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Girl Guides in Scotland


How it all began

The name may have changed slightly over the years, but Girlguiding UK has been around since 1910 - ever since the founder of the Scout Movement was inundated with requests from girls to recognise the need for a girls equivalent.

In the early years of the 20th century, Robert Baden-Powell, a famous army general, developed a scheme for training boys. He tried out his ideas at a camp on Brownsea Island in 1907 and the following year published them in a book, Scouting for Boys.

The book was an instant success and boys throughout the country enthusiastically took up 'scouting'. As a result Baden-Powell soon found himself organising the Boy Scout Movement.

At the Scouts' first rally, at the Crystal Palace in 1909, Baden-Powell (B-P) was faced with a small group of girls, representing hundreds of others, who insisted they wanted to be Scouts too.

In an age when skirts were ankle length and young ladies never ran, the idea of girls being involved in camping, hiking and similar activities received a mixed response. Angry critics denounced 'girl scouting' as a 'mischievous new development', a 'foolish and pernicious movement', an 'idiotic sport'.

However, the girls won. In 1910, Baden-Powell formed the Girl Guides and asked his sister Agnes to look after the new organisation. A few years later his wife Olave became involved and, in 1918, was appointed Chief Guide.

Such was the enthusiasm for Guiding that it soon spread worldwide and since those early days countless millions have made the Guide Promise. Today there are ten million girls and women in Guiding worldwide.

What's in a name?

The pioneers who turned up at the 1909 Crystal Palace rally called themselves Girl Scouts, but when he founded the girls' movement, BP decided the name should change.

This was partly because he thought it would antagonise the boys for whom Scouting had been developed and also alienate parents, who would not welcome such a tomboyish image for their daughters, but mostly because he wanted to create a separate identity for the girls so that they could work for self-development independently, not in imitation of their brothers.

He had to think of a name, and soon he remembered that he had been particularly impressed with some 'Guides' in India. These men had operated on the North West Frontier and their main task was to go on very dangerous expeditions. Even when they were off duty the Guides were still training their minds and bodies. With this in mind, BP decided that 'Girl Guides' would be good name for these pioneering young women.

A Scheme for Girl Guides was published in the 'Scout Headquarters Gazette' and together with his sister Agnes, BP wrote the first Guide Handbook called 'How Girls Can Help to Build Up the Empire'.

Single-sex organisation

From the outset Guiding in the United Kingdom has been single-sex, in the belief that an all-female association offers girls and young women the best opportunities for personal and social development.

In general, girls mature more quickly than boys, but, on the other hand, their self-confidence - crucial for leading life to the full - grows more slowly. Similarly, girls tend to have less self-esteem than boys and are more likely to under-value themselves.

A mixed group, where boys are dominant because they appear to be more self-assured, only serves to highlight the differences. A single-sex group, however, gives girls and young women the opportunity to:

  • decide what to do

  • work together in teams, co-operate and negotiate on an equal basis

  • assert themselves

  • see other women in positions of responsibility, taking the lead
    make decisions

  • develop a sense of identity and self-worth.

*Source: Girlguiding UK, find out more about this from their website

Guiding through Time - meet four Scottish Guides

Find out about four Scottish women who have been Guides during the last century:

1908 Allison Cargill

Allison CargillAllison Cargill was the first girl in Scotland to attempt Girl Scouting. She started a patrol of Girl Scouts amongst her friends at a school in Glasgow. In 1930 Allison became County Commissioner for Midlothian and later went on to become the Scottish President Girl Guides (now called Girlguiding Scotland) in 1953.

The first Girl Guide Company to be registered was in 1910 which was the 1st Peebles Company founded by Lady Erskine.

Promise
On my honour I promise that I will do my best.
To do my duty to God and the King.
To help others at all times.
To obey the Guide Law .

 

The Guide Law
1. A Guide's honour is to be trusted.
2. A Guide is loyal.
3. A Guide's duty is to be useful and to help others.
4. A Guide is a friend to all and a sister to every other Guide, no matter to what social class the other belongs.
5. A Guide is courteous.
6. A Guide is a friend to animals.
7. A Guide obeys orders.
8. A Guide smiles and sings under all circumstances.
9. A Guide is thrifty.
10. A Guide is pure in thought word and deed.

Uniform
Allison would have worn jersey and neckerchief of Company colour, together with a blue skirt and stockings and a stiff-brimmed navy blue felt hat.

