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.

Posted in Camping & Outdoors | Tagged , | 5 Comments

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.

 

Posted in Global Guiding, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

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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How do I slice a cucumber?

“How do I slice a cucumber?”

“I need ¼ teaspoon but all I have is a ½ teaspoon measuring spoon – what do I do?”

“Can we just make a box of macaroni and cheese?”

Three years ago, those were the questions I heard from some of my Pathfinders while they made dinner at our fall camp. Cooking and sharing food with my fellow Girl Guides has always been one of my favourite parts of Guiding, so I was shocked to find that for many reasons, these girls had little experience planning or cooking healthy and delicious meals.

Teaching youth about food and nutrition means that they will lead healthier lives, and Guiding provides many opportunities to equip girls with this knowledge in fun, exciting ways. Over the past few years, I’ve found that there are a few sure-fire ways to get girls excited about learning how to cook.

  1. Let the girls take charge

If kids and teens are allowed to help choose what food they eat and how they prepare it, they will be much more likely to enjoy their meals at camps or meetings. I started by providing some well-rounded meal ideas for our camp menu, and after a few camps the girls were tweaking recipes and contributing their own ideas. By third year, they were cooking chicken fajitas at camp instead of boxes of macaroni and cheese.

  1. Create real-world experiences

One of the best ways to keep youth engaged is by showing them that what they’re learning is relevant to their own lives. Don’t just talk about cooking and healthy eating – let the girls plan and cook their own camp menus, and let them take the lead on grocery shopping for camp while you show them how to pick out fresh, affordable food at the supermarket. If your unit doesn’t camp, try holding a cooking night at a local church or community centre.

  1. Encourage your unit to get creative
The results of our campfire cooking contest - baked cinnamon raisin apples on a bed of cereal and toasted marshmallows, and sliced apples topped with cereal and marshmallow-infused chocolate.  Mmmmmmm!

The results of our campfire cooking contest – baked cinnamon raisin apples on a bed of cereal and toasted marshmallows, and sliced apples topped with cereal and marshmallow-infused chocolate. Mmmmmmm!

Most importantly, show the girls in your unit that cooking nutritious food can be fun! You’ll be amazed at the ideas they suggest if you encourage them to be creative about cooking and eating their food.  At my unit’s last spring camp, the same girls who once asked me how to slice a cucumber planned their own cooking contest, where two groups got the same ingredients and had to use the campfire to cook a dish that impressed a panel of judges. As you can see, the results were scrumptious!

By guest blogger Stephanie Lett. Stephanie is a Link member living in Ottawa. She is a high school teacher and loves to cook and bake in her spare time.

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Why math rocks

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn elementary school I wanted to be a teacher because it seemed fun to work with kids and help them the way my teachers helped me. When I got to high school I wanted to be a doctor because I watched Grey’s Anatomy and thought dissection was the coolest thing in the world; only I didn’t like biology class. Then I wanted to be an engineer because I liked chemistry and physics, but I didn’t love them enough to stay motivated. Finally when it came the time to apply to universities just over a year ago, I decided to apply to math programs.

I’ve always loved math, and I’m really lucky to have had teachers that taught me with enthusiasm and helped me enjoy it as much as I do. One reason I love math so much, that also helps me understand it, is that it never changes. As Cady Heron said in the film Mean Girls, “It’s the same in every country.” Math will never play tricks, or have an exception to a rule, or even change as the years go by. It’s an infinite system of complex relationships and everything is connected. An interesting debate is whether math was created or discovered by people, and I’m not sure which I believe.

Despite my interest in math, I wasn’t sure what I could do with my degree once I graduated. Teachers always try to motivate students by saying that math is all around us, but they never seem to give interesting examples. Computer programing is math based and enables us to create websites, smart phone applications, and social networks. When music programs recommend a song or artist, they compare your listening history to the listening history of others to find similarities, and that’s all based on math.

Right now I’m most interested in Actuarial Science, which is a branch of mathematics focused on statistics and risk management that is mostly used by insurance. This year was challenging for me in many ways. Last year I was worried about how I was going to pay for university. I was very fortunate to be supported by Girl Guides on both a national and provincial scale with scholarships. I’m also in the co-op program at the University Waterloo which will help me pay for school next year. I started my first work term two weeks ago at a health benefits company and I love the non-academic learning environment.

This year I was challenged academically in a way I had never been challenged before. I knew the transition from high school to university was going to be difficult, but I thought if I worked hard it wouldn’t be too bad. I soon realized that sometimes working the “right” way is more important than working for long periods of time. Being efficient is crucial when you have large amounts of information to absorb, and everyone has different techniques that work best for them. That being said, no one could possibly spend all their time studying; they’d go insane! This year I joined a few clubs and lead a Sparks group. I had a great time and even though I was stressed sometimes, I had a great year and I’m glad I continued doing the things I love and tried some new things as well. I can’t wait to go back next year!

By guest blogger Erin Edward. Erin recently completed her first year as a Spark leader while also attending her first year of university. She is studying mathematics and is a 2013 recipient of the Equitable Life Insurance Company of Canada Scholarship.

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My Year as a Spark Guider

I have been a Guide Guider for 10 years now, and have also worked with Pathfinders during that time.  I love working with the Guide and Pathfinder age groups, the girls are keen and capable, they have a developing world view and are not afraid to voice their opinions.  It’s awesome to watch them grow from shy Brownies into confident young women ready to take on the world.  They teeter between trying to be serious and grown up to downright silly.  And I find it endearing that no matter how mature they can be, one of their favourite games to play is Duck, Duck, Goose.

This past fall my daughter’s Spark unit had a waiting list and they desperately needed more Guiders to allow them to clear it.  I volunteered to help them out and jumped into Sparks with both feet.  What an experience it has been!

Sparks Winter Camp

The 257th Toronto Sparks slide into some fun at winter camp.

Despite having a Spark at home, working with the Spark unit was a huge adjustment for me.  I learned about the Spark program, how the Keepers work, and all of the Spark songs.  Check!  I also learned the hard way that playing the Dutch Shoe Game will result in spending the rest of the meeting tying the girls’ shoes, as most of them can’t tie their laces yet.  Since all branches of Guiding share the same Provincial and National challenges, I thought that those at least would be a breeze.  Wrong!  The first time I presented an activity to the girls I realized from their bored expressions that I was talking over their heads.  I needed to simplify my explanations and take my cue from the girls’ questions instead.  Since their fine motor skills are still developing, a lot of the craft projects in my Guider bag of tricks were too frustrating for little hands to tackle.  I needed new ideas fast!  So I indulged in my Pinterest addiction and searched for age appropriate craft and program ideas.

While there are a lot of differences between the girls in each branch, I found that there were also strong similarities.  Sparks and Pathfinders need a lot of sleep and food to function properly.  This is especially evident at camp.  Both groups get moody when they don’t have enough sleep, and both need healthy snacks at regular intervals to keep up their energy and good cheer.  Sparks, like the Guides, love to help others.  They want to be involved in community service, help set up for games or crafts and they will cheerfully tidy everything up at the end of the meeting.  They love to explore and experiment and have a lot of questions.  And both Sparks and Guides love to tell their stories.

One of the most amazing and unexpected aspects of Sparks is the magic.  The girls believe that anything is possible.  You can have the most amazing fun when you let your imagination run wild and sprinkle a little magic into each meeting.  Last week we visited the Brownies and the Sparks learned about a new kind of magic.  The kind that is woven around a pond and a toadstool by Kelpies, Elves and wise old Owls.  As I looked around the Brownie circle I realized that the year has flown by.  The Sparks are now ready for their next adventure, and I will really miss them.   I’m looking forward to catching up with them again in a few years when they’re ready for Guides.  Until then, I’ll be sprinkling some magic into my Guide meetings and hoping like crazy that Brown Owl teaches them all how to tie their shoelaces.

