Shortly before Christmas, we had a District trip to see a pantomime. Nice and simple: get on coach at 11am, into theatre, see show, out of theatre, back on coach, return at 5pm. Eat packed lunch on coach or in theatre. Give parents a some time without their girls to get ready for the holidays.
I did the admin bits: booking the theatre tickets, writing and sending out the letters and forms, making sure everyone had paid, handed in consent forms, and was on the coach. Another leader booked the coach, and the unit leaders were, of course, brilliant at looking after their girls. It was a good day out, but this is what I’d change next time.
1. Less faffing over where to go
A Christmas trip was first suggested at a District meeting in September, and I offered to organise it (with help), partly because I just wanted to make it happen, and partly to count towards my Queen’s Guide Award (the part where you have to play an active role in an event involving more than one unit).
With a few other leaders (especially my wonderful helpful District Commissioner), I researched a few options, and exchanged many emails with everyone in the District weighing in on what they thought about the costs, timing, and age suitability, before making the final decision. It was good to get everyone’s opinions, but I felt a bit guilty faffing and sending endless emails rather than just using my intuition and deciding. Next time I’d ideally do the research nice and early, decide on the maximum price we could ask for and the most sensible day, and be able to present a couple of neat options at that meeting in September. Haha, in my dreams.
2. Don’t book so many tickets up front…
I booked 100 theatre seats because I thought we could fill them. Turned out we couldn’t, and we also couldn’t get a refund because the show wasn’t sold out. We had 73 people going, which is a really good number, but it was a damper for me that we made a loss. If I did it again, I’d book 50 tickets and add more if we got lots of takers. We could up the coach to a 100-seater if necessary, and I’d make sure that the cost per person covered both sizes of coach.
3. …Or team up with other Districts
Either that, or we could get more bottoms on seats by running it as a joint District (or Division) trip from the start. This time, I invited our neighbouring Districts when it became clear we couldn’t fill all the places. By then, it was only a few weeks before the trip, and understandably we didn’t get many takers as they already had other plans. However, we were joined by some Guides and their lovely leaders from a nearby village, whom we often camp with. They seemed potentially interested in doing a joint trip in future.
4. Send out info/consent forms up front
I don’t think there’s a completely simple way to collect information from a whole district, but I could have made it easier. With the initial letter, I included a “would like to attend” simple slip to be returned with payment. I should have skipped the slip and just given them info/consent forms to return. As it was, I sent them out a few weeks later, so parents had another thing to fill in, leaders had another thing to collect, and it was harder to make a list of emergency contact numbers in advance (to give to our home contact and print out for me). Lesson learned.
5. Ask for a shout-out
This didn’t occur to me at all, so I was delighted when the dame pulled out a list of people to say hello to, and it included “W. Guides, Brownies and Rainbows”. We gave a big cheer! Luckily, one of our on-the-ball mothers had phoned the theatre a few days in advance to ask for a shout-out. She found that the Guides were already on the list, as I had made the booking in our name, and she added the Brownies and Rainbows. Day=saved.