What's it like to be chief guide?

Are you thinking about applying to be our new chief guide? Amanda Medler tells us what the role is like

13 September 2022

The chief guide is the most senior volunteer role in Girlguiding, and each one holds the post for five years.

Our current chief guide, Amanda Medler, is coming to the end of her five-year term in February 2023 and we need someone to take over. Could it be you? 

We asked Amanda what it’s like to be chief guide to give you a taste of what the role is like. 

Hi Amanda! Can you tell us what it means to be chief guide? 

‘To be chief guide is to be the champion for all the volunteers in guiding. I share this leadership with a team of three other volunteers.  We work closely over evenings and weekends, which helps to share out the responsibilities of the role and fit our volunteering into our busy lives. We’re always looking to improve the experience of volunteers and commissioners, and to keep our eye to the future of what will help us stay modern and relevant to the lives of girls and young women.’ 

‘My main responsibility is with the volunteers who are chief commissioners looking after each country and region and British guiding overseas. I work closely with staff and the lead volunteers who help Girlguiding develop what we offer girls and how we help and support all the volunteer roles in guiding.  

‘I am an ambassador for Girlguiding in our relationship with other girl guiding and girl scouting associations and in our relationship with WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts).’ 

Why did you decide to apply to become chief guide? 

‘Several people approached me to consider applying. I had relevant experience from other county and association roles and had recently served as a member of the WAGGGS Europe committee so I had new perspectives to bring from the worldwide guiding family. 

‘I really enjoyed my role as a county commissioner and felt passionately about enabling volunteers to feel valued so they would be motivated to lead others locally and give more girls the opportunity to join and share in the opportunities that guiding gives us all.’ 

What’s your highlight been as chief guide? 

‘Meeting volunteers: they amaze me with their commitment and creativity for young members everywhere. And talking with girls and young women: they inspire me with their enthusiasm and curiosity and excitement for all the possibilities that they have through guiding.’ 

And what have some of the challenges been? 

‘Covid-19 was completely unprecedented and I’m really proud of how we responded and are supporting guiding to recover. 

‘Also, the ongoing modernisation of how we work together behind the scenes to involve countries and regions and harness the skills and experience of volunteers and staff everywhere too.’ 

What does a day in the life as chief guide look like? 

‘Much like every other volunteer: finding time outside of work to answer emails, go to meetings, make phone calls, plan for the next event and sort the occasional problem out!  

‘Although it is genuinely great to be able to go to places in person again. In just one month I went to Rotterdam for the Europe Conference, to Kent to visit an international jamboree, to Edinburgh to meet county commissioners, and I’ve visited events at Waddow Hall and Foxlease as well!’ 

What skills from outside guiding have been most useful to this role? 

‘There are no ‘right’ skills to have for this role. Some useful transferable skills include the ability to get on with all sorts of people, multitask, chair and facilitate meetings, manage lots of emails and build teams.’ 

What do you wish you'd known before you started the role? 

‘I knew it’d be a big time commitment and I didn’t underestimate this!’ 

How does the chief guide team support you? 

‘There are four of us in the team and we share out ongoing responsibilities for a particular area of work. We share the tasks of what needs to be done. We stay in touch through email and WhatsApp and have a weekly call. Keeping in touch is really important so we can motivate each other and help each other out if a deadline is looming - just like any other team in guiding!  

‘We are from all over the UK and have different work and home life responsibilities. The team has been a great personal support to each other as well as getting on with the tasks. Strong guiding friendships are special and stand out.’ 

What’s the one thing Girlguiding has done during your time as chief guide that you’re most proud of? 

‘Girlguiding has stepped forward bravely to be a champion for diversity and inclusion with a genuine commitment to welcome all to take part in guiding.’ 

And finally, how would you sum up the role of chief guide in a sentence? 

‘Exhilarating and exhausting. It’s a privilege to be the voice of volunteers at the heart of this amazing movement.’