Apart from parents and teachers the big influence on my young life was the Girl Guide Movement which was started in UK in 1910 by Agnes Baden-Powell, sister of Robert Baden-Powell who had started the Boy Scout movement three years earlier. Seeing their brothers having such adventures the girls were agitating to do the same but Robert Baden-Powell decided that the girls' movement should be organised differently and despite popular opinion of the day being that girls should not be in Guiding, the movement got off the ground.
The aims of Guiding were to foster physical fitness, survival skills, citizenship and outdoor activities such as camping.
In our the little village in Scotland a Guide company was started by our local doctor and her housekeeper when I was about 10 and I think I must have been first in line to join as there wasn't much extra curricular activity in country areas.
We were divided up into patrols and allowed to choose an emblem. As I was the leader of a patrol (in consultation with the rest of the patrol, of course) we decided to be Kingfisher patrol as I had long admired this colourful bird
Every week we had to turn up in clean uniform which consisted of a blue blouse which we were allowed to wear over warm tops in winter, light blue tie which doubled as a sling for first aid, a navy blue skirt and brown highly polished shoes. There was also the brass trefoil badge which had to be highly polished. All this in itself was a great lesson in discipline as we were inspected at the start of every meeting and there was extra pressure on the patrol leader to make sure her patrol was up to scratch.
Weekly we had to affirm the Guide promise:
"I promise on my Honour that I will do my best
to do my duty to God and the Queen
to help other people at all times
and to obey the Guide law"
We also had to promise to try to do a good turn every day.
In keeping with the aims of the movement the programme each week consisted of games for exercise, mental exercise of some sort, lessons in first aid, outdoor nature study and tracking and a time to work out things for personal growth.
We worked towards badges for areas we were personally interested in such as cooking, sewing,first aid, knitting or nature study.Each badge was sewn onto the outer sleeve of the blouse and so it was a big incentive to gain as many badges as possible! I distinctly remember doing the cooking badge. I was invited to the Leader's home where I had to cook the meal I had worked out beforehand and while it was cooking had to set the table beautifully and then present the meal which we sat down to. I had decided to make my mother's brown stew recipe with mashed potato followed by apple crumble but in the course of attending to the dessert I forgot about the stew and it stuck to the bottom of the pan and singed! The Leaders very politely ate it up and I was awarded the cooking badge!
Camp cooking was more my style and I loved the camps, cooking potatoes in the fire and toasting over the fire. We were taught to respect fire -- how to build a fire, make sure that it was enclosed in a stone circle and completely out and covered with soil before we left it.
Looking back it was a time of learning skills, discipline, socialising, lots of healthy competition and lots and lots of fun.
The Mof lives in a country town in Western Australia where she is involved with a variety of community groups. She has recently returned from a trip to Scotland revisiting all the haunts of her youth. She doesn't often burn brown stew anymore.
Were you a Scout or a Guide?