Why I'm in Guiding

Submitted by:
Jennifer Parker
Paraburdoo Brownies and Guides
Paraburdoo, Western Australia

Hi all! I just had to reply to the question of why I am in guiding. I was a brownie in a very fun and interesting unit and a guide who found the unit I joined was less than I had imagined (due mostly to our leader's lack of interest in anything outdoors when all I wanted to do was camp). Brown Owl was always my friend's and my idol and we thought that the biggest honour would be to be a leader ourselves. It was our biggest ambition so to speak. At 18 we started the first gumnut guide unit in the district (not our old district but where my friend now lived) after answering an ad in the local paper by the District Leader (DL) who is now a friend. After 2 1/2 years my friend quit to focus on work and I decided to become the guide leader as there was a unit helper willing to become a leader and the guides had no leader at the time. But then I found a job as a nanny 300kms away so had to resign myself.

The whole time I was away from guides (18 months) I felt as if I was missing out somehow. I had loved the friendships I had made with other leaders, the instant exclamation of recognition when you meet somebody through other avenues and realise that they are also a leader - that instant bonding that you rarely find in other organisations. But most of all I missed seeing the exitement of the girls when they discovered they could do something they thought they couldn't (like climb a tree right to the top or remember what to do if somebody was bitten by a snake) and also being able to view the world through the eyes of a child again. I had no doubt that once I was settled in one spot I would become a leader again.

Being guide (both as a child and an adult) has meant many things to me at different times of my life. As a child it meant a chance to go to camp, learn how to put up tents, hike, perform at the Perth Royal Show and have fun. As an adult it has given me purpose in times when I wondered what on earth I was doing with my life (when I found I didn't like the university course I had been so happy to be accepted into, and most recently when I returned to Paraburdoo after my father died 3 days after I arrived here, knowing nobody in town except my fiance). It has given me much joy working with the girls and seeing them grow from eager young six year olds into self confident young women, knowing that guiding has contributed to their growth. It has provided me with the opportunity to share ideas and experiences with the wonderful women who are my fellow leaders, the thrill when the State Training Advisor named my friend and myself as being the ones who 'taught' her how to run a gumnut guide unit during a training (when this wonderful lady taught us so much about being a leader when she spent a term in our unit), the opportunity to participate in a DACUM (designing a curriculum) workshop on the job description of a leader and then discovering several years down the track that these workshops contributed to the 'new program', discovering that I can do anything I set my mind to if I'm prepared to persevere and last but most definitely not least the lasting friendships I have made with women who, like myself, are not afraid of making fools of themselves whilst having fun (even if everyone else does think we're all slightly batty singing 'The poor king' with actions for fun at a leader's meeting). These things are constants in my life, wherever I am and whatever else I may be doing, and are indicative, I believe, of the true 'guiding spirit'.

Of course there are times when I feel that it's getting too much, or I wonder if I am as mad as everyone else thinks I am (especially my fiance who only sees the work I put into guiding and not all that I get out of it). At times like this I think of the girls' faces when they discover something on a hike, or finally learn how to tie that knot or pitch that tent. Who can be sad, angry or upset for long with all those eager, smiling faces greeting you at the hall or when you walk into the shops with your fairly cynical sister and astound her by all the kids that run up and hug you "just like Fat Cat" (a popular Australian man in an orange cat suit from tv) or those older girls who are not embarassed to talk to you in front of their mates. I am a leader for both the girls and myself.

So that is why I am proud to call myself a Guide.

Jenni Parker