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Weekly Discussion XXI: Handbooks

Discussion in 'General Guiding' started by badgemad4, Oct 2, 2017.

  1. badgemad4

    badgemad4 Veteran (100+ posts)

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    With points being discussed about the new programme: Physical/paper handbooks- useful point of reference or an obsolete expense?
     
  2. Quack

    Quack Veteran (100+ posts) Staff Member Moderator GuiderPlus

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    I miss the old handbooks. They were a great resource for Guides and had all sorts of useful information in them, from knots, simple first aid, recipes to a little history of Girl Guides and how to pack a rucksack. I remember being a Brownie and a Guide and reading them cover to cover.

    As a leader I got used to handing out the 1980's versions which weren't a patch on the sort I had as a Guide but were still useful for all sorts of activities. I could say find how treat a burn, or build a stretcher or make a cup of tea and it was all in there. When we did the trial wartime activity the other week, we had to find prints of how to build a stretcher etc rather than it all being in one place.

    Maybe the content would be different but a resource that we could use to pass out ( or girls could own) with a lot of basic life skills in one place could be a winner. Remember how the book became a best seller a few years ago recreating 'the boys own...' ideas. Well maybe we need a new version of 'what a girl really needs to know...' so simple first aid, how to sew a button on, how change a tyre, mend a puncture, how to cook pasta etc and many other skills I'm sure...

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  3. kingfisherblue

    kingfisherblue Veteran (100+ posts)

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    I'd love a decent handbook to go with the new programme. There is so much information in the older handbooks. The current Brownie handbook is ok, but has never really taken off in our unit, so the new programme will hopefully change that, if there is a new handbook.

    Guides really need a handbook. The G File doesn't really fit the bill. I hope that we have something informative and appropriate coming out.

    A separate badge book would be handy too. Personally, I would like a leaders' badge book as well, with extra information about how to do certain things. For example, the Brownie Traditions badge talks about the magic carpet and other historical aspects, but at first I didn't know anything about them. At a later date, the Brownie Adventure Files were published and there were some pages for badge support - it was here that I found out the information that I needed, as Google hadn't helped.

    Although the trend is to put everything online, I don't think that this is necessarily a good idea. Many units don't have internet access, and girls probably won't bother at home in many cases. Printing out would be expensive for leaders who want to use the handbooks in their units (although there would be the option of only printing certain pages, as needed). It would also be a lost line of revenue for Girlguiding.
     
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  4. Tregi

    Tregi Veteran (100+ posts)

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    I think a good way was the gfile for Guides, as if it were a folder style, leaders could print out extra sections for the girls- badges you can do at home, then only print ones you won't do in units. Add sections for challenge badges/ adventure sections, somewhere to record everything and find information. The cost can get expensive but if it was just the inside, then any a5 folder would work.
    Girls could then take them with them as a record in moving to guides, from brownies. There could be just a couple of pages for Rainbows, with key dates and badges earnt to keep their records.

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  5. Epona

    Epona Veteran (100+ posts)

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    The current version is nearly obsolete as it mostly contains record-keeping and taster suggestions: I have yet to meet a girl interested in admin or wise enough to deduce the abstract principles behind the programme structure. Pretty cartoons and bright colours don't hold their interest without content.

    Previous incarnations of the handbooks, as well as suggesting activities, also contained information, data, and pointers for getting skills. It was a Reference Book and much more interesting for a girl to sit down and read through cover to cover.

    I would still want a print version though. Online resources are not going to get a kid curled up somewhere comfy to read, and and not going to be available in a meeting hall or outdoors on a hike.
     
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  6. AngliaGuider

    AngliaGuider Beginner (10+ posts)

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    Something with actual substantive content - a Guide handbook like the ones we used to have. If the aim of the Guide programme is that girls can be increasingly self-reliant, then we need to give them the tools to do that. I'd love to see a handbook that is a resource that can be used to support programme activities, not just an optional stickerbook or 'tick the box' opportunity. I'd like to see it contain the 'how to' information for things like the first aid badge, emergency helper, and other skills builder topics, to include the syllabi for badges and to contain some kind of information/moving up exercise for when they're nearly ready for the next section.

    I'd like to see it be so useful that no unit/girl could do without it - that it be the best way to lead and to receive the programme. And while we're at it, I'd like World Peace :)
     
  7. browniebeth

    browniebeth Brownie Leader Staff Member Moderator GuiderPlus

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    I used to use the Victoria sponge recipe in my Brownie handbook all the time until I learnt it!
    So useful! Who needs six million recipe books when you have a Brownie Handbook for life?!

    Ooh I feel the need to get it out when I get home!
     
  8. badgemad4

    badgemad4 Veteran (100+ posts)

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    This is a key thing for me. Most of the venues that I have guided in have had no internet or have had limited access. Asking even just one girl per six/patrol would cause it to run so slow it wouldn't be worth it. It also inevitably leads to printing/photocopying which I hate as it's a waste of paper and ink unless it stays on good enough condition after the activity for girls to hand it back in to be stored for the next time.

    I remember as a Brownie loving my Brownie handbook, and following along with Emily- I wanted to start Guides with her it looked so fun (mine was the version before the split adventure books, along the book you followed Emily from her joining to her first residential, making new friends, becoming a sixer, then it ends with her asking to visit Guides). There was so much useful content from basic first aid, how to paint wood, and lots of "soft skills" like how to address an envelope. It's something that can be kept as a useful reference and be looked back at fondly even when Brownies was years ago. I'd like it to be essential to carry out the programme with.