By guest blogger Karen Cross, a Guider with the 146th Toronto Guides and the 257th Toronto Sparks.  She was a member of the 13th Chateauguay Girl Guide Company as a girl.

 

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How I spent my summer working at national office

Sarah Biggs started in Guiding as a Spark. Since then she’s transitioned through all the branches to achieve her Canada Cord, received a national scholarship, joined Link and has recently spent the summer working for Girl Guides of Canada as a Social Media Assistant. As someone so entrenched in Guiding, she was perfect for the job! Before Sarah heads back to university, we had the chance to ask her about her experience.

What has kept you involved in Guiding?

Aug26_SarahBiggsI stayed in Guiding because it was worth it. I was having fun, hanging out with friends that I didn’t meet in school and gaining experiences that I wouldn’t have gotten the chance to otherwise, like going tree-top trekking and doing a Ranger exchange with another unit from Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario. I was also so busy earning my Canada Cord, Chief Commissioner’s awards – along with many others –  I never had time to consider quitting. I was always learning something new or improving the skills I already had. (For example, I’m now a master packer!) After being a part of something for so long it didn’t make sense for me to quit. I love that next year I will be able to say I have been a member for 15 years!

How did it feel to receive a national scholarship?

I will always remember the moment I found out. I read the email and I think I went into a little bit of shock. I didn’t believe it! I was just a girl who loved Guiding and for me to receive a scholarship meant that I was worthwhile to the organization. I was good enough to invest in and I was doing something right. I will forever be thankful to Girl Guides of Canada and The Humber Glenn Trefoil Guild, who sponsored the scholarship.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned working on GGC’s social media platforms this summer?

Before working here I never really considered what goes on at the national and provincial level. But now I know. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to see how hard everyone works to make Girl Guides great. How we couldn’t be what we are without all the amazing volunteers. But, we also wouldn’t be the same without all the wonderful people who work hard at the national office. National really isn’t this big mysterious thing. But one thing’s for certain; I will always wear my uniform from now on! One of the many reasons they want everyone to wear their uniform is because it helps promote Guiding and that in turn makes the organization stronger.

You’ve already accomplished so much in Guiding, so what are your next steps with the organization?

One of my long-time goals has always been to visit all the World Centres. I’ve already visited Pax Lodge, so that’s one down and three to go. Yay! I plan on continuing to volunteer as a Guider so hopefully I can inspire other girls to stay in Guiding and work hard to earn as many awards as they can! As well as,  I’d like to see  how high my membership pin can get – after next year I’ll be looking forward to my 20 year pin.

What has been your most favourite moment in Guiding?

I would definitely have to say the night of my “graduation” from Rangers. My dad came with the camera; my mum was unfortunately in Spain for her birthday, but I was surrounded by my friends. My Guider, Amy, gave me all my awards I worked hard to earn. The Sparks Unit I was a Girl Assistant with was there, and I helped advance the second years. After that, to my utter surprise Lesley Skelly, a dedicated Guider in the community and a family friend, called me up to present me with a Gold Thanks pin. I thought those pins were for Guiders only! At the end of the ceremony a lot of people told me they were surprised/ impressed by how much I had accomplished and done during my 12 years. That night I felt really proud of myself and special.

What would you say to a parent thinking of enrolling their daughter in Guiding?

Do it. No hesitation. As a Girl Guide, you learn and grow so much it’s ridiculous! I definitely wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for Girl Guides. If your daughter is shy, she’ll make friends. I joined with one of my friends from school then a few more of my school friends joined then everyone dropped out but me. I think I liked it better after they all left because it kept school and Guiding separate. There’s no competition in Guiding so if something’s not great at school there’s no relevance to it when you go to your meeting. Just remember that meetings are run by volunteers; they can have good days and bad days. If you don’t like the unit your daughter is in, try a different one or become a volunteer yourself.

Thank you Sarah for your continued membership and fantastic social media skills this summer! We’ll chat on Twitter!

 

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Opening the Vaults: Retro camp pics

Who needs Instagram to give their camp photos that nostalgic vibe? At Girl Guides of Canada, we’ve got lots of classic camp photos with that great hazy look that can only come from the 1970s and 1980s.

Our archives sometimes receives donations of photographs with very little accompanying information , so put our detective skills to work to determine the date of a photograph.

The Cabbage Patch kid and K-Way jacket in this photo point to the 1980s.

GGC National Archives APH 2213

GGC National Archives APH 2213

While this picture could almost have been taken this summer, the style of back pack and trefoil on one Ranger’s shirt provide us with a clue that this photo was taken in the early 1980s.

GGC National Archives APH 2431

GGC National Archives APH 2431

 

The gingham camp uniform shirt peeking out from under the jacket on the left helps us to place this photo in the 1970s.

GGC National Archives APH 2444

GGC National Archives APH 2444

 

If you look closely you can see a 60th anniversary patch on the camp hat in this picture, placing it in the early 1970s.

GGC National Archives APH 2436

GGC National Archives APH 2436

 

When we zoom in on the camp hats in this picture one of the patches has the year 1979.

GGC National Archives APH 2440

GGC National Archives APH 2440

 

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Camp packing tips

64th brownies
1. Girls should know their stuff.

If you really need to ‘help,’ choose the clothing and items to pack, lay them out and have the camper pack them. This gives her the opportunity to know what she has packed. More often than not, the items in the Lost & Found belong to a girl who did

To “teach” your daughter to pack, have her pull out each item on the kit list. Once she has it all out, discuss what was a good choice and what was a bad choice. Then put together outfits for each day and bag them in zip lock bags. The next camp, give her the list and have her let you know when it is all assembled so you can check it.

eg.
Bad choice = tank top; good choice = tshirt.
Bad choice = baseball cap; good choice = bucket/brimmed hat.
Bad choice = sandals; good choice = runners.

anecdote from an Ottawa Guide Unit:
“One year, there was this absolutely gorgeous souvenir-type T-shirt no one claimed. Finally one girl said that her sister had one just like that last year. So I suggested she pack it to take it home and they could give it back if it didn’t belong to them … it was theirs. “

2. Use zip lock bags.

Pack for each day ie: 1 ziplock = socks/undies/pants/shirt and label the bag with sharpie markers

3. Remember the importance of having the name on everything.

anecdote from a New Brunswick Guide Unit:
“It’s amazing how many pairs of underwear and socks go to camp alone. I have a visual image of all these panties and socks walking down the lane eager to go to camp. Yet at the end of camp they are too tired to go home and just end up in the garbage because no one claims them. Poor little things.”

4. Choose a bag the GIRL can carry.

The bag should NOT be too big for the girl to carry by herself. Girls are expected to carry their own bags and gear from the vehicle drop-off area to the camp site.

anecdote from Ottawa summer camp volunteer:
“Too many times we’ve seen Brownies arrive with a hockey bag with all their clothes and bedroll in it, and the bag is at least a foot longer than the Brownie is tall.”

5. Helpful tip – order of packing inside the bag.

One thing you might find handy is to have the bag packed so that the Friday night stuff is on top (jammies, toiletries). Under that should be the bag for dirty clothes. Then what they expect to be able to wear when they get up in the morning (barring weather complications). Basically, the bag should be packed so that they just work their way down it. And bad weather gear would be better to try and fit it along the side of the bag so they don’t have to dig out everything to find it.

Re-posted with permission from the 64th Brownies in London’s unit blog.

