This used to be my "chosen specialised subject" if I ever went on Mastermind, although I'm not sure how well I'd do now. I was in Guiding all my life until M was born - as a Brownie (there were no Rainbows then), a Guide, a Young Leader and finally a Guider. I was Tawny Owl with a Brownie pack while I was at college, Assistant Guider with my local Guide company and then, briefly, Unit Guider.The badges on this camp blanket represent my Guiding all the way. I recently got it out to show R. He had just gone up to Scouts and seen his Leader's blanket so he expressed an interest in starting his own. Although I haven't looked at this for 6 years, every badge brought back a memory.
The 3 scarves in the centre are especially precious. The one in the foreground showcases my own Guide badges (although some of the interest badges are missing). I was evidently Seconder of Snowdrop patrol and Patrol Leader of the Poppies.
The lilac scarf represents my first international camp-in Sicily, Italy. I was 17 and it was a fantastic experience. I slept under the stars in an olive grove on the side of a mountain, I climbed Mount Etna and visited Taormina. I sang campfire songs in 2 languages and swapped these badges with the Italian scouts.
The dark blue camp scarf was the one I wore for GOLD 1992. There, I spent 2 weeks teaching English on a camp in the then Czechoslovakia. This was only 3 years after Communism had fallen in the Eastern Bloc and during all that time Guiding/Scouting had been forbidden. It was incredibly moving to hear the elderly Czech leader tell us how she had kept the Unit's flag hidden for 40 years at significant personal risk. It made me thankful that I had never had to fight for this hobby which was so big a part of my life. I blame GOLD totally for the fact that 2 years later I went back to the Czech Republic to teach at a grammar school and have spent my career teaching English ever since!
Many of the other badges were bought at various camps and events I attended as a Guide or Guider and the rest are swaps, exchanged with girls/women I met around the country./ Without a doubt, Guiding gave me opportunities to do things I would never otherwise have done. Camping in the rain, abseiling and pot holing are not activities I wish to repeat, but I'm happy to say I have tried them. On the positive side, sunny camps are one of life's luxuries, I have dabbled numerous crafts, learned a wide repertoire of songs and developed a lifelong preference for burnt sausages. I'm proud of the time I spent Guiding and, although I have packed the camp blanket away again for the time being, I'm sure I will return to it when M is a little older.
This post was brought to you in conjunction with Sian's Storytelling Sunday Pick Your Precious, and was in fact inspired by her post about her Guide uniform last month.