for the GuideZone!)(Thanks, Wendy!) Our girls all had gifts to give to these Guides. The first gift was a cloth bag to hold their 'stuff'.
The second was a mirror, to put on their makeup at camp.
The third was a comb, so they would look good at camp.
The fourth, a water balloon, so they'd fit in at camp.
The fifth, a package of tissues, so they could fix their makeup after the water balloons.
The sixth was a coat hanger so that they could hang up their uniform, instead of throwing it on their bedroom floor with all the rest of their clothes.
The seventh was a stick of gum, in case they got bored.
The eighth was a baggie with chips in it, for munchies.
The ninth was a note pad and pencil, to take down cute boy's phone numbers, you know, the ones you'll meet at camp.
The tenth was a sun visor so that you'd look GOOD at camp.
The eleventh (I can't remember, but you get the drift! There were 11, because there were 11 Pathfinders in the unit, so that they would each have something to give!)
The twelveth was a badge that had been spray painted a solid colour and then a sticker was put on with the words cool, fun etc (different on each one) stuck on.

And the girls were told that they were ready for Pathfinders. They should all turn around and wave at the Guides - And we welcomed them to the Wonderful World of Pathfinders.

I have to tell you that my daughter, a third year girl who has already completed and received her Canada Cord, felt strongly enough during this that she announced that she wanted to make a disclaimer. And in a loud strong voice, she announced to the parents and the guides, that Pathfinder Camp wasn't really like that!!!!! LOL!!

So in answer to your specific questions, I'll continue!
: What do YOU do to keep girls in Guiding, especially through those : transitition years -- third year Guides through Pathfinders?

I strongly recommend that you make Pathfinders visible and interesting to the Guides. For the last two or three years, we have invited the third year guides to our Winter camp in January. If we need leaders for ratio, we ask that a leader come with them (this is a good idea anyway, in my opinion, because they know their girls....)

: What do you do to pique girls' interest? We try hard NOT to do the same things that we did last year. We try to get the girls involved in the planning stages - because it is harder for them to be critical if they planned this activity themselves. We try to let them lead their own meetings, giving direction to get started.... otherwise their whole meeting would be a 'he said,... she said' session!

: How do you think the girls perceive Guiding and their leaders?

I'm not sure. My own daughter thinks that I am out to get her and that she has the hardest time of anyone in the unit... I don't think the girls think that either Susan or myself are very cool. However, we do our best to provide the girls with opportunities to do things that they wouldn't normally get to do.

AND, I have made it my own personal goal to let the girls do more self-governing... It is easy to step in and say, "If you do that this way, it'll be easier...." But what do they learn if we do that? YiGGGS