Opening the Vaults: Creative camp gadgets

We have some really interesting photos of camp gadgets in our collection. So many that we had trouble narrowing them down and reached out to some self-proclaimed gadget experts for their help with the selection. Choosing these pictures brought back memories of our own camping experiences and the pride we took in building our gadgets – especially when our tent won the gadget building competitions!


Our first selection is a photo of three Guides working together to build a tripod. We especially like the look of concentration on their faces in this one.  (APH 600 photo by Nick Yunge-Bateman, 1963)


In this picture we can see how the Guide has used her tripod to dry her dish cloths and also to hang her mess bag. (APH 490, c.1981)







A second use for a tripod is to hold a wash basin.  (APH 1860, c.1987)







This creative tabletop gadget was used to do laundry at an early international camp. (APH 1300)

And this innovative gadget has both a wash basin and a drying rack! (APH 1377, 1953)


We all agreed that this picture of girls making toasters was a great shot to conclude with.  (APH 608, 1971)

What was your favourite use for a camp gadget? Are you still making them today?

See some of the previous posts in our Opening the Vaults series: 1920s and 1930s Campfires and Cookbooks; Warning! Cute Animal Alert!; Retro Camp Pics

Posted in Camping & Outdoors, Opening the Vaults | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

On the move: I will always be a Girl Guide

Back in 2013, I wrote about my move from being a Girl Guide in Vancouver, B.C to being a Girl Scout in Hanover, New Hampshire. This fall, I started classes at Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Before arriving at Bishop’s, I looked online to find the closest Girl Guide unit. I sent out an email to Quebec provincial council  letting them know I was interested in being a Guider. The next step was to sit back and wait for a response.

About two weeks later, while sitting in my dorm room working on an assignment at 4:30pm  I received a call. It was the Guider of a local Sherbrooke unit wondering if I was still interested in being a part of a unit. There was a meeting that night – an open house for anyone interested in being a part of Guiding. I told her I was still interested and would come to the meeting at 6:00 p.m. The next hour and a half were spent finding my uniform, tucked away at the back of my drawer, and finding the meeting place in town.

Nov19_GuidesWhen I stepped into the meeting room I was greeted by smiling faces and happy children. It brought me back to being a Girl Assistant in Vancouver. I knew that I was back where I belonged. The first meeting was a success and I picked up a registration form on the way out. I am no longer a girl member, I am now Squirrel, the Unit Guider. My new unit is a multi-branch unit, and the way it is set up works so well. Helping one of my Sparks learn how to conduct a flag ceremony along with the Guides last week showed me that girls, no matter their age, can do anything they set their mind to. Seeing them smile makes everything worth it.

No matter where I’m living or what I’m doing with my life, I will always be a Girl Guide.

Nov19_DenaPinsGuest post by Dena Schertzer. Dena started out as a Brownie with West Point Grey District in Vancouver, BC. After a brief moment as a Girl Scout in New Hampshire she is back with Girl Guides of Canada. This time in Sherbrooke, Quebec as a Sparks Guider with the 1st Lennoxville Guides.

Posted in Volunteering | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

On the move: Taking your Guiding life with you

This week on GirlGuidesCanBlog, we’re featuring posts by members on how they keep their Guiding connections strong…. even when they move across the country. 

Nov17_Jillian_Ashick-StinsonAt the end of August, I packed up my stuff and drove (and floated) over 3,000 km to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador from my hometown  of Sudbury, Ontario to attend graduate school at Memorial University. Even though my life was changing in many ways I knew I was going to take one thing with me – Girl Guides!

Here are some tips from my experience that will hopefully make moving smoother when you’re changing Guiding communities:

  • Use your Guiding contacts! You already know lots of people within Guiding, and they know people too! The Guiding family is smaller than you think, and people are more than willing to lend a hand to get you placed in a unit.
  • Understand how involved you want to be.  Moving across the country to a new school or new job is a stressful enough situation, so don’t bite off more than you can chew. During my undergraduate degree, I was the Contact Guider of my Girl Guide unit, but knew that I would have to take a step back to get settled in to my new life. Units are always looking for help, and if you make your expectations clear, then both you and the unit benefit.
  • Contact the province directly. I went through Newfoundland and Labrador’s Girl Guide membership coordinator to form my initial contact and from there we worked out the details to help place me in a local unit.
  • Start early (and be patient). Even though I started contacting people in the summer, I didn’t meet with my unit for the first time until the end of September. The start of the Guiding year is busy, so make your contact as soon as you know when you’re moving so you can join the fun immediately!
  • Let your new unit be your tour guide! So far, my unit has gone to the Government House, the provincial museum, The Rooms, and the Botanical Gardens – all places I would have never thought to explore without them. Let your unit help you explore your new town.
  • Make new friends outside of Guiding. You have to have someone to sell those cookies to!

No matter the reason you’re moving, the benefits of staying in Guiding are great! Being able to grow your Guiding family, meet new people in your new home and get out and experience the community are some of the many benefits I have experienced since moving to St. John’s. Good luck in the new Guiding year!

Guest post by Jillian Ashick-Stinson. Jillian started as a Spark and is now entering her 18th year of Guiding with the 1st St. John’s Brownie unit. Outside of Guiding, Jillian is pursuing a Master’s of Gender Studies with the hopes of becoming a midwife.  

Posted in Volunteering | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Remembrance Day: Reflecting and giving thanks

Nov11_crestLooking back on my 11 years of Guiding, some of my earliest memories are going to the Remembrance Day Ceremonies with my unit at the University of British Columbia. As I sat in War Memorial Gym year after year with the rest of the girls in my unit, all of us dressed in our Guiding uniforms, I couldn’t help but look around, observe and take in what was happening around me. My perspective on the meaning of the ceremony and the purpose of acknowledging the soldiers who served so valiantly changed when I was in Rangers.

As a Ranger, having the opportunity to place a wreath on behalf of Mackenzie Heights District at the ceremony meant a lot to me. Year after year, I would see the different girls participating in the placing of the wreath ceremony. When I got the opportunity last year to place a wreath on behalf of my district I felt privileged. Placing that wreath symbolized tribute and respect to the men and women who served in the two World Wars, the Korean War, Afghanistan and to all the current soldiers serving at home and overseas to maintain our rights and freedoms.

As I walked to place the wreath, I remembered the words of the veteran who had spoken moments before about his time on the front lines.  Reflecting on his words, it was truly impossible to imagine what it must have been like to be on the battlefields not knowing what will happen the next minute. As I placed the wreath, I took a moment to reflect, give thanks and honor those who put themselves in harm’s way for the freedom of our country and to remind myself never to forget the sacrifices made for my freedom and rights today.

We should continually recognize and be grateful for the sacrifices and contributions of the men and women serving today and in the past, and not just on November 11. Without their sacrifices we would not have the rights and the freedoms we are fortunate to have today.

Nov11_AnahitaGuest post by Anahita, who has finished the Ranger program in Vancouver, B.C. and is now a transitional member, volunteering with a Sparks group in Kelowna, B.C. She enjoys playing volleyball, volunteering in the community and trying new foods. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Opening the vaults: How Girl Guides Contributed to War Efforts

This gallery contains 4 photos.

Girl Guides of Canada–Guides du Canada (GGC) members made significant contributions to Canada’s war efforts during the twentieth century. Our national archives collection offers a glimpse into how Girl Guides demonstrated bravery, ingenuity and selflessness during our nation’s most difficult … Continue reading

Gallery | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Life of a twenty-something Guider

Have you ever been at a cookie selling event and had someone come up to you and ask you where the ‘adult’  in charge is? Or have parents ask the same thing? This has happened to me more than once this year. To be fair, even as an adult member, I am only two years older than my oldest girls.

Nov5_twentysomethingGuider_girlsThis year I became a co-Guider in a joint Pathfinder and Ranger unit. As a young Guider, I have received a lot of questions about how this works when the girls are so close to me in age. This role does come with its challenges. But I wouldn’t change it for the world!

Being so close to the girls in age makes building relationships and trust with them almost come naturally. They are not afraid to tell me anything or ask me for advice as they know I was in their shoes not too long ago.

This role may seem a little scary at first but there are some small things you can do to help the Guiding year run smoothly and to have the girls not only like you but respect you as well.

1. Introduce yourself to their parents the first chance you get! That way they’re less likely to confuse you with the girls.

2. Take some time to think about how much you are comfortable sharing with the girls. They will ask you lots of questions and push your boundaries. Those questions you don’t think they will ever ask, they will. I’m okay telling them what I’m studying in university, not okay talking about my dating life.

3. Your adult uniform and name tag are so important! Especially when you’re out in the community. I always wear my adult scarf, pin tab and name tag along with my shirt. It is a way to distinguish between me and the girls. It helps prevent those awkward interactions where people are trying to pick out the adult. It’s also a great way to set an example for the girls, too. If they see you take pride in your uniform they will, too.

4.. Remember that it’s great to be their friend. But at the end of the day, you’re in charge of their safety. They will still like you, even if you have to put your foot down sometimes.

