What fantastic weather we have been having. I hope this has meant that you have been able to spend meeting time out of doors participating in all the programme activities which provide fun and adventure in the fresh air. It is such a difference from last year when so many of you had events or activities curtailed by the poor weather.
Since my last entry on this blog we have announced the changes to the Promise that will be implemented in September. I am encouraged by the many messages of support we have had at National and Region level about the new wording and I am reassured that, as a member of the National Executive Committee of Girlguiding, we have made the right decision.
Society is changing. When the Girl Guides were formed (or rather started themselves) in 1910, Britain had a very different social structure. Girls were brought up in the culture of the day which included a strong link to Christianity and to the church.
However, even then, Baden Powell himself did say in ‘Scouting for Boys’ that: “We do not interfere with the boys’ religion of whatever form it may be, though we encourage him to practice whatever he professes.”
Guiding has never sought to impose or intervene in a girl’s spiritual development, though we have always encouraged them to reflect on their beliefs and have provided opportunities for them to do so.
The community that is the UK today reflects a myriad of religions, some of which do not have a god. There are also those people who have no strong spirituality or allegiance to any religion. In our new branding, our vision is to be ‘for all girls’ and we cannot do that whilst we ask people to make a promise in which they do not believe.
Guiding is a movement; it changes to reflect the world of the girls we are there to provide for.
Over the past few months I have met many girls and young women at the various events I have attended and I have always made a point of asking them about their views on the Promise.
Many of them told me they were firm Christians but recognised that others were not. None of the changes to the Promise mean that they cannot continue to practice their faith through Girlguiding.
The important thing is that we, as leaders, provide the opportunities in our meetings to discuss what the Promise means to us and help girls to address their own beliefs and understanding.
I am also firmly convinced that asking girls to Promise to ‘serve the Queen and my community’ was another appropriate change. It reflects the current focus on building communities who care for each other and support each other. Our work with Youth United is taking us into new communities where economic and social conditions are difficult.
The new Social Action initiative will provide opportunities for young people to take part in worthwhile activities, including Scouting and Guiding, which we know can provide life changing experiences.
These are my own personal thoughts on one of the biggest changes our organisation has seen for many years and I know they do not reflect the views of you all. I would be happy to discuss any of these points if you would like to contact me.
Meanwhile, as a geography teacher, I can tell you that the jet stream high in the atmosphere has migrated northwards this year and allowed all this wonderful weather to pass over us, so ‘Hooray for the Jet Stream!’ I hope you enjoy all the activities you will undertake over the summer and I know that many of you are camping and walking across the Region. I am off to Berlin shortly to join 350 members of Girlguiding North West England who are making their way to the city for our third ‘Adventures in…’ event.
Thanks to everyone who gives up their time to make a difference to the lives of so many girls and young women across the North West.
With very best wishes