Have You Thought About Girl Guides For Your Daughter?

This post is by regular contributor Tricia Hogbin of Little Eco Footprints.

I was a Girl Guide when I was young. I still remember the sense of awe and independence I felt at my first Girl Guide Camp and I can still taste my first campfire damper. I’d love my daughter to join Girl Guides when she’s old enough. I value the skills I imagine Guides will teach her and love that it’s a ‘girls-only’ space. In a time when girls grow up all too fast, I hope that Guides can provide her the space to be a girl for that little bit longer.

Keen to learn more about Girl Guides today, I recently interviewed Helen Geard, Chief Commissioner of Girl Guides Australia.

Tricia: Can you please briefly tell me what Girl Guides is?
Helen: We are a girls’ only organisation committed to fun, friendship and adventure. We empower girls and young women to be their best and the values girls gain through Guiding set them up for life. With more than 22,000 youth members, we’ve been an integral part of Australian society for the past 100 years.

We encourage girls to try new things in a non competitive environment – experiencing adventure as they step outside of their comfort zone. From camping and abseiling to community projects, Guides learn about the world in a fun way. We encourage teamwork, help girls to grow in confidence and inspire girls as young as five to speak up and be heard. With the support of our amazing team of volunteers, girls and young women who are Guides grow to become the leaders of tomorrow.

Tricia: I was a member of girl guides more than 25 years ago. Has Girl Guides changed much in this time? If so, in what way?
Helen: We’re dynamic, relevant and constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of today’s girls and young women. Our program is girl-led which means that the activities we offer for girls today are in keeping with their interest. So a lot has changed since you were involved in Guiding 25 years ago. Guides today do things such as attend international United Nations conferences, speaking out on climate change and gender equality. Guides as young as five are also learning about the Millennium Development Goals and taking action on a local level to help achieve these international goals. But there are also some integral things that have not changed. The environment continues to be an integral part of our program and we continue to provide girls with a space to make new friends, experience new adventures and take on new challenges. We also continue to be part worldwide movement, enabling Australian girls to participate in many international opportunities. Whatever our girls take on, it’s about being the best they can be.

Tricia: I remember earning my collecting badge and a sewing badge. Does the badge system still exist, and what are some of the most popular badges today?
Helen: Yes, the badge system still exists. The most popular badges are the Promise Badge and the World Badge. The Promise Badge is awarded to every Guide when she makes her official Guide promise. The World Badge is awarded to Guides who set themselves a challenge to learn about our wonderful world – anything from other cultures to the United Nations or the solar system. Regardless of what badges our girls earn though, the system is all about enabling girls to work towards a set challenge, which helps to build confidence and self esteem.

Tricia: At what age can girl join Girl Guides, and what can they expect to do at Guide as while a member? Do activities change with age?
Helen: Girls as young as five can join a local Guide group. The activities girls do change with age and are in keeping with the interests of girls of various ages. In terms of what girls do, the activities are quite variable because Guiding is girl led. That means the girls themselves get to determine the activities they will undertake depending on their interests. So girls in the city might do very different things to girls in country areas depending on the local facilities and interests of the girls. Regardless of what our girls do, there are four key elements to the program and everything a Guide does is related to these elements. The four elements are physical, which is all about being fit and healthy, people which is about developing friendship, practical which is related to learning life skills and self which is about challenging yourself as an individual.

Tricia: I understand girls can join Scouts these days. What advantages do you think Girl Guides has for girls in comparison to scouts?
Helen: We provide a girl’s only space which has unique benefits. At a critical time in a girl’s social and personal development, being a part of a girl’s only space gives Guides a chance to be around like minded girls. It’s a place where girls make new friends, grow in self confidence, learn new skills and experience adventure. A safe and supportive girl’s only space gives girls the chance to tackle some of the tough stuff such as body image and self esteem.

Tricia: Anything else you would like to add?
Helen: Guiding’s global reach gives girls access to cutting edge contemporary projects ranging from economic literacy to nutrition and HIV/AIDS health education. With more than 10 million members in 145 countries, we’re part of the world’s largest girl’s only volunteer organisation. Being part of a global movement provides girls with a multitude of opportunities to connect with and learn from their sisters worldwide. Australian Guides regularly volunteer overseas and have the opportunity to participate in international conferences hosted by organisations such as the United Nations.  We say “be your best with Girl Guides”. Girls worldwide say “together we can change the world.”

Thank you Helen.

Were you a Girl Guide? Have you thought about Girl Guides for your daughter?

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  1. I was a brownie, guide, ranger, junior leader….. so when my oldest daughter turned 5 I joined her into the local Brownie group (now called guides). Quite a lot has changed, the meetings are so much more structure now than I experienced, and I honestly feel she is probably getting far more out of it than I ever did.

    I thoroughly recommend taking your daughter along. Not only does it give our daughters the opportunity to mix in a female environment, put the program puts challenges and different opportunities to explore in front of them.

    I am however quite dismayed at the badge system, the girls need to complete far less now to achieve a badge. A sewing badge as a Brownie would have taken 4 or 5 tasks, now they can make a plate bag give a talk about it and receive their badge.

    I also miss the magic of the Brownie’s with the various totems for the sixes, and the fairy element, including the Brownie Story. This seems to all have disappeared. Now they are replaced with the guide patrol emblems – Koala, Platypus etc..

    No handbook exists these days either, to me this was part and parcel of the being a Guide/Brownie.

    • Thank you for sharing your experiences with guides today Janelle.

      You’ve reminded me about fairy element of brownies I’d totally forgotten. I loved that magical aspect.

    • Hilary Vella says:

      As a Leader, aged 51, there is a lot of difference to what I did as a brownie in the 60’s and what I can do as a Leader in these times.I have tried to interest the girls in the fairy stories and doing their Promise around a toadstool and mirror water, but they would rather just have them as decoration and do promise under an arch we decorate specially for them.
      The Look Wide Handbook has a list of all badges you can achieve and Leaders assess the competency, and it is up to them to make sure they
      girls have “challenged” themselves in their efforts. For instance, tent badge, report and photos of putting up, and sleeping, in a tent in the back yard.
      Kids don’t seem to be as hands on at home so we spend a bit of time on basic skills, eg. peeling vegies, chopping, threading needles, putting cake mix in patty pans ( a recent one, aarh), washing brushes when painting etc. There are many basics that we teach.
      Long live Girl Guides movement.
      Good to hear of some interest, Hilary Vella, Mooroopna (Vic) Junior Girl Guides.

  2. I have my eldest daughter at guides and she loves it. I feel her unit is a lot less structured than it was when I was a guide. She really enjoys the interaction with the other girls and the experiences to share her experiences with me and compare.
    I think it has given her some more confidence as there are expectation to take care of herself and her belongings when away at camps. My youngest daughter who has just turned 5 is joining a new gumnut guides group. She is very excited and is looking forward to being a guide like her sister. My middle child is a boy and goes to cubs. I think it is important for the girls to have their own space at guides and my son was disappointed at the beginning that there were girls at cubs as he wanted a boy space just for him. He had to get over it quickly which he did.

  3. Thanks for sharing Kelle. I like the confidence-bilding aspect.

    I can sort of understand your sons dissapointment at not having a boys-only space. I’m glad he got used to having girl in scouts.

    • Hilary Vella says:

      Apparently the scouts needed numbers, so took in girls as well, in the 80’s, sad that boyd don’t have a boy only place they can go to which isn’t sport.

  4. My brother was a cub and scout but I missed out on being a guide because mum didn’t drive and the local unit was too far away. My daughter has been a brownie for nearly three years now (there’s no gumnut unit locally – I think these are rarer till there are more volunteers).

    In a way I think it is a pity there is no boys own equivalent any more but, at the same time, it would be sad to lose what scouting has become. As more and more volunteers come back to scouting and guiding perhaps there can be three types. There are both boys and girls who thrive in either a mixed or single gender situation. One could see a case whereby they might prefer the opposite to their high school situation!

    I suspect that Gen X parents might be starting to revolt against the ‘helicopter parenting’ trend to an extent … go on take supervised risks but, actually, we don’t need to hover! We do want our kids to be able to meet challenges and to stand alone one day – even if it is scary for a parent to let them go! Guides and Scouts provides a means to help with that step by step.

  5. I was a Guide and am still a Leader with the Girl Guides. My daughters were always going to be involved in Guides as the life skills they learn, confidence they gain, lifelong friends they make are priceless. They are having fun today and will lead the world tomorrow!
    And it is not only the girls that have fun! We leaders do too! So why don’t you come along with your daughters unit or another unit and share your life experiences with a new batch of girls and young women as they rise to the challenges that the World sets them.

  6. My name is Shaeanna and I am currently a girl guide. I started when I was six and I am now twelve. I have enjoyed girl guides over the years making friends, learning new skills and doing much more. I advise girls to join Girl Guides for the experience because you get alot out of it. I not only have learnt alot but completed many badges, gone on many fantastic camps such as: Girls Celebrate, ACE and Agoonoree. I have made new friends, met new people and I even have a pen pal through Girl Guides. Girl Guides is probably the best thing that I have ever done!

  7. I am a Leader of Guides in QLD and I thoroughly enjoy it. One of the greatest excitements for me as a leader has been to see a girl come in who is shy and nervous about joining in develop into a lovely young lady mixing with girls her age, challenging themselves with activities and generally go outside their comfort zone. My mum (who was also my Brownie Leader) enrolled me in Guides for just that reason. Through Guides I have made many friends, many Ive known for a long time, been on camps, challenged myself. I think Leaders have just as much fun if not more fun than the girls.

  8. Shania Kane says:

    ive only just signed up for guides but my friend said its epic and she loves it xxx

  9. Amber Gentle says:

    I’ve been in Girl Guides since i was 10 and I am now 17, I am also a Junior Guide leader, i started guides because i was really shy growing up and i didn’t mix with a lot of people at school or dance. I have had heaps of fun doing guides and I have learnt many new skills that i didn’t think i had. As we have 3 different units in my town i get to see the girls right at the beginning learn, grow and become more confident. a highlight of my nights at guides is seeing the younger girls have fun, try different activities and making new friends. my two oldest nieces are in guides them being 8 and now 6. the girls love it and cant wait to go to guides. its a good way of the girls making friends because quite a few of girls that do guides with them go to different schools, if i didn’t start guides i wouldnt know any of the girls i do as only my little sister goes to the same school as me. If i didnt start guides 7 years ago, i probably wouldnt be as confident as I am now.

  10. Mel Middleton says:

    I do too miss the fairy aspect and the brownie story. Seams to not be used anymore.
    I have been a Brownie, Guide, Ranger Brownie Leader, guide Leader. My parents were cub and Brownie leaders and my brothers both went through to venturers.
    This year I enrolled my 5yo Daughter into Jnr guides. After one term,. I got the itch back :) Im now starting my training all over again as an assistant leader and learning all the new ways.
    I hope at some stage we can introduce the brownie story somehow into our program.
    We have been on one camp already. And have 2 others planned for this year.
    Already I have seen my daughter come out of her shell.

    Its great to be able to give back to to others what you have learnt. the friendships you will make across the globe are lifelong friends.

  11. Heya! I am a girl guide and it is so much fun! There’s lots of oppertunities to meet new people and make new friends! She should definitely join!! x

  12. I am was a guide and so enjoyed it i I cried because I didn’t want to leave

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