Friday March 12, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Girl Guides
On this Day:
In 1912, the Girl Guides (Girl Scouts) were formed in Savannah, Georgia by Juliette Gordon Low. But it was not the first group of Girl Guides.
Girl Guides (known as Girl Scouts in the United States and some other countries) is a movement found worldwide, which was originally and still largely designed for girls and women only. This organization was introduced in 1909, because girls demanded to take part in the then grassroots Boy Scout Movement.
In different places around the world, the movement developed in diverse ways. In some places, girls joined or attempted to join Scouting organizations. In other places, all girl groups were started independently, and as time went on, some of these all girl groups started to open up to boys, while others’ started to merge with the boys’ organizations. In other instances, mixed groups were formed, sometimes to later split. In the same way, the name Girl Guide or Girl Scout has been used by groups at different times and in different places, with some groups changing from one to another.
The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) was formed in 1928 and has member organisations in 145 countries. There are now more than 10 million members worldwide. WAGGGS celebrated the centenary of the international Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting Movement over three years, from 2010 to 2012.
Lieutenant-General Robert Baden-Powell was a British soldier during the Second Anglo-Boer War in South Africa (1899–1902). He was the commander during the Siege of Mafeking, and noted during the siege how young boys made themselves useful by carrying messages for the soldiers. When he came home, he decided to put his Scouting ideas into practice to see if they would work for young boys, and took 21 boys camping on Brownsea Island, near Poole in Dorset. The camp was a success, and subsequently Baden-Powell wrote the book Scouting for Boys. The book covered topics such as tracking, signalling, and cooking, and it outlined a Scout method for an “instruction in good citizenship”. Soon boys began to organise themselves into Patrols and Troops and calling themselves “Boy Scouts”. Girls bought the book as well and formed themselves into Patrols of Girl Scouts, while some girls and boys formed mixed Patrols.
In those days, for girls to camp and hike was not common, as shown by this excerpt from The Boy Scouts Headquarters Gazette of 1909: “If a girl is not allowed to run, or even hurry, to swim, ride a bike, or raise her arms above her head, how can she become a Scout?” Nevertheless, Girl Scouts were registered at Scout Headquarters. In 1909 there was a Boy Scout rally at Crystal Palace in London. Among the thousands of Boy Scouts at the rally were several hundred Girl Scouts, including a group of girls from Peckham Rye who had no tickets. They asked Baden-Powell to let them join in. Following negative publicity in “The Spectator” magazine Baden-Powell decided that a separate single-sex organisation would be best. Baden-Powell asked his sister, Agnes Baden-Powell, to form a separate Girl Guides organisation. In 1910 The Girl Guides were officially formed in the United Kingdom. The first Guide Company to be registered was 1st Pinkneys Green Guides (Miss Baden-Powell’s Own), who still exist in Pinkneys Green, Maidenhead, Berkshire. Many, though by no means all, Girl Guide and Girl Scout groups across the globe trace their roots to this point.
Baden-Powell chose the name “Guides” from a regiment in the British Indian Army, the Corps of Guides, which served on the Northwest Frontier and was noted for its skills in tracking and survival. In some countries, the girls preferred to remain or call themselves “Girl Scouts”.
Other influential women in the history of the movement were Juliette Gordon Low, founder of the Girl Scouts of the USA, Olga Drahonowska-Małkowska in Poland and Antoinette Butte in France.
Things that are shared amongst all Guide Units are:
The Guide Promise – Girls become Guides by making their Promise. Each country has its own Promise, but historically all have the same three parts: duty to God or to your beliefs, duty to your country and keeping the Guide Law. Though there was historically a religious aspect, many countries are moving towards more non-denominational promises.
The Good Turn – Each Guide tries to do a kind thing for someone else, without payment and without being asked, every day.
The World Badge – This can be worn on uniform or ordinary clothes. The three leaves of the trefoil stand for the threefold Promise. The vein in the centre is a compass needle, pointing the way and the two stars stand for the Promise and the Law. The colours stand for the golden sun shining over all the children of the world, from a blue sky. This badge is a guiding symbol that can be recognized all over the world.
The World Flag – This is in the same colours as the World Badge and can be carried or flown by any member of the movement. It is often used as the Unit Flag. The three yellow blocks represent the threefold Promise and the white corner represents the commitment to peace of all WAGGGs’ members.
The Guide Sign – The three fingers stand for the three parts of the Promise. The Guide sign is used when making or renewing the Promise and can be used when meeting other Guides. It may also be used when receiving a badge or at the end of meetings.
The Motto – “Be Prepared” – This means that Guides are ready to cope with anything that might come their way.
The left handshake – This is the way members of the Movement greet each other. The left hand is the one nearest the heart, so symbolizing friendship. Additionally, warriors held their shield in the left hand, so putting down your shield means that you are vulnerable, making it a display of both bravery and trust.
Thinking Day – On February 22 each year, Guides think of their Guide sisters all around the world. The date was chosen at a World Conference because it was the birthday of both the Founder and the World Chief Guide.
The World Centres – There are five World Centres in different parts of the world: Our Chalet in Switzerland; Pax Lodge in London; Our Cabana in Mexico; Sangam in India; and Kusafiri in Africa.
The World Chief Guide – Olave, Lady Baden-Powell is the only person ever to have been World Chief Guide. She was the wife of the Founder, Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell, and lived from 1889 to 1977.
Two central themes have been present from the earliest days of the movement: domestic skills and “a kind of practical feminism which embodies physical fitness, survival skills, camping, citizenship training, and career preparation”. These two themes have been emphasized differently at different times and by different groups, but have remained central to Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting (per Wikipedia).
First, a Story:
My daughter went on a camping adventure with the Girl Guides. She told me it was in tents.
Second, a Song:
Here the the Girl Guides singing The World Song 2020. I hope you enjoy this!
Thought for the Day:
“My mother told me to be a lady. And for her, that meant be your own person, be independent.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Have a great day!
© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky