Balancing parent's expectations and truly good Guiding

>>  Wednesday, June 08, 2016

I've tried really hard along my way as a Ranger Leader to not over spoon feed the girls.

The premise of Rangers is that they plan their own programme, they run their own nights, they budget for want they need and they get on and do it.

This is theory.

I have a few issues with it:

They don't get the exposure that I do to new ideas and possibilities so planning for them is hard.  If I can throw in as many ideas as I can and show them things I have seen or think might be fun then they become catalysts for them to feed off.  They don't take up the ideas they don't want to do and it helps them to think about what they do want to do.

They are busy girls, they have more important priorities. They have homework, exams, music gradings, DofE commitments, Young Leader commitments. Whilst they are capable of sorting Ranger nights out most of them really don't have much time.

But at the same time it's important that they have the opportunities to develop and grow. Many Ranger units are completely self-lead, including all planning, preparation and delivery.   This gives the girls an opportunity to learn life skills and confidence in a safe environment.  I am aware that I often do too much for the Rangers as a leader compared to most other units in the area and I perhaps I am denying the girls growth opportunities by expecting so little of them.   The developmental opportunities at Rangers are massive if you allow them to happen.   

We are going to a large jamboree this summer and have borrowed tents, at the last camp I saw them pitched at one was a bit leaky so I sorted out a garden and a date to get them pitched.  I bought the water proofer, brushes, pots, found ladders.  I pre-warned the girls over and over about it needing to happen and reminded them of the date.  In usual Ranger fashion there was limited interested and next to no commitment.  So I sent an email them and the parents saying that the tents could be waterproofed on that day, that they needed to make sure 2 from each tent group (or a representative) went, the tents would be labelled as done and if a tent group didn't turn up to do it then they might get wet at the camp. Simples.

But not simples to a parent.  Apparently whilst it would have been ok for me to politely ask for the help of the Rangers, it was not acceptable to state that it needed to be done, I was making it so Rangers was not fun and the camp was being paid for so it should be fun. 

I reminded the parent that I am a volunteer, running the unit on my own with no other help.  That responsibility is a positive thing.  But no, the reply was "If you have took too much on that is not my fault or my daughters fault."  She continued to berate my negativity and demands.  I tried the "If you would like to do it then it would be done the way you think it should be" approach which went down like the Bismarck.  

So I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place with knowing that I have to give them to space and responsibility to sort their own camp kit out and that ultimately they will gain more from doing it. They will enjoy the camp more knowing they took a part in getting it sorted, a sense of a job well done.  The rock that is good guiding. And the hard place that is dealing with a parent that thinks I should pitch and waterproof three 6 man tents on my own unless her daughter decides it will be a fun thing to pop by and help me!  At the end of that day, she did not pop by to help her tent buddies waterproof her tent.  But those that did go had a great time doing it!

I find it really hard to understand parents that don't recognise the value that organisations like Guiding and Scouting give.  The Rangers in my unit pay the equivalent of 20p a day for a 24/7 support service, reference provider, motivational speaker, fun provider, alternative to parents nagging service and so much more.   Me I get paid nothing.  I lose a lot. A lot of time.  A fair amount of money when you add up the things of my own I use, petrol, lost overtime, holidays etc.  Sometimes I know why I do it but mostly at the moment, and a lot to do with the attitude of this one parent and child, I am questioning why.

But at least until after this large camp I cannot stop so I will keep on keeping on and I will endeavour to continue to encourage self-led Rangers despite parental disapproval but I will leave you with the words of another Guider:

"After my Guide meeting last night I've come to the conclusion that if I left my unit to be girl-led it would end up like a sequel to Lord of the Flies"


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