What would it be like to be a ... Guide Leader?

We asked Fiona Miller – who has recently been awarded the highest award in Guiding – about being a
Guide and a Guide Leader.

[ Ruby thought it would be a great idea to contact Fiona. Ruby is a Guide and loves Guiding, so let's find out! ]

Fiona Miller

What is the Olave Baden-Powell Award? (Jake Helena, Simon)

The Olave Baden-Powell Award is the highest level achievement award for
Guide Leaders aged 18-30. It has six sections: personal, practical, social, physical, service and further development, and I had to complete a challenge from each section. The Olave Baden-Powell Award is very hard and takes at least two years to complete! The award is named after the wife of Robert Baden-Powell, the man who created Scouting and Guiding. Olave Baden-Powell died in 1977, but the award was named in her memory.

What was the hardest challenge? (Morgan, Adrian, Ruby, Flynn)

That’s a really smart question guys! There were lots of hard challenges for me, but the hardest personal challenge would have been my further development section where I went to Thailand for 2 weeks in 2008. I was the leader in charge of a group of 4 Australian Leaders and we had to teach and train Thai Guides and Leaders. We taught them lot of things that we take for granted in Australia. For example, we taught them how to say ‘no’ to someone if they are being bullied.

Fiona and the other Guides cooking a chocoate cake in an orange (!)

What was the most enjoyable challenge? (James)

My most enjoyable challenge would definitely have to be swing dancing, James! When I started dancing last year, I had never ever danced in front of anyone before and I was really nervous with learning how to dance. I thought I would terrible at it! But I gave it a try and to my surprise I absolutely loved it! Now I go swing dancing at least once a week, I go to swing dancing balls or parties about once every few months. I am also in a performance group, the Launceston Swing Cats, which means I do swing dancing performances at events and functions!

How old were you when you started Guides? (Morgan, Archie, Rohan, Angus)

I actually started Guides when I was very young; I joined when I was 6 years old! I won’t say how many years ago that was, but it was definitely before you were born! I was a Guide until I was about 16 and then when I was about 20, I decided I wanted to become a Leader. I’ve been a Leader now for four years.

Fiona and one of the other Guides she met in Thailand.

Why did you decide on being a Guide instead of pursuing something else? (Abbey, Jake)

That’s a good question Jake and Abbey! One of the great things about Guides is that you can be a Guide and be heaps of other things as well! I also play baritone saxophone and am the leader of a big band, I still go swing dancing at least once a week. I am also still learning the piano, and I love being with my friends, either catching up on gossip or watching a movie! And during the day I am a music teacher at a school in Launceston, which keeps me very busy as well!

Is it fun being a Guide? (Rebecca, Erin, James, Maia, Helena)

That’s the main reason I go to Guides every Wednesday night, to have fun! My Guides and I make sure we always have fun. Some of the things we have done this year include games night, a birthday party, a taekwondo night and last week we even designed and decorated our own Guide t-shirts!

Do you like going camping? (Simon)

I love to go camping Simon, it is such a great experience! I went to Wineglass Bay with my Guides during the May school holidays and we had a fantastic time. We got to see amazing views from the Wineglass Bay lookout, we got to cook our own dinner and breakfast on a camp stove. We even got to see some local animals, including a group of dolphins and a seal! At our campsite we had some very cheeky wallabies trying to steal our dinner and one of them even tried to steal my car keys! We are planning another camp over summer and hopefully we will do some rock climbing and abseiling as well!

Fiona acting as an ambassador for Guides in Australia

What community programs have you been involved with through Guides? (Erin)

That is a very smart question Erin! I have helped with lots of different community programs during my time at Guides including Landcare, Red Cross, The Salvation Army, The Koala Fund and also a local wildlife shelter. At the moment, Guides all around Tasmania are raising money to buy a children’s shelter in India. The shelter will help feed and look after homeless or orphaned children as well as running a school for them during the day! Another group that I am involved with is the Duke of Edinburgh Award. This is an international award that young people all around the world can complete. At the moment here are about 6 Guides around Tasmania working to finish their Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Fiona has found that it isn't all hard work!

How many badges do you have? (Rebecca, Maia, Archie)

I have quite a few badges, in fact probably over a hundred, but Guides isn’t just about badges, it’s about challenging yourself and trying something different! One of the smallest physical badges I have is my Olave Baden-Powell Award badge, yet that badge was probably the hardest badge for me to complete. It took me over two years to finish!

Has the uniform changed a lot since you started Guides? (Ruby)

The uniform has changed a lot, Ruby! When I started Guides we had to wear culottes, which is basically a cross between shorts and a skirt, they were pretty silly looking! Now we are much more flexible in our uniform and we have a huge range of different types of uniform. Most Guide units have a rugby top, which they wear and it has their own unit colours on it. My unit, Odessey, has a red, navy and grey rugby top which most of my Guides wear to our meetings. Recently at Guides we designed and decorated our own Guide t-shirts!

Have you ever sold Guide biscuits and, if you did, did you enjoy doing it? (Angus, Jessica, Rohan)

Yes I have sold Guide biscuits ever since I first joined Guides, which was many years ago. Selling biscuits is a great type of fund raising for Guides and it helps pay for some of the great activities we do. Selling biscuits is lots of fun to do and I often end up eating lots of the biscuits by mistake!!

Thanks so much, Fiona, for taking the time to answer our questions. We’ve certainly learnt a lot about Guiding from you and congratulations on receiving The Olave Baden-Powell Award.

Erin thought the symbol of the Guides - the trefoil - would make a great picture. We all agree!

Anjali thought Guides might be all about camping. Well, her picture shows how much fun it can be in the great outdoors!

Mmmmmmm ... Guide Biscuits. What more need I say, Maia?

One of our students who enjoys Guides