An Unavoidable Disease?


Girl Guides Search and Rescue Dutchmans Pool Que Que Southern Rhodesia Gail Owen on branch R Jennifer Combrink Leslie Candy

An Unavoidable Disease?

Mom wished she had never grown up and remained fourteen forever.  She wanted to prolong the first stage of teenagedom through Guiding for every girl she could.  They were such a joy to work with then: helpful, cheerful and keen to learn. 

An Unavoidable Disease?

Besides our afternoon expeditions we went to camp often in the winter months of June, July and August. As I’ve already mentioned I had some hang-ups with issues of hygiene and the potential for disease of one sort or another.

Our camps were highly organized and began like this:

Cooks rose at 6.30 and got to work while the rest of the troop did P.T.( physical training i.e. calisthenics), after which we washed, aired our bedding, rolled up the brailing of our tents and got ready for inspection.

Then we all assembled in a horseshoe. The color party would raise the Guide flag.  One of the leaders, chosen at the Court of Honor the night before, would choose a prayer, and with the day’s program announced, we would all fall out, ready for the always substantial breakfast.  Grace would be sung, often in parts led by Dyllis and Gwyneth Lloyd, the daughters of the Welsh Minister of St. Stephen’s Presbyterian Church.

Breakfast typically consisted of mealie meal porridge (thick grits) with sugar and milk, scrambled eggs, sausages and fried tomato, followed by thick slices of brown bread with butter and spira gira jam (melon and ginger).  It was all washed down with lots of milky tea served from a huge enamel jug.

Breakfast over, the big job was washing up the big porridge pot, utensils, dish cloths and tea bag and tidying up the Quarter Master’s store.  The Health Patrol shoveled the latrines and cleaned the wash house with their hand carried water.  They laid the campfire after they had covered the rubbish pit.  Orderly Patrol cleaned and filled the lanterns ready for the evening, incinerated rubbish and collected wood for the fire.

With everything spick and span we were ready for inspections: personal and tent.

Then, it was time to work on our merit badges: Gadget Making, First Aid, Knotting, Nature Lore.

Tea came as a welcome break and then we played ‘wide games’: Tracks to Adventure Mom called it.  We went on nature rambles always with an objective in mind.  We were to return with a good bundle of firewood properly tied together with correct knots.  Or collect different woods and name them, make a fire and see which ones burned the fastest, which ones made the hottest ashes, saving a specimen of each for entry into the Nature Log Book.  We’d scavenger hunt with a bundle of wool scraps, match the colors in nature and identify the leaves, berries and twigs when we returned to camp.

Finally we’d test our knotting skills, help each other and trust each other with search and rescue exercises on the kopjes. That’s how friendships were forged.

All the other girls returned from Tracks to Adventure to normal lives by Sunday evening.  I couldn’t find my way to short shorts but did eventually find my way into a swimming costume.  Perhaps this was a perfect fit for me?  After lap practice the BSAP (British South Africa Police) water polo team would arrive.  I never managed to rope myself a policeman, but I had succumbed, despite Mom’s best efforts, to that most terrible of diseases: Boy Madness.