Since the tender age of 4 years old, I have been a member of GirlGuiding. Starting in my red ‘Rainbows’ uniform, transitioning to proudly wearing my ‘Brownies’ cap and ‘sash’ to getting my ‘Guides’ blue polo dirty on camps around the countryside, it is safe to say that a prominent part of my childhood and now adulthood has been centred around the charity. It only felt natural for me to continue within GirlGuides as a qualified Adult Leader, where I run meetings every Friday in my local South London Guiding HQ with a group of Brownies.
This summer, I embarked on a 5 day trip with my Brownies to the leafy campsite Heyswood, a regular choice for Brownies and Guides when it comes to Summer Camp. A second home to me, walking in reminded me of the days where I was a Brownie, letting go of my parents’ hands and running off to join my friends to set up campfire as soon as we had parked the car. It was a surreal experience, knowing that I was not adorning the Brownies uniform while walking in, but rather my navy Adult Leader sweater and badge.
While 5 days may seem short, time seems to be altered when one is in charge of 20 boisterous 8 year olds. Between making sure all the meals were cooked on time for them guzzle down before their archery course and tending to first aid dilemmas (never have I seen so many knees and cuts from rolling down hills), there was hardly time to sit down and breathe.
Yet, that is the joy of being an Adult Leader. Watching the girls make friends and bond over team building exercises filled me with a nostalgia I did not know was possible. Knowing how important Brownies was to me as a young girl, I am filled with such a passion to be an active part within the GirlGuiding community. I simply would not be the woman I am today without experiencing such a joy from the community.
For me, ‘volunteering’ with the Brownies has been no ‘Duke of Edinburgh’ excuse or an easy way to top up my LinkedIn profile, but rather a way to give back to the people who allowed me to progress. Maybe the 6:30am wake up calls to make sure the activities were properly prepared for the day were not the loveliest and most pleasant experiences in the world, but knowing that I was helping young girls grow and prosper made it more convincing for me not to press snooze on my alarm clock.
I urge everyone to get involved within their community, whether it be in Durham or back at home. Volunteering should be seen as a way to not just help and foster one’s own skills and motivations, but also a way to help others in the most active sense possible.
Will I miss those 5 days of bunions and endless eye-bags? Probably not. But I will always take away the sheer sense of joy I felt from being a part of something which meant so much to me.