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Why every Brownie should have a camp blanket

On this edition of Throwback Thursday, we’re revisiting a blog post on favourite topic – camp blankets!

Camp Blanket. Guider Sarah L Dartmouth NS

Camp Blanket. Guider Sarah L Dartmouth NS

When I became a Brownie leader, right before we went to camp, I always brought my camp blanket to a meeting. This was a great way to start a conversation with the girls about camp, WAGGGS (I have several international crests and scarves on my blanket) and to get them excited about moving up to Guides, Pathfinders, Rangers and hopefully into being a Brown Owl one day. It was a great tool because the girls could see and feel things; it wasn’t just me talking to them about it.

After a year or two of noticing that the girls (and parents) didn’t totally understand the difference between a program badge and a crest, I started to bring the blanket out earlier in the year. And then I decided that the girls should have their own camp blankets to bring to camp that year.

I did what every good, young leader does – I enlisted my mom! She was never a Girl Guide or a leader, and truthfully my weekly Unit meetings were as much a break for me as they were for her! But she has always helped out whenever I’ve asked, enjoying her time with my Unit. My mom is super crafty, a gene that I can say is not hereditary. And I’m guessing since it wasn’t an activity that involved making me a FOURTH camp blanket, she was on board.

As the parents dropped off their girls for the first night, I had my blanket out, and my plan hatched. I explained that we would be doing this, working on it throughout the year, and the approximate costs. (What I lack in arts and crafts DNA, I more than make up for in bargain hunting.) In the end, it was no more than $10 per girl for their blanket.

We opted for a micro-fleece material because it’s lightweight, and we didn’t need to finish the edge. We cut a hole in the middle to make it into a poncho, and generally cut it to the size the girls could grow into and take onto Guides.

There are several ways that you can turn a camp blanket into program work:

  • Arrange to have a meeting at the fabric store
  • Have a ‘learn to sew’ night once the blankets are ready
  • Do any number of the challenges on the Girl Guides of Canada website to earn a new crest for their blanket

I hope this helps you create camp blankets with your girls. As many commentators said on the last post, our blankets are very important to us – let’s make sure the next wave of girls feel the same way!

By guest blogger Guider Sarah of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Check out her own blog Sarah Smells the Roses. 

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Let them sing!

One of the highlights of Guiding for me as a youth was the feeling I got singing at a campfire.  Community or campfire singing lifts our emotions; it encourages a sense of inclusion and group spirit.

I wanted to provide an opportunity for girls to have this experience.  I found that the repertoire of the local girls was decreasing.  How could they enjoy all the benefits of campfire singing if they did not know the songs first?   Some Guiders were hesitant to sing either saying they did not know the songs or did not sing well enough.

Thus the idea for the Singing and Leadership Guiding Unit was born.  I would (with other leaders) teach the girls songs and how to lead them. They would then take the songs back to their units. I am clear, we are not a choir.  I am not musically trained or gifted. But I do love to sing.

Members of the Singing and Leadership Guiding Unit in Mississauga.

Members of the Singing and Leadership Guiding Unit in Mississauga.

In the past five years we have had a varied attendance from 10-20 girls and there is always room for more. Membership includes girls from all branches. Participating Guiders are also welcome.  We meet weekly, now in our Mississauga Guiding Centre.

We teach a wide variety of songs; Guiding, folk, silly, rounds, international and teach all the verses to all the songs.   Songs tell a story so if we sing only the first verse we loose what we can gain from the songs message.  The girls receive lyrics of the songs.

This unit now hosts visiting units with the girls leading and teaching the songs, its leaders are willing to visit other units to encourage singing.  We host a campfire programme for parents and friends each year, with the girls taking the lead, of course!

Leading a campfire encourages girls to speak up, to speak clearly to a group, to give instructions so others can follow, and to hold a group together.  They learn how to make sure all are included through their choice of songs and how they lead them.   This all helps the girls gain the confidence which will remain with them in other situations.  Girl Assistants who can lead singing well are always an asset!

Regular singing in the units is an effective way we can help the girls feel included, learn about Guiding, learn to lead, develop confidence, challenge themselves and best of all have an experience that will last a lifetime!

By guest blogger Heather Nutbeem, a Guider in Mississauga, ON.

 

 

 

 

 

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Throwback Thursday: The Benefits of Camping without Parents

If you’re involved in Guiding, you know how amazing the camp experience is. For girls, it may be their first exciting taste of freedom as they head out into the world without mom and dad. Here’s a Throwback Thursday post on going to camp sans parents.

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girls_orienteering_webEvery year, our Brownie unit takes a spring weekend camping trip. As I enter my seventh year as a Brownie leader, I have been reflecting on what I have learned about planning these camp weekends. There are some obvious things, like better food purchasing estimates (we had SO much leftover that first year!) and knowing what types of activities work best at which times of day, but one thing I did not expect was the realization that girls have very different experiences when they camp with or without their moms.

Each year we send out an email in March, asking parents if their daughter will be coming to camp. The first couple of years, we extended the invitation to parents to volunteer, either for the day or overnight. We reasoned that the more hands the better; but an interesting trend emerged throughout these camping trips: it became clear that the girls who had parents present behaved very differently from those who did not. For example, a girl who didn’t have her mother at camp was more likely to search for her own pajamas in her bag (instead of asking mom to find them), to eat what was given to her for meals, finish her own craft, carry her own water bottle on a hike, or even play with the other kids at free time without constantly coming back to “check-in”.  Each small act is a boost to independence and a willingness to take on new things—not just in camping, but in their wider lives.

These might not sound like big things—especially if the parent is good at allowing her daughter to complete activities with the other campers—but they really do have an impact. Camping without mom is a very big psychological step for a 7- or 8-year-old. They are used to home routines, bedtime stories, etc., and most are not pushing the boundaries towards independence quite yet. When they come to camp, out of necessity, they are challenged to do things for themselves. We leaders, while we help when needed, cannot come into their tents and search for 15 pairs of pjs, toothbrushes, etc. Each small act that they accomplish for themselves shows them they CAN do things alone. These mini-confidence boosts help them to feel more secure that they are capable of camping (and more)!

This is not to say that there is no value in mom-daughter camping trips, especially since those camps are set up in a different way that includes both parties in activities (also, they are usually for younger groups like Sparks). The effect is not as pronounced when the mom is a regular leader in the unit, since she is then familiar with all of the girls, and not as focused only on her own child’s needs. In our unit, and in GGC as a whole, I think we are primarily about each girl’s personal development and independence, so we like to focus on kid-only camping (even if it is a bit more work for leaders). So, for our troop’s spring camping trips, we will continue to try our best to take the girls without moms, and introduce them to new experiences and new skills that they don’t even know they have.

By guest blogger Guider Kristy (Tawny Owl), 25th Ottawa Brownies. Kristy has been working with the 25th Ottawa Brownies for six years. She works for a company that creates educational websites and games for cultural institutions, and loves to extend this into writing stories, plays and planning interactive activities for her unit. Read her previous post on GirlGuidesCANBlog: The Value of Chaos, Seasonal Party IdeaThis Guider Asks,Guides and Scouts: Awesome in their Own Ways.

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Guiding North

What are you doing this summer? For eight girls and two Guiders, the answer to that question is: Why, going on a Guiding adventure to Churchill, Manitoba, of course! These trekking Girl Guides of Canada members are part of one of our awesome national travel experiences this summer. Their ten-day journey involves participating in a scientific research project, spotting polar bears, watching beluga whales, visiting a local aboriginal community, and – well, isn’t that enough!?

 As their trip wraps up, we thought we’d give you a taste of their adventure through snapshots from their Twitter feed, @GGCArctic14.

