Feeling Safe

kathrynlyonsnov2016-v1I’ve been thinking a lot more about safety and inclusivity lately. This *might* have something to do with recent world events, but it’s personal, too. Just the other day, at work, in a room full of peers, superiors, and contractors, I was forced to justify some very personal choices and reveal a part of my identity that I didn’t want to. As I looked around the room, growing more uncomfortable and feeling more judged by the second, I realized I didn’t know who my allies were, if indeed I had any. I have never had this experience in my Guiding Life – quite the opposite is true. I feel safe, supported and valued for who I am and how I choose to present myself.

There are a whole bunch of reasons why I am involved in Guiding. It’s the fun. It’s the outlet for my crafty side. It’s the connection to my mother and my daughter and my sisters-in-Guiding But the one I care about most deeply is Guiding’s values of safety, inclusion and empowerment for girls and women.

I try, in my words and in my actions, to embody those values – especially at Brownies – but also in all parts of my life. I choose to say ‘parent’ instead of ‘mom and dad’ to include all types of families. I tell people that Guiding is open to anyone who identifies as a girl or woman. We choose not to celebrate the dominant holidays at Brownies – but we most definitely party and celebrate!

I plan meals and snacks so that we offer something that everyone can eat. We allow for multiple ways to participate in activities and forms of expression. I gently challenge Brownies when I think I’ve heard something unkind, or I think there might be a more positive way to resolve a conflict. I try to be conscious of my own limitations, blind spots and assumptions. I listen. I am sure I miss the mark sometimes. When I do, if you have the capacity to let me know, please tell me and help me grow.

I sincerely hope that my words and actions in Guiding and the rest of my life project that I am a safe person who values inclusion. Having been on the other side recently – feeling unsafe – has made me all the more committed to keep trying.

Guest post by Kathryn Lyons, with the 12th Ottawa Guiding Group, Sandy Hill, Ottawa. Check out her previous posts: Big ‘mistakes’ make good memories;  Small actions for inclusionManaging Friend DramaSustainable crafting: Or, what can we do with all of that leftover fleece?;  How do you organize all your Guiding stuff? 

promise_webNew! GGC’s ReACTion: Stand Up programming encourages girls to raise their voices, stand together and act for the changes they wish to see. Recent events in the news, both at home and in the United States, have left many feeling confused, excluded and even fearful. Stand Up encourages girls to recognize their strengths, share their values and to feel empowered to speak out about the issues that are important to them.

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Say No to Violence – end of discussion

16 Days of Action to Eliminate Violence Against Women started on Friday, Nov. 25. We’re highlighting girls’ voices on social media throughout the 16 Days. Check out what Rishi has to say:   

nov25_rishisaynoLiving in Canada, we often believe ourselves to be above sexism. But are we really? As girls and young women, we’re told that “maybe engineering isn’t the right place for you to be, with all those smart boys. Do you really think you can compete with them?” We tell girls that they should be careful walking alone at night. We tell girls that they shouldn’t dress or behave in a certain way for fear of attracting the wrong type of attention.

But why?

Why do girls and women have to be the ones to be careful? Why do girls and women have to think twice about what they wear? Shouldn’t it be everyone’s responsibility to make women and girls – and all individuals – feel safe in their communities? We shouldn’t have to think twice about where we walk at night. We shouldn’t have to second guess what we choose to wear.

Why do we keep our girls from pursuing the careers they want? Yes, the glass ceiling does exist, and yes, there are many boys in engineering who believe they dominate in the field. All the more reason to prove that girls are just as strong and capable. We can show the world that we as girls and young women are just as good. We have every right to be there – in the science labs, in the corporate office, on Parliament Hill. End of discussion.

How can we change this?

We as a community of Girl Guides are doing so much to promote equal opportunities for females everywhere, whether it’s encouraging girls to explore STEM careers or strong leadership roles. The support we provide and receive in Guiding is invaluable. But we need to spread this positive message throughout society. We can do this by challenging gender roles in our everyday lives and not being afraid to stand up for what we believe in, and for our rights. That’s what I’ll be doing during the 16 Days of Action and every other day going forward – standing up for my rights as a young woman in Canada.

