Throwback Thursday: Are you a Swap-a-holic, too?

We know our members are a little, ahem, ga-ga for swapping. As many Girl Guides gear up for summer camp, we’re re-posting one Guider’s confession.  

Hat crafts. Traders. Swaps. You can call them whatever you want. I call them “my addiction”. My name is Alana, and I am a swap-a-holic.

It started innocently enough. When my daughters were Sparks, a fellow Guider showed up at an event with her camp hat. I thought, “How cute! We’ll have to make some at our sleepover.” And so we did. Then we made more at camp. And more the next year. Five years later, my camp hat has gotten so heavy that I have a permanent crick in my neck.

I don’t know why, but those tiny little crafts really appeal to me. Our collection has grown to include seven hats, four banners and hundreds more we simply have no place to put.

I can make a hat craft out of anything. Springs from the inside of pens and bits of coloured wire left by the phone repairman are perfect robot parts. Tiny bits of fun foam are just the right size for ears on inch-long bunny slippers. Broken pencils? Keep those! They’re perfect for Yahtzee-in-a-film-canister. And speaking of film canisters, I have hundreds stored in my basement… just in case!

I’ve created an army of swap-a-holics. My Guides want to make hat crafts all the time. They come up with new ideas, and bring them in to share. I love seeing how the girls take an idea and make it their own. We hosted a Thinking Day Swap Exchange, where we had 80 Sparks, Brownies and Guides come together to make and trade hat crafts. It was an awesome night, and we saw amazing creativity from the girls and Guiders.

Alana Coneen pic of daughters

Madeline and Abigail. Courtesy Alana Coneen

But why limit yourself to face-to-face trades? The Internet has let us connect with other “hat craft addicts” all over the globe, and we’ve traded with girls from Alaska to Australia. We pin them to a world map, and use them as a tool to learn about WAGGGS.

If you’ve never made a hat craft, there’s no time like now to start! Hit Pinterest, Google and Facebook for tons of great ideas. And e-mail me. Because, you know, it’s an addiction.

Alana is a Guider with the 2nd Bedford Guides.

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How I met my best friend on a Girl Guide trip (despite starting off with a sarcastic comment…)

In 2002 I was one of 10 youth members, aged 15 to 17, chosen to represent Girl Guides of Canada on the nationally-sponsored trip to the Ma-Buyu Youth Forum and Commonwealth Games Camp in Manchester, England.

We all met at Pearson International Airport in Toronto before heading off to London the next day. We were in the arrivals area when the girl from Quebec’s plane finally arrived. I sarcastically quipped  “Of course the plane from Dorval is late,” to which she replied, “You must be the girl from Ottawa.” Lindsey and I were pretty much inseparable from that point on.

June29_collage

Upon arrival at Waddow Hall in Preston, England, we discovered that the camp was co-organized by Elaine Patterson (former Chief Commissioner, and current WAGGGS Board member), and the special guest at the camp was her best friend, Dr. Roberta Bondar (an Honorary Lifetime member of GGC). It was a very surreal experience for us Canadian girls to spend a week with a national hero and witness the friendship between Elaine and Roberta. Though Lindsey and I were separated into different patrols, we always found a way to spend time together at meals, breaks, and of course in the evening, tucked into our sleeping bags next to each other. International camps forge friendships that can last a lifetime, and this camp was no exception.

We kept in touch after camp and she came to visit me later that year for my 18th birthday. Lindsey went off to university and then did her Masters in Australia while I stayed in Ottawa for college. We both kept on Guiding but were out of touch for a few years until Lindsey moved to Aylmer, Quebec in 2011, just across the river from Ottawa, and within the same Guiding administrative community. My mother (Area Membership Advisor) saw Lindsey’s name on a list and reconnected us. In June 2013, our Guide units went to Camp Woolsey together for a fairy-tale themed weekend camp.

As any Canadian knows, hockey rivalries promote some fun but fierce competitiveness. With Lindsey being a diehard Habs fan, and I, a hometown Ottawa Sens fan, we have enjoyed some friendly banter over the years.  This year, as our teams went head-to-head in the first round of the playoffs, we put our money where our mouths are and made a bet on the Senators-Canadiens series: loser buys dinner, winner picks the restaurant.

I may have lost the bet (this year…) but I know I have a friend for life. It may have started with a sarcastic quip, but has grown into a friendship filled with laughter, books and a shared love of board games. Friendships forged in those formative years are incredibly important and it is never too late to reconnect with someone who meant so much to you, even for as short of a time as a two week camp.

Lindsey and I can relax as the Guiding year comes to a close and I treat her to a night of Japanese cuisine; but when hockey season starts up again, the gloves are off: Go Sens Go!

By guest blogger Erin Novodvorsky (formerly Erin Mulholland), a Guider for the 125th Nepean Guides in Ottawa.

Have you made a lifelong connection through Guiding? Share your story: ggcblog(at)girlguides.ca.

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How am I resourceful?

At this spring’s National Conference: Guiding Girl Greatness, four girl members spoke to delegates about their own personal experiences with our Mission keys –  confidence, courage, resourcefulness and making a difference – and how they have incorporated them into their lives. Below is an excerpt of one of those speeches. We dare you not to be impressed.

Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon.com, once said, “Life’s too short to hangout with people who aren’t resourceful.” This made me wonder, How am I resourceful?  In trying to come up with a list of things I’ve done that I thought were resourceful, the two experiences that came to mind were when I went to Peru with Girl Guides, and when I started my school’s art club.

June26_AmandaKThe day I found out I was chosen as an alternate for the Peru trip, I immediately downloaded Duolingo, an app that helps you learn a foreign language. (To be 100 per cent honest, that wasn’t exactly what I did immediately – I may have shed a tear and called my mom.) I practiced Spanish every week  and when I found out I was actually going on the trip, I was ecstatic, shed another tear and called my mom again.

Fast-forward, five months later… Despite all my preparations and learning the Spanish words for probably a hundred different fruits and vegetables, as well as basic phrases, I quickly realized after the first 10 minutes with my host family that I would not be as eloquent at speaking Spanish as I had imagined. So I was forced to find a solution; what I came up with was lugging my Spanish-English dictionary to meals, speaking a combination of French and Spanish while smiling, and the complex usage of gestures. I was able to find a semi-effective way of communicating with my host family that finally put 16 years of charades at Christmas to good use.

