Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Meet The Neighbours . . .

Had a visit last night from a Senior Section unit who are on a trip ‘up our way’ and wanted the chance to see what other units do.  The Brownies were working on their fitness challenges from Adventure and Adventure On, I think they found the skipping a bit exhausting!
Probably as interesting for them was finding out ‘what we do’ – which it appears is quite different from what they are used to.  And I think they found out that they are experiencing quite a lot of byelaws in their area, which they hadn’t realised were actually byelaws!  Perhaps I dropped a boulder or two, not merely pebbles?!  Although there wasn’t much time for comparing notes in a busy Brownie meeting, what did we find?

That opening and closing ceremonies (even those which follow the traditional format) vary quite a lot in the detail.  That it’s always useful to see some of the songs and games that other units do (although I think they found doing ‘head, shoulders knees and toes’ in Scots language a wee bit trickier than it would have been in English!).  That you can introduce a balanced amount of democracy into a Brownie unit – they were fascinated by our term planning sheet with it’s coloured boxes (details below) and that the Brownies had organised their own meeting a couple of weeks ago, with no adult input!  That they were being misinformed when told that they had to have 3 adults at a Guide meeting for ratios, even at their own hall! 

And after my Brownie meeting was finished, they were getting the chance to see the Guide meeting afterwards too – I’m sure they would have found other differences with the Guides, too . . .

In some ways, ‘visit a unit’ is something I would love to see promoted to Leaders more generally.  It wouldn’t have to be the same section (could be a great chance to find out about other sections and get info to help with transition), but seeing the same section would be especially valuable.  It wouldn’t matter whether it was the unit down the street or one at the far end of the country and it wouldn’t need to be a ‘special’ meeting – indeed more valuable if it was a regular programme.  Just the chance to see how other people do things, what songs they sing, games they play, opening and closing ceremonies they do, what sort of halls they meet in, who takes what role in the unit and how they share the work out.  It’s like a free training, running every night of the week, in locations across the country!

So – next time you are travelling on business and face a long dull evening in a hotel, or you have a spare night with nothing doing – could you arrange to go and visit someone else’s unit meeting, notepad in hand, and see how the other half live, how they run things, what they get up to?

(For our planning, we prepare a sheet which has boxes for each date in the term.  We also produce a number of coloured squares with headings written on (more squares than there are dates available).  The headings would be things such as ‘music’, ‘craft’, ‘science’, ‘outing’, ‘adventure book work’, ‘cooking’, ‘Brownie-run night’, ‘surprise’ etc.  In some cases there might be one or two copies of each square, in others several.  The Brownies are then supplied with blu-tack and it’s up to them to discuss and decide which squares they want to stick on, and on which weeks.  Other than guiding them a little on practicalities (for instance, having outings a few weeks into the term to allow time for planning) we give them a totally free choice of what to put where.

Once we have their completed sheet, we can decide which actual activities to schedule, with the freedom to interpret the headings as we consider appropriate – so ‘music’ might be singing, or playing instruments, or singing games, or movement-to-music, or having someone visit to demonstrate an instrument, or . . .and we can choose where and what the outing is!)

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