We're Brownie Guides, we're Brownie Guides, we're here to lend a hand.
We love our God and serve our Queen and help our homes and lands.
We're Brownie Guides, we're Brownie Guides from North South East and West.
We join together in our wish to try to do our best.
When I think back to my old Brownie days, this little dittie immediately springs to mind - the words, the tune and the image of girls skipping around in a circle, holding hands. Strange how the mind works and what you remember....
My sister and I both spent a good part of our childhood as members of our local Brownie pack and my memories of these times are strong and hugely significant. One thing I don't remember however, is questioning the meaning of the words above or indeed the Brownie Promise. The presence of God was as much a part of Brownies, as the brown bobble hat.
As with most 7-10 year old girls in Britain, my daughters were both a part of Brownies and are now Girl Guides. Upon joining both organisations, they were expected to make a pledge; a slightly updated version of the one that I had made some 35 years before. Their promise went like this:
I promise that I will do my best,
to love my God,
to serve my Queen and Country
and to keep the Brownie Guide Law.
One of the many things I have always admired about the Girl Guiding movement is that it has an element of spirituality. Whether your God be Allah or the Christian God, the acceptance of a higher 'being' has always been present - their colours are 'nailed to the mast' as it were. The Promise is clear, concise and easy for the girls to remember....or at least it was.
Last week, I received an email informing me that the Girl Guiding movement has decided to change the Promise once more. Why? Because the girls "are struggling to understand what it really means". The email went on to say...."we can now open our arms to embrace even more girls from all faiths and none, and bring them into the Guiding family".
In other words, like many other British institutions, the Girl Guiding movement has bowed to the pressure of society and changed their Promise to something which quite frankly is wishy-washy at best and cowardly at worst. If you're not familiar with the new words, here they are:
I promise that I will do my best:
To be true to myself and develop my beliefs,
To serve the Queen and my community,
To help other people and
To keep the (Brownie) Guide Law.
I know that the Brownie uniform was updated to bring it in-line with current trends and let's face it, ditching the brown bobble hat and desperately unattractive dress was probably the best thing they ever did, but are we now dumping God out with the bobble hat?! When did God become old-fashioned?!
I accept that schools need to consider carefully what they teach, making sure that no nationalities or religions are alienated or insulted, but belonging to the Brownies is not compulsory; it's a decision that you make for your own child, just like attending a Judo class or taking up horse-riding.
If you don't agree with the morals behind an organisation or feel that it's too one-sided, then perhaps don't send your child there!
I know of many people who opted for 'Woodcraft Folk' over Brownies, because of their religious beliefs and I totally respect that. I also know others who chose Brownies because they wanted their child to have a spiritual influence in their lives and the Girl Guiding movement was always very transparent about that being important.
Reading between the lines, I think they hope that by changing the Promise, more girls will want to join; perhaps they worry that by mentioning God, they are alienating themselves from new members. The strange thing is that our local pack has an enormous waiting list and it's been this way for decades; even when the old Promise was in use and God was still in vogue.
Do you send your child to Brownies or Guides? What do you think of the updated Promise? Do you think it's important for organisations like this to change with the times? Have you ever even considered the words in the Promise?
Suzanne is a mum to 3 children and 1 'It' (the dog, not the OH!). She blogs with honesty and humour about the ups and downs of family life.
Blogs at: 3 Children and it