A good Girl Guide

When I wrote my last entry about the animal filled week, it made me think of the phrase “friend to animals” – which was a badge I earned at Girl Guides. Then I started trying to think what other badges I had. So I got out my old Guiding Handbook (the one that a toddler (mentioning no names Kimberley πŸ˜‰ )destroyed once, so I have a few pages missing and had to also use the intact one Mum gave me.) It was quite fun reminiscing about my Guiding days, so now I’m going to “treat” you too…


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I always wanted to join the Brownies, but waiting lists were always long, and whenever I DID finally make it to the top of the list, we’d move! (Dad was in the army so we moved every couple of years.) Eventually, when we were stationed in Germany, I got there! I went along to my first Brownie meeting, only to be told that in a couple of weeks I’d be too old for Brownies, but I would be able to go straight into the Guides. So – I skipped Brownies, but had the great good luck to join really active Guide pack with good leaders and most of the girls taking it fairly seriously (maybe it was just that we were all army kids so it came naturally.)

I joined Blue Tit patrol in the 1st Fallingbostel pack, taking my Promise on 04/04/1979 and I can still recite it:

I promise to do my best,
To do my duty to God,
To serve the Queen,
Help other people,
and to keep the Guide law.

The Guide law was:

1. A Guide is loyal and can be trusted.
2. A Guide is helpful
3. A Guide is polite and considerate.
4. A Guide is friendly and a sister to all Guides.
5. A Guide is kind to animals and respects all living things.
6. A Guide is obedient.
7. A Guide has courage and is cheerful in all difficulties.
8. A Guide makes use of her time
9. A Guide takes care of her own possessions and those of other people.
10. A Guide is self-controlled in all she thinks, says and does.

And do you know what? I reckon I can honestly say that I do still pretty much keep those laws! (Number 10 may be an occasional challenge πŸ˜‰ ) The motto was “Be Prepared” (the same as the Scouts) and I was (so much so that my uniform pockets were always bulging with the items we were supposed to carry with us.) I still do like to be prepared – so I’m still a good Girl Guide πŸ˜‰


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Our Handbooks were our guides and our records of our achievements and reading through (what remains of) mine was rather amusing. One entry in the section for recording examples of keeping the Guide law, had me in absolute stitches:

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I did indeed keep calm during this incident but more out of bemusement than anything else I think! We’d just got a new car – a bright orange VW Beetle – and it had been parked in a small parking bay by the side of our block of flats. Mum was the (new) driver, dad couldn’t drive. But he was so pleased that we had a car, that he went to have a look play and we kids went too, and sat in the back seat, with dad in the driver’s seat. (Mum stayed indoors.) For some inexplicable reason, dad took off the handbrake, and we very slowly and smoothly rolled forwards. Into the thick bushes. Which pressed against the car doors rendering them impossible to open. We were eventually rescued by a couple of neighbouring soldiers who’d seen our plight – or more likely, come to investigate a bright orange car sticking out of the bushes πŸ˜€

Anyway…..back to Guiding….

We were encouraged to work for badges, pennants, emblems and service flashes, though I knew of only one girl who’d gained her Queen’s Guide award/ By the time I left the pack, 3 years later,(when we returned to England) I was a Patrol leader of Chaffinch patrol (having been patrol second in Swallow patrol first) and I had 21 interest badges, my Service Flash, Arts & Crafts Emblem and the Patrol Purpose Patch which I’d earned with my patrol. I was well on the way to other emblems and was aiming for my Queen’s Guide.

My badges were:
1. Artist
2. Friend to Animals
3. Camper
4. Craft
5. Accident Prevention
6. Health
7. Home maker
8. Writer
9. Entertainer
10. Child Nurse
11. Cook
12. Gymnast
13. Map Reader
14. Stitchery
15. Folk Singer
16. Speaker
17. Rambler
18. Hostess
19. Collector
20. Challenge
21. Agility

