Girl Guiding NZ

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It is essential, especially in this day and age, that girls get the confidence and skills they need to live and thrive in the real world. At Girl Guiding units across the country and worldwide, girls learn essential skills ranging from putting up a tent to cooking meals from scratch. 

New Zealand is one of 150 countries that are part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Girl Guiding was started in 1910, three years after the Boy Scouts movement was started. It was created in the UK so that girls could be part of a similar group and learn important skills. 

Guiding units meet once a week in places like community centres or halls, but often, units will also meet in other places like parks or beaches to do activities or to attend events/camps. Weekly meetings are held only during the school term time, pausing during the school holidays. Units are led by adult volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering, you can find more information on the Girl Guiding NZ website. 

There are four different programmes for different age groups: Pippins is for 5-6 year-olds, Brownies is for 7-9 year-olds, Guides is for 9-12 year-olds and Rangers is for 12-17 year-olds. In all of these groups, girls will participate in outdoor activities, which can range from fun games and nature art to fire safety and tramping, and give back to the community through volunteer work. Generally, the activities get more challenging as you move on to the older age groups but in all of the programmes every girl is given the chance to be a leader and make friends in a safe and supportive environment, which helps build her confidence and grow into an amazing young woman. 

The uniform is the same for all of the age groups, a navy blue shirt with the guiding trefoil. The three leaves of the trefoil represent the three main parts of the promise. The promise is a pledge all girl guides make: to do their best to uphold the values of the organisation. The star in the trefoil represents the guiding law. 

At Girl Guiding, members learn about safety/survival skills and what to do in an emergency. They may participate in activities like shelter building, first aid, learning about fire/gas cooker safety and how to use a compass. I also remember learning how to make damper, learning basic tracking signs, building rafts and doing orienteering when I was a Guide. Other life skills we learned were budgeting, self-defence, and cooking. 

Girls are awarded badges after completing a topic/unit of work to keep track of their achievements. Usually, they will sew their badges onto a fabric sash, which they wear as part of the uniform. Some of the units that members can earn badges for are outdoor skills/activities, community service, exploring friendship, teamwork, values and leadership, and camping. The highest award in Girl Guiding is called The Queen’s Guide Award. This is extremely challenging to earn, but extremely impressive if you do achieve it. There are also certain badges that you can earn at home and outside of the usual meetings. 

Girls will participate in day camps or overnight camps, which gives them a chance to learn outdoor skills, leadership skills and cooking skills. Often, a Rangers or Guides unit will join a Brownies or Pippins unit on a camp to provide leadership. There are also nationwide and sometimes even international camps to give girls a chance to connect with other members outside of their local unit and experience camping in another city or country. Camps are a great way to teach kids important skills because most of them will enjoy being outdoors and therefore be more engaged with what they are learning. It also gives them a chance to do more ‘hands-on’ learning as they will do things like putting up tents and lighting and cooking on a fire/gas cooker. Before the camps, they learn about packing, which teaches them about being independent and responsible for their own belongings. 

Giving back to your community is a big part of Girl Guiding. Units often do things like cleaning up rubbish or planting trees, and learn about how to be a good citizen. They may also learn about raising awareness and advocacy, fundraising, accessibility, and New Zealand sign language and participate in ANZAC day services. 

If you are interested in learning useful life skills, building your confidence, learning outside of school, making friends and improving teamwork and leadership skills you should consider joining Girl Guides. As a former member of Girl Guiding, I enjoyed it heaps and made many lifelong friends. You can join/find out more information through the Girl Guiding NZ website or by contacting the leader of your local unit. Alternatively, you could join Scouts Aotearoa, who focus on teaching Kiwi kids similar skills as Girl Guiding.