Every opportunity I’ve had in guiding has been phenomenal.
But the one thing my friends ask me most about is what it was like to volunteer backstage at Tartan Gig 2015 – our sell-out pop concert for Guides at the Glasgow SECC last month.
6,000 Scottish Guides and members of the Senior Section were entertained by top music stars including Labrinth, Conor Maynard, Neon Jungle, Rixton and Only the Young at their own exclusive show.
And I can report that it was an amazing experience for the leaders as well as the girls! Firstly, I got to meet a fantastic team of like-minded volunteers who made this crazy and fun event happen.
Secondly, I got to meet and talk to some of Britain’s top artists. I got to find out what they think about our organisation and what we are doing – for instance our host, comedian Iain Stirling, loved the Tartan Gig badge and actually wore it for part of the show, along with some of the flashing bunny ears that were so popular with the Guides in the audience!
My role at Tartan Gig was to lead our band support team. I had to ensure the artists had everything they needed, made it along to sound checks – and most importantly, got on stage on time. My day started unreasonably early as the backstage team had to get the stars’ rooms ready before they arrived.
After a long morning on our feet and after the last sound check had taken place, the call was made to open the auditorium doors and we all took a sneak peak as crowds of excited girls dressed up in neon clothes and crazy hair began to flow inside. We could feel the excitement building.
Then it was almost show time and all hands were on deck to make sure everyone was in the right place at the right time. This was when I could really see how well our team worked together. The lights went out, the screams from the audience got louder and the first act – Rixton – bounded on to the stage to a wall of noise. They did a fantastic job, getting the crowd up and dancing and singing along at the top of their lungs. It was an amazing experience which loads of people would be happy to pay for – but as a volunteer, I got it for free!
Once the whole amazing show was over and the lights had gone up, there was no time to sit back and relax. The audience was split across two shows so we had to start getting ready for gig number two straight away. We had time for a brief team huddle to review how the first gig had gone before starting the whole process all over again.
By the end of the day our relatively small team had ensured 6,000 members of Girlguiding Scotland had had the time of their lives – and our ears were still ringing long after the auditorium had emptied.
From the moment I looked out from the side of the stage and saw a sea of flashing bunny ears and girls singing along I was reminded that I’m in an amazing organisation for girls that listens to what they want and makes it happen. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that? Being a volunteer gives me a great sense of achievement and I have loads of fun to boot.
And if pop concerts just aren’t your thing, don’t worry. Going to gigs isn’t the only thing that makes life as a Girlguiding Scotland member exciting – you can do anything from learning about stars, to abseiling, raft building or travelling abroad.
This year Girlguiding Scotland is also making it possible for me to go camping home and abroad, try out sailing and sleep under the sharks at an aquarium! If that’s not what every girl needs in her life, I don’t know what is.
• Emma Ritchie is a Guide leader from Aberdeen