Calming the Camp Nerves

As units grab their sleeping bags and pack their marshmallows for spring camp, we’re re-posting this blog on prepping girls – and their parents! – for camp.

We at Brownies know how stressful a first camp can be! Nerves and anxiety everywhere. To help, I’ve made a list of my top ways parents and Guiders can help to calm homesick and anxious campers.

The 23rd Guelph Brownies are anything but homesick at Camp Wyoka.

The 23rd Guelph Brownies are anything but homesick at Camp Wyoka.

For Parents:

  • Don’t transfer your own anxieties onto your Brownie! Sometimes our own nerves come across pretty clearly. A girl who might not have been nervous might become nervous when she sees your own anxieties! Give her a smile and be reassuring leading up to camp. If she expresses her own nerves, talk through them together.
  • Help her pack… but don’t pack for her. Part of the camp experience is gaining a sense of responsibility and independence… and it starts at home! When a Brownie packs her own things, she knows what she brought and where it is. She can take control of herself and will feel more prepared for camp than if you were to simply drop her off with a bag of mystery things lovingly packed by mom.
  • Don’t linger at drop-off! The longer you wait around, the harder it becomes for your girl to imagine her new home (for two nights!) without you. See her over to her bunk, give her a hug and kiss, and tell her you’ll see her on Sunday. Then scoot! (She can show you all those things she’s excited about just as easily on Sunday morning.)
  • Talk to your Guiders. If your Brownie has expressed some nerves, please tell us. We’ll be on the lookout during camp to make sure she stays as happy as can be.
  • Know limits. It’s possible your Brownie really isn’t ready for camp. Only you, together with your Brownie, can make that call! If she really isn’t ready, that’s okay too. We’ll look forward to working with you and with her to get her to that point.

For Guiders:

  • Watch for isolation. If a Brownie starts to feel excluded and left out, homesickness may start to set in. If you know a girl is susceptible to homesickness, keep an extra special eye on her to make sure she is having fun with the other girls.
  • Prepare for bedtime. We all know that the hardest time for a homesick Brownie is bedtime. Talk to the girls a week or two before camp about their bedtime routines. What do they need to fall asleep? Special stuffie? Special blanket? Do they need to have a story read to them or quiet time to read by themselves? Do they listen to music before bed? These are all easy things we can recreate at our camps if we know about them!
  • In the moment. When homesickness happens, deal with it calmly. Don’t dismiss her feelings. Listen to anything the girl wants to share, but if she’s not feeling particularly chatty, change the subject. Ask her questions about her stuffie friend, her day at school, or her latest family vacation. The more she talks, the more she will calm down.
  • Strategies for stress management. Bring extra stuffies. Our homesick girls get to snuggle with a special friend (the owl from our toadstool, or even a leader’s stuffie!). The extra friend reminds her that she is not alone! Another activity that can work well is to give the girl a sheet of paper and some markers or crayons. Ask her to draw a picture about how she is feeling, or to write a letter to her parents telling them how she feels. Tell her she can keep the drawing under her pillow and give it to mom and dad on Sunday morning when they pick her up.
  • Know limits. Sometimes girls really aren’t ready. Know when you can work through a moment of stress, and when you need to call home.

By guest blogger Rachel Collins. Rachel is a Guider in Guelph, Ontario and Chair of the Canadian Guider Editorial Committee. Re-posted with permission from the the blog of the 23rd Guelph Brownies.

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Rangers, loud and clear

Earlier this month, I had one of the most amazing opportunities that Girl Guides has ever offered me. I was selected as one of 56 girl delegates from across Canada to attend the 2015 National Conference: Guiding Girl Greatness.

It was an incredible experience. Two hundred girls, Guiders, Provincial Commissioners, the Board of Directors, and provincial and national staff members travelled to Toronto to learn new things, share ideas, and have their voices heard about the future of Guiding. Collectively, we had 3,175 years of Guiding experience, so the ideas came from a strong base!

When I was selected as a delegate, I was beyond excited. Not only was I going to be able to visit Toronto – basically a whole new world for me – but I was going to meet up with old friends, make new friends, and have my voice heard. As it turned out, fifty-six of the country’s most dedicated Rangers showed up, and it was incredible to be able to share ideas about programming, what we love about the organization, and a few things that maybe need a bit of improvement.

April24_GirlGreatnessGirlsThroughout the weekend four girls presented Girl Greatness moments – personal speeches about confidence, courageousness, resourcefulness and making a difference. I was selected to present on confidence, and let me tell you – I did not feel confident enough to do it! Thanks almost entirely to my Guiding experience, I was able to talk in front of the largest group of people I have ever seen about something that is very close to my heart. And who knows, maybe I inspired someone else to be confident. The other Girl Greatness moments were incredible – inspiring, motivating, and emotional, to say the least! I will forever be grateful that these girls found the confidence to step up and speak about their experiences – Guiding brings out the best in all of us.

April24_ConferenceRangers1My favourite session at the conference dived into the question of why Unit Guiders are so important to our organization and why they are central to who we are. In breakout groups, we discussed the most desired attributes and skills of the Unit Guider, splitting them into categories of head, heart, and hands. In a room so full of people I never would have thought that my words would have any impact – but when discussion was encouraged, I spoke up. We talked about how Rangers have experience that needs to be valued, how we should be listened to, and how the meaningful engagement of girls is one of the most important goals a Guider can strive for.

Although essentially we created our ideal Unit Guider – someone who is respectful, organized, flexible, passionate, supportive, innovative, a team player and good at communicating – our session leader said something that stuck: “Guiding does not need an ideal Guider. What Guiding needs is an ideal you.” This led me to thinking – maybe the world doesn’t need a perfect me, maybe I don’t need to be awesome at everything. Maybe I just need to do the best I can.

In another session – I am girl, hear me roar – we were given the opportunity to comment on things we love about Guiding, things that need improvement, and things that should be added to the program. We were put into breakout groups to discuss, and my group filled up six pages with ideas for the future of Guiding!

By the end of the weekend, after meeting so many people from such diverse Guiding backgrounds, it was hard to leave. With 55 new Facebook friends and plans to bring our new knowledge back to our districts, areas, and provinces, we headed home. I learned more than I could ever have imagined at the conference, and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity.

Never before have I been so privileged to take part in something so significant, and the fact that I was able to contribute to the future of Guiding – the future that my daughters will be taking part in – means more to me than almost anything else.

April24_MarynaEllGuest post by Maryna Ell, a member of the 1st Sooke Rangers in B.C.

 

 

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Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup – More than just a cleanup!

Bridging, having fun, exercising leadership, making a difference and making an impact are the outcomes of our neighbourhood units’ participation in the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup.

In 2009, as part of the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (Shoreline Cleanup) and Ottawa’s Cleaning the Capital our small Pathfinder group (the 132nd Ottawa) cleaned Ottawa’s Arboretum Inlet. The next year, we invited the 8th Ottawa Brownies to join in. The girls loved the experience of data collection and we discovered that classifying litter IS something FUN to do!  Equally enjoyable is poking sticks in the river to retrieve cans, getting the occasional soaker, and finding the weirdest garbage. The 8th Ottawa Sparks joined the fun in 2011; the 131st Ottawa Guides joined the party in 2012, and even more Pathfinders in 2013.

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By the time the Guides joined in 2012, several of the girls had already been participating in the Shoreline Cleanup as Brownies. This experience allowed them to take a leadership role in the cleanup. Now at each cleanup, Guides explain the purpose and the how-to of the cleanup to the younger participants and their families. This includes describing how individual teams of three to five participants complete the data form, what safety rules to keep in mind, and the distribution of supplies to participants. This leadership role counts towards their Community Service portion of their Lady Baden-Powell Challenge.

So how do you set up a neighbourhood cleanup? It’s easy! One person has to be the official coordinator for your cleanup with the Shoreline Cleanup. They sign up for the cleanup, choosing a site and date, on the Shoreline Cleanup website. You then invite Guiders from neighbourhood branches to take part. Unit Guiders are responsible to follow Safe Guide requirements for the site and bring proper ratios for their participants. If you organize a large cleanup having a dedicated First Aider and a floating Guider is a good idea. The Shoreline Cleanup has a waiver so you have to make sure it gets signed.

At the end of the cleanup a girl from each team shares what they’ve observed and identifies the strangest litter they found – this is always fun. Then the litter is weighed, garbage is disposed of properly, and recycling is taken home to recycle. We phone our city to collect whatever is too big for us to carry. (One year we found multiple computers and another year a house door in the water.)

Participation in the Shoreline Cleanup can be a springboard to lively discussion at the unit level. The effect of litter on aquatic ecosystems can be explored (garbage being ingested, animals being entangled in fishing line, etc.). Healthy living can be discussed; most teams collect hundreds of cigarette butts – harmful to animals and harmful to humans. Links can be made between data collection and the development of public policy.

The Shoreline Cleanup makes a great bridging event. The girls have fun being outdoors contributing positively to the environment while seeing friends and Guiders from their previous branches and having the opportunity to see and work with girls in older branches. Consider planning a cleanup event for your neighbourhood’s units today!

Guest post by Nelly Letourneau and Karen Russell. Nelly has been Guider with the 2nd  Sackville Sparks, the 8th Ottawa Sparks and the 3rd Sackville Brownies. As a Ranger, she traveled with Girl Guides of Canada and Canada World Youth to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, Costa Rica to work on conservation projects.  

Karen started Guiding in 1970 with the 348th Toronto Guides and fondly remembers many long car rides with her dad to the camps she attended.  She has been a leader with the 8th Ottawa Brownies, the 132nd and 131st Guides, and the 132nd Pathfinders and currently works with the 8th Ottawa Sparks. 

Together, Nelly and Karen have been involved with coordinating the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanups for Guiding units in Ottawa’s Alta Vista / Elmvale neighbourhoods since 2009.

Get your cleanup going!
GGC has partnered with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup to celebrate Global Youth Service Day (April 17-19), by providing our members with resources, backgrounders and activities to plan and execute their own shoreline cleanup! You do not need to live by the coast to take part in a shoreline cleanup! A shoreline is any place where land connects water, so anybody from anywhere in Canada can participate. Click here for more information.

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What’s next on your volunteering bucket list?

As you scroll through Guidepost, Twitter and Facebook, have you ever been intrigued by the national volunteer postings? If you’re like me, you might think to yourself, who can volunteer for a national position? Do you need many years of Guiding experience, an extra special talent or a secret Trefoil tattoo that shows your dedication to this movement?

Well, after years of looking and lurking around girlguides.ca and checking out the position descriptions, I decided to jump in and find out the secret of these national positions. One thing I have learned from Guiding is if you just try, there’ll  be a supportive community of women who will help you along the way. My national volunteer experience proved to be nothing less.

I decided to take the plunge with an opening I saw on the National Scholarships Committee. This was an area where I could merge my professional and Guiding experiences. I have been working in an academic environment for over 10 years, first as a graduate student and more recently as an Assistant Professor, so I have plenty of experience with writing and evaluating scholarship applications! This seemed like a great opportunity for me to check out the national volunteer scene and hopefully make a contribution.

I was really in awe of the other volunteers on the team –  professional, energetic women from across Canada with so much passion for Guiding. I really felt like part of a dynamic group. During my time on the scholarship team, I learned a lot about how our national organization works – fundraising, corporate donors, marketing and communications strategies. It was really interesting to see how the various committees and staff work together to create and support a national Guiding program.

I was also struck by the collaboration between staff and volunteers. There are such talented individuals working on the national staff. I really enjoyed the interaction of staff and volunteers on this committee and was able to see the strength of these mixed teams.

During my time on the scholarship committee, there was a shift to an online submission and review process. I felt that I made a contribution to this shift by sharing my experience as a research committee member for the Canadian Lung Association (my “academic volunteering”), where we have an online process for grants and fellowships. Guiding’s new online process has several benefits, of course saving paper (using our resources wisely!) but also opening up the opportunity of reviewing the scholarship applications to Guiders across the country. This has really improved engagement from members and will translate into more girls and women applying for scholarships.

As my term on the scholarship committee ends, I am definitely keeping an eye out for further national and provincial volunteer opportunities. This is a great way to keep broadening my horizons within Guiding. So next time you see a posting on the Guidepost or elsewhere, linger a little longer and think about it… Maybe it’s your next step to contributing and learning from our Guiding community.

April14_Volunteer_SunitaBy guest blogger Sunita Mathur, a Guider with the 1st Toronto Spark/Brownie/Guide unit.

April 12-18 is National Volunteer Week 2015. Thank you to all of the countless volunteers who make Guiding happen!

 

 

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Engineering some excitement

“Hi I’m Rose and I’m a mechanical engineer, and my job is really cool!”

That’s how I started every ‘Mission to Mars’ and ‘Don’t Wake Mom!’ workshop I facilitated this March for National Engineering Month 2015 – with the aim of inspiring and empowering girls of all ages to be as excited as I am about a career in engineering.

Currently in Canada just 11.7% of Professional Engineers are women. That’s a shocking number that, while on the rise, still isn’t growing fast enough. As a shiny new Brownie Guider, I instantly saw a great opportunity to tackle this problem head on, while giving girls a chance to earn some STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) badges, by creating workshops that pair Girl Guide units, from Sparks to Rangers, with real engineers during unit meetings, to learn about engineering in a fun and hands on way.

April9_EngineeringCollage

As a the geographically largest National Engineering Month program in Ontario and with over 1,800 Girl Guide members taking part through 75 sessions, my team faced a rollercoaster of highs and lows this year. Managing an extended team of 85 volunteers was certainly a first for me, and a challenge that gave me a whole new appreciation for the Administrative Community Leaders and staff within Guiding!

Still, the moments that make the sleepless nights all worth it for me are the ‘Oooohs!’ and ‘Aaaaahs!’ that happen in every session; that light bulb moment when a girl’s expression changes and you know she gets it.

There’s no perfect recipe for engineering excitement for STEM, but some of the best way’s I’ve found are:

  • Tell a story to capture the girl’s imagination and provide motivation! There’s a huge difference between ‘build the tallest tower you can’ and ‘pretend you’re the evil witch and need to build a tall tower to trap Rapunzel in, so that the prince can’t climb up to save her.’
  • Encourage teamwork! Two heads are definitely better than one when working to a tight deadline and the discussion and idea sharing is a great indicator of how real engineering teams work.
  • Allow rule bending (with justification). Flexible interpretation of the rules helps avoid girls giving up in frustration and empowers them to find innovative solutions.
  • Trial and error. Encourage girls to be patient if something doesn’t work as they expected and try again – the added challenge will give them a greater sense of reward when they do find a solution!

Want to have a go at doing some Engineering in your unit meeting? All our ‘instant meeting’ resources are available to download.

Guest post by Rose Almond. Rose is a Brownie Guider from Toronto and a program lead for Engineers of Tomorrow. She loves finding new ways to make STEM program fun and engaging for girls.

