I made my promise last week to the County Commissioner of Essex West in the Girlguiding movement.
This was a very special moment for me, as it has been a long time since I was involved in Guiding (since I was a Guide) and I am proud to be so again. It was on a London day out, a kind of scavenger hunt, where the girls had to answer questions on different parts of London, as well as take photos as proof. It was a really good day and we were lucky with the weather too.
The Promise is important in Guiding, as this is what binds us all together. They have also recently changed the Promise, to be more inclusive, in that they have lost the reference to God. The new promise is;
I promise that I will do my best
To be true to myself and develop my beliefs
To serve the Queen and my community
To help other people
and to keep the Guide law.
I have to admit to doesn’t scan very well, but I love all that it stands for, possibly apart from the Queen reference, although I just take that to be another part of community. I think this is much more inclusive than the old promise and it doesn’t put people off so much.
I think the Promise is part of what makes Guiding a good thing – just contained with in the promise is a lot of very positive behaviour patterns. I know there was a lot of argument around ‘being true to myself and develop my beliefs’ when it changed, but I think this is a positive phrase.
I think it means investigating your values and morals and holding true to them, in the face of peer and societal pressure. This could be being passionate about animal rights, vegetarianism and refusing to eat at Macdonalds, or being Christian. It could be developing your beliefs around equal rights and investigating why this is so important and campaigning for girls’ education around the world. It could be a whole host of things and it leaves it up to the individual to figure out what that means for themselves.
It is also focusing on helping other people – emphasised three times in the Promise – by serving queen, community and helping other people. This is an excellent thing to learn and encourages girls to be kind to other people. At the STILE event last weekend we heard about all of the work that one member of the Senior Section was doing to help her community, and receiving an award in recognition of her work to go above and beyond the promise.
I know that Guiding does have a bit of a dorky reputation, but they really do all sorts of cool things and as my 4th Grays Ranger unit grows I hope to be able to take them to more places and do more things when I have completed all of the training that I need to do as a Unit Leader. I think part of the reputation is because of the Promise – it seems desperately uncool to think about other people, to serve and to be true to yourself. Which quite frankly is a sad reflection of society. I hope by writing about Guiding here it will encourage others to join in, either as a helper, leader or young person.