Saturday, 14 September 2013

Girl Guide Stalker badge? Such a changed word!

First Class
Girl Guides - Part 2 more of those Vintage Badges!

I'm naming my posts Girl Guides even though I know it's a very old fashioned term and that the terminology for the following has changed since the 1960s. The formal title at that time, I believe, was The Girl Guides Association. Since this amounts to a series of history posts with Vintage badges on show, please bear with any anomalies to what might be found today.

My First Class badge on the left took quite a lot of effort to achieve, but I was only one of many thousands of guides who made choices which led to that same achievement. 

I don't remember exactly what the requirements were to pass the First Class badge but I do have my Record Card. Inside the card is a little confusing, since what has been authorised appears to overlap with what I thought went towards my Little House Emblem.

On the Record Card there is authorisation at Company level for achieving my Second Class though I can't remember what that entailed.

At Division level Sections A and B, I've been signed off for various items but I'm blowed if I remember the Life-Line (I do, however, remember throwing a rope in the swimming pool to aid someone who was supposedly drowning) and the Expired Air Demonstration (I did First Aid Emergency resucitation but I don't think that matches. Rather, I think that this might be holding my breath under water?) Can someone please remind me what they were about?

There were various outdoor activities for that First Class certificate, but also an indoor project that I spent quite some time on. The hoarder in me means I've still got the "The Life of Baden Powell/ Guiding Through The Years" science notebook that was filled with text and relevant cut-outs from magazines. 
Though I didn't realise it, I relished these writing tasks, and spent more time than I needed to in compiling my data for my 'Guide' notebooks. Inside the above book, there is a lot on the history of Guiding; things about what was current in guiding across the world in 1966, and some fabulous handy hints for camping! Re-reading the cut-outs from some Girl Guide magazine, it brought back some mixed memories of ADORING camping, of being FRUSTRATED during camps, and of hating SCOTTISH WEATHER!

I now remember some of the things I had to do to pass my Camper badge. All was not instant success in my guide career! In my little bookie above, it reminded me that our food had to be placed in a net and hung from a nearby tree, so that the predators wouldn't eat it before I did. Great advice, but in Scotland the predators aren't grizzly bears, (more like tiny ants) so some of the high climbing to drape the net was great fun but wasn't really needed! The tent pegs were wooden, so there's advice on scraping the pegs free of mud and how to insert them into the ground safely and securely. HAH! Flooded campsite conditions banjaxed that! Using the ash from the fire first thing in the morning to disinfect the latrine pit was somehting EVERYBODY knew about-didn't they? More of latrines soon.

Camper badge
Camper was my greatest failure as a Girl Guide. I had to sit to sit my Camper Badge 3 times. It was the only badge I actually failed, though I do have to confess to giving up with Scottish Country Dancer when I missed some lessons and didn't take the test. (I wouldn't have passed anyway since dancing by numbers doesn't work too well with Eightsome Reels and 2 left feet!)

As I recall to pass my Camper badge, as well as keeping a canvas tent for 5 or 6 of your patrol members in tip-top condition (flaps up/ flaps down) clean and tidy inside and out, the Camper badge also required the leader (me) to feed the squad. 

On an open campfire, lit with a maximum of 3 matches, you had to cook a three course meal for everyone in your tent. The soup was easy- I was allowed to boil water and add packet soup granules. The main course tended to be mashed potatoes (reconstituted mash with boiled water), fried sausages and a vegetable (generally baked beans). For the dessert it was home made custard with added fruit (usually tinned). My patrol were expected to help, under my direction, but when things are going haywire that's not always easy! Try cooking all that in Scotland when it pours the whole camping weekend! Soggy firewood. Listless fire. Endless meal cooking which resulted in lumpy potato, half burned- half cooked sausage and yet again lumpy custard! Hungry, moaning patrol-  FAILED!

Apart from the cooking and feeding of my patrol, I was easily able to do all the other HAPPY CAMPER tasks. Never give up was my motto. On try 3 I PASSED.

