Charlotte from the Youth Panel tells us about her 2020

As the year 2020 began, I could never have imagined that I would be doing Girlguiding and Scouting over Zoom. I had never even heard of the virtual platform Zoom but now like many I use it often. When the news came out about youth groups no longer meeting ‘face to face’ it was no surprise, but it still felt a shock as everything just paused for a moment (not for long though!). When the idea came about doing meetings virtually like many others, I was a bit apprehensive but I always enjoy a challenge and trying something new. Looking back, I am amazed at how much we have achieved by working together to carry on the Guiding light and Scouting.

Within Girlguiding, many Zoom calls were held (too many to count!) with Rainbows, Brownies and Guides. With the new programme it has been easy to follow and with new badges coming out it was even better! Guides summer camp was cancelled but that didn’t stop us, we had a virtual one instead! We made shortbread, tin pancakes and even had a virtual campfire which the girls and leaders thoroughly enjoyed with lots of laughs along the way. We have also had recent face to face sessions, making yummy s’mores and celebrating the girls’ successes from what they have achieved over Zoom. Like many others, summer plans were cancelled including a camp on Brownsea island and my GOLD (Guiding overseas linked with development) Nigeria project postponed to 2021. Despite postponement, my GOLD team and the other teams have continued to have lots of fun and prepare for our trips including having virtual trainings and socials too. My GOLD team and I were fortunate to run a virtual training session for 30 young leaders from Nigeria to equip them with skills to support young members to improve their mental wellbeing and grow resilience. It is amazing what you can achieve using technology!

During virtual meetings at my local Scouts network, it gave us time not only to have fun but also to have time to reflect including revamping our logo! On social media I saw the opportunity to participate in a SOWA (Scouts of the World Award) training weekend which intrigued me. Looking into it further, it was an opportunity to complete any project of my choice to make a difference. Seeing as summer holiday plans were cancelled, it seemed like the perfect time to complete it. The training weekend was very well organised despite it being the first SOWA virtual training in the UK and I learnt so much including about the sustainable development goals which were very interesting. My friend and I decided to revamp the outside space of a local scout hut to provide a more welcoming environment. It is still an ongoing project but so much has been achieved so far! I have learnt so many new skills including gardening, how to use a circular saw and how to reverse a minibus. I’ve had so much fun on the project so far and thank all those who have been involved so far. I really hope the Scouts will enjoy using their outside space.

Like many others, I will never forget the year 2020 for what we managed to achieve! It’s been a time for reflection, friendships have become stronger, many fun times had and many skills learnt. In particular, I am very proud of one of the Guide leaders in charge who despite being nervous about the idea of virtual meetings, we were able to work together to learn how to use it and all of our confidence has grown. I have so many cherished memories through Guiding and Scouting and I look forward to many more!

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