An Auction of Values

It’s September, it’s the beginning of term and I have to plan for my Rangers again. Under the terms of Senior Section law and Girlguiding’s ethos of “girl-led Guiding”, they really should plan themselves but they’re no good at it. My particular group are talented and enthusiastic and bright and hard-working and the sort of group that gives teenagers a really good name but at Rangers, all they’re interested in doing is eating, playing card games and going on the internet. Fortunately, they can be pushed in the right direction and they’re very susceptible to bribing via badges.

Last year, I got them working on On Your Marks, Girlguiding’s Olympic resource/badge. Well, four badges.


The centre one is a commemorative badge. Round the outside are the three you have to earn – Culture, Sport & Values. (Sewing these on a camp blanket up the right way and reasonably tidily is much harder than with a normal simple single badge, not least because the centre badge is iron-on and mine melted). You do three activities for each. Our activities ranged from inventing a new sport to frying bananas to making our own poi )and then accidentally scattering rice all over the car park) but my favourite activity was the Auction of Values.

It consisted of a list of twenty or so “values”, such as winning a race, having a day out with your family, sexual equality, having a high-paid job, ending a world conflict, having a best friend, having your own laptop, getting married and so on. I gave each of them an equal amount of Monopoly money and they had to bid for the values they felt were most important. We don’t often do “serious” stuff like this so for a start, it was a novelty. Second, it got them thinking about these things, as they questioned the exact meaning of the question and which aspects of it were important – eg, did they want to get married? Did they want the right to get married? Was a marriage any different to a long-term relationship? What about common-law marriage? And although some of them tried to cheat the system, by getting into bidding wars to put the prices up high in order to bankrupt their rivals so they could get their most important values for cheap, or by picking one or two values that they were determined to get even if that meant missing out on all the others, it worked out well.

We played that game a second time a few months later – I vaguely remember putting in some of their favourite celebrities and one of them buying “the tribe of redheads”. I don’t remember what happened to me, since I had been bought by one of my Rangers, whether I was set free or became the Queen of the tribe. But it set off a second round of long discussions and more underhand auction techniques and more thought put into some fairly big issues, which was lovely.

It’s far too soon to do it again – I might save it for a couple of years and do it when my current youngest ones are my oldest ones. In the meantime, I have to think of some more activities to entertain my big girls and maybe make them think again.