Like many young girls of my generation I became a Girl Guide when I was about 10. However unlike many others I hadn’t followed the normal path through Brownies. Joining the Guides was a big deal because in those days it had the reputation of either not being friendly to Catholics, or vice versa. Certainly one of the deciding factors was that the Guide leader of our company was herself a Catholic and would take the three or four Catholic Guides with her to Mass when we went camping.
I don’t know what the rationale of the objections might have been. Certainly there doesn’t seem too much in the Guide oath to be threatening:
I promise that I will do my best:
To do my duty to God,
to serve the Queen and my country,
To help other people, and
To keep the Guide Law.
Perhaps my joining up had to do with my neighbourhood friend who joined at the same time and whose parents would often drive us to events. On other Saturdays we would walk through the shoulder-high grass along the creek bank with one or other of our parents watching us until we reached the NARM bridge (near the local tannery) and they could see us heading to the Guide hut.
I really enjoyed much of my Guiding experience and learning and passing all the various tests. The image featured today is one of my tests, possibly the one entitled “Nature” for my Second Class test. I also remember doing another one for which I documented the changing seasons, flowering trees and birds in the bush at the end of our street. Along the way I learnt a variety of skills, some useful and some not. I remember being aghast that people didn’t know the names of all the streets in their area, and now I’m one of those too ….remembering where places are but not bothering with street names.
There were also local hiking and picnicking outings, always making sure to bring our plastic sit-upons so our personal sit-upons wouldn’t get wet. We would make damper and cook it over the open fire. There would also be periodic camp fires near the Guide hut and we’d have a fine time singing.
The other fun thing about Guides was going on camp and my first Guide camp when I was about 10 was the first time I had overnighted, or perhaps spent more than one night, away from home. I distinctly remember that my parents had felt quite lost without me <smile> or that’s what they told me.
Whenever we went on camp we would travel in the open back of an old five ton truck driven by another Guide’s father who lived near us. We would sing Guide songs as we went along and it was great fun, though these days of course it would never be permitted for safety reasons.
We used to have those great big heavy canvas tents and flimsy sleeping bags ( I had mine for years) and woollen blankets. The dining area was in a big marquee and all the meals were cooked in big metal dixies. I suppose we must surely have helped with the meals but I don’t recall. We would also dig our own latrines and erect hessian screens around them. Bathing was done in big round metal tubs in another screened area. My first camp was at Brookfield and was beside a creek bank. I remember that we were provided with fresh milk each morning straight from the farmer’s cows, and also that there was a water snake in the creek when we went swimming.
However my most memorable camping trip is one I described a while back. You can read all about it in this 52 weeks series post on disasters…my sole experience of being on the front page of the paper.
I did enjoy Guides a lot but gave it up when I was heading to my Junior or Year 10 exams, probably just after being awarded my First Class Guide Badge. Unlike some of my friends I wasn’t tempted to continue along with the more challenging Queen’s Guide text.