Enjoy yourself! I love my Guiding role and those 22 teenagers are the highlight of my week. Embrace it, as you won’t be a young Guider for long. Take advantage of the special connection you can create with the girls. They will benefit from it and so will you.


Nov5_KaylaNicoleGuest post by Kayla Nicole. Kayla is a Guider with the multi-branch 25th Halifax Pathfinders, as well as the Nova Scotia Arts Adviser and a Link member. She is currently studying Psychology at Mount Saint Vincent University, is a tutor for grade nine students and a member of a community choir.

Do you have a one-of-a-kind Guiding story? Share it with us!

Posted in Volunteering | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

How a vivid journey to the bottom of the sea led to my future

There comes a time in every teenager’s life when they have to make a decision on what they want to do or accomplish with the next few years of their life. For some, this decision is made over a long period of time, but for others, like myself, the choice for a future career can be made by simply a truly memorable moment in your life. As for my moment, it went a little something like this…

Nov3_SeaofCortezSnorkellingImagine the feelings that overcame me as I climbed aboard the vessel ‘Adventure’ to embark on what would be the trip of a lifetime, an eight-day expedition alongside other Girl Guide members to the Sea of Cortez in Mexico. I was excited, anxious, proud, nervous, curious and incredibly happy all at once. There were several memorable moments during this trip which deserve to be mentioned. From whale and dolphin watching, to eating fantastic Mexican cuisine – and even singing a few campfire songs on the top deck under the magnificent starry sky, in the leftover warmth from the freshly set Mexican sun. However, there was one particular moment which stands out above the rest. That moment was when I snorkeled and swam in the Sea of Cortez.

Those days of snorkeling would change my life and send me on a path that I never really expected to be on. The memorable part from these snorkeling adventures wasn’t about the locations – it was about how I experienced the sea itself.

This was my first time on the west coast and so far south – the heat was almost unbearable those first few days, so it was very refreshing to finally go swimming. Yet swimming here felt different; it felt new. I put on my snorkeling mask after I cleared the fog out of it, tested my snorkel, and away we went, like a school of fish, observing our brand new surroundings.

I had never seen anything so beautiful in my life. I was not just seeing, but experiencing the wonder itself. By experiencing I mean using all of my senses. The water was incredibly clear. You could see the sea life even if it was 10 meters away from you. I remember diving under the waves and turning onto my back to see the sun rays shining through the surface of the water and almost reaching the bottom. I remember taking deep breaths so I could stay under long periods of time and swim down to touch the sandy bottom, which was rippled from when the waves carried the tide in. I remember tasting the terribly salty water on my lips and smelling the salt water each time I came up for breaths. It was like a vivid dream, almost too amazing to be reality. However, I still haven’t mentioned the best part – being a part of the world’s most amazing natural aquarium.

The Sea of Cortez is home to thousands of marine species, and I got to learn so much about them by swimming alongside so many of them. From moray eels to bullseye stingrays, to several different types of coral, star fish, and the widest variety of the most colorful fish that I’ve ever laid eyes on.  I have never had the chance to learn in such an interesting way before in my life. It made me feel as though I myself was part of the sea life. Sometimes, before I knew it, I’d be swimming in the middle of a school of fish, like I was one of their own. I got a whole new perspective on marine life, so much so that I finally decided what I want to be after school, a marine biologist.

This is what I want to do with my life, and this is how I want to feel every day, like I did in that moment. I want to work alongside the marine animals as I study them. I want them to show me how they live, I want to see new creatures every day, and I want to feel like I’m a part of what I’m studying. I don’t just want to study marine biology, I want to experience it. This memory, although still very fresh in my mind, will always remain as vivid as it is to me now. I will never forget the time that I spent there. Not just snorkeling in the sea, but really being a part of, and truly experiencing the magnificent wonder that is the Sea of Cortez.

Guest post by Michelle Stackhouse. Michelle is a Ranger with the 2nd Tidewater Rangers, Tidewater Area, New Brunswick.

Travel crest
Are you ready for an international Guiding adventure? Check out our upcoming
 2016 international travel opportunities. Application deadline: Sunday, November 8. 


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

My camp blanket tells a thousand stories

Not all stories are told in books, not all memories are seen in pictures – some come in the form of a thousand little embroidered pieces of felt.

Oct29_campblanketcloseupMy camp blankets tell more than my Guiding story. They weave together a tale of friends, experiences and memories that span more than 25 years of my life. Each badge chronicles a moment in time – the visit to a World Centre, a successful district camp, an initial encounter with a soon-to-be friend – and serves as a colourful reminder of a funny story, a sad goodbye, or a proud achievement.

I decided to put together my first blanket after a life-changing visit to Our Chalet and Pax Lodge as a Pathfinder. Armed with my grandmother’s sewing basket, a fresh booklet of needles, and a bag full of badges from around the world, I sat down on my bed and stabbed into the coarse wool blanket with gusto… promptly piercing through the top of my finger. One gauze bandage and a precautionary tetanus shot later, I was back at it, determined to finish the blanket before the end of the year.


Oct29_campblanketBigThe Crafts badge was the first badge I earned in Guiding, and was the first sewn onto my blanket. As I carefully stitched around the tiny triangle, I recalled tiptoeing to the car after one of my first Brownie meetings, terrified of shattering my freshly painted light-bulb-head Brownie doll onto the sidewalk before I could show my parents my handiwork.

I then moved on to the Guide badges, laughing when I reached the Needleworker badge – which I earned more for my determination than for the lopsided, stuffing-challenged polyester pig I presented to my camp leaders with pride, a full hour after the other girls had finished and were outside enjoying the sunshine.

Finally, as the snow started to fall outside, I sewed on the last of the badges – a small Girl Scout Cookie Selling badge, given to me by a new friend I’d made at Our Chalet, who’d encouraged me onwards with the promise of chocolate when I started to falter on a seemingly never ending hike through cow-pie-covered fields. Putting down my slightly-bent needle, I remember stepping back in awe of all of the brightly coloured patches dotting across the blanket that had been such a dull monotone grey only months beforehand.

My current blanket weaves through my life as an adult member, chronicling my Guiding experiences internationally, throughout Canada, and in my backyard. It’s more than simply a collection – it’s a record of all the vibrant and fulfilling experiences Guiding has brought to my life. I love bringing my blankets to my unit meetings, to show my girls what Guiding can do for them in a way that speaks volumes more than a photobook or website.

So, tackle that box of badges hanging out in your closet or in your drawer, and relive all of your Guiding memories as you sew them onto a blanket, a poncho, or a jacket. The next time you’re around a campfire, you’ll be thankful to be able to pull it close and wrap yourself in hundreds of stories, told one badge at a time.

Guest post by Sarah Govan-Sisk is a Guider with the 12th Ottawa Guiding Unit and a former member of the National Board of Directors.  Check out her previous posts Opening the Vaults: Embarrassing moments.

What’s your Guiding story? Share it with us! ggcblog(at)

Posted in Camping & Outdoors | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dear Lego….

2015 IDG crestWhen we heard how the 70th Toronto Guides celebrated International Day of the Girl (October 11), we had to share their story with you:

We shared with the girls the story of a female scientist who asked Lego to create sets with more women in their toys. So they created one. At our unit meeting, our Guides had the chance to write a letter to a company of their choice about how they feel about gender equality in toys and other items. Here’s a sample of what they wrote:

Dear Converse, Nike, Vans and Sports Check,

Can you include girl high tops in your collection?  When I outgrow my shoes, I want to get high tops… Also, most girls’ shoes are pink so I think there should be a wide variety of choices. My favourite colours are aquamarine and violet.


Dear people that made a fairy tale,

I think that you should change how the girl is always helpless, for example they’re stuck in a tower and cornered by a dragon or something and then the guy is like “I will save you” and it always has to be the guy that saves the princess.

Dear Nintendo, 

I think that you should include games that don’t have girls that are all helpless and like “Oh Save Me!!” It will make some girls sad because not all are like that. Some girls are independent and like other things. I think that you should have a variety of girls, not just one type. Because we’re all different and special in our own way.

 Dear Lego company,

 I think that your company should add more female characters because that does not seem fair.  Like what if there were more girls than boys?  Then who would be the ones complaining?

As Guiders Lelsey and Alison note: “This is why we LOVE Guides! When we see the girls thinking outside the box, we are so proud to be a part of it.”

This started as a unit activity but some of the girls’ letters may be sent so they can share their voice. Thank you to Guiders Lesley Skelly (Comet) and Alison Pearce (Thimble) for sharing their unit’s story.

What’s your Guiding story? Share it with us! ggcblog(at)

Posted in Awesome Activities | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Clean shorelines for all

Last year, Girl Guides of Canada-Guides du Canada (GGC) partnered with Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup to celebrate Global Youth Service Day (April 17-19). Girls across Canada jumped at this opportunity to make a difference in the world by cleaning up their local shoreline. In fact, we registered a record 145 cleanups last spring! Here’s an overview of what girls and Guiders accomplished together:


Units across the country  can make their mark as eco-citizens as a part of National Science and Tech Week (Oct 16-25)! Learn how to complete the challenge by visiting our Shoreline Cleanup page.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Teaching camp skills….indoors

Teaching camp skills to a group of 30, mostly new, inexperienced Guides before a fall tent camp that will be three-hours away from home can be a very rewarding experience. Teaching these skills that are to be applied outdoors during a two-hour mostly indoor unit meeting? Definitely POSSIBLE and absolutely fun!

