Scouting for girls: How Girl Guides has become popular again
Given the things people say about today’s youth culture, the latest Girl Guide figures may come as a surprise.
In the past 12 months, membership has surged, with 8,247 girls signing up. For the previous five years, it had levelled at 530,000, but the new wave has resulted in waiting lists in some areas.
It’s being dubbed the ‘practical feminism’ movement as girls are choosing self-improvement over the self-destruction of the binge-drinking lad-ette culture.
Sense of adventure: Girl Guides today can take part in a range of activities including abseiling
Tracy Murray, the Girl Guide programme development chair, puts the sudden increase down to a bigger profile, with attention grabbing petitions, such as the one against airbrushing, hitting the headlines.
But girls are also looking for a release from the pressures of teenagehood.
‘We allow them a safe space to be themselves. They don’t have to act or look a certain way. We let girls be girls.’
The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS — not to be confused with WAGS) provide, in their words ‘a non-formal education where girls develop leadership and life skills through self-development, challenge and adventure’.
True, the 98-year-old organisation offers routine, stability, fun and friendship, something a lot of modern families are lacking — but it’s not all tea and crumpets.
Girl Guides are more adventurous than ever with abseiling, canoeing and climbing, for example. Making them more relevant, too, are discussion groups on cyber bullying and body image. And there is an annual concert, The Big Gig, with pop stars Olly Murs and Rizzle Kicks.
So, as the Girl Guide motto says, ‘be prepared’ for a new generation of practical feminists.