What’s your Guiding story? We’re on the look out for guest bloggers! Send us your idea – ggcblog(at)girlguides.ca.

 

 

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Opening the Vaults – Warning! Cute animal alert!

In honour of Archives Awareness Week we are once again opening the vaults to share some of our favorite pictures. Back in the day, the Guiding Law included “A Guide is a friend to animals.” In the same way that we can be helpful to animals, they can bring a little bit of cuteness and laughter to our lives.  With this winter dragging on and on and on in many parts of Canada, we thought it would be a good time to open the vaults and bring out some animal-induced happiness.


April7_SwimDog

Swim instructor and her dog at Fettercarin Island Dominion Training Camp c.1930

April7_DogMailbox
Lone Guide with dog c. 1960. Lone Guides often used mail to keep in touch with their Leader and other Lone Guides.

April7_CasaLomaCat

The women of the first Canadian Council of Girl Guides of Canada – and a cat – sit on the steps of Casa Loma, the home of our first Chief Commissioner, Lady Mary Pellatt c.1918. Many pictures from Casa Loma feature a dog or cat.  

 

April7_HorseFarm
In the earliest years of Guiding, a unit would often approach a local farmer for permission to camp in their field.  The farmer’s daughter Joan took some Guides for a ride on her pony, Lickity Cut.

April7_DogHorseshoe

Dog in a horseshoe from the album ‘Canadian Guiding prior to 1934’. The uniforms in this picture lead us to believe that this is probably from the first 10 years of Guiding in Canada.

Opening the Vaults is a blog series featuring photos and records from the Girl Guides of Canada archives. See some of the previous posts from this series: Cookie Selling; Embarrassing Moments; Retro Camp Pics; The Maple Leaf Forever

 

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Guide friends, Girl friends, Mom friends

Apr2_GuideFriendsWriting about friendship is tricky. The first time I took a crack at writing this blog post, I started writing about my daughter Karley’s transition through Brownies, with the end paragraph talking about how she made this new awesome best friend and had a great time and earned all of her Brownie badges.

Well duh. This is Girl Guides 101. Tell us something we DON’T know.

The second time I dove into Karley and Heidi’s friendship a little deeper, how they had such a great time earning all their Brownie badges and Keys together and how they’re sad to leave Brownies but are excited for Guides.

After the second time, I felt that I had written a heartfelt and genuine ode to the girls, but it was missing something. And just as I was about to text Heidi’s mom Sarah (also their Brownie leader) about what I was missing, it hit me. There are two stories here: Two little girls becoming good friends, having fun and learning new things. The second story? Their MOMS becoming good friends, having fun, and learning new things.

My time in Girl Guides as a girl was fleeting – I spent two years as a Brownie in a small village in Alberta and that was it… While Brownies quickly captured my heart, I was devastated when my parents moved  away to a town that didn’t offer Guides, so that was it, I was done. Of course, done until years later and my own daughter was old enough to join! I became a leader (Sparks!) and found that I enjoyed Guiding more than I remembered and truly loved being a part of the organization. The women that belonged to my district were (and still are!) an inspiration for me to continue.

When Karley moved into Brownies, a new Guider joined our district with her daughter – and joined Karley’s unit. Karley and Heidi were very similar, and became friends quickly, as did Sarah and I.  Sarah was in Guiding for years, right into Pathfinders, in her home province of Nova Scotia. She had the experience of growing up through Guiding that I didn’t, and had a lot of experiences that I was missing. She is a treasure of a Guider to spend time with; she’s got energy, ideas and loves to share her experiences. We can talk Guiding all day every day, much to our husbands’ delight (Ha! Ha!).

Most recently Karley and I went for a playdate and a visit to Sarah and Heidi’s house, and while the girls played outside, Sarah brought out her bin of old Girl Guide stuff to show me. We spent nearly two hours looking through old badges, program books and pins, coming up with new ideas for our own units and making plans and telling stories.

I feel so lucky to not only have my daughter find such a terrific friend in Heidi, but for me to find an equally great friend in Sarah. I would encourage any woman who was in Guiding as a girl to give it a try again as an adult leader. If you enjoyed it then, I guarantee you’ll love it as an adult.

So I am sending in a picture of our two amazing Brownies, maybe it’ll be one of those things tucked away in a bin of Girl Guide stuff for them to share with a friend, one day, 30 years from now.

By guest blogger Jodi Paulgaard. Jodi is a Sparks Guider, Brownie Camp Guider and stay at home mom in Airdrie, Alberta. Check out Jodi’s previous posts: Now my family understands why I’m a Guider; Sparks CAN snowshoe

Be a part of GirlGuidesCANBlog! Send your pitch to ggcblog(at)girlguides.ca

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The votes are in: Alberta Girls’ Parliament for the win!

Alberta Girls’ Parliament (AGP) is an annual event for Girl Guides to flex their political muscles and develop their public speaking and debating skills – and have a lot of fun, too! The parliament is a hands-on way for girls to get a realistic view of life in the political trenches. During the weekend event, they elect opposition leaders, a Speaker and roll up their sleeves for some serious parliamentary debates.

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The 44th session of the Alberta Girls’ Parliament wrapped this weekend and the votes are in – the participants unanimously agree on the awesomeness of this event:

March31_CharlotteAGP is one of the highlights of my Guiding year. I love AGP because it helped improve my public speaking and makes me feel like my voice actually matters. We debate about relevant things that actually happen in the real world. It is so fun having meaningful intellectual conversations with people your age while still throwing shade. You learn a lot about politics and the world and get to meet tons of awesome, new people.  – Charlotte

March31_AlishiaI have to admit I was nervous that I wouldn’t fit in, but honestly I was completely wrong. The girls I met brought me out of my shell, they taught me things that I wouldn’t know otherwise. They taught me it was ok to be myself and they showed me that no matter how weird you are, there is always someone weirder (in a good way!). I have grown into a great speaker and debater. People say chances come along once in a lifetime and this is one of those. – Alishia

 

March31_Imogen At AGP girls truly show how they “share in the Guiding sisterhood.” The moment the bus took off we were already laughing and joking with one another. It is truly astonishing to hear the arguments and speeches delegates give. As a first time delegate, the first time I stood up I was shaky and my nerves were slightly rattled. Second time I became more confident. From then, members of the government (I am opposition) started “heckling” me. This mutual respect between the girls is truly the most awe-striking thing for me to experience. The girls here understand one another seamlessly and are completely supportive. – Imogen

March31_LizzyThis is my first time at AGP and I’m having a rad time. Our tour throughout the Legislature was a very interesting experience from the government caucus room, to the Premier’s office, to the sassiest question period based on the newly released budget. Being confident during debates is kind of hard at first, but is eventually getting easier. – Lizzy

March31_AnneDuring question period at the Legislature building, we were able to observe the behaviours of various Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs). I find that if the greater voting population were also given this opportunity, quite a few would change their opinions and decisions. – Anne

March31_KristenAGP always includes a ton of fun, new learning experiences, and making new friends. This is my third year returning to AGP and each and every year girls stimulate amazing debates that really get me thinking about politics. AGP is fantastic for girls who are new to public speaking and girls who already love debate. – Kirsten

 Revised from a submission by the Alberta Girls’ Parliament

Have you particpated in a unique Guiding event? Share your story! Send your blog pitch to ggcblog(at)girlguides.ca

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It’s never too late

It’s never too late.  No matter what you want to do, aspire to be, or where you want to go.  It’s never too late to try something new.

When my daughter was 10 and in her second year of Guides, I joined Girl Guides of Canada when I saw how much fun she was having. She’s now 16 and in Rangers and I’m still a Guide Guider.  But that hasn’t stopped my drive and ambition for learning. Back then as a new Guider, I turned to training as a way to learn the ropes and meet new friends. I still take training sessions today for the same reasons.

Guiding offers a wide variety of training opportunities that provide Guiders not only the tools to make our units awesome, but also amazing ideas and skills.  These skills help us teach the girls, and can also help enrich our lives.

March24_NeverTooLateIn my case, I started out by taking the Enrichment and OAL (Outdoor Adventure Leadership) streams.  Having completed the OAL residential and tenting training, I knew that I was onto something I liked and I wanted more.  One day, I came across the posting for the Outdoor Adventure Leadership – Adventure Training (OALAT).  Canoe camping? Long-journey hiking? Winter camping? The course description of learning how to take girls back-country tripping was very intriguing and yet a little terrifying.  As a middle-aged, obese, part-time couch surfer, did I have what it would take to succeed?

Winston Churchill once said “Success in not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” So I found an ounce of courage and signed up, which ended up being the best thing I could have done for myself.  OALAT opened many doors for me both personally and in my Guiding career.

During the trips OALAT brought my way, I chronicled my adventures, mishaps, emotions and learning experiences which have re-kindled my love for writing.

So poignant and significant an impact was this training, my life is now enriched with a new love for outdoor adventure (especially canoeing).  I have become a Trex Guider, so I may teach and lead girls on similar experiences. Hopefully, they too can discover a love of nature and foster a stewardship for our precious natural resources. I am now working on completing my trainer stream so that I can become a Trainer with Girl Guides of Canada and also find a place on the OALAT training team.

So, to answer my internalized fearful question of “will I succeed?”  Yes I can succeed.  If there is anything that I have learned through Guiding it is that inclusivity is very much a part of our program; not just for girls, but for us Guiders, too. These empowering training programs provide a caring and supportive environment where you learn to leave your inhibitions behind and open yourself up to a deep well of new resources and invaluable skills while creating a close knit bond of friendship with women that will last long after the training is over.

It’s never too late to try something new.  Let training open a door for you too and may it take you on a journey you’ll never forget!

By guest blogger Karla Armstrong. Karla is a Guide Guider and Trex Guider in Ottawa and is currently involved in the 2015/16 OALAT program as a Trainer Candidate. Karla has a strong passion for adventure and loves spending time outdoors teaching the girls.

What’s your Guiding story? Send your blog pitch to ggcblog(at)girlguides.ca

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Captivated by the Drum

The Ardrossan Alberta Sparks and Brownies had the amazing opportunity to participate in a group event that hosted one of Canada’s acclaimed speakers and First Nations grass dancers, Jason E. Skani.

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Growing up in what he calls “Cree Country” Alberta, Jason has made it his mission to educate the upcoming generation about our First Nations heritage and speaks from the heart about the values and goals that he hopes to instill in all of our youth.  His vision simply being that every human respects themselves, those around them, animals and the earth; do everything from a place of love; and respect, and strive to be the best people that we can be.

Jason wore full traditional regalia that was extraordinarily impressive and all handmade – each of the thousands of beads having significance, each stitch representing something meaningful to the maker, respect going to every plume, feather and fibre. Our Sparks and Brownies were awestruck of what is likely the most beautiful and incredibly meaningful clothing they’ve seen.

When Jason performed his traditional dance, the room moved to the beat of the drum, captivated. The vibe was one of overwhelming unity as he invited the girls to dance with him in a traditional “Jingle Dress Healing Dance.” With every soul participating to the best of their ability, hearts were moved and connected in this amazing opportunity and there was a huge sense of gratitude to be included in this experience. The girls showed great appreciation for the magnitude of effort and skill of our First Nations dancers.

Jason’s final reflections were parallel with the teachings of Girl Guides of Canada – that every person has a place and a purpose in this life, that no matter where you come from, we all have the same hearts beating inside of us, the same colour blood and we are all equal and connected. He encouraged our girls to go forward and embrace the opportunities we have to make a difference in this world, to respect our elders and through our joy and experiences make them proud, revitalizing the fire in their hearts. He challenged our girls to burn brightly as members of families, Guiding and our community; to embrace every opportunity, reflect on our privileges, make it our mission to challenge ourselves to do our best and to give back,  remembering that this life and everything in it that we love are truly gifts.

 By guest blogger Dawn Quigg, a first-year Sparks Guider in Ardrossan, Alberta (Sherwood Park District). Dawn is passionate about providing interesting, fun, educational, and interactive activities for the Sparks in her unit.

 

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Heritage and History Around Us

Sometimes you read through the badge requirements and find a badge that really “fits” your unit. This is what happened with my Guide unit when we worked on our Heritage badge.

The Guide Heritage badge is generally about learning of your personal ancestry as well as the past of Canada and the community you live in. One of the tasks invites girls to visit an historic building or town hall to learn more about their heritage. As a suburban area of Ottawa, we are mostly surrounded by brand new homes and schools, with a couple of obvious exceptions – including our unit’s meeting location!

The 4th Kanata North Guides meet in the Old Town Hall Kanata. A quick look into area archives taught the girls that the hall was built in 1901 and was used as a meeting place for the local farmers to discuss the issues of the day. These problems included broken fences between properties, escaped or troublesome animals and even truancy! It was amusing to explain to our Guides how skipping school was once discussed in this court-like setting.


We spent one of our unit meetings examining this place we’d been meeting in since September. It’s so easy to overlook the impressive parts of a building when you visit it every week. On the inside, the bright, tall windows and old wooden floors are telltale signs of the building’s age. The washrooms and entranceway were clearly added later when indoor plumbing became the norm. A walk around the outside let us admire the bright red metal roof and real stone outer walls, which gives the building the look of a one-room schoolhouse. However, the archives helped the girls learn that, in fact, the schoolhouse was another older building just down the street.

We encouraged the girls to try to imagine this building as it once was – alone on a stretch of small road where local residents would have had to walk or use horses to reach this meeting place. It’s a far cry from the highway-speed, six lane road that is just outside the doors now. Across the street is a mini-mall with fast food, grocery stores and a pharmacy, but back when our hall was built, it would have been acres of quiet crops filling the landscape.

One of the most impressive parts of the building is an old granite plaque mounted on the wall. I’d never given it much attention before but our research taught us that this building was the place where the village families met to find out which of their children were being sent off to war and which of them, would never return. The names of the latter were inscribed on this plaque (along with the names of those who built the hall). We asked the girls to consider how it must have been to find out this sad news in such a public setting. The Guides read the names one by one and recognized surnames that are now area streets and neighbourhoods. Both the Guiders and Guides found great interest in seeing the correlation.

It’s hard to know if our Guides can fully appreciate how much heritage is wrapped in the building where we meet each week to sing songs, play games, make crafts and learn. But we do know that they certainly have stopped to consider that we meet in a building full of history and heritage. Hopefully, it’s just the start of them appreciating what’s around them even more.

Lana teaches part-time at Algonquin College and owns a business with her husband. She was in Guiding for nine years as a girl and has now been a Guider for five years. She currently runs the NEW 4th Kanata North Guides with her excellent co-Guiders and has been recently appointed as Community Guider for Kanata, a suburb of Ottawa. Check out her previous blog post, Friday Night Guiding

 

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Guiding the way to STEM

When I tell people that I am a Science Communication graduate student, I get many of the same questions as I get when I tell people that I am a Girl Guide leader: “What’s that?” “How is it relevant in today’s world?” “How did you land there?” I won’t go as far as to try to explicitly answer these questions in this blog post. But the way in which I have linked Guiding and my field of study may be of interest.

