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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“Loom-y” for Girl Guide Cookies!

A lot of the kids I know are caught up in the loom bracelet craze. My daughter, her friends, the girls in our unit – all of them love making and trading them. So I thought:  “Why not combine two of the girls’ favourite things – Girl Guide cookies and bracelets – for a fun unit meeting?”

I came up with a design, based on Made by Mommy’s Girl Scout Cookie bracelet, to showcase our own Girl Guide cookies. So, with thanks to Made by Mommy for permission to adapt her design, here’s what you need to make a loom cookie bracelet:

-23 dark brown rubber bands (for the chocolatey mint cookie)

-23 white or light tan rubber bands (for the classic vanilla sandwich cookie)

-23 light brown or dark tan rubber bands (for the classic chocolate sandwich cookie)

-15-30 blue rubber bands (for the bracelet band)

-1 C-clip

-1 loom

-1 loom hook

-Girl Guide Cookie Bracelet pattern

Bracelet_pattern3

First, place your bands on the loom:

Picture 1

Next, create the first side of the bracelet by making a single chain with your blue bands. I used the bands doubled – 2 at a time – and used about 16 per side to make an adult-sized bracelet. You can adjust this to fit your own wrist. Once your chain is long enough, attach it to your loom (this will act as your cap band at one end).

Picture 2

Once your chain is attached, you can begin hooking your bracelet.  (For detailed instructions, you can watch the Girl Scout Cookie bracelet tutorial).

Picture 3

When the whole bracelet has been hooked, slide your hook through the centre of the last peg (where you finished hooking) and pull two blue bands up through the centre peg. Loop the blue bands over the hook again (so the end of the bracelet is not attached to your hook). You are now ready to remove the cookie bracelet from the loom!

Picture 4

After removing the bracelet, use the remaining blue bands to make a single chain band, matching the length to the first chain you created. When you are happy with the length, attach a C-clip, remove from the hook, and attach the C-clip to the other side of the bracelet.

Congratulations, your Girl Guide cookie bracelet is complete!

Picture 5

Feel free to modify the colours to suit your style. How about an all-chocolate or all-vanilla bracelet? Or, attach several bracelets together and make a Girl Guide cookie necklace! It’s a great way to get girls excited about selling cookies, and a wonderful conversation starter to assist your cookie sales.

If your unit really enjoys looming, there are other ways to incorporate it into your meeting. How about these Girl Guide figures?

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You could also make these Trefoil bracelets, posted on the Ontario Girl Guides Facebook page.

Why not challenge your girls to come up with their own designs? Oh, and a word of warning…don’t be surprised if YOU leave the meeting wearing a whole armful of the girls’ creations as well…because sharing is the best part of creating, don’t you think?

By guest blogger and Guider ‘Glowie’, a.k.a. Megan Gilchrist. Megan is the Contact Guider for the 7th St. Catharines Guiding (multi-branch) Unit. Read Megan’s other contributions to GirlGuidesCANBlog: Girlfriends Through Time: Bridging the Distance Between Guiding Generations,  Swinging along the Road…Inspiration to GuidingI Bee-Lieve in CampGeo-What??? Or How to Hunt for Treasure in Your own BackyardHands-on HistoryEvery Penny Counts, and “Multi-Branch” Means More Fun!

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Opening the vaults: Inside the Girl Guides of Canada archives

The archives at the national office is a treasure trove of records and insignia from the last 100 years of Canadian Guiding.  We have uniforms, badges, publications, minutes and photographs. Here’s a snapshot of just a few of the items in our collection.

eye mask005

This eye shade was given to Miss Gertrude Currie by Lady Baden-Powell sometime in the 1960s when Miss Currie was the Camp Commissioner for Ontario Council.  The accompanying note from Lady Baden- Powell says, “a small souvenir of our sharing the jolly little hut at Doe Lake together! And affectionate thoughts and thanks for everything!” The other tag identifies the mask as being “Made by handicapped Girl Guides.”

 

whistle

Along with donations of badges and uniforms we have received many lanyards and whistles. The bosun’s whistle on the left is very unique.  In order to pass her Ordinary Sea Ranger test, a Sea Ranger had to be able to use the bosun’s whistle to pipe the ‘still’, ‘carry on’ and ‘pipe the side.’

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A favourite item of researchers are log books, where companies (or units) recorded their activities.  Log books created by girls are especially coveted by our researchers as they allow us to hear the voices of past members and know their real experiences.

If you have anything you think the archives might be interested in you can email us at archives@girlguides.ca. We are especially interested in unique items, log books and photographs. Please note that we are not in need of uniforms post-1950 or published materials such as program books or back issues of Canadian Guider.

April 7 to 13, 2014 is Archives Awareness Week.

 

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What I learned at Sangam

Sangam Volutneers

Melissa Moor (second from the right) and her fellow Sangam volunteers.

“How was India?”

 “What did you do there?”

 “Did you like the food?”

 It has been almost two months since I arrived home from volunteering at Sangam. I had my answers all figured out:

India? It was spectacular. Challenging. Captivating. Dynamic.

I did all kinds of exciting things: led sessions on WAGGGS projects, bartered for bangles, rode a camel.

And the food? Delicious. Tasty, not spicy, just like the Sangam staff told me it would be.

I knew what to say, how to answer those questions. And then someone asked me a different one: “What did you learn at Sangam?”

I didn’t have a good answer. I still don’t. I blundered through something superficial and the conversation moved on, but I didn’t. I’m still trying to answer this question deliberately and honestly.

I learned so many things at Sangam.

Laxmi SangamSome of the things I learned were practical. I learned how to cross the road without traffic lights, how to take a rickshaw to the market and how to bargain for custard apples once I got there. I found out the hard way that snacks you leave in your backpack become snacks for the ants. I learned how to give a tour of Sangam and how to eat with my hands.

Some of the things I learned were about communities and culture. At Sangam, I thought about privilege and the way we relate to each other. I learned about celebration and ritual. I pushed myself to examine my own assumptions. I learned how to live in an intercultural environment.

And in this intercultural environment, I learned about Guiding. I learned about WAGGGS campaigns and explored WAGGGS’ new online learning platform, GLOW. I attended a local Guide meeting. I spoke to Guiders from Australia and Rwanda, from Nepal and Brazil. I learned what Guiding means, what it looks like and where it happens all over the world.

I joined Guiding as a Brownie in small-town Ontario. We met in the local school gym,30 girls in twirly brown dresses chasing each other across the blue and red lines marked on the floor.

Nearly 20 years later, I scuttled down Sangam’s twisted stairs in my purple Punjabi with the other volunteers. We rushed towards the campsite, scampered through the field and stopped. Still. Right in front of an elephant. Towering, astonishing, come to sleep here, at Sangam, for the night. Silently, we watched the elephant lower first her trainer, then each piece of her saddle down to the ground. She turned, lumbered towards the grass and sank down to sleep.

 Together, we walked back into Sangam, my friends from Argentina and Mexico, India and the United States and me. I learned so many things at Sangam. Guiding happens in our school gyms and in church basements, in community centres and at the park down the road. I knew this. But, I learned, Guiding also happens here, out behind Sangam standing beside an old elephant in the balmy night air, stars piercing the blanket sky above.

 Learn about volunteer opportunities at Sangam

By guest blogger you Melissa Moor, a Guider with the 5th Ottawa Brownies. Melissa volunteered at Sangam World Centre from September to December 2013. Check out Melissa’s other contributions to GirlGuidesCANBlog:  Healthy Friendship RecipesBrownies on IceGuiding Parliament, A Silent MeetingUsing Children’s Books in MeetingsIt’s Not a Box!One Plus One Equals Brownie Math,  The World Girls Want for the(ir) FutureYoung Women’s World Forum 2011: Wrap-up from Switzerland. 

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Why every Brownie unit should have a rubber chicken (or two)

Rubber chickensHave you met our unit’s pals,  Mr. and Mrs. Chicken?

 

Here’s why we think you should have at least one rubber chicken in your unit kit, too:

  1. Chicken Games are Awesome!  Thank you Becky’s Guiding Resource.
  2.  Chickens can often substitute for other equipment… They replace balls, flags, boundaries (“don’t go past the chicken!”) and beanbags in many games. Our girls played Capture the Chicken at camp.  Guider Nicole suggests Ultimate Chicken (instead of Ultimate Frisbee).
  3. Chickens save time… They don’t roll like balls do and if someone misses a throw, it won’t take forever to get the ball back.
  4. Chickens don’t hurt if they accidentally bop you in the nose…  They’re soft and less likely to cause injuries.
  5. Chickens store easily … They can squish in around other stuff when you’re packing up.
  6. Chickens are easy to get and not too expensive… Look in the dog toy section at Walmart ($8) or the dollar store ($2).   I suggest, for your sanity, that you perform an immediate noise maker-ectomy with some needle nose pliers.
  7. Chickens give you an instant filler activity if you have a gap in programming.  Everyone wants to play a chicken game.
  8. Chickens can help develop leadership skills … Ask the girls to make up and lead their own chicken games.
  9. Chickens cheer you up…  At camp, an unhappy Brownie may find comfort with a hug from a chicken (it works!).

Originally posted to Cara’s own blog Brownie Meeting Ideas, February 6, 2014.

By guest blogger Cara Hicks, Brown Owl for the 119th Ottawa Brownies.

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How engineering could take you to Mars

March is National Engineering Month (NEM), which shines a spotlight on the role of engineering in society and (hopefully!) inspires future engineers to pursue engineering as a career path.

As a soon-to-be mechanical engineering graduate at the University of Guelph, I use Guiding as a way to share my experiences in engineering with girls and young women. Engineering is a field in which women are severely underrepresented, with women comprising approximately 20% of engineering students at Canadian universities1 and less than 10% of licensed professional engineers in Canada2.. This makes it so critical that we inform girls and young women about the exciting opportunities available in engineering.

National Engineering Month BadgeWhat can you do to celebrate NEM 2014? In Toronto and the GTA, engineers (and engineering students) are running Mission to Mars meetings with Guiding units. I had the chance to facilitate one of these events during the first week of March and had an amazing time!

The highlight of my night was when one of the Girl Guides in the unit asked me what the solution was to making her Mars rover work. I explained to her that there was not just one correct answer, but that engineers often come up with many workable solutions to solve a problem. She loved that engineering was about creating things that did not yet exist and making them work!

Even if an engineer will not be visiting your unit, you can find out about the activities on the Mission to Mars – NEM 2014 YouTube channel, so you can run the activities in your own meetings. You can also check out the National Engineering Month website to find out about all of the events running in your area and learn more about careers in engineering.

Engineering is a field with endless opportunities and many careers in engineering are about applying creativity towards helping people. Maybe you will help solve global warming or be involved in manufacturing the latest fashion trend. Maybe you will ensure that our buildings are sturdy or that factory workers will not get hurt on the job. Maybe you will create a great new video game or pioneer new ways to resolve toxic waste spills. Maybe you will make cars safer by improving airbags and bumpers or create the next medical innovation and save a life. Maybe you will change the world. Engineering is definitely something to consider as a fun, rewarding and exciting career!

Profile Photo - Lauren Patrick

Lauren Patrick

By guest blogger Lauren Patrick, who is a final-year mechanical engineering co-op student at 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.

 Are you a Girl Guide Member who will be enrolled in a science, technology, engineering or math post-secondary program next academic year? Then apply for one of our Girl Guides of Canada scholarships, some of which are specifically for students in these fields. Hurry – applications close April 1!

 

1 Women in Science and Engineering in Canada, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Ontario

2 Women in science and engineering, Statistics Canada

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Beauty on a budget

For the past two years, the leaders of the 3rd Bowmanville Guide Unit have been teaching girls all about natural beauty on a budget. It’s important to us because our own children have gone away to college and one has just finished. We know what it is like to have kids on a very tight budget, and the importance of having the knowledge to do things for yourself that are fun and very inexpensive. We wanted to guide the girls in our unit to learn how to cut costs on things they enjoy but may not be able to afford, especially as they get older.

The great thing is we do it in a fun way: First we teach the girls about face masks by mixing plain yogurt with oatmeal and honey in a blender, then spreading it on their faces and placing cucumber slices on their eyes. Then we show them how to soften their hands with a little bit of baby oil or cooking oil. Next it’s using a teaspoon of sugar and rubbing it in to help remove dead skin from their hands. This is very economical and environmentally safe.

Finally, we make homemade lip palm with Vaseline and Kool Aid packs and place it in small containers from the dollar store. We use the unsweetened kind so that it tastes like sour candy. All three crafts cost very little money and are very natural and easy to do at home on a budget – and also fun when having friends over for a sleepover party!

We like to teach the girls the importance of finding creative and inexpensive ways to do things on a budget so that when they go away to university and money is tight, they can do little things to boost their spirits and not break the bank.

By guest blogger Laurie Palmer, a.k.a. Guider Beans of the 3rd Bowmanville Guides.  

NSP crest

Note: Making your own beauty products counts as one of the two activities required for girls to earn their National Service Project: Operation Earth Action crest. Check out all of the Operation Earth Action activities and be sure to log your actions! 

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Sparks CAN Snowshoe!

SnowshoesThree years ago at my first monthly District Guider meeting, one of our (amazing!) 50+ year Guiders advised our group that the district had a huge cache of snowshoes at our disposal. It was my first year as a Guider and I was seriously intimidated at the thought of organizing snowshoeing for my Sparks – it was never going to happen.

Fast forward to two weeks ago…  Alberta has been hammered with snow this year and out of the clear blue (okay snowy and overcast) sky it hit me – I’M TAKING MY GIRLS SNOWSHOEING! I finally felt confident enough in my Guiding skills to take my 21 girls out for some winter fun. And hot chocolate. Sparks MUST have hot chocolate.

It came together very quickly, we were at the beginning of a huge Chinook and I only had a few days to plan. I live on an acreage near our city so location was a no-brainer: my garage and yard. I advised all my parents via email on the Sunday before our Wednesday meeting with a map and a “what to wear” list attached. I had a huge positive response from my parents and had a full compliment of volunteers to help us that night.

Wednesday afternoon I cleaned out the garage, put together some makeshift benches, picked up some hot chocolate, and gathered the snowshoes from storage. I spent an hour with my own two kids making a track for my Sparks to follow through the yard, weaving through trees and over hedges. The drifts were up to five feet tall!

The girls arrived and after a quick rundown of rules and instruction, we were into our shoes and off! It was a full moon that night, the wind was calm and the temperature was only about 0°C. We had 24 kids (including Girl Assistants) in a train, wearing glow stick rings, snowshoeing through my yard by the light of the moon.

It was by far my best Guiding moment. I’d accomplished something that I had considered out of the question just three years ago, and it’s given me the inspiration to strive for another awesome Guiding experience. I just need to consider what I think is “too hard” right now and plan on doing it in another year or two! (The Brownie Guiders are trying to convince me that a sleepover is a great decision…)

By guest blogger Jodi Paulgaard, a stay-at-home mom and the Guider for the 5th Airdrie Sparks in Airdrie, Alberta. “This is my third year leading Sparks – my daughter went to Brownies this year and wouldn’t take me, so here I am, up to my elbows in white glue and pom poms, having fun with Sparks!”

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Reflections from the UN Commission on the Status of Women

Saffina Jinnah, a Guider from Vancouver, is attending the UN Commission on the Status of Women, being held from March 10 to 21 at the UN headquarters in New York City

selfMy Brownie unit is the reason I wanted to attend the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW). I want them to live in a world that invests in girls and empowers girls.  I want them to know their worth and maximize their potential.  As a youth delegate last year, I knew I could contribute my experiences and knowledge this year as a Coordinator.  Guiding has provided me the leadership skills I need to assist the WAGGGS delegation.

