Erin as a Brownie.

Erin as a Brownie.

Clinging to the fifth bar of the monkey bars I peered down at the ground below me; to my seven year old self it looked a long way down, even though in reality it was little more than five feet. It was my third try at the assault course that weekend and the monkey bars were the final hurdle. I looked ahead and counted seven more bars to go! I wasn’t sure I could make it, the last three attempts I had fallen from the ninth bar.

“Come on Erin!” shouted Brown Owl from just behind me. “You can make it!”

My palms were sweaty but as I looked ahead again and saw Tawny Owl waiting at the end beckoning me forward I felt as though I could make it! I swung forward six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, and…YES made it!

Many of the clearest memories from my wonderful childhood are of experiences I had with the Brownies. Every Friday evening would be anticipated with great excitement, not knowing what novel and thrilling escapades were just around the corner! Each meeting I would learn something new: from knot tying to tie dying, biscuit baking to bird feeder making – a world of possibilities was open to me. It was such a marvellous place to enjoy being a young girl.

My most profound life lessons, however, were usually learnt on the adventures away from our weekly meetings at Brownie Camp. The annual holiday included everything from cooking meals and cleaning the house to hunting bugs and climbing the assault course. Although we were pushed to our limits (like I was on the monkey bars!) it allowed myself and the other girls a safe environment to conquer our fears and overcome challenges without worry of danger or embarrassment. Each camp I attended built my confidence and self-esteem; teaching me that if you were willing to ‘give things a go’ and ‘put in 100%’ you can achieve anything. With each passing year I became increasingly independent and every new experience instilled in me a greater enthusiasm for life.

Looking back it is clear to see the opportunities presented to me were invaluable in moulding me into the person I am today. My time with the Brownies taught me a great deal about what it is to be strong, passionate, and independent but by far the biggest lesson is that, in the words of Ellie from Disney Pixar’s film Up, “Adventure is out there!”

-Erin Sykes
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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