The Romance of Girl Guiding

July 1 1919

The Romance of Girl Guiding

July 1 1919

The Romance of Girl Guiding


AT a girls’ summer vacation camp along the wooded shore of a lake, the girls, dressed in the most appropriate kind of out-door clothes, were trying to gather from the sun and the air and the water, the reserve force necessary for the next year’s work. Some of them were swimming in the lake, some were playing folk games on the sand, others were carrying drift wood for the camp-fire, when three outsiders stopped to look at them. One was an artist, one was a journalist, one was a physician. “What a picture they’d make!” exclaimed the artist. “What a story they’d) make!” said the journalist. The doctor was pretty sober. He said: “I’m not thinking what a picture they’d make, or what a story they’d make; but, my, what mothers they’d make!”

This expresses something of the attitude of the women who are working to promote the Girl Guide movement—at least they are looking ahead to the girl’s womanhood in every single detail of the guide programme. In an address during her present tour of Canada Lady Baden-Powell, Chief Guide, said :

“"We are just beginning to realize the force of a girl’s influence. Even the little girl has an influence on her own family, when she becomes a flapper she influences for good or evil the young men who come across her path, and later in her own home and through her children, if she has any, she exerts perhaps a greater influence than any other person, on the social and national life of the country. If the girl has a fine mind and body, the woman will have likewise in the days to come, and she will in her turn see that the next generation after her will be the fine type of citizen that the country needs.

“We are beginning to realize, too, that the girl of to-day must have some right outlet for her energies—some wholesome channel for self-expression. It is not in keeping with the spirit of the times that girls when they are out of

school are at home helping their mothers to cook and wash and sew. The girls of to-day are restless—they must not be allowed to drift into habits of idleness and wastefulness or other wrong paths. Any effort to prevent this is worth while because any social evil is preventable; it may not be curable, but it is preventable if it is taken in time.

“The Girl Guide movement has been planned with these things in view. We don’t set out to ‘do the girl good.’ We want her to do herself good. The organization is non-political, broad enough to take in every country—there are guides in practically every country from Great Britain and the United States and Canada to Japan and India; the last request for organization came from Gowganda. We must have certain rules but we are not bound up with red tape, only tied with a little elastic. And we are not out for numbers on paper; it is quality we want.”

Notwithstanding the last condition, the Girl Guide movement was started in

Canada only seven years ago and the membership is now fourteen thousand.

WHEN a girl becomes a Guide, who promises three things, to honor God and the King; to obey the Guide law; to do at least one good turn someone every day. She is reminded these three promises every time she makes the Guide salute, with three fingers upright, the thumb and little finger bent and touching. “And,” says Lady Baden-Powell, “that all important little self then becomes the second consideration, and the well-being of others is. of primary importance. It is when girls and boys have the desire for the welfare of the State deeply ingrained in their minds, to the extinction purely personal wishes, that we may look for a new world and happier national life.”

The Guide law is an ideal chart and compass for the girl in her teens. consists of ten definite rules: First,

a Guide's honor is to be trusted. There was a time when honesty was not considered essentially a woman’s virtue, but the poet who wrote “cunning, coy and hard to please,” didn’t describe the type of woman desirable as a friend or wife or mother or citizen to-day. The world needs women who can be good comrades, dependable friends and safe counsellors, and the training must be-' gin with the girls. The second law like unto the first;—a Guide is loyal to the King, her country, her employer Third,if is a Gxdde’s duty to do at least one kind action every day. This might be almost anything, from washing the dishes by the Brownies or the little juniors of the guides to the splendid war work done by the senior Guides. It is the particular feature of Guide work that Lady Baden-Powell says “makes the all-important little Self become second consideration.” It is this law of helpfulness too, perhaps more thanl the badges they earn which encourages them to train in useful accomplishments. The fourth is the law of friendli-j ness. A Guide is a friend to all no mab-j ter to what social class they may belongs We know that legislation is not nearly so powerful a force as neighborliness—* especially in a nation like Canada wher« one-third of the people speak language? other than English and where the pe^

sonal touch is so much needed to. create a spirit of unity. The fifth law is, a Guide is courteous. It is amazing how little common politeness there is among us. Next, a Guide is a friend to animals. We don’t expect to find unkindness to animals among girls, but the object of the Guide law goes beyond that. The idea is that the girls should go into the fields and woods and learn the ways and wonders of the wild life and through this have a greater reverence for the laws of Nature and their Creator. A Guide obeys orders. This is not only to teach obedience to her superiors; rather to lead the girl to obey quickly and cheerfully the dictates of her own conscience. The eighth law is the law of cheerfulness. A Guide smiles under all circumstances. This isn’t always possible of course, but there is nothing equal to trying to smile under difficulties to develop self-control— and almost every regrettable trait in men and women can be put down to lack of self-control. The ninth is the law of thrift. A Guide is thrifty, in the use of money, clothes, food, everything—a very imOut-door portant consideration in these times of high prices and rather extravagant habits of living. Last, and perhaps most important, a Guide is pure in thought, word and deed. 'T'HE idea of earning badges appeals -*■ strongly to the girl in her teens. Incidentally it sets her learning arts and handicrafts which are going to make her not only more useful, but which will indirectly work miracles in her whole personality and character. Lady Baden-Powell quotes an unvarnished criticism of the growing tendency to artificiality in the conduct of the girls of Great Britain, which might well be considered in our own country: “The student of. manners may well wonder how much farther the reaction igainst the Victorian code of womanly rood form is likely to go on the part of

