To join the Girl Guides or become a female Scout?

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scouts, Girl Guides, Rainbows
I’m not sure Robert Baden Powell would agree with my dangerously liberal ideas towards the Scouts.

How is a father to react when his daughter wants to join an organisation that refuses to admit boys and men? This is the dilemma I am presently facing and I’m not comfortable with it.

My eldest child, you see, has made noises about joining the Rainbows, the Girl Guiding off-shoot for young girls aged between five and seven. On the one hand I think it would be great for her. She’d experience new things and socialise with a new group of people and make friends.

On the other hand I’m deeply uncomfortable with unnecessary gender segregation and the message it sends, especially to a child of such a young age. I can’t help feeling it says one of two things; either girls are so superior they deserve their own gang or girls are inferior and need special treatment.

For whatever reason, the Girl Guides is holding out and refusing to admit boys and men. By contrast the Scouts took the decision “in principle” to admit girls back in 1990 and actually went through with it a few years later. I can only assume self preservation is the main reason for keeping boys out. After all, what would be the unique selling point if the Scouts and Girl Guides admitted both genders.

I was a cub scout back in the 1980s before girls could join. I think they must have been able to join the senior ranks, however, as my particular pack was lead by a woman. Almost thirty years later I can still remember her name and the way she fearlessly bought order to chaos amongst a rabble of young boys who were let off the leash one evening a week without their parents. When I say fearlessly brought order to chaos, I really mean it. In many respects she was a very positive female role model for us boys. By joining the Guides my daughter would be denied the chance to see both men and women in leadership roles.

The obvious thing to do is to try and steer my daughter towards the Beavers, the Scout group for young children. Unfortunately I’m not aware of any such groups in the locality and she’d have to wait another year as the Rainbows take girls at five and the Beavers at six. I also wonder if my wife and I should let her make up her own mind about whether she’s happy in a group set up just for girls.

It’s going to be a tough call to make. I’ll let you know what decision my family makes.

Photo credit: Unknown Published under Creative Commons agreement.

11 thoughts on “To join the Girl Guides or become a female Scout?”

  1. My daughter started in Rainbows and is now in senior section in girl guides. She says that it very much depends on what the leaders are like but essentially both groups are doing the same thing at that level. Though I’m in agreement with you that it would be a better situation if they were inclusive from the start.

    1. Glad to hear your daughter got on well. I’m not for one second suggesting the Guides is some kind of evil organisation, but it is very odd the Scouts has admitted girls and women while the Guides hasn’t seen fit to do the same. It’s a real dilemma for me, should I intervene and stop my daughter doing what she wants. Very tricky indeed.

  2. Pingback: To join the Girl Guides or become a female Scout?

  3. I do understand what you are saying about not wishing to segregate children. Segregation is not good but I do think Girl Guiding is a valuable and positive organisation. Girls and boys can join together for so many activities, Girl Guiding offers a space where girls can flourish. I was a Brownie, then Guide, then Young Leader and now I am a leader, although I’m not actually part of a specific unit at the moment having just moved. I don’t feel that it made me superior or that girls are inferior but guiding has given me many skills, confidence and opportunities. It is a modern and vibrant organisation that works hard to educate, motivate and enable girls to become confident young women. The range of activities are wide – the leaders who volunteer come from so many backgrounds. I loved all my adventures in guiding, camps, days away, crafts, sports, singing, campfires and so many more and I was proud to be part of an organisation that is worldwide and is so positive. I wouldn’t mind if I had children in the future and they wanted to join scouting or guiding but I certainly do see the value of Guiding, especially when young people get a little older and feeling so many pressures from peers, schools and the changes, guiding gives them a safe space whilst equipping them to be multi-talented adults and offering some really good adventures at the same time.

    1. I think you have summarised my concerns perfectly. I don’t want my daughters to miss the opportunity of learning new skills, socialising etc. I also understand that bullying and the like are less likely at Guides. I’m just not comfortable with the message it send to girls when they are allowed to join a girls-only group not open to boys.

  4. Personally I was shy and nervous in my late primary-secondary years. Guiding was different from school, less competitive, less susceptible to other kids teasing and just gave me a space to find my own voice. Any organisation that offers young people the opportunities that Scouting and Guiding does is terrific.

  5. Tom @Ideas4Dads

    Very thought provoking – Scouts made me the man I am and my wife went to Brownies. I think the jury is still out on this for our 3 girls and I think a great deal of weight will be placed on how active either unit is when it is time to join 🙂

  6. Both my children attended beavers my daughter hated it with a passion it was far too competitive for her and in her words “it’s only for boys” she felt that although girls were able to attend it was aimed purely at boys, she went to brownies when older and fell in love with it, she loved bringing home girly crafts and made lots of friends. They’re both are a valuable addition to any community, please don’t deprive your daughter due to your views of them not allowing boys. Let her try both and decide which is right for her.

    Ps my daughter is now much older and doesn’t feel superior or inferior to boys

    1. Fascinating remarks you make there, and clearly from experience. As it happens I know someone whose daughter goes to Rainbows and they’re concerned because they’re worried it focuses too much on stereotypical girly activities. I guess nobody can win!

  7. John, did you ever find a Beavers group near you. I know where we are in Surrey there is an abundance of groups.


    The group my son is a member of has an equal split between boys and girls. The same goes for leaders. It definitely helps make it a healthy environment.

    Hopefully you can find a group near you.

  8. Pingback: Weird parenting moment; the day I joined the Girl Guides | Dad Blog UKWeird parenting moment; the day I joined the Girl Guides - Dad Blog UK

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