A Place to Grow Girl Guides Adult Ambassador

Name: Larissa Saywell 

District: Deputy State Commissioner

Length of time in Girl Guides:
  16 years

Occupation: Geoscientist 

How and why did you become a volunteer/ adult member? What were you hoping to get out of it? 
I was a girl guide from the age of 7 and have loved the organisation all throughout my youth. There was no way I was leaving when I became an adult. There were a couple of options; to become a leader or to become an Olave, so I became both. Leadership gave me the opportunity to give back to the organisation and to guide the next generation of girls through guiding. It is so satisfying seeing a girl that you met at the age of 7, working within her community using the skills that guiding has taught her.  

Olaves gave me the opportunity for personal development within a safe non-competitive environment. In particular my leadership and networking skills.

Has the experience of Girl Guides been what you expected?  
No, it is better than I ever thought it was going to be. It keeps getting better as more challenges are thrown at you, you learn to adapt and develop resilience and grow as a person. All within a supportive environment. If guiding wasn’t challenging, I wouldn’t have stayed as long. Guiding has given so much to my personal and professional lives, to handle everyday challenges.

What are three things you feel you have gotten out of being a volunteer/ adult member in Girl Guides that has surprised you? 
  • Life Long friends: A lot of my friends are from connections that I have made through guiding. I’m still friends with girls that I attended junior Guides with. We may not speak frequently but when we do it is like no time has passed at all and we can talk and laugh for hours. 
  • Opportunities for young women: Being part of the state team has been a huge opportunity for me, not something that is offered to young people in my professional world. Guiding has welcomed me to the role and given me a place to learn and apply my leadership skills. As a result of this, it has increased my confidence to put myself out there more in my professional world.
  • Setting myself challenges and goals: As an Olave, I completed the Olave Baden Powell award and through doing this, I experienced so many things that have had a huge influence in my life. Financial management, public speaking, networking, international travel etc.    
What are some of your favourite activities in Girl Guides? Why is that so? Can you tell us a story about one of them?
My all-time favourite activity is ‘ice blocking’. You freeze a large block of ice, place a towel on it, sit on it and slide down a hill. My first-time ice blocking I wore a pale coloured shirt and I got it absolutely covered in dirt, mud and grass stains (you spend more time off the ice than on it). My unit leader was a bit worried what my mum was going to think to which I calmly replied, she is used to it. Mum sent me to guides as I loved to be outside. I love ice blocking because it is so unique and is not a common activity.
I also really enjoy a ‘penny hike’, where you go for a walk and flip a coin to determine the direction you go. Generally, I use heads to go right and tails to go left. It is a fun way to get some exercise and have an adventure. 

Have you as a volunteer/ adult member learnt anything in particular as a result of your involvement in the Girl Guides?
I have been able to discover what makes me the person I am. It has given me the confidence to stand on my own two feet, and the knowledge to ask for help. It has also helped drive me to try new things and build connections with people. 

In five years’, time, what do you think you’ll remember most about your time with Girl Guides?
The amazing girls and women. There is a phrase, we are all sisters in guiding, and until you have been part of this amazing group of girls and women worldwide, it is not something that can be easily put into words. 

Some people may feel that Girl Guides is not relevant to young people growing up with a digital life. What would you say to that?
A digital life is just a different way for people to interact. Guiding is about girls/women learning in small groups, by interacting with our world. Digital life provides an opportunity to adapt and change activities to be relevant to the world young people are growing up in.  

If I could put you on a stage in front of Australia, what would you like them to know about Girl Guides?
The largest and most experienced female organisation in providing a place for girls to grow. The key for me is that we have been around for over 100 years, we know girls, some of the newer players in the game are not able to say that, it is one of the things that I feel makes us unique. 

What do you feel is the role of Girl Guides in society today?
A safe place for girls to be girls. A place to learn about themselves and what their best self can be. To give them the self-confidence and skills to face our ever-changing world. 

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