The life of a delegate essentially consists of early mornings and late nights (and extra shots of espresso)!  As I write this at 2:00 a.m., I am reflecting on the day of advocating and lobbying.  Who did I meet with?  Which government and/or United Nations official delegate did I share WAGGGS’ key messages with?  Did we have a connection? Every day, we try to reach these influential people and have the voices of 10 million girls of 145 countries heard, and it is no easy task!  Some nights end in frustration, some in success…but you always have your fellow delegates who are awesome and supportive!  Even if you reach one person, you know you have made a difference in the life of a girl.

The CSW is a great place to foster friends, learn about yourself, and challenge yourself.   Furthermore, CSW offers youth an incredible opportunity to practice developing policy, advocating effectively, and utilizing social and oral skills in various settings – all  of which I did!  By attending various sessions with inspiring speakers and panelists, I also broadened my knowledge and networks.

Perhaps one of the best moments of CSW was hearing the Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, speak: “Gender equality is not a women’s issue – it is an issue for us all.”  Amazing.  We all want a world where women and girls are respected, valued, and equal in all aspects of life and at every stage of life.  This is our chance to make change and be heard!

I am so grateful to be a part of the Guiding Movement!   

By guest blogger Saffina Jinnah

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How to Explain the Beauty of Winter Camping

Why would anyone do that!?”

That was the reply when I told a dinner companion that in 10 hours I’d be heading to the mountains of Manning Park, British Columbia, to go winter tent camping in record low temperatures, along with my long-time co-Guider Cindy, three very experienced Rangers and four very new Pathfinders.

Girls in snow2I don’t expect people to understand why we do it, those of us who choose to bundle up, pre-cook meals and snacks, make multi-layered sleeping bags and bedding, purchase extra sets of long underwear, and head to the snow to spend a weekend outdoors. I can’t possibly explain that snow camps are truly the best camps ever, because there’s no mucky mud or rain to clean up, only dry snow to brush off tents and tarps, and no bugs or critters to crawl inside either. Because pre-made food and eating from a Ziploc bag means there are virtually no dishes to do. There are no bathrooms to clean. The chore list for the girls is much smaller, or even non-existent. That snowshoeing across a frozen lake that the girls were paddling a canoe on less than six months earlier leaves girls and adults alike filled with awe at the beauty of nature. And that snowshoeing in general is a whole lot more fun than walking.

I can’t explain how listening to the whoosh of a raven’s wings as it flies by in the morning and the shush that follows of the snow sliding off your tent from that force of air, is just the most beautiful sound you can hear. Because walking in the dark with a headlamp along a cross-country trail, and throwing oneself into nearby snow banks is surprisingly relaxing and freeing. And watching a group of inexperienced Pathfinders try to create a snow shelter they can sleep in using three tarps and rope alongside a giant tree stump and a few built-up walls of snow for four straight hours really shows their determination, teamwork, and spirit of creating something for themselves – even if they did choose to sleep in the conventional tent for the second night.

girls snowshoeing

Not many people will be able to understand why we would choose to have an Easter egg hunt in the snow. Neither would they see how sitting around a campfire with a group of teenagers and listening to them talk about anything and everything because it’s a safe and non-judgmental environment is empowering them to be confident.

I could have said all these things and more to my dinner companion, but I don’t think it would really have done much to change her mind. I’ve received similar comments from others as well. All I know for sure is that winter camps really are amazing –  only those who have been can relate – and that Cindy and I are already looking forward to next year’s return trip.

-     By guest blogger Robyn McDonald, a Pathfinder and Ranger Guider in Telegraph Trail District, Fraser Skies Area, British Columbia. Check out Robyn’s other contributions to GirlGuidesCANblog: Ideas Worth Sharing, From Frustration to Compassion: A Guider’s Journey

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Girlfriends Through Time: Bridging the Distance between Guiding Generations

This year, our unit was looking at new ways for doing things. As a multi-branch unit, some of our Guiders  have been with the unit (and in Guiding!) for many years, as have  a number of our girls.  After a discussion with a co-worker about multi-generational programming, we came up with the idea of pairing the “Girlfriends Through Time” Brownie badge with a visit from our local Trefoil Guild.  The Guild members would be invited to a meeting to share the way things were done when they were young and some of their favourite Guiding activities.  We had hosted Trefoil Guild members in the past, and were always pleased to see how receptive the girls were to our special guests.  The twist to this visit was that we would invite the Trefoil members back for a second meeting – the following week, the girls in our unit would showcase their favourite Guiding activities and experiences.

We planned a basic outline with the Trefoil Guild by email, and worked out the general flow of the meetings. Our first meeting in January was spent planning with our girls – we talked with each level (Sparks, Brownies and Guides) about their favourite Guiding activities, and the girls suggested crafts, songs and games that they would like to share.  We talked to the girls about what the Trefoil Guild was, and also made sure that they were aware of anything that might impact the planning of their meeting (such as the mobility challenges faced by a few of the Guild members).  The girls were thrilled to be planning a meeting, and came up with fantastic ideas that allowed everyone to participate.  It was girl-led programming in action!

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The next week, we hosted the first meeting.  The Trefoil members joined us for a snack, and then shared how meetings were opened when they were young.  The girls loved trying the horseshoe formation, and were intrigued by the idea of inspections!  The horseshoe included the marching of the colours, and the girls had the opportunity to try out the knots used to hoist a flag.  Next we had some fun with a dress-up relay game, and the Guild members led us in a campfire of songs they sang as girls or Leaders.  The meeting finished with closing songs and Promises (old and new), and much excitement for the following week.

We were proud of how well our girls did sharing their ideas at the next meeting, and they took pride in sharing the activities they had planned.  We started off with a snack, and the Trefoil Guild showed great Guiding fortitude in trying “goldfish in the sea.”  We then shared our opening circle and songs, then divided up into small groups to make twisted yarn friendship bracelets.  The craft was a huge hit, and some of the Trefoil ladies left with several bracelets, as all of the girls wanted to make one for their new friends!  The girls had decided on “Telephone” for their game, as everyone could play (even those who were not able to get around easily), and there was much giggling as the messages became jumbled as they went around the circle.  We finished off with a campfire of the girls’ favourites, and discovered that some Guiding songs never grow old!

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This was a great experience all around – the Trefoil Guild members expressed how much they enjoyed the experience, and our girls have asked every week since when they will be coming back!  As Guiders, we loved watching our girls take on the challenge of planning a meeting for others, and everyone, from our youngest Spark up to our oldest Guide, contributed something to make the visit special.  We can’t wait for our next chance to share in the sisterhood of Guiding with our Trefoil friends!

By guest blogger and Guider ‘Glowie’, a.k.a. Megan Gilchrist. Megan is the Contact Guider for the 7th St. Catharines Guiding (multi-branch) Unit. Read Megan’s other contributions to GirlGuidesCANBlog: Swinging along the Road…Inspiration to GuidingI Bee-Lieve in CampGeo-What??? Or How to Hunt for Treasure in Your own BackyardHands-on HistoryEvery Penny Counts, and “Multi-Branch” Means More Fun!

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Where will Guiding take you?

Stuck in the never ending cycle of Canadian winter weather, leaving on a jet plane for a far flung corner of the world seems like a pretty good idea right about now. As we celebrate World Thinking Day on February 22, it’s the perfect time to consider the opportunities we have in Guiding to see the world – and ourselves – in a whole new way.

Each year on World Thinking Day, girls participate in activities and projects with global themes to honor their sister Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in other countries. This year’s World Thinking Day theme focuses on girls’ education, and Canadian Guiding has always focused on sparking girls’ interest in the greater world and educating girls on global issues that will inspire them to take action.

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It’s almost impossible to put into words the transformative effects of an international Guiding experience. For both girls and Guiders alike, it’s about more than just going somewhere new and doing something different. The beautiful thing about international Guiding is that you’ll get that amazing feeling of being part of something inspiring, supportive and powerful. The journey is about so much more than just getting from point A to point B. It’s about who you were before you left, and who you become by the time the trip is over.

When I was a Brownie in Lethbridge, Alberta, I never would’ve imagined the amazing places Guiding would take me. I have been so fortunate to meet so many amazing Guiding sisters on my travels to Mexico, Peru, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Along the way, I discovered the distinct magic of each country and discovered that through Guiding, we are all truly part of something bigger. We are all working towards supporting a world where girls have unlimited opportunities to learn and to make their mark.

And when you come back from a trip? Often, the journey continues. You have the chance to put the ‘new’ you into action, to keep the momentum going and apply what you learned about yourself right now and into the future.

Being a member of Girl Guides of Canada and the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) can truly take you anywhere. Where will Guiding take you?

By guest blogger Chris Burton

Chris Burton, from Lethbridge, Alberta, is Girl Guides of Canada’s International Commissioner, and was Chief Commissioner from 2009-2012.

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Touching Hearts – Valentines for Vets

Veterans Affairs Canada’s Valentines for Vets program distributes personal notes of thanks in valentines to veterans in long-term care facilities. Here’s how one group of Sparks made the activity their own.

Valentine_collage
Veterans Affairs Canada started it, Canadian Guider promoted it in the Winter 2014 edition, our Guiders implemented it but the 1st  Niagara-on-the-Lake Sparks made it the heart-warming and popular project that it became. I’m talking about Valentines for Vets. It started when Remembrance Day fell on our meeting day this year. Our newest Guider, Jan McFarland, led the girls in discussions and crafts related to:

  • Making a poppy
  • The significance of the poppy
  • Ways in which we can make the world a better place
  • What peace means
  • The song “Peace Peace”
  • Decorating a peace dove
  • Completing the written sentence – “I will make the world better by….”  and putting it in their Sparks memory books

The girls earned the Remembrance Day crest for their participation in this meeting.

This background prepared the girls to make valentines for vets and understand the significance of thanking them. (Although they needed a quick reminder that this was for “soldiers” and not animal doctors.) The first week, we used every bit of crafting material we could lay our hands on and we still had the occasional request for that special piece of ribbon or sought-after sticker. As requested by Veterans Affairs, we avoided glitter. I can only imagine the distress of long-term care workers who would have been sweeping glitter from beds and chairs. Our Sparks do love their bling! We were asked NOT to put on too many things that might come off but really, asking a six-year-old girl not to use decorations is like asking a new puppy not to bark. Sparks love to accessorize! The girls enjoyed the project so much that when asked, they decided to do more the following week so we brought out the paint and brushes.

I hope the vets can read phonetically as one Spark wrote (all on her own) “Thank you for prutectshon” (protection). My other favourites: “To Vet Be Mine” and “You Can Keep This.” I noticed that each card had an H and then a 5/6 on it? I started to ask the Sparks what that meant and then realized I said, “Don’t forget to put your age on it. Age 5 or 6 for example.” What they heard was, “ H 5/6”. I added a couple of yellow stickies to help clarify for the recipients.

1st Niagara-on-the-Lake Sparks_Valentines for VetsEach of the beautifully decorated cards touched our hearts so I know they will touch the hearts of our much valued veterans. This has been a terrific project that the girls really enjoyed. I thank Veterans Affairs for affording us this opportunity and Canadian Guider for bringing it to my attention. This is truly a cross-generational project of very deserving recipients and loving, spontaneous Sparks. I hope it becomes a tradition for our unit.

By guest blogger Leslie Kennedy, 1st Niagara-on-the-Lake Sparks, Ontario on behalf of all our Sparks Guiders, Aileen Van t’riet, Pat Fryer and Jan McFarland

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We Can Make a Difference

A year and a half ago 1st Red Wing TREX signed up to take a humanitarian trip in 2014 through Me to We, an organization committed to social justice and empowering youth. Each month a different member of our unit chooses a service project according to their interests. So far this year we have exercised dogs for the SPCA, served the homeless Thanksgiving and Christmas meals, and made quilts for the women’s shelter.

This fall we were very honoured to be invited guest s at We Day’s Evening of Champions in Saskatoon.  This special event honored 120 youth for their involvement in community, both locally and globally. It provided an opportunity to network and to hear from several of the We Day speakers.

Craig Kielburger, co-founder Free the Children, with Becky, Kaylee, Kendall, Megan and Jamie.  1st Red Wing TREX UNIT, Prince Albert SK. Photo courtesy Brenda Lee.

Craig Kielburger, co-founder Free the Children, with Becky, Kaylee, Kendall, Megan and Jamie. 1st Red Wing TREX UNIT, Prince Albert SK. Photo courtesy Brenda Lee.

The next day we attended We Day, a celebration of the year-long commitment of youth to community service. Each of the 15,000 in attendance earned their ticket through service. These events are held across Canada, as well as in the United States and soon to be held in the U.K. Each event includes music, We Day speakers and local heroes.  Saskatchewan’s guests included Martin Luther King III, Magic Johnson, Kenyan Boys Choir, Spencer West, Shawn Desman and many others.  It was a very exciting event and the energy in the building was equal only to the noise level! All our girls left inspired and encouraged to make a difference.

Photo courtesy Brenda Lee.

Photo courtesy Brenda Lee.

Photo courtesy Brenda Lee

Photo courtesy Brenda Lee

We will continue our monthly service projects and in June we will land in Accra, Ghana, to spend two weeks immersed in the culture and working alongside community members to build a school, learn about water projects, women’s rights and volunteer with local school children. We will take part in Me to We’s leadership program and each girl will come home with their own plan of how they can continue to make a difference.

We CAN make a difference!

By guest blogger Brenda Lee,  1st Red Wing TREX, Saskatchewan.

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Check Your Problems at the Door

It’s not easy for me to admit, but I’ve been going through some bad times lately. I am lucky to have a few good friends who I feel comfortable sharing my very personal issues with. I am also lucky to have amazing Guiders who work with me in my Spark group. These are women who I get along with really well, who I know always have my back. I’ve only been a leader for just over a year now, but it has had such a positive impact on my life.

Mississauga Santa Claus Parade. Photo courtesy Chelsea

Mississauga Santa Claus Parade. Photo courtesy Chelsea

Last year my co-Guider and I took our Sparks to a vet clinic. After the girls had all left with their parents, we were thanking the veterinarian for his time when he expressed his surprise that neither of us had daughters, that we were just volunteers. My co-Guider and I did a similar sort of shrug and tried to explain what we get out of it. She did a better job than I did, and told him about a week when she was having the worst day and then came to Sparks and instantly felt better. I remember being impressed by this statement, since I couldn’t remember ever seeing her in a bad mood, and it’s stuck with me since. She was right – there  was something almost cleansing about coming through the doors of our meeting space and seeing those girls in uniform. They run up to greet us and suddenly you are no longer Chelsea, but their leader, Twinkle. You are instantly transported into a different role.

Up until last month, I never had a problem coming to Sparks and being their cheerful Guider. Then things started happening in my life and there was one week in particular when I actually questioned going to Sparks. I am so glad I did decide to go.

I was having the worst day. I was having the kind of a day where one bad thing just seemed to lead to another. I forgot part of the craft we were doing that night and had to go back to my house. I arrived late to Sparks in a really foul mood. I apologized to my fellow Guiders for being late and was just in the middle of telling them “I’ve had the worst day” when one of the Sparks came running up to me. She asked me about the craft we were making and without thinking I immediately went into my Sparks persona. I dropped the harsh tone in my voice, I smiled and remembered patience.