For my culminating research project, I am seeking to understand the relationship between Guiders and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). I want to find out how Guiders feel about STEM, how they bring it into their units, where they get resources, what types of Guiders plan more science into their meetings and hopefully the reasons behind the answers as well.

2nd Lockerby Guides experimenting with friction, using the boxcars they engineered.

2nd Lockerby Guides experimenting with friction, using the boxcars they engineered.

The Girl Guide program book divides “science and technology” badges into their own separate section, but that isn’t the only place science can be found. When you cover the first aid badge and talk about the ABCs (airway, breathing, circulation), you are discussing life sciences. When you go on a hike and find animal tracks, you are learning about the natural world. When you cook with the unit, you are doing chemistry. When your girls create a budget for an outing, you are bringing math into your activities.

STEM subjects aren’t ones that can or should be scheduled into a single meeting once every three years. In Canada, although women account for 66 per cent of all university graduates, they only account for 39 per cent of those graduating with a STEM degree. As Guiders and role models, we have the opportunity and responsibility to increase this number. Guiding is a girl-led movement and I’m not suggesting that we should push girls to go into the sciences regardless of their interests. But we have to show the girls that science isn’t scary and to do so, we have to believe it ourselves.

If you are a Guide Guider and would like to help me with my research, please take a few minutes to answer the short survey found here. Thank you!

I am incredibly grateful for the number of responses I have already had. It’s wonderful, although not surprising, to see Guiders helping Guiders!

By guest blogger Elizabeth Knowles. Elizabeth is a Guider with the 2nd Lockerby Guides in Sudbury, Ontario, where she is completing a graduate diploma in Science Communication at Laurentian University in part thanks to the Roberta Bondar Girl Guides of Canada scholarship she earned. She is also the provincial Deputy Program Advisor in Quebec.

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Inviting Rangers to the conversation

In Quebec, one of our most anticipated Guiding events is the Guider Symposium in January. Adult members from all over Quebec gather in one place for a day of training, networking, and an all around great time. In the past, this day was only open to Guiders, but then it was decided that the invitation should be extended to Rangers.

You can imagine that this idea was met with some worry. Would the girls feel comfortable surrounded by the “adult” Guiders? What kind of workshops or training could we offer them? The easy answer was that we would give them what they needed to enhance their Guiding experience in the future and help them discover how to use the skills they have already learned.

March10_QCRangers1 March10_QCRangers2 March10_QCRangers3

Young women in Guiding need to be exposed to new ideas, experiences and information. We find that much of the time, when a girl grows up with Guiding in their district, it is all that she is exposed to. If she attends an event like a Guider symposium, where she can meet Guiders and other young women from other districts and areas, she can be shown so much more. She can network with these women and learn from years of experience and truly share in the sisterhood that is Guiding.

Part of what we did in our symposium was speak about the opportunities available for young women in Guiding. For example, not only about what you can do in the units you might volunteer with, but also in your district, areas, provincially, nationally and internationally. Even if they feel too “young” to do any of these jobs right now, they are now aware of them. We also spoke about WAGGGS opportunities. What can you do in a WAGGGS country? How can you volunteer? The girls couldn’t even imagine the experiences they would get from a trip like this.

We also spoke about our provincial scholarships. We stressed the fact that because we are a small province, the odds of being awarded a scholarship are relatively good!  We need to get this type of information out there so that it could benefit the girls who need it.

Finally, we spoke about using our Guiding skills in other aspects of our lives. We presented a “Guiding CV,” where girls could keep track of everything that they have done during their Guiding career: positions held, camp, travel and conference histories, international experience, awards, and skills. We then taught the girls how to take this CV and transfer the skills they have built on in Guiding to a “beginner’s CV” (applying for a minimum wage job) and then to a “professional CV” (applying for your future job).

With events such as our symposium discussing this kind of information girls are interested in, girls can see the potential they have to do not only so much within Guiding, but also how much Guiding has done and will continue to do for them in the future.

By guest blogger Sarah Di Milo. Sarah has been in Guiding for almost 25 years. She enjoys being Co-District Commissioner for Riverview District on the South Shore of Montreal, as well as a Guide leader with her sister Nikki. 

 

 

 

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Girl Guides Make their Case

“All rise! Girl Guide Court of the Northwest Territories is now in session.”

Those words opened one of the most unusual court sessions ever seen North of 60 — or maybe anywhere — as girls aged 9-11 were selected as jurors in a bicycle theft trial.

March5_MockTrial

On February 12 the first Yellowknife Guides were joined by Judge Schmaltz of the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories, along with Crown Prosecutors Sarah Arngna’naaq and Jennifer Mickelson from the
Public Prosecution Service of Canada. In what must be one of the fastest jury trials ever seen, Guider Andrea Korpel testified to having her bike stolen. Guiders Whitney Fisher and Beth Rowlandson played the parts of the accused thief and a witness. The setting – a church basement – closely resembled a typical “courtroom” in Canada’s north, where  courthouses are rare and legal proceedings often take place in community halls and school gyms.

It may have been a “mock” trial, but the lawyers took their roles seriously. The young jurors responded in kind, listening closely to the witnesses’ evidence and the judge’s explanation of their role.

The trial may have been speedy, but the jury deliberations, fueled by delicious snacks made by the judge, were not. The girls finally reached a unanimous “Not Guilty” verdict.

The purpose of the exercise was to educate the Guides about the legal system and to increase their comfort level with it, as well as to expose them to community role models. From the snippets of jury conversation audible through the wall (good thing it wasn’t a real trial!), and post-trial discussions, it was obvious that  the exercise succeeded. The Guides left the meeting with a new awareness of criminal justice — and of careers they might aspire to.

By guest blogger Paul Falvo, mock trial organizer, Guide parent, and real-life defence lawyer.

What’s your Guiding story? If your unit has participated in a one-of-a-kind event, we want to hear about it! Send your blog pitch to: ggcblog(at)girlguides.ca.

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Putting Words in Action into…Action!

Did you know there are Literary Agents to help Unit Guiders bring Words in Action to their unit? Of course, a Guider’s first step should be to review the Words in Action website for service and activity information. If you run into any challenges or need some guidance, contacting Literary Agents would be the second step. They’ll help you determine the best places to volunteer/send your donations. They can also advise you on how to plan literacy-based activities for your unit and how to connect that to core programming.

Launching the new National Service Project (NSP) Words in Action in Quebec was a really exciting time for the province’s Literary Agents. With 21 districts, more than 1,700 girls and 318 active leaders, we knew we had our work cut out for us to get our 2,000 members partnering with public organizations!

So our Guider Symposium Building Global Citizens was an ideal opportunity to get the word out about Words in Action.

Literacy_Collage

Quebec Guiders discover how easy it is to introduce Words in Action to their units.

 

An effective presentation is visual, so props were essential to illustrate the many facets of the NSP. A three-paneled poster board displayed a summary of the five service projects and tie-ins of programming, with images of the badges and crests the girls can earn when combining the challenge with their branch. A literacy backpack brimming with school supplies and a pop-up toy tent filled with a toy carpet and stuffed dolls was used to illustrate the concept of a reading tent. The most important element of the kiosk was for Literary Agents to be on hand to explain the program and how easy it is for the girls to organize events. A strong emphasis was placed on the Literary Agent’s role, that we will be resource people, contacting organizations across the province to find homes for the books and literacy packs girls will collect in their unit, or residences where they can go and read to seniors.  It is important for Guiders to leave with something in hand, so we distributed pamphlets with a summary of the program that included all pertinent information including how to connect with us.

Guiders were invited to join the Facebook group Des mots en action / Words In Action-Quebec. This has by far been the most efficient means to interact with the community. It’s an open group, anyone can join, though it is aimed at Guiders and Guiding parents as well as community partners (librarians, teachers, children’s authors). Resources the Literary Agents create are available for download. Status updates include new partners that have connected with the Literary Agents who are eager to accept books, literacy packs or have girls volunteer as readers. Updates also include friendly reminders to log  units’ actions taken so that GGC can track our work. We also invited members who are not on Facebook to sign up to be sent more traditional email updates.

Our next steps will be to continue to follow-up with the units across the province and lend Guiders a hand with respect to animating the importance of literacy, not just as an enjoyable means to pass the time by reading. When possible, we will attend unit meetings or district events to lend a hand.

Guest blogger Esther Szeben, a Guider with the Valois Dorval District and a Literary Agent for the NSP in Quebec.

words in action crestWords in Action is a national opportunity for members across the country to make a difference together. By logging your unit’s actions on the NSP website, we can showcase the collective impact our service is making across Canada. 

 

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Going far with Guiding

30 Years of Girl Guide Scholarships

GGC’s National Scholarship Program recently opened for 2015, and this year we are celebrating 30 fabulous years of awarding scholarships to our members. In 30 years GGC has proudly awarded GGC members 427 scholarships, for a total of $570,000.00. That’s a whole lot of scholarships!

We reached out to some past GGC scholarship recipients to learn what they are up to now. It’s no surprise to find out that many have not only continued their membership with GGC, but have gone on to do amazing things in their Guiding, professional and personal lives.

Has Guiding influenced your educational or career goals?

Feb26_scholarship_HeatherMartinDefinitely, my decision to pursue Exercise Science and Sports Administration was directly related to experiences I enjoyed within Guiding. My experiences both as a camper and staff at our provincial camp, and then as a volunteer at Our Chalet and Sangam, gave me opportunities I wanted others to share.

Heather Martin, 1988 scholarship recipient, community, recreation and leadership training,  Pathfinder Guider, Trainer, GM16 Liaison

I think Guiding has always given me a good grounding in being community oriented and working with people – skills that I use every day as a lawyer.  As a girl growing up in the Guiding movement, I always realized that there was nothing that I could not do – whether it was setting goals, leading activities, travelling, and then later being a leader as well.

Virginia Schweitzer, 1991 scholarship recipient, corporate lawyer, Pathfinder Guider


Feb26_scholarship_JulieHawkeGuiding exposed me to a lot of social issues when I was young, which in part made me interested in becoming a social worker. I’ve taken a lot of what I have learned from Guiding into my career. For example, part of my job is facilitating training on adoption issues, and Guiding gave me a lot of tools in how to deliver good training and how to make it fun for participants!

Julie Hawke, 1997 scholarship recipient, social worker, Trefoil Guild, Leader with Girlguiding UK

Feb26_scholarship_AngelaCrane (1)It was in Guiding where I first learned to plan and run an event, where I first learned to work in a team, and where I was first able to explore my likes, talents and interests.

 

Angela Crane, 2004 scholarship recipient, university lecturer, Guide Guider, Deputy District Commissioner

Guiding taught me responsibility, initiative, and determination. It helped develop my communication skills and taught me many life skills. Guiding developed my “need to know.” Because of Guiding, I am able to communicate well with my patients, I am driven to constantly improve my skills, and I have a thirst for knowledge.

Brittany Chandler, 2008 scholarship recipient, registered nurse, Pathfinder/Trex Guider, District Secretary, Guiding Mosaic Planning Group

Why have you continued to stay involved in Guiding?

I have enjoyed the interactions which I have had, with girls and Guiders. I believe that Guiding offers the opportunity to learn, develop and practise skills which are important if one wishes to be a contributing member of society. I have met some wonderful people through Guiding.

Helen Smith, 1989 scholarship recipient, secondary science teacher, Trefoil Guild

I believe in the power of young girls. I believe that every girl has the right to achieve her full potential. I believe that Guiding can help girls be exposed to an environment that fosters growth, strength and determination.

Andria MacAulay, 1993 scholarship recipient, family physician, Brownie Guider

I believe Guiding provides opportunities to girls that no other program does. It gives them an opportunity to learn, play and create values in a safe and fun environment.

Dawn LeBlanc, 1994 scholarship recipient, nurse practitioner, Pathfinder/Ranger Guider

Guiding is a big part of who I have become and I am very thankful for that. I am excited to have fun with my daughters and their friends and to give great experiences, leadership and new skills to the next generation. 

Nicole Sugiyama-Trenholm, 1999 scholarship recipient, occupational therapist, Sparks Guider

Feb26_scholarship_JillDreggerI enjoy seeing the development of the girls that I have worked with and believe strongly in the values that Girl Guides presents to young women. As a leader, I have also enjoyed the friendships that I have made with other adult members. 

Jill Dreger, 2002 scholarship recipient, geologist, Pathfinder Guider


Feb26_scholarship_logoGirl Guides of Canada’s 2015 national scholarship program is now accepting applications! Whether you’re heading to university for the first time, tackling an apprenticeship as a mature student or heading back to college part time, there’s a 2015 national scholarship that’s right for you! 

The application deadline is April 1, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. EST.

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Capturing Guiding in action

As the old saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” I take pictures of my girls so that one day they can look back at them and remember all the fun things that they did with their Guiding friends. Every picture has a story behind it and I hope that I have managed to capture and freeze that magical moment in time for them. Here are some tips to capture Guiding in action.                                                                                                 

Get a little closer
Fill the frame of the camera with the person. When you get close up, the person is now engaged with the camera and this can have a dramatic impact on your portraits. The emotions and facial expressions will capture the attention of the viewer.
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Capture the moment
Try to take candid shots to capture the spontaneity of the moment. You will most likely get genuine natural smiles rather than the forced stiff smiles. The person’s real personality and emotions will show in the photo.

 

Magic of of the golden hour

The best time to take photos is during the “Golden Hour”, the time right before sunset or just after sunrise. This is when the sun is near the horizon and the sky fills with vibrant colours in shades of red and orange. With this soft warm light, you can shoot into the sun and create beautiful silhouettes. 

Go outside and play
Natural lighting makes the photos look warmer. Try to avoid bright direct sunlight as that can cause harsh overhead shadows. Take pictures on an overcast day because there will be no shadows and the light is naturally soft and diffused, providing a consistent light source.

Throw in a prop for fun
Use a prop to create a point of interest or to enhance and make your shot more interesting. It will add an element of fun to the shot.
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Change your perspective
Instead of taking a picture at eye level of the person, try coming at it at a different angle. This can create a more powerful image because the person looks more interesting. Lie down on the ground and point the camera up at the person. Elevate yourself to get up high and shoot down. Sometimes it is as simple as changing the camera orientation from landscape to portrait or vice versa. Just by doing this will change the way a photo looks.

Remove the distractions
Always check the surrounding for any distracting things. Make sure there is not a tree or a pole sticking out of the person’s head or a car coming out of the ear or a garbage can in the background. Ask the person to move so the distracting object is no longer visible in the photo.

