GirlGuides: Much Sweeter Than Just Cookies

When I think of GirlGuides, I think of Cookies. However, Amy Telfer Chiles chatted to UniCrew and enlightened me about some other pretty sweet stuff the organisation has going on. Empowering and supporting girls and young women from ages 5 to 17, GirlGuides is busy sating hunger for life for Guides and volunteers alike.

GirlGuides has close ties to the volunteer community because not only does the organisation run on the steam of its patrol leaders but encourages the next generation of enthusiastic volunteers, the GirlGuides themselves. Part of the Guide Promise which members make upon joining is to “take action for a better world”. Amy stresses the importance of the girls involved becoming confident and responsible members of their community. However, this does not come at the expense of their individuality, as the organisation helps them find their strengths by providing novel activities that encourage the girls to confront their comfort zones. Girl Guiding puts a focus on getting outside and in touch with the natural world. With increasing numbers of children spending countless hours in front of screens, Girl Guides provides social interaction, leadership opportunities and outdoor time sorely missing in some modern childhoods. Individuals come into their own through activities such as camping, community action projects and cultural awareness activities. The adventures they embark on are ripe with opportunities to develop and hone leadership skills. These leadership skills, Amy says, are transferrable into many life settings, helping the girls “immensely benefit their schools and communities”.

You are more than likely a little too old to join GirlGuides as a Guide, so what is the role of a volunteer in the organisation? Well, Amy hopes that increasing the numbers of Dunedin volunteers would allow more girls to participate. There are a variety of roles, from high commitment to one-offs. Some volunteers are Leaders, assigned a group to guide then support this patrol group through activities from geocaching to budgeting to water safety. Others make a cameo appearance to share particular experiences or knowledge with guides. Volunteers with special skills, especially novel outdoor abilities, are sought-after, as these can be enjoyable and educational to pass down to the girls. Amy herself thought that volunteering was going to just be girls “earning badges and having fun”. It wasn’t until she was assigned a group that she realised how much of a difference that guiding could have on everyone involved, and the crucial role she was playing in shaping girls into strong young women. Connecting to the world around them really prepared her group of girls to lead in the face of challenges posed to them. Having followed her patrol for a while now, at first Amy expected to move on from guiding as her charges will, but she now anticipates staying with the organisation. She was surprised to gain satisfaction and friends in equal measure with the girls in her troop. “Guiding does not just provide the girls transferable skills” says Amy “it also provides the leaders transferable skills and with lots of optional training opportunities to develop further.”

Interested students can get involved through sharing their skills and time with GirlGuides girls and leaders, this is flexible to fit with studies and other time commitments.  More information on volunteering with GirlGuides can be found on the GirlGuiding New Zealand website-


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