Oct21_indoortent3To do this, begin with dividing the girls into smaller groups with an empty backpack for each group. Provide a wide array of items you should pack and a host of items that would not be the best for taking to camp. Each group of girls can work together to choose and put in the backpack what they believe they should take. Then come together as a large group so girls can explain their reasons for packing what they chose. This creates the opportunity to discuss why you don’t want jeans at camp and to show the girls how to roll their clothes to maximize space and the importance of distributing weight evenly. (Check out this video of Girl Guides teaching YTV viewers how to pack their backpack like a pro.)

Oct21_indoortent2Practicing putting up tents? Why not in the meeting place? Having done this before camp was so beneficial for us – we had all of the tents up in 20 minutes flat, leaving us  ready to get to the next awesome activity!

We meet in a school and have found that buttering up custodial staff with some Girl Guide cookies can earn you the ability to set a practice trail throughout the school with popsicle sticks!  We’re able to squeeze in quite a few other activities, too. We use dollar store wooden skewers and embroidery floss to make mini-camp gadgets, string licorice for knot practice, use several homemade knot boards for relay races, empty pie tins on the pavement outdoors to teach striking matches properly and small fire lighting, and play compass games in the school yard. With a little creativity, teaching these skills before you get to camp leaves you more time to enjoy the outdoors and makes sure you have done your best to BE PREPARED! Happy camping!

Guest post by Melanie Pereira-Tucker, a Guider with the 14th Oshawa Girl Guides in Ontario and Co-Community Guider for Community 23.

What’s your camping story? Share it with us at ggcblog(at)

Posted in Camping & Outdoors | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

How I planned – and survived! and enjoyed! – trekking with my Rangers

Oct15_RangersTrekking2New Brunswick’s 2nd Tidewater Ranger Unit focuses on outside activities as much as possible. Our meeting place is in a ski hut in a park in Moncton where we have access to hiking trails, cross country ski equipment, snowshoes and canoes.  We have nine girls registered in our unit this year and most of our girls have signed up for the Duke of Edinburgh Award program, which gives us tangible goals to plan for.  So in our first year, we set off on a 17 km backpacking hike to a wilderness campsite on the Dobson Trail.

The Dobson Trail is a wilderness footpath stretching 58 km from Riverview, N.B., to the northern boundary of Fundy National Park.  As the trail head is just minutes from our meeting place, it lends itself well for planning this type of activity.  Last spring for the Silver level of the Duke of Edinburgh Award (three days, two nights on the trail), we completed another section of the trail spanning 30 km, starting 40 km out and hiking back to town. The goal was 40 km, but the terrain was wet and the girls were getting tired so we pulled out 10 km early just outside of Riverview. Not to leave it undone, we are planning a day hike in November to complete that  last 10 km.  Next spring for the Gold level, we are planning a practice canoe trip in Kouchibouguac National Park, canoeing to a backcountry site to get ready for a longer canoe trip later that summer on the Saint John River.

I find planning these types of activities really keeps the girls engaged – almost all are back this year to move onto the next level and their excitement is contagious with the new girls that have just moved up from Pathfinders.  For us Guiders, we do it to challenge ourselves and push our limits.

I have been very blessed to have young Guiders join our unit with the expertise and excitement to engage and lead these activities.  We also had the guidance of a Guider from Nova Scotia, who facilitated our outdoor adventure training and evaluated us for these hikes.  For me, a more seasoned 50+ Guider, the 30 km hike was a personal challenge. My background is canoe tripping, not so much hiking – it was an eye opener! The luxury of extra space in the canoe for all my comforts was gone; everything had to fit in that pack. Recognizing the distance of the hike could be daunting for me, I spent many nights walking to prep for it. (I didn’t want to be the one to hold up the group.)

Working with this unit is keeping me young. I know I need to keep active and exercise if I am going to keep falling on the ski trail to a minimum, and be able to do another epic hike or canoe 60 km next summer.  It forces me to push myself to learn new skills and hone the ones I have, which I might not otherwise have bothered with if I was not involved in Guiding.  So all in all, this unit has been just as great for me as for the girls and I encourage any Guider who has been thinking of doing these types of activities to get out there and do it.  Get training if you need it, find other Guiders who share your passion to go with you, find a facilitator if you are not qualified yet and then plan it and go!

Guest post by Debbie Stackhouse, a Guider with the 2nd Tidewater Ranger Unit in New Brunswick.

Have you achieved a personal goal through Guiding? Challenged yourself to try something new? Share your story! Email us: ggcblog(at)


Posted in Camping & Outdoors | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Girl Guide camp blanket vs. camp poncho

As units gear up for fall camps, we’re sharing one of our most popular blog items of all time.

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

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

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

Camp blanket:

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

Camp poncho:

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

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

Guest post by Mary Vincent, Communications Coordinator, Girl Guides of Canada.


Love our blog? Pitch us your idea! It could be about an ‘a ha!’ moment you’ve had as a member, a one-of-a-kind Guiding activity, a great tip or resource you want to share, or just what Guiding means to you.

Email us! GGCblog (at)

Posted in Camping & Outdoors | Tagged , , , , | 10 Comments

My BFF is a Girl Guide too

Have you seen the new Girl Guides of Canada–Guides du Canada ad floating around social media or public transit? The one about finding your BFF in Girl Guides? Seeing that ad activates a wave of memories for me. I may not have met my best friend at Girl Guides, but thanks to Girl Guides of Canada, I was able to foster and grow that relationship.

Oct1_kimangela1For years, I’ve credited Girl Guides with helping me become the person that I am today. As a child, I was painfully shy. I met my best friend Angela in Grade 2, around the time that Girl Guides came into my life. I fell in a mud puddle at school and my teacher asked Angela to stay with me while my parents brought me a change of clothes. This would be the start of our current 26-year friendship. We joined Girl Guides together and with the help of Girl Guides and Angela, I found my confidence and came out of my shell.

We were so glued to each other that our parents thought that maybe Guiding would encourage us to make more friends and maybe not rely on each other quite so much. But we still stayed by each other’s side. We made new friends, had great Guiding adventures, but  never strayed from each other’s side.

Today, we are still as inseparable as we were back at the start of our friendship and Guiding is still a huge part of our lives. Now, instead of being Brownies, we are Unit Guiders together in the same unit! We sometimes see ourselves in our young Brownies, especially in the girls that cling to their best friend and are hesitant to separate and try new things. We know how to encourage them to try new things and meet new people but understand the need to stay close to each other. We know all too well that a friendship like that can be a keeper as the years pass.

Oct1_kimangkids1Two years ago, we found some pictures from our days as Girl Guides and brought them into the girls. They were fascinated to see us as kids and to see that we are just as close now as we were back then.

Thank you Girl Guides of Canada for reminding me of the strong friendship I have and just how lucky I am to have that friendship.

Guest post by Kimberly Batten. Kimberly (and Angela!) are co-Guiders with the 5th New Waterford Brownies in Cape Breton , Nova Scotia. This marks their 10th year in Guiding together. Kimberly is also Provincial Social Media Adviser for Nova Scotia Council and is working on becoming a Trainer with Girl Guides of Canada. When she’s not busy with Girl Guides, she’s getting into mischief with Angela and loves to bake, craft and spoil her three cats.

What’s your Guiding story? Share with us on the blog – ggcblog(at)


Posted in Girls' Guides | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Challenging ourselves – and lending a hand – in Mexico

Sept29_waterjumpWhen we saw that there was a Guiding trip to the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, we knew it would be something that we’d never experienced before. It looked like a great adventure where we’d learn so many new things and have so many challenges waiting for us. The trip met all our expectations – we jumped off a rock face into the sea, met so many great people, had wildlife come not even a foot away from our boat and the opportunity to help others in a local community.

Our Guiders always encouraged us to apply for international trips. They always told us that if you don’t apply, you will never have the chance to participate in one of these once-in-a-lifetime adventures. We were so nervous for the experience and challenges that we would have to face that we really didn’t know what to expect. All we knew is that we were going to be on a boat for eight days with 16 girls we didn’t know. But by the time we all departed from Calgary, the friendships had already started to form.

Sept29_cortezgroupshot2Every day of our adventure came with new challenges and new experiences. The first day was the most challenging – we had to get used to the constant motion of the boat, our very small rooms and getting to know each other. On top of all that we were going snorkeling. We started off slow by just going into the water by the beach. Lela, our naturalist, and Guri, our lifeguard, taught us very well. By the next day, we were all comfortable and were able to enjoy the beautiful view that was below us.

