How to welcome new girls to your unit
Tips on how to provide a warm welcome to girls joining your unit, regardless of how you're meeting right now
One of the most rewarding things about volunteering with Girlguiding is seeing your girls develop and grow.
It can be really hard when you have to say goodbye to your girls. But the silver lining to this is that you can welcome new girls to support, have fun with and inspire! We’ve jotted down some of our top tips on how to make a girls’ transition to your unit as smooth as possible.
1) Get to know her beforehand
It’s a great idea to meet your new girl and her parents/carers before her first unit meeting. If you’re currently meeting virtually, you could invite the girl and her parents/carers to meet with you ten minutes before your meeting. Introduce yourself and the leadership team, and chat through what you’ll be doing that evening and later in the term. This is also your chance to ask the girl about what she likes doing and see if you can build that into your evening or term plan. It’s also a great chance to find out if there’s anything she’s worried about.
If a girl’s been part of another unit before, you could talk to her previous leaders. It might be someone you know or a leader from the other side of the world! Ask the girl for the name of her previous unit and see if you can contact them. You could ask the other leader if there’s anything they think would help your new girl settle in.
2) Give her a taster of your unit meeting
If you’re meeting socially distanced, you can do the same as meeting virtually by inviting her to the meeting slightly earlier than everyone else. This would also be a good time to let her know about any rules for the unit meeting space, like safety and boundaries. You could also invite her to watch part of a unit meeting first, so she feels more confident coming to her first one.
3) Help her get to know your unit
One of the hardest parts about being the new person joining a group is getting to know everyone else. This can be even harder if you’re the only new person. To help this transition feel more comfortable, why not play games at the start of the meeting that involve girls calling out their own or each other’s names? For example, if you’re meeting virtually, you could play Pass the Pen - a virtual game for Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Rangers. For units meeting socially distanced, it could be as simple as passing a ball around the circle without dropping it, calling out each girl’s name as they throw. Remind the new girl that it’s OK for her to not know or remember anyone’s name - that’ll come in time.
4) Buddy her up
You might want to buddy up your new girl with another girl that’s a similar age, slightly older, or someone who’s been at your unit for a long time. They can help them settle in and introduce them to everyone. If you don’t want to use a buddy system, remind your girls that they have a new girl joining them next session and to remember it’s harder to get to know each other virtually and socially distanced.
If you’re a Rainbow leader, we have a great game in UMA Pack 6 called ‘A warm welcome’. This activity, from the topic Better together, helps girls plan how they’ll greet a new member of their Rainbow unit. There are lots of other activities in the programme that could be adapted to help new girls too.