The Girl Guides (known as Girl Scouts of the USA in the United States) is the largest intenational youth organisation for girls and young women. The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts is the international governing body of the girl guiding/scouting movement.
It was founded as the female version of Lord Robert Baden-Powell's Boy Scouts, in 1910 with the assistance of his sister Agnes Baden-Powell. In September, 1908, a number of girls had turned up to the first Scout Rally at the Crystal Palace, calling themselves Girl Scouts. Lord Baden-Powell set up the Girl Guides as a parallel movement for them, run by his sister Agnes Baden-Powell. While Agnes played a major role until her death, Lord Baden-Powell's wife, Lady Olave Baden-Powell, became Chief Guide of England in 1918, and World Chief Guide in 1930.
Polish Girl Guides by the Monument to Small Partisan in Warsaw
The Girl Guides were named after the famous corps of guides in India. Baden-Powell thought that to call them Scouts might alienate the boys, not to mention the girls' parents!
The Girl Guides in the Uk are officially "The Guide Association" and go under the operating name of "Girlguiding UK" Although scouts in the UK can now accept girls,(new units must be open to both sexes but units established before being open to girls retain the right to choose whether or not to accept girls) this has not affected the numbers of girls joining Girlguiding UK - At present 1 in three eight year old girls in the UK are currently a Brownie and 50% of UK women have been involved with Girlguiding at some point in their lives.
In Britain, the age ranges are Rainbow Guides(5-7), followed by the Brownie Guides aged(7-10) Brownies; Then there are the Guides aged (10-14), and girls ages 14-25 guides become Young Leaders or Rangers (the former concentrating more on becoming a leader, the latter more on advanced guide activities) both of which form the senior section. In Canada, the Guides are divided into multiple programmes depending on age: Sparks, Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders.
Guides have come a long way since they were founded after the crystal palace rally and the new programmes for all sections reflect modern values and interests. Although many still see Guides as being outdated the organisation currently has around 50,000 girls on its waiting lists, showing that the problems reside not in attracting the girls but in persuading adults to give up their time. Girl Guiding UK is a charitable organisation and adult leaders are not paid for their time.
Further details and history of the Girl Guides can be found in the article on Scouting.
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