New skills, new friends: the Girl Guide experience in Docklands

New skills, new friends: the Girl Guide experience in Docklands

By David Schout

As one of Australia’s newest units within a century-old institution, 1st Docklands Girl Guides are giving great opportunities for local girls to learn new skills, find new friends and build confidence in a team setting.

Set to celebrate their first birthday early next term, the program has welcomed a host of local girls aged from five to 17 within their first year.

Operating every Tuesday evening out of the Community Hub next to Library at The Dock, the inclusive program looks to develop confidence, self-reliance, and leadership.

One of the unit’s leaders Kirsty Stewart said the growth in a short period of time had been particularly pleasing.

“First Docklands has grown in numbers since we started nearly a year ago and our activities just keep getting bigger and better,” she said.

“The girls have got to know each other better and made real friends, not to mention growing as individuals. We’ve all learned how to best work together and improved our communication skills too – both the girls and leaders!”

One of four leaders at the Docklands unit, Kirsty told Docklands News that while a perception of Girl Guides (or “Girl Scouts” as they’re known in the United States) was of doing mostly arts and crafts, the Docklands program had, in fact, explored STEM topics (science, technology, engineering and maths), different cultures, and taught cooking and camping skills.

“While guiding has kept its traditions it’s also never stopped progressing … our programs are always evolving to ensure that our members stay curious and grow to be confident leaders of the future.”

First Docklands is mostly made up of local participants from Docklands, while most of the leaders also live in the area.

Kirsty herself is an example of the positive influence the organisation can have beyond childhood.

First introduced to “guiding” as a five-year-old living in Scotland, it has since then had a permanent presence in her life.

After she finished university she helped with a unit in Glasgow, before moving to England to continue her volunteering.

Eventually she would find herself in Docklands, and today considers herself as part of a “global sisterhood”.

“Guiding is something that grows with you and can follow you as you travel the world.”

Kirsty said that perhaps the most rewarding aspect of her role was seeing girls not only enjoying themselves, but developing confidence along the way – a core tenet of the organisation.

“Girl Guiding has a ‘girl lead’ focus. We encourage them as much as possible to make their own decisions on how the unit should be run and what activities we do. The leaders are there to provide inspiration and enable all of our exciting activities but we want the girls to have their say as much as possible,” she said.

Girl Guides is a worldwide, diverse and non-denominational organisation.

All units are all run by unpaid volunteers who have all passed police and working with children checks.

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