Australian Girl Guides have been celebrating their 100th Anniversary since September last year and will continue the festivities until February 2011. As we mark such an important milestone for the character-building organisation, Kim Gould interviews Division Leader, Jenny Cox, about the benefits for girls worldwide.
> How did Girl Guides begin and what are the aims of the organisation?
The Girl Guide movement, founded in 1910, began through the demand by a small group of girls to join an organisation which had just begun for boys: Boy Scouts.
Girl Guides is now the largest worldwide voluntary organisation for girls and young women. Guiding exists in 145 countries with an international membership of more than ten million. It has been developing leadership skills and building confidence in Australian girls for 100 years.
> What’s involved in being a Girl Guide?
Guiding offers girls aged 5 to 17 something unique – access to a great variety of activities throughout the year. Guides meet weekly during term. They work together, play games, progress through challenges and badge systems, run their own activities, and developing leadership skills.
There are adventure days, outdoor activities, craft, cooking, environmental awareness and more, including camping, that are tailored to age and experience.
Guides is a values-based organisation with a code of ethics.
We raise funds for organisations like children’s hospitals and zoos, and help at events such as ANZAC Day and Clean Up Australia Day. Variety is the key word.
There’s also the chance to meet other girls at local, state and national events and the opportunity to help people in the community.
> What do you feel are the benefits for girls in being members of Girl Guides?
Girl Guides provides girls and young women with a sense of purpose, belonging and achievement. Guiding is all about building a better community. As an all female organisation our primary role is to help girls and young women grow into confident, self-respecting, responsible community members, and we conduct an ongoing program of events and activities that help young women and girls develop their own self confidence and skills that will shape them as the leaders of tomorrow.
> This year Girl Guides celebrates its 100th anniversary. Tell us how you are celebrating this milestone.
We have been celebrating our centenary since September last year, when we had a centenary event in Brisbane to celebrate 100 years since the Crystal Palace Rally.
The Crystal Palace Rally was held in London on 4 September 1909 where 11,000 boys from all over the country crowded into the Crystal Palace to join in the very first Boy Scout rally and to see their Chief, General Robert Baden-Powell.
There were girls who were so determined to join the Scouts they turned up dressed as Scouts, but with a long skirt, and marched past at the end of the parade.
This year we started off with the Australian Centenary Event – an international camp for Girl Guides from all over the world, and it was held in Geelong. We had a contingent of 20 that attended the event from this area, and they had a fabulous time.
There have also been World Guide Thinking Day, and the 100th day of the 100th year party held on 10 April 2010. We still have many events to look forward to including the 100 Down Under in May, along with Campfires across Australia in June, the Great Guide Sleepover at Taronga Zoo in August, and Flying the Flag in October.
> How long have the Girl Guides been established in Port Macquarie?
Girl Guides have been active in Port Macquarie for 74 years, so next year will be a big milestone for Port Macquarie. Mrs Jessie Grey (the wife of Canon Grey, rector of St Thomas’ Church of England), began Guiding in Port Macquarie.
> How long have you been involved with the organisation and what is your role?
I have been involved in Guiding for 50 years and my current role is as Division Leader for the Timberlands Division. This Division covers the area from Bulahdelah to Kempsey.
As a Division Leader my duties are many and varied. They include such duties as mentoring and supporting the Leaders of the girls, and also the parents of the support groups for the areas.
I am also the Assistant Region Leader for the North Pacific Coast Region, which covers the area from Bulahdelah to the Queensland border. The duties of this role are to lend support to the Region Leader.
> What are the local Girl Guides looking forward to in the coming months?
The local Girl Guides are looking forward to the Great Guide Sleepover, and the Region Camp to be held at Grafton in September. The theme of the camp is “Dare to be Different” and the organising team have been busy planning great activities and menus for the Guides.
> You have recently introduced a new uniform for the Guides?
Yes, we recently launched a new uniform which all the girls are wearing now. We felt that the old uniform was a bit outdated so we have come up with something more modern. After all, if we want young girls to join the Guides we need to have a uniform that they are comfortable in and suits their modern sense of style.
> How can interested girls join the Girl Guides in Port Macquarie and Wauchope?
The Guiding movement at Port Macquarie and Wauchope caters for girls from 5 to 17 years of age with Junior Guides, Guides and Senior Guides, or as a Leader for the adults.
Please contact Kim Rayner on 02 6583 8287 or mobile 0419 760 808 for more information.
> Thank you Jenny.