Rule of thirds
Imagine a tic tac toe grid on your frame view. There should be 4 dots at the intersections of these lines. Place the person or the point of interest at one of these four dots so that the photo becomes more balanced.

Hold it at an angle
Try taking some shots with your camera at an angle. This can add some fun to your picture.

Not everyone likes center stage
Try taking a picture with the person off to the side or right on the edge. This creates a more interesting photo.

Frame it
Frame the person/people with a window, a doorway, or an archway to give the image depth. This will draw attention to the person and add context to the image.

Most of all, have fun with your girls. It will show in your photos!

By guest blogger Van Chau. Van has been a Spark, Brownie and Guide Guider in Langley, B.C. and is currently part of the BC Program Committee as the Environmental Specialist. She is passionate about programming and photography, and was the Grand Prize winner of our 2014 photo contest.


Our next photo contest runs until May 18! Send us your finest, most dynamic images that illustrate the fun, friendship and adventure of Girl Guides and you could win fabulous prizes and have your photo appear in Canadian Guider and promotional materials.

We are particularly looking for photos that feature seasonal programming and events – and are easily recognizable as GGC girls doing fun and amazing things – for example, girls wearing their GGC uniform, scarf, camp hat or sash.

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Opening the Vaults: World Thinking Day

As we approach World Thinking Day 2015 on February 22, this edition of our Opening the Vaults blog series shines a light on Canadian Guiding’s strong tradition of celebrating our global Guiding connections.

Thinking Day (now World Thinking Day) was first imagined in 1926 at the 4th Girl Guide/Girl Scout International conference. It was a day to think about the growth of Guiding around the world. Here are some of the ways that we have celebrated World Thinking Day in the past.

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GGC National Archives APH 781 c.1955

Guides come together at Thinking Day ceremony to celebrate the sisterhood of Guiding.

GGC National Archives APH782 credit: Sudbury Daily Star

In 1959, Guides in Sudbury celebrated Thinking Day by learning about all the countries involved Guiding. Today, with ten million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from 146 countries across the world, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) is the largest voluntary movement dedicated to girls and young women in the world.

GGC National Archives APH 579 credit: The Edmonton Journal

GGC National Archives APH 579 credit: The Edmonton Journal

In 1966, the 26th Glenrose Girl Guide Company and Brownie Pack, operating out of the Glenrose Provincial Hospital, celebrate Thinking Day.

 

GGC National Archives APH 783

GGC National Archives APH 783

In 1970, the Diamond Jubilee of Guiding in Canada, a Brownie, Guide and Ranger celebrate Thinking Day by presenting a baby girl with an invitation to join Brownies.
When we celebrate World Thinking Day, we are reminded of the sisterhood of Guiding, not only internationally but throughout over 100 years of Guiding in Canada. There are lots of ways to participate in World Thinking Day 2015:

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Girl Greatness Awards – Put Yourself Out There

This post first appeared on our blog on July 2, 2014.

I’ve been in Girl Guides of Canada for about four years. So far, it’s been an amazing experience. This was my first time applying for a Girl Greatness Award. I was not expecting to win as I thought that so many girls would be nominated and have a better submission than me. Receiving the award has made me proud about myself and encouraged me to be more involved in Guiding. I am planning on becoming a Junior Leader to one of the younger Guides’ groups, and continuing to give back to Girl Guides even when I’m done with the program.

I think that every girl should go for the opportunities they are presented with, because I believe that everything happens for a reason. You see a volunteering opportunity? Go for it. You never know what could lead you to something better. Maybe while volunteering, you’ll get offered a job? This is what I think of Girl Greatness Awards. I think it’s a way to put yourself out there and celebrate your characteristics. It’s an opportunity to let others know of how unique you are. And this opportunity can lead to another perhaps by reviewing the nominations? Next time you see an email relating to the awards, just go for it and nominate yourself or your fellow Guides, because you never know what a small nomination can lead to. Remember, you got the email for a reason (wink wink, nudge nudge).

Always appreciate and be generous. What others have done for you is their way of telling you that they care. So, you should appreciate and give back to them. If you are a Spark, Brownie, Guide, Pathfinder or Ranger, always remember to give back to your leaders and let them know that you care. Help out whenever you can and be cooperative. I usually ask my Rangers leader if she needs any help with organising events or with badgework. Also, I love to volunteer with Guiding events, because they are so much fun! In the future, I know for sure that I want to continue to be part of something awesome.

By Serena, a Ranger who is transitioning into a Junior Leader. Serena is the recipient of a 2014 Girl Greatness Award in the Confidence category.

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Girl Guide fun + chocolate = the perfect Valentine’s Day

The Quebec Chocolate Challenge!

What’s more fun than making and eating chocolate? Sharing, of course!

The 1st Valois Brownies created an event called “Chocolate Wonderland” to complete the Quebec Chocolate Challenge and in the spirit of sharing, invited the Valois Sparks in order to pass on some serious cooking (and tasting) skills. We also invited the Rangers to lend a hand, as we love the role model they offer our girls.

Feb12_choc_collageThe Brownies came up with their own recipes, organized who would bring what ingredients, and prepared them with the help of our guests. Our creations included Chocolate Ice Cream Sundaes, Chocolate Berry Smoothies, Brownie Pops and Rice Krispie Surprise with a special Girl Guide ingredient (*hint: they are minty and chocolatey!). We captured the evening with photos and the girls later put together a cookbook entitled “Brownies Bake-Its” that doubles as a photo album. JGraphx provided us with the finished product which we shared with our guests.

After the demonstration, we got to sample all the delicious treats as we gathered around the Rangers camp blankets that they brought. What a great way to display girls’ Guiding achievements! The Sparks and Brownies were quick to decide which crests they want to earn during their Guiding careers.

By guest blogger Esther Szeben. Esther is a Guider with the 1st Valois Brownie Unit and the District PR Adviser for Valois-Dorval. This post originally appeared on GuidesQuébecBlog.

 

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Opening the vaults: The Maple Leaf Forever

On February 15, 1965, the maple leaf flag was first unfurled and raised across our country as our nation’s official flag. Designed by George Stanley, the beautiful red and white design  is based on the flag of the Royal Military College of Canada. This February 15 marks the 50th anniversary of our flag. As we prepare to commemorate Flag Day, we’re opening the vaults of the Girl Guides of Canada archives to celebrate Guiding’s proud traditions with the Canadian flag.

B.C. Browines fly a Canadian flag in 1967. This photo appeared on our 2010 100th anniversary cookie box. (APH 100)

B.C. Brownies fly a Canadian flag in 1967. This photo appeared on our 2010 100th anniversary cookie box.       (APH 100)

 

The cover of the March 1965 issue of Canadian Guider introduced the new Canadian flag.  Members were given tips on displaying the flag, marching and hoisting the new Canadian flag, as well as ideas for respectfully retiring the existing Union Jack.

The cover of the March 1965 issue of Canadian Guider introduced the new Canadian flag. Members were given tips on displaying the flag, marching and hoisting the new Canadian flag, as well as ideas for respectfully retiring the existing Union Jack.

 

Since its introduction in 1965 the Canadian flag has been proudly raised by Girl Guides both at home and away.

Flag raising ceremony at the 1977 International Camp in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  (APH 1271)

Flag raising ceremony at the 1977 International Camp in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. (APH 1271)

The Canadian flag flies onboard as girls explore the Sea of Cortez during a 2014 nationally-sponsored trip to Mexico. (Candice Lys)

The Canadian flag flies onboard as girls explore the Sea of Cortez during a 2014 nationally sponsored trip to Mexico. (Candice Lys)

Girl Guides of Canada has a rich history of including the flag and Canadian citizenship in programming, events and celebrations.

Canadian Heritage has put together some great information and simple suggestions for how to celebrate this special occasion.  Don’t forget that integrating these types of activities also helps girls complete core programming components!

  • Sparks: The World Around Me Keeper
  • Brownies: Key to My Community
  • Guides: Heritage Interest Badge
  • Pathfinders: Citizenship Certificate
  • Rangers: Community Connections #13
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What I learned as a girl, stays with me as a Guider

I Promise to share and be a friend.

It’s the fundamental principle we teach our youngest girls, Sparks. The ability to share items, tasks and feelings with each other can be a scary thought for any member in Guiding no matter the age. And to be a friend – providing companionship to all by sharing , giving compliments and praise as well as support. These principles are things we as leaders stand behind no matter the age group we are with.

When girls make their Promise, they are making a personal pledge that will stay with them into adulthood:

I promise to do my best,
to be true to myself, my beliefs and Canada,
I will take action for a better world and respect the Brownie /Guiding law.

From this we teach the girls to try their hardest at all things they embark on in life, stand up for themselves and their beliefs  while also respecting the beliefs and opinions of others. We encourage girls to take action for a better world by creating a safe, caring and encouraging environment for each other to grow as individuals, to learn about themselves, others and the world around them, and to acknowledge that the actions and words we choose often affect others around us and not always in a positive aspect.

With Pathfinders and Rangers we help them to explore the world and the many opportunities it holds, and to embrace who they are individually by encouraging them and allowing them to make informed decisions. We also stand back as they plan activities, watching their self-esteem and self-worth blossom because of it.

These are the principles on which Guiding has been founded and these are the principles that as a girl I was raised with through the Guiding program. As society has changed, we have adapted to what each girl and their family needs from this organization. Sometimes we seem to step away from the principles of Guiding as a place where guiding girls to become independent and strong young women are held second to our own personal ideals. As a Unit Guider, I’m always learning from my girls and trying to focus on what Guiding is all about – a sisterhood of girls and women believing and encouraging each other to create a positive and lasting change in our own lives, our communities and the world around us.

By guest blogger Marissa Wilson. Marissa is a Guider with the 1st Innisfail Sparks, 2nd Innisfail Brownies and Deputy Commissioner of Golden Poplar District in Alberta.

 

 

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How one District’s Thinking Day event became a pretty big deal

Ten years ago I was a brand new, wide eyed Brown Owl of a group of 36 Brownies! I had been in Brownies as a girl myself but was new to the whole ‘leading’ thing.  I had no clue what World Thinking Day was and even when I first heard the term I had no idea what kind of significance it truly was in the Guiding community. I read up on Thinking Day after a district meeting discussing it and thought to myself “WOW, this is like the Christmas of Guiding! This day is truly important and girls in our district need to know what Thinking Day is about and what Guiding is like for girls all over the world.”

That following September at the district meeting, armed with an idea that I got from a Girl Scouts U.S.A. group, I talked to the Guiders and asked if I could organize a district Thinking Day Event. I asked that every unit pick a WAGGGS country to represent at our event. They would need to showcase that country’s culture, landscape, diversity and, of course, Guiding community. I explained that their table could have a food sample but would need a stamp that represented their country to stamp each girl’s passport as they travelled to their country, as well as a trader that girls could make that would represent their country.

WTD2015_collage

That first Thinking Day event we had 11 countries represented and sold 88 tickets. Girls proudly marched into the event holding their country’s flag in the opening ceremony. We had a few girls perform small songs about their country, recognized Guiders with awards, and handed out Canada Cords to the Pathfinders that had earned them.

Fast forward to 2015. This year we will have 16 booths, are expecting over 550 people and will have guests ranging from our Member of Parliament, Mayors, Council people and Area International Advisor. We will have our opening ceremonies with the 225 girls and 40 Guiders bringing in their country’s flag, then singing ‘O’ Canada’ and having a few unit performances. We will recognize Guiders that are getting awards as well as the girls that earned their Canada Cords and Lady Baden Powell Awards. Each booth will be decorated with banners and art work that the girls in that unit have worked hard on all year. Girls, their siblings and parents will be able to taste food, make crafts, and learn about life and Guiding in other countries.

I can safely say that Guiders, girls and their families in Naitaka District know what Thinking Day is all about!

By guest blogger Claire Sokoloski from Westbank B.C. Claire has been Program Advisor, Deputy Commissioner, District Commisioner and unit Guider to every branch there is! She is most passionate about programming and international travel.

Get ready for World Thinking Day on February 22 by checking out our Friendship Flyer and the WAGGGS resources.

Posted in Global Guiding, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Reading – a pastime, a passion, and a way to take action

Guide_readingReading is one of my favourite things to do. I would probably say that I’m a bit of a fanatic about always having a hard-covered book to read. I have tried e-books (I commend everyone who can master that technology) and even paperbacks. But I always find myself coming back to a hard-covered book, especially when it is a new release from my favourite author (James Patterson), as I am too impatient to wait for it to be released in another form. Here’s a little secret about me….when I finish one of his books, I go to the bookstore to see when his next release is due as I’m so enthralled to keep reading the storyline.

As a child I read most of the limited selection that was available at that time, but as my own children were growing I found myself engrossed in tales of adventure, fantasy, make believe, and imagination. Dr. Seuss had meaning as a child, but as I grew older the messages were even more profound. Books such as Seuss’s  Oh the places you’ll go  and Love you forever by  Robert Munsch held just as much inspiration and deeper meaning for me as an adult as when I was a child.

Today, I am a whodunit buff. I love tales of intrigue and mystery that are thrillers and keep you on the edge of your seat with each page. Whatever your preference in literature is, I hope that you embrace reading with passion, gusto, and a sense of exploration. With every turning page, more is revealed. How awesome is that!

As we approach Family Literacy Day on January 27, it’s a great time to consider how your unit will participate in our new National Service Project, Words in Action. This is a great opportunity for girls to explore the world of possibilities that literacy can open up for them – and how they can provide service to others through literacy activities.

By guest blogger Sharron Callahan. Sharron is Girl Guides of Canada’s Chief Commissioner and International Commissioner, and also a book lover.

words in action crestWords in Action runs from January 2015 to August 2016. Girls only need to complete one service activity to earn the crest, which will be available from thegirlguidestore.ca beginning the third week of January.

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Getting Dirty and Why it’s Important

Sure, we’re in the bone-cold middle of January, but who says you can’t daydream about spring and summer? Why not keep the winter blues away by working with your unit to plan a tree planting project for this spring or summer. Bonus! We’ve made some great updates to the Girl Guides of Canada tree planting program grant program

Tree planting can now be done as a multi-unit project – which means one application, and the opportunity to apply for up to $2,500 in funds. (As always, our super Girl Guide thanks to the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.)

To kick-start your springtime daydreams, check out what Guider Karen discovered about the joys of getting dirty with her unit. (Originally posted June 2013.)

At the beginning of this Guiding year, we sat in our Brownie ring and talked about community service.  We all agreed that community service should be one of our themes for the year.  The girls came up with ways that we could serve our local, national and global community – crafts for Meals on Wheels, picking up garbage, helping at the food bank, saving water, sending Christmas boxes overseas.  One of our Brownies piped up: “We could plant trees here at the school to replace the ones they took down!”

Last spring, three large ash trees, infected with the emerald ash borer, were removed from the school yard.  Re-planting was a great idea, we all agreed.  I went ahead and looked into the TD Tree Planting Grant that I’d noticed posted on the GGC website.

