Update: This post was voted as a 2011/2012 GirlGuidesCANblog Big Deal Seal winner in the Growing Guiding category! Bravo blogger Tammy!
I am an Urban Guider.
I used to almost be ashamed to admit it but as time has gone by I am more and more convinced that in order to be relevant to today’s girl we need to recognize that there needs to be a place within Guiding for those who challenge themselves on asphalt and concrete as much as those that long for the wilderness.
I was not a Girl Guide as a girl
I joined 13 years ago as a Guider in an attempt to provide my extremely
introverted daughter with a group experience. As a new Guider, I had convinced myself that camping was one of the necessities of Guiding that I would have to endure. And so I camped. I would not go so far as to say I have ever woken up at camp feeling invigorated and one with the world. Usually I feel like I need a coffee and an Advil. I have had unfortunate experiences of food of poor quality and quantity that – combined with lack of sleep compliments of the homesick Girl Guide sleeping nearby – was just about enough to do me in.
Because I am an adult I was able to modify my Guiding experience so that camping was no longer part of the equation. This makes me wonder about girls who may have had less than favorable experiences with camping. Did they persevere or did they
leave Guiding? A Guider who is passionate about what she has to offer can be a force to be reckoned with or something to fear depending on whether or not you are able to fully commit to the experience. I have camped with the Guider who was passionate about camping and could not fathom that anyone could possibly not love scraping the charred bits from their campfire dinners and drinking warm Kool-Aid with the subtle lingering flavor of whatever was served from the jug on the last go round. I am one of those unfortunate souls that gets weepy when I am not properly fed, watered and bedded down for the night. I do not regret my camping experience (in the same way that I do not regret having my wisdom teeth removed) but at the same time do not find that camping is the quintessential reason I continue Guiding.
I confess. I am an Urban Girl Guider
I believe that Guiding empowers girls and women to be the best that they can be whether that is striking a tent or reading a subway map, cooking a meal over an open fire or choosing a restaurant suitable for all palates. I have had the privilege of
being going as the Guider with Pathfinders on an urban tour of Minneapolis,
will be taking a group of Rangers on a travel tour of New York City this summer. Am I any less of a Guider because I am not taking the girls out camping, hiking or digging a latrine? I suppose that depends on how you define Guiding. If you focus on experience you realize that the girls have learned to value friendship, they have learned to read maps, use GPS systems, plan events and meals, learn to be tolerant of others in the group and to respect the diversity of cultures and lifestyle. We have had lengthy discussions on the appropriateness of cell phone use and wardrobe, the
importance of accountability, learned the value of volunteerism (whether it is as insignificant as stuffing envelopes for a Guiding mail out or as necessary as being a spokesperson to the media), become very proud to be Canadian and most importantly the girls have learned that they can choose to make a difference in the lives of other girls and women.
We accomplished all of this without an open flame.
By guest blogger Tammy Sutherland. Tammy is a Guider with the 3rd Saskatoon Rangers (pictured above).
Have a comment? Please share using your Facebook, Twitter logins or as a guest! What do you think about the notion of ‘Urban Guiding’? Is there a middle ground between ‘Urban Guiding’ and ‘Camp Guiding’? Could we lose our ‘roots’ if we strayed too far?