Girl Guides: A Place to Grow campaign encourages new members to join

GIRLS ONLY: District manager Joanne Buerckner with Parkes Girl Guides Elisha Littlewood (unit helper) and Donna Ellem (Guide leader); front, new members Molly Clohessy, Ebony Hastwell and Grace Fernando, and Caitlin Douglas. Photo: Submitted
GIRLS ONLY: District manager Joanne Buerckner with Parkes Girl Guides Elisha Littlewood (unit helper) and Donna Ellem (Guide leader); front, new members Molly Clohessy, Ebony Hastwell and Grace Fernando, and Caitlin Douglas. Photo: Submitted

FORGET what you think you know about the Girl Guides, it is way more than just tying knots and singing songs, district leader Joanne Buerckner of Parkes says.

The organisation, which formed in 1909, celebrated Girl Guide Month in May and is encouraging new people to join through its A Place to Grow campaign.

There are currently 23 very active Girl Guide units in the Central West, including one in Parkes, with 158 Guides (girls aged 5-17 years).

Ms Buerckner has been involved in the organisation since she was very young.

"I joined Gumnuts [now called Girl Guides] at six years old and for me it's the friendships that I've built and I get to pass on what I've learnt," she said.

During the years since she joined, Ms Buerckner has also been given the opportunity to help young girls realise their own dreams.

You can learn just about anything you want and there's a lot of leadership skills.

Girl Guides district leader Joanne Buerckner

"It's really just giving the girls advice and a place to be themselves and also helping them develop leadership skills for the future," she said.

Ms Buerckner said Girl Guides offered its members the chance to help their local community, learn practical skills and cyber safety, and also go camping.

"It's getting out as much as we can and being part of the community," she said.

"You can learn just about anything you want and there's a lot of leadership skills."

Girl Guides State Commissioner Sarah Neill said the organisation provided a place for young people to feel secure.

"We come together over a variety of activities, build confidence and resilience which makes our young people better able to cope with their lives, she said.

"We encourage our girls to build life skills, and have the freedom to be adventurous, learn strong communication skills, laugh, and make life-long friendships."

Research conducted by Girl Guides showed 90 per cent of girls who joined before the age of 11 stayed because it provided the "perfect antidote to the complex and pressured lives of young people".

"Our research showed that young girls join for the things they need most at this stage of their lives: fun, meeting friends outside of school and developing new skills," Ms Neill said.

Girl Guides in NSW & ACT has 7400 members across 540 units. Girls can join from five years old.

Visit www.girlguides-nswact.org.au to find out more.