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Weekly Discussion: Tiny space, big ideas


Veteran (100+ posts)
Some of us are lucky to have bigger spaces, be it a big hall, wide grounds, multiple rooms, a field, storage rooms…some of us not so much.

And it can have an impact on what we can do. We’ve had to restrict indoor parachute games after too many close calls with the walls. It can be hard to divide up the unit for different stage of the program activities , or if in a Guide unit patrols want to do very different GFIs. Limited storage can also be a pain.

What are some ideas and tips you have for Guiding in a small space?

Batty Owl

Veteran (100+ posts)
Getting rid of tables and chairs for activities made a big difference to our Brownies when we had only limited space. Most activities could be done on the floor, with a waterproof table cloth spread to protect carpet and catch glue, (dare I say it?) glitter and other mess.


Veteran (100+ posts)
We moved two miles down the road a couple of years ago. The previous venue was a large hall, separate storage room, and few girls. The area has a very bad reputation, and although there was a small outdoor area, we could never use it because of the youths that were hanging about. We had a poor retention rate as parents would quite cheerfully explain that once the lighter nights arrived, they could let their children play in the street and they didn't have to pay for that! We also had problems with the cleaner's daughter going into our (locked) storage room and messing about with our resources, sometimes destroying them. Although we were the nearest unit for a nearby area, parents wouldn't send them to us because of the neighbourhood. They preferred to sit on a waiting list.

So we moved.

Our current venue is much smaller inside, which was fine when we had smaller numbers. We have four cupboards between three units, but not much indoor space. Outdoors is fantastic - a grassy area, two car parks (we can close one off with prior permission), and safe walks nearby, including a bridge over a mere with swans. We make the most of the outdoors on the lighter nights. Indoors, we can't play parachute or any runaround games. We do, however, manage with other activities and use the parachute outdoors when we can. There is a big conference table in the room, so moving chairs and tables is not really an option for us.

Our retention rate has vastly improved. We don't have any parents who won't bring their daughters because of the postcode any more.

Our biggest problem is that we just don't have the physical space for more girls. We have three Brownies moving up to Guides this year, but four Rainbows moving up to Brownies. Those on the Brownie waiting list, who have not been Rainbows, won't get in for at least twelve months, and maybe not even then. I do try to refer to other units, but whereas some have more physical space, they don't have enough leaders.

Next year should be fun - I have a few girls who will be old enough for Guides (and retention has vastly improved in the last eighteen months, since Guides followed the Rainbows and Brownies when I took over the unit). We also take in girls from other units, and the main one that we work with has half of their unit turning ten next year. We have nine girls at the moment, and can accommodate no more than twenty for safety reasons.

Although managing twenty girls in a limited space can be challenging, it's a case of finding activities that can be fun whilst either sitting down, or making use of what little floor space we have. We can just about manage a circle. When we need more space, some of the girls use the floor and we put down a large whiteboard as a solid surface for them to work on. Games where they move around in small groups can be handy - so with Rainbows, finding ten circle shapes, or twelve things in the room that begin with S, for example.

It is frustrating that we can't have small group work as often as we want it, but on the other hand, another local unit has a lovely big room but are not allowed any storage, and they are struggling for leaders as well. They have to keep to lower numbers because they simply don't have enough adults.

Batty Owl

Veteran (100+ posts)
We used to go outside to play games all year round, the girls got used to bringing coats and it gave us the space to run around on the car park, which we didn't have indoors