Tonight I left Guides

It’s been a bit of an emotional night. At the end of last term, I made a decision that has been floating in my head for over a year – I was going to leave Guides. There are only five of them with three leaders, I have my hands full with work and Rangers, I don’t have much talent with that age group, that age group is incredibly annoying and has an attention span of five minutes and I don’t enjoy it.

Tonight I went in, dressed symbolically in my pink Centenary polo shirt, which ceased to be uniform a good few years ago, and my County fleece – casual Guiding clothes rather than “Leader Wear” which strictly speaking is for “women actively delivering guiding to girls and young women”. I handed everything over to the other leader, broke the news to our newest leader, my previous Young Leader, and spent the night watching them planning the term’s activities and running through their Leadership Qualification, pointing out “you have to do a Promise activity” and “you have to get the tab and badge and county badge for her next week when I’m running the shop” and “please do a safety check, there’s a list in the back of the book” and asking the older to sign off all the things she’s witnessed the younger doing. They’re 18 and 21 and I feel a little bit guilty leaving them to their own devices. But they’re much keener on it than I am and much better at it. And I was only just 22 when I started running Rangers all on my own. And I’ve promised that I’m available any time they want or need me, if one of them can’t make it I can come along, I’ll still be available at Rangers and I’m still supervising their ALQs.

The Guides nearly broke me. Far from the quiet “ok” of the other leaders when I said I’m going, I got horrified looks and “won’t we ever see you again?” and the big wide eyes of someone I’ve just hit over the heart and I admit, I was a wee bit tearful. Because they’re not bad girls, they’re just thoughtless, by and large, and that makes them really hard work. And I’m more or less fond of them and tonight, even before I told them, I felt like they were a bit fond of me, which I have to admit is not often an impression I get from one or two of them.

But the 18-year-old has A Levels coming up and she says she’s probably not coming back after her exams and she’s definitely not next year because she’ll be off to uni. It’s looking like I’m just taking a sabbatical rather than actually giving it up but the 21-year-old will have had a term of being in charge and when I go back (for I’m already looking at “when” rather than “if”) my plan is for her to be Guider-in-charge with me as Assistant Guider, without so much of the pressure. The pressure is partly my own fault – the 21-year-old joined around March or April last year and I haven’t previously handed over as much of the responsibility as I should have done because I didn’t really know how but also because she was new and I didn’t want to drown her or scare her off. I’ll see her every week so if it’s too much for the pair of them, I’m right there to go back.

Am I finding it surprisingly hard to let go of my Guides? I guess I am. Am I going to be awake all night planning the ALQs, feeling guilty and trying not to cry? Probably. But I’m going to relish this free term – and undoubtedly I’ll be called in at least once – before I go back to the little darlings.