the younger girls. The flapper, while she consumed quantities of sweets, and tied her hair with astonishing bows,was amusing enough. But in her newer manifestations, as she expands towards the costliest of silk stockings, smokes numberless cigarettes, and makes up with paint and powder as if to go on the stage in a revue chorus, she stands for tendencies that the more experienced man or woman of the world knows to be undesirable from every point of view. Not until the next generation is born shall we know the full extent of the mischief that these restless young girls, craving to draw attention to themselves, are doing the race.” And the Chief Guide, herself, adds: cookingin a Vancouver girls' camp. “That is one of the main troubles. The restlessness of the girls whose energies must run somewhere is what it is our business to cope with now while there is yet time. In the Girl Guides we can supply the right channel for these energies. Let them bedeck themselves with simple uniform—attractive yet serviceable and without frills. Let them bedeck themselves with badges on their arms—after they have earned them through solid work.” The accomplishments which win badges are varied and practical. The War had a tendency to give every girl anew interest in “First Aid ” work. The ambulance badge, a button with a red cross, is awarded to the girl when she passes an examination in simple first aid. A badge bearing the sign of an

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artist’s palette is given for achievement in some branch of art work. For studying something of astronomy, the girl receives the astronomer’s badge, a button bearing seven stars; for basketweaving, a basket-worker's badge; for bee-farming, a badge with the sign of a bee hive ; for learning to manage a boat, tie knots in rope, swim fifty yards, and know the flags of the Merchant Service and those of the new International code of signals, the boatswain’s badge bearing an anchor; for simple carpentry, repairing and making some useful articles of furniture, a carpenter’s badge with the sign of a brace and bit; for child-nursing or mothercraft, knowing the general rules for the care of a baby, having bathed and dressed a baby two years old, being able to tell a fairy tale and for kindred accomplishments, is awarded a badge bearing a cross slightly different from that on the ambulance badge. Badges with special signs are awarded for other achievements. The quill and folio indicate accomplishment in clerical and simple business work, a broiler is the sign for cooking, a cycle wheel shows that the girl owns a bicycle in good working order which she is willing to use in the King’s service, if called upon at any time in case of emergency. A sickle is

the sign on the dairymaid’s badge, indicating that the girl can milk a cow, make butter, and understands the care and preparation of poultry for market. For dress-making her badge hears a pair of scissors; for skill as an electrician, an arrow mark; as an entertainer, a comedy face; as a laundress, a fiatiron; as a trained member of a firebrigade, a flame; a friend to animals, a horse-shoe ; for aviation, an aeroplane ; for gardening, a daisy; for geology, a pick and shovel; for gymnasium work, a pair of dumb-bells. Following the same idea, special badges are awarded when the girl has passed the Guide examination and proved herself proficient as a horsewoman, housekeeper, interpreter, knitter, milliner, musician, naturalist; path finder, having a general knowledge of the district so as to be able to guide strangers and having some knowledge of the history of the place and any buildings of historical interest; photographer; pioneer, rifle shot, sick nurse, signaller, surveyor, swimmer, telegraphist.

The Senior Guides, or girls of eighteen or twenty years or older, begin to specialize more in the study of citizenship, art and literature, nature - lore, physical training and homecraft. Before the girl wins her citizen’s badge

she must have done acts of voluntary service in her community, understand the present basis of the Parliamentary vote and the responsibility it implies, with the general principles of local Government and the duties incumbent upon women in respect to the Municipal vote, and she must be able to make a five minutes’ extempore speech or write an essay on any subject connected with citizenship, set by the examiner, five minutes’ grace being given for framing her ideas. To cultivate a taste for art and literature the girls may be taken to picture galleries and concerts; and every company may form its own library.

During the war the girl Guides rendered invaluable service . in the innumerable ways that an organization of such broad scope could do. In Great Britain they put themselves unreservedly at the service of the Red Cross and other war departments, and in addition raised money for relief purposes entirely by their own earnings. This is one of their rules. Guides are not allowed to solicit money either for the Company funds or any other purpose— and it naturally contributes to their spirit of independence and resourcefulness. And every girl, and every woman interested in girls, knows that the spirit of independence and resourcefulness and helpfulness and general reaching toward a broader, better womanhood is needed perhaps more to-day than ever during the last five years.