The second time I showed resourcefulness was when I started my school’s art club. Earlier this year, I realized that my school has many extra curricular opportunities but few that are related to the arts.  I was really motivated to start this art club because as a Girl Assistant in Guiding, I had seen how important it is for kids to have a creative outlet and to make art in a supportive environment. I started out by recruiting a few classmates from art class to help, and getting the support of the art teachers at my school.

In many ways the process was like a Ranger challenge: I first had to make a plan, prepare to take action, and proceed with the plan. In the end, my principal was impressed with the plan and gave the go-ahead!

When the club was having its first meeting, I sat in the art room for 20 minutes without a single person coming by. Then all of a sudden 35 kids flooded in so excited and interested in joining. It was then and there that I knew this club would be successful.

Resourcefulness is being able to deal well with new or difficult situations and finding solutions to problems. We all have the ability to be resourceful – to do what you set your mind to, to come up with new ideas, to do what you think is impossible.

One of my favourite quotes is: “Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn’t be able to fly, but the bumble bee doesn’t know it so it goes on flying anyway.” If you don’t limit yourself, you will continue to soar into the sky of success, and being resourceful is a step that gets you closer.

By guest blogger Amanda Kivlichan. Amanda is a Ranger, plays field hockey, soccer and softball, and likes to sew, make media art projects, and create art whenever she can.

Be sure to check out our previous posts on how girl members are living our Mission: Small Things Really do Make a Difference; 17 Things I would tell my Future 17-year-old Daughter; Finding Your Courage.

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How Guiding Prepared me for Law School

I applied for law school while I was a Sangam volunteer, completing my personal statement and ordering transcripts between delivering WAGGGS programming, bringing Guiders from around the world to the bustling market and taking in the beauty of Diwali celebrations. I applied with the sisterhood and spirit of Guiding swirling all around me. As I filled in the forms, I was keenly aware of how Guiding helped me develop the skills that I hoped would allow me to succeed as a law student.

I’ve just finished my first year of law school. Looking back, I was right – my experiences in Guiding, as a girl and as an adult, have prepared me to study law in a number of ways.

As both a Brownie (LEFT) and an adult volunteer, Guiding has helped smooth the transition to law school for Melissa Moor.

As both a Brownie (LEFT) and an adult volunteer (RIGHT), Guiding has helped smooth the transition to law school for Melissa Moor.

Confidence – Each time I earned a badge, showed my friends a new science experiment, led a hike or planned a meeting, Guiding built my confidence. Through Guiding, I learned to step out of my comfort zone. Guiding prepared me to take on challenges, whether going to India or to law school, with confidence in my abilities.

Perseverance – Guiding helped me develop tenacity and determination. As a Guide, I learned to persevere in putting up that tent and getting the buddy burner to work. As a law student, the perseverance I learned on the camp ground helps me keep studying until I understand a difficult concept and keep editing until the legal memos I’m writing are my best work.

Preparation –  My Guiders always taught me to “be prepared,”  whether for our Thinking Day skit, for advancement or for camp. The skills I learned, like how to plan ahead, prioritize and prepare for multiple possible outcomes help me organize and complete my work as a law student.

Open-mindedness  – At home and internationally, Guiding has exposed me to a multitude of experiences, beliefs and ways of life. Volunteering at Sangam and participating in WAGGGS events, I’ve learned the power of open-mindedness. I’ve learned to question my assumptions. As a law student at McGill University, studying both civil and common law together, this interest in seeing other perspectives and laying aside my preconceived ideas helps me understand both legal systems and their relationship to each other.

Collaboration – While navigating orienteering courses, planning camp menus and playing cooperative games, Guiding taught me to work with others.  I learned to be a careful listener, a reliable teammate and an inclusive group member. These skills help me work with my fellow law students as we delve into new topics and work together to prepare our notes for final exams.

Commitment to service – Guiding has always inspired in me a passion for service and helped me understand my place in a multiple communities, both local and global. At my Brownie meetings every week, we promise to “take action for a better world.” Guiding challenges me to find ways that I can do this. As I continue my legal education, Guiding encourages me to see, and to use, this education as a tool in the service of others.

As a Brownie, I saw Guiding as a great opportunity to play exciting games, do crafts and make new friends. If Guiding was preparing me for anything, I thought it was to earn more badges and pack my bag for camp.  But it’s also about longer-term preparation, preparation for post-secondary education and for careers. I’ve been in Guiding for 18 years, and law school for one. Those 18 years prepared me to approach that one year, and the few years I have left in school, with confidence, determination and a willingness to challenge myself.

By guest blogger Melissa Moor. Melissa is a Guider in Montreal – where  she attends Law school at McGill University – and is also a member of the Canadian Guider magazine editorial committee. Check out her previous blog posts: Bringing the Sangam Spirit to your Unit: Ideas for a Sangam-themed Meeting; Girl-Centred Planning; Healthy Friendship Recipes; A Silent Meeting.

 

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Finding your courage

At this spring’s National Conference: Guiding Girl Greatness, four girl members spoke to delegates about their own personal experiences with our Mission keys –  confidence, courage, resourcefulness and making a difference – and how they have incorporated them into their lives. Below is an excerpt of one of those speeches. Morgan talked about some very personal and sensitive issues – we know you will be moved by her words.

Once upon a time there was a young girl who grew up in Ottawa, Ontario. As a child she was always quiet and outspoken. She enrolled in Sparks to increase her confidence.

I was always pegged as a little strange, shy, nothing to be worried about. I went to a French Catholic school and the most common thing people said about me was “Elle est gênée“, she’s shy. My poor social skills became easy to hide when I started watching shows about girls in school and reading books on how to survive middle school. It wasn’t until high school my classmates noticed my rigid thinking, fidgets, and strange obsession with My Little Pony and princesses. I landed in hospital for two weeks to observe my mental health and Autism was brought to light. It’s my greatest vulnerability.

Middle school bullies forced me out of my school and into the largest high school in the province; there I made friends with my cousin and her friends but I still felt like an outsider among them. I met a boy in my French class who was struggling with his school work. I started helping him and he started helping me socially, we quickly became close friends. As the New Year rolled around we became closer and I found solace in his company, the vibrations from my cell phone stopping my heart with each message from him. After a few weeks he started asking for pictures of me, I became his phone wallpaper. He let insults slip every now and then with his frustration towards me and my poor social skills but he stood by me. Slowly he convinced me my parents were abusing me and the friends I had made were only using me for my kindness. I began to isolate myself from everyone who loved me and my world revolved around him. He told me what to wear, what to say, where to go, who to meet, what to think, and even in the safety of my home I could still feel his presence looming over me. He demanded I trade sexual favours to him for money, he threw me against walls and tables, he hit me, convinced me he was showing me social skills because I was vulnerable. His text messages still stopped my heart but this time out of fear. His hands were outlined on my body when I looked at my reflection.