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Every trip involves a bit of waiting – and playing cards!

Churchill1

Churchill2

 

It wouldn’t be Guiding without some crafting! This time, the girls are also learning about traditional cultures. 

churchill3

churchill4

 

Here’s something you wouldn’t experience hanging out at the mall…

churchill5

 

What a way to end the journey….

churchill6

 

 

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Making the global Guiding connection

Girl Guides of Canada (GGC) took to Hong Kong this past week to attend the 35th World Conference of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). The conference is held every three years and is the primary decision-making session for the member organizations (MOs) within WAGGGS. Here’s what one of our Canadian delegates has to say about the experience.

I’ll admit, I did not know much about WAGGGS prior to applying for the conference. I had learned a bit about it while a girl member, but it always seemed so distant from what I was doing as a Guider with Sparks. However, after having spent the week surrounded by Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from more than 100 different countries, I now realize how relevant it can be to my Sparks and all GGC members.

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One of the big ideas that I took away from the conference was about the impact Guiding has as  non-formal education. It doesn’t matter whether you are from Canada or a developing country like Ghana, the skills in leadership, advocacy and service that WAGGGS aims to develop through the work of the MOs is still applicable. Examples include the “Ban Bossy” campaign by Girl Scouts of the USA, “Stop the Violence” movement with the Girl Guides Association of Cambodia or GGC’s tree planting program. They all help to develop these skills. As conference speaker Baroness Valerie Amos noted, “Even if we’re good, we should know that we can be even better,” which describes how we need to keep moving forward with what we do.

This experience has been eye-opening to the idea of global Guiding. It has been humbling in acknowledging how lucky we are to be a part of GGC and to be Canadian. It has been empowering to see how we, as girls and women, can make real changes in the world. It has been inspiring to be in the presence of so many change-makers and influencers. GGC offers the opportunity to all members to apply and be involved in these unique international experiences. Why not take them up on it?

By guest blogger Lauren Patrick, a mechanical engineer and recent graduate from the University of Guelph. She has spent the last five years between the 1st Guelph Sparks, 2nd Guelph Sparks and 14th Vancouver Sparks. She loves how you can always stay involved in Guiding, regardless of where you are living.

 Look for more international Guiding experiences to be posted on girlguides.ca early this fall.

 

 

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The stars are bright on the Guiding Walk of Fame!

What happens when a Guider sees a photo on Facebook of a Hollywood birthday party theme? She turns it into a Guiding advancement ceremony, of course!

Since we all know that every girl in Guiding is a star, we decided to celebrate this fact at our multi-unit advancement ceremony. We created our own Girl Guide “Hollywood Boulevard” with each of our girls’ names and hand prints at the end of our red carpet. On top of our regular Girl Guide uniforms we also donned feather boas in colours to match our units and some pretty funky movie star sunglasses.

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We celebrated our musical stars by opening with a song and ending with one as well. We opened with the Girl Guide favourite “One Voice” and ended with an adaption of “Do you wanna build a snowman” (Frozen) called “Do you wanna build a campfire” which was written by our very own Guides.

Each Girl Guide leader was handed an envelope that contained the advancing girls’ names. Who wouldn’t enjoy saying “And the girls advancing to Pathfinders are…” Even if you know the names already it’s still an exciting moment! After being called up each girl then changed her boa to match her new unit.

After all the awards were handed out, parents headed to the refreshment tables and the girls headed to our photo area. The paparazzi were ready to take photos and our Girl Guide stars even posed for them. As you can imagine the girls needed some refreshments themselves after all this excitement and were treated with Shirley Temples and a “Walk of Fame through Guiding” cake.

It was a great celebration of our “Star” Girl Guides. The leaders had just about as much fun planning it as the girls had doing it!

By guest blogger Debbie Cohoe, a Guider with the 1st Lancaster Park Brownies, which meets at the Edmonton Garrison base. Debbie is a baker at heart and created the cake for the advancement ceremony.

To meet more Guiding stars, check out our 2014 Girl Greatness Award recipients


							
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Girl Greatness Awards – Put Yourself Out There

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.

Serena-S

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Now my family understands why I’m a Guider

There we were…pouring rain, middle of May chill in the air (not quite spring, not quite winter), camping 100 km from anything –  running water, power and even cell phone service. What was I going to do with 14 cold and wet souls? Our fire area was covered and it was the gathering area for everyone, as it is in most camps, and we were all sitting there; cold, grumbling, and bored.

Inspiration hit.

I know you’re picturing 14 souls with trefoils on their T-shirts, but think again. This was a family camping trip in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta with a handful of cowboys (and cowgirls!) who were so disappointed not to be heading out on our planned trail ride.

I leaned over to my son, and whispered into his little ear “Poppa has a big cowboy hat, pass it on.” He looked at me like I was from Mars, and I nodded at his aunt sitting beside him, and his eyes lit up! He leaned over and whispered to his aunt…and our very first family telephone game had begun!

From  protecting your feet on hikes and becoming a campfire pro to doing 'badge work', Guiding skills always come in handy!

From protecting your feet on hikes and becoming a campfire pro to doing ‘badge work’, Guiding skills always come in handy!

Unbeknownst to them, that cowboy family of mine, ages 2-66, essentially spent the day enjoying a ‘Girl Guide’ campfire, singing “Who Stole the Cookie” and playing “I Packed My Bag and In It I Put…” We also managed to coax Poppa to do some camping badge work with our Brownie…but he had to put the blowtorch away and teach her how to light a fire “old school,” that wise old Poppa Owl.

Doing what I do with girls…

On that rainy afternoon the light bulb finally went off in my husband’s head: “THIS is why she does what she does!” and I might have even heard “That was awesome” at some point from more than one brother Brownie or Spark spouse.

We had FUN! We had a perfectly wonderful rainy camp day, Girl Guides style.

By guest blogger Jodi Paulgaard, cowgirl extraordinaire Guider for the 5th Airdrie Sparks in Airdrie, Alberta. Check out her previous blog post, Sparks can Snowshoe!

 

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Rain, Rain Go Away – or maybe not!

Why bad weather is a good thing in the run-up to a major camp 

Preparing eight girls and two Guiders for a week-long summer camp is not an easy task.  There are the group dynamics to decipher, patrol gear to purchase and borrow and personal gear to figure out. Throw in a weekend of West Coast late spring rain and it is make it or break it time.

soar-sidebar-logo2Mackenzie Heights District is sending three patrols to Spirit of Adventure Rendezvous, aka SOAR, a camp hosted by Girl Guides British Columbia  every three years that attracts participants from around the province, the country and from around the world.  The setting this year is Enderby, a town along the Shuswap River, between Kamloops, Kelowna and Revelstoke.  SOAR, which will be held July 19-26, bills itself as a ‘back to basics’ camp because participants sleep in tents and cook their own meals in patrols on campsites roughly 500 – 600 square feet.

Patrol KA17 from Mackenzie Heights District includes girls from three different Pathfinder and Guide units so an indoor sleepover in late April was arranged as a meet and greet. This was followed by a rain soaked weekend camp at Porteau Cove, a BC Parks campsite, in early May. Hanging out with four other patrols, the girls got comfortable with patrol cooking, participated in a skills round robin (including storm lashing), worked on their patrol banner and generally got to know one another.

The pelting late West Coast spring rain was a good thing for KA17. Huddling under the patrol shelter while cooking and eating together provided some wonderful bonding moments, lots of belly laughs and the group already has one or two inside jokes.  Sleeping together in a large eight-person tent while the rain came down and several very long cargo trains trudged along less than 20 feet away also helped the girls figure out how they work as a team and how much personal space they each need. The pouring rain’s greatest benefit though was testing whether or not the patrol shelter and the tent were leak proof and how well the girls’ wet weather gear, when worn, kept them warm and dry.

