I am a qualified Guide leader!

Three weeks ago, I finished my Adult Leadership Qualification for Guides – that is, three weeks ago as this is published. As I write it, it was last night. You might think it’s odd that I’ve been a Guide leader for nearly three years and yet only just qualified – we train on the job, and I was already a qualified Ranger and Brownie leader before I started Guides, so I wasn’t completely clueless.

The Girlguiding Adult Leadership Qualification comes in the form of three compulsory modules and one optional one. If you change sections, ie you’re a Ranger leader who’s done all four modules and who now wants to become a Guide leader, you redo Module 1, which deals mainly with the programme. Most of it is things you’re going to cover in day-to-day running of the unit anyway. I was ordered to a Leadership Surgery in March – my county doesn’t have enough Mentors to have one each so we have a big meeting every month or two which leaders-in-training attend – and that meant I had to look like I’d been working on my ALQ, which I hadn’t really.

So I sat down with the book and collected up evidence. “Plan and carry out an activity that helps unit members gain an understanding of the Promise”? Well, we’d done one of those in October. I got out my felt-tips and recreated one of the Promise Trees that we’d made (and then binned). “Carry out an activity or visit away from the meeting place that helps the unit to enjoy the out of doors”? We did a District Activity Day in September. I’d supervised the archery and run the tunnelling. I printed a couple of pictures from that day. The leadership people at County are always delighted to see photos when they check and verify. “Plan and carry out two activities in the unit meeting place”? I’d done hundreds. I wrote down two that I had pictures from. And so on. In the course of one Saturday morning I went from having an untouched qualification book to having collected 80% of the evidence. The next Wednesday I got my other leader and the girls to sign off anything they’d witnessed. And tah-dah!

I went to the Leadership Surgery and did the required reading, most of which I already knew, and got that signed off. I’d made the special effort to get to a Sectional Training and the Mentor signed off that I had the certificate. And so on until the only thing left, the last signature in the book, was the Mentor Visit and that had to be arranged for a month later, because we were out of the meeting place or it was the Easter holidays or the Mentor wasn’t available.

The idea of the Mentor Visit is to check three things. 1) That you can run a meeting 2) That you can run a meeting safely 3) That you get on on ok with the girls and the Unit Team. I tend to specialise in the outdoors end of the spectrum and I thought it might be nice to do some camp preparation. My original plan was to have them put up a tent but then we acquired four new girls, which is a big step up for a unit that only had six girls in the first place, so we now – finally – have patrols and that meant we really needed a patrol tent each. I hadn’t had time to borrow a second one from the other Guides and besides, they don’t really work if you pitch them inside, which we would have had to do. So I gave up on that idea. Instead we made bedding rolls and threw them around to see how tough they were and then we toasted marshmallows over tealights. We put the candles on heat-resistant plates and we made sure all hair was tucked away. I know it’s important not to have the girls in flames but I usually just get on with the cooking rather than spend the time keeping quite such a close eye on hair. But in front of the Mentor, it paid off – the comment I got written in my book was “It was great fun for the girls but also very useful skills. She was aware of potential risks involved with lighting candles and all the girls responded well to her.” Isn’t that good? One last signature and the whole thing was over. I am qualified! Of course, the book has to go to County to be verified, put on Go! and have the certificate sent to me but once the last signature is in, you’re officially qualified.

Pixie, the other leader, did her Mentor Visit a year ago, so she got her last few things signed off at that Leadership Surgery and in the space of a month, we’ve gone from no qualified leaders to two qualified leaders. For me, that’s the third qualification I’ve completed in just over six years and that first I’ve completed since I’ve had a blog.

So let’s celebrate!