Corowa Girl Guides celebrate 95 years!

21 July 2022

Below is an excerpt from The Corowa Free Press. Click here to read the full article. 

The Corowa Girl Guides have reached an extraordinary milestone this year celebrating their 95th birthday.

To mark the significant occasion, a 1920s themed party was held at Baden Lodge earlier this month where girls enjoyed some fantastic old school games, dancing, delicious treats, and a celebration cake.

Guide Leader Maryann Herbert said it was great to have an organisation in Corowa that builds confidence, resilience and teaches valuable life skills to young girls.

“It seems quite amazing that a small Australian town has had Guiding as part of the community for that length of time given that Guides started in England only 17 years before,” she said.

The Girl Guides began in the early 1900s, when a group of young women confronted Scouting Pioneer Lord Baden-Powell at London’s Crystal Palace, demanding the right to follow the same program as the boys.

The movement quickly swept across the world, officially launching in Australia in 1911.

“When I think about what the Australian Guide Program includes, I realise that most people would not experience what Guides and their leaders do… ever,” Ms Herbert said.

“It is different to Scouts as it is all female membership. All members have made their Promise to live by the Guide Law of their country.

“Australian Girl Guides enjoy a mixture of the traditional such as campfires, building camp gadgets and earning badges, and the latest such as online meetings, utilizing technology and trying out the latest adventurous activities.”

Ms Herbert said the Guide Program is diverse and focuses on encouraging girls to be future leaders of their world.

“The opportunities to participate in local, regional, state and international camps and community programs is endless and the chance to meet Guides from around the region, state and world is exciting,” she said.

Corowa Girl Guides attend in Units of Juniors (7 to 10 years), Guides (10 to 14) or Seniors (14 – 17 years) which means the challenges are age appropriate. They work in patrols (groups of 4 – 6) which gives opportunity developing leadership skills and forming good friendships.

The girls are challenged to set their own programs and put them into action supported by qualified Guide leaders or working towards their qualifications.

“Having been a Guide Leader in Corowa for 35 years I know that no two meetings or camps or activity days have been the same,” Ms Herbert said.

“What memories we all have of sleeping in bell tents, canoeing on the lagoon, trying abseiling and prussiking, being on cast at Gang Show, singing by the campfire looking up at the millions of stars after trying out some ‘whacky’ ways of cooking dinner over flames and coals, or being challenged in activities with knots, compasses, craft, orienteering, nature – and so much more!”

Over 250 girls have been part of Corowa Girl Guide District in these past 35 years.

“They have been given the chance to try some skills not often used now – lighting matches, chopping and sawing wood, using lats (bush toilets), having a bath under the stars, finding South by the stars and North by the sun, observing nature and so on,” Ms Herbert said.

“I have attended about ten Jamborees-state or international camps-and have had the privilege of being Program Manager for two of them.

“I have relished the opportunity to have retired but still use my skills to lead teams who will form the basis of the camp planning and, ultimately, attribute to the success of the camps. What friends we have all made at these camps – from around the region, state and sometimes further afield!”

For thirty years, Corowa Guides have called the iconic Baden Lodge in Ball Park home. Prior to that, the Guide and Scout Cabins were in Bangerang Park.

“I believe it is the best hall, in the most amazing location, in the state. It was built with community support 30 years ago,” Ms Herbert said.

“It has great facilities and is the envy of most districts. Being on the banks of the Murray River means we can utilize the natural facilities for our outdoor activities, canoe on the nearby lagoon and be part of the environment at our doorstep.

“Three times in the life of Baden Lodge, floods have threatened the building. Once water touched the wall closest to the upstream corner and seeped into the garage another time. Although dry inside on all three occasions the hall was inaccessible to road traffic.

“Since the upgrade of the boat ramp and the closure of access through the Caravan Park the traffic has continued to increase past Baden Lodge. To reduce the danger of accidents to the girls when crossing to the oval we have received a grant to build a fence. This will be constructed soon.”

Ms Herbert said the continued success of Guides depends on the leaders: “women who have the enthusiasm to give amazing opportunities to youth members and see that they can learn and enjoy so much themselves.”

“I had been a Brownie (Junior Guide) and Guide as a girl, in Melbourne. I attended Corowa’s 60th birthday as parent of a Junior Guide in 1987 when Baden Lodge was very new,” Ms Herbert said.

“The current Guide leader was leaving Corowa meaning the Guide Unit, with four enthusiastic girls, would close. Jenny Lethbridge, a Corowa Queen’s Guide and friend of mine was at the meeting too.

“We decided to become leaders so Guiding in Corowa could continue. Jenny no longer lives in Corowa but I have continued on as leader until this year. Now it is time for younger leaders to take over and I have taken on the role of Region Manager.”

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