Before I had walked through that door, I had only thought of getting through the next hour without crying (honestly, that’s what kind of day it was). However, those girls, my 16 Sparks and my co-Guiders needed me to be Twinkle. They didn’t know what was going on in my life and they didn’t need to know. They come to Sparks to have a fun time and to learn new things. I checked my bad attitude at the door and forgot about my troubles, if only for an hour. And you know what? It felt so good to not think about my life for a bit. Sparks ended up being the best part of my day because for the first time all day I was able to focus on something other than my life.

Mississauga Santa Claus Parade. Photo courtesy Chelsea

Mississauga Santa Claus Parade. Photo courtesy Chelsea

I’m sure if you asked my girls about me, they couldn’t tell you much about my life and I think that is how it should be. I have people in my life who I can talk to about my personal issues, I have really good friends who I can trust. But Girl Guides is not the place for those conversations. Those girls deserve leaders who are positive and focused on the experience, and that is who I strive to be. When I arrive for Sparks I put my whole attention on the meeting and leave my problems at the door.

Guest blogger Chelsea

Guest blogger Chelsea

By guest blogger Chelsea Kennedy. Chelsea lives in Mississauga and works at the Girl Guides of Canada Ontario Council office in Toronto. She rediscovered her love of Guiding last year and is happy to once again be part of the sisterhood. In her spare time she enjoys knitting, reading and geocaching. She credits her love of volunteering with her time at the University of Guelph, where she earned a BAH in History and learned the joy of helping others. Read her GirlGuidesCANBlog post The Right Answer.

Were you inspired by Chelsea’s story? Why not share your Guiding story with us on GirlGuidesCANBlog? We’d love to hear all about it!

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We CAN Sing Challenge and Community Service Event

Being in Girl Guides allows us to work together as a team while planning a project that will bring about awareness for those who are less fortunate. Our We CAN Sing project was one of the ways that we as Pathfinders took action to help our community. It was great to see how our actions helped others and made a positive difference.  The project brought about awareness as we got our picture in the Liberal and SNAP so whoever read it would be able to see that we were contributing to our community. Hopefully this will bring about more awareness to encourage people to donate to the food bank.

This is what SNAP Richmond Hill said about our event:

“The 1st Oak Ridges Pathfinders were proud to organize the 8th annual all-unit campfire for Girl Guiding in Oak Ridges. More than 100 Sparks, Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders and leaders joined together at the Windham Ridge PS gym in Oak Ridges to celebrate the We CAN Sing Ontario Challenge. In addition to singing a selection of great campfire songs, participants were asked to provide a donation to the Aurora Pantry food bank. In the photo the Pathfinders display the generous donations which they will bring to the Aurora Pantry next week and help sort.”

Photo by Mike Barrett Back row (L to R): Megan, Courtney, Kyrie, Robyn, Stephanie, Charlotte Middle Row (L to R): Megan, Andrea, Cori Front Row: Julia Missing: Vivien, Nina, Imaan, Pearl, Alyssa

Photo by Mike Barrett.
Back row (L to R): Megan, Courtney, Kyrie, Robyn, Stephanie, Charlotte
Middle Row (L to R): Megan, Andrea, Cori
Front Row: Julia
Missing: Vivien, Nina, Imaan, Pearl, Alyssa

We wanted to do the project to make an active difference in the community by helping others who are less fortunate.  We also thought that this was a good way to take action for a better community as we got all the other Oak Ridges Girl Guide units together so everyone could contribute to this cause. We faced some challenges like phoning people you don’t know and having to talk to them about the event. But I made a script and kept phoning people until I got more comfortable and left messages if they weren’t home.

Our Guiders were really impressed when we organized ourselves into three teams:

  1.  Communications Team – prepared an invitation for the event, contacted unit Guiders and newspapers
  2. Food Bank Team – made all arrangements with the local food bank (delivery, sorting, etc.)
  3. Song Team – selected songs to accomplish the We CAN Sing challenge and led the entire evening.

It was great how a lot of people at the We CAN Sing campfire brought food to help make it a successful event and help us achieve our goal. I think that we were all successful as a team to make a positive difference in our community. This project made me realize how fortunate we are and that [food bank recipients] only get a very small amount of food compared to what we have and it has to last them a month.

By Stephanie, a first-year 1st Oak Ridges Pathfinder, with contributions from Guider Chickadee (Katherine), Coco (Kristi) and Ookpik (Carolyn), along with content from the original SNAP press release.

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Your Role Model – Your Choice

Between YouTube videos, commercials, TV shows, books and movies, we are shown a lot of different ways to act in the world – some good and some bad. It’s okay to enjoy a variety of media, even some of the lower quality stuff, as long as we do it with our brains turned on.

The media often presents famous people as role models for us all, but if their fame is the only notable thing about them, they may not be a good choice. Most famous people never intended to hold themselves up as an ideal, and they may not always behave as maturely as we would like.

We need to think carefully about whom we look up to, and choose role models who accomplish things through their own hard work and who behave in ways that we respect and admire. That may include famous people, but it may not. Choosing someone as a role model just because they happen to be famous is sure to leave you disappointed.

When you watch videos or commercials, keep your brain on by asking yourself what message is being sent. Are they telling you that girls are strong, valuable, and good, or are they giving the opposite message? What examples are they giving about relationships with peers, parents, teachers and dates? Do they match what you understand about how the real world works? Do you agree with the messages being given? Is this a role model that you would consciously choose?

Even if the answers are all no, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy the music of a given artist or the books of a given writer, or the shows of a given actor, but you should consider what supporting their work means. By buying their work, are you endorsing their values? Is that something you want to do?

A good role model should inspire you to be your best self, whether that is a public figure, your Guider, someone in school or in your community, one of your friends, or a member of your family. They show us some new things that can be achieved, and how they were done and, hopefully, that they were done by someone who is like us in some way.*

Potential role models are everywhere but it is better if we choose them ourselves and choose them consciously, based on our goals, rather than just following whoever comes along.  Instead of letting the media choose our role models, we can choose our own based on our values.

Your first step, then, in choosing a role model, is to determine what your values are. What is most important to you? What kinds of things do you want to achieve? Where would you find the types of people who have those same values or have achieved similar things?

If you know your own values and goals, and you watch, listen and read with your brain turned on, you will find plenty of inspiring role models out there. And as you achieve your goals, and act in ways that reflect your values, then you can become a role model for others.

How did your role models earn their place in your life? How have they helped you?

*That’s part of the reason that it is so important to have diversity of race, gender, and sexual orientation represented in the media, because not only does in more accurately reflect the world we live in, but it gives everyone role models to inspire them.

Some books of great female role models from A Mighty Girl: http://www.amightygirl.com/books/mighty-girls-women/role-models

A good discussion and tips for parents on role models in the media: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/advice-for-parents/celebrity-role-models

A list of good TV role models for girls: http://www.commonsensemedia.org/tv-lists/positive-role-model-tv-girls

By guest blogger Christine Hennebury. Christine is a writer, storyteller and life coach who lives in Newfoundland and Labrador. Helping people feel a little better right now is one of her favourite things to do. Read her previous posts on GirlGuidesCANBlog: Pretty Powerful Princesses, Don’t Forget to Breathe, and Figuring Out Your Feelings.

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Taking the Reins: My First Experience being In Charge

This Guiding year I got a promotion! My two co-Guiders of four years decided to move on to other things and suddenly I became the one “in charge” of our unit. It was a bit of a scary moment knowing that it would be me and one other Guider who had been with us for the latter half of the previous year trying to make this unit work.

It isn’t that I knew nothing, just that I felt like I did. We had, in the past, all had our job to do. My jobs were cookies and badges. I knew very little of Safe Guide, parental contact issues, camping and myriad other things that were taken care of by others. Thankfully my former co-Guiders were a great resource to help me land on my feet, as well as my Community Guider and the other returning Guider in the unit.

It wasn’t easy, suddenly having some very big shoes to fill, but I think the key to making “my unit” work was to think of it as “our unit” instead. Yes, if anything happens I’m usually the one that parents come to first. But delegation is a wonderful thing! Cookie questions? Not my thing, go ask over there. Camp forms? That’s me. Badge testing? Head on over and talk to the other Guider.  The key to our delegated responsibilities is that we all know what’s happening with each other, without having to be involved. A quick FYI session each week keeps us up to date and we created a unit email account that we can all access so we can keep up with online conversations with parents.

We can all agree that communication within the team is key, and without us having an open forum to ask questions, get advice and ensure that we are all involved, this unit would never work. The other key is efficiency. Although we are all friends and love to chat we try to have a work hard/play hard mentality. Since we all live in the corporate world our planning meetings resemble something in a boardroom versus a living room with minutes, notes, and tables. You just have to find something that works for you and the personalities of your fellow Guiders.

I’m only half way through my first year as the head Guider but, if I may, here is some advice that I think can help any unit – those  just starting out, those with a change of leadership, or even units needing to streamline their processes.

- Delegate. Giving each person a job makes things easier on you and easier on parents since they know who is responsible for what

- BUT…be sure everyone knows what’s happening and how to do each job, because a change is always around the corner and it is easiest when everyone is up to date.

- Set up a communal email address. Parents find it easy to identify what is from the Guiders and everything is in one place for all to access. We sign the email author’s name first, followed by the other Guiders when appropriate.

- Get organized. Keep copies or scans of your documents in one place. Make a binder for resources. Take time to update the girls’ records and identify what needs to be kept and what can be changed.

- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your co-Guiders, Community Guiders, Unit Admins and other Guiders in the area have likely already tackled whatever challenge you are faced with. Use their wisdom, take their advice and ask for help when needed.

- Take a deep breath. Change is scary but also a great chance to spice things up. Use this as an opportunity to be sure that what you’re doing is working for you, as well as for the girls. No matter how you feel you can do it.

The final piece of advice I have for every Guider in any unit across the country is this: sometimes good enough is good enough. Do your best, smile, and enjoy the ride!

By guest blogger and Guider Michelle Parsons, 154th Ottawa Guides. Michelle is a PhD student at the University of Ottawa in Biochemistry. She likes to exercise and bike in the summer, and is learning to cook (slowly). Michelle tries to put as much STEM into her programming as possible. She also enjoys getting crafty and is occasionally known to join in a game of tag or wink murderer with the girls.  Read her past contribution to GirlGuidesCANBlog: The Power of an Expert.

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New Guider: New Fun

I have never been involved in Guiding. I was never a Girl Guide when I was young. I have never sold a box of cookies. Yet, on November 7, 2013, I found myself as a new Guider with the 12th Toronto Brownie Unit, where my Brownies formally inducted me, giving me my new leader name, Lollipop.

Photo Courtesy Alison

Photo Courtesy Alison

Before I became a Guider, I worked in an adult education centre for four years. It was my job to understand a wide-range of adult education principles and the skills that learners could attain through well-delivered training. So when I joined Girl Guides of Canada (GGC) as a volunteer, I understood how important it was for me to attend GGC’s New Guider and Safe Guide training. As somebody who has had no experience in Guiding, I didn’t know what to expect, but I was amazed with what I was presented.

What do you mean training can be ‘fun’? I was pleasantly surprised by how engaging, creative and participatory the activities were. In one of the activities, we were asked to pair up with another Guider and sit back-to-back. One Guider was given some shapes cut out from coloured paper and the other Guider was given a picture. The Guider with the picture had to describe it to her partner, who had to assemble the shapes in the way she’s told. What did this teach us? How to listen. How to provide direction. How to receive direction. How to communicate. How different people’s minds work.

Seriously, it was kind of intimidating. Some of the trainers in our session have been Guiders for more than 20 years. They are an incredible resource for new and experienced Guiders alike, teaching us everything from Guiding songs to the ceremonial protocols of hoisting and folding a flag!

At the end of the session, we were broken up into smaller groups based on the branches we were all working with. It was very helpful for me to have a trainer that taught me about the age-appropriate activities that were specific to my branch. It was also great to be in a smaller, more intimate group and meet my fellow sisters in Guiding. We shared stories, information and ideas on how to plan our next meeting.

As a new Guider, it is amazing to see the vast array of training modules provided by GGC’s Training and Enrichment for Adult Members (TEAM). Contact your provincial council to see what upcoming trainings are available in the new year and see what interests you. Challenge yourself, meet other Guiders, and gain new skills to lead our girls to GIRL GREATNESS!

Alison “Lollipop”, 12th Toronto Brownie Unit

Alison is the Coordinator, Unit Guider Support for Girl Guides of Canada. She is a member of the Programming Department and acts as a support for Guiders nationally. Please feel free to contact her at chana@girlguides.ca.

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Our Guiding Tradition

Guides love crafts! So for their Christmas party, we decided to make a cute elf of felt and cardboard rolls.  I was new to this unit and checked that we had glue guns, but didn’t realize we were really short on electrical outlets!  The Unit Guider assured me that the “tradition” part of the evening wouldn’t take that long, and we’d have time for all 30 girls to make the craft, which was my job.

Chaos and disgruntlement ensued. I was annoyed that the “tradition” took most of the evening; less than half the girls had time to make the craft at the limited glue-gun stations. I tried to put on a happy face but I was frustrated and felt the girls were disappointed. Focused on my labours helping the crafting girls, I had barely glanced across the room where the “tradition” was being performed.

After that Christmas meeting a couple of years ago, I often heard the girls talking about the “tradition”. It’s one of their very favorite things about Guides! They ask to do it on other occasions (but it’s only for Christmas). I started to see that they were bonding over the “tradition” far more than they would over a craft or most other activities.

Ok, ok. The TRADITION consists of eating donuts hanging from a string without using your hands. In our meeting space, they are hung by a string from a rope tied between two posts. We hang five or six donuts at a time and they come forward as a patrol and master the art of eating a donut-on-a-string. (We tarp the floor below the rope to deal with any mess.)

Donut tradition

Donut tradition

Why do they love it? I don’t know but they feel great when they do it and own the bragging rights. Last year a few weeks before the Christmas party we slightly teased the first-years by talking in secretive tones about the TRADITION. I actually heard myself saying “You thought you became a Girl Guide at Enrolment, but you’ll really become Girl Guides when you do the TRADITION!”

So last Christmas I carefully prepared for the other activity, decorating cookies for the local outreach program, while fully recognizing that the TRADITION was the focus of the evening. The cookies did get decorated, too.

After a couple of years running one unit with a large group of 30 girls, we added another unit to our location (and now have two units of about 20 each). Some of our girls transferred to the new unit. By the second meeting, they were already asking the leader if they could do the TRADITION, too.

This year at our Christmas meeting, it’ll be just the TRADITION and board games. I don’t think we need to accomplish anything but having fun.

PS: If you do this with your Guides, don’t allow it to become a race. There is a risk of choking when people try to eat as fast as possible.

 By guest blogger Linda, a Guider with 2nd Dartmouth in NS.

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From Girl Guides to Girl Scouts

This summer my family and I moved from Vancouver, British Columbia to Hanover, New Hampshire. I was fortunate enough to go on the Arctic Adventure trip to Churchill, Manitoba with Girl Guides of Canada over the summer, and I was looking forward to going back to my unit as a third-year Ranger and as a Girl Assistant in a Sparks unit.

I had just come back from the Arctic Adventure trip and couldn’t stop talking about my trip. Shortly after getting back my parents told me that we would be moving. I was not surprised because it had been talked about for years; I was just hoping something would fall apart and we would end up staying. I did not want to leave the district where I had spent the first 10 years of my Guiding life.

