15:41 Monday 09 December 2013

Volunteer and join the Girl Guide experience

Written byHELEN KREFT

I REMEMBER a significant part of my 15th birthday, surrounded by friends and Guide leaders as they launched into song to wish me well.

It was only after the last three cheers, that I was asked how old I actually was, to which I sheepishly replied: ‘15’.

It was then I had reached the age of reckoning and finally had to admit I was too old to be a Girl Guide anymore.

Since the age of 10 I had been attending the scout hut, in Church Gresley, once a week, met hundreds of people, earned hundreds of badges and ask me anything about tying knots and I’m an expert (I’m not really – but I do have a badge in it.)

But it was never about the badges in the end, it was more about the experiences – none of which I will ever forget.

As my former Guide friends still remind me of my ability to be far away when it came to washing up the pots on camps. I had just crafted the washing up stand from a pile of twigs so you cannot say I didn’t give it at least 50 per cent.

Camps were the highlight of the year, different guide sections came together, sung campfire songs like we were old friends, built dens like we were architects and, best of all, abseiled like we were flying in the wind.

So it comes as no surprise that my old Guide section – collectively the Swadlincote District, while I belonged to 1st Gresley Guides, has a long waiting list of girls desperate to join.

However, a problem has now raised its head in the fact that there are no volunteer leaders to take on these girls, to look after them, to experience what it is like to be out in the big outdoors, or even better, take a trip round Cadbury’s World.

The latter, I was actually a Brownie at 1st Castle Gresley Brownies, proudly wearing my uniform you can see from these photos, and I managed to have the opportunity to go with the Guides. I was a Brownie from the age of seven until my transformation into a Guide three years later. In that time, I went to ‘Peak 95’ - a mass UK meeting of everyone from Scout leaders to Rainbows, where I mastered the wheelchair in wheelchair basketball.

The Peak Camps are still a massive draw to meet like-minded people from across the country.

One memory that sticks out is our Guide trip to Switzerland. Along with a few other local Guide groups, our section experienced what few girls our age would have dreamt of.

We scaled the top of The Schilthorn, in the Bernese Alps, with its revolving restaurant as well as the Jungfrau with its ice sculptures.

Of course I also remember the hotel’s outdoor pool with fondness.

Next year is the Brownies’ 100th Birthday and Swadlincote District is celebrating with a Star Quest District Camp where there will be numerous activities and crafts available.

Other planned events is the BIGGIG next year in Liverpool where they will stay over and experience The Beatles tour. Many Guides have also taken part in Remembrance Day parades.

Being a volunteer is also an opportunity to advance their skills being completing leadership qualifications, First Aid Courses and Campers’ licences.

I couldn’t imagine what I would have done if I wasn’t a Guide. I’d have been an expert in watching television possibly, but what is that compared to mastering your own canoe?

Apart from volunteers experiencing their youth again in a variety of different ways, being a volunteer is also an opportunity to advance their skills being completing leadership qualifications, First Aid Courses and Campers’ licences.

As university took over for me I never did complete my Duke of Edinburgh awards but that has always been a major plus for any CV and another thing volunteers can take part in.

Adults can register their interest at www.girlguiding.org.uk select Get Involved, then register your their interest as a volunteer or email swadlincotedistrict@hotmail.co.uk

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