Every month, we like to get to know a member of our amazing Victorian Guiding community a little better. This month we caught up with Belinda Pritchard, Unit Leader and Youth Adventure Manager.
A Unit Leader at Maryborough Butterfly Guides and avid hiker, Belinda has been part of the Guiding community since she was 7.
In 2021, after realising that other Guiding adults were looking to gain more experience with hiking, Belinda started an Adult Hiking Group for Girl Guides Victoria members. The group has proved to be a resounding success, with members regularly embarking on bushwalks and overnight hikes throughout Victoria.
How did your Guiding journey start, and what made you decide to become a volunteer with Girl Guides Victoria?
I started as a Brownie in Heidelberg, then continued as a Guide and Ranger Guide in Maryborough. When I moved to St Arnaud in 2000 and found that they were in need of leaders, what else could I do but join up and help!
I had loved my time as a Guide, I had fond memories of the friends, experiences and skills I gained and I wanted to be a part of that journey for other girls and young women. I decided to continue to volunteer as a leader because I wanted to provide opportunities for girls to get involved in outdoor and adventurous activities, learn new skills, and develop confidence in leadership.
What have you learned from running the Adult Hiking Group?
I’ve found that when they’re not supervising Youth, Guiding adults really do enjoy getting together in a relaxed environment for an opportunity to connect, learn from each other, socialise, and sometimes even talk about their Guiding experiences.
Valuing our volunteers and providing opportunities to develop their own confidence, relationships and skills is so important, and the hiking group provides this experience. And it’s a great excuse to get out on a hike!
What’s something unexpected that being a Girl Guides volunteer has taught you?
How valuable guiding is for adults, not just youth! The personal development opportunities that Guiding provides adult women are invaluable, and I’ve seen these benefits firsthand in other Guiding volunteers.
Aside from Guiding, what do you like to do in your spare time?
Apart from hiking?! With family and full time work, I’m not left with a lot of spare time, but when I can I like to read a good book, go camping with family and friends, and spend time in nature.
What’s the best hike you’ve ever been on – and why is it your favourite?
Probably the Walls of Jerusalem in Tasmania – I’d been wanting to do that hike for over 30 years, and finally got there earlier this year. It’s a truly magical place, and that hike really fulfilled my need for a challenge and gave me time to appreciate how special our wild places are. The highlight was seeing two endangered Eastern Quolls at camp! Sadly no photos, but a very special experience.
Who was your role model growing up?
That would have to be my amazing Mum. She’s always lived by her strong values, and as a Guide Leader herself she is passionate about helping other girls and young women be the best they can be. She encouraged me to follow my own passions and supported me in everything I did, and she led by example!