I am a member of Girlguiding.
That’s not something I write about here very regularly, but Girlguiding has become a huge, and very valuable part of my life. The last few months have been particularly jam-packed and over the next few posts, I've got a lot to share. But first, in case you’re not familiar with Girlguiding in the UK, let me tell you a little bit about it.
Girlguiding is the leading charity for girls and young women in the UK. With half a million members including 100 000 volunteers, girls can meet regularly with their friends to learn new skills, try out a wide range of activities and build their confidence in a space that’s just for them. Rainbows is for girls age 5-7 years, Brownies for the 7-10 year olds, Guides for the 10-14 year-olds and Senior Section for young women aged 14-26. There are also lots of ways to be involved as an adult (I myself am a Guide leader), and we aim to encourage girls to raise their aspirations and make a difference to their lives and communities.
I suppose that would be the official description, and I think it’s impressive. But it’s not very personal. It doesn't capture how I feel about this incredible organisation to which I belong. I’m going to share a few of my recent experiences with Girlguiding in the next few posts, but today I want to share with you what Girlguiding means to me.
To me, being a member of Girlguiding is about leadership, independence, empowerment and confidence.
It is about warmth, unconditional friendship and strong, unshakeable support. It’s about being surrounded by inspirational women of all ages who will always find more time to offer, who know how to listen without judging, and whose experience has enormous value. It’s about giving something back and supporting those around me.
Being a member of Girlguiding means I belong to a local community, and it gives me 10 million sisters around the world with whom I share a common bond. We may not share a language, a home, an alphabet or a culture, but we share this experience and it connects us.
Being a member of Girlguiding is about laughter. It's about fun, laughing at the ridiculous, at the hilarious, laughing because it’s going well, laughing because it's all gone wrong, laughing at yourself and knowing it's all OK.
Being a member of Girlguiding uncovers potential; Girlguiding raises my aspirations, encourages me to challenge my limits, to do more, to pick myself up from my failures and to aim my sights ever higher.
Being a member of Girlguiding gives me a voice. I can stand alongside a movement that champions the rights and opinions of girls and women worldwide, that says no to Page 3 and promotes body confidence, a movement that says no to violence against women and promotes education for girls, a movement shouting for women’s issues in the UK and the UN, telling girls their votes matter, and showing them they can change the world.
Being a member of Girlguiding is about cups of tea and cake. It’s about being in a tent in the rain with your best friends and it's about watching films in a onesie at a giant sleepover. It’s about backpacking through the back of beyond, it’s about sewing badges on my camp blanket, it’s about thinking that it is a good idea to make gingerbread houses from scratch with 40 girls and one oven, it’s about toasting marshmallows on an open fire, it’s about running around shrieking and it’s about standing by a promise.
It's now been almost 5 years since I found a phone number on the internet of a nice lady who ran a Guide unit, and asked if I could come and help out at the meetings. That was possibly the best decision I ever made and it's been the most wonderful adventure ever since. I hope you'll join me over the next couple of weeks for a little series of blog posts all about Girlguiding, from weekly meetings to summer camps and international volunteering.
I am a member of Girlguiding, and this is what it means to me.
P.S. To find out more, you can head to the Girlguiding website.
P.P.S. Any members of Girlguiding out there? Or Guiding/Scouting abroad?