My Guide Camp weekends tended to be at the dedicated Girl Guide Campsite called Achachairdies (not far from Glasgow) where we camped in a field under those real canvas tents. It was the duty of the patrol leader to organise the erection of the canvas ridge tent for six, which in 1967 had a loose groundsheet. Another task I remember needing to organise was lashing trimmed branches together (collected from local woods) to make structures to raise any stored items off the ground. That meant our rucksaks containing our spare clothes, bedding, toiletries etc. had to be kept dry. Our footwear also had to be raised overnight. WELLIES! Yes, those waterproof boots had to be kept dry too.

Sadly, when the rain dripped inside the tent from inadvertant brushes against the canvas nothing stayed dry.

Maybe that's why I've got a Certificate for a badge named All Round Cords- though I've no cloth badge for it!

All Round Cords
Floating out of the tent on a wash of water, when asleep in a soggy sleeping bag made of flock-filled cotton, was not uncommon.

Well, you know, we learned to laugh about it!

Digging the latrine pit was not a fun job, either. The clearing out of the latrine pit was even worse but in some ways was a better job than emptying the 'Dry chemical' portable toilets, that were supposed to be an upgrade on the latrine pits. the sme;ll of that chemical lingers and I won't tell what images come to mind!

Personal washing was a bit limited but we were expected to keep clean and to spruce up for the DREADED DAILY INSPECTIONS.

You might ask why did I suffer all that? It was something to master and to achieve. The highlights of it were extremely rewarding and there really was a lot fun to be found along the way.  Singing around the campfire might seem tame now, but it was fun out in the great outdoors and for want of a better word it was sisterly.

'Land of the Silver Birch, Home of the beaver, There where the mighty shores wander at will, Blue lakes and rocky shores, I will return once more, Boom diddy ay-a , Boom diddy a-ya, Boom diddy ay-a, Boom.' ...
comes to mind, and I'm singing that song right now, though not at all sure if those really were the words of it.

Woodcraft Emblem

My Camper badge was part of a group of badges which led to my achieving my Woodcraft Emblem.

I'm not sure, but the ones I've achieved which seem to match Woodcraft skills  are: Camper; Pioneer; Hiker; Map reader; and wait for it...STALKER!

YES- I really do have a badge named STALKER which just goes to show how the use of a word can change so much over time.

Girl Guide Stalker certificate
Girl Guide Stalker badge
For my hiker and stalker badges I also had to keep a LOG BOOK.

In my log book for the Hiker part (the writing of this very humdrum I'm afraid) I've detailed 8 different hikes, one of which was during a Youth Hostelling week over the school Easter Holiday break in 1967. Along with 5 of my friends, most of them Girl Guides, we trekked around the west coast of Scotland. We WALKED between Youth Hostels and had planned our trip so that our maximum daily hike should be no more than 12 miles.

Sounds easy peasy? It rained almost all week and this time we had to carry the 2 canvas ridge tents that we all piled into, as well as our food, and all our gear in our heavily laden rucksacks which were nothing like those on the market today. Waterproof gear, in 1967, was only affordable by people like Sir Edmund Hilary, or continental mountaineers. My metal framed canvas rucksack had been bought for my older sister who is some four inches taller than me. That meant the rucksack was incredibly uncomfortable and didn't fit me at all. Sore Back! Ouch! I can still feel it...  Sopping canvas tends to sag just a wee bittie.

One great memory, though, of that hiking week was of being at LUSS, near LOCH LOMOND when there was a mini Folk Festival going on! Needless to say the dripping rain didn't stop us from standing in that mushy field, listening to bands like Billy Connelly's 'Humblebums'. You don't want to know what else went on at that camp site since it wasn't very Girl Guidey! (Hey! It wasn't a guide camp and it was 1967)

For my STALKER badge, I've detailed 4 different 'stalking' of animals experiences.
The inside of the little log book is incredibly basic and highlighted by my own very poor illustrations- but I guess what I wrote about was sufficient, along with the oral examination.

