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Girl Guides – ADHD Style!

Girl Guides and ADHD...they gave a badge for starting fires, but I don't think that's what they meant...
Did someone say “Starting fires?”

Girl Guides. They had me at “fire-starting.”

Did you go to Girl Guides when you were a young ADHD girl? I did, and I loved it. Turns out a lot of the skills I learned in guiding were handy for a budding ADHDer. The camping trips didn’t hurt, either.

What’s not to love?

There was the aforementioned fire-starting (initially, the leaders and I had different ideas about that. We worked it out.)

Then there was financial management. I discovered that if I spent my dues on candy before the meeting, I’d be too hepped-up and sent home. I decided to pay my dues. Besides, I didn’t want to lie about losing my money. I actually did lose it often enough as it was.

Girl Guides was great for girls with ADHD and a propensity for hoarding. I collected about 100 postcards, taped ‘em into a cloth-covered scrapbook, and earned my “Collection” badge. I think it’s awfully sweet of them not to have called it a “Packrat” badge. Of course, that would have belied the purpose of the organization, which was to build character and a belief in one’s intrinsic worth to society. (That, and to learn how to cook S’mores.)

Guiding gave me amazing camping trips in the Laurentian Mountains in Quebéc, Canada in the summer. The benefits of this were many, including tons of exercise (one of the best treatments for ADHD); and a chance to hang with the other bad girls and put our energies to (mostly) good. We were natural leaders, hams around the campfire, sang the loudest, and built the biggest fires. When it came to camping, we ruled! We once had to name our campsites after a bird. We chose “Turkeys.” Need I say more?

The downside

True, not all of our activities earned us badges. First, there was “inspection,” wherein you had to have your tie tied straight, your shirt tucked in, and be wearing underwear. Nobody’s good at everything, right?

Then there was the pesky sewing badge. For an ADHD klutz like me, this was more of a “death by slow bleeding and/or boredom” badge.

I also, amazingly, didn’t pass my “exploring” badge. Yet I was a natural-born explorer! I’d already been pegged as the ringleader of my posse of relatives, including my little sister and 3 girl cousins. Heck, how hard could it be to get my “exploring” badge?

It’s all a matter of interpretation…right?

I should have known I was doomed from the beginning. Each badge starts with a “purpose.”  For exploring, this was:

“to encourage you and your friends to enjoy the fun of well-planned, safe outings.”

My friends and I were always having fun outings. I thought they were being nit-picky about the planning and safety part.

For the exploring badge, you had to complete six of eight activities (sounds like earning your ADHD badge in the DSM, doesn’t it?).

I went terribly wrong, apparently, when I chose item #2: Assemble the equipment you will carry on your back. I still fail to see why carrying a set of fireworks to set off in an emergency is a big deal.

And when they said to bring “thirst quenchers,” they didn’t SAY not to bring a six pack of your dad’s beer. Sheesh. I thought hiking was supposed to be fun.

Girl Guides for ADHD women

In reflecting over the past year, I realize that if there was a Girl Guide troupe for ADHD women, I’d have earned some pretty cool badges!

In Girl Guides for Adult ADHDers, we’ll explore some badge-worthy accomplishments for women like you and me. So grab your sashes and fire-starters, ladies! We’ll see you next week around the campfire.


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Girl Guides – ADHD Style!

Zoë Kessler, BA, B.Ed.

Zoë Kessler is an award-winning author, journalist, and speaker specializing in women and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD / ADD).

A frequent contributor to ADDitude Magazine, Kessler has also created video, standup comedy, and guest blogs on ADHD and Marriage covering ADHD-related topics.

Zoë, an internationally recognized ADHD expert, has been interviewed on radio and featured in magazine articles, documentaries, and books on the topic of women and ADHD across North America.

Her newly-released memoir ADHD According to Zoë - The Real Deal on relationships, Finding Your Focus & Finding Your Keys (New Harbinger Publications, 2013) about life with ADHD is now available.

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APA Reference
Kessler, Z. (2013). Girl Guides – ADHD Style!. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 6, 2019, from


Last updated: 29 Nov 2013
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