Another Coffee from the February, 1992 Deep Cove Crier
Short and Sweet:
Tips for living the abundant life
‘Olave Baden Powell and Madonna: Female Role Models For Better or Worse…’One of the most loved and fondly remembered women of the 20th century is Olave Baden Powell, founder of the worldwide Guiding movement. Girls and young women today often have few healthy models on which to base their life. One only has to think of the infamous rock star Madonna or the Royal "Fergie" to realize how much we need role models like Lady Baden Powell.
Olave Baden Powell, who died in 1977, was a woman who loved and cared for millions, and in return was loved and cared for by millions. Olave energetically led a movement which now includes over 8 million Sparks, Brownies, Guides, and Pathfinders (and over 500 girls in the Seymour/Deep Cove area). She was radically unselfish, always thinking of the other, always thinking of a way to serve her fellow human being. She and her husband Robert both believed that "happiness comes not from what we have but from what we give and what we share", Lady Baden Powell was a wonderful example of what true Christianity is all about: loving God and loving your neighbour as yourself. One of the most distinctive things about Olave was her smile. Her smile was not that of politeness put on for an occasion but of honest to goodness enjoyment of what she was doing. It was a most infectious smile. People felt it quite impossible not to give an answering grin when they met her sparkling eyes and smiling mouth face to face.
Though raised in an affluent upper class home, Olave did not find life to be always easy. Her father Harold Soames was a restless artist who uprooted his family six times in nine short years, and was often away painting overseas. The affluent life of leisure bored Olave and left her longing to do something useful with her life. But even her small effort at amusing and teaching handicapped boys was frowned upon by her family, because it interfered with her daily schedule of tennis and squash. Her parents had initial feelings of reluctance over Olave marrying a man more than thirty years older than her. But when her mother Katherine found out that Olave intended to join the Guides and to throw her lot in with "those wild girls", her mother was horrified. The name "Girl Guide" was anathema to her mother. Sadly she never overcame her dislike of Olave’s work, even going to such lengths as running away and hiding if she thought Guides were about to appear. Olave was never allowed to be in Guide Uniform in her mother’s presence. Her mother’s resentment of Guiding was deeply hurtful to Olave, and drove a wedge between an otherwise close relationship.
Initially Olave was not greatly interested in Girl Guides, for she preferred to serve as a Lady Scout Master for a Boy Scout Troop in Ewhurst, England. When she first offered her services to the Girl Guides (at her husband’s request), they turned her down because they felt that she was too young and inexperienced!
Given the deep rejection of Olave by the Guiding Movement, What motivated her to not give up?
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St. Simon's Anglican Church
North Vancouver, B.C.