Teen Organisation Prepares to Celebrate 100 years 童子军成立100年庆祝活动
They can put up a tent, give first aid and cook on a campfire – these are the Girl Guides, a very British institution that formed a sisterhood across the world before the age of social networking.
There are ten million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in over 140 countries, according to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), and they are preparing to celebrate their 100th anniversary in October. In London, thousands of members will take part in a song and dance event in Trafalgar Square.
The Guides' motto is "be prepared" and it offers teenagers a series of outdoor activities based on physical fitness, survival skills and support for the community.
The first girls to enter the Scouts movement had to fight to get in. The Boy Scouts Association was organised in the early years of the 20th century, when Robert Baden-Powell, a famous army general, tried out his ideas for training boys at a camp.
At the Scouts' first rally, at Crystal Palace Park in 1909, several small groups of girls turned up. They represented hundreds of other girls and insisted that they wanted to be Scouts too.
In an age when skirts were ankle-length and young ladies never ran, the idea of girls being involved in camping, hiking and similar activities received a mixed response. Angry critics denounced girl scouting as a "foolish and pernicious movement", according to the WAGGGS website.
However, Baden-Powell had a scheme for girls in mind and in 1910 he formed the Girl Guides, asking his sister Agnes to look after the new organisation.
A book launched this month said that the guides even had a role in the war effort during World War II. According to How Girl Guides Won the War, girls were earning badges as proficient electricians, mechanics and first-aiders. In many ways the Girls Guiding movement has been a driving force in the fight for women's equality.
Being a Girl Guide can be an unforgettable experience for many girls. As former Girl Guide, Lynne from Newbury explains, "At 54 years of age I am still using the skills I learned as a guide over 40 years ago, from survival techniques to knotting."