I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Glenda Williams, who as well as being a local childminder and full time mum, is the Unit Leader for Cromwell Girl Guides, New Zealand’s largest girl only organisation. The Cromwell unit was established over nine years ago and offers girls and young women opportunities to enjoy a wide range of activities and outdoor adventures so they strive to reach their potential and make a difference in the world. Glenda signed up from its inception and has been volunteering ever since. I asked Glenda what kept her motivated to volunteer.
“Volunteering is just so rewarding. The activities we plan help enable girls and young women to develop into confident, adventurous and empowered members of their community. All our activities are fun and mainly outdoor based. The girls can learn so much; whether it is cooking by the campfire, learning about water safety or even forming teams picking up rubbish. We are always teaching them basic skills which help develop their personalities.”
“It is just lovely to watch the girls grow and develop over the years. In a small community like Cromwell we are lucky enough to see the girls after they have left Girl Guides. It is wonderful to be able to go to the college theatre production and see girls who were once Pippins and Brownies who have attended the unit over the years perform on stage. Seeing what amazing young, confident women they are turning into is fabulous”, says Glenda.
The unit is currently looking for new volunteer leaders to get involved and is seeking adults who love working with children and enjoy outdoor pursuits. The group meets in Lowburn Hall on a Thursday afternoon each week during term time. Situated next to the lake with a large outside play area, it is a stunning natural setting for activities. After nine years volunteering I had to ask what Glenda’s best moment was.
“That’s really hard to say. Being part of an international network, I was lucky enough to travel to Lincolnshire in the UK last year for a Jamboree. Over 24 countries were represented and over 6,500 young people from Girl Guides and Scouts attended. There are huge opportunities available to the guides and leaders. It is always great to spend time with likeminded people and get new ideas and inspiration.”
“However, speaking as a parent of two Girl Guides, I think the proudest moment had to be watching my eldest daughter Dawn-Marie, who is also a leader, complete the highest Queen’s Guide Award. My youngest has already gained the highest Brownie and Guide awards and is now working towards her Queen’s Guide to reach the same level as her sister! The lifetime skills and experiences they gain are invaluable. My girls have grown up thinking it is normal to volunteer as they’ve watched both parents do so. The girls are still involved at 16 and 19 years old and the opportunities they’ve had through guiding are immense. My volunteering helps to pay the experience back for others”, says Glenda.
With so much to gain from volunteering I asked Glenda what advice she would give to anyone thinking of volunteering with the group: “Go for it! The biggest challenge is taking the plunge. However once you do, you just can’t stop! Here I am, still at it nine years later, and I just love it. It is great and it is just so good for the girls and our community.”
It was such a pleasure to meet Glenda and hear her stories over the nine years she has volunteered as a Leader with Girl Guides. Families in Cromwell are fortunate to have such an amazing group of women and girls supporting and growing together in our small community. If you would like to find out more about volunteering with them, please contact email@example.com
Written by: Lucy Shea, Coodinator at Volunteering Central