Today I’m feeling a mix of emotions as a Guider. I’ll explain why.
For the first time in over 35 years, my unit has two Guides tackling their Patrol Camp Permit this weekend. M and L have had a lot of training, and done a lot of preparation work, and I’m confident that they will be well organised, and will both run successful camps on their neighbouring sites. Not only is it over 35 years since my unit had candidates for camp permit, but it is also over 25 years since anyone in my Division tried for it. I’m looking forward to spending a weekend in the field-over-the-road, being their contact, but otherwise staying tastefully in my little tent, so they have peace to get on with it and do it their way.
So emotion 1 is that I am proud of them, that they are all set and ready to take on the challenge. And emotion 2 is that I’m nervous for them, that they will have everything organised and keep the site ship-shape, that they will cope when the unexpected and impossible-to-prepare for happens, and that the assessors will be positive and kind.
But, and this is a very difficult thing to say – the 3rd emotion is that I’m also proud of me. For M was one of my Brownies for a while, and I’ve seen both M and L rise through Guides, the opportunities they’ve taken, the way they’ve matured, the skills they’ve learned. For parts of the time I was running the Guide unit single-handed, and I’ve been Leader-in-Charge throughout their time in the Guide unit. Over the years (and especially in the last 12 months) I’ve laid the path towards this with the camps and holidays my friends and I have run – it’s no coincidence that in recent terms my unit has covered fire safety badge and large chunks of first aid badge, that we’ve regularly had the Guides cooking on fires and on stoves, building shelters in the woods and working on Patrol challenges, that M and L camped together at last year’s camp, and I’ve run PL trainings.
So often in our units we focus on the negatives. We note the number of dropouts, without properly acknowledging the number who stick in the unit through thick and thin. We note the times when there are low turnouts, without paying much heed to the times the turnout is good. We agonise over the misbehaviour, and wonder whether we could be handling it better. We worry about progress and targets, and whether our programme is balanced enough, challenging enough, up-to-date enough, engaging enough. We worry about smartness, and rules, and other things which are very important, but not absolutely vital.
So I think it is right and proper that, just occasionally, just as a one-off – we take five minutes to sit back, pat ourselves on the back, and say, despite all the negatives we so often prefer to wallow in – we’re a success story and we should be proud of it!