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Discussion XI: How to Guide (and Scout) alongside family members


Veteran (100+ posts)
For many of us Guiding is a family tradition. It might be that you have attended the same units, Mum or Grandma may have been Brown Owl, or you might even run a unit together. Some of you might even run a unit with your partner or wife. Equally some families may be made up of both Guiding and Scouting members, or a majority of your closest friends might be involved.

But this doesn't always mean things will run easier just because you might be under the same roof, or are more likely to see each other than other teams!

What are your tips for running a unit with family/ close friends, or having other members active in the "BP fold"?

A few prompts:
How do you manage potential safe guarding problems?
How to have difficult conversations when you have a "higher role"?
How to best maintain a good Guiding/other life balance?
How to avoid accusations of favouritism?
How to say that you would actually like to do a trip, training, or other new venture on your own?
How to make sure other volunteers don't feel left out?


Veteran (100+ posts)
Personally I have gone through dips and troughs (just realised how odd this saying is- I think it's local to me!) of how "surrounded" I am by other Guiding and Scouting members, and I am going into another period of entrenchment! For context my mum and one of my best friends are UHs where I am the LiC/ UL, and I have a Grandma in TG who is an OUH in a different area, and a brother who is in Scouting. There are others in the leadership team, who whilst I get along with its more like a work friendship than a social one.

When it comes to talking to my mum we will give an allotted time with an agenda when it comes to discussing Guiding, to try and stop it from dominating every conversation when we see each other! Nothing too formal, more along the lines of "we need to sort X and buy Y" lets sort that before rambling about the newest essentials catalog! It's been a bit awkward the few times I've had to tell her "no" - which isn't a norm in our relationship! But overall she has accepted that I am the one with the most recent and current qualifications and training (previous AL, now expired due to taking a break) so know what I am taking about. I think this might be different if we had slightly different personalities to the ones we do have though.

I've also been put in the awkward position before of being asked in a division role to sign something off by my Grandma for her when her local (we're in different counties) equivalent wouldn't! I didn't do it for obvious reasons (including undermining another volunteer) but I was annoyed she put me in the situation, and she was hurt I wouldn't do it "for family"!

For favouritism: Because there are others in the leadership team I try and make sure everyone is included in on emails and gets the same information at the same time. It can be tempting when I see an opportunity to just text either of them straight away like I would if I saw anything else they'd like. But what I try and do is send everyone one message together, then send them a text saying "look at your email- isnt it perfect!".
When I was a Brownie and mum was the Guider, she was never my badge tester and other leaders would interact with me before her.


Relatives or not, it comes down to having clear boundaries. For instance, at one point my mother was simultaneously my District Commissioner, and my Assistant Leader at Brownies. So at District meetings and events she was in charge of all the Leaders including me, but at unit meetings I was in charge of her. We found this quite straightforward, because we each knew where we stood at any given time - it was only Leaders from other units who struggled with it.

Including other Leaders was done by ensuring that all ideas were brought to the unit planning meeting first-off. Only once they had been discussed and agreed there could someone take them away and start working on making it happen.


Veteran (100+ posts)
I find it can be really intimadating to realise that I have to tell my mum what to do, especially on camps and holidays as I have my licence and she doesn't!

It takes alot to break the habit of turning straight to her for advice or to hope she'll tell me what to do.

I try to talk to the other Guider about ideas and what we can do but the other guider never seems that interested or just doesn't reply to me, or doesn't bring any ideas to the planning meetings so its me and mum doing all of the talking.

We now have my niece in our Guide unit and we've just come back from a Holiday (today actually!) and she knows to call us by our guiding names until either all the other guides have left or she gets picked up (whichever comes first). I think this helps both me and her to keep the family relationship out of guides as much as possible.

To be honest its somthing I've had drilled into me over the years as my auntie used to run rainbows, brownies and guides and my mum still does rainbows and guides, so I had the 'Auntie --- isn't here, Sunny is' line!!

I think now that I'm older I'm finding my feet a bit more and thankfully my mum is really supportive of that and will listen when I talk, and push me into making my own decisions.
of course we have fallen out a few times over my 'new' ideas! - how dare I say that the girls don't have to be in uniform to be covered by insurance!! :p

long story short, I think Fenris is right, keeping set boundries really helps and allows us to leave annoyances at meetings behind! and allows my neice to have a normal guiding experience.


Veteran (100+ posts)
At a recent training a leader brought up “it sticks” which can be useful if you have a relative as a young member. Every one has a lolly stick with their name on which is picked at random from a pot when someone needs to be chosen. Once picked they go into a different pot until everyone has been worked through. This means everyone gets the same chance of being picked, and volunteers relatives don’t miss out either.