Be Pre­pared

Carbonear woman re­flects on her in­volve­ment in the Girl Guide move­ment


Fifty years is a long time to serve in any or­ga­ni­za­tion. But this vet­eran Carbonear Girl Guider has en­joyed ev­ery minute of it. Serv­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion has been a re­ward­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

The Girl Guide motto Be Pre­pared is more than just slo­gan to Priscilla Earle, nee Moores, of Carbonear, they’re words to live by.

In her life­time Earle, 77, has faced many ups and downs, ex­pe­ri­enced many dif­fi­cul­ties, but for the most part was able to ad­dress them by be­ing pre­pared to do the right thing at the right time.

Earle says she got her start in pos­i­tive think­ing from the Guid­ing Move­ment, an or­ga­ni­za­tion she joined as a young child. Al­though she is no longer an ac­tive mem­ber, she still fol­lows the motto Be Pre­pared and still con­sid­ers her­self a Girl Guide. Some­time next spring Earle will re­ceive a 50-year mem­ber­ship pin from the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

A few weeks ago The Com­pass sat down with the en­er­getic se­nior to talk about her in­volve­ment in the Girl Guide move­ment as both a mem­ber and a leader. When and where were you born?

Earle: I was born in 1932 in Montreal and moved to New­found­land when I was a baby. When did you join the Girl Guides?

Earle: I was ac­tu­ally a Brownie first. I joined when I was a lit­tle girl. The only mem­ory I have of be­ing a Brownie is of my Aunt Ruby tak­ing me to the old Or­ange Hall and giv­ing me a pic­ture book. I came up through the Brown­ies and when I got old enough, about 12, joined the Girl Guides. We met once a week up­stairs in the old school, just a bunch of us girls. It was so much fun! We were organized in pa­trols of about six or eight girls. We played games, did a lot of crafts and worked on our badges, many of which I still have to­day. We also sang a lot of songs and played sports too, but the main fo­cus was learn­ing the im­por­tance of be­ing hon­est and of be­ing a good friend. My mother and my aunt en­cour­aged me to join and I’ve never re­gret­ted it. Two of the Guide leaders (Florence Par­sons and Florence Penny) were also my teach­ers in school, but they were very dif­fer­ent in Guides than they were in school. In Guide meet­ings they were laid back and fun, just one of the girls, but in school they were strictly the teacher. The two roles were very dif­fer­ent. How­ever we all knew when they were Guide leaders and when they were teach­ers. We were never con­fused about that.

As in Earle’s day, to­day’s Guid­ing move­ment teaches young women how to be good cit­i­zens. It is also a fun place where girls can ex­pe­ri­ence new things, meet new peo­ple, make new friends, and chal­lenge them­selves in a safe place with other girls. They learn about them­selves, and about the world around them. Camp­ing and the out­door life is still very much a part of the Girl Guide ex­pe­ri­ence. Girls also learn about re­spect­ing each other, re­spect­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, and how to be­come re­spon­si­ble adults.

What are some of your fond­est mem­o­ries about the Guid­ing move­ment?

Earle: We went on a lot of pa­rades and had to walk long dis­tances some­times, but it was some­thing we al­ways looked for­ward to. We also sold pop­pies for Re­mem­brance Day to hon­our the war vet­er­ans, and for­get-me-knot flow­ers in the spring to hon­our the ser­vice men. We each had a cer­tain area in Carbonear that we were re­spon­si­ble to cover. I re­mem­ber go­ing door-to-door sell­ing them, that was some­thing I re­ally en­joyed.

I got to go to sum­mer camp in Bot­wood a few times as well. We slept in can­vas tents on the ground. There was no such thing as air mat­tresses back then in 1946 and we didn’t have sleep­ing bags, only blan­kets. We also had to make our own fire too, we didn’t have the con­ve­nience of a fire pit like nowa­days. At sum­mer camp I was able to meet many new friends,; it also gave me the op­por­tu­nity to travel and see a bit of the prov­ince, which would not have been pos­si­ble oth­er­wise. In those days you didn’t get to drive or go places like we do now. Sum­mer camp was a big ex­cit­ing trip.

