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