Much to the girls’ chagrin the palace sized tent with three doors and numerous nooks and crannies did not keep the rain out.  It has now been replaced with two brand new Eureka four-person tents, with impressive vestibules and great air flow for the warm Enderby summer nights, which the girls learnt to set-up at a half day skills practice event in early June at a local Vancouver park.  A backpack or two has also been exchanged to better fit the girl wearing it and some other personal gear has been, or will soon be, replaced.

Preparing for SOAR is not an overnight affair but for KA17 it has been a fun-filled, weather challenged adventure. Hopefully, the trials and tribulations of a weekend of West Coast late spring rain will make the six to seven-hour school bus trip from Vancouver to Enderby tolerable and the week-long SOAR experience memorable.

By guest blogger Fiona McFarlane.

 

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Girl Guide Camp Blanket vs. Camp Poncho

For today’s Flahsback Friday installment, we’re re-posting one of our most viewed blog posts of all time. 

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poncho_girl2In today’s post, we’re entering into some pretty turbulent waters, opening up a seriously contentious debate, if you will. No, I’m not talking about chocolatey mint vs. chocolate and vanilla classic cookies. And I’m not talking about ‘Fire’s Burning’ vs. ‘Taps’ as best ever campfire closing (man, that would be a good debate). No, I’m talking about what is the ULTIMATE crest storage device. Yes, it’s camp blank vs. camp poncho. Let the debate begin!

My daughter Ella is a super proud member of the 5th Kanata Brownies in Ottawa. In her four years as a Girl Guide, she’s had some amazing leaders who’ve organized week after week of fun activities. And in this time, Ella has amassed quite the collection of crests. She’s earned crests ranging from 2nd Year Spark, Crazy for Camping, Camp Woolsey 100 Steps Forward, Sing Ontario, Sing, Daughter of the World’s Best Mom, etc. (Okay, that last one I’m making up…)

Now, as the world’s best mom of the world’s awesomest Brownie, I’m trying to decide what to do with all the crests. Because, well, jamming them all into a ziplock bag labeled ‘Sew these somewhere someday’  just isn’t cutting it anymore. And, it seems, I have two choices for crest storage device – camp blanket or camp poncho. Each has its merits.

Camp blank:

  • It’s very blanket-y (i.e. it keeps you warm)
  • Works both at camp and while cuddling on the sofa at home
  • Blankets will always be in style

Camp poncho:

  • It’s very poncho-ey (i.e. you can wear it around the campfire, while debating whether to sing ‘ Fire’s Burning’  or ‘Taps’)
  • Works both as a poncho and – with a quick unfolding – as a blanket
  • Ponchos will also always be in style – at Girl Guide camp

Hmm, so it seems I haven’t really solved my dilemma. Dear bloggy friends, please help me – which should I order on the girlguidestore.ca – the camp blanket or the camp poncho?

By Mary, GGC staff

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Email us! GGCblog (at) girlguides.ca

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Doing it all – and then some – at camp

What can you do at camp? Pretty much anything. Our friends at Caddy Lake Camp in Manitoba outline just some of the amazing experiences campers can expect this summer. When can we start packing?!

June18_badges
Did you know going to camp is a simple and fun way to earn Guiding badges? Campers are encouraged to take on challenges that they may not have the opportunity to do in the city. At each session the staff and the campers will come up with one or two badges to work on during their stay at camp. Here’s how it works:

June18_birdcraftBird watching
At camp, you will be outside nearly all day with lots of time to observe rare wildlife that you may not spot in your busy city life.

  • We’ll be able to learn about different types of birds, what they eat, how they nest – and see them in action!
  • We’ll be making classic milk carton bird feeders for the girls to take home.
  • There will be lots of birds to observe, draw, and describe on our hikes.

Forestry
In the city, there is not much of an opportunity to see trees and shrubs of all sizes and types in their natural habitat. Caddy Lake has thriving plant life. The camp is covered in various tree species. As it’s getting harder and harder to find forests that aren’t mono-culture, this spot is extra special.

  • June18_forestLearning about the forests of Canada should be easy when we’re living in one! We’ll talk about forests and parklands and why they are so important.
  • As a craft we will create beautiful travel brochures for the Forest of Caddy Lake, bringing in facts about trees (like the different kinds of trees and forests and what their enemies are) and why we like particular kinds.
  • We’ll go over conservation of trees, the goods produced by them, and how forest management and conservation are linked.

 Outdoor adventure
All summer, we`ll be lucky enough to be on one big outdoor adventure! Camp is excellent practice for planning and going on unit hikes and other adventures.

  • June18_outdoorcookingWe’ll be having plenty of outdoor cooking sessions where campers will participate in planning meals perfect for hikes and camping like grilled cheese, kabobs, pita pizza, bannock, and spider dogs.
  • Whenever we go on field trips, hikes, or bike rides we always have a first aid kit. The girls will learn how to put together a first aid kit and what each part is used for by a qualified nurse or first aider. At camp we know safety is one of the most important parts of an outdoor adventure.
  • We’ll have Manitoba Conservation come in to present bear safety and RCMP coming to do a ‘Hug a Tree’ presentation about what campers should do if they ever get lost.

Astronomy
Being out of the city brings on a beautiful view of the stars. Caddy Lake Camp is a great place to start a love of stargazing, and with our knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff it is also a place to increase your knowledge of astronomy.

  • We’ll learn about planets, comets, meteors, meteorites, stars, and the milky way.
  • We’ll be demonstrating different parts of astronomy through fun crafts like creating mini models of planets. Once we’ve seen the real thing in the sky, we will be creating our own mini flashlight constellations.

Guest post by the team at Caddy Lake Camp, a Girl Guides of Canada camp enjoyed by girls in Manitoba and northwestern Ontario. This is an edited version of the blog post Guiding Badges at Camp.  

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How the cookie crumbles

It seems Canadians just can’t get enough Girl Guide cookies! This spring, Canadians gobbled up some 61 million chocolate and vanilla cookies. And what’s even sweeter is the countless local Guiding activities these cookies helped fund.

As we wrap-up the Guiding year, check out how our cookie numbers stacked up this spring:

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If you’ve still got cookies left to sell, why not get in on all the action at hopping summer fairs, festivals and farmers’ markets. Share your selling events on social media, especially Twitter (reference @girlguidecookie for re-Tweeting).

And don’t forget to add any sales events to the Cookie Finder Map especially at this time of year when there is not as many events but people are still looking for cookies

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Hammers + nails = awesome Spark bird houses

It may have been our noisiest meeting night ever, but it was likely the most fun for each of the Sparks. Eight dads and one mom were on hand as helpers for building our bird houses. A couple of dads purchased special smaller hammers for their daughters to use. They hammered the nails and not their fingers. They each followed their parent’s instruction, after Grandpa Teddy (the father of one of our Guiders) gave out the kits and the instructions.

June10_birdhouseSparks

All the Sparks were very excited to try their hand at using a hammer and building something special and useful. And, we met a number of requirements for our Spark Keepers – Going Outside and Exploring and Experimenting.

Our unit plans a Dad (or male alternate) and Daughter Meeting Night each year. An invitation from their daughter is given so they can plan to attend. The dads want to be involved and look forward to doing something special with their daughter. The bird house building idea came from co-Spark Leader Kristine Kries (Ruby) and it was her dad, Grandpa Teddy, who volunteered to do all the cutting of recycled wood material he had on hand.

