Girl Guides celebrates 100 years

It was 100 years ago that this club dedicated to teaching and bringing girls together was formed — on Jan. 16, Ponoka Girl Guides celebrated their organizations birthday in style.

Hazel Snyder

By Jasmine Franklin

It was 100 years ago that this club dedicated to teaching and bringing girls together was formed — on Jan. 16, Ponoka Girl Guides celebrated their organizations birthday in style.

“It’s amazing the difference you can make,” said Guides commissioner, Ina Rodenburg-Hart. “We help girls explore who they are and promote their confidence in learning new things.”

Dressed in their designated uniforms, the Girl Guides of Ponoka drew pictures of future possible uniforms, took part in outdoor games played 100 years ago and circled together for cake and the singing of the national anthem.

Ponoka’s longest standing member, Hazel Snyder, a provincial trainer, is celebrating 58 years with Girl Guides and offered a look into the window of a guide dating back to the 1950s.

“I started in Girl Guides in 1947 when I was seven years old in Turner Valley,” Snyder said. “I was the first ever to receive a gold cord guide (the highest honor that a guide can receive).”

Snyder explained the differences between Girl Guides today and the club nearly 50 years ago.

“The girls come with such a wider variety of skills now,” Snyder said. “Instead of learning how to sew on a button, now it’s operating a computer.”

Another big change was in the dress code of the guides back then, Snyder said. Females were not allowed to wear slacks and dresses had to be worn to all camps, today slacks are acceptable.

“The best part of it all?” Snyder said. “The girls — the enthusiasm they bring.”

Snyder is a provincial leader and trains guide leaders in their leadership skills and arts programs.

“Girl Guides brings the girls together and teaches them team building,” brownie leader Treena Hanger said. “It’s really neat to see them grow up from the time they’re five years old — this is the kind of thing that will stick with them.”

“Girls just love to have fun,” Hanger said.

In Ponoka, there are 38 members ranging in different ages from Sparks, ages five and six; brownies, ages seven and eight; guides, nine to 11; pathfinders, 12 to 14 and rangers, 15 to 17.

In July, nine girls and four leaders will head to Ontario for 10 days for an official centennial celebration party — an event that the girls are currently fundraising for.

Also to help recognize the club’s anniversary, the Ponoka Stampede parade will be themed “Girl Greatness Starts Here,” in honor of the Girl Guides.

Kate Mcnalley, seven, attended the birthday party Jan. 16 all dressed up in her Brownies uniform and said she hopes to continue in the Girl Guides program.

“(My favourite thing about girl guides is) the badges and the teachers,” Mcnalley said. “It’s fun.”

Girl Guides started in England in 1909 and still remains a relevant club for girls today to help build character, life skills and new experiences such as camping, wilderness survival and cooking.

“Girls build lifelong friendships here,” said Snyder. “They get the opportunity to travel and meet new people.”

With Snyder as an example, Hanger made an important note that once a girl guide, always a girl guide.

“There’s no age cut off,” she said. “You can continue you on to become a junior leader, adult leader (guiders) and at age 65 or older you are titled a Trefoil.”

When Snyder was asked about her future plans for the Guides, her answer was not surprising.

“Well, they gave me a life membership,” Snyder said. “I guess I’ll be doing it until I drop.”