Bustin’ a Century Year Old Girl Guide Myth

Sarah Lyons 25 Year Pin from Girl Guides

Sarah Lyons' 25 Year Pin from Girl Guides

Recently I was awarded a small, silver-coloured pin. It had some stars in a circle around a large 2 and a 5. And it brought me to tears. It caused me to call both my parents, tweet a picture on Twitter and post it on Facebook. This was a moment 25 years in the making. I had now been a Member of Girl Guides of Canada for two decades plus.

You would think that the immediate reaction I received would have been a “congrats!” And while I did (thanks mom) a lot of feedback went like this:

“What? Wow. Really? You are still in Girl Guides?”

Yes everyone: I am above the age of eight and I proudly am a Member of one of the largest organizations for women in the WORLD. It was natural for me to transition from Ranger to Guider. There was no question in my mind that because I was a university student then a young professional, that just because I didn’t have a child in the organization, that I couldn’t be a leader.

There is just one thing I think you need to be a Girl Guide leader and it doesn’t include having the title of parent: you must have an open mind. You need to be open to not only teaching girls new skills but to learning them yourself.

Never been much of a planner? Here’s a great opportunity to help you with your time management and organizational skills (and they don’t need to be perfect! Say you overlook an aspect of a meeting night – so what! Google ‘running games’ on your Smartphone and you are set!). Want to improve your public speaking? Girls, parents and special guests will need to be addressed all year-long. From running around gyms, taking field trips, camping, and helping girls across our country learn to find their own voice, every level of Girl Guides needs leaders who value being able to have fun while volunteering.

Enough said? No, probably not. If you are trying to recruit a young women to be a leader, passing her this blog post  by a GGC veteran isn’t going to help. “I can’t take her word on it, she never left the system!” This is where my Guiding friend Katie comes in.

Two years ago I met Katie when we were both placed on the Guiding Mosaic 2010 Communications Team. Katie had been a girl member, but had left the organization years ago. She was back to volunteer at the camp with Girl Guides, because it was an opportunity to help her gain some experience in Public Relations, the degree she was wrapping up. Katie could have left at the end of camp. Instead, armed with a new title of working professional, she became a Spark leader.

“I jumped at the opportunity to give back again, and plan to continue doing so for a very long time – my Wednesday evening Spark meetings are the best part of my week!”

So that is the figurative and philosophical thing to tell a potential young leader who may never have been a Girl Guide. But maybe you are a “left brained” leader and need less “fluffy writing” and more direct actions to recruit new leaders.

My suggestions:

  • Create a short “job description” outlining the details of the volunteer position you have open (easy way for young women to see the resume benefits if that is what they are looking for)
  • Ask to speak (yourself, your Area Commissioner, etc) at a meeting of the local Women in Business, Junior League, or other group where professional women are. I am a member of such a group and we meet monthly meaning we would more than enjoy a guest speaker!
  • Stop using negative language even if in jest. “One hour a week?!?! That’s a joke!” It’s not that funny to those of us in the organization – and confusing to those outside of it

While I got many shocked responses to the posting of my 25 year pin, I was able to answer and hopefully recruit many other young women to join. Imagine just for a second, if we all posted something on Facebook and opened up a conversation about becoming leaders….


By guest blogger Guider Sarah of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Check out her own blog ‘Sarah Smells the Roses‘, as well as her blog posts for Girl Guides of Canada:

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4 Responses to Bustin’ a Century Year Old Girl Guide Myth

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  4. Diamond says:

    Sarah, you are an awesome writer…I really enjoyed your article Bustin a Century year old guide myth…I’ve been in guiding (girl member/leader/commissioner/prov mentor/ACL…and still leader) for 20 years and still loving it! Thanks for reinforcing the beliefs! Carry on…

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