Queens Guide Award
- Highest badge you can work towards in Guiding
- Open to Senior Section members aged 16-25
- Maximum of 3 years
- 5 Elements, 10 clauses
The First Element is “Service in Guiding”, and the first part of that is to carry out 60 hours of active Guiding. This was probably the easiest part of my QGA, as I could just continue with what I was doing already! Some of the activities we did with 1st Wolvercote Guides was a pamper evening where we painted our nails and made bath bombs and an evening organised by the girls for their family and friends to show them what we do at Guides.
A sub-part of the 60 hours of active Guiding is for 20 hours to be spent on a single project. I chose to co-organise a sleepover for 2nd Golders Green Guides- something they had never done before as they’d never had a leader with a camp licence, so I was very happy I could give them that experience. This was a Halloween-themed sleepover with a pumpkin carving competition, apple bobbing, face painting and a ‘mummifying’ race. The best bit was when they all asked to go to bed at 11pm!
The second part of this element was to attend a residential where you took on a role of responsibility. I joined the staff team at BrumJam- an international Guide and Scout camp held just south of Birmingham last August. I was in the craft tent and was responsible for making juggling balls- something I had never made before! This involved filling balloons with rice and then covering them with balloons to smooth them out. Over the 3 days I was there, we went through about 20 kg of rice! As you can imagine, this was pretty challenging to clear up when we were striking camp… I enjoyed this experience as I got to talk to not only Guides from around the world, but also Scouts.
For the third part of this element, I had to help to organise an event that involved more than 2 units. For this, I helped Kate Parrinder organise and run the Oxford City 2 Division Brownie Fun Day. This was Alice in Wonderland themed, and I was in charge of making “Jam Tarts”- AKA dampers. This turned out to be the first of many campfire events I ran over the summer! I enjoyed working with Brownies again (something I’d done for 10 years or so through my teens) and I got my first Guiding shopping experience in Sainsbury’s when I had to fill my trolley with 10 kg of bread flour, 1000 baby wipes and 5 jars of jam!
Once I’d obtained my camp licence, I was able to take my friends away for an exploration. This clause is designed to deepen your knowledge of an area unknown to you. Having lived in Oxford for 5 years and never visited the Cotswolds, I decided this was a good excuse. We stayed at the Cranham Scout Centre near Gloucester and I chose the theme to be “A to Z of the Cotswolds”, where we had to visit something synonymous with the Cotswolds beginning with each letter of the alphabet. This was by far my favourite bit of my QGA. For example, we visited an Ampitheatre, had an English Cream Tea, walked around disused Quarries, enjoyed an afternoon at the Zoo (Cotswold Wildlife Park). The highlight was when we tried to find the Source of the River Thames. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the exact location on the map, so our first mistake was parking 2 miles away… Then it absolutely chucked it down, and started to thunder. My sister was screaming “we’re going to die”, whilst walking through a cow field in the lightning and we’d also lost the Thames Path signs, had mud up to our knees and our waterproof walking boots had given up. I wanted nothing more than to go home to my bed, but thankfully my boyfriend and our other friend brought my sister and me round and as we got back on track and found the source (just a pile of stones!), the sun came out. The sense of achievement was amazing!
The third element was to develop a skill. I’ve played the flute all throughout school but didn’t enjoy playing at University, so I decided to try and reignite the passion I’d once had. I joined a flute choir run by Oxfordshire County Music Service, which was absolutely fantastic. It also gave me a chance to play the piccolo I’d had sat on the shelf for several years. I enjoyed that so much, I actually went out and bought a more expensive version which would allow me to play better. I was very sad to leave the group when I moved to London, but I joined an Orchestra at King’s College London (where I am studying). This presented a different view of playing in an ensemble, as it was on a much grander scale. I’d gone from having small recital at the end of term in a school hall to accompanying a choir in Southwark Cathedral!
The fourth and penultimate element was to get involved in a community project on a local, regional, national scale etc. I chose to look at homelessness and volunteered at the Oxford Gatehouse for 6 months, which is based in St Giles’ Parish rooms on Woodstock Road. They are a charity who provide food, drink, clothing and computer access to those sleeping rough or in sheltered accommodation, as well as people on low incomes. This gave me a really good insight into homelessness in Oxford, as I got to see it first hand. Unfortunately I couldn’t find anything similar in London, so my Guide Unit ran a fundraising evening to raise money for a local charity (Homeless Action in Barnet). We held a Christmas Quiz, where the Guides each wrote a Christmas-themed round and I added in one about homelessness to make it topical. The girls sold some craft they’d made and we had a raffle. Waitrose very kindly donated mince pies and mulled wine and a representative of HAB came to talk about where the money would be used. We raised £104 that evening, which well exceeded my target, and is especially impressive as we only have 4 guides! I also created a report on “Reasons for Homelessness”, looking at Oxford, London, the EU and worldwide.
The final element of the Award is to participate in a GGUK residential event for 3 days, 2 nights, where the majority of participants are unknown to you. I joined the SW England walking weekend at Sandy Acres, near Winchester, which is near to where I grew up so I knew the area well. Walking is something I have always enjoyed and I didn’t realise there was a qualification I could do. We did all the theory and practice walks (along with some more geocaching), so all I am left with is to do the assessed walk, which I plan to do now I have finished my QGA and I have some more time! I really enjoyed this weekend as I got to meet some other girls doing their QGA, so we discussed what we were doing and what we were finding difficult etc. It was also great to attend a residential where I didn’t have to cook!
I would like to thank everyone who has given up their time to help me, especially Nette (my mentor) and those who have come camping with me; Sarah, the Isis Rangers, Steve, Ellie and Brodie who all had to put up with my instructions and demands.