11 DECEMBER 1909, Page 14



Srn,—The letter and editor's footnote in your last issue under the heading of "Girl Scouts" call for some reply from one who has really studied the new scheme. Let me, in the first place, state that I am entirely in agreement with certain points in Miss Markham's letter. If, as she says, the movement is to lead to girls "being out late at night," -" returning soaked through" and in an excited and lawless state of mind, in fact, losing their self-respect, then it is surely to be condemned. Public opinion is naturally against "military co-education" by mixing Boy Scouts and girls, and anything of the sort would injure the former movement. But before utterly con- demning it, it is fair to look into the new scheme, as outlined in the November number of the Headquarters Gazette, from which I will quote. The girls' organisation is to be known as the "Girl Guides," the charming idea being that, "if we want the manhood of the country to be men of character, it is essential that the future mothers and wives—the ' guides ' of these men—should also be women of character." "Girls must be partners and comrades rather than dolls." "As things are, one sees our streets crowded in the evenings with girls, overdressed and idling, learning to live aimless, unprofit- able lives." Ladies have pressed me to start Girl Guides in this village to stop the girls " frequenting " the lanes of an evening. What is the remedy ? Surely it is worth while giving this scheme a trial. Better that a girl should become a " tomboy " than an idle doll with poor morals. But this scheme is not in any respect designed to produce "tomboys," but to encourage refinement and self-respect combined with utility. Miss Markham instances a scratch troop of Girl Scouts, badly managed by a "Master," but the new scheme is to be entirely in the hands of ladies' com- mittees, and a company may only be officered by ladies. There is to be no "ranging the country with a pole," except that organised country walks to teach observation, Nature study, &c., will be held. To illustrate the real utility of the things taught, I cannot do better than quote the testa of skill required for the various "efficiency badges." To obtain the "Red Cross" which Miss Markham takes exception to, the girls must pass in all branches of first aid and hospital nursing, and have a good knowledge of the laws of health and sanitation, so rare nowadays. There are badges for cooking, to include washing up and waiting at table ; nursing, to include care of children and elementary instruction; music; art, to include drawing, painting, carving, &c. ; tailoring, for sewing, &c. ; florist, for knowledge of gardening and wild flowers ; masseuse, for anatomy and massage; and so on. The signal- ling which Miss Markham deprecates is an excellent form of physical drill, since it not only exercises the body without strain, but also the brain. I have the greatest admiration for girls' clubs such as Miss Markham's, but they are not possible everywhere. The "Girl Guides" will attract every class of girl, from the most retiring to the most "modern"; not only will it attract, but it will hold them, and possibly form a " feeder " to the Territorial organisation of voluntary aid, a desirable object, which the Spectator would be the last to