Commonwealth Knowledge

Another component of my work for my First Class, or towards my Queen's Guide badge (not sure which), was achieving my Commonwealth Knowledge badge. The data I collected for that is truly historical as part of the badge was writing about current affairs in the Comonwealth. I remember having to buy The Glasgow Herald broadsheet to get the data- the newspaper still my newspaper of choice. Another element of that badge was to write a book about a Commonwealth country and I chose Australia.

The science notebook is completely full of text and pictures cut from Australian magazines. There are also some postcards sent to me by relatives who lived in the Melbourne area. Again, it is a historical document with the history of Australia covered, and what was current in 1967 now history, too. I confess to cheating at the end having filled the pages with mainly photographs since I'm guessing I ran out of research material to cover. Was I a WRITER back then? Yes, I was of sorts -  though I didn't really consider myself one.

The pinnacle of my girl Guide Career was achieving my Queen's Guide Badge. For that I had to earn a good clutch of achievements, not all of which ended up as individual mementoes in physical badges. I don't remember all the things I did for my Queen's Guide badge but I do know that I almost didn't achieve it. If it had not been for my very tolerant Guider I would not have had all my paperwork signed off.

Out of the woodwork indeed...

I think the last part of my Queen's Guide badge was that I had to fulfill a church service attendance requirement. At that time, I was having some serious issues with committing myself to that duty since I had been questioning the concept of God and no longer believed. In all truth, I had been attending Guide Parades in church but had not been a church attendee for a long while. 

My Guide leader talked to me, and after a lengthy discussion sought a way of my fulfilling the committed duty without me attending a church service for the number of weeks required. Instead I did a Service to the Community duty.

For many weeks, I got up very early on  Sunday and made my way to a Children's Home in the countryside where I spent time from pre 8 am to past 1 pm helping to prepare and serve the breakfasts and lunches. I read stories to the kids (not the Bible ones I would have done at the Sunday School), and organised and played morning games with them.

To get to that Childen's Home I had to leave my own home very early in the morning and walk some 20 or 25 minutes to get to Bearsden where I then got a bus to Mugdockbank near Milngavie (Pronounce that MIL-GUY!). The bus service was not frequent, and I could never afford to miss the bus taking me there. I got home around 3 pm and did that duty for many more weeks than if I had done my simple church attendance. It was a different commitment I fulfilled and I loved being with those kids.

 I don't regret the choices I made back then and feel I achieved something I was proud of. Though the church was not part of my future from 1967 onward, I look back on all I did at the Girl Guides, and afterwards in a Ranger/ Venture Scout group for a while, as activities which enhaced my learning curve as a teenager.

Queen's Guide enamelled pin badge
I think this Queen's Guide enamel pin was worn on my hat, but I'm not sure. At the time I earned the right to use this, the uniform was changing in style and the hat was a different shape from pre 1967 ish.

I've put all my Girl Guide badges on one of my Pinterest boards to share with everyone. You can find them at   then look for the Girl Guide Memorabilia board

Were you a Girl Guide, or do you know anyone who was one?

The next blog post is about 3 memorable occasions during my Girl Guide career.  Please pop back and read Part 3.


  1. I can still remember sitting many of the same badges. Did my Stalker’s badge in Pollok Park. The metal Queen’s badge was for wearing when not in uniform or on your badge tab when you became a guider. Those of us who gained our Queen’s at this point were presented with the older version of the cloth badge but guide shops had run out of the metal ones so we had to get the new style metal. You did not by any chance attend the 1966 International Camp at Achaichairdeis did you?

  2. Hello Sheila. From your info I maybe was a luckyone in getting both cloth and metal badges. No, I wasn't at Achaichairdeis but a couple of my guiding friends were there.


Thank you for reading my blog. Please pop your thoughts about this post in the comment box. :-)