Outside interest: Girl Guide leader

Written by: Jez Abbott
Published on: 30 Mar 2016

Marcia WhiteheadMarcia Whitehead is planning team leader for the Cambridge office of Bidwells and in her spare time runs a Girl Guide unit in Wisbech. 

How did you get into being a Girl Guide leader?

Over 20 years ago I was asked to help with a Christmas musical event staged by my local Girl Guide unit and I’ve been involved ever since. I am the registered leader, which means I have full responsibility in terms of the programme of activities, finances and the safety of the girls.

What does it involve?

Apart from running the unit every Tuesday evening from 7.30 to 9pm, I have to create and implement our activities programme. This includes orienteering, hill-walking and crafts aimed at interesting the girls and developing their skills. The common perception is that Guides is not as adventurous as Scouts but that really isn’t the case today – we do the same things. 

Why do you do it?

This outside interest is so very different from my job and I enjoy organising and running all the different activities – getting out and about in the summer with camping trips and even taking the unit abroad for which I have a licence. Every three years or so we go to Switzerland – a wonderful adventure for the girls.

What’s the toughest thing about it?

It’s difficult to fit everything in around my day job which is super busy – not just the definite commitment of being there every Tuesday but completing all the background planning and administration on deadline too. I also hold district and divisional roles in Guiding, which means additional responsibilities.

What’s the most rewarding thing?

I really enjoy seeing the guides develop skills. Girls join at ten and leave at 15 and in that time it’s rewarding to watch them becoming more independent, making decisions, working as part of a team and making presentations in front of their peers. Their confidence grows and their awareness of others is remarkable.

Are there any similarities between your day job and being a Girl Guide leader?

On the surface it may not appear so, but my organisational and leadership skills are put to good use, as is the ability to work to a deadline. Good interpersonal skills are also important as I have to have to communicate with both the guides and their parents. 

Do you have any unusual interests or hobbies that you would like to tell us about? If so, please email planning@haymarket.com