One day he left me. I had ruined the relationships I started the year before and found peace in a crowd that would accept anyone. I turned to drugs and alcohol, trespassing and theft; “Sorry officer, it won’t happen again” was my new motto. I started hanging around boys who saw me as an object. My self-respect at an all-time low I was admitted to hospital. When I left I focused all my energy on recovery from him. I made new, healthy, friends, started writing poems and stories, I even went to the United Nations to help stop violence against women for the International Day of the Girl.

He reappeared in my life a few weeks later. He offered me his leftover painkillers for one kiss.

My Ranger friends found out what had happened and told my Ranger leader. This began my first acts of courage.

nov26_mboyerCourage is defined as having fear but overcoming it to reach a goal. I always thought courage was being fearless when in reality courage is taking risks to leave your comfort zone. Courage is when I deleted his phone number and blocked him on Facebook even when I feared he would be upset. Courage is breaking free from his chains to realize he was unhealthy for me, and talking to the police. Courage is taking anti-depressants even when you’re worried it’ll erase your personality. Courage is standing in front of a room full of Girl Guides and the Chief Commissioner at the National Conference to tell them about how you fell apart but you’re slowly collecting the pieces from your past self that was shattered.

One of the most courageous things you can do is learning not to fear your vulnerabilities. Being quiet can make you a good listener. Being loud makes you outgoing, your modesty can make you approachable. Vulnerabilities can become your greatest strengths. Thanks to my Autism I offer unique perspective to problem solving situations, thanks to my abusive relationship I can educate girls on the importance of confidence and how to say no.

Today I’m projects co-ordinator of my provincial Ranger council, friends with three cats, a member of the provincial international trips selection committee, a cactus collector, a Girls Assistant with Brownies, a ukulele player, a Ranger unit president, a science fair judge, an honours student, a writer, a fruit sticker enthusiast, and a survivor of an abusive relationship.

Guest post by Morgan Boyer. Morgan lives in Paradise, NL. Morgan has been a member of Girl Guides of Canada for 13 years and represented Guiding at the International Day of the Girl conference at the United Nations. Read her previous blog post on this event – Moving Oceans: Working together to stop violence against girls.

Be sure to check out our previous posts on how girl members are living our Mission: Small Things Really do Make a Difference; 17 Things I would tell my Future 17-year-old Daughter.

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A Billion Brownies

June16_BrowniesSongAfter another crazy-busy year as a Brownie Guider in our multi-branch unit (72 girls!), by the time our last meeting rolled around, I was pretty much done. As in, I’m ready for summer, shut the door on the craft closet and forget it’s there until August, done. There were just minutes left in the evening —advancement was over, badges distributed—and all we were doing was milling about and wishing families a happy summer. Then two first-year Brownies found me, and asked somewhat anxiously if the year was REALLY over. I asked why, and they said they had something they wanted to share with just the Brownies. Turns out one of the very best moments of the whole year was yet to come.

June16_BrowniesWe pulled all the Brownies we could find into a smaller room, and Lily-Rose and Nyah explained to us all that they had written a tribute song about Brownies, and then sang it to us. The debut performance of “A Billion Brownies” was, to be completely honest, a little rough. (See below for the lyrics.) But that didn’t matter to me at all. I gushed and blurted, “That was amazing!” And even though a couple of the other Brownies were a bit skeptical, yes Lily-Rose and Nyah, what you did was amazing.

Let’s see. You wrote a song for and about Brownies. You felt confident and comfortable enough in our group to seek me out and make a special request. You stood in front of all the Brownies and sang. Out loud. By yourselves.

I don’t know if you understood why I wanted to have a copy of the song, and just how much it means to me and the other Guiders. For me, it was powerful proof that Brownies is so much bigger than the weekly (sometimes) grind of planning, coordinating, supply-gathering, and problem-solving. It showed me that this year has been about empowerment, creativity, friendship and leadership—Brownie-style. So thank you, Lily-Rose and Nyah, and all of the 22 other 12th Ottawa Guiding Group Brownies. Thank you for making what we do so much more than just “worth it.” See you next year.

A Billion Brownies
This song is made by Lily-Rose and Nyah.
This song is made for the Brownies.

Nanananananananananananaa
There’s a billion Brownies in the world but there’s only one.
What about you?
There’s two now.
You guys are Brownies too.
There’s 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 a billion, a billion
There’s a billion Brownies in the world
Thank you lots guys.

Bow

Guest post by Kathryn Lyons, with the 12th Ottawa Guiding Group, Sandy Hill, Ottawa. Kathryn has been a Guider with 12th Ottawa for five years, and with Brownies for the past three. The accomplishments, support, encouragement and team work of each of her co-Guiders also make it much more than worth it every year. Check out her previous posts: Should Girls Bring Tech to Camp; Watching Girl Greatness.

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17 things that I would tell my future 17-year-old daughter

At this spring’s National Conference: Guiding Girl Greatness, four girl members spoke to delegates about their own personal experiences with our Mission keys –  confidence, courage, resourcefulness and making a difference – and how they have incorporated them into their lives. Below is an excerpt of one of those speeches. We dare you not to be impressed.

Confidence was not, in the past, something that came easily to me. But thanks to Girl Guides and to the people I work with it is something I have now. Confidence is not an easy thing to gain – it is not even something that is easy to understand – so here are 17 things that I would tell my future 17-year-old daughter to help her in her search for confidence.

