Estonian Guide Association (EGL)
Girl Guiding/Girl Scouting introduced: 1919
Number of Girl Guides/Girl Scouts: 776 (01/01/2003)
Status: Full Member
Admits boys: Yes
Eesti Gaidide Liit
I solemnly promise to do my very best:
To fulfil my responsibilities to my god and Estonia, to help my neighbour and at all times to fulfil the Guide law.
A Guide is honest and trustworthy
A Guide fulfils her/his responsibility to her/his god, country, parents and leaders
A Guide is helpful and friendly
A Guide is polite and obliging
A Guide is a friend to nature and animals
A Guide is cheerful and is not afraid of difficulties
A Guide is diligent, thrifty and persistent
A Guide is clean in her/his words, thoughts and deeds
Development of the movement:
Girl Guiding reached Estonia in 1919 when the first Guide unit was formed in Tallinn. As elsewhere, the forerunner of Estonian Guiding was the Scout Movement, and the first Guide units came into being as part of Scout units. The first independent district was formed in Tallinn, in March 1920. The next year, independent districts were formed in Tartu and Valga.
The foundation of the national organization was laid by forming the Headquarters of the Estonian Girl Guide Association in 1924. At the first Estonian Girl Guide Congress in 1926, work started on standardizing the Guide uniforms, Guide Promise badge and the requirements for the various tests.
The international relations of the organization began as early as 1922. The Estonian Girl Guide Association became a member of the International Council in 1922, and in 1928 was accepted as a founder member of the newly formed WAGGGS.
At the end of the 1920s, Estonian Guiding had overcome the early difficulties, and the development of the organization was stabilized. The founding of a parallel girls’ organization (Home Daughters-Kodutütred) as a youth movement of the Estonian Women’s Defence League Auxiliary Corps at the beginning of the 1930s brought problems to the Guide Movement. Soon, the rivalry which had developed between the two organizations had a positive effect on the Guide programme.
The attempts to unite all Scout/Guide organizations by a law of organizing youth from 1936 onwards had no effect on these girls’ organizations. Guides and Home Daughters worked side by side, until all youth organizations were closed by the Soviet authorities for opposing them in 1940. At that time there were 2,500 members in the Estonian Girl Guide Association. After its official liquidation, some groups continued their work underground during the Soviet, and also German, occupation until 1944.
The political situation in Estonia was very complicated in 1944. Many of the people decided to leave their homes and flee to Sweden or Germany, with the hope of returning. Estonian Guiding and Scouting was built up again in camps in Sweden and Germany, and then spread all over the world. Wherever any Guide leader arrived, there soon arose an Estonian Guide unit. The first units were formed in Sweden in 1944, in Canada and the USA in 1949, in Australia in 1950, and in Argentina in 1951. In Germany, the organization was restored in 1953, and in Brazil an Estonian Guide unit was formed in 1968. A central organization, Estonian Girl Guides in Exile, was established in 1949. Nowadays the Estonian Guides in Exile are working in Canada, Sweden and the USA.
Restoration of Guiding in Estonia began in 1988. Troops and groups formed began activities in different locations across the country. Two separate Guide organizations were formed in 1989 – the historically based Eesti Gaidide Malev and the newly formed Eesti Gaidide Ühendus – and the first national events were held in 1989/90. In 1992 these two girls’ organizations formed a federation in order to facilitate membership of WAGGGS. That membership was reinstated in 1993 and in the Congress of 1999 the two separate organizations joined to form a single, strong, unified Estonian Guide Organization called Estonian Guides Association.
The Programme team follows the completion of the organization’s programme by local leaders, carries out a continuous research among the leaders to find out the advantages and disadvantages of the programme, gathers information about the changes in Estonian youth policy, is informed about changes taking place at schools and renews the programme according to the data gathered.
The EGL programme has been created according to WAGGGS’ principles, including a two-level programme for Brownies, three-level programme for Guides and specific requirements for Rovers. The Brownies’ programme stresses working in a group with the aim of the child’s development. Programme includes many group-orientated events such as camps, meetings with and visits to different institutions and organizations. The Guide programme adds social development to individual development, where attention is paid to nationwide events such as camps and hikes as well as long-term projects. Rovers’ priority is to help the development processes of a young adult, recognising personal responsibility for the society, creating a proper citizen for both the Estonian republic and the World, that is achieved among other activities also through international work and self-initiated projects.
In fulfilling the programme, the main emphasis is on local activities carried out by groups including serving society, getting to know minority groups and working with people with specific needs. An important part of the programme is also nationwide planned events (camps, hikes, etc.) and projects (international cooperation, crime prevention etc.).
Relationship to society:
EGL wants to be seen as an organization that prepares youth for successful participation in an educative society. To achieve these goals special workshops have been formed in various areas of youth work. Some of the many projects currently carried out are the integration of members of the Russian-speaking community, a Christmas project ‘Christmas Village’, cooperation in publishing a children’s magazine ‘Hea laps’ (Good Child) and camps for non-members.
Communication and Co-operation
Estonian Guides have a good relationship with the Scouts, other youth organizations and the Government. Some activities have been organized jointly.
Activities have been better publicized recently and steps are being implemented to improve information flow both within the organization and between Estonian Guides and the community. This is done, for example, with the publishing of newsletters and a website. Communication has also been improved between the Estonian Guides and various international Guiding/Scouting organizations, including the Estonian Guides in Exile and the Guides and Scouts of Finland.
EGL strives to create an image of an open organization offering quality training and activities which are founded on internationally recognised principles as well as using a personal approach and offering variable and challenging programmes for each individual. A wide variety of training courses are held throughout the year, some in co-operation with the Scouts or other NGOs. They range from introductory seminars to introduce Estonian Guiding to the community to courses held in conjunction with WAGGGS to improve various aspects of programme and training. Our Young Leaders have also participated in various relevant international training events to gain a wider perspective of Guiding and to bring new and fresh ideas back to Estonia to be incorporated at both local and national levels. The EGL training scheme has been submitted to WAGGGS for accreditation.
Outdoor and Environmental Activities
Camping is a very popular activity amongst Estonian Guides. Over the years many camps have been held throughout Estonia and have ranged from troop-level to organization-level events. The most recent camp was a joint endeavour organized by staff made up of leaders from both Guide and Scout organizations and with participants from all over the country. It was an excellent opportunity for members and leaders to work and play together in an outdoor environment and participate in various events and to work in a true spirit of co-operation. There is also a ten-year tradition of autumn hikes organised by a West-Estonian Scout and Guide Troop.