I spent the few weeks between coming back from the Arctic Adventure and moving searching for a Girl Scout unit where we were moving. Luckily, I was able to find a unit and register for Girl Scouts. Saying goodbye was the one of the hardest things I have ever done.

Because there are not as many units in the Vermont/New Hampshire area, the unit I am in is a mixed unit. The youngest girl is a Daisy (same as a Spark) and the oldest in a Senior Ambassador (same as a Ranger). It felt weird being in a mixed unit, with girls of all ages instead of just one age group. I was not sure how things would work with different ages and when I went into the room for my first Girl Scout meeting I was not sure what to expect. I was worried people would think I was weird and would stay away from me, but I was wrong. Everyone wanted to get to know me, and everyone wanted to hear about what Girl Guides is like in Canada.

One of the hardest things I had to do was trying not to compare my new unit with my old one. In the beginning I was definitely comparing the two. I had to realize that there would not be another unit like the one I left and I would have to make the best of it.

I will never forget my amazing adventures with West Point Grey District and Girl Guides of Canada. I was fortunate enough to attend two SOAR camps and a national trip as well as many summer camps and weekend camps. I am looking forward to all the adventures that I will have as a Girl Scout.

By guest blogger and former Girl Guide turned Girl Scout Dena

Photo courtesy Dena (in the middle)

Photo courtesy Dena (in the middle)

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Guinness World Record Holders!

Bridging Friends ForeverIn August, members of Girl Guides New Brunswick-PEI gathered at Snider Mountain Ranch for Bridging Friends Forever 2013, a provincial all-ages camp. With a theme like Bridging Friends Forever, it seemed fitting to make an attempt to set the record for world’s longest friendship bracelet.

Since we always have a goal to have a service project at camp, we decided to have a combination event. Our Guinness World Record attempt allowed us the unique opportunity of offering girls a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be a part of something world-renowned while also creating a service project for Sangam, the Guiding World Centre in India.

If you haven’t heard, Sangam has been putting out a call for friendship bracelets for a number of years to sell in their shop to raise money for organizations that help stop violence against girls.

Girls spent months making bracelets in anticipation of our record attempt. In early May we received the shocking news that the record we were working toward (5,000 bracelets) had been broken. We gathered ourselves together and upped our goal to 8,000 bracelets!

Bracelets started arriving and kept coming right up until we began the record attempt. Girls could attend program sessions during the week to make more bracelets and I witnessed many girls making bracelets in their spare time at camp, as was evident in my bulging pockets at the end of each day!

Our two witnesses, Tom McNulty and Tom Turnbull, and eight bracelet counters, began verifying our bracelet count at 3:00 PM on August 16, 2013.

Once 100 bracelets were counted and verified they were handed off to waiting leaders who dispersed them. As girls received bracelets they began linking them together. Once a girl was finished with her bracelets she raised her hand to indicate she was ready for more!

As girls’ chains became longer and longer they began to arrange them out into the center of our circle so our official measurer, Jean Boudreau, could begin estimating the length.

As we got closer to the end of verifying the total bracelet count, one Girl Guide leader, Roxanne McKnight, stood at the top of the circle and held the official beginning of the bracelet. From there we gathered links and began joining them together, working our way around the circle a total of 9 ½ times!

Our camp mascot, Bridgit, arrived to help make the announcement to the over 500 very good and patient girls and women who had just spent over three hours joining the links of bracelets together and watching our friendship bracelet grow.

I heard many comments of “Wow” and “It’s so colourful” and “It’s huge” and occasionally “I think I made this one.” They all very respectfully repeated after their leaders “Walk around the bracelet, don’t step on the bracelet!” And every single one listened intently to our final amazing count, 19,953 bracelets to measure 1829.29 metres.

But everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, knew we had two agonizing tasks ahead of us:

  1. Wait patiently for the OFFICIAL word to come from Guinness
  2. Untie all our bracelet chains to prepare them to ship off to Sangam

I was so very proud to open my email earlier this month to see a message from Guinness stating “We are delighted to confirm that you have successfully achieved a new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS title for ’Longest chain of bracelets’. We would like to congratulate you on your record-breaking achievement. You are OFFICIALLY AMAZING.” Of course, as Girl Guides, we already knew that.

What an amazing experience this has been. I know I can speak for all involved when I say that we are truly blessed to have been given this opportunity to not only break the record, but to exceed it in true Girl Guides of Canada – Guides du Canada style!

Friends, leaders, girls, and family have been working away at untying the bracelets and they’ve been trickling back to me so I expect we’ll be able to send them off in the new year. Get ready Sangam!

Yours in Guiding,

Heidi Quinn, Special Events Coordinator – BFF 2013

Heidi Quinn is a Guider with the 4th Quispamsis Girl Guides in New Brunswick and an editor of the Provincial Newsletter, The Ebb & Flow. Heidi has been involved in Guiding since she joined (a few short years ago) at the age of 9 in Newfoundland & Labrador and is better known around the campfire as Blackie.

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Violence against Women and the Role Guiders Play

During the 16 Days Campaign for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we decided to ask our members some tough but equally important questions about the role Guiders play (or can play) in stopping the violence. Below are some of the questions and responses that we received on Twitter and Facebook. To read the entire conversation, visit our storify.

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What Girl Guide or non-Guiding activity have you enjoyed doing that directly helped build girls’ self-esteem?

Christy A3Christy: “Duke of Ed expeditions with my students (I’m a Guider and a teacher).”

Julie A3Julie: “Summer Camp! New peers & change to test independence. Saw an amazing change in my daughter.”

Is Girl Guides the right place to talk or teach about violence against women to girls?

Christy A4Christy: “where better than in a group of all girls where respectful and trusting relationships have been developed?”

Jo A4Jo: “Our rangers hosted a “take back the night” march and invited all branches to attend, sparks even came!”

In your opinion, is there any violence against women topic that is “off-limits” for programming or unit meetings?

Hailea A5Hailea: “I hope Girl Guides of Canada is creating any violence against women materials in conjunction organizations that already exist to deal with the problem- they have probably already researched what is appropriate for each age group and have materials already in use that have been validated and adjusted as necessary.

While things like sexual violence, and violence against women may make us moms and dads uncomfortable- especially when it is being taught to young girls- the fact is that there are probably many girls involved in sparks/brownies/ guides and up that have *already* been victims. Please don’t sugar coat things too much, because we need to empower women, including young women to speak out and stop the abuse.”

Lori A5Lori: “Depends on the age group how you chose to word it. But no, I don’t think specific topics should be off limits. Terrible things exist in our world. Women and girls of all ages need to know that it’s wrong and that there is help for them if they find themselves in or witness to abusive situations.”

How would you answer these questions? Leave your reply in the comments section below.

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Research and the Guiding Promise Connection

During the international 16 Days campaign for the Elimination of Violence against girls and women, it is important to highlight girls’ education. Today we hear from Jenna, an amazing young woman working to fulfill the Guiding Promise “to do [her] best”. She is also a past Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada scholarship winner.
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Jenna speaking about research at an event

Jenna speaking about research at an event

When I was 15, my dream was to become a medical doctor. I wanted to wear a white coat and save lives. But years later, I chose instead to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree so that I could work as a researcher in the healthcare field. I don’t wear a white coat and I am not practicing medicine in a clinic or hospital – but my research has the potential to make a difference in how we manage and deliver healthcare in Canada and around the world.

I was inspired to become a researcher by my professors and by my experiences as an undergraduate research assistant. My journey to become a researcher took seven years, but I wouldn’t change a thing about it! I studied Health Management at York University and then went to graduate school at the University of Toronto where I just finished my PhD in Health Services Research. A scholarship from Girl Guides of Canada helped me pay for my last year in the program!

I love the challenge of conducting research. The process of identifying problems or gaps in knowledge and figuring out ways to address them allows me to be creative. My research focuses on how different parts of the healthcare system can work together better and how we can improve the quality of healthcare services. Through my research, I have had the opportunity to work with researchers in other countries, including England and India, and I have presented my work at international conferences. I have also published five academic papers and a book chapter! I am currently working on research projects with Cancer Care Ontario, Women’s College Hospital, the Community Care Access Centres, and Health Links.

I highly encourage girls and young women to consider a career in healthcare research. Here is what you can do to learn more about this field:

  • Watch documentaries on healthcare and follow healthcare news.
  • Ask friends and family members about their experiences with various healthcare organizations and professionals.
  • Read about university programs that are focused on health.

My career in healthcare research helps me fulfill my Guiding Promise “to do my best” and to “take action for a better world”… one research question at a time.

Jenna wearing the international Guiding uniform

Jenna Evans

By guest blogger Jenna M. Evans. Jenna is a Unit Guider with the 1st Mississauga Rangers in Ontario. In addition to research, she is passionate about teaching and community service.

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Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada (GGC) has provided scholarships to members pursuing post-secondary education since 1985. We are proud to continue this tradition and are excited to offer a revamped and easily accessible scholarship application for 2014. Are you interested in applying for a scholarship with GGC? Look to our website in February 2014 for more information on how to apply or e-mail your questions to scholarship@GirlGuides.ca.

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Unexpected Things I Learned From Tae Kwon Do

When I started tae kwon do a few years ago, I wanted to become stronger, to learn some self-defense, and maybe learn to do some of the fancy kicks you see on TV.

I have done all of those things, but I also learned some unexpected things along the way.

Physical power feels good

I was always one of those people who lived in their heads – my body was just a way to move my brain around. Tae kwon do has put me solidly into my own body, and realizing the power of my own movements has been incredible.

In many situations, women can feel physically vulnerable because of their size, or strength. Learning that I can use my smaller size, my speed and my flexibility to my advantage has changed how I move through the world. It hasn’t made me more aggressive, but it has given me confidence that I can handle physically difficult situations that might arise – whether that is changing a flat tire, or someone grabbing my arm.

Moving backwards

Most of the time, we think of moving backwards as a bad thing, that we are backsliding or moving away from our goals. In tae kwon do, we learn to build power by starting with a slight backwards motion, and I put that principle into practice every time I do any tae kwon do. It’s been great for my brain for problem solving overall – a mental step back is not failure, nor is it a problem, it’s just a way to build some power.

Discipline

The word discipline tends to make people think of punishment, but that’s only the negative interpretation of the word. Real discipline involves channeling your energy where you want it to go. In tae kwon do, I’ve learned to discipline myself in order to practice, and to put my energy where it needs to be in order to meet my goal – whether that is doing my patterns well, or breaking a board. In the rest of my life, I’ve been able to apply that same discipline to accomplish challenging tasks by focusing my energy on the activities that will get me to my goal.

Learning styles

I was really frustrated in tae kwon do at first because it seemed like I just couldn’t ‘get’ the patterns, the kicks and the punches, no matter how hard I tried. I struggled to practice because I couldn’t be accurate enough to ensure that my practice was effective. Then I did some reading on learning styles and on martial arts, and I found out that while some people learn things easily step-by-step, others have to get the big picture and then suddenly they will have a flash of understanding that lets them put it all together. I’m definitely in the latter group. Practicing this at tae kwon do has made me a lot more patient with myself as I learn new things overall, I practice what I do understand and trust that the big picture will become clear.

So, tae kwon do has not only brought more physical fitness into my life, and introduced me to a whole new group of friends, it has also improved almost every other area of my life. Tae kwon do has taught me the benefits of moving backwards, the importance of disciplining my energy, and how I can be patient while I learn new things. The fact that I can break a board with a kick is just a bonus.

How have you applied lessons from your hobbies to the rest of your life?

C Hennebury

Guest blogger, C. Hennebury

By guest blogger Christine Hennebury. Christine is a writer, storyteller and life coach who lives in Newfoundland and Labrador. Helping people feel a little better right now is one of her favourite things to do. Read her previous posts on GirlGuidesCANBlog: Pretty Powerful Princesses, Don’t Forget to Breath, and Figuring Out Your Feelings.

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Inspiring Teen Esteem

I have been involved in a workshop geared towards Grades 7 and 8 girls for the past three years that discusses topics directly linked to young girls’ self-esteem called Teen Esteem. The turnout is always impressive and the event can be a lot of fun.  There is one session per week and each week a different topic is discussed. Several activities involved assist the volunteers in engaging the young women in discussing a particular topic. Here’s what it looks like:

At the beginning of each session, the girls are divided into different groups so that every week they sit with a different volunteer.  They are given booklets that they fill out and use for the activities. The volunteers introduce themselves and we give some insight as to what our self-esteem was like at their age, and we give examples depending on the topic of the week.

The topics discussed include self-esteem, body image, relationships with friends and family (including bullying), romantic relationships (including abusive relationships), stress and mental health, and the final session is about social media. During these activities, my job as a volunteer is to talk about these topics with the girls. I hope to get them to open up and talk about what’s troubling them, find out how their self-esteem is, and consider what they can do to improve it. Many of the times, girls talk about what is going on at home and I’ve learned that a lot of a these young women’s self-esteem stems from what is occurring there.  They are deeply affected by what happens with their parents/caregivers or siblings.  This in turn affects the way they behave outside of the home with their peers, teachers and any other person involved in their lives.  Imagine the domino effect when you add in the pressures kids face today with school work, peer pressure, trying to fit in, etc.

My hope is that these young women take something away from this program; something that made sense to them that will help in their healthy decision-making, proper stress relief techniques and how to feel good about themselves. Like Girl Guides, we hope to teach the girls how to respect themselves and others, to be true to themselves, recognize their talents and abilities, and to live with courage and strength.

By guest blogger Lori Szymanski (former Girl Guide!)

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The Importance of Self-Respect

Pat runs a Girl Guides of Canada unit in a penitentiary. She shares some thoughts about the unique issues that arise for the girls and young women in her unit. This is an important blog post to share during the 16 Days to Eliminate Violence against Women and every day. It will open your eyes, and hopefully your heart, and possibly change your own perceptions about violence.

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Say No to Violence Crest

Say No to Violence Crest

Like most units, we do challenges with our girls. We encourage service projects, like gardening in the summer to provide food to an agency that the girls are familiar with. We also create and send Remembrance Day cards to Vets, and participate in a Christmas project where we give gifts to single mums attending school –an easy buy-in as most of the girls in the unit come from single parent families.

Like most girls, self-respect is important for my unit and we do the Dove self-esteem challenge. The booklet is a wonderful resource for the girls, especially since they are able to keep the book with them. However, when doing this exercise in our unit, it becomes very personal for our girls who may choose not to join the discussion. We must respect that and allow them to decide when they are able to speak up about what has happened to them.

Respect is always tough for our unit, but we eventually get positive feedback when we work on it. It’s important to let the girls know that each of them is an important person, to show respect for each other and to love and respect themselves first, regardless of what others say or do.

I’ve found that a great way to start a discussion is for us to consider “the consequences of our actions.” Regardless of the crime, there is always a consequence, and so it’s important to ask “have you thought of who you impacted”? This can be the victim, or your own parents, grandparents, friends or siblings. My girls must realize in most situations that they are not the victim, but were created a victim by their actions.

I personally faced a suicide and cleaning up the aftermath. It took its toll on me, but I found my healing by discussing the suicide with the girls. This was a “consequences of actions” night only 2 1/2 hours later that same day, with many tears from the girls and my own, but we had a wonderful discussion. I explained to the girls if my friend had realized what the consequences of his suicide would be to me, I know he would not have done some of the things he did. Boy, did they open up to me. I still remember at the end of the evening a Native girl hugging and telling me how strong I was and how I had inspired her. (I love that she has not re-offended and is back with her family and working through some issues.) Some girls shared that they had considered suicide but realized life would get better despite the fact that they had lost their own friends and family to suicide.

