SCOUTING FOR GIRLS

Daughter number 2 is on Guide camp. She is somewhere in Derbyshire – I don’t really know where and I trust she is having a fantastic time notwithstanding the somewhat inclement weather.

I was a guide in my day. And a Brownie before that and a Venture Scout afterwards. (I skipped Rangers – no boys and no drinking!) I thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing. I worked hard, won dozens of badges and was ultimately a Queen’s Guide but the best bit by a long chalk was camp.

It didn’t matter where you went. It was always exactly the same. We had to build unlikely things out of wood. Washing up stands which would support both a washing up bowl full of water and a draining board. Bedding stands that would keep six bedding rolls off the floor in case it rained. And fires. Lots and lots of fires to cook on and sing around and warm our toes by and toast marshmallows in. The main thing that I remember doing on camp is laughing. By the time I got to the top of Guides there was a tight-knit crew of other senior girls. We were all patrol leaders and so had responsibilities but I have no recollection of any younger girls with us. I just recall laughing in that unrestrained and uncontrollable way that close friends do. Everything was hilarious. The poor Guide leaders. We must have been a nightmare to manage.

When I was 15 I went on an international jamboree on Lincolnshire showground which happened to be just down the road. This was a fabulous opportunity as there were so many activities for us to choose from. I did parascending and canoeing and loved every second. But this camp was different. It was an enormous undertaking with thousands of children from all over the world taking part. And there were boys! This put a whole different dimension on camping. Instead of entertaining ourselves with knots or tracking or singing ludicrous songs, we went hunting handsome scouts. And found a fair few. I even had my first scary boy moment there as I found myself alone in a tent with a scout who seemed to have far more idea about what teenage boys liked to do than I did!

Guides in the 21st century seems to be different. Barely any badges and not much singing. Last term’s activities seemed to be centred around clothes and makeup which isn’t really what it is all about in my eyes although my girls seem to like it. But I am hoping that not much will have changed about camp and that when my daughter returns after her week away, filthy and smelling of smoke she will have learned a little bit about herself, something about life in the great outdoors and a lot about female friendships and how important they can be.

What do you think? I'd love to know...