As I said, ours was an active pack and we went camping regularly (only within the garrison, admittedly) and having access to army equipment helped πŸ˜‰ I remember my first camp, as a complete newbie, learning the importance of wellie sticks, being in awe of the older, experienced girls, and helping to cook the evening meal over the campfire (all-in-stew I think) – I was chopping the onions which made me cry and this was mistaken for me being homesick πŸ˜€ Several camps later, when I was a patrol-leader and therefore in charge of my own group of girls, including a newbie, we were sleep one night in our tent (a two-man tent with five girls sleeping cossways, youngest at the far end, patrol leader by the tent flaps) when something woke me up. Two beady eyes stared at me from just inside the tent flaps. Beady eyes were attached to a head – with tusks! The youngest girl had also seen it and I had to hiss at her to be quiet and still whilst privately wondering what on earth I was supposed to do about a boar in the tent! Should I yell for help? Would the soldiers patrolling the area have noticed? Would it attack? Happily, the thing decided 5 girls weren’t THAT exciting and left. PHEW! When I poked my head out of the tent, I saw a few wild boars running off harmlessly – but it remained a good tale to tell ever after πŸ™‚

We had one memorable camp which was a joint event by the Guides, Scouts and Cubs. My brother was a cub. Dad was a Scout leader. Mum was a (reluctant) Guide Leader (we were in danger of closing down and I BEGGED mum to help out, which she eventually agreed to do but insisted she would NOT go into uniform, nor would she camp! She did both and became our pack Leader and very involved. (Thank you Mum!)) So, all of the family was on this camp, he three groups having their own area of the field and doing largely their own thing most of the weekend but coming together on the final day for a huge “Cowboys and Indians” battle and joint campfire to round things off. I enjoyed it, though Dad and his strict disciplinarian ways made life slightly uncomfortable for mum at times and VERY unhappy for my poor brother.

When we left Germany and arrived back in England, I immediately sought out my local pack. I managed two whole evenings before realising they didn’t DO anything πŸ™ The most badges they had were 3 or 4. They didn’t do outings or camping. They mainly sat and sewed and talked. This was not at all what I was used to, nor what I wanted, so I quit Guiding, which is such a shame as I’d loved it.

Nel briefly attended Guide meetings here when she was old enough, but again, the pack seemed to do little besides cook and eat, so she gave up on the organization too.

What a shame, because Guiding (and Scouting) can be such a hugely enjoyable, meaningful and rewarding experience, and indeed, SHOULD be. However I do consider myself very lucky to have enjoyed those years I was a member of a really good pack, and have very fond memories of them.

Thinking Day (22nd February) 1981 (I am back row, 2nd from left, with Mum next to me) :


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Chaffinch Patrol meeting, I am patrol leader, 2nd from left:


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Modern Girl Guides information here.
Offical Guiding site here.

Comments

  1. Now that’s what I call a reminiscence! πŸ™‚ I can now see the backside of an orange VW Beetle peeping out through the privet hedge, a bemused dad, scratching his head and a little girls nose pressed against a window, rolling her eyes, calmly :o) and thinking, ‘oops!’

    As for the Boars? I’d have run a mile!!

    It’s a shame your more adventurous guiding experiences didn’t carry on as you’d wished, however, just look at the memories you’re treasuring – maybe they’d have paled a little if you’d carried on with the same vigor as earlier? You have something unique there and at least I know where your Cowboys and Indians originated! πŸ™‚

    You must explain something to me though? What on Earth is a ‘Wellie stick’?? πŸ™‚
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  2. I don’t think my blog-down-memeory lane can match yours Robert, but it was rather enjoyable. I may even do it again ometime – and it will ll be on your head taking me on these paths with your blogging πŸ˜‰

    The car incident is a big family memory – hence my understated entry in my book reducing me to tears of laughter when I came across it.

    I never thought about the cowboys and Indians thing, but actually my childhood games preceded the camp one – maybe THAT’S why I enjoyed the camp so much. πŸ™‚

    Wellie sticks are very, vey, important pieces of camping equipment. After pitching tents, the first thing you have to do is set your wellie sticks! You find two strong sticks and knock them in to the ground, just outside and to the side of your tent flaps. They need to have enough remaining stick above ground to be about 6-8″ taller than your wellie boots. At night, on entering the tent, you remove your boots and place them upside down on the sticks. This keeps the inside of them dry and bug-free πŸ™‚

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