I encourage girls in guiding to get active

Harriet Reay, National Outdoor Team Coordinator, supports a team of volunteers who provide sport and adventure for girls

Guiding is a safe girl-only space in which sports and adventure are the norm, encouraging girls to get active.

As part of the National Outdoor Team, Harriet has waterproofs for every occasion and more tents than she needs

Here she tells us about her own adventures through Girlguiding and how she works to ensure that outdoor activity is a core part of guiding for all girls.

‘I love wild places and grew up racing dinghies with my father on Derwent Reservoir and walking in Durham Dales. When I was 16 I attended an international camp in Canada – and that was so exciting!

It’s now a privilege to be able to encourage girls in guiding to be all that they can be.

'It's a refreshing change too because, as a senior technical consultant for a leading IT company, much of my working life is spent with men! Guiding is a safe girl-only space in which sports and adventure are the norm, encouraging girls to get active – and stay active as adults – with all the benefits for health, well-being and confidence.

I was seven when I joined Brownies and I’ve been in guiding ever since.

'As Walking Adviser for Cheshire Forest County, I helped set up a hike training scheme, and later became Outdoor Activities Adviser. When I moved to Berkshire I took on the role of Outdoor Team Coordinator for Girlguiding South West England. Then the opportunity on the National Outdoor Team came up.

'So now, as National Outdoor Team Coordinator, I support a team of volunteer specialists and work closely with staff at Girlguiding Headquarters. With phones, email and Skype we can communicate wherever we happen to be at the time!

'My role includes ensuring that, as a team, we liaise with various sports’ national governing bodies, maintain Girlguiding’s outdoor qualifications, improve links with Girlguiding’s Activity Centres, and support Country and Region Advisors who in turn support local levels. Crucially, our aim is to help Leaders deliver an exciting and varied outdoor programme.

'Sometimes, when friends see me buried in camp preparations, I’m asked why I do it.

It’s so fulfilling and the experiences girls get are incredible.

'I especially love large events as they have an atmosphere you can't replicate anywhere else. For example, at Woggles, an activity weekend for Guides and The Senior Section, the sound of 450 voices singing in the dark woods around the campfire was amazing. And I must admit, in a challenge hike competition, I really enjoyed seeing the guiding teams do well – beating the Scouts at their own game!’

Read Harriet's story and more from our National Outdoor Team in the adventure issue of guiding magazine.

Get your girls outdoors

If you're inspired to do something adventurous with your unit then check our guidance on how-to plan and run an activity.