I joined the Senior Section when I was 16, and I knew straight away that I was going to love it!
One of my favourite Senior Section memories is the day I made my promise as a Ranger. It was the same day as I received my GCSE results (I grew up in Wales), and to celebrate our Ranger unit decided to go along to Chester Zoo. I was so excited; I sang campfire songs the whole way there (Fred the Moose was our unit’s anthem and mascot). My favourite animals have always, unquestionably, been elephants. They are so beautiful and graceful, and probably the natural world’s ultimate feminists! Chester has the best elephant collection I have ever seen, so I knew I wanted to make my promise near the elephant enclosure so there would be elephants in the background of my photos. We decided we’d do it at feeding time, so I had a few hours in the morning to practice while we were looking at the other animals. As feeding time approached, I got more and more excited that I was finally going to become a ‘proper’ Ranger, but when we approached the elephant enclosure, I saw that huge crowds of people had gathered to watch the elephants being fed. Not being a fan of crowds I started to panic that we wouldn’t manage to get photos of the elephants in the background like I’d wanted. Little did I know, but my brilliant leaders Bob and Jane had had a quiet word with the elephant keeper, who came to find me right before they started feeding the elephants to tell me that they were going to let me INTO the enclosure to make my promise. The day I made my promise as a Ranger, I stood less than two feet away from a large female elephant and her herd, surrounded by my friends and complete strangers, committing to do my best, to serve the queen and my community, to help other people, and to keep the Guide Laws. And I did it over the loudspeaker!
My Ranger unit was run entirely by my peers – our leaders were just there to make sure we were safe and didn’t do anything too ridiculous, and this is something I try really hard to bring into my Senior Section unit now. I strongly believe that guiding should be about challenging girls to try things they would never have thought about trying, and giving them the space and opportunities to develop into their own person. This is definitely something that I have learned through my time in Girlguiding. If it hadn’t been for the support Bob and Jane, and everyone else who has been there for me over the past twelve years, I would never have had the confidence to move away from home to study in Scotland, to go on a GOLD project, to open a Senior Section unit, to represent WAGGGS at the United Nations, or to do any of the other things I never believed possible!
Thinking back to the day I made my promise as a Ranger, I am so proud of everything I achieved as a member of the Senior Section, and more recently as a Senior Section Leader. Despite often crippling anxiety and other health challenges, being involved in the Senior Section, and in Girlguiding, gives me so much to be positive about.