I also made some life-long friends through the Guide pro­gram and at sum­mer camp. One girl, Pat Gushue from Grand Falls, and I met years later when we were at­tend­ing school at

Montreal. An­other mem­ory I have of be­ing in the Guides is go­ing to town by train to sing in a CBC Christ­mas pro­gram. It was a mis­er­able old day, but we were all ex­cited. When I got to the rail­way sta­tion I re­al­ized I had left my Guide tam home. Now that was some­thing you did not do... for­get part of your uni­form when you were out in pub­lic. Any­way I raced back home and I mean raced! I was so scared I was go­ing to miss the train. How­ever it all worked out bet­ter than I could have hoped it would be­cause when I ar­rived home my Un­cle Bill Duff was there with $10 for me. In those days that was a small for­tune! Af­ter­ward I was some glad I had left my tam home. I took the money to town with me and used most of it to buy sheet mu­sic for band.

Was the Girl Guide uni­form the same as it is to­day?

Earle: It was sim­i­lar in style. We wore blue skirts, long navy blue shirts, tams and black shoes on our feet. Our shoes had to be shined too, we wouldn’t dare go to meet­ings with dull looking shoes. We wore our badges on our sleeves back then, but now they are worn on a sash. The leaders also had whis­tles, which were worn around our neck.

It was not ac­cept­able to wear just a part of the uni­form, we had to wear the whole works.

The Girl Guide move­ment has been a part of Cana­dian so­ci­ety since 1910. It be­gan in Bri­tain in 1909, when Robert Baden-Pow­ell, founder of the Boy Scouts, asked his sis­ter Agnes to start a sim­i­lar or­ga­ni­za­tion for girls. Girl Guides was a way for girls to get to­gether in an organized way to help them de­velop their life skills. In ad­di­tion to ac­tiv­i­ties sim­i­lar to the Boy Scouts, such as camp­ing and tracking in the wilder­ness, they learned all of the skills nec­es­sary to run a home.

Did you ever get to meet Lady BadenPow­ell?

Earle: Yes I got to meet Lady Baden Pow­ell, the World Chief Guide, sev­eral times ac­tu­ally. It was a pretty ex­cit­ing time. We held an af­ter­noon tea in hon­our of her visit to Carbonear and she talked to us about the im­por­tance of be­ing a guide and also praised us for all our ef­forts and the work we did on Think­ing Day. As Guides we al­ways helped out in the com­mu­nity when­ever we could, but each year on Think­ing Day (Feb. 20) we went the ex­tra mile. That was a day of ser­vice when the guides per­formed spe­cial work in their com­mu­ni­ties.

Priscilla Earle went right through the Girl Guide pro­gram and when she turned 17 be­came a leader. For many years she also served as District Com­man­der and Divi­sional Com­man­der. While she was known for pro­mot­ing the or­ga­ni­za­tion and tak­ing many young girls un­der her wing, she never looked for credit or praise. In fact ac­cord­ing to many Carbonear res­i­dents she shun at­ten­tion pre­fer­ring to work qui­etly and dili­gently be­hind the scenes to keep the or­ga­ni­za­tion and its goals alive. She re­mained an ac­tive leader un­til she was well into her 50’s.

Have you no­ticed many changes in the Guid­ing move­ment over the years?

Earle: Oh yes in­deed. It’s harder now to keep mem­ber­ship up be­cause there are so many other ac­tiv­i­ties on the go for girls to be in­volved in. When I was young there were only a cou­ple of or­ga­ni­za­tions on the go.

In 1948 Priscilla mar­ried Fred Earle and had five chil­dren: Lyn, Priscilla (Babs), Pegi, John Nor­man (de­ceased) and Fred Jr.

She says she has just one re­gret about her in­volve­ment in the Girl Guide pro­gram.

“Nei­ther of my older girls, Lyn and Babs, were in­volved in the or­ga­ni­za­tion. Pegi joined and loved it, but the other two didn’t. I re­ally wish now they had been part of it,” she said.

In her spare time Earle en­joys read­ing and spending al­most ev­ery af­ter­noon at her cabin on Big Fling’s Pond Road.

Denise Pike/The Com­pass

POS­I­TIVE THINKER-Priscilla Earle, 77, dis­plays the uni­form she wore while vol­un­teer­ing as a Girl Guide leader in Carbonear. Earle spent 50 years as a Brownie, Girl Guide and leader.

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