  1. June11_MarynaEllDon’t be afraid of making new friends. There are people out there who are just as shy as you, people who are just as different as you, people who are just as passionate as you. They are out there and if you don’t find them, they will find you – if you let them.
  2. Tell people that you are proud of them, that you think their confidence is inspiring, and that you see them as outgoing. Tell them that their efforts are not in vain. Those words can change lives; they changed mine.
  3. Strike a superhero pose once in a while.
  4. When you’re working with younger girls, remember: they are looking up to you and they will take confidence from what you tell them. So be honest, and be kind, and tell them how important they are.
  5. Being yourself can be hard sometimes. Tell yourself that you are awesome and that you will get through this (and you will come out stronger).
  6. When you find yourself being scared, or nervous, or shy, it does not mean that you are not confident. It just means you’re human. Take a deep breath and believe in yourself.
  7. Do not be worried about what might happen. Things happen and you can and will deal with them.
  8. When you start working with Sparks, or Brownies, or Guides, believe in yourself and believe in them. Don’t be scared of what they think; they’re probably going to think that you are the bee’s knees no matter what you do. Do your thing, and do it with a smile and sense of humour.
  9. You are good enough. One day, somebody will try to tell you that you aren’t, and you might believe them. That somebody might be you. It might take you a while to realize that that somebody is wrong. But someday, maybe a few days after you hear those words, maybe even a few decades later, you will understand that you are enough. You are more than enough; you are you.
  10. Girl Guides is a safe place. You do not have to be worried about speaking up or speaking your mind. Guiding will give you what you need; it’s your job to accept it.
  11. When that Spark walks into the room with tears on her face because she doesn’t know what to expect, take her under your wing. Tell her that she’ll be okay, that it will be fun, and that she is brave for trying this out. Tell her how you felt when you were a Spark – and show her where you are now.
  12. Do not ever let anybody – especially yourself – hold you back. Don’t let them tell you that you’re too shy, or too quiet, or not confident enough to do anything. If you tell yourself that you can’t do it, then honestly you probably won’t be able to do it. Even if you can’t get past thinking these things, at least don’t let them get in your way. Tell yourself that you can do it – it’s amazing what can happen.
  13. When you notice how exceptional somebody is, tell them. Congratulate them. When that Spark finds her confidence, praise her for being brave. Nominate her for a Girl Greatness Award; her level of confidence will skyrocket higher than you – and she – thought possible.
  14. Have a solo dance party once in a while.
  15. Mistakes do not set you back. Mistakes help push you forward. They help you learn.
  16. Sit or stand up straighter. Look whoever you’re talking to in the eyes. Sometimes it will be hard, sometimes you will feel like it’s not worth it, but I promise you it is. Wear high heels once in a while – the clicking sound they make is incredibly powerful and it will probably make you walk a bit taller.
  17. As tumblr user this-is-realitea’s brother put it: “Confidence is not ‘they will like me’. Confidence is ‘I’ll be fine if they don’t.’”

Guest post by Maryna Ell. Maryna, or Giggles as she is often known, is a Ranger, Girl Assistant, and recent high school graduate from Sooke, British Columbia. She has been working to improve confidence in herself and others since her first year of Sparks in 2002.

Be sure to check out our previous post on how girl members are living our Mission: Small Things Really do Make a Difference

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Welcome to my world: How I made my unit more accessible

June9_AnnabellaTo me Girl Guides is having a safe, fun place where everyone is included and everyone fits in no matter how different they might be or the limitations they might face. When I was 9 I was diagnosed with a condition that limited my mobility and causes me weakness and pain in my hip. I lost the ability to run and climb and play and some days even to walk. This also meant that I couldn’t wear my pack in camps, hiking, and activities that didn’t have enough resting areas so I was feeling discouraged as a Guide.

I was lucky this year to have a wonderful Guide unit with leaders who were happy to let me help plan an accessibility meeting. Our meeting site is an elementary school so it was a place that should be accessible to everyone.

At our meeting I explained that accessibility is making sure that everyone has a chance to go/do/try things no matter what limitations they might have. Even financial accessibility is an issue and something you need to be aware of when planning something if you want everyone to be able to use it and join in.

I planned a ‘hands on’ meeting for the girls so they could try to feel how it was like to have a disability. We searched the room looking for accessible features. The girls tried out our fire drill, keeping in mind different disabilities and found it was a lot harder to do a fire drill when you had a disability. We decided that the ‘buddy system’ was best to use in case of emergency. One of our biggest finds was that the parking lot had one handi-capable parking spot but there was a large street lamp post right in the middle of the ramp!

At the end of the meeting I had brought in my own extra crutches for the girls to try a simple task: going to the, bathroom. The handi-capable bathrooms just happen to be on the other side of the school so many of the girls tested out the other bathrooms and found that they could not open the doors, get into  the stalls properly, have a space for their crutches while on the toilet, washing your hands was difficult as it was also in a stall. It took all the  girls 10 times as long as it would have normally, just to use the bathroom.

We took all that we learned and at our next meeting – an airport visit – we charted out the accessible features. I really liked putting on this meeting because my unit was able to understand what it was like for me on a daily basis. Hopefully they were able to take what they learned and were able to help someone who needed it. It helped me because having a disability doesn’t mean you can’t do something, it just means that you have the chance to teach others about it and try to do things a different way.

Guest post by Annabella. Annabella is a Guide and a recipient of a 2015 Girl Greatness Award. Meet all of our amazing recipients!

 

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Five Things I Learned as Chief Commissioner

This weekend, Sharron Callahan’s term as Girl Guides of Canada–Guides du Canada’s  19th Chief Commissioner concludes at our Annual General Meeting, as Pamela Rice of Quebec succeeds her in the role. Here, Sharron shares some personal  insights on her term. 

  1. Never travel without wearing your appointment pin on your uniform shirt. You may not know this, but there is only one Chief Commissioner’s appointment pin. When I finish my term, I will pass on this pin to the incoming Chief, Pamela Rice. When I travelled to Our Cabana in 2013, I put my pins into my suitcase to avoid delays in airport security.  My luggage was lost for nearly seven days and I was frantic I might have lost the Chief’s pin. I did not worry about losing my uniforms, my jewelry, my personal items or anything else. I was so worried the Chief’s pin had been lost forever between my home and Mexico. All turned out well in the end and I learned a very valuable lesson.
  2. June4_Sharron_CallahanOur girl members are wise, courageous, and inspiring. Adults need to step aside and give girls a greater voice. I have never ceased to be amazed at the insights and opinions of our girl members. They have a local, national, and global perspective on all issues that is truly intelligent, astute, and sensible. I have met many girls and young women who have inspired me during my journey as Chief. I leave this position knowing that their leadership into the future will serve GGC very well.
  3. New foods shared with new Guiding friends are awesome. Saskatchewan girls showed me how to make ‘armpit fudge’ and in Quebec I first enjoyed real poutine. The fun of the food was fabulous, but more importantly sharing with friends was an amazing experience.
  4. Guiding women have inspiring courage and know how to manage any difficult situation. When B.C.’s camp SOAR 2014 was struck by horrendous thunder and lightning storms and rivers of water flowed through the campsite, it took the emergency response team of camp women less than 30 minutes to complete the evacuation of the entire 2,700 member camp. And, they did it without fear, panic, or injury and turned the experience into a great learning event for all.
  5. The colours of Guiding are outstanding and spectacular. Whenever I looked out over the sea of signature colours for events like a Spark enrollment, SOAR, Ontario Rally Day, or our recent National Conference, I felt a pride and joy that I am a member of the best organization for girls and women worldwide.

These are just a few of the ‘a ha!’ moments that will be forever my memories of my term as Chief Commissioner.

Guest blog post by Sharron Callahan. Sharron Callahan has been GGC’s Chief Commissioner from 2012-2015, is International Commissioner, a member of the Fireside Friends Trefoil Guild and a Guider with the 84th Guiding Unit. A proud Newfoundland and Labradorian, Sharron has an extensive background in social work and youth social justice.

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Small things really do make a difference

At this spring’s National Conference – Guiding Girl Greatness, four girl members spoke to delegates about their own personal experiences with our Mission keys –  confidence, courage, resourcefulness and making a difference – and how they have incorporated them into their lives. Below is an excerpt of one of those speeches – we dare you not to be impressed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Alissa Sallans

I wouldn’t consider myself an incredible person, but I would consider myself an activist who has tried to make a difference. From a very young age, I found myself taking on social justice issues head on, because I cared. When I was five years old, I heard about this big word “pollution” and how bad it was. So I decided to rally up some friends from Sparks, make some anti-pollution signs, and march around the school where we met to bring awareness to this issue. To be perfectly honest, I don’t even know whether anyone noticed my friends and me, but at five years old, I felt like I had made the biggest difference.

At age six, I made a bit more of an impact. My local library was going to be shut down because of budget cuts, and being the driven kid I was and am, I decided not to let this happen. I wrote a letter to the editor of my local newspaper and stood outside the library for hours with this sign that said “Save our library!” I also collected petition signatures, both outside the library and at school. By the end of my campaign, I had over 500 signatures. I went to a City Hall meeting with these to convince the mayor, and it worked: the library has been open ever since.

Fast forward to 2010, when that terrible earthquake hit Haiti. I needed to do something. At the time, the Red Cross was sending over Shelter Boxes consisting of a big tent, a water purifier, and a few other things, all in a box. So with my Guide group, we decided to raise awareness of these Shelter Boxes, by sleeping in one in the middle of winter. We got media attention for it and encouraged people to donate to this important cause. So again, something small made a meaningful difference.

In 2012, my Pathfinder unit was one of the first to complete the Girls for Safer Communities Challenge, which is a huge undertaking – planning meetings, doing activities, completing safety audits, and fixing a local problem, which for us was cracked pavement. Once again, something small, but we educated all these girls on safety along the way.

From that experience, I found that education is key if you want to make a difference. Last year, my school environmental council launched a huge educational campaign about plastic water bottles. Did you know that every piece of plastic ever made still exists today? We collected water bottles from the recycling bins at school over four days, and put them in a display case for everyone to see. We collected more than 300 plastic water bottles, and that number didn’t include what people threw in the garbage rather than in recycling bins. After educating the school, we sold reusable water bottles, and the profits went to installing a water bottle refill station, which is fantastic!

So here I am today. Guiding has really given me the platform to make a difference, and I have no doubt that it has done the same for everyone who’s a member. I have been able to run a weekend camp for more than 100 girls, I am a Girl Assistant for a Brownie unit, I am on the Ontario Girl Forum, I am the Ontario Twinning 2020 co-lead, and I try to take advantage of service projects offered by Girl Guides of Canada. Currently, I am working on the Words in Action challenge, and organizing a literacy backpack drive for an at-risk school close by.

So yes, I am involved in Guiding, but more than that, I have had the chance to learn from others who are making a difference, namely my leaders, who take time every week to plan activities, and who dedicate a huge portion of their time to give us opportunities to learn and make a difference. Leaders are the real heroes here if you ask me. The leaders who have put up with me over the past 12 years have helped me find, pursue, and share my passions, in and out of Guiding.

But this isn’t all about how I have made a difference. It’s about how Guiding and Girl Guide leaders have made a difference in my life. Guiding has given me an opportunity to serve others.  I’m sure it’s done the same thing for you.

So what can you do to make a difference?

Guest post by Alissa Sallans. Alissa is a Ranger and Grade 11 French immersion student from Whitby, Ontario. She has been passionate about making a difference in her community and in the lives of others since a young age.

Watch for future posts highlighting how Girl Guide members are living our Mission.

 

 

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Girl Guide Famous

On Friday night, my phone started buzzing. All of my friends were texting me, tweeting me and messaging me on Facebook. As the notifications started to climb, I realized what had happened: Girl Guides had just launched their newest advertising campaign.

Let me take you back two months…

I’m 23. I know a lot of really cool women around my age that are Guiders – but sometimes when people think of Guiders, they forget about my demographic.

They shouldn’t.  After Rangers, the young women who have grown up in this organization, who have become confident, resourceful and courageous, go off to university, some with their awesome Girl Guide scholarships. They spend the summers travelling the world volunteering at World Centres and sit on committees as young Guiders – and are amazing advocates for Girl Guides.

And yet we don’t often see these young women in Girl Guide ads. They are not always the image that comes to mind when Guiding is talked about. That’s why I was so eager to be a part of this photo shoot.

So instead of going out on a Friday night with my friends, I walked into national office and did test shots with the marketing team.  I instantly felt at home. Talking to the marketing team about what they wanted to get out of the shoot and what I wanted to bring, it felt like an instant match.

I guess the team saw something in me, and they brought me back two weeks later to be in the campaign. It was a long evening – we’d take a few photos and then wait for the next set up. Everyone was featured in different photos with different themes. I was photographed with really cute Sparks, energetic Brownies, intelligent Guides, inspiring Pathfinders and some truly amazing Rangers and a group of young Guiders who are truly inspiring. Everyone involved made me proud to be included in the shoot.

At the end of the evening, we asked where the photos and videos would be shown – we were told the video the Guiders had contributed to would go in front of movies at Cineplex starting mid-May. We looked at each other, laughing wouldn’t it be cool if it was in front of Pitch Perfect 2?

That was exactly where it would run.

We had a collective freak out. One Guider was bringing her Pathfinders as a group to see the movie. I knew that not only would my Pathfinders check out the movie, all of my friends would be seeing it, too.