We never know what will trigger a change in someone, so in the GGC program we reinforce what their ‘official’ counselors tell them but they do not want to hear. I believe that as volunteers we achieve the results!

By guest blogger Pat.

Learn more about stopping violence against women by adding your comments to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts webpage Bust the Myths.

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Canada’s Dirty Secret and What You Can Do about It

It’s something no one wants to think about – violence against girls and women. But it’s all more common than you might think. Half of all women in Canada have experienced at least one incident of physical or sexual violence since the age of 16. All violence is unacceptable, as is the humiliation, intimidation, and control that too many girls and women experience in their relationships.

The time is now to start the conversation on an issue that we’ve been silent on for far too long. Building from a whisper to a shout, we need to talk, join together and inspire action on violence against girls and women. That’s what 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence is about. 16 Days is an international campaign calling for the elimination of all forms of violence against girls and women. From November 25 to December 10, this movement will also highlight other significant events affecting girls and women: International Women Human Rights Defenders Day (Nov. 19); World AIDS Day (Dec. 1); the anniversary of the Montreal Massacre (Dec. 6); and Human Rights Day (Dec. 10).

As members of Girl Guides of Canada, there is so much we can do – and are already doing – to have an impact on the lives of girls and young women. Our unit meetings offer a safe and unique space where girls can feel comfortable discussing difficult issues, such as healthy relationships. Guiding is also a place where we are building strong and supportive relationships between girls. As a mentor, you are inspiring girls to contribute their time, energy and ideas to make their communities safe and peaceful places to be.

Throughout the 16 Days, Girl Guides of Canada will be showcasing the voices of Canadian teens. Our #6teensfor16 is an online initiative that engages girl Members in the discussion around violence against women.

As a Guider working in a unit in a women’s shelter in St. John’s, NL, I’ve seen the devastating effects of violence against women and girls. But I’ve also seen the hope – the hope for a safe and brighter future.

We can change people’s minds and change girls’ lives. If we don’t take a stand, who will?

Chief Commissioner Sharron Callahan

Chief Commissioner Sharron Callahan

Sharron Callahan
Chief Commissioner, Girl Guides of Canada -Guides du Canada

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The More We Get Together…

In Guiding, we place a huge emphasis on teaching girls to communicate better. We play team-building games, talk about bullying and healthy communication, and encourage girls to express their own opinions. So, my question today is: Why, as leaders and adult members of Guiding do we sometimes have so much trouble getting along, and how can we overcome the same barriers we help girls with?

Photo courtesy Elizabeth Knowles

Photo courtesy Elizabeth Knowles

As much as Guiding is tons of fun and an amazing experience, there is a lot of work involved and teamwork is a key component. Not everyone has the same opinion all of the time and this can sometimes lead to disagreements. That’s okay, but how we deal with these differences in opinion can hugely affect the enjoyment we get out of the experiences Guiding provides.

I find that keeping in mind a few simple notions (though often simpler to state than to act on) can sometimes help.

  • Not everyone has the same amount of time or wants to commit to Guiding to the same extent. A small commitment is far better than none at all.
  • Everyone has different experiences, resources and knowledge. We are all influenced by our own backgrounds and we can learn more from others if we let go of our expectations and listen more.
  • When in doubt, think the best of the other person. Don’t assume they are out to make your life more difficult.
  • When all else fails, just nod and smile. We’re all in it to have fun with the girls. This – and their safety – are our most important goals. All the other decisions are just a matter of details.

What do you do when you just can’t seem to get along with another leader?

Photo courtesy Elizabeth Knowles

Elizabeth with co-Guider. Photo courtesy Elizabeth Knowles

By Elizabeth Knowles. Elizabeth is the Contact Guider for the 85th Montreal Guides. Elizabeth has been a Guider for five years, both in Guelph, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec. Meeting night is her favourite time of the week because she never laughs as hard as with the girls. Read more from Elizabeth on her own blog elizabeek and some of her previous contributions to GirlGuidesCANBlog: What Are Jeans Good For? , Mother-Daughter Guiding, and Camp Food: Not Just for Camp.

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What I Learned from Going to Kenya

This summer I was fortunate enough to participate in the Kenya Adventure travel experience. I when I got the news in March that I was going I was so excited and everyone in my district was rooting for me to have a fantastic trip. Even though I was super pumped to go, there was a small part of me worried about going so far away with a bunch of strangers. I had traveled with school and Girl Guides before, but always with at least one familiar face. I was worried – what if I don’t get along with any of the other girls?

To be honest, this isn’t the first time I have worried about not being liked or making friends. I unfortunately didn’t have any friends in school from grades 3-8. I always had my friends in Guiding and a couple from the neighbourhood I lived in, but school was pretty lonely. Because of my experience in school as kid, I was often reluctant to participate in activities without at least one friendly face. With that being said, I was a little nervous about going 13,000 km away from home with a bunch of complete strangers.

Photo taken by Susie Hawkins

Photo taken by Susie Hawkins

When I got to Toronto and met up with everyone, I realized I wasn’t in a room of complete strangers, I was in a room full of Girl Guides. As soon as I started talking to these girls it felt like I had known them for years. I had problems remembering some of their names because some of them had personalities so close to girls in my unit back home. We all became fast friends. Even through the two red-eye flights and the 10 hour layover, we all became friends.

This trip gave new a confidence and a new outlook on what it means to be part of the Girl Guide community. Because I went on this trip I have applied to universities outside of Edmonton, and outside of my comfort zone, because I know not matter where I go, I will have friends in Girl Guides.

Megan Lamothe

Megan Lamothe

By guest blogger Megan Lamothe. Megan is a leader with the 64th Edmonton Pathfinders. She loves volunteering at camps and traveling. Don’t forget to read her previous posts for GirlGuidesCANBlog: Back to Guiding MosaicMy Summer of Guiding, and The Outsider Girl Guider.

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Looking for more information about trips sponsored by Girl Guides of Canada? Girl and adult members have the world at their feet through our international travel program, whether they’re attending an event at the United Nations, hiking through the Swiss Alps or helping build schools in Honduras.

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Giving Back with Sparks and Sparkles!

This post originally appeared on the blog Everything But the Kid. Thank you Amy for allowing us to share this with our audience!
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For years I have volunteered in some capacity or another with various groups and I love it. From racing to the Cancer Society and beyond, I love helping others plain and simple.

For me, I can’t always afford to donate to things in a monetary capacity, but I can and do donate my time where I can. I admit I did feel burnt out with volunteering a few years ago (I overdid it slightly) and had to step back and re-evaluate how to best help out. But now I’m re-energized and re-focused so this year my big volunteer project is a very non-mom themed one.

Early in the year my darling wonderful BFF Jackie (who knows how much I love to craft) told me her daughter was enrolled in Sparks and invited me out to check it out and help out. I got hooked immediately. I freely admit there are MANY MANY MANY a moment when this non-mom wishes she had one of her own, so any time I get to spend with kids I cherish and so enjoy.  Jackie laughs I’m sure at how I light up when I see her kids and so do my other friends when I see theirs too. I love munchkin time.

I started the paperwork process as quick as I could to get cleared and signed up to be a Sparks leader this year and I swear it’s one of my best decisions ever. I beyond look forward to the meetings and while intimidated slightly at the beginning, I’m slowly settling into a routine with the girls and the meetings. I get to help the girls learn and grow in positive ways and in a program that I myself went through and believe strongly in. If I had a daughter, believe me, they’d be in the program.

I get to give back to the community and some amazing girls, and in return I get to smile and indeed, as my leader name indicates: Sparkle!

Photo courtesy Amy H.

Photo courtesy Amy H.

Do you volunteer? What has been your favourite or most rewarding volunteering experience?

By guest blogger Amy of the 15th Oakville Sparks. This post originally appeared on Amy’s own blog Everything But the Kid. Thank you Amy for allowing us to share this with our audience!

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VOTE NOW! for our Aviva Community Fund idea in support of Camp Wa-Thik-Ane!

Girl Guides of Canada Blog:

Round TWO of the Aviva Community Fund is here and Guides Québec’s Camp Wa-Thik-Ane is still in the competition, so we hope you will consider voting for them. Here is their original blog post to inspire you!

Originally posted on GuidesQuébecBlog:

Help keep our boats at Camp Wa-Thik-Ane afloat! You’ve got 5 days left to vote – one vote per day until November 4 – to help us move on to the next round. Click the image above then click ‘Vote now’.

We could win some much needed funding for our Wa-Thik-Ane waterfront so we can continue to offer quality programming in a safe environment for everyone to enjoy!

Camp Wa-Thik-Ane was founded in 1926 by the Quebec Council of Girl Guides of Canada–Guides du Canada, one of the largest and oldest all female recreation organizations in the country. With award winning programming and leadership, it is no wonder that Girl Guiding/Scouting is practiced in over 144 countries around the world. In its 87 years of operation, Girl Guide Camp Wa-Thik-Ane has always strived to provide a well balanced program that promotes the Girl Guide principles of:

  • Safety and Support
  • Self-respect and…

View original 144 more words

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Back to Guiding Mosaic

At the end of October it was announced that Guiding Mosaic 2016 would be held at Camp Woods in Sylvan Lake, Alberta. As a member living in Edmonton, I was excited that this accessible location would mean a lower cost. What most excited me though was that I would get to go back to Camp Woods for another large event like Mosaic.

This summer Scouts Canada had their Canadian Jamboree 2013 (CJ13) at Camp Woods. I was able to attend as an Offer of Service (OOS for short). It was a great event and fun was had by all participants and OOS’. On the Wednesday of the Jamboree my OOS coordinator informed me that because I was one of very few Girl Guides acting as an OOS, they needed my assistance in touring five Guiders around the next afternoon. I was thrilled to find out the next day that they were part of the committee planning Guiding Mosaic 2016 and were considering Camp Woods as a potential location. I spent the day with these ladies as the camp director of CJ’13 gave them the grand tour of the site. It was one of the most fun assignments I had over the week.

Although I don’t know what Girl Guides has planned for Guiding Mosaic 2016, I can assure you it is a great piece of land. You get a feel for all parts of Alberta: from the flat farm fields just outside the camp gates, to the tall trees that fill the camp, and the lake where all the water activities will take place. I thoroughly enjoyed my time there with the Scouts and I cannot wait to go back there with Girl Guides.

Megan Lamothe

Megan Lamothe

By guest blogger Megan Lamothe. Megan is a third-year Ranger in the 64th Edmonton Rangers and received her Chief Commissioners Gold Award. She loves volunteering at camps and traveling, and went on an international trip to Kenya this past summer. Don’t forget to read her previous posts for GirlGuidesCANBlog: My Summer of Guiding, and The Outsider Girl Guider.

Posted in Global Guiding | Tagged | 1 Comment

2013 Photo Contest Winners

The Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada (GGC) is very happy to share the winners of the 2013 annual photo contest.   The judges were impressed by all 350 entries from members across Canada and had the difficult task of selecting only 11 photos. Every photo captured a beautiful and unique moment that tells a story of the Girl Guide experience

This year’s Grand Prize winner, Kathleen, snapped her photo “Say Cheese” in an iconic British Telephone booth during a GGC International trip to London, England.

"Say Cheese"

Want to see more of the winning photos? Check out our Flickr page and don’t forget to look for them in the 2013 Winter Edition of Canadian Guider (released this December).

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Ideas Worth Sharing

First off, a confession: I’ve loved TED for a long time. I’ve watched in my car and on my computer. Who’s TED, you ask? TED is a what, not a who – it is a conference; an acronym for:

Technology Entertainment Design

and its main thought is “Ideas worth spreading.” A bit of back story: TED conferences are organized around the world, at minimal cost to attendees, and independently-organized conferences are designated by the lower-case “x” after the name. As I have been doing for a few years, you can watch various speakers whose TED and TEDx video messages are freely available online. A video can last anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes – not a lot of time required to learn, be inspired, or simply entertained.

Photo courtesy: Robyn McDonald

Photo courtesy: Robyn McDonald

It came as a great delight to me to find out that there would be a TEDxKidsBC conference coming to Vancouver, so in October my co-Guider, Cindy, and I took seven of our Rangers to attend the conference at Telus World of Science. We didn’t have a lot of information up front about the speakers or performers, but once inside Science World, we were entertained by opening youth speaker Qayam Devji’s “If you want to get something done, talk to a kid” speech, followed by Jordan Bober’s Seedstock “Why transforming the economy is child’s play.” Abhay Sachal discussed his theory of creativity: how creativity makes life better, and is the key to getting things done. Stephanie Wiriahardja reminded everyone that each of us is our own living, breaking, walking brand, like Coca Cola, and asked what does our own brand – what we’ve been putting out there – say about us?

A powerful and moving video shown of a previous TEDx talk given by 19-year-old Kevin Breel discussed the depression he faces, and how alone he felt on the inside while putting on another face to everyone on the outside. Entrepreneur and philanthropist Richard Loat encouraged everyone to tell their story, to be a voice and not an echo, and not to let anyone put an expiration date on your dreams and ambitions. Seventeen-year-old Kimberly Rutledge spoke of her sister who has Down’s syndrome, sharing that it’s alright to be yourself and fostering acceptance; Erina Park discussed “Disabling Ableism,” about the Best Buddies national program she brought to her high school.

Threaded throughout the speakers were the Coastal Sound Children’s Choir, the Ones to Watch (OTW) Dance Crew, and my favourite, Heart, Mind, Body Collective performing an emotional dance to Shane Kocyzan’s poem, “Instructions For a Bad Day.”

The last speaker of the day was 19-year-old Quinn Beasley, coming out on stage doing some juggling acts that made even me want to run away and join the circus before launching into his story of finding a love of circus at age 10, and making some personal choices and decisions that led to the loss of his beloved circus camps. This evolved into a life involving drugs, depression, and bullying, before finding his way back to a drug-free and circus-filled life once again. He was truly inspirational.

TEDx conferences can be organized by anyone, anywhere; one of the speakers was an organizer of TEDxKids@Ambleside because he wanted to bring it to his community.

Is your interest piqued? Start looking up a few of the TED Talks. Take your Pathfinders or Rangers to an event near you (or organize one yourself) – spending the day learning, being entertained and inspired and being compassionate toward others will be time very well spent.

By guest blogger Robyn McDonald. Robyn is a Pathfinder and Ranger Guider in Telegraph Trail District, Fraser Skies Area, British Columbia. Some of her favourite TED Talks include those given by: Shawn Achor, Ben Zander, and Matt Cutts.

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Seven Going on Seventeen

November 4-8, 2013 is National Media Literacy Week and this year’s theme is “What’s Being Sold: Helping Kids Make Sense of Marketing Messages”.  Media Smarts has developed material to help open conversation with young people across Canada to talk about the marketing they encounter on a daily basis. This post, provided both in English and French, is one of several articles Media Smarts posted to their website and allowed us to share it with our GirlGuidesCANBlog audience.

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Seven going on seventeen: Selling sexuality to kids

Written by Matthew Johnson, Director of Education, MediaSmarts

There’s a well-known saying in the media business that “sex sells.” Like a lot of conventional wisdom, this turns out to be a truism that’s not entirely true: neither nudity nor sexual content actually increases the revenues of movies or other media and sexual content in TV ads may make viewers like them less. In fact, there’s evidence that girls react negatively to what they recognize as sexual content: a 2008 study done at Canterbury University in New Zealand found that tweens considered Miley Cyrus’ highly sexualized Vanity Fair photos “gross” and “uncool.” But the idea of sex – in particular, the promise of adult sexuality – is at the heart of a tremendous amount of what’s marketed to kids, young girls in particular.