We also had the opportunity to help a local village, surviving with no source of fresh water and no electricity. We had the chance to provide some basic necessities such as dry food, toothbrushes and soap. We also helped by donating school supplies for children. It was heartwarming to be able to help others in need. We were also very fortunate to be able to join them in a game of volleyball – they beat us by a longshot.

A big thank you to everyone who helped us prepare for this trip – our references, leaders, parents, friends and everyone who bought cookies. Without you, this trip wouldn’t have been such a success.

Sept29_authorsGuest post by Marissa and Michelle. Marissa is a Ranger with the 1st Kirkland Rangers. Michelle is a Ranger with the Richelieu Ranger Unit. This blog has been edited from a post on GuidesQuébecBlog.

Are you ready for an international Guiding adventure? Check out our upcoming 2016 international travel opportunities. Application deadline: Sunday, November 8. 

Posted in Global Guiding | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Practicing for Guiding Mosaic 2016

Sept17_GMPracticePacksWith one year to go until Guiding Mosaic 2016 (GM2016), we decided to hold a Mosaic practice camp for the girls registered in our patrol. So, in mid-July we headed out, looking to get to know our girls better and expand their camp skills beyond what we typically experience at unit camps. It was all about taking it to the next level when it came to backpack packing, laundry, dry shampoo, lots of hiking, and of course many long, fun-filled days in a row!

With seven girls attending camp (we just filled our patrol this month, woo hoo!), we loaded up our trucks and set off. Thankfully, we live by the Guiding Motto, Be Prepared! Before we even had camp set up, we were caught in a massive summer storm that flooded out the campground. With help from the girls’ families (and an okay from our Safe Guide assessor), we relocated and started camp again. Ah, the life of a Girl Guide!

Sept17_GMPracticeLaundryAfter our initial escapade, we had a fantastic time as a patrol. Using the GM2016 Patrol Training as a checklist for activities, we prepped for all the fun we will have at GM2016 – both in terms of what to bring and what to do. But perhaps even more importantly, we started fostering friendships between the girls in our GM2016 patrol, who come from three towns and three different units.

We modified the training to complete it over four days, rather than one, which worked to our advantage because so much information all at once can be overwhelming. This also allowed our girls to think about how each piece of the training worked together, bringing out all sorts of great conversations we may not have discovered if we weren’t in a camp environment. For example, when we talked about how to pack their packs, it really helped that the day before we had discussed the things they wear at camp, and they were able to evaluate what they would pack differently for GM2016. After two nights, we took down the tents and put them back up with a new configuration of girls inside, and that new setup let them explore who actually sleeps well together, as well as the importance of keeping their stuff organized.

Aside from the activities required by the training, we took the time to have some fun playing relay games, nightly campfires, and trying out new ways of cooking, which really allowed each girl to show off her personality. And, we’re loaded up with hat craft swaps and ready to meet new girls in Sylvan Lake, Alberta!

By the end of our practice camp, we were all excited to get together again and go to GM2016. We’ve gelled as a patrol, we understand each other’s camping strengths and weaknesses, and we CAN’T WAIT for July to roll around. I’d highly encourage any Guider taking girls to GM2016 to hold a pre-camp. Now we have a whole year to practice their new skills at our unit camps, and foster the relationships that will keep them going at camp. See you all at Camp Woods for GM2016!

Guest post by Amy Jesse. Amy is the Responsible Guider for the 1st AB Mosaic Patrol, and is also the sole Guider for two units, 1st Olds Pathfinders and 1st Olds Rangers in Num Ti Jah District, Parkland Area, Alberta. She is a high school teacher, and loves camping, providing new experiences for her Girl Guides, and the camaraderie of other Guiders. 

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

Opening the Vaults: 1920s and 1930s Campfires and Cookbooks

Every so often we find cookbooks included in a donation to the archives. Today we have decided to share a few of the earliest cookbooks and illustrations from our collection. Many of these recipes and cooking styles would no doubt be popular at a camp with a historic or retro theme or with rustic hipster campers. ;)

One of our earliest cookbooks is really a booklet, Camp Fires and Camp Cookery, by E. Lawrence Palmer, Professor of Nature Study, Cornell University, 1925. It came into out collection as part of a Guider’s personal notebook that also included handwritten notes on songs and games.  The booklet includes instructions for many camp fire cooking methods, including the log cabin formation, the hunters’ and trappers’ fire and the open-trench fire lay.

We are especially fond of this diagram illustrating frying bacon and eggs on a stone.

Sept15_bookNext is one of the only cookbooks that we have that was published in Canada.

The note on the inside cover of this cookbook reads, “Compiled and Arranged by the Guides of Greater Vancouver of Canadian Girl Guides who present this book of tested recipes to their many friends.” It was published in the 1930s and priced at fifty cents, with the proceeds to be used for camp purposes. A section on “Camp Expedients” includes instructions for making a cake without an oven and making a homemade grater.


Another great publication in our collection is Practical Camp Cookery for Guides and Guiders, by E.M. Anderson, a 1936 publication from Great Britain.


This book has great recipes and diagrams, like this one for a cooking in a Hay-Hole.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the cookbooks in our collection are the notes added by the Guiders and girls who used them. The inside cover of our copy of Practical Camp Cookery is covered with recipes for cooking at camp–Corn Chowder to serve 25 people and Cocoa to serve 100!


What is your favorite meal to cook with your unit? How much have things changed or stayed the same? Does your campfire look like one of the ones pictured in these books from 80 years ago?

Do you have a treasure trove of Guiding history you’ve collected? We’d love to hear about it! Send your blog pitch to ggcblog(at)

Posted in Camping & Outdoors | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Transitioning into a new Guiding role

As someone who has always aspired to be a lifelong member of Girl Guides of Canada, I struggled to find a place for myself as a transitioning member (TMBR). During Rangers, I completed the program and earned my Chief Commissioner’s Gold award. As a 17 (later 18)-year-old first year university student, I fell into the gap between the girl program and being an adult member. Guiders must be the provincial age of majority, which is 19 in B.C., New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, as well as the Yukon, Nunavut, and the Northwest Territories.

Sept3_HannaWithBrowniesAt that time, I had been working consistently with a Brownie unit for three years and was planning to continue with the same unit. After Rangers, the only option for prospective Unit Guiders is to register as a Transitioning Member. There proved to be more challenges than I expected: I could neither access the unit roster nor be an official supervisor at camps and sleepovers. I planned most of the program on my own, took on the role of communicating with parents, and was the liaison at District meetings.

My co-Guiders were understanding of my position, and I knew they would always be there for ratio and support, ensuring meetings could run. Having worked with the same Guiders since I was 14, I was empowered by the trust and respect they showed me as I continued to build leadership skills. Now, at 19, I am an experienced and confident Brown Owl.

Like many young Guiders, I struggled to communicate effectively with parents. However, there was no need to worry; my years of Guiding experience counted much more than my date of birth. My Brownies and their parents treated me as they would any other Guider.

In many provinces, this transitional year is not an issue for young leaders. Had I gone to university elsewhere in Canada, my path into an adult role would have been easier. Likewise, young women coming to universities in B.C. cannot become adult Guiders straight away. My 15 months as a TMBR were challenging, but worth the wait.

Tips for TMBRs:

  •     If you are involved with a unit or are interested in getting involved, don’t let your age stop you! Girls won’t care how old you are, and often they are excited to work with someone closer to their own age.
  •      Parents will be grateful that you’re willing to take on this volunteer role – it doesn’t appeal to everyone.
  •      If you present yourself responsibly and maturely, that’s how you’ll come across to girls, parents, and other Guiders.
  •      If you are not able to commit full-time to a unit, consider attending camps or special events. Most of the time, they will have ratio already covered and are happy to have an extra person to help run things! Attending larger camps (like SOAR or Guiding Mosaic) as Core Staff is also a good option for gaining experience.

If you are a Unit Guider searching for more Guiders for your unit, don’t pass up an offer from a TMBR; often, they are familiar with the program and make strong connections with girls. Potential TMBRs are committed to Guiding and eager to learn.

Don’t forget – you are the driving force behind your membership in Girl Guides of Canada. You and the women around you share a common goal, whether you’re 18 or 80.

Sept3_HannahScottGuest post by Hannah Scott. Hannah is a Brown Owl and studies English and Music in Vancouver, B.C. She loves to camp and will never say no to a good campfire!



Posted in Girls' Guides | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Saying ‘Welcome’ and ‘Bonjour’ with a postcard

A few years ago, I decided to start sending out mail to my Brownies and Guides at the beginning of August in preparation for the next Guiding year. There were many reasons that led me to come up with this idea and it’s been so successful that I’ve been doing it ever since.

We lose contact with the girls over the summer and with all the fun they have, I wanted to get them excited to come back for another year or welcome them into their new branch and of course give them the details of our Welcome Back party! It had also occurred to me that outside of meetings, most of my contact was with their parents, via email, Facebook and phone. I thought this would be a fun way to communicate with the girls. I’ve used pretty stationery from the dollar store, a typed letter with a photo of the girl from the previous year and the GGC postcard.

