Thursday, 18 January 2018


For almost twenty years, I was a guider, working with Guides (as opposed to Brownies or Rainbows or Senior Section) in what is now Girlguiding UK. Guiding was a big part of my life - until I made the decision to give it up in 2006 for a variety of reasons.

One role I held during that time was that of Association Trainer. Between 1996 and 2004, (at a guess) I ran sessions which helped grass roots guiders run an effective programme for the girls in their units, as well as sessions about aspects of training for trainers-in-training.

It was all a long time ago - but for some reason, I'd kept the folder containing all my session plans and post-session notes and the evidence I'd had to produce when trialling the NVQ Level 3 in Training and Development (I think that's what it was called) to see if it equated to the Association's own requirements for a Training License.

Why on earth had I kept the folder? Because it had been so important to me? Because I'm a closet hoarder? Probably a bit of both, but whatever the reason, today I bit the bullet.

I took that file, and I read through it. Read everything...

There were lots of good memories in there - feedback from trainees which indicated that I had made a difference to their own Guiding experience or that I had encouraged and motivated them (which is a good job, because GirlGuiding relies on these women to give girls and young women the experiences they do), and there were details in post-session notes I'd written detailing some personal achievements too. (Presentation to over 400 women, anyone?!).

There were, of course, some not-so-good memories stirred by the reading (not least the circumstances that led me to step down from the role, which I won't go into) like getting lost on the way to a training and arriving with one minute to set up, dealing with difficult trainees, activities going wrong...

After reading it all, I realised; there really was no reason to keep it all.

So I put the lot in the recycling bin.

I don't need to hoard the paperwork, because I have memories. I have skills. I have the certificate! And what I learned then, I'm still putting to use today, albeit in a different setting. My training in training means I can put together a comprehensive creative writing session for adults or children. I can speak confidently to strangers. I am aware of the different ways people learn. And I'm sure there are lots of other things, too.

The paperwork may end up as toilet paper, but that training experience remains inside me, where it really counts. In recognising that, I am able to close the book on that time and let it go.

And today, that feels really good.


  1. This has made me start thinking about some of the stuff I have kept almost as a talisman...I was very involved in Scouting for many years. Do I really need that file from my very first training day in 1975? Probably not. Thanks for nudging me towards the bin, Katherine

  2. So it's not just me, then...? Have been talking to someone recently about getting some history together on the International camp we hold in our county; that goes back to 1980, and the gentleman I spoke to still has his files from the first camp!

    Glad the blog got you thinking about things - I reckon it's cos we're sentimental and the physical object connects us to the memory. But in time, some of those objects can be let go, without affecting the memory.