Speaking Up: From Girl Guide to Guider

I knew that I was going to be a “lifer” when I was in Guides at 11 years old. This was confirmed to me when I was working with my Girl Guide Unit on Monday nights while still going through the Pathfinder and later on the Ranger program on separate nights of the week. I grew attached to being able to relate to the girls while still a girl Member, and having the girls look up to me as the role model I always tried to be.

But, at 18 I was stuck in a position between having been a Unit helper with my group of Girl Guides for 6 years, and now becoming a Guider. Being somewhat soft-spoken, I was finding it extremely difficult to find my voice in teaching girls new games, leading campfires, and even just getting everyone together to settle into our next activity. I started thinking to myself, if I couldn’t even control the group of girls at a Unit Campfire, why was I here?

Since I was (and still am) very young-looking and roughly the same height as some of our 3rd year girls, it was very easy for the girls to forget the fact that I was not one of them at our weekly meetings. One evening, the topic of how old the other leaders were came up in conversation with some of the girls. I was shocked to find out that they thought I was 13! I decided that it was a good time to be honest with our girls and discuss how I was feeling.

I sat the group of 24 girls down in a circle and explained how old I actually was (to their surprise), and how we as Guiders are not the same as their school teachers who are paid to teach them. I do this because I love it and all the opportunities we Guiders are given. I told them about the fact that I was starting to feel less enthusiastic about coming to the weekly meetings as I was ending up being an “extra body” standing and watching the activities that I had been looking forward to teaching them all week. Expressing the fact that I had a busy life outside of Girl Guides, and the fact that I was actually an adult, helped the girls realize that not only was I dedicated to helping them grow as young girls, but that I had a passion for it.

Five years later sitting at our meeting teaching the tenderfoots the Promise and Law was when I realized that I had used the Guide Promise to break the barrier of Girl Members and Guiders that I was searching for. I had been trying my best in all of the activities, and ended up taking action for a better Guiding world around me to enable myself ultimately to succeed at gaining the respect I deserved.

Guest blogger Megan

Guest blogger Megan

By guest blogger and Guider Guider Megan Mailey, 314th Winnipeg Girl Guides

This entry was posted in Girls' Guides and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Speaking Up: From Girl Guide to Guider

  1. Pam says:

    What a fabulous post! Thanks so much for sharing, Megan. We can all take action for a better Guiding world.

  2. Kim says:

    This kind of thing is what makes me weary of becoming a leader. As a third year Ranger, I would like to stay heavily involved in Guiding in the coming years, but I have had many encounters where the Guiders of other units, or parents and the public, do not take me seriously or treat me with respect as an equal. I admire your ability to convey your thoughts and improve your, and the girls, experience in Guiding through effective communication.

  3. Allison says:

    Kim, I also transitioned up from a girl to a guider. It will come, you must remain professional and at act like you have every right to be there, and every right to be a leader. It will take time for the other guiders around you to start seeing you in that way. What helped tremendously for me was to switch to a unit where I didn’t know the guiders or the girls, so I got a fresh start and a chance to build my “guider” image. It will take time for the parents/other guiders to learn to treat you like an adult, be upfront, be open to new ideas, be YOURSELF. You’re also transitioning into being an adult, and that comes with a whole host of life learning! In five years, you will be a different person.

    I think this issue also comes from our culture, which treats teenagers like they’re worse than dirt (in some ways), so teenagers have no idea how to transition into adulthood. And also that at 18, you’re suddenly expected to be “wise in the ways of adult life” when you’ve barely been allowed to pee without permission. And in some provinces (like mine), at 18 we got stuck at this stupid “in-between” phase, because we were not yet “legal” adults in our province (BC), but were not really officially still “Rangers”. I liked being 18, being in university, holding a job and having to get my mom to sign my permission form to take my Sparks camping. Utterly ridiculous.

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