Essex West comprises of ten Guiding Divisions and stretches from the Thames in the south to the Cambridge border in the north. It is home to about 3.5 thousand members aged 5+ to the Trefoil Guild.
This has been an unprecedented year not just for Girlguiding but for the whole world. We have all had to find new ways of doing things to enable life to go on. Leaders in Essex West have certainly risen to the challenge being very creative in their ways of keeping girls connected to Girlguiding. When permitted there have been face to face meetings indoors and out. When not permitted many have made activity packs and newsletters. We have all learnt how to Zoom with many complete technophobes becoming very adept at this new skill. Leaders have encouraged members of all sections to take part in activities set up through County and Anglia such as festivals and sleepovers and Girlguiding UK’s many Activities from home.
Many planned events have of course sadly had to be cancelled such as Essex Jamboree and a County sleepover at Warwick Castle.
Our County Commissioner for the past five and a half years Chris Skinner has stepped down following the end of her extended term of office. During that time she did a tremendous job of leading the County. Now as we emerge from lock-down we have a new County Team with Rosemary, Jenny and Susan to take us forward.
Units are beginning to reopen and rediscover the joys of Guiding. We also have a much heralded shiny new website to advertise ourselves.
Our hard-working training team are endeavouring to ensure that all Leaders are compliant with Safe Space and First Response requirements as well as other trainings.
The recent closure of LaSER’s Chigwell Row campsite will be keenly felt in Essex West. It is a much loved place for activities, camps and holidays as well as evening Unit meetings which we would love to see remain available and will endeavour to support it staying open if we possibly can.
Highlights of lock-down
Some Leaders proved themselves well able to adapt to the times by taking part in the Loo Roll Challenge.
We encouraged girls to take part in the weekly Clap for Carers and display rainbows for the NHS in windows. Also, to show a Guiding light to keep the spirit of Guiding alive.
By the time Christmas came around we were all ready for some fun. A virtual pantomime “Jack and the Beanstalk” was made available to members of all sections – oh yes it was!
It had been planned to run a cross section event for Thinking Day which with the ingenuity of our Programme and Adventure team was reimagined as a hugely successful virtual weekend event. It was run across the County website, Facebook and Zoom. Members were all encouraged to take part in as many activities as possible. Some set up sleeping dens for the virtual sleepover. There were scavenger hunts and escape rooms, craft and cooking activities, farm visit and a Thriftwood campfire to sing along with. A great way to learn about and celebrate World Thinking Day.