Grandpa Teddy did an awesome job in cutting and putting the kits together. The pieces even had small drilled holes for where the nails should be positioned. Each Spark took home their bird house with pride that night to paint and find a special spot to hang.

NSP crestWe logged this activity on the National Service Project: Operation Earth Action website under Trash to Treasure and Animal Habitats.  With this great project the Sparks learnt about the outdoors, and connecting with nature when they decided where to hang their bird house.  Each Spark gained knowledge about building, did their best and we recognized each of them for participating in the National Service Project. They each received their Operation Earth Action Crest and also a special birdhouse building crest.

By guest blogger Alice Gaveronski (Sparkle), a Spark Guider for many years with Spark #8, Regina, SK, who is also the Saskatchewan PR Adviser and a member of the Trefoil Adventure Guild.

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Celebrating 90 years of service – a first for GGC!

This year’s Québec Council Annual General Meeting was a momentous occasion – we presented 99-year-old Honorary Life Member Daphne Sebag-Montefiore with Girl Guides of Canada’s very first 90-year service pin. Indeed, national office had to have the pin specially minted for her! What made the evening extra special was that eight of her former Rangers were by her side as she was honoured for nine decades of dedication to Guiding.

June6_90yrpin

“Guide House was the official headquarters in Québec, but Daphne’s Sainte Adele homes were the real hub of activity,” recalls one of her former Rangers, Beryl Ball. With two homes in the Laurentians, Daphne would open her doors to Guides, Cadets, and Rangers, who often stayed over, even camping on the grounds in the winter. She would also often host provincial and inter-provincial Trainers weekends. Daphne held prominent roles as a Trainer, having held the ‘Blue Cord’ diploma – the highest level of Trainer in the country.

Daphne was not only active in local Guiding, but she was a great traveller who led national patrols abroad including the Canadian Contingent of Rangers who attended the Swedish Tent Camp in 1954.

From the Sherbrooke Telegram – March 25, 1954:

Sherbrooke-Telegram-Mar-25-1954-GGC off to Sweden

Upon her return, Daphne would share stories from her travels. Guiders from around the province, as far away as the Saguenay, Harricana, Quebec City and Noranda divisions, gathered for an annual training project in North Hatley, QC:

The international aspect is the drawing card for a large number attending as Miss Norma Ostler, who has just returned from South Africa and Miss Daphne Montefiore, who was in charge of the Canadian Contingent of Rangers who attended the Swedish Tent Camp, will show their films and movies and speak at the supper hour Saturday. (Montreal Gazette – September 23, 1954)

Outside of Guiding, Daphne gave back to her community in many ways, as commandant of the Transport Section of the Montreal Red Cross Corps and as a long time volunteer with Tel-Aide, a crisis phone line, often working the overnight shift.

Daphne’s energy and commitment to Guiding (she was an active Guider well into her seventies) has inspired countless members in Quebec and beyond.  As Beryl Ball puts it, “Daphne befriended everyone and it exemplified our Promise and Laws.”

By guest blogger Rebecca Purver, Communications and PR Coordinator, Quebec Council, with help from Beryl Ball and Ellen Gauthier, members of the West Island Trefoil Guild.

 

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Opening the vaults – When camp was ‘jolly’

We had such great feedback on our last post from inside the vaults of the Girl Guides of Canada archives, that we’re giving you another peek at some of our treasures.

Among the most coveted items in our archives are log books where companies (or units) recorded their activities. One log book in our collection is from 1927, and it was donated along with a photo album from the same unit. It’s so revealing to be able to read the girls’ own accounts of their camping trip and to see the images they captured.

Here are some quotes and accompanying photographs from the “The Swallow Patrol Log Book” Camp Notes 1927.

“The Guide Camp was held from July 12 to 28. Marjorie, Helen and Jo went from the Swallows and they all stayed two weeks.”

OurTent

(Our Tent ‘Joe’ Marj M, Helen, Peg. from GGC National Archives A2011.2)

“We had the most jolly times. We swam, had hikes, treasure hunts and midnight feasts.  Peggy passed her swimming and Jo her fire and tracking.”

The Water Bugs005

(The Water Bugs from GGC National Archives A2011.2)

“We came first when Mrs. Long, the Scout Commissioner inspected us.  This was a stitch because we had not been ready, and everything was ‘under pillows’.”

Tent historic collage

(Our Tent before and after Inspection! From GGC National Archives A2011.2)

“We all went home wishing that it was next year.  It was the jolliest camp on record; everyone had a good time and the leaders were liked by all”

Guiders008

(Guiders from GGC National Archives A2011.2)

What are your favourite retro camp memories? What do you prefer about camping in 2014?

  

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Brownie Book Club

What do Brownies like to do for fun? READ! That’s what we found out at our Annual Brownie Book Club meeting this year. We invited a special guest, retired librarian Dayle Cushen, to discuss her career and thoughts about books with us and enjoy a cup of tea!

pierrefonds-brownie-book-club

Each Brownie was asked to bring a book that they wanted to share with the group.  We began our meeting with welcoming our guest and asking Dayle about her job as a librarian. Dayle then spoke about her FAVOURITE book, Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingles Wilder. The Brownies then shared about their book and why they enjoyed reading it. Dayle brought all sorts of books from her local library. There were graphic novels, comics, travel, non-fiction books, how-to  crafting books, and more.

Dayle’s message was “If you don’t like reading, you just haven’t found the right book yet!”  She encouraged the girls to try different varieties of books and not to waste time on ones you don’t like. Just move on to the next book on your list!

pierrefonds-brownie-book-club-group

We then had a small snack and some “tea” and browsed through all the books that the girls brought to share. They then got a list to take home of recommendations from Dayle. Another tip: Don’t stick to the age listed on the book; often even adults can enjoy a picture book now and then! We read together The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers and the girls and leaders loved it!

Thanks so much for sharing your love of reading with us Dayle.

By guest blogger Sharon Lamb, Guider Tawny Owl with the 7th Ste. Genevieve Brownies in Quebec.

 

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Saying Thank You

We’d had a pretty wild meeting.  The weather outside was crazy as there was a strong front coming in.  We were down one Guider because she had a family event to attend.  We had cookie money, rally day money and permission forms for two spring events coming in from the parents.  The girls were super energetic and we’d planned skits which are often a bit disorganized.  There were moments I felt like I was loosing my mind.

At the end of the evening, one of the mothers took a moment to thank me for all the hard work we were doing putting together activities for the girls.  Suddenly it was all worth while.  It made my whole evening and it cost her 10 seconds to do.

Sometimes, however, bigger acts of recognition are needed.  For the girls there are the Girl Greatness Awards.  These recognize girls who accomplish big things. For the adult members there are a variety of awards including The Gold Thanks pin, The Unit Guider Award and Commissioner/ACL Award.  The process for applying for these awards is a little different in each province, so check with your provincial council website for details.  There are even Silver Thanks pins and certificates of appreciation that can be given to non-members or organizations that help Guiding (again check with your provincial office).

So take a moment today to think about whether there is someone in your Guiding community who deserves some extra recognition.

Originally posted to Heartfruit’s own blog, Girl Guide Adventures. Heartfruit has been a Girl Guide since she was 7. As and adult she’s been a Brownie Guider, a Pathfinder Guider and she is currently a Guide Guider.  She has a Guide age daughter and lives in Ontario.

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Home is where I do Guiding

I have lived in three countries –  the U.K., the United States, and now Canada – and there is one thing I have learned and that is to get my priorities straight. To me Guiding/Scouting is up there with finding a house! I used to be in Guides but left like many girls do when you grow up and go to college. But after a while, I returned to Guides as a leader in the U.K. It made me feel part of something and part of the community.