Marketers call it KGOY: Kids Getting Older Younger. That’s the phenomenon of children abandoning, earlier and earlier, the trappings of childhood and becoming wannabe teenagers. Perhaps the most disturbing example of this phenomenon is the increasingly early sexualization found in products aimed at girls, from clubwear-garbed Bratz and Monster High dolls to thong underwear aimed at preteens. Most recently, lingerie maker Victoria’s Secret faced criticism for its Pink collection, which the company claims is aimed at university students but is widely seen as marketing to young teens. While Victoria’s Secret denies targeting teens and younger children, other retailers who have traditionally catered to teens and twenty-somethings have recently created new brands aimed at children. A 2012 study done at Kenyon College in Ohio found that a quarter of the girls’ clothes on display at 15 popular children’s retailers had sexualizing characteristics such as lingerie-like colours, fabrics and patterns.
One reason for this is the tremendous amount of spending children, especially “tweens” (eight- to 12-year-olds), now control: roughly $40 billion a year of their own money, in addition to $150 billion of their parents’. But it’s also because kids are now much more receptive to advertising messages traditionally aimed at teens. As branding strategist Eli Portnoy told the Orlando Sentinel, “Little kids are so status-conscious about clothing now, more than ever. It was a natural evolution for young college, teenage brands –‘Why not go after them younger and get them hooked into our brands?’” In other words, girls don’t necessarily want to be sexy, but to be popular. One study found that girls as young as six were more likely to describe a doll as being popular if she was wearing “sexy” clothes. Like princess dresses, sexualized clothes are essentially costumes; the difference is that the girls wearing them are dressing up as teenagers, perceiving the clothing not as “sexy” but as “stylish” or “grown up”.

Though we generally put considerable effort into protecting young children from sexualized imagery, it’s actually tweens and young teens that are the most vulnerable, with thirteen- to fourteen-year-old girls the most likely to be influenced by media representations. All of this can be mystifying for parents whose daughters are just getting over their Disney princess obsession, but the line between Belle or Ariel and Britney – or between Hannah Montana Miley Cyrus and Vanity Fair Miley Cyrus – is less clear than it might appear. In fact, as Sharon Lamb, co-author of the book Packaging Girlhood,points out, “the natural progression from pale, innocent pink is not to other colors. It’s to hot, sexy pink.” In each case girls are being presented with an extremely narrow definition of femininity, one which is largely focused on how you are seen by others.

That progression can even be seen when comparing female Disney characters in movies to how they appear in merchandising. Probably the most striking case was Merida from the Pixar movie Brave, who underwent a transformation from the tomboy archer of the film – who is never seen without her bow and arrow – to a prettified, sexualized and unarmed “Disney princess.” The film’s co-director Brenda Chapman responded to the change by saying, “When little girls say they like it because it’s more sparkly, that’s all fine and good but, subconsciously, they are soaking in the sexy ‘come hither’ look and the skinny aspect of the new version.”

The 2010 Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls suggests that focusing on how others see you, which it refers to as “self-objectification”, can be responsible for a wide range of negative effects from impaired athletic performance to lower math scores. The report also links sexualization with depression, low self-esteem and eating disorders. Of course, young boys, who are forming their ideas of masculinity and femininity at the same time as girls, are also influenced by sexualization in their attitudes, behaviours and beliefs. Rather than being pushed to be sexy, boys are vulnerable to depictions of “hyper-masculinity”, an extremely constraining gender image that values violence, toughness, a willingness to take risks and having little regard for women. A 2013 study found that half of ads in magazines aimed at men reflected the hyper-masculine ideal: in some magazines that number rose to 90 per cent.

This isn’t an issue that’s under the radar: a 2013 survey commissioned by the Canadian Women’s Foundation found that nine in ten Canadians agree that sexualized media images are a problem for girls growing up in Canada. What’s less clear, though, is what to do about it. A good first step can be to check our own attitudes: research has shown that media effects are much more powerful when they reinforce messages kids are already getting from their parents. We can talk to our children about why this clothing is problematic. We can point out how they have many sides to their personalities – they may be artistic, athletic, compassionate, involved and a dozen other things which are all steamrollered by these clothes into a single image of “sexy”. We can encourage girls to take part in sports and other physical activities, which have been shown to reduce the impact of media messages about sex and femininity. And with older children, it’s important to be open with them in talking about healthy sexuality so that the messages they get through advertising and other media don’t define their ideas of sex or of gender roles.

It can be tempting to limit kids’ exposure to media, and this can be a good choice for younger children. But as kids get older – particularly as they reach those most vulnerable tween and early-teen years – this becomes increasingly difficult. Moreover, there’s significant evidence that parents critically co-viewing media with their kids is more effective than banning or controlling what they watch: using media as an opportunity to discuss sexualization and related issues reduces the association of sexiness with popularity.

These topics can also be addressed through media education in schools and kids can be encouraged to advocate for media portrayals that reflect who they are – like the 200,000 people who signed the petition that convinced Disney to let Merida keep her messy hair and her bow and arrow.

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Sept ans, presque dix-sept : Vendre la sexualité aux enfants

par Matthew Johnson, directeur de l’éducation, HabiloMédias

Selon une expression célèbre dans le milieu des médias « le sexe est bon vendeur ». Comme beaucoup d’opinions toutes faites, cette évidence n’est pas tout à fait vraie : ni la nudité, ni le contenu sexuel ne fait augmenter les recettes des films ou des autres médias. En outre, le contenu sexuel dans les annonces télévisées pourrait faire perdre l’intérêt des téléspectateurs. En fait, il est prouvé que les filles réagissent négativement à ce qu’elles reconnaissent comme étant du contenu sexuel : une étude de 2008 réalisée à la Canterbury University en Nouvelle-Zélande a révélé que les adolescentes considéraient les photos très sexualisées de Miley Cyrus dans le Vanity Fair comme étant « répugnantes » et « pas cool ». Mais l’idée du sexe – en particulier, la promesse d’une sexualité adulte – est au cœur d’une quantité phénoménale de ce qui est commercialisé auprès des enfants, surtout les jeunes filles.

Les spécialistes du marketing décrivent ceci par le sigle KGOY : Kids Getting Older Younger (les enfants qui vieillissent vite). C’est le phénomène des enfants qui abandonnent de plus en plus tôt les attributs de l’enfance et se prennent pour des adolescents. L’exemple de ce phénomène qui est sans doute le plus inquiétant est celui de la sexualisation de plus en plus précoce présentée par les produits destinés aux jeunes filles, comme les poupées « Bratz » et « Monster High » vêtues pour sortir dans une boîte de nuit et les strings conçus pour les pré-adolescentes. Plus récemment, le fabricant de lingerie Victoria’s Secret a fait face aux critiques concernant sa collection Pink, qui aux dires de l’entreprise vise les étudiantes d’université, mais qui est largement perçue comme du marketing auprès des jeunes adolescentes. Tandis que Victoria’s Secret nie cibler les adolescentes et les jeunes enfants, d’autres détaillants qui s’adressaient traditionnellement aux adolescents et aux jeunes dans la vingtaine ont récemment créé de nouvelles marques destinées aux enfants. Une étude menée au Kenyon College en Ohio a démontré qu’un quart des vêtements pour filles exposés dans 15 détaillants pour enfants populaires comportaient des caractéristiques faisant appel à la sexualité, comme des couleurs, des tissus ou des modèles qui rappellent des articles de lingerie.
L’une des raisons qui explique ceci est l’énorme quantité de dépenses que les enfants, en particulier les pré-adolescents (de 8 à 12 ans), contrôlent à présent : environ 40 milliards de dollars par année de leur propre argent, en plus de 150 milliards de dollars de l’argent de leurs parents. Mais c’est aussi parce que les enfants sont maintenant beaucoup plus réceptifs aux messages publicitaires conçus traditionnellement pour les adolescents. Comme l’a affirmé Eli Portnoy, stratège de marque, dans l’Orlando Sentinel, « Les jeunes enfants sont extrêmement sensibles au prestige des vêtements, maintenant plus que jamais. C’était une évolution naturelle pour les marques ciblant les étudiants et adolescents – “Pourquoi ne pas aller les chercher plus jeunes et les rendre accros à notre marque?” » En d’autres termes, les filles ne veulent pas forcément être sexy, mais bien populaires.  Une étude a constaté que des fillettes aussi jeunes que six ans étaient plus susceptibles de décrire une poupée comme étant populaire si celle-ci portait des vêtements « sexy ». Comme les robes de princesse, les vêtements sexualisés sont essentiellement des costumes; la différence est que les filles qui les portent s’habillent comme des adolescentes et ne perçoivent pas ces vêtements comme étant « sexy », mais plutôt comme ayant du style ou un look plus vieux.

Malgré les efforts considérables que nous investissons dans la protection des jeunes enfants contre l’imagerie sexualisée, les pré-adolescents et les jeunes adolescents sont les plus vulnérables et les filles de treize ou quatorze ans sont les plus susceptibles de se laisser influencer par la représentation médiatique. Tout ceci peut être déroutant pour les parents dont les filles viennent à peine de sortir de leur phase d’obsession sur les princesses Disney, mais la limite entre Belle ou Ariel et Britney – ou entre la Miley Cyrus d’Hannah Montana et la Miley Cyrus du Vanity Fair – est moins claire qu’elle ne pourrait le sembler. En fait, comme le souligne Sharon Lamb, coauteure du livre Packaging Girlhood, « la progression naturelle du rose pale innocent ne se fait pas vers d’autres couleurs. Elle se fait vers un rose attirant et sexy. » Dans chaque cas, on présente aux filles une définition extrêmement étroite de la féminité, largement axée sur la manière dont elles sont perçues par les autres.

Cette progression peut même se voir en comparant les personnages féminins dans les films de Disney avec la façon dont elles apparaissent une fois commercialisés. Le cas qui a sans doute été le plus frappant fut celui de Mérida, du film d’animation Pixar Rebelle, qui a subi une transformation de l’archère garçon manqué du film – où on ne la voit jamais sans son arc et ses flèches – à une « princesse Disney » embellie, sexualisée et désarmée. Brenda Chapman, coréalisatrice du film, a répondu au changement ainsi : « lorsque les petites filles disent qu’elles l’aiment parce qu’il y a plus de brillant, c’est bien beau mais, inconsciemment, elles sont absorbées par le look mince et séduisant de la nouvelle version. »

Le rapport de 2010 sur la sexualisation des filles intitulé Report of the American Psychological Association Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls indique que se concentrer sur la façon dont les autres vous voient, ce qui s’appelle « l’auto-objectivation », peut être la source de nombreux effets négatifs variant de mauvaises performances athlétiques à de faibles résultats en mathématiques. Le rapport comporte aussi des liens entre la sexualisation et la dépression, un manque d’estime personnelle et des troubles de l’alimentation. Bien sûr, les jeunes garçons, qui forment leurs idées sur la masculinité et la féminité en même temps que les filles, sont aussi influencés par la sexualisation dans leurs attitudes, leur comportement et leurs croyances. Plutôt que d’être poussés à adopter une apparence sexy, les garçons sont vulnérables aux représentations d’« hyper-masculinité », une image de genre extrêmement contraignante qui met en valeur la violence, l’endurance, la volonté de prendre des risques et un manque d’égards pour les femmes. Une étude de 2013 a révélé que la moitié des publicités dans les magazines destinés aux hommes reflétait l’idéal d’hyper-masculinité : dans certains magazines, ce nombre atteignait les 90 %.

Ce phénomène ne passe pas inaperçu : un sondage mené en 2013 à la demande de la Fondation canadienne des femmes indique que neuf Canadiens sur dix conviennent que les images sexualisées des médias posent un problème pour les filles qui grandissent aux Canada. Ce qui est toutefois moins clair, c’est ce qu’il faut faire à cet effet. Examiner nos propres attitudes semble être un premier pas dans la bonne direction : les recherches montrent que les effets des médias sont beaucoup plus puissants quand ceux-ci renforcent des messages que les enfants reçoivent déjà de la part de leurs parents. Nous pouvons expliquer à nos enfants pourquoi un vêtement est problématique. Nous pouvons souligner les divers aspects que peut prendre leur personnalité – artistique, sportif, compatissant, impliqué et une dizaine d’autres qualités qui se font toutes écraser par des vêtements arborant une image « sexy ». Nous pouvons encourager les filles à faire du sport et des activités physiques, ce qui a été démontré comme un moyen de réduire l’impact des messages diffusés par les médias à propos du sexe et de la féminité. Pour les enfants plus âgés, il est important de parler ouvertement avec eux de sexualité saine, pour que les messages qu’ils reçoivent par la publicité et les autres médias ne définissent pas leur idée du sexe et des rôles de l’homme et de la femme.

Il peut être tentant de limiter l’exposition des enfants aux médias, ce qui peut être un bon choix pour les jeunes enfants. Mais à mesure que les enfants grandissent, en particulier lorsqu’ils entrent dans la période vulnérable de la préadolescence et du début de l’adolescence, cela devient de plus en plus difficile. En outre, il existe d’abondantes preuves montrant que regarder les médias d’un œil critique avec son enfant est plus efficace qu’interdire ou contrôler ce qu’il regarde; utiliser les médias comme étant une occasion de discuter de sexualisation et de questions connexes évite l’association entre la séduction et la popularité.

L’éducation aux médias dans les écoles peut permettre d’aborder de tels sujets. On peut également encourager les enfants à préconiser les portraits médiatiques qui reflètent ce qu’ils sont – tout comme les 200 000 personnes qui ont signé la pétition visant à convaincre Disney de laisser Mérida regagner ses cheveux désordonnés, son arc et ses flèches.

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Guiding Mosaic 2016

Guding Mosaic 2016 Logo

Mark Your Calendars and Start Dreaming of Fun on the Shores of Sylvan Lake!

Guiding Mosaic 2016 will be held from Saturday July 9 to Sunday, July 17 at Camp Woods in Alberta. This is the 13th Girl Guides of Canada national camp to be held since 1927 and will celebrate Guiding and the tradition of camping within our organization. National camp is a unique and exciting opportunity that is open to members of Girl Guides of Canada and to the 144 countries who are members of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).

Camp Woods is a 42.5 hectares camp site in scenic Alberta on freshwater Sylvan Lake. The waterfront offers excellent opportunities for swimming and water activities, including canoeing, kayaking, and sailing. The surrounding area boosts many possibilities for offsite excursions to experience Canadian heritage.

To see more pictures of Camp Woods, please visit our Guiding Mosaic website.

Photo source: Flickr.com

Photo source: Flickr.com

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Come In To Sangam: Being a Sangam Volunteer

Sipping chai, I flip through the Times of India. A gecko scampers across the window in front of me. I put down the paper and reach for my camera. Too late. He’s gone. That’s alright. It’s time to plan the next session I’m running. This one is on advocacy. I fold up the paper, gulp down the last sip of chai and start humming the song that has been playing in my head since I arrived:

“Come in to Sangam, walk through the open doors…

I walked through Sangam’s open doors nearly a month and a half ago. From Ottawa to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Mumbai and Mumbai to Pune, I’d made it! Sangam’s purple and white doors swung open, I pulled my suitcase up the steps and began my time as a Sangam Volunteer.

