Welcome girls back after a break

Welcome girls back from a long or short break with top tips from guiding members

Whether you’re welcoming girls back from the long summer holiday or a short break, the activities you plan can make all the difference

Members from across Girlguiding have shared some of their top tips to make sure the return is as fun and successful as possible.

Let parents know what’s coming up

Keeping parents up to date means they’re part of their daughter’s guiding experience and helps build engagement. This doesn’t necessarily need to be done by letter - it could be through a closed, unit-based Facebook group, via a text message group, newsletter or by email. Or you could invite parents along to one of your unit meetings, so they can see the exciting activities their daughter is getting up to!

Whichever way works, it’s helpful to keep parents in the know about up and coming events, and helps us make sure girls keep coming back. 

Each term, we send a letter detailing all the important points for the coming term and any relevant consent forms. We also use a closed Facebook group to send reminders and post photos to keep parents up to date with what we’re doing. - Michelle, 12th Swindon Guides

Download our letter template and try this in your unit

Download our letter template and try this in your unit

Download our letter template and try this in your unit

Buddy up!

If you have any new girls in your unit, or girls that have moved up from the section below, why not buddy them with another girl? Having someone to sit with or talk to when starting can make an all-important difference in making a girl feel part of the section from day one. 

If time allows, you can ask the buddy to write to the new starter ahead of their first unit meeting, or help them to meet through a joint event or unit visit. This makes it even less of a daunting start.

Thanks to the North West for these fantastic transition videos:

Make girls’ voices heard

Running a girl-led programme gives girls control over the meeting time and their guiding experience. Ask your girls what they want to do, which activities they want to take part in and which adventures they want to have - they could even help to arrange them.

Some Leaders prefer planning at the start of the term, rather than the end. Guide Leader Felicity told us that she uses the first night back after a break as a planning session, with flip charts, Post Its and pens, so the girls can choose how they want to spend their upcoming meetings. Girls will keep coming back when they know they have a varied programme of meetings ahead, especially ones they’ve chosen!

On the first night of every term, we get all of the resources our unit owns out of the cupboard and set up 4 stations – one each for interest badges, Go For Its, any County/Region/Girlguiding one-off resources and a blank paper table (for crazy ideas and trips!). We then ask the Patrol Leaders to facilitate creating a list of their favourite ideas from each table and the Guides working on their Baden-Powell have some time to let us know anything they want to plan as part of their Award. It’s so easy for the leadership team to plan the term from this list and means the girls have come up with it all themselves! - Felicity, 272nd Birmingham (St. John’s) Guides.

Find out more about making guiding girl-led

Find out more about making guiding girl-led

Find out more about making guiding girl-led

Getting to know you…

We’ve heard many times that one of the best ways to start the new term is to have a ‘Getting to know you’ session. New girls can learn about everyone in their unit without any daunting or awkward introductions. There are many different ways of doing this from running a bingo session with members’ names to playing the 2 Truths game.

To play 2 Truths each participant prepares 3 statements about themselves to tell the rest of the group, 2 are true, one is a lie. The aim of the game is for the rest of the group to determine which statement is a lie by asking questions and then voting collectively.

The 2 Truths game is fun to use at the beginning of a new term so girls can find out a bit more about each other. The girls who have been there a while have to think more carefully about what statements to use as they tend to know more about each other. It's simple, fun and a good warm up game. - Rebecca, 130th Intake Guides, Sheffield

Challenge your girls

Giving the girls a task, individual badge work or challenge to complete over a break from meetings is a great way to keep young members motivated, encourage independent thinking and ensure they return raring to go.

You could give them an individual, pair or group task to complete, and make the first meeting back a ‘bring and share’ session to tell the rest of the girls what they did. A brilliant way to keep some continuity across the break, and most importantly, a reason to return!

For the last couple of years I have made an activity pack – sometimes it’s just a checklist of things they can try, and other times I include colouring pages and word-searches. My Brownies love them and are so excited to come and get their badge in September! I love receiving photos from the parents which show what they have been up to as a family to achieve the badge, and a number of girls have even put together scrapbooks of all their summer badge activities. These packs are also really great to send out to girls on our summer waiting list and are a super way to give parents and girls waiting to join Brownies a taste of what’s to come. -  Fran, 3rd Chadwell Heath Brownies