 

So of course on Friday evening my phone started blowing up.

‘PAULA – I JUST SAW YOU ON THE BIG SCREEN AT THE MOVIES!!!!!!!!! You were in the Girl Guides commercial!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU ARE FAMOUS!!!!!! I’m proud to know such a super star!’

 ‘So I’m at the movies and you were in a commercial! I actually shouted “I know her”! Congrats!’

‘You were in a Girl Guides commercial before pitch perfect 2 and I died’,

 ‘I saw it start and I’m like woah I wonder if Paula will be in it since you are the only thing I know about the Girl Guides, and there you were.’

‘You’re a famous movie star! Saw you in the theater with your Pax Lodge pin! Love it!’

 ‘Thought my eyes were deceiving me at first. Great job!’ 

My Guiding friends love this – they think it’s great that Guiding is getting a bigger public profile and they think it’s hilarious that I’m in the video. But what they really love is that 20-somethings are getting featured.

But it’s my non-Guiding friends that are talking about the commercial even more. For the first time ever they’re actually asking me what I do in Guiding, not just asking me when they can get cookies.  A few have even asked how they can register.

I could not be prouder to be involved in this campaign and I can’t wait to meet all the new Guiders we attract.

By guest blogger Paula Sanderson. Paula is a Guider with the 70th Toronto Pathfinder unit.

 

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Opening the Vaults: Our Chief Commissioners

As we come to the close of Chief Commissioner Sharron Callahan’s term and look towards welcoming Pamela Rice as our next Chief Commissioner,  we’ve opened the vaults to remember some of the dynamic women who have led our organization.

 

Chief Commissioner Mary Pellatt

Girl Guides of Canada National Archives APH 248

Our first Chief Commissioner Lady Mary Pellatt (front row centre) at Casa Loma, Toronto, c.1919.

Chief Commissioner Sarah Warren

Girl Guides of Canada National Archives APH 2475

Chief Commissioner Sarah Warren (right) was our longest serving Commissioner; she held the position from 1922-1942. Guiding in Canada saw great growth under her term with the creation of Provincial Councils and the Stores Department.  Here she is with Lady Baden Powell (left) circa 1923.

 

Chief Commissioner Mary Nesbitt

Girl Guides of Canada National Archives APH 1353

Chief Commissioner Mary Nesbitt was our 6th Chief Commissioner from 1954-1960.  She took an active role in international Guiding, holding positions on the Western Hemisphere Committee, Chair of the World Conference in Brazil in 1957, and becoming Chair of the World Committee in 1966. Here she is visiting a Red Cross Extension group in 1956.

 

Chief Commissioner Henrietta Olsen

Girl Guides of Canada National Archives APH 980a

Chief Commissioner Henrietta Osler was our seventh Chief Commissioner from 1960-1966.  During this time our name changed from the Canadian Council of the Girl Guides Association to Girl Guides of Canada–Guides du Canada. It was also during this period that the national office was built in Toronto. Here is Chief Commissioner Osler with Honourable Lady Ellen Fairclough and a Brownie signing the guest book at the opening of the national office in May 1962.

 

Chief Commissioner Clysdale

Chief Commissioner Clysdale

Our 8th Chief Commissioner Victoria Clysdale held many positions (including Provincial Commissioner in Ontario) before becoming Chief in 1966.  During her time as Chief Commissioner, we celebrated our 60th anniversary with a Diamond Jubilee Pageant. Here is Chief Commissioner Clysdale with a group of Brownies behind the scenes.

Opening the Vaults is a regular blog series that celebrates Guiding’s rich traditions through the collection of our national archives. See past posts in the series:  Girl Guides Awards’ Season; Warning! Cute animal alert; The Maple Leaf Forever; Embarrassing moments; Retro camp pics.

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Every girl should be able to…

i heart GGCEarlier this spring, our Guide unit found ourselves with extra time at the end of our meeting, so girls were allowed to do extra badge presentations for the group. Enter S.T., a girl who has been in Guiding from the age of 6. When she was a new Guide, S.T. had seemed to be in a perpetual state of panic; she now helps with younger girls and can problem-solve effectively. She teaches younger girls how to do crafts and play games. She has come into her own, and this became clear to me on this particular night.

For her “Discover Your Community” module, S.T. was presenting a “Declaration of Rights for Girls.” It was the end of the meeting, so parents were beginning to mill around the stairwell entering our gym; the other girls were becoming restless. S.T. began to read her Rights:

  1. Every girl should be able to go to school.
  2. Every girl should be able to get the job they want.
  3. Every girl should not be treated as a toy for men to fool around with.

With that, the room fell pin-drop quiet. The parents, mostly moms, shifted their full attention to S.T., who hadn’t noticed the change in atmosphere. Her mom, also in the crowd, sat gaping at the powerful statements coming from her daughter. S.T. continued:

  1. Every girl should know that she is strong and capable.
  2. Every girl should know that she is beautiful no matter what anyone says.
  3. Every girl should not be scared to walk anywhere in fear of bullies.
  4. Every girl should remember that she is not going to be judged by her clothing and even if she is, she should not care.

As she looked up from her paper, the room erupted. Not just applause from the girls (who always show their support for a girl doing a badge) but also from the parents. They were on their feet calling out, giving S.T. a standing ovation. Two short years ago, this girl wouldn’t have dreamed of standing in front of the group and reading her own thoughts and words. Never, in my years as a Guider had I ever witnessed such a powerful event. And it was at that moment, I thought to myself – now this is why I am a Guider.

Time and time again, people ask me “why is Guiding still girls only” and the answer is simply this: girls need an environment with female role models where they can feel safe sharing themselves, just as they are. This story, and girls like S.T., are living proof of this. And it’s a powerful thing.

By guest blogger Angela Crane, a Guider with the 34th Vancouver Guides.

 

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Confessions of a crest collector

Camping season is coming – and girls and Guiders will be busy swapping crests and coveting the latest additions to their collections. We asked one Guider to tell us about some of her favourites.

Since becoming a Guider in 2011, one of my favourite things to do in Guiding (beyond interacting with the girls of course!) is collect crests. Even though I was a Brownie, Guide, and Pathfinder in the 1980s and 1990s, I never had a camp blanket and had maybe one or two crests. In just four short years since re-joining Guiding, I’ve quickly collected a variety of crests from across Canada, and even several international crests! I’ve started a camp blanket, and have a small Rubbermaid container of those waiting their turn to be sewn on. Some of my top picks are shown below, along with the reasons why I like them.

