As someone who has always aspired to be a lifelong member of Girl Guides of Canada, I struggled to find a place for myself as a transitioning member (TMBR). During Rangers, I completed the program and earned my Chief Commissioner’s Gold award. As a 17 (later 18)-year-old first year university student, I fell into the gap between the girl program and being an adult member. Guiders must be the provincial age of majority, which is 19 in B.C., New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as the Yukon, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories.
At that time, I had been working consistently with a Brownie unit for three years and was planning to continue with the same unit. After Rangers, the only option for prospective Unit Guiders is to register as a Transitioning Member. There proved to be more challenges than I expected: I could neither access the unit roster nor be an official supervisor at camps and sleepovers. I planned most of the program on my own, took on the role of communicating with parents, and was the liaison at District meetings.
My co-Guiders were understanding of my position, and I knew they would always be there for ratio and support, ensuring meetings could run. Having worked with the same Guiders since I was 14, I was empowered by the trust and respect they showed me as I continued to build leadership skills. Now, at 19, I am an experienced and confident Brown Owl.
Like many young Guiders, I struggled to communicate effectively with parents. However, there was no need to worry; my years of Guiding experience counted much more than my date of birth. My Brownies and their parents treated me as they would any other Guider.
In many provinces, this transitional year is not an issue for young leaders. Had I gone to university elsewhere in Canada, my path into an adult role would have been easier. Likewise, young women coming to universities in B.C. cannot become adult Guiders straight away. My 15 months as a TMBR were challenging, but worth the wait.
Tips for TMBRs:
- If you are involved with a unit or are interested in getting involved, don’t let your age stop you! Girls won’t care how old you are, and often they are excited to work with someone closer to their own age.
- Parents will be grateful that you’re willing to take on this volunteer role – it doesn’t appeal to everyone.
- If you present yourself responsibly and maturely, that’s how you’ll come across to girls, parents, and other Guiders.
- If you are not able to commit full-time to a unit, consider attending camps or special events. Most of the time, they will have ratio already covered and are happy to have an extra person to help run things! Attending larger camps (like SOAR or Guiding Mosaic) as Core Staff is also a good option for gaining experience.
If you are a Unit Guider searching for more Guiders for your unit, don’t pass up an offer from a TMBR; often, they are familiar with the program and make strong connections with girls. Potential TMBRs are committed to Guiding and eager to learn.
Don’t forget – you are the driving force behind your membership in Girl Guides of Canada. You and the women around you share a common goal, whether you’re 18 or 80.