Julie Clark is not your average Girl Guide, which is exactly why the British High Commission recently held a tea in her honour.
Think back to when Star Wars and Saturday Night Fever first took the world by storm; back to when the supersonic jet, the Concorde, was flying back and forth from London to New York; and Queen’s “We Are the Champions” was blasting over the airways. It was also when Julie Clark first became a Girl Guide. Yup, Julie has been a leader for 40 years, first starting as a Brownie eighteen years earlier at the tender age of seven in Essex back in the UK.
“I’ve spent my life doing things in Girl Guides I’d never have done myself, things that you wouldn’t normally just do,” she says. “I’ve been dragon boating, abseiling, canoeing and so much more. Camping is my all-time favourite. As a girl, I earned the Gold Duke of Edinburgh award and got to go to Buckingham Palace to receive it where I met the Duke of Edinburgh himself. Here in Singapore, I met Prince William and his lovely bride, the Duchess of Cambridge. The list of amazing experiences is incredibly long.”
British Guides in Foreign Countries has 300 girls ages 5 to 18 in seven international schools in Singapore. It’s purely run by volunteers and most women get involved as an adult because they have a daughter in the programme, but not Julie. Julie has a son. Rather, she stayed involved with Girlguiding all these years because she simply loves it. For the past 18 years, she’s led a Brownie unit here – it currently has 29 girls.
“It’s the enjoyment you get from the girls, even the most mischievous child – there’s a certain satisfaction working with them. It gives you a different perspective and keeps you relevant. For me, Girl Guides was a hobby. Some people play tennis. I do Girl guiding and I truly love it. I can’t imagine what I’ll do with my time when I finally give it up.”
Julie also credits Girl Guides with teaching her not only leadership skills, but organisational skills, too. She believes those skills are what partially qualified her for a job at Tanglin Trust, where she is now the Activities Manager for the school.
Girl Guides is a leadership training programme and five girls here in Singapore are blazing examples that it works. Josie, Tamzin, Mina, Sareena and Reece received their Baden-Powell Award this year, the highest award a Guide can achieve – one that takes 18 months of devotion to earn. Receiving the Baden-Powell Award is a pretty big deal – so big, in fact, that the British High Commission held a separate tea on World Thinking Day to honour the girls.
“It’s always great to see the girls excel. One of the things I like most about Girl Guides is that your ability doesn’t matter whereas in school it does,” says Julie. “It doesn’t matter if you can’t write well or if you’re not good in maths. Girl Guides celebrates each girl’s uniqueness and helps her learn to use her strengths to achieve things she never thought she could.
Want your daughter to be a leader? Then you may have to be a leader yourself. The programme always has a waiting list simply because there are never enough women willing to step forward to lead a unit.
Leading isn’t as scary as it sounds. British Girl guiding Overseas provides training and a mentor to support you throughout. And hey, if you ask Julie, it’s the absolute best thing you can do for yourself. What the girls get out of it is simply an added bonus.
Congratulations to Julie and the girls. If you’re keen to give back and have some fun, too, this may be just be the thing.
To find out more about British Guides in Foreign Countries, visit bgifcsingapore.com
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