I shot off an email, filled out the application and a couple of months later we found out that we had a tree planting grant!

To be honest, I didn’t give it too much thought after that until about a month before those trees were supposed to go in.  I met with the school principal, the school board’s tree consultant and the school custodian.  What I learned is that $500 doesn’t buy a lot of trees.  In fact, it would probably buy one or two trees and the trees would be too heavy for the girls to actually plant themselves so we’d have to hire a company to come and dig the hole and put the tree in the ground.  The girls could mulch and water it.

This was not what I had in mind.

I wanted my Brownies to get their hands dirty.  I wanted them wielding shovels and wearing rubber boots.  I wanted them to sweat.  I wanted them to have ownership of this project.  This had to be more than a photo-opp for these girls.

Enter Plan B.

We opted for the tree consultant’s alternative plan: we wouldn’t try and replace our lost ash trees.  Instead, we’d plant a grove of serviceberry trees that would provide some privacy from the road, lots of educational opportunities when the butterflies and birds found the berries, and hopefully the ability for the kids at the school to pick, cook and eat the berries from these trees.

Time was marching on.  The tree planting was two weeks away and I didn’t have trees or a garden centre that would cut me a deal so that each of our 17 Brownies could put a tree in the ground.  It was time to meet some people.

I went to a family-owned garden centre a stone’s throw away from the school.  I talked at length to Mr. Best-Garden-Centre-Manager-on-Earth and told him what I wanted to do and what I wanted my Brownies to experience.  “I want them to get their hands dirty,” I said.  “I want them to have ownership of this so they can each come back in 20 years and say – that’s my tree.”  He nodded.  He made a phone call and told me to come back in a week.  “We’ll work it out,” he said.

I had to put my trust in this guy, during his busiest time of the year, that there would be trees there for me to pick up, at a price I could afford, twelve hours before the trees had to go in the ground.

A week later I returned to the garden centre.  Mr Best Guy said he remembered me and yes, he had the trees.  He had twenty 3-gallon serviceberries and he was glad I came in because he couldn’t remember why he’d ordered so many.  (I’m sure glad no one else came in looking for any! Phew!).  He charged me $550 for 17 trees and 10 bags of soil.  He wished us luck, gave me a squeeze and sent me on my way, my Mazda 5 stuffed with 17 trees.  I drove with my hazards on, and tree branches sticking out every orifice of my car.

The next day, each of my Brownies got their hands dirty, as did their parents. They dug and they grunted and they sweated and they watered and they got rained on and muddy and they laughed and laughed and laughed.

36th Ottawa Brownies via Guider Karen Reyburn

36th Ottawa Brownies via Guider Karen Reyburn

On Monday at our meeting, the first thing each of them did was run over to “their” tree to see how it was doing.  “That’s mine!” they each shouted.

Our tree planting was probably the most work I had to put into any one Guiding project this year.  It was stressful and time-consuming and kept me up for a few nights worrying if it would all work out.

And it was the best Guiding project I did this year.  Because every Brownie who was there will remember this for years to come.  They learned why people fall in love with digging in the earth.  They learned the joy of getting dirty and wearing rubber boots and sweating.  They learned they are strong and can do hard things and can make a significant contribution to their community.  In one day.  In one hour.

Thank you to TD Foundation for helping teach them that.  Thank you to Artistic Landscape Design in Ottawa for making our money go so far.

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By guest blogger and Guider Karen.

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Gone (winter) camping!

Hollyburn_lodge2

Hollyburn Chalet on beautiful Hollyburn Mountain, B.C.

 

GirlGuidesCANBlog will be taking a bit of a break over the holidays. See you again in the New Year, with more great Guiding stories!

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The More We Get Together…

I recently had the opportunity to attend Ontario Council’s Guide Super Program weekend in Toronto in my capacity as National Program Adviser.  My purpose in attending the event was two-fold: to see how Guiders and trainers are working with the Guide program, and to meet and speak with as many Guiders as possible about their view of national programming.

The weekend was absolutely amazing!  The keynote speakers from the Disney Institute and the Canadian women’s hockey team provided insights that I have already begun to use within my own Guiding positions. In addition, I had the opportunity to attend a number of well-planned and well-executed sessions with suggestions and strategies for how to work with the program and make it engaging for the often-challenging Guide age.

I took away from the weekend:

  • A number of fun and engrossing activities to share with the Guiders I work with
  • An awesome USB bracelet with hand-outs from all of the sessions
  • Some splendid new crests and swaps
  • A spiffy new Guiding name tag
  • A number of new Guiding friends
  • The realization that despite the many differences between communities and provinces, Canadian Guiders face many of the same issues

More than anything, my experience at Guide Super Program reminded me why it is important for Guiders to get together for trainings and conferences.  Although events such as these focus on learning new skills and exploring new ideas, it was the spirit of camaraderie and friendship that I found most energizing and inspiring.  The weekend underscored the wealth of knowledge and experience that is present within the Guiding community, knowledge that it is important to share.

I would encourage all Guiders in Canada to seek out opportunities such as the Guide Super Program weekend. These opportunities are virtually guaranteed to boost your Guiding spirit!

Megan_ClarkBy guest blogger Megan Clarke. Megan Clake has been a Spark, Brownie and Pathfinder Guider in Regina, Saskatchewan.   She currently holds the position of Provincial Program Adviser, Provincial Cookie Adviser, and  Provincial Awards Adviser.

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Wreaths Across Canada: Remembering our soldiers, and a dedicated Guider

Dec11_WreathsCemeteryEarlier this week, members of the 1st Dorothy Crocker and 1st West Ottawa Wanderers (WOW) Trefoil Guilds had the privilege of volunteering with Wreaths Across Canada. Ceremonies were simultaneously held at Ottawa’s National Military Cemetery at Beechwood Cemetery, Mount Pleasant Cemetery in St. John’s, and at the Brookside Cemetery in Winnipeg.  After the ceremony, families, friends, and volunteers were invited to place a wreath on the headstone of every veteran buried in the National Military Cemetery.

Wreaths Across Canada is a non-profit organization focused on remembering the men and women of the Canadian Forces who so faithfully served their country in times of peace and conflict and who now rest in cemeteries across Canada. Their hope is that this practice will spread across Canada and that eventually every Military Cemetery will be adorned with wreaths, each and every year, on the first Sunday in December. This simple but effective “thank you” is central to the entire program. The wreaths symbolize our thanks to those who have served their country in the military and now lie at rest. Whether they died in battle, training accidents or years after retiring from the military, all who lie buried in these hallowed grounds deserve the thanks of a grateful nation for defending the freedoms and lifestyle we enjoy today.

All too often when the image of Canadian war dead comes to mind, we think of those buried overseas at places like Vimy, Normandy, Ortona, or Hong Kong. But over 250,000 veterans, many of whom fought in and survived those same battles, are now buried in military cemeteries throughout the nation. Veterans Affairs Canada alone is responsible for the maintenance of over 200,000 veterans’ graves in Canada and each year that figure grows as more graves are codified and added to their care. As well, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemeteries in Canada is the final resting place for over 18,000 service men and women who died in Canada while serving during the two World Wars.

It is Wreaths Across Canada’s hope that their work will invoke a new sense of gratitude and commitment to Canadian veterans who have served their country.

Heather Hamann, President of the 1st West Ottawa Wanderers Trefoil Guild (west end Ottawa), Sue Darcy, President of the 1st Dorothy Crocker Trefoil Guild (east end Ottawa), Brigitte Trau, member of both Guilds, laying a wreath at the grave of Col. Karen Ritchie.

Heather Hamann, President of the 1st West Ottawa Wanderers Trefoil Guild (west end Ottawa), Sue Darcy, President of the 1st Dorothy Crocker Trefoil Guild (east end Ottawa), Brigitte Trau, member of both Guilds, laying a wreath at the grave of Col. Karen Ritchie.

We had the honour of visiting the headstone of Col. Karen Ritchie, who was such a shining light in Canadian Guiding. An esteemed member of the Canadian military, Karen brought so much talent, enthusiasm and energy to her volunteer work in Guiding, including serving on our Board of Directors.

By guest blogger Brigitte Trau. Brigitte is a Trex Guider with the 1st Ottawa Trex Unit, the Camp Director for GM2016, and a full-time employee of Defence Construction Canada (Crown Corporation) for the last 25 years.

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Guiding Mosaic, here I come: Getting your group on

Travelling is exciting – travelling with Girl Guides is amazingly exciting.  Planning for Guiding Mosaic 2016 (GM2016, July 9-17, 2016) can seem daunting, exhausting and terrifying.  Don’t panic, take up the challenge and enjoy the experience. Enjoy the view and go for it!

GM2016_logoEach GM2016 patrol will consist of Pathfinders or Rangers and Guiders. Here are some tips to get you started as you organize your patrol:

  • Identify the Guiders and girls who will make up your patrol: You will need to ensure that you meet Safe Guide ratio and that all of your girls meet the age requirements. (Participants must be registered in Pathfinders or Rangers for the 2015-2016 or 2016-2017 Guiding years.) Complete the List of Participants (IT.11) form as a means of gathering all the participants’ relevant information in one place. An ideal patrol is eight girls and two adults, but patrols can be any size. With assistance from the Provincial Liaison, smaller patrols may be combined with another smaller patrol. If you do not have a patrol attending GM2016, individual Guiders and individuals girls can still attend. They will be placed with existing patrols, also with the assistance of the Provincial Liaison.
  • Get started on the required Safe Guide documents for participation: You will need to submit a Travel Preauthorization (SG.8) form for preapproval to travel. Once approved, you will be able to get started on your other documents including Activity Plan (SG.1), Parent Guardian Permission (SG.2), Activity Notification or Authorization (SG.3) and Emergency Response Plan (SG.4).
  • Develop a draft budget to be shared with families: Google current costs for ground/air transport, food enroute, camp registration and potential equipment purchases. Remember to include an emergency reserve!
  • Organize a parent meeting: You’ll want to discuss expectations around behaviour (Code of Conduct) and costs. Consider holding your meeting for 30 minutes following your regular unit meeting. Only the girls attending GM2016 would stay and it will save you having to go out a second night.
  • Decide if you are going to do any travelling pre or post camp: Plan a week, or several days before or after camp. You could explore Edmonton, Calgary or one of the nearby national parks. Have the girl’s research and plan the itinerary. Gather information about costs, accommodations and transport along the way.

TIP – Buy a notebook that is exclusively for GM2016 use. Jot down anything and everything that is related to your planning.  You’ll have all your information in one place and you’ll never wonder, “Where did I put that…”

By guest blogger Kris McGee. Kris is a Pathfinder Guider from Kitchener, Ontario and an avid traveller. She’s been part of youth trips to more than a dozen countries and from coast to coast.

Guiding Mosaic pre-registration is now open! Questions? Email GM2016(at)girlguides.ca 

 

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Friday Night Guiding!

When people find out I run a Guide unit on Friday nights, I often hear similar comments. “On a Friday? Really? Are you not tired at the end of the week”?

Truth is, there are many advantages to running a unit on a Friday. Some, you might not expect.

Last year, simple math told me we had too many advancing Brownies for the already overfilled area Guide units. They had mostly first and second year Guides, meaning no room would free up. Next years’ registration was about to become like Black Friday in an electronics department!

After discussing the problem with a friend, we approached the ACL and were approved to open a new Guide unit. But the biggest challenge was to find a meeting space! After much searching, the only option was a Friday night. Our initial reactions were mixed, but now, we’re completely on board with Friday night Guiding!

The 4th Kanata 'Friday Night' Guides at their enrollment ceremony this fall.

The 4th Kanata ‘Friday Night’ Guides at their enrollment ceremony this fall.

Friday night meetings have proven to be a fantastic option for the girls. Usually they arrive on time and relaxed. The school week is done – it’s time to celebrate! Our meeting becomes a reward for another successfully completed week. They don’t have to rush to do their homework before coming, and they don’t have be up early for school the next morning.

The parents have advantages to a Friday meeting as well. Not having to worry about pushing your child to do their homework in time for Guides, means less stress all around. If parents had a tiring week, they get a chance to rest while their daughter is at Guides. We have two sisters in our unit and a few “only-children,” so their parents enjoy Friday date nights or meeting friends for coffee! How’s that for an end of the week reward?! After the meeting, parents don’t feel rushed to get children home and to bed as quickly, with no school the next morning.

It’s not just the girls and their families who profit from the Friday meetings. As Guiders, we plan a schedule in September, but save smaller details until the week of each meeting. It’s nice having the week to finalize plans. If we’re tired after a busy week, we look at it as other successful work week done and another Friday night to celebrate with girls who are keen to learn and to be encouraged by us. Now that’s invigorating!

Since I’m a parent as well as a Guider, the solving of the homework and bedtime issues have made things easier for me, as well as my child. Instead of gathering my Guiding stuff while negotiating homework, I can instead focus on what I need for my meeting and ask my daughter to help, or to prepare herself with the things she needs for Guides.

On top of these benefits to our regular meetings, we’ve also enjoyed being able to extend our  gatherings into sleepovers or camps! This way, the girls are free to attend because it’s already part of their regular schedule. Special nights for events often coincide with our Friday nights, making planning a breeze! The occasional party or ceremony also seems to fit well with a Friday night.

Although having a Girl Guide meeting on a Friday night is uncommon, I’ve slowly discovered the many benefits to this unusual option. I’m looking forward to the years ahead as we discover other advantages to our Friday Night Guides!

 By guest blogger Lana Paine. Lana teaches part-time at Algonquin College and owns a business with her husband. She was in Guiding for nine years as a girl and has now been a Guider for five years. She currently runs the NEW 4th Kanata North Guides with her excellent co-Guiders and has been recently appointed as Community Guider for Kanata, a suburb of Ottawa. 

 

 

 

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Moving Oceans: Working together to stop violence against girls

Earlier this fall, Morgan Boyer, a Ranger with the 1st St. John’s Ranger unit in Waterford Valley, St. John’s, Newfoundland, attended the 2nd Annual Girls Speak Out summit in celebration of International Day of the Girl, at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. Morgan was invited after writing a  winning poem when WAGGGS called for stories from girls around the world about “What it’s like being a girl in your country.”

As Girl Guide members across the country participate in the 16 Days of Action Against Gender-Based Violence, we asked Morgan to share her experiences with us:

The United Nations summit was looking for girls to share their stories about being a girl in different countries around the world, I sent mine in. It was titled Moving Ocean and compared being a girl to being a drop of water, we can’t do much alone but together we can move oceans. I was featured on the website and formally invited to attend the summit.

MBoyer_UNSummit

The word ‘powerful’ is overused but there is no better word to describe the stories I heard at the UN. We hear about eating disorders, sexual violence, and child marriage almost every day but we never hear the stories ‘live’ from real girls.

