I remember them so clearly. When I was in grade 2, many of the girls in my class would show up once a week wearing their crisp brown dresses with mysterious badges sewn onto their sleeves. Their jaunty brown berets were perched on their heads, and added to their ensemble was the most magical component of all, a gold pixie enrolment pin, which to me was like a glittering diamond, and how did you get one of those pins anyway? The Brownies fascinated me, although I was too shy to join. However, my interest in anthropology must have been germinating, and to my young eyes, I was witnessing a secret society at work within the Brownie sisterhood.
Back then, Brownies headed off to their meetings after school. Today meetings take place in the early evening to accommodate busy lives, and unless you run into girls selling Girl Guide cookies in the autumn or spring, they are less visible. You may not be aware that the organization is flourishing, and Girl Guides of Canada is the largest organization for girls and women in the country. Girls from ages 5 to 17 are participating in programs for their age range including Sparks, Brownies, Girl Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers.
Although I never did muster up the courage to become a Brownie, I am now a Guider with a Brownie unit. I believe in giving back to my community and I have a strong desire to make a difference in people’s lives. I have witnessed both of my daughters blossom in their Girl Guide groups. It is their special place, where they form friendships and have Guiders as role models. Girls are encouraged to develop their own identity and positive relationships with others. They gain confidence by learning skills that they can use in their daily lives, everything from safety and eco-awareness to the importance of healthy choices. They can explore science, the arts, camping and the outdoors, and develop a commitment to their community. Girl Guides is an organization where all of this is possible.
Last year Girl Guides celebrated its 100th anniversary. The organization has managed to stay fresh and exciting for generations of girls. Programs have changed to remain relevant to girls, and they will no doubt continue to evolve over the next century. In today’s fast-paced society, the best way to remain relevant to girls is to engage them. Girl Guides of Canada’s mission is to enable girls to be confident, resourceful and courageous, and to make a difference in the world. Helping others has always been a key element of Guiding in Canada, and around the world. Through Guiding, we are giving girls the opportunity to take action on the issues they care about and to be responsible world citizens.
At the end of the summer, 2011/2012 registration takes place. I strongly encourage parents to enrol your daughter. The memories will last a lifetime.
by Sarah Gordon