 “In this home of unity, listen, share and explore…

Melissa (third from right) and fellow Sangam staff and volunteers wearing Sangam saris.

Melissa (third from right) and fellow Sangam staff and volunteers wearing Sangam saris.

As a Sangam Volunteer I’m part of the Sangam Family at the WAGGGS’ World Centre in Pune, India. Together, we listen to Guides and Scouts from around the world discuss WAGGGS’ projects on self-confidence, advocacy and gender-based violence. We share our experiences with Guiding and Scouting in our home countries. We explore Indian culture: eating dinner with a local family, leading participants on tours of historic Pune, going down to the river for the Ganesha festival.

“Leave behind the barriers of culture, race and creed…”

At Sangam, our friendships are international and our interactions break down barriers and assumptions. The day I arrived at Sangam, I played musical chairs to Bollywood music on the side of the street with our neighbours. Last week, during a session I was running at Sangam, I asked Guiders from the UK, “What does it mean to be beautiful in your culture? In mine? In India?” A few days ago, I accompanied event participants to one of Sangam’s Community Partners, a local school. We joined the kids outside. They speak some English; I speak no Marathi. After lunch, we ran up and down the hill together, one big clump of laughing people. As we slid to a stop in the dirt at the bottom of this hill, giggling and skidding into each other, it didn’t matter that we don’t speak the same language.

Come together and begin…

From my first day as a Sangam Volunteer, I began learning about what it means to live in a cross-cultural community. During my time here, people from all over the world have been part of this community. They are career staff who keep the World Centre running. They are local staff who fill the kitchen with delicious smells. They are Tare who stay at Sangam while volunteering with local organizations. They are interns, key players in the Community Program and Guest Services team. They are event participants, celebrating Sangam’s 47th birthday with us. They are independent guests, local friends and day visitors. And they are my fellow volunteers, learning with me as we help to run the programs Sangam.

Riding Laxmi the elephant in the Sangam campground with fellow volunteer and GGC member, Kara.

Riding Laxmi the elephant in the Sangam campground with fellow volunteer and GGC member, Kara.

I’m lucky to be a part of this diverse and dynamic community at Sangam. I’ll be here until the end of December, and I’m sure that I’ll be humming “Come in to Sangam” long after I’m gone.

Music and lyrics for “Come in to Sangam”, written by Jen Barron and Margo Browning, can be found here. Further information about how you can come to Sangam can be found here.

Guest Blogger Melissa Moor

Guest Blogger Melissa Moor

By Melissa Moor. Melissa is a Queen’s University student and a Guider with the  5th Ottawa Brownies, 17th Kingston Guides, 17th Kingston Pathfinders. Melissa has also written previous posts for Girl Guides of Canada’s blog: Healthy Friendship Recipes, Brownies on Ice, Guiding Parliament, A Silent Meeting, Using Children’s Books in Meetings, It’s Not a Box!, One Plus One Equals Brownie MathThe World Girls Want for the(ir) Future, Young Women’s World Forum 2011: Wrap-up from Switzerland. She has also reviewed several books from our adult book club: Persuasion, Everything We Ever Wanted, and Flight Behaviour.

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The Lure of Trackables

Recently on my personal blog I wrote about why geocaching is so great for kids (and for parents, too). What’s not to love? It’s a digital treasure hunt requiring a few basic supplies, a sense of adventure, and the ability to read clues (both written and physical – when you see a path in the long grass that leads nowhere for example, that’s a huge geocaching clue). But one of the greatest elements of geocaching is finding or placing trackables!

Trackables can be a number of different things – specially produced coins, travel “bugs”, even clothing, patches, and vehicles can be trackables. My experience with trackables is mostly with coins and bugs (although I did spot a man in a Disneyland ride line with a trackable t-shirt).

Here is how a trackable works: trackable items are available from a number of sources, including geocaching stores and organizations like Girl Guides who from time to time produce trackables to celebrate special occasions.

This geocoin was created by Girl Guides of Alberta to celebrate 100 years of Guiding in that province.

Photo Courtesy Heather G.

Photo Courtesy Heather G.

This travel bug was picked up in Montreal this summer. Its mission is to travel across Canada and then back to Montreal.  We brought it to Alberta and will place it in a geocache here.

Photo courtesy Heather G.

Photo courtesy Heather G.

One of the great things about trackables is the ability to see not only where your trackable is, but where the ones you have found have already been.  When I find a trackable with my Brownie-aged daughter, the first thing she wants to do is look at the map on the geocaching site that shows where the trackable has been. It’s a really great way to introduce kids to geography. Often other cachers take photos and post them with the trackable as well, allowing us to see locations around the world.

Trackables are also a great way to connect with other cachers around the world.  Recently I discovered that a friend, and UK Guider, and her family also cache and we have decided to have our travel bugs “race.” We’re releasing one here and she will release one in the UK. The first one to reach the other family “wins.” What an amazing opportunity for my Brownie and hers to connect and be part of something together, even though they have never met!

This is really simple and a fun idea to do with a unit as well and girls of all ages can geocache with their unit.  Sparks and Brownies require more assistance from their Guiders than Guides, Pathfinders, and Rangers, but they can all do it. Geocaching introduces kids to GPS, puzzle solving, geography, camouflage, and gets them outdoors. Geocaches are found everywhere — from cities and towns, to mountains and seasides, around the world. It’s a game played by millions of people worldwide. Why not try it with your group?

By guest blogger and Guider Heather Gardiner, 3rd St Albert Pathfinders/Rangers and Tamarac Area International Adviser.

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The Promise Bunting Relay Race

The activity has been modified for Girl Guides of Canada. It was originally posted on  Guider Snowflake’s blog.

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I can’t really claim the credit for this activity — it is a variation on an activity featured in Guiding UK magazine. However, every group is different, so adjusting things is almost always necessary.

For this activity you will need:

  • Paper triangles (one per word in the Promise) for each team
  • String
  • Tape or staplers

We started by going through the words of the Promise with the girls. We went one line at a time while writing the words on our chalk board for everyone to see. Everyone read through it a few times.

We split the Brownies into two teams and gave out the paper triangles. Each team had to write out the Promise, one word per triangle. We didn’t give them any help in deciding which girl should write which word (with the exception of the girl who had sprained her wrist, who was given the really short words to write!), so we were all really impressed when both teams managed to write out the whole Promise with no arguments, no duplications, and no missing words!

After we had two complete sets, we took the piles to one end of the hall and shuffled them up.  We also wiped off the board so people had to use their memories. Now comes the excitement!

Photo courtesy Nicola H

Photo courtesy Nicola H

Each team had to take turns running up to the piles, finding the next word in the Promise, and bringing it back to attach to the string. Words which were brought in the wrong order were sent back to try again. Cheering for your team was not only encouraged, it was compulsory, so it was pretty loud.

At the end of the game we had two long strings of bunting with the Promise written out along them, which of course we promptly decorated the hall with!

I’m always impressed with how well the girls can organise themselves if left to it, and this activity was no different. The winning team was the team who worked together to create their triangles, finished first, and instead of wandering around aimlessly spent the time helping each other learn the words. There’s a lesson in there somewhere, I’m sure.

By guest blogger 57th Snowflake, a Brownie Leader from Bristol, UK.  You can find her lurking on the internet on her blog and read her posts Community Spirit, and To be True to Myself.

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Why Train?

A few weekends ago, I had a fabulous time at a Guider training weekend. Many have asked me why I attend training weekends when I have a family, work full-time, run a direct sales business and volunteer my time with a Guide/Pathfinder unit.

The answer is quite simple, because Guider trainings are FUN and fabulous and I always come away with new knowledge…always!

I’ve been involved in Guiding in many capacities since I was a girl. I love the sisterhood we share and Guider trainings just help emphasize how awesome this organization really is. It doesn’t matter how long you have been involved; as a new Guider or a seasoned Guider, you will benefit enormously from these fun and informative events. The key is to go into the training with an open mind and a positive attitude. The trainings that Girl Guides offer members are designed to provide you with skills and knowledge you can apply to your volunteer roles. Hate accounting for Cookie money? Take a finance training. Can’t sing to save your life? Take an Arts training. Never camped a day in your life? Take an Outdoor Adventure Leadership training. What’s more, if you don’t see a training that you would like to take, suggest it to your DC or ACL and maybe you’ll find others wanting the same training and she can make it happen. No one is going to judge you or (what you think are) your shortcomings, because we’ve all been there. Trainings allow you to benefit from one another as well as from the material provided.

It’s not every day I get to visit with other like-minded women to share our passion for Guiding. We learn, we listen, we share and we laugh. Oh boy, do we laugh!  In Ontario, we often hear that it’s hard to connect with other leaders outside your immediate geographical area; trainings help you get connected. Some of my closest friends are women I have met at GGC training events. I search the events page frequently to see what new events and trainings have popped up; and if I see a training that I can attend, I make it happen.  If I can better myself, I can make my unit better. “Girl Greatness Starts Here” but girl greatness isn’t limited to just the girls. We can be great too and training can help us along the way!

Stephanie Nash

Stephanie Nash

By guest blogger Stephanie Nash. Guider, 2nd Mount Hope Guides & Pathfinders. Don’t forget to read more from Stephanie on her Twingle Gal Blog and other posts she’s written for GirlGuidesCANBlog: The Painted Girls, The Spirit of the Season, First Camp of the Season, Monday Musings about Guiding (on a Wednesday), Uniform Swapping, and A Totally Awesome Campfire.

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There’s no better time than the present for Brownie Guiders in Ontario.  Ontario Council in partnership with the Disney Institute presents SUPER PROGRAM, a training exclusively for Brownie Guiders.  For complete details visit https://guidesontario.org/index.php/adult/unit-guider/brownies/26-adult-members/779-super-program

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Happy International Day of the Girl 2013!

Happy International Day of the Girl from Girl Guides of Canada -Guides du Canada!

International Day of the Girl

How are YOU celebrating? Here are many ways that our girl members have celebrated!

I. Several units did Girl Guides’ International Day of the Girl Instant Meeting and shared their postcards with us. We wanted to hear their thoughts about why “We need girls in the lead”. Here are some of the photos and don’t forget to see the rest in our Flickr album!

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II. We asked our girl members, from Sparks to Rangers and Trex, to tell us about their favourite female singer or female band that promotes confidence, resourcefulness and/or courage in girls and women! Here they are! Don’t forget to watch the entire playlist.

III. We hope you read yesterday’s post by Guider Sarah about the importance of putting girls in the lead.

 

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Lead, by example and change the world

International Day of the Girl

One year, I had a new member in my unit who was shy. Her father let me know that already by the age of nine, she had been through a lot. As a single parent he was doing what he could to help her, and had been recommended to enroll her in Guiding.

At first, Guiding was not something she was interested in. But I made sure she participated, I encouraged her and when something piqued her interest, well, I asked her to take the lead on it with my support. Before too long she was running for Patrol Guider, she was speaking out more, she was helping others. At the end of the year her father came to me and said, “Thank you for this year, but my daughter won’t be back. She now wants to enroll in sports, and other activities.” As a leader you don’t want to lose any girls, but also as a leader I was proud. By putting her in the lead, she gained confidence and was turning her whole world around. I hope to this day that is still happening for her.

And I hope for many other girls in the world, their leaders, Guiders and community are also giving them the chance to be in the lead.

Unfortunately, a recent global study indicated otherwise. It stated that more than 50% of girls find that where they live limits their potential in contrast to boys. When we hear a statistic like that from the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), we immediately think of the lives of girls in developing nations.

But it’s happening here at home as well. The Canadian Women’s Foundation reports that more than half of the girls they interviewed wished they were someone else.  Further, their research shows that, “…as girls enter adolescence, from ages nine to 13, their confidence declines sharply and they experience higher rates of depression.” http://www.canadianwomen.org/facts-about-girlsde

In grade six – or, when they are a third-year Guide – only 36% of girls say they are self-confident. By grade 10 (first year Ranger) this number plummets to 14%.

Sad? Shocked? Imagine what this means to the health of our country if girls aren’t confident enough to stand up and speak, to voice opinions, to make scientific breakthroughs, to lead.

This year, International Day of the Girl is Friday, Oct. 11. The theme from WAGGGS is to put girls in the lead. So I ask, are you ready to help improve on the above statistics?

How? Challenge yourself to lead by example. Give opportunities for girls to run activities whether it is as a Brownie or a Pathfinder. As Guiders we tend to plan our year in advance. But have you ever done planning looking at it from the girls’ perspective? Are you giving them ample opportunity to try to lead? Why not? As Guiders we take on so much responsibility: booking meeting spaces and guest speakers, organizing craft supplies, ensuring a safe environment. Sometimes we take it ALL on. And while that may seem efficient to us as volunteers, we may be letting down the girls we are there to support and most of all, empower.

Tomorrow is a special day, but it is just one day. We are early in our Guiding year and I know there are opportunities for you to put girls in the lead. View these opportunities through the lens of the girls who may not get opportunities at home or at school to do this.

We empower YOU, the Guider, to take the lead in passing the lead on. The positive potential consequences from doing so, will ripple out in your community for years to come.

By guest blogger Sarah Lyon of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Check out her own blog ‘Sarah Smells the Roses‘, as well as some of her more recent blog posts for Girl Guides of Canada:

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Calgary Floods and Girl Guides

On June 20, 2013 a life changing flood hit High River, Calgary and many other Southern Alberta areas. The next day and for weeks later, the Okotoks Girl Guides were drawn to help. Compassion overwhelmed us and we immediately jumped into action. Leaders either volunteered by doing laundry, taking care of children at evacuation centres, donating clothes and house wear items, helping with removal of sludge and debris and more.

As the District Commissioner of Ho Kah Nah I instantly thought of our Guiding sisters in High River. What could the Okotoks Girl Guides do that could involve our girl members but still kept them safe? There was only one clear answer: feed, encourage and lift the spirits of the tireless volunteers and residents of High River.

Ho Kah Na Girls with Red Cross. Photo by Jennifer Carriere

Ho Kah Na Girls with Red Cross. Photo by Jennifer Carriere

The Ho Kah Nah District had just hosted a Pioneer Camp to celebrate 100 years of Alberta Girl Guides one week prior to the floods, and we were left with many bags of marshmallows. Guiders Helen, Carolyn and myself along with our daughters got together and made more than 15 dozen rice crispy squares! It was quite the assembly line. We had two large pots of melted butter and marshmallows going while the girls were either dividing up cereal, butter or forming the treats with extremely buttery hands. The next day Guider Tracy and her daughter helped us distribute the squares along with many cups of ice tea. We took the girls to an area of town that had sustained some damage but were well on their way to recovery. It was a safe place for the girls but they were still able to see the devastation of the town. One Brownie commented that there were no children playing, no children anywhere!

Ho Kah Na Girls with Red Cross. Photo by Jennifer Carriere

Ho Kah Na Girls with Red Cross. Photo by Jennifer Carriere

Walking from house to house, the girls approached Red Cross volunteers and residents with their baskets full of treats. Everyone that the girls met seemed eternally grateful and loved the smile of these Girl Guides. Many even snuck a few dollars into our baskets. After a few hours we were completely out of rice crispy squares and iced tea but the hearts of our girls were full, knowing that a good deed was done.

