The Challenges of Planning

Before I joined this unit I knew a bit about planning and programming so I kinda had an idea about how I wanted the year to go. I also made sure to put a variety of activities and events and not just put the things that I want to do into the program. The first draft was the most detailed. I took specific sections of the program and made sure that I was managing to cover sections. So for instance, I wanted to do a code of participation which is in Learn About Guiding so I made sure that we finished Learn About Guiding throughout the year.

The plan during that first plan was to do 33% of the program split over all of the different areas. I would do Understand Promise, Law and Motto and then make sure to cover at least 1 full challenge section from each one. This first plan also included a detailed schedule of what would be done in each meeting until Enrolment. At that time I was doing the following:

  • You in Guiding
    • Understand the Promise, Law and Motto
    • Learn About WAGGGS
    • Adventures in Guiding
    • Cookie Rising 1, 2 and 3
  • You and Others
    • Learn How To Plan
    • Personal Growth: Event Planning
    • Safety: First Aid (Possibly Fire Safety)
  • Discovering You
    • Discover What’s Important to You (All)
    • Discover Your Creativity (All)
    • Being Healthy: Sports
    • Girls Creating: Kitchen Creations
  • Beyond You
    • Try New Things (All) (#1, #2, #3, #5)
    • Science and Technology:
  • Camping
    • Camp Out (All)

The plan got more complicated when I started reading source materials from the Guide Website and other blogs. This led me to bring together program sections that would work well together like Responsibility, Leadership and Patrols. So they above changed again.

There was one big change that turned the above plan into what I called Meeting Plan Version 2.0.  For this plan, I took a look at which meetings we would hold, which dates we could not have a meeting, like on Thanksgiving, Family Day, March Break, Easter and Victoria Day. And in Version 2.0, most of these dates were forgotten. So I was planning three to four extra meetings. In the future, don’t choose to have your meeting on a Monday.

This plan looked more at the large picture and took themes etc and put them onto a calendar. At the time we needed more enrolment so I had a bring a friend night. I also had enrolment at an early meeting. I was having 4 weeks of only enrolment prep, we were having science night and sports night and thinking day and bridging activities (Since my co-leader is a brownie leader as well). I was having meetings about Lady Baden Powell and taking them to learn about using tools and camp prep and a service project and on and on.

This plan was still detailed as well. I included the program sections for each week. I has seen a three year plan and wanted to make sure 33% of the program was being accomplished. The other thing I did with this program was write when permission forms were due and when I would take the girls to pathfinder meetings and on and on and on about things that did not need to be planned. I also did not leave enough choice for the girls.

Meeting Plan Version 3.0 was a handwritten plan for the first three meetings that I wrote while waiting to speak with my co-leader. I was reading one of the blogs and had found a lot of material that helped me plan better. The problem with this one was it was too detailed again. When I finally met with my co-guider I asked her what she wanted to add to the plan and what she wanted to do. She told me to have free reign but since a few of the girls were her brownies last year she knew them and she knew who would want to do and not want to do.

This meeting almost led to Meeting Plan Version 4.0, including a bunch of bridging events with her brownies and lots more crafts and activities but at that point I was going to Guide Foundation Training so I decided to wait and plan after I got more ideas because I mistakenly thought that doing more training would help me to have a better idea of how to plan. This was true in a sense but this training also provided me with clarity.

Before I mention the awesome advice I got and how I will be planning this year I just want to mention that I am at an in-between place in my life right now and that I had far too much time on my hands and I used it unwisely by planning and re-planning so even though I state that there are only 3 official plans, each had probably 4-5 versions.

Ok so the big secret to planning for the girls? Get their input. We discussed different ways to plan in the meeting but a girl is not going to participate if she is not doing what she wants. Everyone agreed that the program had to be girl centred programming and even if we had to force the “boring” stuff on them, to let them have an opportunity to choose what they wanted to do. Another trick was that if not everyone wants to do something to split into groups. Not everyone has to work on the same thing.

So if I called me new plan version 4.0 I think it would carry the stigma of the horrible planning from my past plans because I was focused on the program and what I wanted and hoping that the girls would want it too without thinking about them. So I am throwing the old plans out the windows and starting almost from scratch. 🙂




Planning for Enrolment

I have been looking up lots of resources for planing for the whole year and in the course of trying to finish Understanding the Promise and Law and Motto, I found some other sections of the programming that work well with the areas we will be working on. This guides us to which challenge badge we should plan to finish.

Understanding The Promise and Law and Motto consists of:

  1. Learn the promise, law and motto
  2. Elect Patrol Leader
  3. Be Prepared
  4. Learn the Guide Sign and Handshake
  5. Learn to tie Reef Knot
  6. Participate in an enrolment Ceremony

Something that I have always done with a new group of kids, like at the beginning of a new guiding year or with a we camp session is to create a set of rules for them. I allows them to create the rules or suggest them themselves because I think they will follow them better that way. I also work on sections of the program that have to do with patrols such as what is a leader, what is responsibility, creating patrol goals and deciding what patrol duties are. I also try to do one badge and a great one is the Event planning badge.

