Emma Ritchie, right, volunteers with Girlguiding Scotland and is a leader with the 3rd Inverurie Guides and international adviser

IT’S fair to say I’ve grown up guiding, and guide me it has. When I was seven years old I joined the Brownies and this year marks 20 years since I started volunteering with Girlguiding Scotland. So what inspires me?

Knowing there’s space for girls where they can be themselves and share the experience of growing up as a girl is what’s kept me in guiding over the years. I’m proud to volunteer with an organisation that builds girls’ confidence and is so focused on equipping them with the tools to be resilient in an ever-changing world.

I believe that young people are our future and guiding has given me the opportunity to nurture and encourage girls to reach their full potential. With 77% of girls aged 12-25 saying they are treated differently because they are a girl, I want to do all I can to help young women challenge gender-based stereotypes and prove to the world just what they are capable of.

Seeing this in action is truly inspiring, and nothing motivates me more than seeing girls have fun while developing their knowledge and skills. It’s been particularly great to see the girls get stuck into Girlguiding’s new programme, which has introduced loads of new topics and activities across all sections – not to mention an array of badges for the girls to add to their growing collections! I love the fact there are endless opportunities for girls to try new things – from archaeology to aviation – and to learn more about themselves along the way.

It’s not just the girls and young women who I have worked with that have seen me be part of the Girlguiding family for so long. The word “family” is important as I’ve made so many great friends, and no matter which city I’ve moved to or where I’ll end up in the future, there’s always a new friend close by. And if it weren’t for all the other volunteers who made guiding such a welcoming experience for me, full of incredible opportunities which gave me the confidence to make a difference, I would not be doing what I am today.

Sometimes I am so focused on what the girls are getting out of guiding that I forget to take time to appreciate all the things guiding has done – and is doing – for me. Through volunteering I get to see on a weekly basis girls grow in confidence and in such a positive environment. The feelgood factor knowing these girls will go on to change the world in their own way is second to none.

Being a volunteer has also meant I’ve travelled the world, spent nights under the stars, woken up under sharks and sailed the high seas – all through guiding! A real highlight for me was rubbing shoulders with pop stars like Jess Glynne and John Newman at Girlguiding Scotland’s exclusive Tartan Gig at the SSE Hydro.

What’s great is that I’ve developed skills through these real life experiences and learned a lot from the girls themselves. Most of all, I’ve had so much fun doing it all.

With 78% of girls believing they can do anything a boy can do, girls in guiding know the world is their oyster and I can’t wait to be part of what they do next!

To find out more about volunteering with Girlguiding Scotland see go.girlguiding.org.uk/join-us/join-as-volunteer/