Guest post by Rishi Ilangomaran, who recently completed Rangers and is now  studying to be an engineer at the University of Waterloo. She started as a Pathfinder in 2012 and in four short years, traveled to British Columbia and Mexico with Girl Guides, has been an active member of the Ontario Girl Forum, and has sold a significant number of cookies. She str16-daysongly prefers chocolatey mint to the classic flavour (especially when frozen :P).

Share your answers on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram in a visual way. Ideas: Hold up a speech bubble or write your answers on a whiteboard and post a photo. Or make a short video! Be sure to use hashtag #16days and tag us so we can share.

Unit Guiders: Check out our Say No to Violence Challenge, and the core programming connections for incorporating 16 Days into your unit’s activities.

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Work hard. Be kind. That is all.

be-you“You’re not good enough.”

“You don’t try hard enough.”

“You don’t fit in.”

These are messages that girls hear not only from society, but often from each other and themselves as well. I volunteer with a Guide and Pathfinder unit and when I saw the new Be You challenge, I knew that it was exactly what our tweens needed.

When we were out in the community a few weeks ago, we thought it was the perfect time to do one of the Be You activities and a service project that would hopefully have an impact on the girls, too.

nov22_beyougirlsworkingWe started by trying to define a “perfect girl.” One of my co-Guiders, Lindsay, and I each took a piece of paper and prepared to write down their suggestions. Unbeknownst to the girls, we’d agreed that Lindsay would write down anything superficial and I would keep track of the elements that had more to do with a girl’s personality. I’m proud to say that they saw through our ruse and Lindsay’s paper stayed blank for the first 10 minutes or so of the discussion.

At that point, we refocused and emphasized that we were also looking for what they felt society says the perfect girl should be. They had no trouble filling up Lindsay’s page then. There’s no doubt that they’re flooded with conflicting messages.

The goal of the service project that we then completed was to make people in the community smile and to remind them that the voices around them and in their heads aren’t always true — they are good enough!

We handed out pieces of paper that had some basic information about Girl Guides and the Be You challenge as well as tear-off strips at the bottom. The girls wrote happy thoughts and sayings on the strips that people could read and take with them to brighten their days.

nov22_beyoucutoutsSome of their favourites were:

  • Love yourself as much as you love Girl Guide cookies!
  • Work hard. Be kind. That is all.
  • Be somebody who makes everyone feel like a somebody.
  • Do something wonderful. People may imitate it.
  • You can’t make everybody happy. You’re not a jar of Nutella.

We stuck the papers up inside bathroom stalls in a university building and have already heard stories of people finding and loving them! It was the perfect mix of program, Guiding PR and service!

Lizzie is a Guider with the 1st Milton Park Guiding Unit in Montreal. She has also been a Guider in Guelph and Sudbury, Ontario and is currently the Communications and PR Coordinator for Guides Québec. Some of her previous blog posts include Guiding the Way to STEM, The Hair Petition, The More We Get Together and What Jeans Are Good For.

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

sangam_50th_logo_gold-2e16d0ba-fill-630x474-c50This fall, the Sangam World Centre is celebrating its 50th anniversary! To mark this milestone, we’re re-posting this blog with tips on helping girls feel connected to Sangam and the global sisterhood of Guiding.


Though Sangam is far away, you can bring a bit of the World Centre’s spirit to your unit through a Sangam-themed meeting. When you run a meeting about Sangam, you are helping girls learn about global Guiding and introducing them to the opportunities that the World Centres offer. Here are some activities that you can use to give your girls a taste of Sangam. Most of these activities can be modified for use with each branch.

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

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

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

Plan an imaginary trip to Sangam
Older girls can use Sangam’s website to research opportunities to go to Sangam as an event or community program participant, volunteer or intern. Ask girls to plan an itinerary and determine what clothes to pack. Pathfinders and Rangers could research visa requirements and make a budget based on the current exchange rate. Younger girls can learn about activities Sangam guests can try and draw pictures of what they would like to do if they visited Sangam.

Sangam_games

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

Learn Come into Sangam and sing it with your unit
Lyrics, sheet music and an audio file of the Sangam song are available here. You can also learn Sangam’s 50th Anniversary song, Sangam We Belong. An audio file is available here.

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

Sangam_elephantMake your own Sangalee
Show your girls Sangam’s mascot, Sangalee the elephant, on the Sangam website. Plan an elephant craft for girls to make their own Sangalee.

