ALMA – Marlene Skerritt managed to save the Girl Guide units in Fergus and Elora, but she’s still worried about the fate of the unit in Arthur.
Skerritt joined Girl Guides Canada as a leader when her daughter was a Brownie and she’s been with them for some 36 years – long after her daughter aged out of the programs.
Now, with her vast experience, she’s also a community guider – a mentor role – with units in Mount Forest, Drayton, Arthur, Elora, Fergus, and still leads a unit in Alma.
It was looking like the units in Elora and Fergus were going to close because of a lack of adult leaders, two of which are required to supervise a unit of girls in Sparks, Brownies, Guides and Pathfinders.
She put out a plea for leaders on Facebook and was overwhelmed with the response, including offers from some of her former guiders who are now adults.
“The response was amazing,” she said in an interview. “Elora and Fergus are in a good place now.”
But the fate of the Arthur unit still hangs in the balance, she said.
“I am worried about Arthur,” she said. “It’s a small unit with Sparks, Brownies and Guides combined. Last year they weren’t open at all.”
Groups usually meet once a week in early evening for an hour and a half and do crafts, play games, and work on projects.
Some units will go on camping trips and most take part in community events as well, such as parades and fairs, tree plantings, and Remembrance Day activities.
The pandemic, of course, meant groups couldn’t meet indoors, and during lockdown and stay-at-home orders, they couldn’t meet outdoors either.
Skerritt said she managed to get her Alma unit together for outdoor sessions when it was allowed, but her location has a covered space so they weren’t bothered too much by the weather, and the girls all sported headlamps, so they could see when it got dark and have both hands free for activities.
“You could follow the sound of their laughter. This is why I still do it,” she said.
The Girl Guide movement began in Canada in 1910 and provides a safe environment for girls to challenge themselves, find their voice, meet new friends, have fun and make a difference in the world. Leaders are mentors and role models to their young charges.
“It’s about fellowship and friendship,” Skerritt said. “I told my family I’ll quit when I stop having fun with it. I’m still having fun.”
Registration is ongoing throughout the year, but the Elora and Fergus units should be running by October, once all the new leaders go through police background checks and other procedures required by Girl Guides of Canada.
If leaders can be found in Arthur, that unit can proceed as well. If not, girls may be able to find spots with units in nearby towns, Skerritt said.
She said she hopes a few women will come forward, but at the same time she appreciates that it’s a time commitment that doesn’t fit everyone’s life.
For information about Girl Guides including volunteering or registering, visit www.girlguides.ca.