Activities
Girl Guides would have to reach a level of skill and efficiency and then they would receive a Proficiency Badges for the activity. There around 30 to choose from, some examples are:

Ambulance Musician Child Nurse Cyclist
Electrician Gymnast Rifle Shot Interpreter
Horsewoman Dairy Maid Artist Needlewoman
Florist Clerk Telegraphist Hospital Nurse

Life in the Girl Guides
Allison and her patrol would meet in a stable loft; the mere fact of climbing up a ladder to their clubroom added to the excitement and romance of their proceedings. To the horror of their parents, they tested the security of their knots by lowering each other from the loft door to the stable yard. In 1909, this patrol, the Cuckoos became attached to the 1st Glasgow troop of Boy Scouts. One of the Scoutmasters came to the girls' weekly meeting; he passed them for their tests, and set them many exciting competitions to be carried out before the next meeting.

Excerpt fromů
The Girl Guides Gazette (July 1914)
EDINBURGH ART COMPETITION
For the last three years prizes have been given to young people, in connection with the Royal Scottish Academy, for the best lists of pictures.
On the evening of Wednesday, May 11th, the prizes were presented by Lord and Lady Guthrie, and it is gratifying to note that seven of the Midlothian Girl Guides were prizewinners. The average vote of the Girl Guides was remarkably high. The prizes were pictures in oils and watercolour and etchings.


1939 Elizabeth Robertson

Elizabeth RobertsonElizabeth was a Guide in 1939 at the beginning of the Second World War. She lived in Banff and Buchan and was a member of the 1st Banff Guide Company. Betty is still an active member of The Trefoil Guild.

Promise
On my honour I promise that I will do my best
To do my duty to God and Queen.
To help others at all times.
To obey the Guide Law

The Guide Law
1. A Guide's honour is to be trusted.
2. A Guide is loyal.
3. A Guide's duty is to be useful and to help others.
4. A Guide is a friend to all and a sister to every other Guide.
5. A Guide is courteous.
6. A Guide is a friend to animals.
7. A Guide obeys orders.
8. A Guide smiles and sings under all difficulties.
9. A Guide is thrifty.
10. A Guide is pure in thought word and deed.

Uniform
In 1939 Betty was wearing a dark royal blue overshirt worn over a navy skirt or gym tunic with a brown leather belt and a tie of the Company colour. However six years later there was the next major change in the Guide uniform. A new bright blue shirt was brought in, to be worn tucked into a navy blue skirt. A navy blue felt beret with a Trefoil badge replaced the hat. Shoes and stockings were brown.

Activities
Girl Guides would have to reach a level of skill and efficiency and then they would receive a Proficiency Badges for the activity. Some examples are:

Airwoman Book Lover Athlete International Knowledge
Bird Lover Braille Photographer Hiker
Dancer Cobbler Skater Singer
Fire Brigade Entertainer Carpenter Sick Nurse

Life in the Girl Guides
I had been a member of the Guides for a year when the Second World War began. I stayed in the 1st Banff Guide Company until I was nearly seventeen (Guides were older in these days). For the first winter of the war we met on Saturday afternoon because of the blackout.

Morse Code was a very popular badge in our Company after someone told us how Prisoners of War used it to communicate with each other - a slap on the thigh was a dash and a poke was a dot. We quickly worked out that it would make an excellent method of carrying on illicit conversations in class!

Excerpt fromů
Official History of the Girl Guides
Scotland embarked on an interesting and successful experiment when the Trefoil School was opened in 1939. The school, which is entirely staffed by Guiders, is for disabled boys and girls who come from all parts of Scotland, financed by their Local Authorities. Miss Hamilton Bruce, Headmistress from its opening until 1956, would tell visitors: "We are more like a family than a school, and the Patrol system is an absolute necessity. In each Patrol there must be enough arms and legs, so that one can help another".


1961 Elizabeth Pitcairn
Liz was a Guide in 1961. She lived in Falkirk and was a member of the 2nd Bainsford Guide Company, which met every Monday night in Langlees Primary School. Since then Liz has remained in the movement and once she progressed through Rangers she became a Guider and a Commissioner at various levels including a five-year period as Assistant County Commissioner for the City of Edinburgh between 1995 and 2000. Currently, she is the Scottish Chief Commissioner.

Promise
I promise on my honour that I will do my best:
To do my duty to God and the Queen.
To help other people at all times;
And to obey the Guide Law

 

The Guide Law
1. A Guide's honour is to be trusted.
2. A Guide is loyal.
3. A Guide's duty is to be useful and to help others.
4. A Guide is a friend to all and a sister to every other Guide.
5. A Guide is courteous.
6. A Guide is a friend to animals.
7. A Guide obeys orders.
8. A Guide smiles and sings under all difficulties.
9. A Guide is thrifty.
10. A Guide is pure in thought word and deed.

