Our shopping-centre campsite attracted new members
60 girls descended on Crossgates shopping centre to cajole shoppers into their make-shift campsite - and into guiding!
This World Thinking Day we wanted to go bigger and bolder. Every year we have a community event, designed to show the fun girls and adults can have in guiding, and this year we took over a great big section of Crossgates shopping centre to do just that.
Getting girls involved
A big part of what we did was getting lots of units and girls involved. To organise the event we got together five different units – the 3rd Crossgates Rainbows, 1st Crosgates Brownies, 1st Crossgates Guides, 1st Manston Guides and Manston Senior Section.
We wanted to make sure all the girls’ voices were heard, so during our Rainbow chats, Pow-wows and Guide chats we brainstormed what we wanted to have at the event and how we could make it as much fun as possible for everyone.
After lots of discussions we decided that it would be fun to have the day broken down into sections and run it like a meeting.
Creating our Crossgates campsite
The day before the event we went into Crossgates shopping centre to set the area up as a campsite with activities happening throughout the day.
The activities were all chosen by the girls in the unit to show the fun we have in all the guiding age groups. We did fake archery, pioneering, STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) activities and lots of other games.
There was never a time when something wasn’t happening! It was great to have visitors come and join in the activities while talking about joining or asking questions.
To make sure that the whole event was an eye-catching spectacle, we had lots Girlguiding branded paraphernalia, including selfie boards, photographs of what the girls do in units, pull up banners and myth-buster signs, alongside the official postcards about the sections.
A resounding success
By the end of the day we had a number of girls joining our units and parents interested in becoming volunteers. Most importantly for us, the even raised awareness that we are a part of their local community. It changed people’s views both of young people and guiding!
Crossgates shopping centre loved it to – we’ve been told we can have the whole weekend next year! So that will give us more time to run all the different activities we want to. We’re already organising our Christmas event in the centre where we’re singing to raise funds for a local charity.
Spreading the word online and in the media
We wanted to make sure that the event was going to be well attended, so we used our media contacts and blasted the information out over all social media platforms.
Through the promotion on Twitter and Facebook we contacted local television, radio and newspapers who all showed interest in the event. We kept in touch with them throughout the planning process.
On the day we had BBC Radio Leeds come and promote the event on their early radio show and this continued throughout the day. They interviewed some of the girls about what had been planned and also visitors to the centre. We also had the Yorkshire Reporter visit the event and had a full page spread in the newspaper about how we celebrated guiding in the community.
What we learned . . .
We learned a lot from our shopping centre campsite, if you’re considering running your own community or recruitment event, I’d recommend you:
- Make sure you have laptops or ipads so people can join up on the day – we had people from different places coming to join us
- Get the message out there – don’t be afraid to use social media about what your units are doing. We publicise everything the girls get up to so the local community know our units are there and the fun that we have
- Go big, don’t hold back – the more eye-catching and fun you can show the better. Get the girls involved from the start, they will have amazing ideas!