Sharing laughs, leadership and life skills

My name is Jamie Gibbens. I am 21 and am originally from Hokitika, where I did Guiding as a girl from Pippins, which is for five- and six-year-olds, right through to Rangers, which is for 12- to 17-year-olds. I moved to Christchurch in 2016 to attend university and become a primary teacher. I graduated last year, and this year started my Masters of Education.

I’m leading a group of Brownies, who are aged between seven and nine. I teach them new skills, games, what they can do in their community, and about other cultures around the world. One thing that has stood out is seeing the girls’ enthusiasm towards learning new things. Seeing them enjoy the activities I enjoyed when I was a Brownie myself is also pretty cool.

What I love about empowering girls and young women is encouraging them to use their new skills for initiatives such as community action, and developing their confidence and leadership skills.

One of my favourite memories from my Brownie group here in Christchurch was seeing the confidence development in one of my girls. She got really nervous reading her mihi to the group one night and broke down a bit — but a year later, the same girl not only played the flute in our talent show in front of all the group, plus their family members (a much bigger group!), but she won first place! When I asked her to tell the group about her visit to the Guides, I couldn’t stop her talking.

We often tell jokes and act silly sometimes at Brownies, so there is usually a lot of laughs, which is all part of the fun!

Jamie Gibbens
Girl Guiding New Zealand

Volunteering might not lead to pirate’s treasure — but there are plenty of other rewards

My name is Hannah, a born and bred Southlander and teacher aide. Being a volunteer for GirlGuiding is an incredible way to continue learning and give back to the community. The girls are hilarious — they constantly make me laugh, but also help me to see things in a completely different way, which keeps me learning. I love being a role model for the girls, teaching them valuable life skills, as well as teamwork and leadership skills. The GirlGuiding Programme is amazing and it’s super easy to follow and implement. You are provided with all the training to develop the skills you need.

Last term we introduced the girls to a part of Southland that they had never seen before and explored a wild cave system. The caves were cool, dark and mysterious, and although we didn’t find a pirate’s treasure or even a hibernating bear, the girls (and grown ups alike!) saw and experienced things that stimulated their imaginations and curiosity about the natural world. The girls haven’t stopped talking about the experience since, and I imagine it will be something everyone will remember for a long time.

What I found to be biggest reward about volunteering is it enables you to make a difference in the lives of others, gain confidence and self esteem, feel valued and part of a team, while gaining new skills, knowledge and experiences. The decision to volunteer has been a great one!

Hannah Ralston

Girl Guiding New Zealand