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Byron Shire
July 20, 2024

Girl Guide leader needed in Brunswick Heads

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Girl Guides leader, Deanna ‘Beaver’ Bowen-Sudmals said that the girls decide what their leader’s name will be and because she is Canadian, they chose the beaver, a loveable, cooperative and motivated mammal. Photo Tree Faerie.

With women’s issues front and centre across the nation, Girl Guides is one of the places that young girls can learn some of the skills helpful in making them empowered women of the future.

Canadian Deanna Bowen-Sudmals says she has been a guide most of her life. ‘I went from Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders, Rangers and Leadership in Canada before moving to Australia and joining Girl Guides as a leader.’

Ms Bowen-Sudmals who has both of her own girls enrolled in Guides, says the program has truly shaped who she is. ‘The woman I am today is in large part due to the incredible and impactful experience Guiding has had on my life.’

Empowering young girls and women

Maija says what she loves about Guides is the wide variety of activities available in the one program. Photo Tree Faerie.

Bowen-Sudmal says she is passionate about empowering young girls and women and wishes to continue to run the Brunswick Heads unit going forward.

‘Over the years the Byron, Mullumbimby, Clunes and Tweed Units have all closed.  Brunswick keeps going despite a few closures over the years.’

Bowen-Sudmals says she has lifelong friendships with people that she met through guiding that she never would have met through school or an other avenue.

Bowen-Sudmals  says she feels character development is really important. ‘I learned a lot of skills – there were some challenges, like sliding down hills in the rain in a canoe, portaging in the middle of a forest, getting bitten by bugs – that builds character. But I guess the other thing for me is, this is an organisation whose purpose is to empower young women and girls and to create future leaders of the world. And as a feminist, that’s important for me to have this safe space for young women.’

21st-century Guiding

Brunswick Girl Guides Girl Guides May, Maija, Emi and leader Deanna Bowen-Sudmals at the Brunswick Heads Guides Hall. Photo Tree Faerie.

Bowen-Sudmals says that Guiding has moved into the 21st century but there are still strict Guide-lines. When I did badges, there was your housekeeping badge, with a little broom –  now the focus now is on community service, adventure, skill development and the outdoors. There are high levels that Guides can pursue in the organisation, the Queen’s Guide being the highest level of recognition.

‘But there are rules, and they’re designed to keep girls safe. This is why, for example, I need another leader to help me run a unit for safety reasons, we need an extra person. It’s our job to keep the girls safe.’

Guides offers activities that school doesn’t

Seventeen-year-old Maija started as a Guide and is now a senior Guide. Maija says Guides offers activities that school doesn’t. ‘A lot of people do out-of-school activities, they play a sport, or they’re part of a club and I feel like with Guides you can do so many different things and it’s all just one program. We can go camping, but we also can do arts and crafts inside and canoeing and archery. It’s a way that I can do so many different things.’

Maija says she has developed really good friendships with all the girls that she has been through Guides with but will most likely finish her journey as a Guide when she finishes school. ‘I think I’ll probably take some time away from Guides, but I’m interested in coming back in the future maybe as a leader, and maybe when I have kids, when I have girls, they’ll most likely be joining Girl Guides.’

Currently, the Brunswick Girls Guides only has one leader to cover the three age groups. Ideally, another five or six leaders would be a big help but for the moment Deanna is hoping to get one to keep the group going.

The time commitment can be as little as two hours a week right up to helping at weekend campouts.

‘My co-leader has resigned and as we must have two leaders to run a unit, I am desperate to find another leader,’ says Ms Bowen-Sudmals.’

Anyone who is interested in joining the Guides or being a leader can contact Deanna at: [email protected].


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