>> Sunday, May 12, 2013
I have often said that one of the reasons Guiding makes a great out of school activity is because of the lack of competition.
This can have parents raising eyebrows. Competition is a good thing right? Bring back a proper sports day and all that! Not always no.
"But you are always working towards badges, where is the difference between that and school or music exams or karate gradings?" It's different, there is no pass rate per se.
I've always struggled to explain why I know it is 'downtime' for the kids and yet still challenges and develops them. But I've found the best explanation I've ever heard. I've bought a number of very old books about the Chief Scout and Chief Guide written by people that worked with them for decades. This is a quote from "27 Years with Baden-Powell" by EK Wade. She quotes him, so I guess it is originally from one of his own books.
"There are nearly sixty different subjects among which every boy should be able to find one or more suited to him. Thus he is encouraged to take up a hobby, and a lad with hobbies will not as a rule waste his life.
Moreover there is only one standard by which a boy is judged as qualified for a badge, and that is the amount of effort he puts into his work. This gives direct encouragement to the dull or backward boy - the boy in whom the inferiority complex has been born through successive failures. If he is a trier, no matter how clumsy, his examiner can award him the badge and this generally inspires the boy to go on trying till he wins further badges and becomes normally capable."
He fought tooth and nail, against schemes for the standardisation of badges to the level of school examination or competitive tests. Scouting was a GAME.
"The great object and value of the badge system is that IF PROPERLY USED it will draw out the dull and backward and give him his chance with the more brilliant or better educated and so get him to have a try. It is the essence of the individual as opposed to mass training."
I know it isn't all written in today's more politically correct manner and we would never consider any of our girls dull or backward but there is still some relevance in there to the truth of today. Children are constantly aware of their grade, their standing on the rung. "She gets better grades them me, he plays football better than me." There are no grades in Guiding and yes, the best runners might get round the circle fastest but the girl in the wheel chair still managed to hear those keys being moved whilst blindfolded. There are rarely 'overall winners' in anything we do. Sometimes perhaps a group may score the most points on a pack holiday. Maybe a team will win in a game of ladders, but the teams are drawn so randomly that everyone will win or lose at some point and it is not dwelled on.
Guides do work in groups, large and small but the essense is in the individual. The focus is on helping her to achieve everything she is capable of for herself and achievement at every level is celebrated.
In our Brownies every girl gets a go at 'responsibility'. Not just sixers and seconders but also through the buddy system. It's easy to be a buddy, just showing a new starter where a coat hangs or where to stand but the buddy herself gets badge, is recognised and, for those few weeks, is an important part of helping another girl develop. It's a great way for everyone, no matter how timid or insecure, to achieve a level of responsibility. They always achieve at that. Badges are passed on mass quite often, the term's plan structured so if they turn up and participate they will get that badge.
Of course some girls just love to work for extra badges...dancer, pony lover, swimmer, writer. There are so many possible badges, but mostly they do it in the Brownie unit or in Guide Patrols. There is constant achievement.
Constant opportunity to throw off insecurity and self doubt.
I can't imagine why anyone would not want to offer this to their child, oh by the way the opportunity to develop and grow doesn't stop at 18. As an Adult the opportunities are much greater.
For Guiding you can register your interest to join (yourself or your daughter) a local unit here:
The Scouts are happening here: