I’m Cloudy, main contact for 4th Northumberland Heath Rainbows (along with a few other units). This blog series is designed to give an insight in to the life of a leader with a small child, trying to get the balance right, between family and guiding.
This first entry will tell you a bit more about me, why I guide and what I hope I’ll achieve as mum and leader.
I’m Vicky (or Cloudy to the Rainbows). I first joined Girlguiding as a Rainbow, aged 5 with 1st Barnehurst Rainbows (I was their 51st Rainbow). I then progressed to 6th Barnehurst Brownies and on to 2nd Barnehurst Guides. While at Guides I jumped at the opportunity to become a Rainbow Helper and went back to 1st Barnehurst Rainbows aged 12 where I was given the name Cloudy. When I left Guides there wasn’t a Senior Section unit at the time so I continued as a Young Leader with Rainbows, but also returned to Guides a year later as a Young Leader. When I turned 18 I started my Leadership Qualification and finished this while at uni. When I returned from university I continued with both the Rainbows and Guides.
In 2013 I was asked if I’d like to run a unit, and I jumped at the chance, this unit was 4th Northumberland Heath Rainbows. I started with just 10 girls and over the last 8 years we’ve grown to have around 30-35 each term (although we’re about to start recruiting as Covid meant we unfortunately didn’t have a lot of new girls start while we were on Zoom). The following year, another leader and I were talking and looking at the waiting lists for Rainbows, they were long and girls were missing out or only managing to get a term before Brownies. We opted to open 4th Barnehurst Rainbows (hoping we’d find some other volunteers to run the unit for the long term). So by this point, I was a leader on a Tuesday, Wednesday and now a Friday for Rainbows along with Guides on a Friday as well. Every unit is different, and a different set of girls and therefore a different programme with each unit is needed, not just for the girls, but kept us as leaders excited too.
Fast forward to 2020 – I was finding that girls were leaving Guides but not going on to Rangers as they couldn’t do a different day, or were unsure about moving venue and trying to fit things in with school work, we agreed to open 2nd Barnehurst Rangers alongside Guides and we now have a small but healthy unit. Yes another unit of admin and activities to arrange, but to see girls continue in guiding is great.
So lots of people call me crazy to give up this much time (but thanks to a leader called Pat Tiley), I don’t see it as ‘giving up’. I freely give my time as when using the term ‘giving up’ it makes me feel like I am resenting the time I give and that is certainly not the case. Why? I want to ensure girls joining guiding get at least similar opportunities to those I got as a young member, but also as a leader I get a lot of opportunities too.
I owe the dedication I now give to the leaders who gave their time for me (and they are all still giving their time as volunteers within guiding). I remember all or almost all of the opportunities they gave me and I hope I am providing a similar legacy.
When I start to add up the time I give, just unit meetings alone it’s 5.5 hours a week plus the admin time and set up and pack down time and even just shopping for things we need. Thankfully, I don’t do it alone, I wouldn’t be able to!! I have an incredible team of volunteers working around me, Debbie, Theresa and Sarah (who were actually leaders at Rainbows when I was a Rainbow), Ellie, Mala, Alyson and Lorraine who have all joined me with Tuesday Rainbows over the last 8 years. Alex, Josie, Chloe and Sue who offered to come and help with our (Debbie and I’s) new venture of Friday Rainbows and also help with Guides along with Emma, Ann and Lucy; finally Beth, who is the most recent addition to 1st Barnehurst Rainbows and it’s great to have a new pair of hands in the team.
As well as the volunteers, I have my family: my husband and now my daughter, but also my Mum and Dad who continue to help to transport me and the kit to guiding when necessary 😀 Just to persuade mum to complete her leadership qualification now 😀
I think that’s me, Vicky, Cloudy, Mum, Leader (and any other name you’d like to call me)… So stick with me over the next term or so while I take you through my experiences of balancing family life and guiding, let’s see how it works.