1st SHAPE Guides - The Past Year

1st SHAPE Guides - The Past Year

As the leaders of the SHAPE Girl Guides sit around the glowing embers of the camp fire, we start to reminisce about the fabulous time we have all had over the past 10 months. Sadly, mainly due to the mobile nature inherent of a Forces Community, last August an appeal went out for willing leaders and helpers to continue the brilliant work put in by Cathie Clarke following her posting back to the UK.

Leader Fi Webster came out of retirement as a temporary measure, taking up the reigns, with the proviso that we would continue to advertise for a permanent lead.

Christmas arrived and with no sign of a replacement. Fi, together with the team of volunteers that she had built around her offering support, decided to continue (don’t tell anyone but we were all actually having too much fun to stop!).

1st SHAPE Guides - The Past Year

While we are only a small group in numbers, 14 girls, we have seen a steady increase over the past year. The girls share the commitment of the leaders with 99% attending every week. Building their own team, they are getting to know each other, acknowledging their limitations and strengths.

It has been a privilege to watch this band of young ladies unfold and develop their leadership skills as they have grown and gained in confidence.

1st SHAPE Guides - The Past Year

The fluid nature of a military camp results in a higher than average turnover for the group. At the end of each school term we are often forced to say goodbye to at least one or two of the girls. Lifelong friendships have been formed and many meet up as their families move to another posting.

In addition, we always look forward to welcoming newcomers, who are greeted with a friendly word before they quickly join in with the latest activity or game. Our weekly meetings fly by. Most of the time the girls run the show themselves, while the leaders offer back up, encouragement and a large round of applause to acknowledge and share the joy of the girls in their achievements.

Termly, the team of Leaders gather together for a planning meeting, sharing ideas and exchanging dates of availability. The majority of the team work full time and have families of their own to care for, the ability to juggle is one of the much needed life skills most of us possess, together with a good sense of humour.

There isn’t one evening when infectious laughter can’t be heard peeling across the hallway… did I mention the joy that volunteering brings to your own life!?

1st SHAPE Guides - The Past Year

One of our latest adventures was a trip to the UK to visit London. We planned to break our journey with an overnight stop at Grosvenor Hall, a residential centre in Ashford, Kent.

This involved numerous outdoor activities including the popular ‘leap of faith’ which involved climbing up a pole to a platform, then ‘leaping’ onto a trapeze at the top…. whilst in a safety harness I might add!

1st SHAPE Guides - The Past Year

The following day we headed up to the Houses of Parliament for a special tour, arranged by Dr Mari Takayanagim.

Our featured topic for the Spring term had been the upcoming 100 year anniversary of Women’s suffrage. There was no better place to be, to learn first-hand, the history behind the struggle women went through and the impact this has had on the subsequent lives of many.

1st SHAPE Guides - The Past Year

We were treated to a behind the scene’s tour, through a woman’s eyes, of the events that led up to the vote being granted, some of the story about the House of Lords and the House of Commons, stopping to read the memorial to Jo Cox, the English MP killed in Birstall, Yorkshire in 2016 while working as an MP.

The highlight of the day for all the girls was to meet the artist, Mary Branson who created the New Dawn, which is a piece of artwork commemorating the women’s long campaign to gain the vote. Mary shared with us the fascinating story behind her inspiration for the piece, how it was created and what it represented.

1st SHAPE Guides - The Past Year

Throughout the day we had passed under the light sculpture which stands in St Stevens Gate, and had noticed the changing display of lights only for Mary to explain the process in more detail. The lights represent the ‘Tide of Change’, which is reflected in the tidal change of the river Thames. It builds from low tide, where only one disc is illuminated to high tide where the entire sculpture is lit up. Mary kindly presented the girls with their ‘Women 100’ Challenge badges and gave a special presentation to Harriet and Natasha on gaining their Baden Powell Challenge Award.

On our arrival, the New Dawn light formation had appeared minimally lit, however, on our departure we were all thrilled when for our last glimpse of the piece showed all the lights shining brightly. It could not have been a more perfect end to a perfect day. One that I’m sure the girls will treasure.

1st SHAPE Guides - The Past Year

So, as we sit in the light of fading camp fire, we chat with the girls checking how they have felt things had gone since August. What had they enjoyed? What new adventures would they like to have after the summer holiday? (Did I mention that we all felt it had been a lot of fun?)

All I will say is watch this space, we shall not spoil the surprise but urge you to come along and join in the fun!

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