Sonia Faulkner, a GirlGuiding NZ alumnae member, tells her story of Guiding over the past 50 years!
Sonia grew up playing with her sister Linda and friends in Mount Wellington. Linda was already a Brownie when Sonia joined Guiding as a Brownie and Sonia “simply followed her lead”.
“I remember our first Guiding sleepover away from home” Sonia says, “putting our dad’s old army (sleeping) palliasse on the ground (we would have been more comfortable sleeping on the floor!). We had to manage being away from home for the first time. I was shy as a young girl, living in the shadow of my older sister, but being in Guiding gave me such confidence.”
“I remember receiving badges and, although I didn’t manage to get many in Brownies, I got the hang of it later as a Guide. One time we had to grow a plant for the Golden Hand assessment, and I had grown a lovely cactus which I was really proud of. As I was cycling to my assessment, I dropped my cactus and it disintegrated! I arrived with a sad looking mess, but they were very understanding, and I got my badge none-the-less. Every badge was a source of pride and achievement.
“Being away from parents and semi-autonomous with friends, it’s magic for kids. At one of the camps, we dug a hole in the bush, buried our stash of food and then had a midnight feast. We thought we were being clever but, of course, the rustling around and loud whispering meant that the Leaders knew!
“All the outdoor activities gave me such joy. Making ladders and rafts, playing memory games, doing Scouts Pace, learning about Baden-Powell, lighting a fire, and other challenges and assessments have all stuck with me.
“Guiding provides a common ground so that close relationships can be formed with the best people. I got to meet so many people throughout my time in Guides and then as a Leader of a unit. One of my greatest moments in Guiding as an adult was on the Energy Bus Road Show, travelling around the country to spread the vision of Guiding. We maintained and spread positivity and harmony that really embodied Guiding.
“Along the way in my Guiding journey, I learned to manage issues and develop leadership skills, things which I’ve transferred to adulthood, and many of which were especially useful in my career as a teacher. Much of what I love about Guides has found its way into my life – family, community, sharing skills, curiosity, learning about others etc. Now, I still mentor, train, volunteer occasionally and help with the national awards for GirlGuiding NZ. I am semi-retired and run my own business as a consultant trainer, belong to Zonta, am on various church committees, hang out with my grandson a couple times a week, and love to travel; Russia and Chile are my most recent destinations.
“Back when I was a girl, Guiding was very top-down; we just did what our Leaders said to do. But now, one of the mantras is ‘Girl-led’. The culture is now about what can we do, together, as a collective, and ensuring girls’ have a voice in what affects them. I love that Guiding gives you a mentality that shows that when you work together, nothing is impossible. Be courageous, take on opportunities and grow. Just do it.”
If you were part of GirlGuiding NZ as a girl or a volunteer, you can join an Alumnae group near you. More information on the link here.