1st Paris Rainbows and Brownies - How it all began!

Our story begins, as all good Girl Guiding stories… on district camp! It was the very first time that Natalie and I were to meet; it marked the start of a long and eventful friendship.

As it happens, Natalie and I attended the same Senior school in Coventry, West Midlands; however, our paths were yet to cross. It was only through our involvement in Guiding, through various camps and numerous district events that we became friends. Eventually, we found ourselves at the same Senior Section unit. Our friendship continued over the next fourteen years, through school, university, an Erasmus year, 2 different countries, 5 different cities and a total of 5 different Guiding Units.

1st Paris at District Camp

Nearly twelve years later, Natalie and I decided to move to Paris, individually and for very different reasons. Within the first year, we both began to miss our involvement in the Guiding world and we quickly reached out to the Ile-de-France district to find the closest unit to join. Much to our surprise, we were told that there were no existing Guiding units within central Paris. The nearest groups were all situated outside of Paris in surrounding towns.

In an international, multi-cultural, multi-lingual city such as Paris, it certainly seemed that there would be a demand within the English speaking community. It wasn’t long before we started to contemplate the possibility of opening the first Guiding unit within central Paris.

At the end of October 2014, we started 1st Paris Rainbows and Brownies, a joint unit to encourage as many English speaking girls to join as possible. At the moment, we have 4 regular members: 2 Rainbows and 2 Brownies.

Since then, we’ve had a very busy 12 months!

The highlights include a very special Remembrance Service at Notre Dame Cathedral which was attended by groups of British Guides in Foreign Countries and British Scouts Overseas from within the Ile-de-France region. It was certainly impressive to discover the number of British groups meeting outside of the UK.

Our girls made their promise at the very beginning of 2015 in front of friends, family and our District Commissioner. It was a very special evening for all involved.

Our Thinking Day celebrations were inspired by the four World Centers and included eating chocolate from Switzerland, making sun dials from Mexico, trying Henna from India and dancing the Scottish Ceilidh from the UK, in one of our busiest meetings to date. We even received a Thinking Day card from our Rainbow friends in Amsterdam!

At the beginning of the term we organised our very first Rainbow and Brownie outing, a community-hunt around central Paris to explore our local community. It was a big hit with the girls and we’re very much looking forward to arranging more outings in the future!

In June, we held a district Rainbow and Brownie sleepover with two other units from the suburbs of Paris. The sleepover was spa themed involving pamper activities, hair styling and nail art. The morning included a healthy brunch-style breakfast and a session of yoga. It was great fun for all involved and the perfect opportunity for the girls to meet other Rainbows and Brownies from the district.

Like many other Rainbow and Brownie units, we have our mascot, Rainbow Ruby. Rainbow Ruby is certainly a very well-traveled member of our unit. So far, her adventures have included a trip to Versailles, the Eiffel Tower, Montparnasse, the Centre Pompidou, several trips on the Eurostar and the Channel Tunnel, a holiday to the South of France and most recently a week at the BGIFC Discovery’15 Camp. Next week she is even holidaying in Scotland!

Although opening a joint unit in a foreign city has certainly presented its challenges and despite our small numbers, we hope to continue to expand our unit in the near future.

1st Paris Rainbows and Brownies is still at its very first stages but we like to think that we have contributed in our own way to the growth of the Benelux and Ile de France County and to Girl Guiding worldwide.

At our final meeting of the summer term, one parent told us that: “Paris only started to feel like home when we found 1st Paris Rainbows and Brownies”. We hope to continue to make our girls feel welcome and to encourage their friendships within Paris and the wider District, as our unit continues to grow and develop overtime. No matter how small the group, how big the challenges, there is always an opportunity to make a difference in your local community!

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