DistrictsNova Scotia District Crests
The crests in this picture show Bedford District, Fundyview District, and Hants District. I love these crests for two reasons; first, because they are so colourful and truly show the unique attributes of these districts. You really can go whale watching and pick apples in Fundyview District, see the birthplace of hockey in Hants District or watch sailboats in the harbour from Bedford District. Secondly, these crests remind me of all of the friends across Nova Scotia I’ve made since becoming a Guider, and getting involved in provincial events, camps and activities. Some of my closest friends are now Guiders.

LewisLakeNewLewis Lake Guide Camp (old/new)
This crest dates back to the late 80s/early 90s and represents one of the few times I went to camp as a girl.  Mom was “Tawny Owl” and we stayed at the building called Owl’s Nest (which is no longer in use).  I don’t remember a whole lot about camping as a girl, however my sister clearly remembers making cardboard cars from boxes and driving them around the building with 80’s pop music playing in the background.

LewisLakeOldFor comparison purposes, the red-bordered crest is the current Camping at Lewis Lake Crest. Year rockers are added for each year you camp at Lewis Lake. 

Nova Scotia Around the World in Artistic Ways Challenge
ArtsAroundtheWorldAround the World in Artistic Ways challenges girls and Guiders in all branches of Guiding to reflect on our role in the international sisterhood of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), investigate similarities and differences among cultures, and celebrate diversity.  As part of our year-end camp in 2014, my Brownie unit completed this challenge by participating in activities such as learning about Brownie uniforms in other countries, learning the Mexican Hat Dance, and creating “tableau scenes” of traditional activities in other countries. It was an excellent challenge to incorporate into camp weekend, and fit very well with our camp theme “Brownies Around the World.”

GS20122012 Year of the Girl Scouts USA
While this crest doesn’t have any flashy graphics, it is the first crest I collected from outside of Canada. Every year, for the past five years I’ve travelled to Twinsburg, Ohio (just outside Cleveland) the Twins Days Twins Festival (with my twin sister of course!). We have met many great friends, two of whom are Girl Scout Leaders in Ohio. Our friends took us to the Girl Scouts of Northeastern Ohio offices, and one of their friends gave us a variety of Girl Scout crests, including 2012 Year of the Girl.

By guest blogger Lashauna Smith. Lashauna is a Brownie Guider in Timberlea, Nova Scotia (soon to become a Guide Leader!). She is also the Nova Scotia Provincial Lead for the Twinning2020 initiative. 

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What girls can learn from puppets

The great thing about Guiding is that anything is possible in a unit meeting. For example, it turns out that puppetry is a great way to learn about the arts and the environment from a female entrepreneur right in our own neighbourhood!

May13_puppets2The 5th Kanata Sparks in Ottawa had a very fun and exciting opportunity to participate in a hands-on fantastic Animal Adventure of the Arts.  A local puppeteer from Rock the Arts hosted one of our Sparks meetings to take us on a “field trip” to the zoo with her lovable and funny Creature Crew.  The Sparks got to learn about ways to help the environment, ways to keep our earth clean, making environmentally-friendly choices and respecting animals and their homes, all while laughing and playing along in this interactive show. This was certainly a field trip adventure to remember that took place right in our own regular meeting place!

May13_puppetsNot only did the girls get to watch a unique and educational show, they also got to learn about puppeteering, female role-models working in the arts, careers in the arts, and what goes into making puppets and bringing them to life.  The hands-on portion of the workshop further reinforced the art of puppetry and strengthened this great learning experience.  Through manipulation of the puppets, the girls were given the opportunity to see what the puppets were made of and how to bring them to life themselves.

The girls learned about character building, critical thinking, environmental issues, animals, imagination, and attentive listening. The question and answer session also allowed the girls to ask questions about the puppets, the environment, animals in our environment and the arts in general.

The puppets then presented the girls their “Around the World” Keeper at the conclusion of our meeting.  A very fun and memorable way to receive a Keeper!

 By guest blogger Sarah Clayman, a Unit Guider with the 5th Kanata Sparks in Ottawa.

 

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You gotta sing!

Spring is here and Girl Guide camping season is upon us! Out come the sleeping bags, the dippy bags, the sit-upons, the camp blankets and flashlights! All over Canada at the moment, girls from the youngest Spark to the oldest Ranger are going camping. As the sky begins to dim and the stars come out – they will be sitting around the campfire raising their voices in song!

But what will they be singing?

May8_Campfire2Every Girl Guide, adult and girl alike, has their favorite song that they love to sing. Across Canada and the Guiding world song lyrics vary, wording changes and even tunes differ… but we all sing! We sing before meals, we sing while we hike, we sing in the shower, we sing while we work and we even sing for those lost items at camp …but the best singing is around the campfire.

Have you ever watched how a campfire grows and dies down? It starts from a tiny spark, the flames leap and grow until they reach their peak and then slowly start to die down and you are left with embers. Just like that campfire, the songs that you sing around it follow the same pattern. You begin with a slow small song and slowly build up speed and excitement with every song that you sing until once again you reach the peak of your campfire. From there, you slowly start to wind down and end with a slow closing song and taps.

Here are the basic steps girls and Guiders can use for planning the ultimate campfire:

  1. Opening Songs…
    • A campfire opening is just that – an opening or start to your campfire. You can start out with a poem, a few words of greeting, some fun way of lighting your campfire or you can jump right into an opening song or songs. These songs include ones like “Fire’s Burning” or “Tall Trees,” they also include Unit opening songs like the “Brownie song”.
  2. Slow Songs…
    • Your slowly starting to build up your campfire. These songs are slower and quieter in nature. They tend to be rounds, folk songs and ballads.
  3. Medium Fast Songs…
    • Your campfire is now building up speed. These songs are quicker and a bit louder. They tend to be silly songs, repeat after me songs and fun songs.
  4. Rowdy Songs…
    • You have now reached the peak of your campfire. These are the loudest, most lively songs of the campfire! They tend to be stand up action songs.
  5. Medium Fast Songs…
    • Now your campfire is slowly winding down, so your songs once again start to slow down.
  6. Skits and Stories…
    • Now that everyone is once again sitting down around the campfire and has caught their breath, it’s time to bring on the skits, improve games, cheers, stories and legends! You can have preplanned ones with props or impromptu fun.
  7. Slow Songs…
    • Your campfire now is slowing right down now and your songs are doing the same.
  8. Closing Songs…
    • Your campfire has now come to its end and died down. These songs can include slow closing songs like “Linger” and “Say Why.” They can also include other Units closing songs like the Sparks closing.
  9. Taps (or Unit Closing)…
    • This is your closing for the campfire. It can once again include a poem, saying, or a farewell greeting, but it should include taps or your Unit’s closing song. Remember to stand and be respectful while singing your closing and to leave the campfire by taking one step in and two steps back once dismissed.

