Length of time in Girl Guides:
Admin / Finance Officer - NSW Rural Fire Service
Why did you join Guides in the first instance?
I joined after I was involved in Jamboree 2008. I was asked to help when my sister-in-law was the leader in charge. There I reconnected with my Guide Leader from when I was a child. She said, “when are you going to come back and be a leader with me?”. In the back of my mind I had always wanted to be a leader, but I didn’t know how to go about it. I was a Brownie and then a Guide and at age 14, I moved across to Venturers and Rovers in the Scouting movement. I left Scouts altogether at age 18 and rejoined Guides at age 33.
Has the experience of Girl Guides been what you expected?
So much more. Some of my best friends are fellow Guide Leaders. I have gained so much confidence, reassurance, experience, learnings and love from the women and girls I have worked with through my Girl Guides leadership career. There have been so many times I have felt ‘carried’ by those around me!
What are three things you feel you have gotten out of being a volunteer in Girl Guides that has surprised you?
What are some of your favourite activities in Girl Guides?
- True lifelong friendships
- I have learned some hard lessons about myself
- The gift of teaching skills that years later you are thanked for
Teaching outdoor cooking and camping skills!
About five years ago, I was teaching a small group of 10-12-year-old girls, how to put up a dome tent. We spent 4 hours putting up the tent, pulling down the tent, putting up the tent, pulling down the tent. One of the girls grumbled the entire time and every time I smiled and asked her to put the tent up again, she would groan even more - it became a game!
Years later, she came bouncing up to me and giggled when she said, “guess what, remember that camp skills day we did? Last year I went on school camp and we had to put up dome tents, I was the only one who knew how to do it, without instructions and I even showed the boys how to do it.” She was thrilled with herself and then she added, “it turns out you were right, thank you for making me do that.”
Those are the moments I live for as a Guide Leader ... priceless!
Have you as an adult member learnt anything as a result of your involvement in the Girl Guides?
- How to manage small groups
- How to teach adults from all different backgrounds with different abilities
- How to manage different personalities
- How to communicate with different age groups
- How to harness my disappointment when things don’t go to plan
- How to manage my expectations and high levels of perfection when others don’t have the same aspirations as me
- I have learned to let others learn through failures
- I have learned how to mentor, how to step back, how to not take over!
- Every time I join with a new group of leaders managing a camp or a weekly unit activity, I learn more and more about myself and how I fit in to the group dynamic and what I can do to improve for the betterment of the group
In five years’ time, what do you think you’ll remember most about your time with Girl Guides?
- The friendships
- The experiences
- Camping in the rain
- The magic of campfires
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?
It is more important now than ever! When you work with a young girl who has never lit a match and she is initially frightened, it’s a privilege to see her then progress onto cooking in a fire and creating a delicious 3-course meal for her Patrol - that is relevant.
Technology is great, unless you are 4WD camping in the bush, or hiking in the mountains, or skiing in rugged terrain. Girl Guides has given me such an appreciation of nature and creature comforts. It certainly helps me do my job as a firefighter.
Recently I was deployed (with my work as a Logistics Officer) to assist a remote area team of firefighters in Victoria. They worked in very rugged conditions and a rough environment. Sleeping in shipping containers, showering in shared facilities and using gas and generator power for cooking and heating, I LOVED it. I kept thinking about all the previous experiences I had had through Girl Guides and felt very comfortable in my surroundings. I truly believe Girl Guides continues to teach me adaptability!