Last Saturday was Bristol and South Gloucestershire’s County Day.
Most Counties have one of these, some larger than others, but if you’ve been involved in Guiding for a while you might have been invited to go to one.
The first time I went, I was a little nervous. I didn’t know what to expect from it, and I was worried that everyone there would know what they were doing and nobody would have time to explain things to me.
Because, of course, at that point *everyone* had been going to them for years, and I was the *only* new Leader in the area. Clearly.
What is County Day?
In simple terms, it’s a training day, organised by the Guiding County, for all the leaders in that County.
They often get trainers in from other Counties, to spread good ideas around the country (and so the trainers from our County can actually be trained!).
What should I expect?
I’m going to explain what happens at our County Day. Your mileage may vary – I’ve never been to another County’s version, so I can’t compare.
We start off with our County’s Annual Review – lots of pictures of everything that’s gone on in our units, updates on the building project at the County campsite, award presentations, that sort of thing. That usually takes about half an hour.
Then it’s off to training. We get two training sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
The morning is section-specific, so we get something we can apply to our own unit. You’ll be with other leaders from the same section, meaning that you can share ideas and experiences about the specifics of Brownies, or Rainbows, or Guides.
The afternoon is mixed section trainings, and includes some random things. Everything from team building exercises to basic car or bike maintenance. This year there was a session on Pilates, and one on the Stop the Violence campaign.
The Senior Section come too, and they have their own training sessions, which I’m told are very entertaining!
In between is lunch. At lunchtime we all visit the marketplace. There are stalls from the trading depots, cake stalls for whoever is raising money that year, displays of county things you can borrow (for example the county music adviser’s collection of fun instruments), and people who can give you help on specific questions.
Oh, and also you get to chat to lots of people you haven’t seen for ages. And sometimes you run into someone you know at work who you didn’t realise was a Brownie leader.
But training is boring. Why should I go?
Ok, firstly, if training is boring, you need better trainers. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a boring training (with Guiding anyway). Even the first aid course can be made fun if you approach it in the right frame of mind.
Secondly, does this look boring?
This was our team building workshop. The trainer gave us some ideas of activities to help our girls form good teams, and obviously we had to try them out to check they worked.
The Duplo tower, by the way, was built by a team of four – one who could come up with ideas but not build anything, one who was supposed to be project manager, and two builders, one with only one hand and one who couldn’t speak.
The other training I did was about developing leadership skills in Brownies. The most memorable of the activities was the Great Jam Sandwich Project.
It’s about the importance of giving clear instructions.
Write the instructions for how to make a jam sandwich. Then swap with another team and follow the instructions exactly.
Common problems included not specifying which side of the slice of bread to put jam on. It was… messy.
I can’t wait to try it with my Brownies!
So there you go.
County Day in a nutshell. You should definitely try to get to one if you can.
Training is good to keep you fresh and excited about Guiding, and up to date on all the latest resources and opportunities.
And it’s a great way to get more involved in the Guiding social scene.
Have you been to County Day in another part of the country? Do you live in another country and have a similar tradition? Share your stories in the comments!