This past weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of watching ‘my girls’ receive their Lady Baden-Powell awards. Were you there? Did you see that person hiding in the back with a box of Kleenex? That was me. Yup, I cried.
This year, the crying started the night before, as I was looking through eight years of Guiding photos for pictures of the Guides as Sparks and Brownies to share during the awards ceremony. (While my goal is not specifically to make the parents cry, too, it’s nice to have some company.) The pictures, of course, led to a trip down memory lane – baking a thousand cookies for seniors, countless campfires, cookie sales in April snowstorms, camping out at Citadel Hill, sleeping in a tent during a thunderstorm – all the funny and amazing moments that became their Guiding experience. Moments we shared, that became our Guiding experience. These memories get all wound up into that one little award pin.
For many of these Guides, it’s their first time getting an award and being recognized like this. Nova Scotia does a Youth Recognition event for Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers, in an auditorium with a photographer, flowers, a formal program, biographies being read, scholarships given out – whole bit. It’s a big deal.
Credit: Girl Guides Nova Scotia
Our Provincial Commissioner takes a moment when giving the award to talk to each girl. She tells them she is proud of their hard work and dedication. They feel so special! And then I cry some more.
To help them earn their award, our district holds a Lady Baden-Powell Camp for third-year Guides. Going to camp with only the older Guides makes them feel very grown-up and they love seeing their friends from other units. At camp, the Guides make a lapbook to learn about the life of Lady Baden-Powell, and a “story box” – a set of props to tell the story of Guiding. They also complete a service project by making something for our Spark and Brownie units (our biggest hit was sets of bean bags and a booklet of games and activities). After camp, the Guides visit the Spark and Brownie units to run a meeting, where they play games and tell them the story of Guiding. These moments of growth and leadership show their potential, and make me so proud.
Our district has created a certificate, which is signed by the girls in each Guide unit and presented at District Advancement. I also talk about the many things the Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers have done to earn their awards, and the beaming smiles on their faces tell me how much those words mean.
I know they go on and earn more awards, bigger awards… but it’s the Lady Baden-Powell that gets to me. I think it’s because they start Guides as girls, but they walk across that stage as young women. I guess, in the end, it’s about the journey. Not just where they have been, but also where they are going. Will this be the end of their Guiding journey? If it is, I hope we made enough memories so that Guides will have a special place in their hearts and, someday, they will be the mom signing up their little Spark. Or maybe today’s Guides will become tomorrow’s Pathfinders and Rangers, and they will go on to change their communities, change a life, or even change the world.
The rest of their journey is brimming with possibilities, and I can’t wait to see where Guiding takes them.
I’ll be watching, Kleenex in hand.
Guest post by Alana Coneen. Alana is a Pathfinder Guider and District Co-Commissioner in Bedford, Nova Scotia, who would like us to be sure to mention that she is also very proud of her Pathfinders.