By guest blogger Jennifer Carriere, Ho Kah Nah District Commissioner

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Training Benefits

There’s no better time than the present for Brownie Guiders in Ontario.  Ontario Council in partnership with the Disney Institute presents SUPER PROGRAM, a training exclusively for Brownie Guiders.  For complete details visit https://guidesontario.org/index.php/adult/unit-guider/brownies/26-adult-members/779-super-program

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I have been a member of Guiding for over 40 years.  I was a girl member until I turned 18 and then became a Guider.  I have worked will all levels of girls and have also done administrative and training roles.  Do I still get excited about Girl Guide Trainings? A big YES and here are my top three reasons why:

Number 3:  I have never been to a training as a participant or trainer without learning something I could use. Whenever I take on a new role, Guiding is there with training to help me understand the job and do it well.  When I get into a rut with my unit planning, attending a Guiding program day gives me all kinds of new ideas to use and the motivation to try them.  Guiding even helps me at work.  When I became a manager for the first time and had to do a budget, the Girl Guide financial training I had taken helped me tackle it with confidence.  You want me to be part of the Company Risk Management Committee?  No problem – I’ve taken Safe Guide Training!

Number 2: Trainings are a great way to get connected.  Even training via the phone reassures me that other people are learning this new idea and I am not alone. Often these connections are personal ones and give you someone to call with Guiding questions, a new friend or, even a better, sense of the magnitude of this wonderful worldwide organization.  I had the pleasure of living in Austin, Texas for a year.  While there, I joined Girl Scouts and met some wonderful women.  One weekend I lead a session on conflict management, using a video from Australia.  We laughed so much at the differences in the accents of the people in the video, my Canadian pronunciation, and the wonderful way of speaking they have in Texas. However, we also realized that no matter what terms we used and how we said it, the personal conflict themes we were exploring resonated across the globe.  It gave us all a better appreciation of the way WAGGGS gives women and girls across the world a voice in global issues.

Number 1:  Laughter! Girl Guide trainings always seem to be filled with fun, laughter, and usually a dose of silliness. I learn, but I also have a great time. Where else in my life except at a Guiding event am I going to let myself go enough to make animal sounds to find my group, pretend to be in a plane to visit an imaginary island or colour code a finance page based on my biggest fears (red for keeping track of cookie money)?

It’s Girl Guide training time?  Count me in!  I think I need a refresher on stress management. Preferably one where they show you how to make hand softener with kitchen ingredients and to massage a friend’s shoulders while pretending to be a rain storm.

Jan Ogden has just moved from Ontario to Alberta and hopes that what she has learned in her Girl Guide trainings will help her conquer her fear of heights to enjoy a trip to the Rockies!

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The Benefits of Camping without Parents

Every 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.

Posted in Camping & Outdoors | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Girl-Centred Planning

“I wish we could pick berries or go to the apple orchard.”

“I would like to have a haunted house.”

“Let’s visit the Sparks again!”

“We should plant seeds in an egg carton.”

“I wish we could have an extra sleepover.”

In June, we asked our Brownies what they would like to do in Guiding. These are their suggestions. Now that it’s fall, we’re taking some of their wishes and turning them into plans for the new Guiding year.

Guiders across the country are planning another exciting year for their units, and the girls that make up these units can be an important part of the planning, too. Involving girls in planning means that activities are more likely to meet their needs and build on their strengths. As Guiders, girl-centred planning offers you information about your unit that can help you make Guiding engaging and inclusive. When girls are included in the planning, they are building confidence and exploring possibilities. They are learning about each other and contributing to their own Guiding experience.

Here are a few ways that you can involve Sparks, Brownies or Guides in your unit’s planning. With each of these activities, you can take the information you receive from the girls and use it to plan future meetings or activities.

  • Program Carousel: Explain to the girls that there are different areas of the Guiding program that you will cover this year (e.g., different Keys in Brownies) and briefly explain each area. Have one piece of chart paper for each program area and lay them out around the room. Divide girls into the same number of groups as there are programs areas. Have each group start at one piece of paper, then rotate through each piece of paper, writing down ideas for activities related to each specific program area.
  • Visual Carousel: As above, have one large piece of chart paper for either each program area, or for the different event that will occur throughout the year such as a sleepover or camp. Ask the girls to visualize each event or program area (“What would you like a Brownie sleepover to look like?”). Girls then draw and label their ideas for the sleepover, or activities they would like to do in each program area. As they rotate through each station, they can add to each others’ ideas and drawings.
  • Visual Brainstorm: Have each girl draw a small picture of something she would like to do in Guiding this year. Have everyone glue their picture onto a large piece of paper, or into a Unit planning book.
  • Craft Cupboard Planning: Either show the girls, or provide them with a list, of a number of craft materials that the unit has. Ask them to decide what they would like to make with the materials on hand.
  • Design-a-Meeting: In small groups, have girls design their ideal Guiding meeting, either in general or around a specific theme. While you probably won’t be able to use the meeting exactly as they describe, you can use elements of what they suggest in future meetings.
  •  Choices Graph: As Guiders, brainstorm a number of choices for day trips, guest speakers or outdoor activities (skating, hiking, swimming) that you could do with your unit. Create a large bar graph on the floor of your meeting space using masking tape. Use construction paper to make signs for each of the choices and put these signs under the x-axis. These are the labels on the graph. Explain the choices to the girls. Girls will then form the bars in the bar graph as a way of expressing their preferences. Have the girls stand in the graph, forming a line in front of their first choice.

It is the beginning of another Guiding year. Across Canada, Guiders are flipping through program books, composing emails to new parents and counting out enrolment pins. We’re checking our rosters, choosing Challenges and gathering in schools, churches, homes and community centres to plan another year for our units.

This week, I’ll sit in a local coffee shop with my fellow Guiders to discuss sleepover themes, service projects and day trips for our Brownie Unit. Our planning starts here, around a small wooden table in our bustling neighbourhood café, and it continues a few weeks later, around a toadstool and an owl, in a circle of bubbling girls full of ideas.

By guest blogger Melissa. Melissa is a Guider with the 5th Ottawa Brownies and will be spending the next four months volunteering with WAGGGS at Sangam in India. Melissa has also written previous posts for Girl Guides of Canada’s blog: Healthy Friendship Recipes, Brownies on IceGuiding ParliamentA Silent Meeting, Using Children’s Books in Meetings, It’s Not a Box!, One Plus One Equals Brownie MathThe World Girls Want for the(ir) Future, Young Women’s World Forum 2011: Wrap-up from Switzerland, and was one of our reviewers for two books from our adult book club: Flight Behaviour and Everything We Ever Wanted.

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Through Our Eyes: Two Girls, One Memorable Trip

Photo courtesy Guider Jenna E.

Guider Jenna, Carly and Rukaiyah.
Photo courtesy Guider Jenna

Women Deliver 2013: Rukaiyah’s experience

Attending the Women Deliver 2013 Conference in Malaysia granted me opportunities that I would have never been able to experience otherwise. Where else would I have been able to play a lead role in delivering a baby? AT PRONTO International’s exhibit booth, I participated in an interactive delivery training exercise, in which I delivered a realistic prop baby while onlookers watched intently. Although the baby was not real, the experience was nevertheless exhilarating! The delivery even involved fake blood, a screaming mother, and clamping the umbilical cord. The closest I’ve ever been to a delivery is whilst watching “Grey’s Anatomy”, but I can now say I have first-hand experience!

One of my favorite parts of the conference was exploring the many booths set up in the Exhibit Hall and networking with professionals from all over the world. The fact that we were always present in our bright red, matching uniforms played an immense role in our experience. It allowed others to recognize us easily and remember us, which led to interesting conversations throughout the conference, and an invitation to a reception at the official residence of the High Commissioner of Canada in Kuala Lumpur!

Participating in the conference also allowed me to grow as a human being and learn to appreciate many of the things I take for granted on a daily basis. Due to the fact that the conference was focused on improving the standard of maternal and newborn health on a global scale, I learned about issues that many women and girls face on a daily basis in developing countries, such as discrimination, violence, and poor health care. I realized just how blessed I am to be living the life I currently lead.

Although I knew I wanted to enter a medical profession prior to attending the conference, I was absolutely certain of this fact by the time the conference concluded. The experience motivated me to aspire to be like the individuals I had the privilege of meeting. Attending the conference also allowed me to fully appreciate how the Girl Guides of Canada supports our growth and development into strong women, and how Guiding has shaped me into the individual I am today. I can only imagine what we can each achieve and contribute in the future through the sisterhood of Guiding.

By guest blogger Rukaiyah L. Rukaiyah has been a member of the Girl Guides of Canada for the past 11 years and is currently the Chair of the Ontario Girl Advisory Forum.

Women Deliver 2013: Carly’s experience

Attending the Women Deliver 2013 conference as a Youth Representative for Girl Guides of Canada was a dream come true for me. I have been a fan of what Women Deliver stands for a few years now, however I never imagined that I would actually be given the chance to attend one of their global conferences.

Living in Canada we get such a false sense of comfort concerning problems in the world around us. I cherish the way Women Deliver opened my eyes and gave me a first-hand look at the problems facing people my age around the world. A story that really stuck with me was that of a young Indian girl named Sarita Prabhakar Wagh. She came from a small town in rural India where the majority of girls dropped out of school and married before their 18th birthdays. Sarita refused to get married before she was allowed to fully complete her education – university and all. She changed the way people in her village saw girls which lead to a drastic change in early marriage and school completion rates. I feel as though Sarita is the type of girl that Girl Guides encourages us to be: independent, outspoken, and a trailblazer.

Initially I had been worried that I would feel out of place alone in a session with distinguished adults who experienced and specialized in the topics I had only ever read about. I couldn’t have been more wrong. People were thrilled to hear that Girl Guides of Canada was involved in an event such as this and they treated us as peers. One of my highlights from the conference was from my very first session on the very first day. I left my inhibitions behind and got up to voice my opinion and ask a question about the panel’s thoughts on the education of young girls when it comes to sexual and reproductive rights. It was life changing to realize that I could make my mark with something as simple as that.

I will never forget the lessons I learned and the connections I made on this trip. It helped me decide to pursue a career in human rights and to never stop fighting for a better world.

By guest blogger Carly C. Carly is a grade 11 student from Edmonton, Alberta. She has been in Guiding for 11 years, 5 of which she has also spent as a Junior Leader with a Sparks group.

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Celebrating Girl Guide Camp Bonita Glen

In late August, the usually busy Girl Guide Camp of Bonita Glen wasn’t filled with its usual campers. Instead of girls attending summer camp, a group of former campers from as far back as the 1940’s, were there to celebrate and learn about the camp they spent summers at as girls.  This time they were attending a dedication ceremony in honour of Blanche Hodgins, the camp’s namesake.

Photo courtesy Alana Britten

Photo courtesy Alana Britten

As the nearly 80 people who attended discovered, Bonita Glen was founded by two very inspirational and dedicated women—Estelle Wishart and Blanche ‘Bonita’ Hodgins.  Alison Sanders told the crowd about her grandmother’s passion for camping and how her guiding nickname was Bonita.

“Estelle joined the Girl Guides and started a new company [the 15th Toronto Company] in 1922, at her home church in Toronto. There were only 14 Companies in Toronto before Estelle started hers,” explained Alison, as she told the crowd about her mother. “Girl Guides companies were springing up all over and Toronto was in need of a Commissioner to organize the Guiding activity. Estelle asked her mother (my grandmother, Blanche Hodgins) to take on this volunteer job and she said yes!”

Recognizing a need for a place to call their own in 1929 Bonita started a Girl Guide camp on a glen near King, ON. In her honour, the camp was named Bonita Glen. The camp was a huge success. In 1938, in search of waterfront, the original camp was sold and moved to Hawkestone. To this day, the camp is used year-round and is available for any Girl Guide Unit who wishes to book it.

In honour of both these women and what they represent to Guiding, their family dedicated a plaque to their memory and contributions to the camp. The plaque, designed by Alison’s son John, commemorates Bonita’s love for camp and her idea of selling cookies to help pay for the property’s upkeep—a tradition that has exploded and is still integral to Girl Guides today.

Bonita’s legacy includes a camp for Girl Guides to enjoy and a family that still boosts three generations participating in girl guiding. For many of her family this was their first time on the camp site and they had only good things to say. For former Girl Guides turned Leaders and Trefoil (the designation for members 30 years old and older) returning to the site was a trip down memory lane.

The plaque was well received by everyone in attendance and sits in a garden that was donated and constructed by Ego’s Garden Centre. It will serve as a reminder and educator for all who attend the camp in the future.

Photo courtesy Alana Britten

Photo courtesy Alana Britten

“Boy how this camp has changed,” said one former camper.

“It’s probably been 50 years or more since I’ve been here, and it looks good,” said another.

Reminiscing about camps and activities continued well into the afternoon, showing everyone who attended, that you’re never too old to go back to camp.

By guest blogger Alana Britten. This piece was edited from an article Alana posted in a local newspaper about the plaque dedication event recently.

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My Summer of Guiding

At the end of a long year of planning meetings, selling cookies, and going to numerous camps, many Guiders (and girls!) look forward to a summer break from Guiding. Normally I do too, but this year I had a summer filled with Guiding that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I spent a week and a half at Scouts Canada’s Canadian Jamboree as a volunteer and my Pathfinder unit was there as participants. This experience taught me so much about Scouting but also taught me even more about what it means to be a Girl Guide.

The Canadian Jamboree was hosted at Sylvan Lake Alberta with 6,500 participants and 1,500 volunteers. Several of the volunteers and Scouter moms were Guiders but there was only one contingent of Girl Guides attending the Jamboree. This was definitely not our weekend camp.

Even though we were at a Scout event they still made sure the Girl Guides were looked after. They even invited a few Area Commissioners from around Sylvan Lake to the opening ceremony. Sitting on the hill in our blue uniforms we stuck out in the sea of red and brown Scout uniforms. The commissioners could see us from the stage and gave us an enthusiastic wave from center stage when they were introduced. We felt very welcomed at the opening ceremonies.

As the week progressed we unfortunately heard more and more negative comments about our presence at the Jamboree (“Guiders aren’t real Scouters”). We would generally brush it off, but in the safety of our own camp we would tell each other what we heard others say about us. By the middle of the week I was tired of hearing all the negative comments about the Girl Guides. I decided to write an extra article for the CJ’13 newspaper about what was going on, without my editor’s approval.

My article was published on the second last day of the Jamboree and the response was fantastic. Scouters who had daughters in Pathfinders came to trade for our badges, Guiders that doubled as Scouters came to say hello, and volunteers at the Jamboree came and gave the girls rare collectable badges to trade. We even had a team from Girl Guides’ National office pop in on the camp to say hello after touring the campsite as a potential GM location. As all those visitors apologized for the comments we had received all week I heard one of the girls say the most amazing thing:

“Sure, it’s unfortunate that we received those comments, but its even more unfortunate that those people can’t see how similar Guides is to Scouting. I am proud to march around camp in my uniform with a trefoil, and those comments only make me more proud.”

We all learnt a lot at CJ’13, but we also learnt a lot about what it means to be a Girl Guide. Just because someone else doesn’t see your potential there is always a Guide unit that does. When you’re surrounded by your fellow Guides nothing can bother you that much.

Megan Lamothe

Megan Lamothe

By guest blogger Megan Lamothe. Megan is a 3rd year Ranger in the 64th Edmonton Rangers and received her Chief Commissioners Gold Award in her second year of Rangers. She loves volunteering at camps and traveling, and went on an international trip to Kenya this past summer. Don’t forget to read her post for GirlGuidesCANBlog: The Outsider Girl Guider.

Posted in Camping & Outdoors | 2 Comments