Community Project: Rainbows

I have been volunteering with a Rainbow unit in Ayr since the start of the term. Before that I have volunteered with a Rainbow unit and a
Guide unit in Livingston and have been involved in Girlguiding since I was five years old.

Rainbows are the first section in Girlguiding. It is for girls aged five to seven. They take part in different activities, trips and overnight adventures all based around the Girlguiding program and our promise:

“I promise that I will do my best, to be true to myself and develop my beliefs, to serve the Queen and my community, to help other people and to keep the Guide law.”

This is simplified for the Rainbows to:

“I promise that I will do my best to think about my beliefs and to be kind and helpful.”

(Girlguiding, 2019)

The most surprising thing I found at this unit was how big it was. The unit has been split into two and has up to 20 girls in each sections. The sections run back to back so we can have up to 40 girls in a night. We run this with two leaders and two young leaders. This also presents several challenges as we have a very small space in which to work and controlling girls who like to run around screaming can be very challenging. We try to overcome this by working with the girls in small groups when doing the activities.

Another challenge I have faced is learning about the new program that has been implemented in Girlguiding. I took a year out from Guiding when I came to university so did not receive any training for the new program, therefore I am having to learn how the program works and the new way in which the girls are earning badges and awards.

Despite these challenges I absolutely love working with the girls. It is one of the reasons I decided to become a primary teacher. I love being able to work with them and teach them new skills. To be able to see girls walk out with a smile on their faces that they didn’t come in with is really amazing to see.

The girls all come from different schools and different backgrounds but they all come together once a week to  work and play together. In doing this they are able to create their own community within Rainbows. Rainbows also take part in wider community events. Recently the rainbows took part in the Remembrance day service at the church we meet in. Rainbow units could also look after community flower or vegetable plots, help with toy appeals or visit care homes.

Girlguiding within itself is a community made up of “50,000 young members” and “11,500” volunteers in Scotland alone (Girlguiding Scotland, n.d.). This, however, is just one country if we look at our worldwide community – who all come together under the name of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) – we have 150 countries and 10 million members all over the globe ( World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, n.d. and Girlguiding Scotland, n.d.). This is something that I find amazing that 10 million girls and women can be connected by one single organisation which has commons goals and outlooks. Being part of girlguiding has allowed me to meet and become friends with people from across the country and around the world. It is through this community that I was able to start up with another Rainbow unit in another town.

Within Rainbows I have been able to build my confidence when controlling a group of children. I have also developed my communication skills with parents, children and with other volunteers. These are essential skills in teaching as communication and control are paramount in the classroom. I’ve also been able to develop my confidence in being able to keep this age group focussed on tasks – another thing that is vital in the classroom. As I continue to volunteer I feel that my skills in communicating and engaging children will improve. I also feel that I will be able to transfer the experiences of learning through play from Rainbows into the classroom.

Many of the activities that are in the Rainbow program have to be adapted to suit the venue, resources and the type of girls we have. This would be similar to the differentiation that has to be done in a classroom. This sometimes has to be done very quickly with no prior planning because of changing circumstances. This skill will help in my development as a teacher in a ever changing environment.

Volunteering with the Rainbows links with Sustainable Development through the badges that focus on looking after the planet and looking after the community. Girlguiding’s (2019) “#PlasticPromise” that is a pledge to reduce single-use plastic.

Rainbows also links to Interprofessional Working because as a Rainbow leader I need to work with other leaders and young leaders, district commissioners, county commissioners, parents, other organisations and the church minister. This requires good communication skills and the ability to work well as a team.



Girlguiding (2019) Girlguiding launches #PlasticPromise, the biggest ever girl-led campaign to tackle plastic pollution [Online] Available: [Accessed: 25 November 2019]

Girlguiding (2019) The Promise [Online] Available: [Accessed: 25 November 2019]

Girlguiding Scotland (n.d.) Facts and Figures [Online] Available: [Accessed: 25 November 2019]

Girlguiding Scotland (n.d.) Rainbows (age 5 – 7) [Online] Available: [Accessed 25 November 2019]

World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (n.d.) Membership [Online] Available: [Accessed: 25 November 2019]

Communication in Other Environments

Group and leadership

There wasn’t just one leader, we split into rough pairs and took different parts of the shelter each. Everybody contributed to a part of the den. When someone came up with an idea it was discussed with other members of the group and, if it was decided it was an idea we would use, that person would take control of doing that section and making it work. For the most part this worked well for our group. However, at times people were overshadowed by other peoples ideas or were not heard because of all of us talking at once. At these times, someone would step up and say something letting everyone get their ideas and thoughts heard. I think, looking back on the day, the hardest part was communicating exactly what everyone was doing. As there wasn’t an overall leader it was sometimes difficult to understand what everyone was trying to achieve and who was trying to achieve the other challenges we were given. Overall, I think we functioned very well as a team.


The group that was explaining their den were slightly unclear with their explanation of how they built it but clearly put across their overall concept of their den. They explained what their initial idea of their den was and then went onto add some imaginary aspects (underground levels). Their explanation of their den was clear because they were able to “simplify [their] complex idea” Hargie, O. (2011)¹ and put across clearly and concisely what they had been thinking and discussing. However, their explanation of how they built it was unclear. This was mainly due to us running out of time there for it was rushed and not completed. Overall, this means that the planning of both groups was not very good because we allowed time to run away from us, but the presentation was good and all other steps that were needed to explain their ideas to us were done.


The physical environment didn’t impact  that much on our communication, but I could see that if we had different weather (i.e strong winds, rain or snow) then our communication could have been hindered. The main changes I noticed in the way I communicated in an outdoor environment instead of in the classroom was the way I tended to demonstrate things more rather than just explaining how I was going to do it. I also noticed that I tended to speak quieter and made more eye contact. I think the reason I spoke quieter was that I was more aware of the fact that I was only speaking to a small group rather than a whole class. It was not that difficult to communicate above any natural sounds because it was a rather quiet spot. However, if there was more people around, more wildlife or more sounds from the wind or rain then there might have been some difficult in communicating. To ease any difficulty the speaker and the listener would have to maintain good eye contact, make sure they were standing fairly close to each other and make sure they are able to hear each other as they talk. The environment didn’t distract me that much but I can see how it would distract other people as it is a very beautiful location. Primary children, in particular, could become very distracted in an environment like this. In order to avoid distraction I would allow time at the start of the session to allow them to explore and then get them to settle down for the task we were out their for.


The negotiation we were tasked with was to get someone to come and help us for five minutes, for free. This did not work very well. We were able to get someone to help for a short amount of time (less than one minute) but were not able to get anyone to help for a longer period of time. This was because of the fact that we were not offering anything in return, it was also partly due to the fact that the people that we asked we joking around and did not want us to complete our task. It was very difficult to try and negotiate with someone for their time when you were not offering anything in return. Most people will not do a task for nothing. I think this is something you have to keep in mind when working with anyone, especially children. You have to be willing to have a give and take relationship and be able to negotiate with children. There will be times when you have to be firm and not be able to negotiate but there will be times when you have to be able to have an open discussion and negotiation with children.


The communication, explanation and negotiation skills I have learned through this are ones that are essential in classrooms, indoors and outdoors. Without these skills classrooms would not be successful environments and it would be harder to function in classrooms where these skills are not being implemented by teachers and students alike.


1 – Hargie, O. (2011) Skilled Interpersonal Communication. 5th Edition. London:        Routlege