Julie – growing guiding in the Scottish Borders

As a Brownie leader in the South Lanarkshire village of Thankerton for four years, Julie tripled the size of her unit from 10 girls to an impressive 30.

So when she decided to move on once her youngest daughter reached Guide age, lots of parents asked her to stay on in guiding. This year she teamed up with her sister, Tracey, to set up a new Guide unit in the same village, with funding from Cabinet Office project Youth United – and so far it’s a roaring success.

“When I left the Brownies last year lots of parents said I should set up a new unit – and I really missed it once I’d left!

“There are two Guide units in the District but we thought some girls might like somewhere closer to home in Thankerton.

“So you could say I’m back by popular demand!”

The girls seem to flock to her units – so what’s Julie’s secret?

“Keeping them busy! We do lots of activities, badges and trips and make it really fun for them.

“And with Guides, you have to give them more responsibility and choice to keep them involved.

“We went on a trip recently and gave them a choice of where to go – empowering them to make their own decisions keeps them engaged.”

What’s it been like working as a team of two sisters?

“On the whole it works really well although you can have the odd spat!

“We make it work by having clear tasks – so I’ll do accounts and planning and Tracey will work on finding challenge badges for the girls to do.

“At a recent village gala she did a fantastic balloon burst fundraiser – you pay a £1 to burst a balloon and the ticket inside wins you a prize.

“She had to blow up 200 balloons, but it was worth it because we raised £120 for our unit!”

What keeps her coming back for more?

“I really enjoy the people you meet – the mums, the kids. Guiding has given me the opportunity to do things and meet people I wouldn’t otherwise have.

“I was out last night for dinner with other Rainbow and Brownie Leaders in my area – we had a great laugh and came up with ideas for things we could work on together.

“You know that other guiders are there for you and you’re there for them. It’s like a sisterhood.”