  • You in Guiding:
    • 4. Prepare a code of participation
  • Understand How to be Responsible:
    • 3. Set SMART Patrol Goals
    • 4. Make SMART Choices
  • Learn about Leadership in a Group
    • 4. Who is a great leader?
    • 5. Create a list of patrol duties and discuss responsibility
  • Event Planning Badge
    • 1. Form a committee and select co-chairs
    • 2. Decide Who, What, When and Where, make invitations and include RSVP instructions
    • 3. Discuss menu, budget, decorations and entertainment
    • 4. Have event and evaluate afterwards
    • 5. Create a tip list for others
    • 6. Lead an activity
    • 7. Be the host for the party
    • 8. Take it for those who cannot come

If we were going camping I would push enrolment another week and work on camping for a week. I will have one meeting where all we do is discuss patrols, discuss what makes a good leader, what are the duties of patrols and horseshoe. We will let them choose patrol leaders and seconds and choose one person to be in their patrol. I am a little surprised that despite all of these sections working well together, they are not together in the book. I would not have thought to work on You in Guiding, Learn about Leadership in a Group and Understanding Responsibility without doing researcher. I would also include this as do an activity of your choice in Learn to Plan if any of the girls still needed it.

This helps to focus us for the rest of the year. I know that we will need to finish these 3 sections which eliminates 12 of the 30 program sections needed for the rest of the year (60 sections divided by 3 years excluding the 6 from promise and law and motto which are done every year). I don’t have a theme for the enrolment yet. Someone suggested having the third and second years plan it but that won’t work right now with most of them being new.

The plan for the above challenge badges is to give the girls 1 interest badge and 1 challenge badge on top of the title tape, enrolment pin and patrol emblem they will get. This will allow them to feel accomplished and to not have to wait for us to order badges.

Any suggestions for enrolment themes or challenge badges that fit well with what we are working on please let me know by commenting bellow.

Planning for a New Guiding Year

Its always interesting planning for a new guiding year, especially when you are new to the unit. You do not have knowledge of what the girls have already done the previous years and trying to get all of the guiders input is very complicated. Last year, I worked with a Guide and Brownie Unit that worked mainly on the Guide program and planned meetings week by week. This does not always work. At the end of the year, it was hard to give the girls badges because we did not plan to finish anything. Planning was off the cuff and based on the money the unit had.

This year I am moving to a brand new unit. This allows me and my co-leader to plan everything from scratch. We can work on the parts of the program that we want to and make sure we finish program sections. The only issue we have is that we do not have a lot of money, cookies to sell or camping equipment. It is also hard to get the two of us together to plan.

A big issue with a new unit is that we may not be able to sell fall cookies as they have to be ordered in the spring. We also only start with $200, plus registration fees of $24 a girl. We will also need to collect dues for the first few years, purchase or borrow camping equipment and start a collection of art supplies. This will limit what we can do as a unit. We also will not necessarily be able to camp in the fall. Having limited funds will direct what we are able to do.

Another issue with a new unit is that most of the girls will be new, even if they are second and third years, which means that the unit will have to spend more time on enrolment prep. This also benefits the unit because there is less of a chance of repeating something the girls have already done. We can be as creative or inventive as we want to be.

In the back of my mind is also the fact that the program will be changing soon which means that all of the planning I do this year will not help for the next year as the old program may not translate to the new program and we do not have enough girls who will be grandfathered into the program. This is not something to focus on now however.

This year I want to use a different style of planning. I will look at the milestones and anything time bound. This includes enrolment, bound to the fall, advancement, bound to the spring and Thinking Day, bound to Feb 22. The next thing is to add in optional milestones like Fall and Spring Camp, overnights, cookie selling and field trips. The final step is to fit programming into the rest of the weeks. However, something that I learned from last year is that schedules are unpredictable and there is no way to guarantee that a schedule can be followed. I would also plan to finish 6 or so interest badges in case the girls want to finish the program but not work at home.

Things happen and you have to be flexible. To do this, I will pick the 30 challenge badges that I would like to accomplish, (not including the mandatory stuff like Promise and Law) and spread them out over the year. This will allow us to have an idea of what we want to do each month but we will not plan particulars until we know how much money we will have and when we can do something.


First Meeting: September 18 2017

Enrolment: October 23 or 30 2008

Holiday Party/Last Meeting of 2017: December 18 2008

First Meeting of 2018: January 8 2018

Thinking Day: February 22 2018

Advancement: June 2018

Optional Milestones:

Fall Camp: October/November 2017

Spring Camp: April/May 2018

Sleepover: January/February 2018

Mint Cookie Selling: October 2017

Spring Cookie Selling: April 2018

Field Trips: November 2017, January 2018, March 2018, April 2018, possibly May 2018

Badge Test Nights: Once a month

Programming Ideas:

Spa Night, Sports Night, Science Night, Camp Prep Nights, Craft Night, Drama Night, Sewing Night, Culture Night, Career Night, First Aid Night, Healthy Eating and Kitchen Creation Night(s)