Uniform
In 1961 Liz wore a bright blue shirt which was tucked into a navy or dark skirt. This was famous for its large pockets placed directly over the bust and which contained everything a Guide needed in an emergency such as a two-penny piece for the phone, a safety pin, a notebook and pen, a clean white handkerchief and string. A navy felt beret was worn with the Guide badge always having to be placed directly above the left eye and the Guide tie was a rectangle folded into a tie with a large knot at the front. The colour of the tie represented the Company and Liz's Company had a unique style in that the main tie was green but this was trimmed down the middle with yellow ribbon. Shoes were black or navy with white socks or neutral stockings.

In 1964/5 Guides were given a new look.

Activities
Proficiency badges could be awarded once the Girl Guide had reached a level of skill and efficiency in certain activities with over 70 to choose from. The most popular badges in Liz's day included:

Keep Fit Camper Country Dancer First Aid Hostess
Life Saver Skater Swimmer Cyclist Knotter
Map Reader Singer Star Gazer Cook Emergency Helper
Writer Toy Maker Pathfinder Commonwealth Knowledge 

Life in the Girl Guides
I flew up to Guides from Brownies having gained my Brownie wings and was placed in the Kingfisher Patrol which I eventually became patrol leader off. Most activities were done in the Patrol and we always had a Company Shield, which the best Patrol won at the year-end. We were encouraged to work hard for badges but also played lots of games with our favourite being 'ladders' (now not allowed because of the dangerous nature of the game!).

Excerpt fromů
Edinburgh Evening News & Dispatch (Oct 1956)
Guides in the Middle of a boom.
More girls are joining the Girl Guides and Brownies and there are more leaders than ever to cater for them. That's the "encouraging" report from the Scottish Headquarters of the Girl Guide Association who have published their annual statistics. The Scottish membership of the Association now stands at 100,320, and although the increase over last year's figure is small - only 147 - Miss G. Collins the Scottish General Secretary described them as "extremely encouraging, especially when you consider that we are not in the middle of a population bulge."

In addition there is a number of brownie packs and Guide companies. The new companies are mainly to be found in the new towns and communities springing up in Scotland....But there have never been more leaders than 46,872 currently working throughout the country. The leadership figure said Miss Collins was particularly good, coming as it did at a time when so many youth organisations are very depressed about membership, and even more about the lack of leaders. She added: "The female population eligible to join is smaller than in recent years. We really are very pleased."


2002 Kirsty Dewar
Kirsty joined the Brownies at the age of eight in Caithness. She began Guiding at the age of eleven in Reay Guides, Caithness and is now a member of a Unit in the City of Edinburgh.

Promise
I promise that I will do my best:
To love my God,
To serve the Queen and my country,
To help other people
and To keep the Guide Law.

The Guide Law
A Guide is honest, reliable and can be trusted.
A Guide is helpful and uses her time and abilities wisely.
A Guide faces challenge and learns from her experiences.
A Guide is a good friend and a sister to all Guides.
A Guide is polite and considerate.
A Guide respects all living things and takes care of the world around her.

Uniform
Kirsty wears a uniform designed by catwalk designer Ally Capellino. The new T-shirt, gilet, rugby shirt and sweatshirt are mid blue and dark blue, with red detail and a Guides logo label. She wears a sash for her badges.

Activities
Today Guides earn Interest Badges. There are over 40 to choose from which include:

Culture World Issues Circus Skills Music Zone
Film Lover Party Planner Team Leader Team Player
Agility Performing Arts Sports Water Safety
Baden-Powell Challenge Craft Healthy Lifestyles Outdoor Cook

Go For Its! are posters or packs or books that contain loads of things that can do in her Patrol. Each one is based around a theme, the choices are endless, and here are some examples:

Fitness Football Teamwork Chocolate
Healthy Eating Survival Peace Parties.

Life in the Girl Guides
I am part of a large unit and we have the chance to do many exciting activities, both individually and as a patrol and unit. In Reay I completed some of the badges of the old programme, such as Toymaker, Confectioner, Swimmer and Care of the Elderly. Under the new programme in Edinburgh I have been able to do some patrol Go-for-its: Teamwork; Peace; Chocolate; Football and Take Action. As a unit we have recently completed Water Safely and Traditions of Guiding. I now have three challenge badges and am currently working on my Baden-Powell Challenge and it's really exciting.

You can learn more about girlguiding in Scotland here!


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