It’s Mental Health Awareness Week 2021!

This year’s Mental Health Awareness Week theme is ‘Connect with Nature’. Getting outside and taking part in outdoor activities is a great way to boost your mental health after lockdown.


To help highlight this we caught up with a group of leaders who have started meeting face to face again to find out how they’re getting on with their girls…

First up is 4th Edinburgh Guide leader, Anna…

It’s been wonderful meeting the Guides face to face again! Since we started meeting outdoors we’ve even had a few new members join! When one of the girls was organising a game she said, “let’s all partner with people we don’t know well so we make more friends”. This great attitude has helped put girls at ease who may have felt nervous about joining.

Outdoor guiding is great for girls’ wellbeing as they get fresh air, get to run around and get to chat with their friends after being locked down for so long. They also get the chance to be silly and to challenge themselves in a safe environment. I love seeing the girls support each other and cheer each other on.

Having a couple of hours outside at the local park each week with the girls has also had a really positive impact on my own wellbeing. From having a laugh with the Guides to running around with them, whatever we get up at our outdoor meetings I always go home with a smile on my face!

I would definitely recommend outdoor guiding to other leaders who might still be apprehensive about meeting face to face. My top tip would be to visit another unit who are running face to face meetings (if you can) and see how they manage it. We’d always welcome an extra leader for an evening!

Another tip would be to make the social distancing part of the fun – for example, try playing a game of charades where you have to stand as far away from each other as possible. We also have cones for the girls to stand by so it’s clear how far away they have to be from each other.
There are so many great guiding activities units can do outside like the brand new Out and About Wee Beastie Challenge! We can’t wait to try it.

Here’s what 6th Galashiels Brownie leader Kirsteen had to say…

We had been meeting virtually since last September but nothing beats chatting, hearing their news, and seeing the girls’ smiling faces in person now we’re meeting outside again! The Brownies have loved seeing one another and catching up and so have us leaders. Thankfully there’s been no real issues with anyone being nervous, everyone is just delighted to be back together.

We’ve only been meeting outdoors for a couple of weeks and already we’re getting great feedback from parents about how much their daughters have been enjoying themselves. Some girls who hadn’t joined in with Zoom meetings returned to enjoy outdoor guiding with their friends which has been amazing to see.

The vibe has been really positive because meeting face to face is so important for everyone, no matter how old they are. It’s great to talk and enjoy the company of your peers – it can relieve anxiety and help people feel less isolated during these strange times.

My advice to other volunteers thinking about embracing outdoor guiding again would be to find a good space outside that you’re comfortable meeting in, don’t meet for too long and have a backup plan – Scottish weather is so unpredictable. We make sure the activities we have planned can be done online as well as outside (with little need for adaptation). We also ask girls to bring their own pencil cases, water bottles etc. to minimise the sharing of equipment.

There’s so much to do outside with your girls. So far we’ve been on a town walk to learn more about our area in order to help girls earn their Local History badge. After being cooped up inside for long our Brownies like to play games where they can run around as much as possible. We have a scavenger hunt and a picnic party planned, plus the new Wee Beastie Challenge – who knew there were over 27,000 different kinds of creepy crawlies to discover?

Last but not least, we caught up with 1st Bishopton Brownie leader Emma…

We have 32 super Brownies and 5 amazing leaders. We are also absolutely delighted to actually get to see each other face-to-face again! Due to the size of our unit and the meeting guidelines we had to split the girls into groups. Initially there was some concern about this as everyone hadn’t seen each another in a long time but as soon as each group got together these feelings were soon forgotten – it was like we had never been apart!

So far we’ve been out exploring, going for local walks, having fun in the woods and playing lots of games. It’s clear to see the impact this has had on the girls’ mental health as there’s been lots of laughter and chatter. Even locals have commented on how nice it has been to see the girls out and about again, so our good vibes are having a knock-on effect on the community!

As well as the girls and the community benefiting from our unit meeting face to face again, it’s also having a positive impact on our leaders. One of our volunteers said, “Working from home permanently means I don’t see many people during the week. Getting out for Brownies and seeing their smiling faces, and the other leaders, makes such a difference. My husband says I always come back happy!

Find out more

To get up to date with all the steps you need to take before starting outdoor guiding again in Scotland visit Girlguiding’s website. If you’re keen to get out and about this Mental Health Awareness Week and beyond then why not take on the brand new Wee Beastie challenge with your girls? You can also find more info on adapting the programme to be delivered outdoors here.