    The lost revenue bit is also important. With lots of the resources being freely available online it's great for leaders needing a quick Google but it means that resources (time, money etc) that has been used by Guiding is just being given to anyone. The task and finish groups time and resources are worth it for Guiding but do cost (thinking about the reminbursements for travel, any food provided, time spent emailing, on phone calls…). I met at work before an ex DofE helper, she said she liked the Guiding resources so she always finds and uses them with a youth club she volunteers with. I'm not sure exactly how much of their plan comes from using Guiding resources but we are essentially providing them with a freebie our volunteers and charity have paid for!
     
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  9. Tregi

    Tregi Veteran (100+ posts)

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    That is where having a password protected area online would mean they could put stuff on that joe public can't access.

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  10. fenris

    fenris fenris GuiderPlus

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    It all depends on the content, and the format. If they contain what the people want, the people will buy them. If they contain what it is felt the people ought to want, they will not. For they can be very different things.

    It would be lovely if the internet were the answer - but so far it is not. It isn't every Leader as has access to economical printing (and one has to question the amount of paper that gets printed 'just because people can' when compared to the days when it took more time/effort). It isn't every venue which has internet access (broadband or dial-up) at all. And of course, when we head off on our camps and our outdoor activities we have limited or no access to it anyway. No, a book is accessible to all in all locations.

    In terms of what the content should be, we'll never all agree. But I think what it should focus on is:

    The member journey - so information for new recruits about the section and about what sort of thing they will be doing in their first few weeks, and information for beyond that stage on the challenges they will work on. Info on the Promise and Law, and ideas for how each section can be relevant and carried through.

    Badges - interest badges and special awards - details of what is out there and what you have to do for each badge.

    Skills instructions - skills for life, but with an especial focus on the outdoor skills - tracks and trails, camping and backwoods, homeskills and DIY, basic first aid and home safety, etc.

    What next - info on the next section and what they do, and on wider experiences and opportunities available.

    In terms of format - compact in terms of page size is useful, and if the cover can be wipe-clean it is helpful. But ideally not loose leaf as it means pages becoming weakened and lost - better a well-bound paperback.
     
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  11. Cathy

    Cathy Veteran (100+ posts)

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    I loved my Brownie and Guide handbooks and read them cover to cover multiple times. They were fantastic resources! Now I'm a Rainbow Leader and would love to see something similar for the Rainbows - clearly not with lots of text and useful things but akin to the Ready for Rainbows/Pot of Gold books but:
    1. More substantial so they don't get trashed in a term but can become a treasured keepsake and
    2. That covers the girls in the middle. We minimise using the Ready for Rainbows/Pot of Gold books because if you take out the older ones and the newbies you have half a unit of girls who don't fit into either group and think they are missing out.
     
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  12. nutty_angel

    nutty_angel Veteran (100+ posts) GuiderPlus

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    I had the 00s version of the Guide Handbook and with the amount of pratical skils in it (i.e. wiring a plug, finding and fixing a puncture, etc) I took it to uni with me. It helped me alot and I even had to photocopy pages for my friends (so they wouldn't nick my book).


    I think having it clearly progress from one section into another is a must, and having skills for life in it makes it useful beyond our meetings.

    I think a bound book is better as a file or looseleaf folder (like the first G-File) is just not pratical as they fall apart really easily, things and pages get lost and muddled up.
     
  13. Tawnyowl51

    Tawnyowl51 Veteran (100+ posts)

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    When we were doing the Brownies traditions badge the other week, I got out the various previous versions of the handbook from the cupboard for everyone and after they had all looked at it, they all had to find the national anthem. They were all intrigued with the old books,and loved that they actually told you how to do things.

    They also had a peek at the old guide handbook and loved being able to find things out in it too- how to find the time by the sun, etc

    I think having life skills in a handbook is invaluable, it is simply not practical to have to find everything online, only one person at a time can realistically look at a phone properly.
     
  14. Burghilly

    Burghilly Veteran (100+ posts)

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    Personally - I'd love there to be another handbook, especially as our hut has no WIFI. I've got handbooks from the 60's and 80's and 90's they're full of useful stuff and so lovely to keep and look back over in years later. The question is though, would girls want a handbook? Todays girls are so used to everything being electronic, I wonder how they would get on with paper and ink!

    Having said that, the amount of Harry Potter books getting swapped round in my daughters class at the moment is incredible. I'm sure each book must have been read by at least 6 people so far!
     
  15. Foxi

    Foxi Guide Guider

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    I know with certainty our Guides would like a handbook. We have had a couple very dissappointed there is no annual!
    Lots of them join the library challenge over the summer holiday & seem very happy with paper & ink
     
  16. partygirl

    partygirl Veteran (100+ posts)

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    Oh give me a handbook any day!

    The GFile just wasn't fit for purpose and when it was a ring binder I had to carry pliers to fix them all.

    The girls need something that has practical skills in and a leaders version that expands on the things covered in the girls book. So many leaders are left to their own devices to find out how to do things, it's hardly surprising that bye-laws spring up. The girls book should also cover badges and the programme, as we just can't get them to look online once they are at home.
     
  17. fenris

    fenris fenris GuiderPlus

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    So like the 1980s-style where the Leader handbook consisted of the girl version on white paper, with beige pages of Leader info inserted alongside them?
     
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  18. AngliaGuider

    AngliaGuider Beginner (10+ posts)

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    I've never seen one of those, but it sounds brilliant. A great way to make sure that we're all following the same idea.
     
  19. Jenniferk863

    Jenniferk863 Beginner (10+ posts)

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    I find myself wishing for a hand book, I get Jennifer how do I ..... multiples times per night. My leader would have said "go find it in your handbook" whereas I'm stuck either trying to use my phones data to look it up or trying to complete the task in the hope that I somehow remember a skill I learned 20 years ago.
     
  20. partygirl

    partygirl Veteran (100+ posts)

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    Exactly Fenris! I've still got the one from when I was a Guide/new leader and it's still really useful.
     

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