I’m often asked what I put in the letters and truly it varies from year to year. I always make sure to personalize them with the girl’s name, remind them a new year is almost here with new adventures in Brownies or Guides, include the details of the Welcome Back party and their iMIS number. We’re a Francophone unit, so here is a translated example:

Sept1_WelcomewithPostcard“Hi Peyton,

We hope you’re having a great summer and are looking forward to beginning a new adventure in Brownies! We are going to kick off the year with a Minions Picnic on September 7 from 5:30 – 7:30 at 123 Party Street. Please RSVP with Papillon by August 31. Your memory CD will be available for pick-up at the party. If your parents have not registered you yet, please remind them to do so soon using your iMis number 123456789. We can’t wait to see you again.

Papillon and Lune Bleue”

Our Welcome Back parties are always a hit and get the girls excited for a new year. We pick a fun theme and find some fun games, snacks and crafts to do (hello Pinterest!). We often watch the memory CD from the previous year to get them talking about what they’d like to do this year. Last year, the Brownies had a Frozen party where we made chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches (all from scratch) and the Guides had a luxury spa night making soap and lip gloss. This year we’ve planned a Minion Picnic where we’re making Banana Boats and a minion hat craft, and the Guides are having a dinner party with gourmet s’mores.

Guest post by Kari-Anne McKellar. Kari-Anne started in Guiding 23 years ago as a Guide and was hooked. She is currently a Guider in three units – 1st Cornwall French Brownies, 1st Cornwall French Guides and 1st Cornwall French Pathfinders.

Posted in Awesome Activities, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How do you organize all your Guiding ‘stuff’?

Maybe you have one. You probably know a Guider who does. The Guide closet. (Or storage bin, or room, or basement?) I didn’t have one at first. At first, all I had was an expandable folder. And I thought that would be enough. (It’s okay to laugh. I know, silly me.)

It didn’t take long to outgrow the folder. Soon, it was a large bin, and next, most of a closet. Finally, for most of this year, I couldn’t close the closet doors. Supplies, uniform bits, half-finished crafts, paperwork, lost and found items spilled out from the closet on to the floor. Week after week, I just dumped and ran. It wasn’t a Guide closet any more. It was the close-the-door-don’t-let-anyone-look-there room with a giant Guide closet monster in it. The monster came to life. Left free of proper storage, I swear the scissors multiplied with the glue sticks and the yarn balls tripled. I couldn’t see the floor anymore. Something had to be done.

It was daunting. How could I possibly toss the really awesome handwritten notes? (“I love Brownies because marshmallows.”) And what if we need those 72 empty CD cases? (No, really–72.) And what if there’s a gem of a game in that old activity book?

Here’s the plan I came up with to deal with all that Guiding stuff.

Keep and organize

  • Core crafting supplies, like markers, scissors, glue
  • Badges, crests, pins and program books
  • A few old uniform samples for comparing then and now
  • One (JUST one!) craft sample and instructions for each successful craft
  • Key reference documents and forms
  • A little nostalgia – handwritten notes don’t take up much room

Toss (recycle, give away)

  • Supplies past their useful life – dry markers, chewed pencils, small fabric scraps.
  • Recyclable materials easily obtained. I had been holding on to 30 old water bottles “just in case.” But if we need them, I know I can easily find more.
  • Old resource books and photocopies. We have gone digital. I don’t use the books, and no other Guider in the unit does either. Pinterest and YouTube and all those amazing blogging Guiders out there are more useful now!

Say ‘no’

I am a crafter. And I hate to throw things out. But sometimes, I just have to say no to bringing more things in. I said no to the offer of 40 toilet paper tubes. No to the bundles of flocking. No to the little bag of rocks. (Internal dialogue: “But I’m sure we could do something with that!” “No. I must say no. The closet monster. Remember the closet monster.”)

It’s August and the room is restored. The Guide closet monster is under control. September and store orders and badges and fall camp and enrollment are looming. I got this, right?

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: A Billion Brownies; Should Girls Bring Tech to Camp; Watching Girl Greatness.

Posted in Volunteering | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

A girl, her Guiders and a special awards ceremony

Earlier this year, Girl Guides of Canada–Guides du Canada received a great email from one of our previous Girl Greatness Awards recipients, Cheyenne:

Aug25_ChayenneHi there! My name is Cheyenne.

I received a Girl Greatness Award in 2014 and I must tell you I was very honoured to have been a recipient. The Guiders of my Girl Guide unit were so proud of me! Receiving that award was like giving back to my unit and all they had done for me.

Very special ladies run the 2nd Brookhouse Girl Guides, Brookhouse District, Dartmouth Shore Area, Nova Scotia. And that is why I am writing you today. Does Girl Guides of Canada have a platform where girls can nominate their Guiders? Because I believe there are good Guiders and there are exceptional Guiders, and there are some that go above and beyond what should be expected of them. And when I think about those qualities, I know that my Guiders go above and beyond!

The ladies who run 2nd Brookhouse Girl Guides are Kathy Cooke, Barbara Kent, Natasha Neil, and Cathy Mason. Any one of these ladies should be commended for their great work.

When I first met these women, I was so shy and so very easily intimidated. I had been bullied for a long time, and I was scared. But because of these individuals, because of their patience, their kindness and their amazing abilities to make every girl in their unit feel special…I began to heal. I became strong and more confident and I began to believe in myself!

When they pinned my Girl Greatness Award on me and said wonderful things about me at a special year-end ceremony, right then and there I thought, I wish I had a pin to give each one of them.

I am sure they have been awarded for their services in some ways, maybe in many ways, but I think it would be nice if the Girl Guides themselves could nominate a Guider, explain how they are special, and maybe they could receive a girl greatness pin of their very own!

We put Cheyenne in touch with members of the Nova Scotia Provincial Council to assist her in nominating her Guiders for an award.  We were thrilled when Cheyenne followed-up with us to let us know what happened next:

I just wanted let you know that the special presentation of awarding my Guiders with their own special pins went off without a hitch at the District Advancement Ceremony.

With the help of the Area Commissioner we pulled it off without anyone finding out beforehand! They were totally surprised and to say that there were tears would be an understatement! I was told they were the best pins they have ever gotten.

I really hope that someday there is an actual special pin made up just for Guiders to receive from their girls. Great Guiders deserve their own greatness award, because without Guiders there would be no Girl Guides of Canada!

My Guiders were so happy and I think the look on their faces says it all!!

Thanks again for all your help!

Guest post by Cheyenne, who received the Courageous Girl Greatness Award  in 2014.

Posted in Girls' Guides | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The Mystery of Alice the Camel

‘Alice the camel has…two humps’ is a common refrain at any Girl Guide camp fire or sing song. But what happens when Alice has no humps? Guider Nicki from Girlguiding UK delves into this mystery for us….

Camels are part of the family Camelidae, whose other members include llamas, alpacas, vicuñas, and guanacos. They’re in the order Artiodactyla, or even-toed ungulates, whose weight is borne by the third and fourth toes.

Horses are from the family Equidae in the order Perissodactyla, or odd-toed ungulates. Their weight is borne by the third toe alone.

Therefore, if Alice the Camel loses all her humps, she cannot be a horse (of course!).

So what is Alice?


Bactrian Camel (J. Patrick Fischer CC-BY-SA)

Camels evolved from a now extinct species of Camelid in North America. They migrated to Asia around two or three million years ago, and from there to Africa. Those that survive in Asia are Bactrian camels (with two humps), while those in south-west Asia and Africa are dromedaries, with one hump.

So in evolutionary terms, Alice started in North America, moved to Asia (with two humps), and then moved to Africa, losing a hump in the process.


Camelid migration in the Eocene. Blue is Camels, Red is Llamas & Alpacas (Tony37 – CC-BY-SA)

Llamas and alpacas, while having no humps, did not evolve from dromedary camels. They came directly from the North American ancestor species, and moved south instead of north, into South America.

So if Alice the Dromedary Camel did not evolve into a llama or alpaca, and she can’t be a horse, what is she?


Guest post by Nicki. Shared with her permission from her blog The 57th Snowflake: A Girlguiding Life.

Posted in Girls' Guides | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Trex Trek to Baden-Powell Lake

Earlier this summer, eight girls and six leaders from 1st Quinte Trex  in Trenton, Ontario headed into Algonquin Park for our annual wilderness canoe trip. In addition to the fun, good food and adventure, the girls planned a very special pilgrimage during the trip – a visit to Baden-Powell Lake. The lake was named in 1969 and a Scout cairn (monument) was erected about that time, where visiting Girl Guides and Scouts could sign-in and exchange badges.

Baden-Powell Lake in Algonquin Park, Ontario

Baden-Powell Lake in Algonquin Park, Ontario

The plan was to paddle into the lake; however, low water levels prevented access to the lake by canoe. Not to be defeated, and with the opening to Baden-Powell Lake in sight, the group trekked 300 metres through muskeg and bushwhacked 100 metres through dense spruce forest to reach the shoreline. Everyone carried their paddles and after a few poignant words of appreciation to Lord and Lady Baden-Powell for giving us the gift of Guiding, all dipped their paddles into the lake.