Once you have planned your spectacular Girl Guide campfire, here are some tips to keep in mind during the event:

  • Have one girl or Guider ready to lead each song and make sure they are familiar with it.
  • For rounds make sure to have one strong singer for each section.
  • Why not use non-Guiding songs in your campfire? Nursery rhymes and simple children’s songs are great, especially since everyone knows them!
  • If you are learning a new song – make sure to have the lyrics printed out and don’t be afraid to turn it into a repeat after me song! (You sing a line and get everyone to repeat it.)
  • Have printed lyrics for the non-action songs – and remember, people can share, but when it’s dark out groups of three will probably be as large as you want to go.
  • Have some easy cheers, skits, improve games or stories printed out and ready to go (even if you’re letting your girls create these before hand – printed ones will give them ideas and a great start!)
  • Remember a spare lighter and flashlight!

Finally remember to have fun and enjoy the campfire glow!

May8_Campfire1By guest blogger Jenni Halladay, a Girl Guide lifer who grew up Guiding. She is married to a wonderful Girl Guide/Scouting supportive husband and has a wonderful Spark daughter and a newborn son who will be a Cub one day. Because her family moves so much due to work, she has been part of 11 Districts & 8 Areas over her 27 year Guiding Career. She has held many Guiding hats, and at the moment she is a Spark Guider for her daughters Spark Unit in Williams Lake, BC (Big Sky District, Rivers North Area). Jenni is kindly sharing her Campfire planner with us.

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Opening the Vaults: Girl Guide Awards’ Season

Spring is awards season in the world of Guiding, from the presentation of the Chief Commissioner’s Gold Award and Lady Baden-Powell Award and beyond. The recognition of  a girl’s growth and achievement has always been a significant part of Guiding.  Today we look back at some of our award recipients from the past.

May6_SilverFishLady Pellatt presenting the Silver Fish to Florence Hardy of the 7th Toronto Company, 1915.  Miss Hardy was the first Canadian to receive the Silver Fish Award. The Silver Fish was a girl award from 1910-1917, becoming an adult award in 1918. (GGC National Archives  APH 3a)

May6_GoldCordSea Ranger and Gold Cord recipient with Governor General Vanier, 1965. The Gold Cord was discontinued in 1971.  (GGC National Archives APH 1415)

May6_B.C.GoldCordGold Cord presentation and ceremony in Kamloops, B.C., 1967.  Left to right – Nels Mitchell, Debbie Bob, Mary MacDiarmid, and Gayle Gottfriedson.  (GGC National Archives APH 42) (Photo by Neil Macdonald, Kamloops News Advertiser)

May6_AllRoundCord

All Round Cord recipients, New Liskeard, Ontario, 1969. The All-Round Cord was discontinued in 1993.  (GGC National Archives APH 41)

May6_DukeAward

Ranger and Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award recipient, Sandra Boersma, with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip, 1973. (GGC National Archives APH 1447)

 

May6_CanadaCord B.C. Guides Canada Cord recipients with Mrs. Owen c 1970s. The Canada Cord was introduced in 1971 (GGC National Archives APH 37)

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Calming the Camp Nerves

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

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

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

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

For Parents:

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

For Guiders:

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

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

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Rangers, loud and clear

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup – More than just a cleanup!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What’s next on your volunteering bucket list?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Engineering some excitement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Opening the Vaults – Warning! Cute animal alert!

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


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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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Guide friends, Girl friends, Mom friends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 Revised from a submission by the Alberta Girls’ Parliament

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

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It’s never too late

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Captivated by the Drum

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Heritage and History Around Us

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

 

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Guiding the way to STEM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Inviting Rangers to the conversation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Girl Guides Make their Case

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

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

March5_MockTrial

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Putting Words in Action into…Action!

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

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

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

Literacy_Collage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Going far with Guiding

30 Years of Girl Guide Scholarships

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

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

Has Guiding influenced your educational or career goals?

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

 

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

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

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

Why have you continued to stay involved in Guiding?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jill Dreger, 2002 scholarship recipient, geologist, Pathfinder Guider


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

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

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Capturing Guiding in action

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

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

 

Magic of of the golden hour

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

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

Throw in a prop for fun
Use a prop to create a point of interest or to enhance and make your shot more interesting. It will add an element of fun to the shot.
Feb24_FallCookiesFrame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Opening the Vaults: World Thinking Day

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

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

Feb19_WTD2015_1955Candle

GGC National Archives APH 781 c.1955

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

GGC National Archives APH782 credit: Sudbury Daily Star

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

GGC National Archives APH 579 credit: The Edmonton Journal

GGC National Archives APH 579 credit: The Edmonton Journal

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

 

GGC National Archives APH 783

GGC National Archives APH 783

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

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Girl Greatness Awards – Put Yourself Out There

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

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

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

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

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

Serena-S

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

The Quebec Chocolate Challenge!

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Opening the vaults: The Maple Leaf Forever

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Promise to share and be a friend.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

WTD2015_collage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Getting Dirty and Why it’s Important

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This was not what I had in mind.

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

Enter Plan B.

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

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

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

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

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

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

36th Ottawa Brownies via Guider Karen Reyburn

36th Ottawa Brownies via Guider Karen Reyburn

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

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

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

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

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By guest blogger and Guider Karen.

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Gone (winter) camping!

Hollyburn_lodge2

Hollyburn Chalet on beautiful Hollyburn Mountain, B.C.

 

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

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The More We Get Together…

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

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

I took away from the weekend:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guiding Mosaic, here I come: Getting your group on

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Friday Night Guiding!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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Moving Oceans: Working together to stop violence against girls

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

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

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

MBoyer_UNSummit

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

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

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

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

I’ve included my favourite activities to try below:

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

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

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

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

 

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Calming the Camp Nerves

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

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

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

For Parents:

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

For Guiders:

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

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

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The Hair Petition

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

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

Nov18_ourChalet

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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