At the United Nations headquarters in New York I was led through a security scan. Inside the building it was the cleanest and everything was gold and white.  Inside, girls, ambassadors and delegates shared their stories for almost three hours.  The experience made me understand the global impact this issue has on people around the world, no girl has been left unaffected.

Guiding plays a significant role in helping girls understand the importance of healthy relationships since for many girls Guiding is the first place valuable lessons about self esteem, leadership, and teamwork are learned. My Guiding friends and Guiders were the ones who helped me through my unhealthy relationship and to this day are still my main support system. Without them I would not have been able to do it alone. As a survivor of an abusive relationship, and through my knowledge gained from my experiences I’ve been creating programs for young girls to teach them about respect and violence against women. I hope to expand to schools later this year.

One of my Guiders told me that one day I would change the world, but I really hope I already have.

I’ve included my favourite activities to try below:

We’re all made of the same stuff” (Sparks/Brownies): Make cookies that look like boys and girls, one may have more chocolate chips and one may be darker or bigger but in the end we’re all the same on the inside.

“Talk behind my back” (Guides/Pathfinder/Rangers): Tape a piece of paper to each girls back and invite the others to write positive messages anonymously on their backs.

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By guest blogger Morgan Boyer. Morgan is a Ranger and Girl Assistant with a Brownie unit in St. John’s, NL. She is currently in her 13th year of Guiding, traveled to Mexico and Costa Rica, and hopes to continue to expand her knowledge and experiences to improve her global community.

16Days_InstantMtgBe sure to check out our 16 Days Instant Meeting, with unit activities for all branches.

 

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Calming the Camp Nerves

We at Brownies know how stressful a first camp can be! Nerves and anxiety everywhere. To help, I’ve made a list of my top ways parents and Guiders can help to calm homesick and anxious campers.

The 23rd Guelph Brownies are anything but homesick at Camp Wyoka.

The 23rd Guelph Brownies are anything but homesick at Camp Wyoka.

For Parents:

  • Don’t transfer your own anxieties onto your Brownie! Sometimes our own nerves come across pretty clearly. A girl who might not have been nervous might become nervous when she sees your own anxieties! Give her a smile and be reassuring leading up to camp. If she expresses her own nerves, talk through them together.
  • Help her pack… but don’t pack for her. Part of the camp experience is gaining a sense of responsibility and independence… and it starts at home! When a Brownie packs her own things, she knows what she brought and where it is. She can take control of herself and will feel more prepared for camp than if you were to simply drop her off with a bag of mystery things lovingly packed by mom.
  • Don’t linger at drop-off! The longer you wait around, the harder it becomes for your girl to imagine her new home (for two nights!) without you. See her over to her bunk, give her a hug and kiss, and tell her you’ll see her on Sunday. Then scoot! (She can show you all those things she’s excited about just as easily on Sunday morning.)
  • Talk to your Guiders. If your Brownie has expressed some nerves, please tell us. We’ll be on the lookout during camp to make sure she stays as happy as can be.
  • Know limits. It’s possible your Brownie really isn’t ready for camp. Only you, together with your Brownie, can make that call! If she really isn’t ready, that’s okay too. We’ll look forward to working with you and with her to get her to that point.

For Guiders:

  • Watch for isolation. If a Brownie starts to feel excluded and left out, homesickness may start to set in. If you know a girl is susceptible to homesickness, keep an extra special eye on her to make sure she is having fun with the other girls.
  • Prepare for bedtime. We all know that the hardest time for a homesick Brownie is bedtime. Talk to the girls a week or two before camp about their bedtime routines. What do they need to fall asleep? Special stuffie? Special blanket? Do they need to have a story read to them or quiet time to read by themselves? Do they listen to music before bed? These are all easy things we can recreate at our camps if we know about them!
  • In the moment. When homesickness happens, deal with it calmly. Don’t dismiss her feelings. Listen to anything the girl wants to share, but if she’s not feeling particularly chatty, change the subject. Ask her questions about her stuffie friend, her day at school, or her latest family vacation. The more she talks, the more she will calm down.
  • Strategies for stress management. Bring extra stuffies. Our homesick girls get to snuggle with a special friend (the owl from our toadstool, or even a leader’s stuffie!). The extra friend reminds her that she is not alone! Another activity that can work well is to give the girl a sheet of paper and some markers or crayons. Ask her to draw a picture about how she is feeling, or to write a letter to her parents telling them how she feels. Tell her she can keep the drawing under her pillow and give it to mom and dad on Sunday morning when they pick her up.
  • Know limits. Sometimes girls really aren’t ready. Know when you can work through a moment of stress, and when you need to call home.

By guest blogger Rachel Collins. Rachel is a Guider in Guelph, Ontario and Chair of the Canadian Guider Editorial Committee. Re-posted with permission from the the blog of the 23rd Guelph Brownies.

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The Hair Petition

The World Centres are something you talk about in Guiding from a young age. You learn where they are, what they’re called, what kind of food they eat and what games they play in the countries where they are located. But last July, after two flights, two train rides, a bus ride and a hike up a steep hill, 13 of the 33rd Montreal Pathfinders, one 1st Monkland Ranger, and three Guiders visited Our Chalet in Switzerland for the first time.

We had an amazing trip, experiencing everything you would expect from a stay  in the Alps – hiking,  friend making, rock climbing, cheese, chocolate, zip-lining, singing, wood burning, learning about WAGGGS, trading, storytelling, experience comparing, and the list goes on. Yet my most memorable and thought provoking moment was one that could have happened at home. I’ll tell you all about it, but first you need the back story.

Nov18_ourChalet

Our first couple of days we spent a lot of time doing high-adrenaline adventure activities. As you can probably guess, these required hair to be tied back – you don’t want it to get caught in a zip-line pulley after all. As leaders, we spent a lot of time asking the girls to tie it back (as I’m sure many of you do at camp). It got to be so frequent that during our nightly debrief we finally told the girls that we expected hair to be tied back from the time we saw them at breakfast until the time they went to get ready for bed – we followed our own rules as well.

The next afternoon, there came a knock at our door and our Ranger handed us a piece of paper. “It’s a hair petition,” she said. “They spent their free time composing it.” Well at first we had to laugh. Their arguments about it looking better for pictures and causing fewer sunburns if it was down seemed far-fetched far best. We could have flat-out disregarded it and told the girls to do what we said. But what kind of message would that have sent them?

We spend much of our time in Guiding (and hopefully life in general) encouraging girls to stand up for themselves, work for what they want and never take no for an answer. We decided that this could be a teaching moment. That night, we had the girls present their arguments in person and came to a compromise. If they could show us that they could keep it tied back for an entire day without us having to remind them, they could leave it down when we weren’t doing activities for the rest of the trip.

This may seem like a trivial and odd little story. But to me it’s what Guiding and travelling are about: listening to the girls, learning from differences, cooperation and compromise, problem solving and encouraging girls to believe in themselves!

Nov18_LizKNowlesBy guest blogger Elizabeth Knowles. Elizabeth is a Guider with the 2ndLockerby Guides in Sudbury, Ontario, where she is completing a graduate diploma in Science Communication at Laurentian University in part thanks to the Roberta Bondar Girl Guides of Canada scholarship she earned. She is also the provincial Deputy Program Advisor in Quebec. You can read more about her trip to Our Chalet and her other Guiding adventures on her blog.  

 

 

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Opening the vaults: Embarrassing moments

Ever have one of those moments where you find your old journal or a box of letters you wrote? Yeah, it can be kind of embarrassing. So imagine Guider Sarah Govan-Sisk’s surprise when a letter she wrote almost 20 years ago to national office was unearthed.

Sarah had contacted the national archives for some research she was conducting on the activities of Ottawa Girl Guides during the Second World War. As our archives staff was assisting her, they found this gem in our archival records:

Nov13_SGovan_letter

As Sarah notes: “So embarrassing, but hilarious. You can tell that I must have just finished a session on ‘how to write a business letter’ at school. It’s so formal! Sadly, my dream to feature in the catalogue never came true. ; )”

While her modeling aspirations may not have been realized, don’t feel too badly for Sarah – she turned out okay. She is now a senior Parliamentary Affairs and Governance manager with the federal government, a former member of the Girl Guides of Canada Board of Directors, a Guider with the 12th Ottawa Guiding unit, and a recent member of the Twinning 2020 planning team.

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We will remember them

Remembrance-Day-logoRemembrance Day – November 11, 2014

My earliest memories of Guiding are going to my Sparks meetings in a little church hall, on the Canadian Forces Base in North Bay, Ontario. I was excited to continue a family tradition. My mother, who was also my leader had been a Brownie right through to an Air Ranger. Her mother, my grandmother, had also been a leader. Both my father (a member of Canada’s military for over 40 years) and grandfather (a veteran of the Second World War) were leaders for several years with multiple branches of Scouts Canada. I’ve proudly continued the tradition and am well into my 23rd year of Guiding.

This year, as every year before, my unit will observe Remembrance Day. Though my girls are only 9-11 years old I think this year will be different for them. Being a unit from Ottawa, many of my girls will have, at some point, stood at the base of the memorial where Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was shot and killed as he stood guard at Canada’s National War Memorial. They would have heard on the news of WO Patrice Vincent, killed days earlier. They will know that these men were brave and understand that they died serving our country. They will want to talk about them, they will want to honour them. They will almost all have a family member, a friend’s parent, a neighbour who is/was a member of Canada’s military. They will want to honour them, too.

As members of an organization with a strong history of community service,, I feel it is our privilege to take the time to remember and appreciate what Canada’s military have done to make Canada the great nation that it is today. As generations pass and Canada’s involvement in international conflict changes, it is our obligation to remember, and to teach new generations why we, as Canadians get to live in a country that is free and safe.

Neither Cpl. Nathan Cirillo nor WO Patrice Vincent will have died in vain. Built indomitably on the sacrifices and bravery of veterans from generations before, our nation was not crippled by fear, but strengthened in community and pride. We are united in appreciation for Canada’s military and first responders and the work they do every day to keep Canada the true north, strong and free.

When the day is done, when the sun is gone, from the lakes, from the hills from the sky. When thanks to them, all is calm, and we can safely rest,

We will remember them.

Erin McConnellBy guest blogger Erin McConnell. Erin has been a member of Girl Guides of Canada for over 20 years. Growing up in a military family, Guiding was an important way to meet friends and settle into a new city after each move.Currently, Erin is a Ph.D. candidate in the Chemistry department at Carleton University, in Ottawa. She has especially enjoyed using her expertise to get girls enthusiastically involved in science and technology.

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Remembering our Guiding Roots on Remembrance Day

Remembrance-day-logo-blue2-300x300
Remembrance Day is not just an opportunity to talk about peace, or what soldiers did during the First and Second World Wars or Afghanistan – it can also be a great opportunity to introduce our girls to our Guiding roots. One often overlooked piece of the Guiding story is that our founder, Lord Robert Baden-Powell, was a General for the British Army during the Boer War.

In Canada, today’s military is just as likely to be conducting search and rescue on the coasts or providing flood relief in the Prairies as being involved in conflict. This in essence is helping our communities; something that we strive to do with our girls. There are many other things within Guiding that mirror the non-conflict aspects of the military and pay tribute to Lord B.P.’s roots.

Guides visiting the 435 Search & Rescue Squadron, 17 Wing Winnipeg.

Guides visiting the 435 Search & Rescue Squadron, 17 Wing Winnipeg.

As we all know, Lord B.P. was regarded for his ingenuity in how he trained his troops in skills like independent thinking, resourcefulness and wilderness survival. Even though Guiding has changed a lot since our organization began, these ideals run through many aspects of today’s programming. The concept of being a good citizen within our community is also something that our military teaches every man and woman who serves. Learning how to build a fire, lean-to and survive in the woods is still mandatory training for all aircrew in the Canadian Forces.

In planning for your Remembrance Day programming in the future, my challenge to Guiders is to think outside the box. I have taken girls in British Columbia and Manitoba to visit the flying squadrons and it has been a hit with the girls and military personnel alike. All units can write letters/pictures addressed to ‘Any Canadian Forces Member’ to bring some cheer to our forces currently deployed overseas (http://www.forces.gc.ca/en/write-to-the-troops/mailing-instructions.page). When you’re away from your family for as long as some of our troops are, some hand drawn artwork of something Canadian really does brighten your day. Teach the girls the story of Guiding during this time of year, letting the girls know that Lord B.P, was a veteran, too.

If you live near a military base, contact the base Public Affairs Office (at least a month in advance), or Military Family Resources Centre and see what tours, demonstrations or programs they can offer.

As a member of Guiding, you have more in common with veterans and military members that you stand alongside on Remembrance Day than you think.

By guest blogger Marla, a Guide Guider and aerospace engineering officer in the Royal Canadian Air Force. She has worked with units in several provinces including Ontario, B.C. and Manitoba. 

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Get your Tech On

With over 10 years as a Girl Guide leader, it’s not surprising that some things have changed since I started.  Here are some of my tips for using technology as a Guider.

  • Email is your friend – I’m a big fan of email. I can write an email when I think of something or when it’s convenient for me and co-Guiders can respond when it’s convenient for them. There is also a record, so I can go back and look things up when I forget.
  • Shared documents – This has really helped. All of my co-Guiders can read and edit our shared documents. It’s easier than sending another email (and remembering the attachment) every time I make any changes. I recommend Dropbox or Google Drive.
  • Download it for a meeting – I can’t get Wi-Fi at our regular meeting space so I prefer to download all files or videos to my computer or tablet.
  • Songs on YouTube – When I’m learning a new song, I like to listen to it a few times. I’ve had good luck finding recordings of songs on YouTube, I even learned the Our Chalet song this way.
  • Just use the cell phone camera – I often forget my digital camera or forget to take pictures with it. When cell phone cameras were first introduced the pictures were grainy and fuzzy (doesn’t this blur look like she’s having fun in Girl Guides!), but now the pictures I take with my cell phone are great for documenting what we got up to.

While I’m a fan of technology, I have two cautions:

  • The internet doesn’t forget – While it is great to promote Girl Guides, I don’t want to impose on a girl’s privacy. Be sure to confirm that your girls have an Image Release (IR.1) form signed. I also always ask parents permission before using their child’s picture on a blog posts and I’m quite generic when I post about Girl Guides on Facebook.
  • Turn off the phone (when you aren’t taking pictures) – I don’t want to be bothered by a wrong number during a district meeting and during unit meetings I want the girls in my unit to know that they are more important than whatever I’m looking at on my phone.

I know that technology can often be confusing or overwhelming but it can also be helpful and handy.