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

The Thinking Day Tree at the Sangam World Centre.

The Thinking Day Tree at the Sangam World Centre.

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


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

 

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Spicing up the program

At a recent unit meeting, we tapped into our Guides’ creativity by having them design and market their own potato chip flavours. I made a trip to the store to buy all the spices and flavourings and went a little crazy. Savoury and sweet spices, spice mixes like tandoori and teriyaki, soup and gravy mixes, even cocoa, sugars and chai tea. It took 15 minutes at the check-out, but the cashier was a former girl member, and as we spoke about the sorts of things we’d been doing with the girls, she requested information on how she could get involved as an adult. Yay!  (Bonus:nov15_girlchipad the bill was only $9!)

The girls were given sandwich-size zip-top bags half-filled with lightly salted potato chips. In patrols, they were called into the kitchen and given the opportunity to place small amounts of spices into their bags. They were given only two rules – they could not design a chip flavour that already existed, and they would be expected to sample their flavour! If the girls were unsure what a spice was, we encouraged them to smell it, and then smell the spices they were thinking of mixing it with, to determine whether it would work for their product.

nov15_spices

After each girl had their first go at the spices and sampled their flavour, they had the chance to re-engineer their product. I’d made up my own seasonal flavour, ‘Turkey Dinner,’ and went around offering girls a sample and asking to try theirs. Their flavours and product names were even better than I could’ve imagined. One girl had even created another seasonal flavour, ‘Sweet Pumpkin Pie Latte.’ (In GGC we know the marketing value of seasonal products!) They shared samples in patrols and really built each other up.

nov15_mktgchipsAfter they had tweaked their flavours, we set them to work designing a marketing scheme for their product. Some girls designed packaging, others jingles or TV advertisements. We finished the meeting with a sharing circle, where each of them marketed their chips to the other girls. Their ads were hilariously awesome. Even the shyest girls were eager to participate! It was by far our best meeting yet.

The icing on the cake was when my husband went shopping the following weekend and came home with a bag of ‘Turkey Stuffing’ chips – virtually identical to my ‘Turkey Dinner’ flavour! Our ‘fun’ meeting was developing a relevant skill!😉

Guest post by Cathy Hirose. Cathy loved so much what Guiding did for her own daughters, she just had to join GGC!  She is a Sparks and Guide Guider in Winnipeg. She has a degree in biochemistry, but her love is mentoring youth.

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The rewards of volunteering are real

August_GoTEamSparks_BethIn my role as District Commissioner, I often take advantage of the incredible opportunity to visit units. So when I walked into a unit meeting with the 2nd Dartmouth Guides, several of the girls yelled, “Hi, Giggles!” I smiled as I saw so many familiar faces. So many of my former Sparks had become Guides. The more I looked around, the more faces I recognized.

When I asked how many of them had been my Sparks, 16 hands went up. Sixteen of the 18 girls there had been my Sparks. One of them said, “Do you remember that time at camp when you unrolled the paper towel and put it on your back and ran around yelling, ‘Super Giggles!’? I laughed and said I did. I told them I did that because I saw that one of them was about to cry due to homesickness and I wanted to distract her.

“That was me,” one of the Guides said. “I was the one who was about to cry. I think I would have gone home if you hadn’t done that.”

I smiled at her and another Guide said, “That was the camp when we saw all those forget-me-nots by the building and you made us a craft with a picture of them and a piece of paper towel with ‘Super Giggles’ on it.”

“I remember that,” I said.

“I still have that craft!” one of girls yelled. Her voice was followed by a chorus of, “Me, too!” and “So do I!” and “It’s on my hat!” (It’s on my hat, too).

I have been a Guide Guider, a Brownie Guider, and for the last several years, a Spark Guider. I love all the branches for completely different reasons. People tell me Sparks is “easiest” – and  I think any branch can be “easiest” if it suits you. We can all find a place to belong in Guiding.

To know that those 16 girls continued in Guiding makes my heart smile. Before I left I told them that even though they were no longer my Sparks, they would always be my girls. One of them said, “Oh, we know, Giggles. We’ll always keep you in our hearts, too.”

I turned away with tears in my eyes. Every one of my girls remains in my heart. It’s amazing to know that they have a spot for me in theirs, as well.

