A Place to Grow Girl Guides Adult Ambassador

Name: Shelagh Walsh

District:  Tennant Creek, Northern Territory

  • In Guides—District Manager
  • Out of Guides—Librarian

Length of time in Girl Guides:
 36 years

How and why did you become a volunteer/ adult member? What were you hoping to get out of it? 

I became a Unit leader in 1983, my daughter had joined Brownies here and both the Unit Leaders left town. I was only supposed to be filling in while they found someone else to do the job, however, as it turned out it was my thing. 
Has the experience of Girl Guides been what you expected?   

I really wasn’t expecting much aside from wrangling kids once a week.  It has been SO much more than that – I’ve learned so much, experienced things I probably wouldn’t have if I wasn’t in Guides and made some incredible friendships along the way. 
What are three things you feel you have gotten out of being a volunteer/ adult member in Girl Guides that has surprised you? 

If I could only choose three they’d be:
  1. I found out I am rather crafty which I never would have thought.
  2. I realised I really enjoy involving other adults in my crazy Guide life and I love watching them develop their skills. This has helped me in my role as District Manager.
  3. I take pride in promoting Guides to our community – and LOVE how the community gets behind us to make things work.
What are some of your favourite activities in Girl Guides?  

Campfire singalongs are one of my favourite activities; something about being in a group of girls and women sharing songs together. I can’t sing but it certainly doesn’t stop me. One of my favourite campfires was at a Guide Camp in the bush where there was a full moon. The combination of the campfire, singing and this huge moon is something I have never forgotten.
Have you as a volunteer/ adult member learned anything in particular as a result of your involvement in the Girl Guides?

I have learned so much whilst at Guides, to name a few things: lighting and cooking over a campfire, fundraising, making simple gadgets, learning about other countries, public speaking and communicating with confidence, giving every opportunity a go, and semaphore signalling!
In five years’, what will you remember most about your time with Girl Guides? 

I am still going to be volunteering in five years’ time; but I’ll remember the people I volunteered with, the girls that challenged themselves and the smiles when they completed their challenge. I will remember evening singalongs around a campfire and how could I forget ‘Wild Goose Chases’ around town.  
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? 

I would say that over 30 girls aged between 5 and 15 in a tiny community in the middle of nowhere proves them wrong.  I would also say handled right, digital can also be a small part of Guides today. It’s about teaching skills along with teaching strength and empathy; these are things devices can’t teach.  We also need to be teaching them about cyber safety as well in today’s world and you need devices for that.
If I could put you on a stage in front of Australia, what would you like them to know about Girl Guides?
We are still here – and still relevant today.  We stay relevant by changing to suit the needs of girls and the society they are growing up in. We are helping to raise a generation of confident, capable girls and women who can deal with things. It is an amazing organisation to be in and they will go places and do things they never dreamed of.  They will make some incredible friendships that will remain forever. They will have some amazing memories to treasure. 
What do you feel is the role of Girl Guides in society today? 

Guiding has many roles to play. One of the most important roles is to encourage girls to take on challenges and risks in a safe environment, so they learn to take opportunities and experience new things.  It is also about teaching them to speak up for themselves and others, and to be strong for themselves and their community. It is about helping them to look beyond themselves and develop empathy for others; learning to be instruments of change within their community. I wouldn’t phrase it like this to the girls – they want to have fun, which is important too. You can learn a lot from fun. 

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