Achievement in the Girl Guide and Girl Scout programs has always been been measured by the completion of badges in a diverse array of areas. Skating was introduced to young women via - drum roll please - the Skater badge. In Great Britain, the badge was first introduced in the early twenties and evolved over the years as new syllabuses and badge designs were introduced in 1931, 1957 and 1978.
The 1933 syllabus for the Skater badge in Great Britain
Curiously, the popularity of the Skater badge in England waned during a high point in British skating history. It was discontinued in 1983, one year before Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean won Olympic gold with their still unmatched "Bolero" in Sarajevo. Liz Rimmer, an expert on the history of the Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in the UK, explained to me that "after 1983, there was a Sportswoman badge which skating would have come under with a vague syllabus for 'Individual' sports requiring the Guide to participate regularly and show progress by means of awards in their chosen sport." Over the years the Skater badge was in existence in Britain, the requirements evolved from the 1925 requirements of skating forwards and backwards unaided, performing inside and outside edges on both feet and executing the Dutch Roll to requiring skaters to be able to demonstrate basic school figures. By the thirties, the requirements were changed to note that "a holder of the Bronze Medal for Compulsory Figures (Ice or Rollers) of the National Skating Association of Great Britain qualifies for the badge provided that she passes clause 5." In case you're wondering, 'clause 5' required skaters to be able to explain outdoor ice safety.
Circa 1914, The Rosebuds offered Canadian youngsters between the ages of eight and eleven their first taste of the guiding movement and by 1924, the Skater badge was introduced here in Canada as part of the Ranger program, where it still remains part of the Brownie and Girl Guide programs today.
Take a look at the 1924 requirements below:
Things have changed drastically over the years, with considerably more options for young women than the British program. School figures, edges and three turns were consistently part of the syllabus early in the game but as early as 1948, you could earn the badge even if you weren't a figure skater by playing "a game of hockey or equivalent skating game."
The 1948 syllabus for the Skater badge in Canada
I have to offer a huge appreciation to both Ms. Rimmer and Katey Watson, the Archivist at the Girl Guides Of Canada, Ontario Council, for their amazing help in providing me with copies of the badge requirements over the years and background information about how the Skater badge has evolved. The Guiding program certainly deserves our respect for holding a very overlooked place in skating history.
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