Volunteering in Times of Social Distance

We asked one of our volunteers what her experience has been like volunteering in a virtual way; here’s what she told us!

I have been a Guide Leader for just over two years with the Uxbridge unit in Howick, Auckland. While studying engineering at university I decided that I wanted to do some extracurricular volunteering activities to help build my future career path Because engineering is a very competitive industry, new graduates who are looking to enter the workforce need something on their CV to give them an edge over other job applicants. Excellent grades are quite simply not enough, prospective employers also want to see that potential employees have well developed interpersonal skills and that they were able to multi-task a busy university schedule with extracurricular activities. Additionally, volunteering with GirlGuiding NZ helped pave the way for me to be selected as one of 30 engineering students involved in the Dean’s Leadership Programme where I benefitted from additional leadership development and networking opportunities.

After reflecting on personal experiences as both a Brownie and a Sea Scout, GirlGuiding NZ seemed like the obvious choice. That’s because I feel that learning outdoor and leadership skills is a lot easier for girls in a space run by girls. Traditionally, boys are expected to know more about that sort of thing (or think they do), so they tend to take over activities. When there are no boys around, girls have the opportunity to take the lead themselves and realize that they can do it just as well as (and often better than) the boys.

Additionally, as an engineer in a predominantly male environment, I find I really enjoy the exclusive female company that GirlGuiding NZ offers.

I love my role as a Guide Leader because I am passionate about educating young people. STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) based activities are a particular focus of mine because I think that girls make great engineers, and have fabulous leadership potential that is often overlooked in STEM-based industries. I also like working with girls in that 10-year-old age bracket because of the incredibly creative ideas they come up with.

With the necessary onset of Virtual Group Guiding during Covid-19 we have had to become even more creative to deliver our programmes. We recently completed a Fantasy Monster Hunter virtual camping experience. I really enjoyed the opportunity to draw on my Dungeons and Dragons style knowledge while working with the girls to create monster characters, weapons made from origami and monsters out of recycled materials. Many components of this virtual camping experience helped the girls to earn their Outdoor Basics badge as activities included: learning about safety around fires, dressing for the outdoors, first aid, rope tying skills and cooking a meal outdoors. One of our more adventurous girls even added some red food colouring to her macaroni and cheese so that it resembled monster brains – to her credit she even ate it!

While Virtual camping does lose some of the social interaction that is present in face-to-face meetings. I found that the girls who are naturally a bit quieter in group situations actually interacted more by sharing activities, experiences and photos on our OGM portal.

On a final note, I thought I would share this moment of self-belief from the girls in our unit. When asked about what their monster hunter character’s best quality was, most of the girls  replied with “responsibility, resilience, and perseverance”. These same girls also believe that “being tough and strong” are the qualities that define a beautiful woman.  

If you are looking for somewhere to volunteer, where your time and effort will truly make a difference, or if you are in a position to donate to help make girls’ dreams come true, I believe that GirlGuiding NZ is the right place for you to make a difference in your community.

Victoria Pickett
Unit Leader
Uxbridge Girl Guides

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