Leslie's Guiding History Site

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Guiding Fiction

Posted by Leslie on April 21, 2011 at 4:36 AM Comments comments (0)

One area of Guiding history which some people collect is Guiding fiction.  From the first book (The Girl Scout, by Brenda Girvin) in 1913, through the heyday from the 1920s to the 1940s, and the leaner years beyond, over 100 girls' stories were published which featured Guiding, whether incidentally or at the heart of the plot.  The books range from accounts of typical units (whether city, village or boarding school) and their activities - meetings, camps and inter-unit rally competitions - to adventure stories, sometimes in exotic locations, where the knowledge gained from Guide training (naturally) saves the day . . .

It is often easy to judge whether the author had a knowledge of and involvement in Guiding by the plots, but these books can give a real sense of what Guiding was like in the particular era, of how the girls (and Guiders) really saw Guide training as preparing them to deal with emergencies which might well occur sooner or later, and of how complex camping was in past decades (pits for everything!)  Thanks to the work of volunteer researchers, a list of fiction books has been created, and is constantly being updated and added to as more books are discovered, and are being written - if you discover a fiction book which features Guiding members, do let us know . . .

Purpose

Posted by Leslie on April 1, 2011 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

I will be using this blog to highlight topics of interest, discuss what I'm working on, and ask questions.  But it has to be a two-way process, so I'd love to hear your topics of interest too.  Guiding history is a big topic, and being added to day by day . . .

Guider/Leader Age Limits

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So a recent announcement suggests that they are going to remove the upper age limit for Unit Leaders.  Initially there weren't any limits stated (it was one of many things that originally there was no rule on) but in due course an age limit was set - at 81.  Given that average life expectancy in many parts of the country was well below that level, it doesn't seem a terribly restrictive limit, and given the outdoor active programme Guiding had, especially in the early days, I can't help but think that either few Leaders stayed on that long, or where they did there must have been younger Assistant Leaders taking on a share of the work.

Then the limit was changed, to 65.  I haven't found a date for the change yet, but will keep looking.  This was in line with the national state pension age, so that may have been the logic behind where the line was drawn (even though both the founder and the World Chief Guide continued to work for Scouting/Guiding well after the age limit themselves!).  At that time you had to quit all active Guiding on your 65th birthday - all appointments were cancelled, and you were not permitted to wear uniform.  The only options available were non-member admin roles, or Trefoil Guild (it's one of the reasons why Trefoil Guild went from being a club for former members of all ages, to being in most areas a 'retired Leader club'). 

However demographics were starting to become a problem - various baby booms had supplied a workable number of Leaders to run the units across the country, but adult numbers were declining, and in an increasing number of areas, lack of volunteers meant that when unit Leaders in many areas reached 65 the unit had to close for want of anyone under 65 to keep it running.  Alongside this, there were moves to change the age discrimination laws to remove fixed retirement ages nationally, which, although it did not apply to charities, put more pressure on.  So it was decided that adults could carry on past 65 as Assistant Leaders, but that the Leader in Charge had to be younger.  It was also a recognition that with modern healthcare, both life expectancy, and healthy life expectancy was improving.

Now, there is to be no age limit - it will be up to the individual to judge for themselves when the time is right to step down from active Guiding.  It will be interesting to see how many continue to leave in-and-around 65, and how many continue to work on for some years more.   

Work in Progress . . .

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So further work on the site is underway, with material on LINK and SSAGO having been added in as part of the work towards the Senior Section celebrations in 2016.  Sections covering International Guiding and the Arts having been added, so the latest additions are on Flags, on County Badges and on the Outdoors, each of which is a work in progress (but then, aren't they all?). 

And in response to a lot of questions from units asking for ideas on what the original members of their units would have got up to, I have started work on a "What did they do?" section, which will give a flavour of typical activities for units from different eras - so if your Brownies started in 1933 you can get an idea of what challenges they would have worked on, what sort of songs they would have sung, what sort of games they would have played. 

As ever, happy to accept suggestions for topics to be covered when time allows . . .


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