BEIRUT: Over more than 100 years ago, the girl scouts’ movement was created. And what was once known for well-pressed uniforms, cookie sales and camping back then, is now also known for young women’s leadership development, community action, service to others, peer education and advocacy.
In 1909, a group of girls appeared at a Boy Scout Rally in the UK declaring themselves to be Girl Scouts. Lord Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Boy Scouts, decided that there should be a Movement for girls.
To respond to the specific needs of girls and young women, guiding was introduced. Groups of Girl Guides soon started in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, and South Africa and grew over the years to become present in almost 150 countries.
First week of November 2018, America’s Girl Scouts filed a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts for dropping the word “Boy” from their name.
While there are girl-only scouts and boy-only scouts in America, many scout associations in Lebanon are mixed. “Scouts help you surpass difficulties, build your life, be strong, and independent,” Papou Rmeily, Cheftaine Louveteaux at Scouts du Liban told Annahar.
Rmeily explained the importance of having mixed scouts, and expressed her disapproval of the lawsuit filed against the Boy Scouts. “The world we live in is a mix of boys and girls, and scouts should be a mix of both too; the Girl Scouts in America should not have filled a trademark infringement lawsuit against the boys,” she added.
She continued by explaining that mixed scouts are primarily based on a spirit of education for citizenship, service, and openness to young people without distinction of religion or social class.
Scouts members whether boys or girls take part in activities having the same purpose, which is to develop fundamental values such as integrity, responsibility, respect, care, belief, love of nature and cooperation, explained the General Commissionaire of Scouts du Liban, Ziad Shaker.
Joseph Radi, assistant to the Cooperative Scout Commission, encourages girls to join the scout movement. “It’s a once in a lifetime experience that shouldn’t be missed as it helps bring out the best in every girl by strengthening her confidence and self-autonomy,” he said.
“In brief, scout develops well-structured girls and women,” he added.
Maya Shatila, a scout member told Annahar that scouts activities such as camping taught her many beneficial life skills including communication skills and team work. “Scouts helped me learn how to be responsible for myself, and the people I am in charge of,” she added.
Scout associations help young girls be more risk taking and adventurous, in the spirit of the scouts. As Shatila noted, troops can discuss and plan their own adventures that best suit their interests. Girls can learn CPR, attend first aid workshops, explore marksmanship, build working circuit boards, learn scuba diving or snorkeling, ride horses, attend plays or even become a skilled archer.
“Scouts taught me how to build many things from scratch, it may be very difficult but it’s very satisfying to know that I can always manage to survive wherever I am,“ said Noor Hamdan, a girl scout member.
She added that besides the organization and management skills that she earned, scouts taught her to love nature and take care of it.
“The main goal of scouting is to build up individuals with strong personalities who take place in society as motors and not as spectators, because after all our motto is: Always be prepared,” said Ghinwa Attieh, an assistant guide in the association of Lebanese guides.
Welcome to “Naya”, the newest addition to Annahar’s coverage. This section aims at fortifying Lebanese women’s voices by highlighting their talents, challenges, innovations, and women’s empowerment.
We will also be reporting on the world of work, family, style, health, and culture. Naya is devoted to women of all generations-Naya editor, Sally Farhat:
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