Earlier this spring, our Guide unit found ourselves with extra time at the end of our meeting, so girls were allowed to do extra badge presentations for the group. Enter S.T., a girl who has been in Guiding from the age of 6. When she was a new Guide, S.T. had seemed to be in a perpetual state of panic; she now helps with younger girls and can problem-solve effectively. She teaches younger girls how to do crafts and play games. She has come into her own, and this became clear to me on this particular night.
For her “Discover Your Community” module, S.T. was presenting a “Declaration of Rights for Girls.” It was the end of the meeting, so parents were beginning to mill around the stairwell entering our gym; the other girls were becoming restless. S.T. began to read her Rights:
- Every girl should be able to go to school.
- Every girl should be able to get the job they want.
- Every girl should not be treated as a toy for men to fool around with.
With that, the room fell pin-drop quiet. The parents, mostly moms, shifted their full attention to S.T., who hadn’t noticed the change in atmosphere. Her mom, also in the crowd, sat gaping at the powerful statements coming from her daughter. S.T. continued:
- Every girl should know that she is strong and capable.
- Every girl should know that she is beautiful no matter what anyone says.
- Every girl should not be scared to walk anywhere in fear of bullies.
- Every girl should remember that she is not going to be judged by her clothing and even if she is, she should not care.
As she looked up from her paper, the room erupted. Not just applause from the girls (who always show their support for a girl doing a badge) but also from the parents. They were on their feet calling out, giving S.T. a standing ovation. Two short years ago, this girl wouldn’t have dreamed of standing in front of the group and reading her own thoughts and words. Never, in my years as a Guider had I ever witnessed such a powerful event. And it was at that moment, I thought to myself – now this is why I am a Guider.
Time and time again, people ask me “why is Guiding still girls only” and the answer is simply this: girls need an environment with female role models where they can feel safe sharing themselves, just as they are. This story, and girls like S.T., are living proof of this. And it’s a powerful thing.
By guest blogger Angela Crane, a Guider with the 34th Vancouver Guides.