Guest post by Beth (a.k.a. Giggles), the District Commissioner for Banook in Nova Scotia, a Guider with the 4th Dartmouth Sparks and also for 1st Highfield Sparks/Brownies, and a Trainer with Dartmouth Shore Area. 

 

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So many Pokémon, so many ways

Pokémon GO became available in Canada just as Guiding Mosaic 2016 was ending, and I’ve been playing ever since I got home from camp in Alberta. Here are 10 ways to incorporate Pokémon GO into your unit’s activities:

  1. Map reading/orienteering. Using the map view on your phone or tablet will give the girls experience in orienting themselves to a map.
  2. Historical/cultural sites. Many Pokéstops are located at historical or cultural sites. Take your girls on a walk of discovery. In my community of Fredericton, I discovered monuments I didn’t even know were in my neighbourhood._mg_1046
  3. While Sparks won’t be creating their own Pokémon GO accounts, Pathfinders or Rangers might. Start a conversation about the kinds of information you share online.
  4. Environmental concerns. Combine a Pokémon GO walk with a litter chase. Examine how different species of Pokémon are adapted to different environments. Figure out how to look for Pokémon in various environments while being as unobtrusive as possible.
  5. Plan an enrollment or advancement with a Pokémon theme. Sparks can evolve into Brownies, or Pathfinders can evolve into Rangers.
  6. Make Pokémon out of modeling clay. Knit or crochet Pokéball hats. Invent your own Pokémon. There are myriad patterns available.
  7. Give each group a Pokémon name and refer to Guiders as Trainers. Make Pokémon-themed treats or collect stardust for doing challenges.
  8. Street sense. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in hunting Pokémon that you don’t watch where you’re going. A Pokémon GO walk can teach your girls how to pay attention to their surroundings.
  9. Public courtesy. Discuss how to play without trespassing, blocking the sidewalk or being unnecessarily noisy.
  10. Manga and anime. Are you or your girls into manga or anime? Discussing Pokémon can be a gateway to other facets of Japanese culture. For the older girls, it’s a great opportunity to open a discussion on how girls and women are depicted in anime, manga and conventional comics.

hula2Guest post by Faith Cormier, a Spark and Ranger Guider in Fredericton. Faith is also a Trainer and loves to camp. 

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Sometimes, we all need a life preserver thrown our way (literally!)

When the phone rings before the morning alarm, panic sets in…

“Hello?”

“Mom…”

I could sense my daughter’s tears before she said the next words, “I’m in trouble.” As a parent, with a university student living 1,400 km away, nothing can be more terrifying.

“What’s wrong baby?” Holding my breath; not even being able to imagine a situation in which one of my children would call me in the wee hours of the morning with nothing more than sobs and those three words, I wait…

emma-and-kris

 

My Guiding-lifer daughter is studying Outdoor Recreation and Education in Thunder Bay, Ontario. One of her courses, which she lovingly calls “Guiding 101” involves a three-day canoe trip, departing at 8:15 a.m. Her Guiding experience and love of travel have put her into a leadership role with her classmates and has been recognized by her instructor. With 90 minutes until the bus leaves, she has realized that her personal floatation device (PFD) is 1,400 km away, at home. Without a PFD she can’t participate and would receive a failing grade.

We devise a plan which includes a possible taxi ride to Walmart at 7:00 a.m., an email to the professor and a me calling a past Ranger. Three shots in the dark…I’m hoping for some sunshine!

For 25 years I have worked with Pathfinders and Rangers. When I was a first-year Guider, my Rangers were only two to four years younger than me; I became a big-sister to most. One of these young ladies moved and remained in Thunder Bay over two decades ago. I’ve seen her on occasion, but years can pass between our contacts. She knew Emma was living in Thunder Bay and when I unceremoniously woke her at 6:30 a.m., she answered her phone knowing there was a problem and that she was ready to step in. “Hi, what’s wrong?”

I explained that nothing was “wrong,” just time sensitive. I asked her if she owned a PFD and if there was any way she could deliver it within the next 60 minutes to the university. She laughed. She laughed!!!! My kidlet was in tears, my heart was still racing from the “I’m in trouble” comment, and SHE LAUGHED!