I borrowed Community 24’s Guiding World flag for that all-important Kodak moment. Due to heavy brush and the lateness of the hour, time could not be spared to hunt for the cairn to sign in. Maybe next year.

Guest post by Liz Allard, a Guider in Trenton, Ontario. Liz is an air combat systems officer in the Canadian Armed Forces. She’s been involved in Guiding for four years and has been the Contact Guider and trip leader with Trex for three years.

Posted in Camping & Outdoors | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Who are we singing along the road

40 pounds of packs...nothing to it

40 pounds of packs…nothing to it

This past weekend, on a beautiful summer day, my friend Megan and I slapped about 40 pounds of gear on our back and took to the backwoods of Kejimkujik National Park.

Like, 10 kilometres into the backwoods, into the backwoods. Let me say that again, because blogs and even park rangers don’t seem to know how far it is from the Eel Weir parking lot to the Wil-Bo-Wil Cabin: it is 10 kilometres.

I’ve always been a camper; it comes with the territory of being a member of Girl Guides of Canada for 25 years. My first camp as a Brownie was in a cabin, my last as a girl member was under a sheet of plastic (in December) in a lean-to I built.

So when my fellow camping friend said, hey, let’s do this, I didn’t balk; we’d have a cabin so no lugging of a tent, the tools to clean the lake water and most importantly, a fellow camper with you. The latter a vital piece of the puzzle. Backwoods camping is not for everyone.

Wil-Bo-Wil Cabin

Wil-Bo-Wil Cabin

Kejimkujik, or Keji for short, is a beautiful park. I’d never been before this past weekend. You can come for a day and hike and swim, stay in the campground, or canoe to a secluded island site. We had chosen to stay in a newly built (but sparse) cabin. On the site we were given firewood, picnic table, pit, latrine, and bunks. The cabin also has a wood stove for those chilly nights (which we had none).

I learned a lot on this weekend trip. If you too think you are a camper, or if you are thinking about taking a Keji camping trip, here are some tips:

1. Plan what time of day you will be hiking. Avoid the hottest parts. We walked in to the site around 1 p.m. It took us 2.5 hours to do it and we were kinda miserable. We made sure to be on the road when we left around 8:30 a.m. and guess what? We knocked an hour off our time!

2. Bring water with you for the hike. I know, you don’t want to add more to your person in regards to weight, but on the hike in we didn’t drink enough water; our legs were jello and my hands actually bloated, I couldn’t make a fist. Again, on the way home, we stopped every kilometre to drink and our bodies felt better.

3. Pack your bag properly and learn how to wear it. Megan walked down her street the night before with her pack and had the store show her how to strap herself in. I did none of that, packed the night before and paid the price. On the way back I learned from Megan how to pack (light on the bottom, weightier items in the middle, light on top) and could definitely feel the difference.

4. Research the essentials you will need. When you are a 10 kilometre walk away from the car and even further from a store, you need to be prepared. Water tablets, light weight stoves, ability to hang your food and bringing something to do (cards, books) are essential to backwoods camping.

5. Just because you are out in the middle of nowhere, doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a good meal! Forget hot dogs and PB&J sandwiches! Megan packed a delicious trout and potato foil dinner that we did on the fire. In the morning she made eggs and bacon on a light weight stove. It’s about being prepared. I pre-wrapped in foil the bananas for the dessert of banana boas. I cooked all the items for our stuffed peppers the night before. I also sectioned everything in large Ziploc bags (I am convinced campers are some of the top purchasers of Ziploc bags).

One of my favorite campfire treats is to bake a cake. You heard that right, a cake. And if you are heading to Keji or another campsite this summer, you can too!

Campfire Cake

Orange campfire cake

Orange campfire cake

Your favorite small cake, batter prepared but not baked
Two large navel oranges

Step 1:
In the morning or at lunch, slice open your orange, segment the pieces with a knife – but don’t slice into the peel! Scoop out the orange and enjoy.

Step 2:
Have a fire going for awhile, you need coals.

Step 3:
Fill each half of your orange with the cake batter

Step 4:
Wrap each half in tin foil, make it a packet

Step 5:
Place packets near or in coals (depending on your coal situation) and cook until batter is firm. Now you have orange flavoured cake!

I love camping, but I have to admit, backwoods camping is not for me. I will say the last lesson from the weekend is to not doubt yourself. Doing something new is scary and hard. I am proud that the Sarah that complained and got angry on the hike up, was singing Girl Guide songs on the way down.


Posted in Camping & Outdoors | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

How many sleeps until camp?

Aug6_BrowniesFirstCampWe signed our Brownie up for a week-long camp experience at Camp Adelaide in the “Outdoor Explorers” program. This was her first sleep-away camp and she was apprehensive about being away from home for so long so we went to the open house prior to her stay. The staff were extremely friendly on our initial visit. They showed us some of the activities the girls would be doing like archery and geocaching and that really piqued her excitement. When we got home she started counting down the “sleeps” until camp.

When we arrived for her first day the camp leader “Nemo” greeted my daughter by name, which I thought was a wonderful touch considering she had met her just briefly the month before during the open house. It immediately made my daughter feel at ease and welcomed. Before I had left for home the leaders had the girls playing games already!

I checked the mailbox every day for letters from her and was not disappointed. They highlighted some hilarious points like “I am having a great time here but had a bad sleep the first night because I kept hearing a mosquito.” She said she loved the time she had every day to write a letter home.

When we picked her up at the end of her camping experience she was already asking if she could go back later this summer. On our three-hour drive home, she regaled us with stories of what they had done that week. During archery she hit the bullseye after a lot of practice. She is still talking about it. Swimming, canoeing  and using the water trampoline on Black Lake were other favourite activities.

I left my Brownie at camp with her not knowing any of the other campers and being away from home for an extended period of time for the first time, and picked up a very happy excited little girl who is 100% more confident in her abilities and has made a dozen new friends, and who wanted to stay for another week. She has memories to last a lifetime and will definitely be going back again!

By guest blogger Brianna Warr-Hunter. Brianna is the mother of a Brownie who is going into her fourth year of Guiding and who enjoys metal detecting, camping and geocaching.

How do you keep the Guiding spirit alive in the summer? Share your story on the blog! Contact us at ggcblog(at)

Posted in Camping & Outdoors | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

This is why I volunteer with Girl Guides: How one girl changed my unit

This story all began when Girl Guides of Canada reached out to me to say that a parent had called looking for a unit for her Guide-aged daughter. Her daughter has Asperger’s and some other disabilities and wanted to make sure the Guiders in her unit would be compassionate and understanding and that she would fit in with the other girls. Of course I said she would be welcome in my unit and that the girls are wonderful and would make her feel welcome too. After hanging up the phone I was totally panicked. I didn’t know what Asperger’s was. I didn’t know if I was prepared to handle a child in our unit with special needs. I had just lost my own son to suicide after a battle with schizophrenia and was not in a position to really ‘be there’ for this girl.

My niece Molly was a former girl member and had just graduated from Queen’s University with a degree in psychology and wanted to work with kids with autism. I called her up and asked her if she would be a Guider with me, and she could work with our new girl. She was excited to do this–it would be great for her resume and she could get some one-on-one experience. Molly and I met our new girl Alexandra and her mom at a coffee shop one afternoon to talk about what we could do to make Guides easier for her. Alexandra was delightful and a bit shy; her mom was warm and kind and explained her disabilities. My worries almost vanished.

Alexandra was in our unit while she was in Grades 5 and 6. She was enthusiastic and wanted to be part of everything. When Alexandra heard about the Lady Baden-Powell Challenge, she said she wanted to earn it. I told her that there would be some catching up to do as she would only have two years in Guides. During the two years, she did some extra work at home and during camps and completed her whole program.

Last October when we had Patrol Leader Elections she was elected Patrol Leader. We have eight girls and it was so heartwarming to see that she was chosen. I was so proud of all of the girls and Alexandra that day. She was a great Patrol Leader. She never missed a meeting, and was kind and generous with the other girls. Every test night Alexandra would come prepared to do a badge. Some that seem so easy for most of the girls were very difficult for her, but she completed many of them.

I know that Guiding helped Alexandra and that she will continue in this organization. It is a safe place where she can be the same as everyone else and truly experience the sisterhood of Guiding. After our meetings ended for the year I received this card from her mother:


Guiding may have changed Alexandra’s life, but Alexandra has also changed all our lives as well.

Aug4LesleySkellyGuest post by Lesley Skelly. Lesley has been a Guider in Toronto for over 30 years. She is retired now and balances her time between her grown family, Girl Guides and her advocacy work in mental health.  

Be sure to check out our resources supporting inclusion and diversity within Guiding:

Posted in Girls' Guides | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

I “Bee-lieve” in Camp!

Photo Courtesy Megan GilchristI spent a lot of my time as a youth member in Girl Guides at camp. Going to Guelph ’93 as a Pathfinder was one of the defining moments of my youth, and one of the main things that kept me in Guiding when friends were drifting off to other activities. Needless to say, I was very excited for my own daughter to experience the fun that is Guide camp.