21By guest blogger Jill Ainsworth, who has been a Girl Guide leader for more than 10 years and currently works with Sparks and Brownies in Westmount, Quebec. When she’s not in uniform, she is pursuing a PhD in Biostatistics at McGill University. Check out her previous blog post, Say cheese! Setting up a Girl Guide photo booth

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A Feast Fit for Zombies

Learning all about outdoor cooking doesn’t have to be boring! Mix together some creepy zombies, yummy food, and fun – it’s a great opportunity to engage older girls and practice important skills.

Last weekend, West Coast Area hosted our annual day-long Iron Chef cooking competition for Pathfinders, Rangers, and adult Guiders. This year’s theme was A Feast Fit For Zombies – very appropriate with the proximity to Halloween! We had over 24 teams participate, all in the running for the cast iron pan trophy. Each team brought their own camp kitchen equipment and dazzled us with their cooking and creativity on a short timeline and with limited supplies.

West Coast Area Girl Guides in B.C. have a ghoulishly good time at their Feast Fit for Zombies - Iron Chef cooking competition.

West Coast Area Girl Guides in B.C. have a ghoulishly good time at their Feast Fit for Zombies – Iron Chef cooking competition.

Over 120 competitors first participated in a food draft, where they had the opportunity to select ingredients one at a time until they were all gone. This meant some creative choices as the draft went on – substituting other foods for their top picks when they were not available anymore. Each team had to put together an appetizer, main, and dessert with a common zombie-themed characteristic: brains! Girls made their food look like brains and/or used ingredients that are good for your brain to get top marks.

As with many Guiding events, we also incorporated an element of community service into our Iron Chef day. Girls were encouraged to bring non-perishable goods for the local food bank and compete for the ‘best donation’ title!

We were lucky to have community and chef judges from local non-profit organizations and Guiding groups. The judges had the best job of all: testing each group’s food! All of the judges, several of whom are professional chefs, were impressed and proud of the girls’ efforts.

Check out photos of the fabulous dishes.

This event was made possible by the efforts of our camping committee who did an excellent job organizing and promoting registration. Thank you!

By guest blogger Diamond Isinger, is a communications consultant in Vancouver and West Coast Area Commissioner for Girl Guides of Canada.

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Cookie All Stars – More Than Just a Laptop

How a Brownie became a Pathfinder, and turned her cookie goals into a laptop for school…

When I was in my first year of Brownies, the Cookie All Stars program was brand new. I was really excited about the rewards, so I jumped right in wanting to sell 80 cases. My parents suggested that I try for a smaller goal first so I sold 15 cases instead that year. I felt pretty proud of myself and wore my very first Cookie All Star crest with pride. The next year, I wanted the Chapters gift card, so I worked very hard and sold 30 cases.

From Brownies to Pathfinders, Meg worked hard on her cookie selling goals... and earned herself a laptop for high school along the way.

From Brownies to Pathfinders, Meg worked hard on her cookie selling goals… and earned herself a laptop for high school along the way.

Then, in my first year of Guides, after my “cookie selling training” I decided to set a really big goal: to buy myself a laptop before high school. That year, I sold 40 cases of cookies and earned the $125 Future Shop gift card. The next year, I didn’t think I could sell 80 cases, but I wanted to see if I could sell more than the previous year. I was able to sell 52 cases and earned a second $125 Future Shop gift card. Finally, as a third-year Guide, I decided this was the year I was going to be a top performer and reach the 80 case level. I spent a lot of evenings and weekends going door-to-door and heard a lot of “No thank you,” but I persevered and completed my goal of selling 80 cases of Girl Guide cookies, earning a $250 Future Shop card!  I almost couldn’t believe that I had actually accomplished my goal and had enough gift cards to buy myself my very own laptop!

But it wasn’t just ringing doorbells that sold all of those cookies, it was my confidence and perseverance. I used to be so shy that I would knock on the door and pray that nobody would answer!  Now I’m much more independent, courageous, and able to talk to people I don’t even know! Along the way, I’ve learned ways to sell more efficiently and get a more positive reaction at the door. This is what worked for me:

  1. Always wear your uniform!
    People love seeing your badges, hat crafts and pins, especially if their daughters were in Girl Guides!  Some people will even buy cookies just because they love that you’re wearing your uniform!
  1. Talk to teachers, family and friends
    Always ask your teachers and principals if they would like to buy some cookies!  Lots of teachers would love to have a box of cookies on their desk to munch on or buy some to treat their class. It’s the same with family and friends. Plus, family and friends will buy even more cookies just to support you!
  1. Leave “Sorry I Missed You” cards
    If you’re going door-to-door and someone doesn’t answer, leave a “Sorry I Missed You!” card in the door with your Guider’s contact information. You can print them off of the Girl Guide website and put on your first name and your home phone number. You’ll sell more cookies easily!
  1. Always use your manners
    Manners matter and make a huge difference!  People love Girl Guides who say please and thank you, even if they don’t want to buy your cookies. If they say no thanks, don’t mope around and grumble – smile and thank them for their time!  And if they do buy some, always remember to thank them for supporting Girl Guides! It’ll go a long way!

I really love selling Girl Guide cookies … it’s such a fun thing to do!  Selling cookies has taught me both social and money handling skills, as well as improved my public speaking and confidence in myself. I think cookie selling is good for girls because it teaches goal setting and life skills they will need when they get older. It can also give them a huge sense of accomplishment.

Girl Guides makes me feel better about myself. I think it’s pretty amazing that not only have I helped my unit and local camps, but the entire Guiding community across Canada just by selling cookies!  And now I see that this past summer, I didn’t just “buy a laptop” … I actually got so much more than that!  What I really gained was a sense of achievement which I will carry with me for the rest of my Guiding years!  And that’s a whole lot more than just a laptop.

By guest blogger Meg Dewar, a 1st-year Pathfinder with 2nd Port Elgin Guides & Pathfinders.

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Hanging with the Hong Kong Girl Guides

We arrived in Hong Kong after an 18-hour flight with our family, to a much warmer, much busier atmosphere then we are used to living in rural Ontario. Knowing we were missing the beginning of the Girl Guide year at home, we had reached out to the Hong Girl Guides Association via email before we departed Ontario, asking if it would be possible for my daughter and I to join a unit for a meeting while we were there.

Canadian Guider Amanda Benny and her daughter visit with Hong Kong Girl Guides.

Canadian Guider Amanda Benny and her daughter visit with Hong Kong Girl Guides.

I received an email from a Guider in Hong Kong who has a joint unit of Brownies and Girl Guides who were eager for us to join them. They asked what I would like to do at the meeting and I said simply that we would like join in the fun. After a long MTR (subway) ride, getting lost a few times and still getting used to the time change my daughter and I arrived at the meetinghouse.

The young girls who were there so smartly dressed in their brown and yellow summer Brownie uniforms were quick to greet us with hellos and hugs.  Delaney and I joined in with the opening song and skipped around the room with the leaders and girls, not understanding the song they were singing but enjoying every minute of it none the less.

After the opening, their Guider, Vicki, introduced my daughter and I told  the girls that we were Girl Guides from Canada. They had lots of great questions for us: What was Guides like back home? What did we do for fun at Guides? What were the badges on Delaney’s sash? What was it like to have snow?

After we had answered their questions, we joined into the activities of the afternoon, making paper lanterns for the Mid-Autumn Lantern festival.  Delaney quickly joined the table and it was nice to see the girls working together even though they did not speak the same language. While the lanterns were being made, I joined the group of Guides next door, exchanging gifts of Girl Guide cookies, Girl Guide pencils, maple syrup and of course badge swaps!

We then all gathered for photos before closing. I am so grateful that my daughter and I had this opportunity to join in the fun and friendship Girl Guides has to offer and see what it truly means to be a sister to every Guide, even when you do not speak the same language.

By guest blogger Amanda Benny, a Guider with the 1st Beaverton Pathfinders and Rangers. This  year, Amanda opened a joint Spark, Brownie and Guide Unit and is loving every minute of being a Guider for every branch!

 Have you ever visited a Girl Guide or Girl Scout unit in another country? Pitch us your story: ggcblog (at) girlguides.ca

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Opening the Vaults: Cookie Selling

The tradition of selling Girl Guide cookies goes back to 1927 when a Girl Guide leader in Regina baked and packaged cookies for her girls to sell as a simple way to raise money for their uniforms and camping equipment.

A look back through our archival photographs reveals some tried and true cookie selling techniques.

(1978, from Girl Guides of Canada National Archives APH95)

(1978, from Girl Guides of Canada National Archives APH95)

Know your customer.

 

(1957, from Girl Guides of Canada National Archives)

(1957, from Girl Guides of Canada National Archives)

A bold display can  make your product stand out.

 

(c. 1970s from Girl Guides of Canada National Archives APH474)

(c. 1970s from Girl Guides of Canada National Archives APH474)

Going door-to-door may increase your sales and help you meet your neighbours.

 

(Elmira Brownies Promote Girl Guide Cookies, 1977. From Girl Guides of Canada National Archives APH96)

(Elmira Brownies Promote Girl Guide Cookies, 1977. From Girl Guides of Canada National Archives APH96)

Practicing at a unit meeting before going out to fundraise helps to boost girls’ confidence.

 

(c. 1978 from Girl Guides of Canada National Archives APH94)

(c. 1978 from Girl Guides of Canada National Archives APH94)

Selling at community events – and to hard-working Mounties – is a great way to boost sales.


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Making new best friends in Peru

Imagine meeting a whole group of Pathfinders and Rangers for the first time at an airport. In a few short hours you will be  travelling to Peru as part of Girl Guides of Canada’s Peru Adventure 2014. Up until now, everyone has just been a name or a quick Facebook comment. It reminds you of that “first day of school” feeling. Then, only three weeks later, once the trip is complete you’ll be back at the airport saying so long to best friends who you’ll stay in touch with for years to come.

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This is the best part of travelling internationally with Girl Guides – the fact that Guiding provides that common ground, a shared experience. When all 20 of us met in Toronto (16 Pathfinders and Rangers and four Guiders) we were excited for the upcoming adventure to Peru. Jointly with Canada World Youth, we would volunteer in the remote highland town of Mato. There, we would assist community projects like building ecological kitchens for people in need. We started on our stove construction by digging adobe dirt to mix clay to make the necessary bricks. Our team worked in the sun for hours. It was a tough and dusty job. Still, everyone laughed and chatted while working together. Some shared experiences were humorous – chasing noisy poultry from our building site or getting up close with a hungry llama!

Girl Guide travel gives you a family away from home. Each girl twosome shared a homestay family. When we travelled as a group, climbing the Inca ruins outside Cusco at Ollantaytambo, the high altitude made the 60° incline seem impossible to climb. Girls encouraged one another to make the trek to the summit and the stupendous view. Going up was fine for me but coming down was a whole other story, as I became almost paralyzed by dizziness. I inched my way back down; grateful for all the encouragement I had from our team. Just two weeks ago we had never met—and now these girls rallied to my aid!

At the end of our Peru adventure there were lots of tearful goodbyes. Many of us are planning to get together at other big Guiding events and keep in touch on Facebook. One of our Rangers said it best: “I didn’t realize I could make a new best friend in just a week.”

By guest blogger Geneviève Lespérance, a Guider in Kingston, Ontario.

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Applications are now open for our 2015 travel opportunities!

  • North Vancouver Island
  • Ottawa/Montreal/Quebec City
  • Sangam World Centre
  • Our Chalet World Centre
  • Sea of Cortez
  • Australian International Jamboree

Trip applications close November 9.

 

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We are all heroes

International Day of the Girl, October 11, 2014

Hero. Such a simple word that can mean so much. In comic books and Hollywood blockbusters, super heroes have extraordinary talents and superhuman powers that they dedicate to helping protect the world. While these kinds of super heroes may be imaginary, heroes are very real.

We are surrounded by girls and young women who are truly heroes. They are brave, they are bold, they are courageous. They go to school and work, they take on responsibilities, they volunteer in their community, they move the world forward.

canada_flag_8816_with_Brownie holding IDG placardAs we mark International Day of the Girl 2014 on October 11, it’s time to shine a spotlight on the girls and women who do extraordinary things. It’s time to recognize girls and young women as powerful agents of change in their own lives, the lives of their families, their communities, and the world.

This year, Girl Guides of Canada is marking International Day of the Girl by celebrating female heroes, and how their simple actions generate strength, hope and inspiration. It’s a day to hear from girls about what it means to be a hero, and the female heroes that have made an impact on their lives.

At GGC, we are instrumental in helping girls be heroes in their own ways. Through Guiding, girls have a safe and supportive space to raise their voice, share their stories, and make an impact.

We all have it in us to be heroes. Whenever we show courage when faced with a problem, whenever we are willing to help others – even when it isn’t the easiest thing to do – we  are heroes. Through these simple but bold actions, we can generate incredible change.

By guest blogger Sharron Callahan, Chief Commissioner and International Commissioner, Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada.

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Girl Guides of Canada’s International Day of the Girl instant meeting offers activities that will give girls the chance celebrate their heroes and explore and be inspired by issues they care about in their communities and around the world.

 

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A ditty bag by any other name…

Every Girl Guide knows a mesh bag is essential at camp to do dishes, but what do you call it? A mess kit? A ditty bag? A mess sack? Every unit uses different terminology but generally within the same region, terms are pretty much the same. But when you start Guiding in a different province, there are many differences in both terminology and in song lyrics. It’s like learning to speak Guiding all over again.

Campers at Caddy Lake in Manitoba.

Campers at Caddy Lake Girl Guide camp in Manitoba.

This summer I worked at Caddy Lake Girl Guide Camp in Manitoba. I was excited to make new friends in Guiding outside of Edmonton, but I did not expect a language barrier. The first couple days at camp I had no issues while planning campfire but when it came to the execution of campfire I soon learnt that not everyone has a hugging competition while singing “40 Years on an Iceberg” and not everyone hums the last verse of “Barges”. Even when the words were the same in “On My Honour”, the order of the verses were not always the same in Manitoba as they were in Alberta.

There was some terminology that was unique to Caddy like how they call the bathroom “The Jinx”. But there were some terms such as the mess kit that caused confusion amongst all the Manitobans, and then I brought the confusion home with me. Back in Alberta, it’s called a mess kit, but when I told all 20 of my Manitoban campers to pull out their mess kits they all looked at me with  great confusion. It was only until my co-counsellor clarified to the campers that when I said “mess kit” I really meant “ditty bag”, did the girls jump into action. After six weeks of calling it a ditty bag, I came home and told my sister to pack her ditty bag for camp. She gave me the exact look my campers gave me six weeks earlier.

Even though we were all speaking English, we all seemed to speak different types of the “Girl Guide language”. Even with a “language barrier” and a the nickname of “the crazy Albertan”, I was able to have the most fantastic time at camp with those crazy Manitobans.

By guest blogger Megan Lamothe, a Guider with the 7th Lethbridge Pathfinders. She loves volunteering at camps and travelling. Check out her previous posts for GirlGuidesCANBlog: Back to Guiding MosaicMy Summer of Guiding, and The Outsider Girl Guider.

