Girl Guides Singapore marks 100 years with awards to over 130 leaders and volunteers

To celebrate 100 years, Girl Guides is publishing a set of four books about Guiding values and principles.
To celebrate 100 years, Girl Guides is publishing a set of four books about Guiding values and principles.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - From building campfires and roasting marshmallows to doing service work in Cambodia, Girl Guides leaders and teachers have seen and done it all.

More than 130 such leaders and volunteers were recognised on Friday (July 21) at the Girl Guides Singapore (GGS) Centennial Awards Ceremony, held at the Istana to celebrate GGS' 100th anniversary this year.

The Girl Guide Movement here started in 1917, as a district of the Malaysian Association of Girl Guides. The first company was founded at St Mary's Home and was later transferred to the Church of England Zenana Missionary Society School, which is now St Margaret's School.

The centennial awards event was graced by GGS patron Mrs Mary Tan and GGS council president Ms Chang Hwee Nee, among other distinguished guests.

Said Ms Chang: "Building a multi-generational, multi-skilled network of volunteers is extremely important to GGS because we know girls develop knowledge, confidence and character by learning from role models."

GGS has close to 9,000 active members in more than 190 Brownies (the primary school Girl Guides unit) and Guides units. Guiding is offered as a co-curricular activity in more than half of the primary and secondary schools here.

The award recipients ranged from between 22 and 86 years old - with some having served for 65 years.

One long-time member is 84-year-old Mdm Chan Siok Fong, who has seen Singapore ride through challenging years of early independence in her 60 years of service with the Girl Guides. She became the chief commissioner of the Guide Company in 1967.

"I am not what I am today without Guiding," she said. "It taught me discipline and it gave me friendships that have lasted from the 1960s."

Her wish in the next century is that Guiding continues to be an appealing activity for girls.

"The Guides' values of being sincere, loyal and responsible are always relevant," she said. "Young girls now can choose so many activities that give them freedom, and Guiding requires discipline and obligation which they might not like."

"But I hope they will still give it a try. It isn't just about hiking or campfires, but these experiences extend to affect their growth and impact their adult life."

GGS stated that their enrollment numbers have remained fairly steady, with about 9,000 recruits per year. It still remains the largest all-girl co-curricular activity in schools.

Another award recipient was 22-year-old Joceline Yong, who has served for 10 years and was involved in the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in March 2016.

Speaking about her experience at the UN commission, Ms Yong said: "In secondary school, sometimes we see it (Girl Guides) as just another uniformed group, but now I realise it is such a large movement that can make an impact outside my own sphere."

To celebrate 100 years of guiding, GGS is also publishing a set of four books about Guiding values and principles.

The stories are written by Brownies and Guides from Holy Innocents Primary School, Haig Girls' School, Methodist Girls' School (Secondary) and River Valley High School. They were chosen out of 30 entries by a panel of judges from Girl Guides and the Ministry of Education.