Low numbers leave Parkes Girl Guides in dire straits

DESPERATE: Elisha Littlewood, who's been a Girl Guide for 12 years, and Caitlin Douglas, a Guide for six months, are the only two Parkes Girl Guides left. Parkes leader Joanne Buerckner (right) said the club will sadly face closure if they can't recruit more members.
DESPERATE: Elisha Littlewood, who's been a Girl Guide for 12 years, and Caitlin Douglas, a Guide for six months, are the only two Parkes Girl Guides left. Parkes leader Joanne Buerckner (right) said the club will sadly face closure if they can't recruit more members.

And then there were two.

For more than 70 years the Parkes Girl Guides have been an instrumental part of the Parkes community.

But now they find themselves in serious need of community support in order for the movement to remain active in Parkes.

Over the past six months the numbers of girls involved in Guides has dramatically reduced, be it from families moving away, or the girls reaching an age where they are no longer able to be a Guide.

This has left the Parkes Girl Guides in dire straits, with only two members left.

If girls and adults cannot be recruited into the movement, the local Guides sadly will face closure.

“Guiding gives a girl friendship, knowledge that she can carry with her throughout her life, a feeling of belonging to a world-wide sisterhood, and an all-round great experience,” Parkes leader and district manager Joanne Buerckner said.

“In today’s world it is important that children learn independence, problem solving, self-esteem and self-worth; all things that Guiding can provide to young girls.”

If girls and adults cannot be recruited into the movement, the local Guides sadly will face closure.

Parkes leader and district manager Joanne Buerckner

For units to become viable the Guides need to have at least 10-15 girls, ranging in age from five years to 18 years, and along with that, leaders are also required to run the units.

Joanne said training is provided by Guides NSW/ACT for all prospective leaders and is run over several weekends at various guide halls in the area.

“We would love to see any girls who were once Guides return to the movement, as well as any past leaders who would like to step up to the challenge once again,” she said.

“We welcome anyone who is interested in becoming part of a wonderful organisation for girls and young women, and who likes to have fun and adventure as well.”

There are no formal requirements for prospective Leaders, nor any previous guiding experience is needed – Joanne said just a willingness to help young girls achieve in whatever endeavours they choose.  

Those interested in becoming a leader need to be over 18 years, and complete a Working with Children check, as well as becoming a member of Girl Guides NSW and ACT.

“Guides are always on the lookout for those people who have skills and knowledge that they can utilise with the girls, and who can bring with them a sense of humour to share with all involved, especially on camping trips in the rain,” Joanne said.

“It is imperative that leaders are recruited for the Guides, and it is only for 2 hours a week, with the exception of the school holidays when Guide meetings are recessed, and those who were previous leaders in years past came away learning as much from the Guides as the Guides did from the leaders.”

A new incentive brought in by the government, known as the Active Kids program, may help in some way to encourage parents to have their daughters join Guides.

The program provides parents with a $100 voucher which goes towards registration fees for all children of school age which, for those joining Guides, means they only have to pay a small amount each year towards their membership fees, as well as uniform costs.

Joanne is hoping this article has intrigued some to want to find out more about Girl Guiding, as they need as much support as they can gather to keep Guiding in Parkes.

For further details, Joanne Buerckner can be contacted by email address parkesgirlguides@outlook.com or the NSW/ACT Girl Guide website.