The Guide badge of Vicar School

A little known fact about me – depending on how long you’ve known me – is that I am a warranted Guider. (Well, I was. Warrants expire after 5 years and that happened to me in 2007.) It might come as no surprise to those that have known me a while that I was something of a try-hard Guide and Brownie.

Uniforms? Yes please!
Hierarchy structure with leadership potential? Count me in!
International network and history? Ooh, fascinating!
Multiple badges? When can I start?!

It was the badges that really got me. In my first week of being a Brownie, I’d read the handbook cover to cover and established exactly what I needed to do in order to gain the Footpath, Road and Highway badges (you did one a year over a three year period). I’d learnt all I needed to learn in order to get enrolled – and yes, I can still tell the story of Betty, Timmy and the talking owl from memory.

I joined Brownies back in the days of brown dresses with a strict badge etiquette. Interest badges (the subject, free-choice ones) went down the right arm (and then down the left, if you were especially try-hard). There were rules over badges that needed to be removed once you’d passed another year (promise badges) or gained another annual merit (the Footpath/Road/Highway series); plus badges that had to go beneath or above others. It was complicated…

Can you believe I found this image on eBay
Who would want to sell their complete Brownie history? More to the point, who would want to buy it? 
By Guides, the new uniforms with sashes had arrived, but the lack of sleeve challenge didn’t quash my motivation to gain as many badges as possible. Fear not, the uniform’s designers had thought of that – there was an extra-long sash for such circumstances! My try-hardness did not go unrewarded – I reached the pinnacle of achieving the Baden Powell Trefoil Award. [At the presentation evening, my parents heard how all those receiving the honour had done multiple good deeds and had done much hiking and camping. They wondered how on earth I’d managed to gain the badge without ever having done any hiking and only 2 nights of camping…]

Guide badges aplenty

Weirdly, this sash is nearly identical to mine – down to the three-stripe Pack Leader badge and Young Leader badge tab bearing a Baden Powell Trefoil. (Found here.)

Anyway, before I descend into too deep a Guiding reverie, my point is that I appear to have discovered the Guide badge of Vicar School – although sadly, as far as I’m aware, we don’t actually get a physical badge in return for our efforts. (Which is a shame, as I bet cassocks would look a lot more interesting with lines of badges on them.)

What we do get is 60 credits towards our theology degree – the equivalent of three modules. All we have to do is prepare an ‘Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning’ portfolio. I say ‘all’, it’s hands-down one of the most tedious missions I’ve ever engaged in, involving endless tasks akin to the most frustrating application form you’ve ever completed – you know, the kind that basically ask the same question 7 times, but expect you to answer it a different way and with different evidence every time. (Anyone who’s had the pleasure of applying for a Methodist job would be familiar with such a thing.)

The Guide badge similarity dawned on my while I read through the process back in April, while on board Eurostar. [Oh yes, I am so try-hard that I started work on this thing a full 8 months before it was due. I’d be impressed with myself, but one of my class-mates had already handed hers in by that point.] There, I came across the instruction: ‘Find a shoe box (or box file) and fill it with anything that might be offered as evidence for your learning…’ I’m pretty sure that was the exact same instruction when preparing for the Baden Powell Trefoil – except this time I don’t have to cook anything over a campfire; organise a sing-song; or help with a Brownie pack for two years.

However, right now, having spent 90 minutes of my Wednesday evening filling in endless boxes proving that I do indeed have key skills, a campfire looks really rather appealing. Maybe to make the process a happier one, I’ll design a badge I can award myself with once I’ve finished the beast. If anyone would like to suggest an image for it, then please do so…

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