Girl Guides of Canada on its deathbed and it’s killing me inside

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When I heard the news that the Girl Guides of Canada have lost 40 percent of their members in the last ten years, I felt kind of sad.  It’s slightly hypocritical of me to mourn the death of this 100-year-old citizen building organization though.  I followed my older sister into Brownies (they didn’t have Sparks then) and quickly moved up the ranks from Seconder to Sixer.  Both proud moments.  How I loved that little brown change pouch on my belt, although I don’t recall what the hell it was for.  I took pride in tying my scarf correctly, standing in line while our Guider checked our knots.  This was as far as our camping skills went.  We mostly just hung in the church basement with our “Brown Owl and a toadstool made of cloth.  We sat in a circle, sang songs, told stories.  On Halloween the leaders turned the whole thing into a Haunted House – we put blindfolds on and stuck our hands in bowls of eyeballs (the hours one mother must have spent peeling those grapes).

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When it came time to become a Girl Guide, I was bored.  I wanted out.  But my mom went and signed me up anyway.  I was pissed.  My older sister, who loved Guiding, was smug.  After that, for a reason I still can’t quite fathom, I stuck with it.  Yes.  I was a Girl Guide (OK technically a Ranger) until I was 18.  I wasn’t a particularly good one.  I never won a trip or a scholarship.  Our troop won second in a singing contest once I think.  I even coaxed my best friend to join.  My first boyfriend was a Scout. We went camping in the winter, spring, summer and fall.  I won a bronze in the cross-country ski race at the Jamboree and then danced with pimply-faced Boy Scouts to Stairway to Heaven and first heard the swear chant to AC/DC’s You Shook Me All Night Long.  My older sister and I were in cahoots when it came to the rest of our group – a rare time of sister solidarity among the hormonal teenage infighting at home.  I did my first backpacking trip and sold flowers for cancer at the mall.  Most of the time I was pretty bored.

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The whole thing feels a little grey.  So why then do I feel sad at what looks to be the slow death of Guiding?  I suppose my patriotic, community-oriented, girl-needing-guidance-outside-of-Teen-Magazine-and-Barbie is upset that there aren’t many spaces for girls to hang out together without hating on each other, to do stuff that doesn’t involve tube tops and bikini waxes in your pre-teens; to work toward a shitty little badge in cooking, volunteering or even bird-watching.  Life should slow down when it comes to growing up.  Guiding helps.

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3 Comments

Filed under cheap fun, ethical living

3 responses to “Girl Guides of Canada on its deathbed and it’s killing me inside

  1. Holly

    For all of those reasons, I am a GIrl Guide Leader. To give the next generation those same memories we all had. Where are all of you?
    Get out and volunteer. We need you.

  2. Jenn Power

    I think the guides have gone downhill because they got away from the few things that made guiding special. The uniform is no longer worn, instead our societies tendency to underdress has taken it’s place. I have memories of getting to wear my brownie uniform to school some days and I felt special and part of something. Customs like saying the guide oath, the set-up of the meeting – with formal opening’s and closing have been thrown out, and group names like fairies, pixies etc are often no longer encouraged. And the guide manual no longer exists. I tried to be a leader but the parents dont want to acknowledge the rules/customs set out by the organization. If guides got back to the core beliefs, I think you’d see a resurgence.

    • Alex

      We don’t do all the fun stuff the old Girl Guides did; no more building chairs or tables out of wood.No more zip lining. And, worst of all, it’s rare to find leaders that want to do everything. I’m a 3rd year Guide , and I switched unit because we never did anything fun, like planting trees and stuff like that. My new unit was better, but I met a leader once that was doing lots of stuff and I wanted to join that unit because of that and because I became friends with 5 girls from that unit, but I couldn’t join because they meet somewhere really far away.

      Also, the Pathfinders in my unit don’t even wear their uniform. I find that weird, since if you’re in Girl Guides, you have to have a uniform, and it looks better if you always wear it at each meeting. You’re totally right.

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