• Welcome Guest to the new look forum. For more information refer to this thread

Getting the SS to run themselves ?

Due to our large international trip a few years ago we had a lot of older guides in our unit. As they got to SS age we decided to open a district SS, since nobody from any other Guide units turned up, we moved the unit so it was on the same night as guides (just every two weeks) and moved the meeting place to just across the hall.
As it is on the same night as guides we were hoping that the seniors (about 9 of them) would be able to run their own nights and not need too much of our involvement. This hasn’t happened and some of the girls are leaving. We are thinking of keeping a permanent leader for seniors from our guide leaders, but it's hard to gauge want they want from us as all the discussions we have with them are quite one sided. Perhaps we should give them a questionnaire? My main concern is that they will leave, not because they want to and it's not for them anymore but because they find Seniors boring or a waste of time.

If anyone could give thoughts on this I would be grateful


Veteran (100+ posts)
This is such a common problem! TSS can run themselves, but not if they haven't practiced and been led to that. So what level of input did they have at guides? Maybe you could try essentially extending patrol time for them and running it in a similar way? So you'd provide the resources but they'd pick and run it. You might need to run a smaller activity as well, to give more variety and cover the programme.
Or alternatively, you run one meeting, they run the next. Or they pick a challenge badge to work on (from a selection you provide) and you then run a few meetings in a row. Working through look wider or an octant might be good to suggest for these "patrol times".

I hope you manage to retain them, thee could be only years away from being leaders!
I wonder if the jump from guides to seniors was one of the problems, our guide unit isn't very patrol led, if you understand me, the girls don't really have a chance to pursue their own projects or challenges, something I feel should change. So these seniors have come from an environment where everything is decided for them into one where they're expected to organise themselves.
Due to a situation involving the seniors backing out of a recent camp at the last minute, meaning we lost £100 of our budget plus 4 helpers, some of my other leaders are finding it hard to work with them, especially when they are disorganised. They do plan their nights but then it's a scrabble on the day to get everything prepared.

Please continue suggestions in the thread or even similar experience if you have them!


Aim is for Guide section to be 50% led, and Senior Section 75%. But those are targets to work towards, not starting points. It starts with making Patrol Leader a 'real' job - real rights and responsibilities, and a real role in the running of the unit. PL trainings help with this, they can incorporate elements from Team Leader badge, and also the things you delegate to your Patrol Leaders - so teaching skills like 'how to choose and run a game', 'conflict resolution ideas', etc. It also involves looking at the way activities are run in the units - are the Leaders staying with the Patrols all evening explaining step by step what they have to do next - or are the Patrol Leaders given the instructions, with a Leader strolling round every 10-15 minutes or so to admire what they are up to, and drop in a suggestion to get them thinking again if they are struggling for ideas? It's hard to get used to at first, but the less the Leaders do, in many ways, the better run the Guide unit. So a good rule is 'Never do what a Patrol Leader could be doing'.

For the Senior Section themselves, have you taught them how to do programme planning? Using the Octant themes as a baseline (and to avoid staring at a blank page) allocate one theme to each week, then challenge them to come up with ideas for each topic. As they are doing it, challenge them to think about taking charge of a week each of their choice. They then need to work out an equipment list for 'their' week - and work out what is already at the hall, what they could bring between themselves, and what they would like you to supply/arrange. If you can give them a template, and possibly some examples, it will give them a clearer idea of what is needed.

Is there a project they are working on? Are they working to improve the room they meet in (could they get permission to paint, to measure and price for carpet, to measure and price for furniture, perhaps even buy and make up the furniture, sew curtains, lay lino?) Are they making resources for the Rainbows or Brownies? Are they organising a fundraising event for a charity, or working on a campaign for a cause they feel strongly about? Are they recruiting, and if so, what ideas do they have of positives they can advertise, and how best to do it? Nothing brings a group together like a purpose, and nothing is more likely to cause drift than having no particular purpose . . .