So when she turned five, I eagerly signed her up for Sparks, but I also looked into options for summer camp. She was keen to go; she’d been waiting for five years to join the fun, having watched Mommy go off to camp with our unit every year. But I also knew that with a new baby sister at home, she had experienced a lot of change in the past year, and probably wasn’t ready to head off to camp on her own.

Photo Courtesy Megan GilchristI was thrilled to find out that there was a great option to introduce her to Guide camp – a “Mom and Me” weekend, offered at many of the Guides Ontario camp properties. I could help ease her into her camp experience, and she’d get Mom all to herself for the weekend!

Photo Courtesy Megan GilchristAfter looking through the information about each camp, we decided on Camp Adelaide. Located on 500 acres near Haliburton, ON, the camp is beautiful. We arrived on Friday afternoon and quickly found our home: Edelweiss, a two-storey building near the centre of the camp. We checked in, selected a room and picked our bunks (Mom was relegated to the bottom), and stored our gear. We got the chance to make some crafts and meet some of the other Moms and Sparks, and then our program got underway!

 Photo Courtesy Megan GilchristEven though it was a weekend camp, we were still able to fit in a lot of activities. Our camp leader, “Honey,” made sure we had a good balance of free time and structured activities. We had time to do camp stuff like swimming, paddle boating, and hiking, and also lots of crafts! We had campfires and s’mores, played games, and hiked out to one of the more remote campsites to look at the lake. The girls ran around, watched bugs, and pretended to make crème brulée in the fire pit!

Photo Courtesy Megan GilchristI loved watching my daughter blossoming at camp. She got to meet and make friends with other girls. She had a great time with the other Sparks, and it was a fantastic introduction for her to what Guiding is all about. A side benefit for me was the chance to actually have a conversation with other grown-ups (not always easy when you’re a mom with young children!). Some of the other moms were also Guiders, but many were not; some had been youth members, and others had not been in Guiding at all. What we all had in common was that we believed in the benefits of Guiding and being at camp, and by the first night, we were all swapping stories and laughing over cups of tea once the girls had gone to bed. One of my favourite memories of the weekend is going with the other moms to learn archery while the girls were in a craft session–which goes to prove you’re never too old to learn something new at camp!

Photo Courtesy Megan GilchristAll too soon the weekend was at an end. I drove home with a very tired, but very happy, Spark. She actually cried when we got home, because she wanted to go back to camp! We’ll be back again this summer, and we both can’t wait for camp to start!

By guest blogger and Guider ‘Glowie’, aka Megan Gilchrist. Megan is the Guider with the the 2nd Niagara on the Lake Brownies. Read Megan’s other contributions to GirlGuidesCANBlog: Geo-What??? Or How to Hunt for Treasure in Your own Backyard, Hands-on History, Every Penny Counts, and “Multi-Branch” Means More Fun!

Posted in Camping & Outdoors | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

In her own words…. Brownies recruiting Brownies

Meet Devon – a Girl Greatness Award recipient who took it upon herself to recruit more Brownies for her unit!

During my first year of Brownies, we only had three girls, but it was still fun! After the advancement, my unit went down to two girls. I decided that I would like more girls to join my unit so we could play more games like Giant’s House.

I told my mom I was going to tell everyone at school and that’s what I did, but no one called to ask questions. I sat and thought how I could get them to join. Then I decided to make a flyer about Brownies and myself and give it out. My principal even suggested I talk to the classes about what Brownies is. I was scared but I did it.


My mom was a Guider and she could answer everyone’s questions and help new girls join. First, I handed out the flyer at my school and two of my friends called the same day! They joined! A couple of days later another girl joined – I was so happy.

I remember my mom saying when she was a Brownie she had girls from different schools in her unit, so we dropped off flyers at two other schools in our area. In the end, six new girls joined my unit. This year was the best year I have had in Guiding, EVER!

Girl Greatness Award Pin

Girl Greatness Award Pin

Guest post by Devon, a Brownie in Ontario and recipient of the Resourcefulness Girl Greatness Award. Meet the rest of our Girl Greatness Awards recipients. 


Posted in Girls' Guides, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

We can be the change

July16_Change1Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  With this statement as a foundation, we challenged our Guides to have the courage to speak out and take action on important issues to make the world a better place. To help the girls realize that they could be powerful advocates of ongoing change, we provided them with many different opportunities throughout the year to make a positive difference in their local communities.  They included dynamic girl-centered activities and initiatives that helped the girls realize that they had an important role in strengthening the future of our world.

The 2nd Telegraph Trail Guides participated in a variety of service projects and community activities this year:

July16_Change2Girl Engagement
At the start of the year, it was essential for the girls to recognize that community service was an integral component of Guiding and that it was one of the components of  the Girl Guide Mission. We encouraged the girls to contribute responsibly to their communities and to make those important connections to the world around them. By getting our Guides out and allowing them to build relationships with their communities, we were hoping that those meaningful experiences would not only engage them, but empower them as well. The girls showed respect for their elders by making Valentines for Vets and Christmas cards for seniors in nursing homes.

Our Guides, along with two other Brownie groups, had a book drive as part of the Words in Action NSP. Over 200 books were donated to a group called “Write to Read,” which helps set up libraries on remote First Nation reserves.

Girl Empowerment
Our Guides worked towards some of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by taking action and increasing Girl Guides of Canada visibility in the community. The powerful and inspirational messages created by WAGGGS helped the girls think about others, while developing a new perspective on their own lives.

July16_Change4MDG 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education
Girls worldwide say, “education opens doors for all girls and boys.” Our Guides took advantage of a bridging activity with the Sparks to fill shoeboxes with school supplies for underprivileged children around the world.

MDG 4: Reduce Child Mortality
Girls worldwide say, “together you can save children’s lives.” Our Guides invited Sparkand Brownie units to make a difference in the lives of people who were going through some hard times. All four units put together four gift baskets filled with diapers, wipes, baby blankets, onesies, baby bottles and formula. The girls drove an hour out to Vancouver to hand-deliver the baby baskets to four families in need at the Newborn Intensive Care Unit at BC Children’s Hospital. The families were overwhelmed with this random act of kindness and were grateful for the very thoughtful gesture. This put smiles on our girls’ faces as they wore their uniforms proudly, knowing that they made someone else’s day brighter.

July16_Change5Environmental Awareness
Girls worldwide say, “we can save our planet.” To promote environmental stewardship and to have a better understanding of sustainable practices, our Guides participated in TD Tree Days and completed the ambitious task of planting over 300 trees with other community members in Surrey. They were in the public’s eye doing something that had a positive impact on their carbon footprint.

The girls then took advantage of the beautiful weather and took action with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup by picking up garbage along a stream by a park in Langley. As part of Trout Unlimited Canada’s conservation initiative, the girls enthusiastically painted yellow fish on the road by storm drains to raise awareness about pollution entering salmon habitats. Once again in the spring, our Guides got outside with some Sparks and Brownies from our district to plant another 200 trees with the financial assistance of a $1,000 GGC Tree Planting Grant from the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation. The girls embraced the opportunity to nurture and help restore the salmon habitat in Fort Langley. All of these girl-centered activities through dynamic programming helped our girls have a better understanding of environmental issues.

July16_Change6We wanted to provide our Guides with many opportunities to succeed – as responsible citizens, critical thinkers, empathetic individuals and resourceful planners. As Guiders, we were there to help support and encourage their growth as young confident leaders of tomorrow.

Guest post by Van Chau, a Unit Guider with the 2nd Telegraph Trail Guides in Langley, BC. She is also the Environmental Specialist on the BC Program Committee.

Posted in Awesome Activities | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Spreading the word – and the fun of Guiding – over the summer

Summertime is a quieter season after a long Guiding year (whew!) but our area is taking advantage of tons of opportunities to have fun in the sun while expanding our programs to reach thousands more girls and women.

West Coast Area Council is growing quickly. As the third-largest area council in Canada, we are lucky to have almost 3,400 amazing girls and women involved in our Guiding programs. Made up of six urban communities including Vancouver, our growth is largely thanks to our outreach efforts and the hard work of volunteers. Our members get out into the community, attend festivals, march in parades, and engage in many other public relations activities.

From the Vancouver International Children’s Festival to the upcoming Pride Festival and countless other events, we have had a jam-packed calendar. Summer is the perfect time for us to recruit new members for September – and you can, too! Here are our top West Coast Area tips for growing your membership this summer:


  1. Decide where to go.

Check out online event calendars of community centres, public libraries, residents’ associations, local newspapers, and family fun listings. Map out where your top recruitment needs are. Do you have lots of spaces available in a new unit? Attend events nearby! Consider your budget, too. Some events are free for non-profits (don’t forget to ask for a special rate), others have a nominal fee, others are more pricey.

Get creative. Even if organizers do not advertise vendor opportunities, let them know the value that Guiding can add to their event. Offer to plan a kids’ craft or game, have Pathfinders or Rangers assist with pre-arranged event activities, or any other idea you can come up with. Event organizers will often waive the fee for a Guiding booth if you can help add something awesome or fill an important need. It’s a win-win for everyone involved!