I have celebrated three different Guide and Scout centenaries. Crazy, really makes me sound like I am 300 not 30!  I celebrated with the U.K. Scout Association in 2007 and then I celebrated as a Girl Guiding U.K. leader 2010. The best part was we all renewed our Promise together across the country at 20:10 on October 20, 2010.

Guiding was so much fun but then I moved to the United States. I felt like I was missing something, that thing that made it feel like home. I reasoned we are all sisters of the same organization so why not contact Girl Scouts and continue. The girls were great and the cookie season was crazy but fun, plus I celebrated my third centenary!

Making Guiding friends: A Girl Guiding UK bear snuggles up with some Sparks dolls.

Making Guiding friends: A Girl Guiding UK bear snuggles up with some Sparks dolls.

So, when in February I moved again – this time to Canada – the first thing I did to make it feel like home was to contact Girl Guides of Canada and get involved. I was in contact with a unit before we even had our plane tickets booked! When I went to my first Spark session as a leader, I hadn’t even been in the country for 24 hours and had just done a trans-Atlantic flight! My French on that day didn’t go beyond bonjour, but the unit felt like home.

I have discovered what is important to me – being a Girl Guide leader is like saying “this is my home, I am here to stay.” I enjoy helping the girls and sharing my experiences with them. I have learned so much had so much fun and done so much. Why stop Guiding? When you move, we are all sisters.

By guest blogger Jo Povall, a Guider with the 1st Northern Lights Sparks on Montreal’s North Shore. She’s proud to note that she’s slowly learning French. 

 

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Can urban living and a love of nature go hand-in-hand?

Girls_natureSince I was a child, I have had an insatiable curiosity about nature. I grew up hiking and camping outdoors, and my mom, who had once worked at a greenhouse and had a garden, taught me about the beauty of plants and growing your own food. Despite my love of nature, as I got older the allure of the city was like a gravitational pull, and so six years ago I moved to Toronto to pursue my Master’s degree in Women’s Studies at York University. For a long time I had trouble reconciling this paradox: how can someone who loves nature so much also have a deep seated attraction to urban life?

After having spent some time in Toronto, I started to realize that this wasn’t really a paradox. Nature, I learned, inhabits the city in so many interesting ways – through our parks and green spaces, in and along our watersheds, in gardens, in the potted plants in our homes… I started to ask myself, what is nature, anyway? Who defines what nature is? How do people engage with urbanized nature?

My background in Women’s Studies taught me about the ways in which inequities based on race, class, gender and ability are embedded in the fabric of our society; thinking about nature in this way and living in Toronto allowed me to consider how these inequalities also affect our relationship to nature, environmentalism, and natural spaces. Recognizing that nature has complex social and political dimensions is what piqued my interest in urban groups for girls that are engaged in shaping their community environments and promoting green living.

My research with girls’ groups is currently in full swing. My dissertation project involves working closely with a few groups for girls in urban areas that have an environmental focus, and my aim is to explore how the groups are connecting girls with nature and the environment. I am currently still looking for Guiding units residing in the cities of Toronto, Hamilton, or Vancouver to participate in this study. If you live in one of these cities, are passionate about girls’ environments, and are interested in participating, drop me a line!

To find out how you can participate in the study, click here

By guest blogger Leyna Lowe, who is a PhD Candidate in Women’s Studies at York University. In her spare time, Leyna also paints, cycles the city, and is helping to establish a green corridor in Toronto through the David Suzuki Foundation’s Homegrown National Park.

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National Day of Honour

National Day of HonourMay 9, 2014, is the National Day of Honour, a day to honour the sacrifices of all who served in Afghanistan. Over the years, members of Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada have shown their support and appreciation for our Canadian troops in many ways. Here are some wonderful photos that highlight these activities.

 

“Day of Honor for Canadian Veterans;  a great initiative dedicated to those who are serving or have served Canada as member of the Forces.  I consider my service humble compared to those who have actually left their families behind for longer periods of time, and had to return to their home country with injuries and maybe emotional pain, or did not return at all. 

I am a Clerk by trade, and have great respect for fellow CF members that have actually put their life on the line, and did not think twice about doing what was asked of them and their families.  As an individual and soldier I can only strive to follow their lead.”

Master Corporal Irene A. Randell
CTCHQ Gagetown



Girl Guides om New Brunswick have had many Girl Guide cookie campaigns to raise awareness about our troops overseas, and enable cookie lovers to buy cookies to be sent in care packages for soldiers. (Source: Canadian Guider)

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Canadian soldiers stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan received a sweet surprise to start off the New Year when cases of Chocolatey Mint cookies arrived in January, 2004.

The cookies had been donated through the efforts of North Pinewoods District, based in Woodbridge, OntaSoldiers with Girl Guide Cookies sent to Kabulrio. During their fall cookie blitz, the Woodbridge Sparks, Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers asked customers if they would like to donate money to purchase cookies for the soldiers in Kabul. Many units made posters advertising the initiative and the younger girls decorated the cookie cartons before they were shipped to Afghanistan. (Source: Canadian Guider)


And from Guiding’s history….

 

Girl Guides Contribute to Buy Two 2 Air Ambulances. 1940. Photo: GGC Archives

Girl Guides Contribute to Buy Two 2 Air Ambulances. 1940. Photo: GGC Archives

Photo description: In 1940, Guides from all parts of the British Empire contributed donations towards the purchase of two air ambulances and a motor lifeboat.  This photo shows one of the air ambulances and with Guides and Brownies on the day of its presentation.


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As a way to honour and support this day, here is a list of related girl programming that you can use with your unit:

Sparks
The World Around me Keeper

Brownies
Key to Me -My Hero Interest Badge
Key to My Community – Proud to be Canadian

Guides
Discovering You – Being a Good Citizen
Beyond You – Community

Pathfinders
Be a Model Citizen Module
Citizenship Certificate

Rangers
Community Connections
-Challenge 13 – Canadiana
-Challenge 25 –  Oral history
-Challenge 31 – Your Interests

Explore Your Creativity
-Challenge 13 – Photo Essay

Global Awareness
-Challenge 29 – The Power of One

Leadership and Management
-Challenge 3 – Role Models

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Designing T-shirts

It’s finally – finally! – almost T-shirt weather across Canada. And while we know that nothing beats the Girl Guide uniform T or your favourite camp shirt, there’s something pretty awesome about girls designing their own T-shirts. As we head into the weekend and get ready to don short-sleeves for some outdoor fun, GirlGuidesCANBlog shares these fashionable notes from girl members who set to work on designing their own threads.

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Earlier this Guiding year, the 2nd Kanata Guides from Ottawa decided to have a T-shirt designing contest. We did this as part of the Canadian Guiding Badge. All girls in the unit were able to express their ideas, understandings and opinions about Canadian Guiding. Everyone had a chance to participate in the contest.

Tshirt_Collage

Everybody designed their own T-shirt on a piece of paper. We used a variety of pencils, markers, and colour pencils. The T-shirts showcased colourful and creative pictures of all the things we do in Guiding. We had an amazing time and can`t wait to do other exciting activities like this!

By guest bloggers Isabelle Dault, Hannah McCormick, Divya Menon and Katherine Fitze, members of the 2nd Kanata Guides.

Do you have an idea for a blog post? Send us a pitch! ggcblog(at)girlguides.ca

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Throwback Thursday: The Right Stuff

Sometimes it can feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. Work commitments, family commitments, time for yourself, time for your community – it’s tricky to squeeze it all in. Here’s a guest post on the invigorating power of working with girls in Guiding.

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How hectic
 is your life?  If you are an urban dweller you are likely finding life busy, crowded, expensive and often tiring.  If you live in a rural area, your life is also likely busy, expensive and often tiring.  For the most part we all have the same complaints.

We come home tired every night and our weekends are sacred times for sleep, family and catching up on everything we didn’t complete last weekend.

Then, isn’t it remarkable that Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada has thousands of women, right across the county, who willing give a group of girls a few hours a week?  These same women also commit to using a couple of weekends a year to engage these girls in a simple event that might be a craft day or weekend camp that quickly turns into a fabulous time for everyone.

When I became a Guide Leader I wasn’t sure how I could do it.  What would I have to give up?  More importantly what did I have to offer a group of girls?  What I found out was that I had the right stuff!  I could engage with, and be engaged by, a dynamic group of tomorrow’s women. And I didn’t have to give up anything.

We did individual environmental goals for our lunches; we danced the Macarena; we did a mid-winter walk to find all the colours in pack of crayons (found them all); we danced the Macarena; we had a geologist drop in; we danced the Macarena; we played with feral kittens at an animal shelter (some got adopted); we danced the Macarena; we sold cookies to everyone we saw by creating the ‘Five Great Reasons to Buy Girl Guide Cookies’ campaign; we held a carnival for the Districts Brownies; we camped; we went to a play; we had a health nurse visit to talk about the perils of smoking; we did badge work;  built a snowmen;  we sang ‘Black Socks’ on the subway and got smiles out everyone, and did I mention we danced the Macarena?

At times, I might have dragged myself into a Unit meeting, but I always came home invigorated.  The dynamic of girls can charge you.  As a parent, I learned a great deal about interaction with kids, their parents and how a group can stay positive and supportive by using simple tools such as your ears for always listening and good words.

Girl Guides of Canada is always looking for new Guiders. Women with the ‘right stuff.’  Women from all walks of life, education levels and knowledge can participate with girls in a safe environment to enable girls to be confident, resourceful and courageous, and to make a difference in the world.

What are you waiting for?

By guest blogger Virginia, former “Happy Guider”

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Guiding Underwater

Sitting around the dining room table at one of our weekly meetings before the end of summer last year, our Pathfinders were discussing all the things we wanted to do the following year. To me as a leader we had fallen into somewhat of a slump with activities and what we needed was something new and adventurous!

I began to think, what adventures had I tried? What was something I could share with the girls that would be new, exciting and grab the interest of Pathfinder and Ranger aged girls?

I knew what it was – SCUBA! I myself first got my open water scuba diving certification shortly after  I was a Ranger and thought it would be great for something new to try with the girls.

We continued our discussion of adventures in September at our first meeting. That is where I brought up scuba. At first I thought there would be hesitation but as soon as I suggested it all the girls immediately jumped at the idea.

The night came when we all headed to Midhurst, Ontario for our  scuba lesson. On one of the coldest days of winter, in the warmth of the heated indoor pool, the girls were introduced to the equipment, hand signals and safety requirements they would need to know before suiting up and getting into the pool with the instructors.

ScubaPolaroid_Apr25

The girls were so excited to get their vest, flippers, mask and tanks on.  It was great to see how they helped each other making sure vests were tight enough and hair was out of the mask for a good seal.

I watched as each of the girls one by one took their first steps into the world of scuba by slowly lowering themselves to the bottom of the pool. When the last girl had reached the bottom, I too lowered myself down slowly and joined them. At the bottom of the pool, we juggled golf balls, played with rockets and weighted rings, as well as practised using our equipment. We even had time for a group photo. At the end of the session, I asked all the girls if they would do it again and all said yes, it had been the best adventure we had done as a group in a long time.

I had forgotten how much I enjoyed scuba diving and being able to introduce it to my girls made it even more enjoyable.

By guest blogger Amanda Benny, who is currently a Guider with the 1st Beaverton Pathfinders and 1st Beaverton White Water Rangers. This fall , she will be starting a
a multi-branch unit of Sparks, Brownies and Guides.

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Say cheese! Setting up a Girl Guide photo booth

I often forget to take pictures at Guiding events. At our recent Olympic sleepover we chose the scrapbook option in the Quebec Spin Challenge and I set up a photo booth to make sure some pictures were taken. I’ve seen photo booths at Guiding events before, but they were always super creative and I became overwhelmed with the prospect. I wanted something quick, simple and cheap. Here is my list of three things needed for an easy photo booth at your next event.

Picture - Photo Booth
1) A backdrop!

The 2012 Olympics was in London, so I taped my Union Jack on the wall. Alternatively, hang up a blanket, beach towel or plastic table cloth. If taping the backdrop to the wall isn’t an option, it can be pinned to a bulletin board or hung from a curtain rod. For a more elaborate backdrop, add lights, balloons or streamers. Having a set backdrop encouraged the girls to keep the camera and props in one area of the meeting space.

2) Props !

Props can be really fun. I provided a bag to keep the props contained when they were not being used. Here are four ideas for props:

  • Something to put around your neck (scarf, necklace, feather boa).
  • Something to put on your head (hat, tiara, fascinator). For a fast fascinator, twist and sculpt a few pipe cleaners onto a headband.
  • A mask or sunglasses. To make a quick mask, print a picture out (we used the Olympic Rings), glue to cardboard, cut out shape/eye holes, and tape onto a stock to hold.
  • Something to hold (I bought a small Canadian flag).

3) A camera!

I’d recommend that two cameras be brought in case there is a problem with one. Assigning one person as the photographer can provide consistency and order.

That’s it. Three steps, one photo booth, lots of amazing pictures.
By 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. You can read her Thinking Day post on the Quebec Girl Guides blog.

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Should girls bring tech to camp?

It started when a Brownie asked if she could bring her iPod Touch to camp. Our packing list says no electronic devices at camp. Cameras are optional. The Brownie (and her parents) understood, but she explained that her iPod is her camera. She added that her parents didn’t want to buy a camera when she already had the iPod. She also said one of her favourite things to do at camp was to “make movies” with the other Brownies. (I can attest to this – they do love recording performances, and watching them in playback.) Camp was five days away. What to do…

My first instinct was to say no. I imaged the tension that having an iPod at camp might cause. Would others perceive it as unfair – why would an iPod be OK, but not a DS? Would the leaders have to intervene to ensure that the iPod was only being used as a camera? I didn’t answer right away. I thought I should consider the question from a range of perspectives. I am in multi-branch unit, from Sparks to Pathfinders, and we camp together. I knew I needed to consider that, too. I promised to answer the Brownie’s family in time to pack.

I asked the other leaders. Opinions ranged. We could:

  • Stick with the original policy – it works
  • Make an exception, and say that the iPod must be used only as a camera
  • Allow the iPod and collect it, and all the cameras to control their use

We chose to stick with the original policy. I emailed the family with the full explanation, and asked that it be shared with the Brownie. I also offered the use of my camera. I am glad that I did. Her mom replied right away, saying how much she appreciated our respectful approach.

WinterCamp

Camp was a blast. Cameras were used to take traditional memory-making pictures, (me: “why are you taking a picture of that s’more?” Brownie: “I want to remember how awesome it tasted!!”) and for very silly performance movies. We laughed a lot.

But this isn’t over. We’re travelling to the Girl Guides of Canada Ontario and Nunavut One Voice Rally Day soon. Five hours in a bus. A Spark wants to bring her LeapPad. The Rally Day information included “a camera or a smartphone to take pictures” in the “what to bring” section. I sent our families a survey to ask their opinions. We’ll be asking all the girls what they think, too. To be continued…

By guest blogger Kathryn Lyons, a Guider with the 12th Ottawa Guiding Unit.

 

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