How It All Began…...
A boy scout rally at Crystal Palace in 1909 may not seem the most obvious birthplace for the Girl Guides – this was after all an era when skirts were ankle length and ladies didn’t run – but a small group of girls demanding entry to the rally proved to be the catalyst for today’s movement.
History doesn’t relate exactly how many ‘girl scouts’ turned up, but they obviously made quite an impression as within months they had their own name and programme.
Baden-Powell chose the name Girl Guides after the famous Guides corps in India and it didn’t take long for them to make an impact. By 1910 Baden-Powell’s sister Agnes had adapted Scouting for Boys for the Girl Guides’ use and the Guide Movement was born.
The same year a newly retired Sir Robert began to devote himself fully to Scouting and Guiding and it was during a promotional tour that he met and married Olave Soames.
They made a formidable pair. By 1918 Olave was UK Chief Guide and together they launched themselves into developing Guiding across the world.
Around the world
The Guiding Movement may have been born in Britain but events were moving rapidly elsewhere.
Even before an association had been founded groups were springing up and by 1912 Guiding had gained a foothold in ten countries. These groups had diverse uniforms, badges, rules and names, but all shared the same ideals.
The First World War did not stop the Movement’s progression – indeed many groups offered themselves as volunteers – and by 1930 another fifteen countries had introduced Girl Guide groups, including Brazil, China and Estonia.
This rapid growth was due to the efforts of many enthusiastic, resourceful and forward-looking women, all of whom saw it a wonderful opportunity for the education of girls. Names such as Juliette Low (founded Girl Scouting in the USA), Olga Malkowska (founded the Movement in Poland) and Antoinette Butte (founded the Movement in France) helped to create the movement we know today.