Thirteen girls from 23rd PG Guides unit were pouring over copies of the Free Press Monday night at Southridge Elementary’s multi-purpose room. They were paying attention to “cutlines” below the photos and “headlines” on top of the stories. The Guides had lots of questions. But it wasn’t with a paper route in mind.
They were working towards their reporter’s badge, one of 75 badges that could lead to the coveted Lady Baden Powell award. Group leaders Jaylene Fraser and Maureen Hamilton were on hand, along with one of the “moms”, to assist Guides with their quest to learn about news reporting. They didn’t ask about the wages or the hours. But they did want to know how stories were chosen for the paper. How editors decide what makes the grade and what doesn’t. And how long the stories had to be.
Two or three wanted to become reporters. Hamilton said not all Guide units like to work towards badges as a group, many prefer to work on them as individuals. The reporter’s badge requires the Guides to write about an event they have attended (paying attention to the five W’s), write a brief announcement for an upcoming Guiding event, and show they have an understanding of things like censorship and the differences between an editorial and a news story.
“Working towards guiding badges as a group is a way to improve their self esteem. And when they get their badges, the girls feel like they have accomplished something,” said Hamilton. She agreed to a suggestion that Guides may start to lose interest in the third year as they mature and want to do other things. “That’s why there is Pathfinders for the older girls,” she said. “They get to plan their own activities and being older, they take on more responsibility.”
Hamilton said she believes Guiding can instill leadership qualities and is in many ways, an educational experience. “We take them to events like Remembrance Day ceremonies that they might not normally be exposed to.”
There are three categories which can be done in any of three years, she said. “The first year is Encounters, the second year is Exploring and the third year is Discovery and there are requirements for each level. For the Lady Baden Powell award, they have to have at least two bades from each category and usually the award is given to exceptional guides who are working really hard on their guiding.”
They also do community service projects like knitting scarves for the homeless or doing cleanups around town, she said.