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Bringing the Sangam Spirit to your Unit: Ideas for a Sangam-themed Meeting

Drinking chai…  Learning to take a rickshaw to the market…  Sharing stories with Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from India, the UK, Australia and Brazil…

I came home from my time as a Sangam World Centre volunteer last December with wonderful experiences, powerful insights and a commitment to global Guiding. While I couldn’t bring all of the amazing things about Sangam back with me, I did come home with a bit of the Sangam spirit, a spirit of belonging and connection, potential and possibility that I wanted to share with my unit at home.

Though Sangam is far away, you can bring a bit of the Sangam spirit to your unit, too. By running a meeting about Sangam, you are helping girls learn about global Guiding and introducing them to the opportunities for growth and discovery that the World Centres offer. Here are some activities that you can use to give your girls a taste of Sangam in your own meeting place. Most of these activities can be modified for use with each branch.

 First, activities like these can help you introduce Sangam to your unit:

Sangam World Centre Question and Answer Hunt
Hide small pieces of paper with basic questions about Sangam around your meeting space. Questions can include “Where is Sangam located?” “When did Sangam open” and “What does the word ‘sangam’ mean?” Then, hide pieces of paper with the answers to these questions. Have the girls find and match the questions and answers. Information for the questions can be found on the Sangam website.

Find Sangam on a Map
Have the girls mark Sangam on a globe or world map. Mark your meeting place on the map as well and talk about how you could get from your meeting place to Sangam. You can also have the girls find the other World Centres on the map.

Plan an imaginary trip to Sangam
Older girls can use Sangam’s website to research opportunities to go to Sangam as an event participant, Communtiy Program participant, volunteer or intern. Younger girls can learn about activities Sangam guests can try and draw pictures of what they would like to do if they visited Sangam.

Next, your unit could learn a bit more about Sangam through activities like these:

Learn Come into Sangam and sing it with your unit
Lyrics, sheet music and an audio file of the Sangam song are available here.

Bring the games of Sangam to your unit in Canada.

Bring the games of Sangam to your unit in Canada.


Play a game from India
Run around while playing Cheetah and Cheetal or Musical Circles and learn some words through the game Colours. Instructions for these and other games can be found in the Sangam Resources Activity Pack, which you can download here.

Design your own Mehendi pattern
Mehendi is applied as a decoration to hands, arms, feet and legs for special occasions. You can find many examples of simple Mehendi designs online. Have the girls trace their hands on construction paper and then draw their own Mehendi designs on their paper hands.

Sangam_elephantMake your own Sangalee
Sangalee the elephant is Sangam’s mascot. Print Sangalee using the clipart available on the Sangam website and use this as a template for girls to make their own Sangalee out of paper, felt or fabric glued onto a background.

 

Make sweet lime soda
Similar to lemonade, sweet lime soda is a popular drink in Pune, the city where Sangam is located. To make sweet lime soda, mix a few drops of lime juice and some sugar into glasses of soda water.

The Thinking Day Tree at the Sangam World Centre.

The Thinking Day Tree at the Sangam World Centre.

Write a Thinking Day message to Sangam
As Thinking Day approaches, your girls can write Thinking Day messages to Sangam. Younger girls can draw a picture and send that as well. All Thinking Day messages received by Sangam are displayed on Sangam’s Thinking Day Tree. Mail your Thinking Day messages to Sangam at this address.

Guest post by Melissa Moor, who was a Sangam Volunteer from September to December 2013. She is now a Guider in Montreal where she studies law at McGill.

 

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What I got from my trip to the Sea of Cortez

This summer, I was fortunate to be able to participate in the Girl Guides of Canada Sea of Cortez trip. The trip description promised an exciting week aboard a ship in the Sea of Cortez with a patrol of Mexican Girl Scouts. Together we would be learning about marine life and even conducting our own conservation research on sea turtles or whale sharks alongside marine biologists.

Photo courtesy of  Lela Sankeralli

Photo courtesy of Lela Sankeralli

I have been fascinated by science since I was little. So, I was very interested in the scientific opportunities the Sea of Cortez trip offered and I was eager to be able to conduct research and to learn more about sea turtles and whale sharks, as well as other marine species, in a hands-on way. I was also interested in the cultural exchange portion of the trip; however, I was mainly looking forward to conducting research.

While aboard the ship, the focus shifted away from the science aspect towards developing new friendships. (*Blog note: Due to an unusually high number of whale sharks, the government closed access to the area to researchers and tourists in order to protect the sharks.) We were unfortunately unable to conduct any conservation research on sea turtles or whale sharks, but we observed fascinating marine life, such as common dolphins, California sea lions, and many different species of fish, coral and birds. We also visited communities to whom we donated food packages and hygiene supplies.

What sticks out the most for me from this trip is not the activities that I participated in, or the marine life that I encountered, but the friendships that I made. We were very different girls, but we connected because we were all Girl Guides and Girl Scouts. Friendship is a very powerful and rewarding bond that is much more valuable than a few species’ names. When I applied for this trip I never imagined becoming such good friends with the other girls and leaders on the trip, but this trip has reminded me of one of the core elements of Girl Guides: making friends and connecting with girls from around the world. I will continue to treasure the amazing friends that I made on this adventure for many, many years.

Travelling with Girl Guides teaches you a lot about the land and culture of different regions in Canada and the world, to be independent, and to make a difference in our world, but it also leaves you with great friends away from your home that you will cherish for years to come. It is an exciting and life changing opportunity that I hope every Girl Guide will have the chance to experience, and so I encourage you to apply for a Girl Guides of Canada trip this fall. It’s definitely worthwhile to try.

By guest blogger Ronja Kothe, a member of the 522 Lethbridge Unit in Alberta.

Applications are now open for our 2015 travel opportunities!

  • North Vancouver Island
  • Ottawa/Montreal/Quebec City
  • Sangam World Centre
  • El Salvador
  • Sea of Cortez
  • Australian International Jamboree

Trip applications close November 9.

 

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Ready for some adventure?

The applications and fact sheets for the Girl Guides of Canada 2015 travel opportunities are now online, and if you are eligible I hope you apply!  I recently returned from the Newfoundland and Labrador Adventure 2014, my daughter has travelled to Ecuador and to Churchill, MB on the Arctic Adventure, and one of the Rangers in my unit travelled to Sea of Cortez in Mexico this summer.  We all had to start in the same place – with the trip application.

Photo by  Krista Fjordbotten

Photo by Krista Fjordbotten

When you first look at the application forms, they may seem a bit daunting.  These suggestions may make the process easier:

  • Start by writing a couple of quick points in response to each question, whatever comes to mind that seems relevant to the question.
  • Set the application aside for a day. Reread the question and the points you have, and try to come up with a bit more.
  • Ask your friends and family for their ideas.
  • Now you are ready to write complete answers.

Things to remember:

  • Start early!
  • Take your time and give the best answers you can.
  • Respect the word limits.

Your Guiding experience: 

  • Keep track of your camping trips. What has your unit done?  Have you attended District, Area, Provincial or National camps?  What were the dates for each?
  • Use a computer file or keep a notebook – start now!

References:

  • Choose people who know you well and can express themselves clearly. Be sure to select a Guider who has camped with you.
  • Read the reference form before you ask your references; think about who can give specific examples to support why you are an excellent candidate for this trip.

 “Trip Interest” question:

  • This is your chance to explain why this particular trip would be perfect for you, and to showcase what you bring to the experience.
  • Be honest, and don’t minimize your great qualities, skills or abilities.
  • The selection committee only has your application and references to go on, so let them see how truly awesome you are!

Remember that lots of people are available to help you. Your Guiders and District/Area International Advisers are great resources!

The trips are carefully planned, often in partnership with experienced companies or organizations. I am sure you will have a fantastic time – you will see wonderful places and build relationships with girls and adults from across Canada.  What an opportunity!  And all you need to do is apply!

By guest blogger Diane Fjordbotten of the 522nd Lethbridge Rangers. Diane has been involved with GGC for 20 years, first as a girl member and for the past eight years as a Guider.

Travel_Banner_2014

Applications are now open for our 2015 travel opportunities!

  • North Vancouver Island
  • Ottawa/Montreal/Quebec City
  • Sangam World Centre
  • El Salvador
  • Sea of Cortez
  • Australian International Jamboree

Trip applications close November 9.

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One girl – and the difference Guiding made for her

When GirlGuidesCANBlog received this email from Guider Jeannette Thompson, we just had to share it with you:

 My daughter is a Guide, and she has written about her experience in Guiding. This was an assignment that was given to her by her resource teacher to help her with putting her thoughts on paper. My daughter has a learning disability in which she has difficulties with ‘written expression’.  It isn’t very long – but it is heartfelt. I think it would make an amazing blog:

  • My most favourite thing to do on week nights is going to Girl Guides.  We go to Zap Attack, the Police Station, the movies and most of all camping.  Some camps we go to are Emily Park (15 minutes away), Adelaide (1 hour away), Doe Lake (3 hours away).  Did you do Girl Guides?  In Girl Guides we have lots of badges, we have several components to earn the badges.  You have 3 years in Guides and then you move onto Pathfinders, but there is a catch to it.  To move on we have to earn a Lady Baden-Powell award.  Sure, Girl Guides is all fun and games, but there are some rules to keep us safe like no bullying, no yelling, and most of all no going through people’s bags.  My leaders’ names are Katie and Trixie.  The uniform is dark blue on the edge of the sleeve and light blue on the shirt and old navy pants.  That’s why my favourite thing to do on weeknights is going to Girl Guides on Tuesdays!

    Meg (second from the left) with her unit at Bon Echo.

    Meg (second from the left) with her unit at Bon Echo.

    Meaghen Thompson
    Age 10
    1st Ennismore Guides

     

Meaghen was very excited about this assignment, but it did take some time to complete. Meaghen was very pleased with what she put together and met me at the door with the assignment so I could read it right away.  Meaghen loves Guiding.  She started as a Brownie on the advice of Mrs. Newby, her resource teacher, who thought that it would help with her confidence issues.

I have watched her grow over the past five years in ways I never imagined possible. Meaghen is now very goal-orientated and completes three to five badges per month.  We have used badges to help her learn research and writing skills.  Girl Guide badges are very well set up because she can complete one task and move onto the next one; it also aids in developing her organization skills.

The most wonderful accomplishment we have had with Guiding is her attendance at week-long camps.  She has been to Camp Adelaide for two summers (Explorers and Wilderness Adventures) and has been to Doe Lake for the March Break Camp and just got home from Doe this past weekend.  She has also learned canoeing skills which she is very excited about and has been teaching me!  She is considering going to the 2-week long – 4-day tripping camp at Doe next summer.   This is amazing growth for a child who had difficulty making friends in earlier years!

Guiding has provided her with opportunities and experiences that my husband and I would not have been able to. The wonderful thing about Meaghen’s piece is that it illustrates to me that she loves Guiding as much as I do.

Jeannette Thompson
2nd Ennismore Brownies, Ontario

Thank you so much to Jeannette and Meaghan for sharing their story with GirlGuidesCANBlog.

 

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Learning to Lead

I’m a big believer in life-long learning.  I think it’s really important to look for ways to improve my skills and abilities, while also being a great example for both my own daughters, and for the girls in our unit.  But with the busy lives most of us lead, it’s often challenging to fit in learning opportunities.

That’s where WAGGGS can help!  The World Association for Girl Guides and Girl Scouts has developed a fun, free, online leadership development program.  The courses can be completed from anywhere you have internet access, and you get to meet and interact with others from around the world.

There are two streams to the program, Global Learning Online for WAGGGS – GLOW!

  • iLead is a self-directed program where everyone is welcome (male or female, member or non-member).  It currently consists of five modules that are completed online.  The module lessons are interactive and quick to complete (most average 20 minutes), and there’s no time limit – so you can complete a module whenever you can fit it in.  Each module contains forums, so you can interact with other participants and reflect on the learning materials.   This is a great option for those who are short on time, or if you’d like to get a taste of online learning before committing to the slightly more formal lessons of Leadership Online.
  • Leadership Online is a facilitated, online leadership development program, designed for members of Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting. There are four levels – Stage One is open to anyone and can be completed as you are able, while Stages Two, Three and Four are completed progressively and run for a two-week period.  These sessions are more intensive and delve deeper into topics such as leadership styles, leading teams, communication and motivation.

So far, I’ve been able to complete several of the iLead modules, as well as Stage 1 and Stage of Leadership Online 2, and I’m just beginning Stage 3.  To give you an idea of the unique international learning experience that is GLOW:  our course facilitator is a trainer and WAGGGS facilitator from Denmark, our assistant facilitator is a member of Girl Scouts USA, and our e-buddy (someone who has completed the Stages and also helps to guide you in your learning journey) is a fellow Canuck.  Other course participants come from diverse places such as New Zealand, Mexico, Barbados and Hong Kong.

I’ve really enjoyed the courses I’ve taken so far.  I thought I knew a lot about leadership, but I’ve found lots of useful information and tips to incorporate both into my Guiding experiences and my career.  I’ve also really loved getting to meet so many other members of Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting around the world.  (You also get to earn digital badges, for those of you who enjoy the extra motivation of badgework!)

Megan with her daughter

Megan with her daughter

I highly recommend giving GLOW a try!

By guest blogger Megan Gilchrist, a Guider in St. Catharines, Ontario.

 

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Girls Count… It Makes ‘Cents’

girls count crestLast spring Girl Guides of Canada together with TD Bank Group piloted a new financial literacy program, Girls Count. Stretching from coast to coast and from Sparks to Rangers, 35  units together with 53  TD employee volunteers presented the pilot crest program. Girls Count is all about introducing financial education lessons that focus on money, budgeting and career planning to Girl Guides of all ages.

It was a lot of work to make the pilot a reality and the list of people who could be recognized for their outstanding contributions to the program’s success would fill a bank vault. Yet in saying that, the program continues to grow and there is no doubt about it, Girls Count is a fantastic way to introduce financial literacy to your unit.

The curriculum is well written with a variety of age-appropriate learning tools and activities. Designed to be delivered by female TD volunteer employees, I was fortunate enough to be a part of the pilot and one of the first to deliver the program to a Guide and Sparks unit in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. Make no mistake there’s prep work required to make the presentation a success yet it is clearly laid out and easy to follow for both presenter and Unit Guider alike. What I found so absolutely wonderful about the program was the response from the girls to the program. They all learned something and so did I.

The very first question you present with Girls Count – Sparks is “What is money?”  My 17 Spark-aged participants bantered back and forth a wee bit about what exactly it was but then unanimously agreed: “Money is what you use to buy gifts for people.”

As a TD employee I couldn’t be more proud or more excited to be a part of Girls Count.

By guest blogger Tina Murphy, Manager of Community Relations, TD Canada Trust – Atlantic Region and former Guider.

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