Guides Own is a special ceremony used to close a camp or event, or is sometimes used in special celebrations such as Enrollment and Fly Up. They are celebrations of friendship, singing, and reflection on time spent in each other’s company.
Guides Owns are made up of 4 parts.
- The Opening Song
- The Closing Song
The first section is the Opening Song. The type of songs changes based on the event or experience.
For a camp or other large event, this song calls everyone to the Guides Own and welcomes them to share their experiences. Examples of opening songs for the end of camp Guides Own are We Who Have Come Here, Let Us Sing Together, or As We Trek Along.
For an Enrollment or Fly Up, the opening song of the Guides Own is usually the opening song usually used in the meeting. For example, in a Guide Unit, the opening song of their Guides Own for Enrollment would be the song they sing during Horseshoe.
At the end of singing the Opening Song, everyone should be arranged in a circle, or horseshoe.
The next section is Readings. In this section, a few girls pick readings about friendship, sisterhood, experience, or anything that reflects upon the experience shared. The length of the readings is dependent on how much time you want to spend on the Guides Own, and the age and reading level of the girls involved. Naturally, younger girls will tend to pick shorter, simpler readings, and older girls and Leaders sometimes pick longer ones.
If being planned ahead of time, readings can be found in quotes online and in quote books from the library. However, what I have seen Units do is pick through books and pages of quotes to find their favourites and write them out on recipe cards. They then pull out the cards whenever they need readings. This proves to be a very useful tool in the long run.
Very often, slow, reflective songs will be sung in between the readings. For example, if you had 3 readings, you would read the first one, sing a song, read the second, sing another song, read the third, and sing one more song before moving on to the next section.
Another thing I have also seen done is to save one of the readings to the end of the Guides Own, and read it after the Reflections, but before the closing song. Especially at larger events, this can be a really nice closing message to send everyone off with.
After the Readings, are the Reflections. In this section, the girls and leaders share their experiences at the camp. This can be done a number of ways, depending on the event.
At camps, and other large events, I’ve seen Reflections done two ways. The first is that anyone can speak up and share how they felt about the event, taking turns with other girls. Another thing I’ve seen done is that you go around the circle, and every girl shares one thing they liked, and one thing they thought could be better next time. I personally prefer the second way, but either is good.
At Enrollment or Fly Up, Reflections are done a little differently. As Enrollments are at the beginning of the year, I’ve seen reflections done where each girl shares one goal for the rest of the year, or one thing they would like to do this year in Guides. Fly Ups are at the end of the year, so usually girls reflect on one thing they liked about Guides, and one thing they thought could be better, like at camp.
NOTE: If doing a Guides Own in an Enrollment or Fly Up, the enrolling/flying up portion of the ceremony would take place here, after the Reflection section, with the Closing Song to follow after the ceremony.
Also, if saving a Reading for the end of the Guides Own, it should be read here.
The final section is the Closing Song. Again, this is dependent on the type of event.
The closing song should always be a song of parting or a song of friendship. One group I went to camp with always sung On My Honour at the end of their Guides Own. But songs like Say Why, Go Well and Safely, and TAPS work as well. Often, I have seen a closing song and TAPS sung.
At an Enrollment or Fly Up, the closing song will be the song you sing during closing at your meeting. It’s common for this song to be Taps, but it varies unit to unit.
And that’s a Guides Own!
I wish you the best of luck, and hope you find meaning in this special Guiding ceremony.