  1. Prepare for the event.

Recruit your most enthusiastic Guiders and girls to help staff your booth and engage with the public. Plan to have a minimum of three people at your table at any one time. It helps to have one person stand outside the tent to draw in visitors while others chat with potential members in the cool shade.

Gather gear for your booth. A pop-up tent is a ‘must’ in hot weather to keep your volunteers cool and offer shade to visitors passing by. Many events will offer a 10×10 tent for rent or for free to participating organizations, but where possible, bring your own Girl Guide-branded tent. Try to source banners, display boards, and other helpful items. All of these can often be borrowed from your area or province  – get in touch with your public relations advisor or area commissioner.

Pick your promo materials. My go-to giveaways this summer are the girl and adult recruitment brochures and the new rolls of GGC-themed stickers – they can be cut up into individual stickers and handed out to kids, drawing in families to your booth. These items are available from the national Brand Centre. Get in touch with your provincial office for more information.

  1. The big day.

Girl Guides are always prepared! Bring all your gear, get a good sleep the night before, put on your uniform, and be ready to represent our organization. For hot summer days, bring a full water bottle to stay hydrated, a hat (camp hats are perfect and eye-catching for public events), and a few snacks to share with volunteers.

At your booth, deliver a short elevator pitch, ideally 30 seconds long, that answers the following questions:

What makes us unique? What can we offer girls that no other organization can? Why should girls and women be a part of our programs?

When speaking with parents, highlight the exciting, fun, safe, all-female environment we offer, the fabulous role models that girls are mentored by, and the well-rounded activities we participate in. From science to arts, outdoors, camping, service, and so much more, there’s something for all girls!

For potential volunteers, don’t forget to communicate that no experience is required, helpful training is provided, and that Guiders don’t need to be moms themselves –  ‘no kid needed.’ And, of course, that we have tons of fun!

  1. After the event…

Follow-up immediately with any potential members who expressed interest during the community event.

Give cookies and a card to the event hosts and be sure to say a big ‘thank you!’ for the opportunity to grow your local membership.

And, of course, save the date for next year!

By guest blogger Diamond Isinger. Diamond is the West Coast Area Commissioner of the Girl Guides of Canada, public relations advisor, and by day, a communications consultant in Vancouver.

What’s your Guiding story? We’d love to share it on the blog! Send your blog post idea to ggcblog(at)

Posted in Awesome Activities, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The Link Summer Challenge

At the start of June, the Link Challenge was launched for Link members to complete over the course of the summer. The challenge’s theme is staycation and asks members to explore their community and connect with each other. Here’s the Challenge:

• Discover: visit a local museum or historic site
• Celebrate: attend a festival
• Learn: attend a class or workshop
• Give back: volunteer for a cause that’s important to you
• Get outside: go hiking or camping

In order to complete the Link Challenge, do at least three of the activities. They can be done by yourself or you can meet up with other Link members and complete them together! Share your photos on social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter or Instagram) and use the hashtags #GGCLink and #GGC.

While the challenge only requires members to complete three of the five components, I have challenged myself to complete all five throughout the summer. To date I have completed two of the challenges and have had a blast doing them.

Give Back:
July9_LinkChallengeAt the start of June I had the pleasure of volunteering for a second year with Doors Open Halifax, a festival highlighting historic buildings, architecture and culture. The event happens over the course of a weekend allowing people to visit buildings that aren’t usually open to the public. I love volunteering for this event because everyone is always excited to explore buildings they pass by all the time and revisit their favourites.

That is what I love about this event – the opportunity for people of all ages to discover their city and see behind the normally closed doors. This year I was a venue captain and had a chance to support many venues that were new to me, even after living in Halifax all my life. Cities constantly surprise us with the new, the loved and the reimagined; it is this ability to surprise that sparked the idea for this challenge.

For this component of the challenge I attended an event at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (AGNS) called ARTParty. It was a chance for attendees to experience art in a different light through interactive activities including a DIY sunglasses station and a scavenger hunt throughout the gallery. To top it off, the AGNS had a DJ who played music that kept us bouncing wherever we went.

When I first saw the event I was excited because it looked like a fun evening to rediscover a gallery that I loved visiting while growing up in Halifax. I also thought it would be a great opportunity to connect with Link members in Nova Scotia and complete part of the Link Challenge. With that in mind I sent the event information to the Nova Scotia Provincial Link Adviser and I am glad I did!

I had a chance to meet some of the wonderful Link members who I hope to connect with more in the future. We had a great time and, in the end, didn’t want to leave because we were all having such a great time just getting to know each other. I look forward to connecting with these wonderful ladies in the future as I had a blast with them!

How are you participating in the Link Staycation Challenge? Don’t forget to share your pictures using #GGCLink and #GGC. If you haven’t started working on the Challenge yet there is no time like the present to rediscover your community and connect with other Link members!

Have feedback on the challenge or ideas for the next Link Challenge? Send them to me at mbrake(at)!

Guest post by Michelle Brake, GGC’s National Link Specialist, New Brunswick Link Adviser, and a Link member. On top of this she is also a Guider with Ranger and Pathfinder units. Michelle is passionate about Link as a membership activity for members 18/19 to 30 years old.

Posted in Awesome Activities | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Being Gay in Guiding: How Guiding Supported Me When I Came Out, and How I Helped Make My Unit a Safer Place

In the beginning of my second year as a Pathfinder, I figured out that I was gay. Being in the closet was really hard for me. I felt like I was hiding such a big part of myself from everyone else. I was worried that if I came out, the other Pathfinders or even the leaders wouldn’t want me in the unit. Finally, I decided to ask my leaders. I made up a story about how I had a gay friend who wanted to join Pathfinders. I was so worried that my leader would say that she wasn’t welcome. Instead my leader told me something I’ll never forget: “Girl Guides accepts any girl no matter what.”

July7_BeingGayinGuidingLater that year at district camp, I decided I was ready to come out to my unit.  Over midnight snacks of hot chocolate and porridge, I came out. The words flew out of my mouth before I knew what I was going to say. “My name is Nerissa,” I said, “and I am gay.” Immediately, there was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. A weight I didn’t even know was there. My friends and leaders were more supportive than I could have ever imagined.

After coming out at Pathfinders, I was far more confident and able to be myself. Coming out inspired me to get involved in the LGBTQ+ community. I am now in my school’s Gay Straight Alliance (GSA). Through the GSA, I have helped to plan and initiate several events such as Pink Day assemblies for over 500 people, and Pride Speak Presentations for elementary schools.

As a third year, I joined a new Pathfinder unit. Right away I decided that I wanted to make sure that our unit was a safe and inclusive space for LGBTQ+ girls. I organized for QMUNITY, our local queer community centre, to offer a “Pride Speak” presentation for our unit at the beginning of the year. At the presentation, our unit learned about everything from gender identity and sexual orientation to gender roles and sexism. I feel like the presentation was really successful for our unit.  It led to  great discussions both after the presentation and all throughout the year.

In September, I will be starting  Rangers. My goals are once again to try and make our unit as safe as possible for LGBTQ+ girls. I also want to reach out to people in Guiding, not only in my district, but my province, and country. I want to help them make Guiding safer for everyone in the queer community. Making sure that your unit is safe for LGBTQ+ girls is easier than you think. Here are some tips!

  • Heterosexism is when you assume that everyone is straight. It seems like a harmless thing to do, but it can be a very negative experience for queer people. Especially if they are still in the closet. For example, when talking about healthy relationships, don’t always say “your boyfriend.” Try using the word “partner” instead.
  • Organize a presentation from a local queer community centre. It’s not just for older girls – they often have age-appropriate presentations for girls as young as Sparks.
  •  Know what to do if a girl comes out to you. If a girl comes out to you, be supportive! It’s important to ask them if they’ve come out to their parents, because being accidentally “outed,” especially to family, can be devastating.

Guest post by Nerissa K. She is a first year Ranger in B.C. and recipient of the 2015 Confidence Girl Greatness Award. Nerissa has also recently received her Canada Cord.

Posted in Girls' Guides, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

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.

Posted in Awesome Activities, Camping & Outdoors | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.


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)

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

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, 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.

Posted in Girls' Guides | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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.


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Girls' Guides | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

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.

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.


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.

Posted in Girls' Guides | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

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

Posted in Girls' Guides | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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 what it was like to have a disability. We searched the room 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, or 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!

Interested in doing an accessibility audit of your meeting space? Check out Activity 1 in our Instant Meeting for International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Dec 3.

Posted in Girls' Guides | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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.


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.



Posted in Girls' Guides | Tagged , | 1 Comment

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.


Posted in Volunteering | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

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.

Posted in Opening the Vaults | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

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.


Posted in Girls' Guides | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

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. 

Posted in Camping & Outdoors | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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.


Posted in Awesome Activities | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Camping & Outdoors | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

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)


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


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)

Posted in Opening the Vaults | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment