Compiled by Jennifer Walker, Edmonton AB
Advice to Young Guiders and for Working With Young Leaders
Still Promoting Young Guiders
A Letter by a Young Guider (Canadian) and Responses
Situations in Other Countries
Childless Leaders - not always young (though young at heart!)
Advice for Young Guiders
November 11, 1997
There are two pieces of advice that I can give to Young Guiders. First, have confidence in your abilities, know what you are doing and what the rules are, then don't back down when problems or challenges arise.
Secondly, take advantage of as many training opportunities as possible. Obviously, this will help you in your job as a Guider. More than this though, it will be a way of showing to others that you are serious, and that you have training. For example, my co-Guider and I have completed our Stage 1 training and nearly all of our Stage 2 training in just one year (there are only 3 levels to the Leadership Development Program in Canada, and even many commissioners, committee members, etc., never do stage 3). In addition, my co-Guider has started working towards her Camp Leadership Certificate and I am planning to begin this year. Having these qualifications gives us a better position when dealing with people who would challenge us due to our youth and (what they consider to be ) our inexperience. The truth is, many young Guiders have far better experience and skills to lead a unit than many of the mothers / older women who are readily accepted as leaders.
Advice for Working with Young Leaders ("What We Can Do to Help Young Leaders Fit In")
25 November 1997
1. Many (most?) of these leaders come to leadership positions with a long history of Girl Scout/Guide experience. I mean, many of us see troop leadership as the natural next step after Seniors/Senior Branches. Councils should recognize this valuable asset and use it. Perhaps the young leaders need to push it a bit, and have a letter of introduction from their home council.
2. Help the young leader get comfortable calling older adults by their first names. This was especially hard for me...I was raised to call all adults Mr. or Mrs. Lastname. When I first became a leader, I was probably closer in age to the girls than the parents. It is very hard to maintain a position of authority/equality with the parents and other leaders when you purposely put yourself in a lower position. A corollary--have the girls call the young leader Miss/Ms./Mrs. Lastname or a camp nickname. Same reason--authority.
3. Encourage young leader to make a contact at the school where most of the girls in the troop go. I was from New York, living in Virginia. First snow of the season hardly dusted the roads. I went to the meeting place and waited, and waited, and waited. Then I found out they had closed school early that day and called off all extra meetings. No one told me, and I didn't have anyone in the school system!
4. Also, not directly connected to young leaders...make your council easy to find. My council used to be Colonial Coast Girl Scout Council. When you looked for it in the telephone book, logically under 'Girl Scouts', it wasn't there. Now we are Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast. Presto! Easy to find. If we are encouraging our girls to continue from Daisies through Seniors and beyond, we ought to be easy for newcomers to find. Many of the young leaders are coming through colleges in the area or recently moved/transfered/etc. and need to find the council in order to volunteer.
Anyone got more hints to add?
Still Promoting Young Guiders
11 Nov 1997
Well, I am *well* over the 30 mark and still promoting young Guiders. It has nothing to do with age or the fact that I am connected to a young Guider - and I am not promoting them exclusive of other Guiding members but I do promote them a little harder sometimes. The reason then? I have learned from many years of experience in trying to recruit new Guiders that these young women are a Godsend (sorry to be politically incorrect but I can't think of another more appropriate word just now). They are eager, enthusiastic and know the ins and outs of Guiding from years of first-hand experience.
I count myself fortunate that, when I left my Pathfinder unit, of 8 girls at the age to move on (age 15) *4* of them went on further in Guiding through Cadets, ending up with 3 as Guiders and 1 joining Link until she too can find the time to become a Guider. That is a 50% success rate but it was only through the fact that they had each other that it worked.
Without the support and camaraderie of their contemporaries I'm sure they all would have eventually just drifted away. Let's face it, while we can offer them our friendship, we are still the age of their mothers (and until recently their Guiders). I know that at that age I would certainly have wanted something just a little bit more. They are the same as us in many ways but they are also different and need to be able to acknowledge that - especially in those cases where "older" Guiders tend to still look on them as children and pass judgement on everything they do (yes, it *does* happen).
These are the women that will form the backbone of Guiding in the future, someday to be our Trainers, Advisers, Co-ordinators and Commissioners. If we treat them well we can expect wonderful things in return - if we don't it could be Scouting's gain -- or they could just leave completely.
Who will benefit most by their remaining and suffer the most by their loss? The girls - and the future of the movement!
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