I was, for most of my formative years, a member of the Guiding association. I can still remember my mother asking me if I'd like to be a Brownie. I had just turned 7 & I had no idea what a Brownie was but it sounded infinitely better than the jazz ballet classes she'd also suggested. For a child who couldn't carry a tune & had two left feet that was just cruel. The tennis classes I also took were cruel. I wasn't particularly co~ordinated in some ways & the act of serving a ball completely defeated me. I amused my entire class for weeks, my arms windmilling but completely unable to release the ball so that I could at least take a swing at it. Guiding was a far better option & for the most part I enjoyed my years in Guiding.
In some ways Guiding was rather daft ~ grown women running round asking to be called Brown Owl or Tawney Owl, & little Australian girls dancing round plastic toadstools singing that they were pixies or fairies but so much of childhood is daft & inexplicable what's a little more?
I was one of the last girls to go through Brownies on the old system, gain my *wings* & *fly up* to Guides. When I joined Guides it was still operating under the old system too & to be a *Queen's Guide* meant years of diligent work & a huge & very attractive badge at the end of it. I very badly wanted one of those really, really nice badges to sew on my sleeve & began the painstaking process of passing tests & doing badges. Along the way I discovered camping Girl Guide style & I gained so much from the amount of camping my company did I am grateful my parents were prepared to fork over the sometimes exorbitant amounts of money that enabled me to participate so often. My boys, even as very little boys, were extremely hard to impress, but the sight of their mummy swinging a billy can full of boiling water round & round her head certainly managed to impress them; a little trick I learnt in Guides!
By the time I approached 16, when I would have to leave Guides, I was struggling on just about every front: spiritually, academically, emotionally. So much had changed in the Guiding movement in their effort to make themselves more modern & attractive that I was no longer sure I even wanted the badge I'd worked towards for so long. I only had one or two badges still to work towards & did eventually complete my Queen's Guide ~ & I'm glad I did it ~ but I was never impressed with the dull piddling little badge they handed out in place of the old one. I felt then, & feel now, ripped. I want one of the old badges.
When I joined Brownies I had no idea that my mother had been a Guide & eventually I rounded up all her old badges to sew on my camp blanket because history is important to me. It is why I got so upset when the Guiding movement changed so much, callously ditching history & tradition & replacing it with things that had no meaning & no tradition, but looked pretty. I was never interested in looking pretty. I most definitely missed the girly~girly gene & refused to compete in an arena where I would most definitely be embarrassed & humiliated.
Enter my Liddy. Guides was one activity the island did offer so as her 7th birthday approached I dutifully enrolled her in Brownies pretty sure she would enjoy it as much as I had. If the company had been like my old one I think she would have but a company very much reflects the interests & tone of it's leaders & there was too much quiet work, not enough physical activity for Liddy. I was also hugely unimpressed that the girls were given so much say in how the company should be run for one simple reason. Children are by nature selfish & that selfishness was reflected in the company. The girls had lists & lists of activities they wanted to do ~ Dreamworld, Movieworld, Bowling, Skating etc ~ things not wrong in & of themselves but costing the parents money & time when when leaders actually led & Guiding meant something the leaders taught service ~ service to one's family, one's community, one's God. Service is out of fashion & I was less than impressed.
When Liddy moved into High School we let Guiding lapse. It was expensive & I did not feel she was getting maximum benefit from it. Liddy herself wasn't all that rapt in it.
Ditz, who because I was a de facto leader [voluntary help being almost non~existent & badly needed] had simply been dragged along as a matter of course & looked forward to the time when she would be old enough to join. When that time came around a particularly nasty group of girls was involved & by then it was obvious Ditz's gifts were going to occupy too much time for other activities & she was never enrolled. I am sorry. As Guiding was originally envisaged it was a wonderful way for girls to develop skills, self confidence, independence & competency in areas they might otherwise never have encountered. It offered opportunities & experiences otherwise unavailable to the average girl. For example I learnt to abseil as a Guide & gained my First Aid certificate then. The little I know of nursing is the remainder of Guiding skills.
I have come to hate one little word in the English dictionary ~ relevance. Everything these days has to be relevant. It is ruining churches & it has ruined the Guiding movement. I do not believe everything needs to be made *relevant*. I believe that if things have meaning they are automatically relevant. Take away the meaning & you are left with dust & ashes. I am grateful I was a Guide before the meaning was completely lost.