She promptly assured me she’d have it delivered before their bus departed, and she did. Not only did she deliver the PFD, she delivered a subconscious message to my daughter (aside from “moms can fix anything”). My daughter experienced – first hand – the sisterhood that I have spoken about for 25 years as an adult Guider. She witnessed a “stranger” coming to her rescue without expectation, without reward and without a second thought – all in the name of Guiding sisterhood.

oct18_kris-mcgee-dpc-administrationGuest post by Kris McGee, a Guider and Deputy Provincial Commissioner, Administration with Ontario Council.

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Boo! Cooking for a cause

oct31_ironchefgroup
Iron Chef is West Coast Area’s annual Halloween-themed outdoor cooking competition for Pathfinders, Rangers and adults. The 1st Burnaby Lakes Pathfinders have been attending the competition for the past five years and every year they have a blast! The girls work in teams to prepare a three-course meal (appetizer, main dish and dessert) – and it’s hands-off for their Guiders. The ingredients are selected like a hockey draft and then the teams get cooking. The girls really get to stretch their creativity and work on team building and outdoor cooking skills. Each team also brings in donations for a local food bank so we’re having fun and participating in community service.

We always enjoy the different themes and the “special ingredients” that each dish has incorporated into it. This year’s event was pirate themed and the special ingredient was an “ARRRR” item (red bean, ricotta, etc.).

Here’s what the Pathfinders had to say about the event:

oct31ironchefcooking“It was pretty hectic at some points in time! We had a lot of fun, even though our team didn’t win.” – Sarah

“We got to make such cool creations and you are always thinking on your feet. Coming up with new ideas for cooking dishes out of the food you get. Sometimes it’s a fail, but it’s super fun anyways.  I can’t wait to do it again next year!” – Holly

“I had a great time at the Iron Chef competition. This was my first time at an event like this, so I didn’t know what to expect. In the end I had an amazing time and made delicious and healthy meals. I would definitely recommend this event to all my friends from school and from my other extra-curricular activities.” – Matina

“What a great experience! I got to learn with other people and how to work as a team! I also made new friends with other Pathfinders from different units! I loved the experience!!” – Bianca

Guest post by Courtney Eastman and Heather Reandy, Guiders with the 1st Burnaby Lakes Pathfinders who both started Guiding when they were six years old and have never stopped! They are dedicated volunteers who also work with a Sparks unit. They are very enthusiastic when it comes to camping and the outdoors, spending as much time as possible with their units in nature.

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Campfire on the Hill

Imagine 500 of your closest Guiding friends, one big campfire, an unbeatable location, and surprise guests who are truly living the Guiding Promise to “take action for a better world.” That’s pretty much what happened at this year’s Girl Guide campfire on Parliament Hill.

oct27_campfirepano

Every year, Ottawa Girl Guides gather on the third Wednesday of October for fun, friendship and adventure, singing songs around Canada’s best-known fire – the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill. The 2016 celebration was perhaps the best yet, with spectacular fall weather, a huge crowd, and many special guests.

Guider Vicky Wallace, better known as Thumper in her job as year-round Camping Programs Supervisor at Camp Woolsey, created a terrific program of songs to keep the crowd active and engaged. With her 12th Qu’appelle Rangers, they led the crowd in a lively singalong for an hour on a beautiful autumn evening. Girls came together from all over the greater Ottawa region, travelling on foot, using transit and school buses, all to converge upon Parliament Hill en masse!

oct27_campfiregirls

Hosting a campfire right on the Hill was especially convenient for some of the evening’s attendees, whose offices were just steps away. Guiding is currently very well-represented in the House of Commons and Senate of Canada. As the gender balance continues to improve in our federal government and more women take their seats, the caucus of former Girl Guides has grown to more than 20 Members of Parliament. With their fond memories of Guiding in mind, these MPs and many other friends of our organization gladly accepted our invitation to say hello after evening votes in the House of Commons concluded.

The keen campfire-goers who came to sing and dance included: Patty Hajdu, Minister for the Status of Women; Anju Dhillon, Parliamentary Secretary for the Status of Women; Peter Schiefke, Parliamentary Secretary for Youth; Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister; and over 15 other MPs, parliamentary secretaries, and ministers.

oct27_anjudhillon

MP Anju Dhillon enjoys the music at GGC’s campfire on Parliament Hill.

A few highlights from our Guides-turned-MPs:

  • Parliamentary Secretary Gudie Hutchings earned her Canada Cord during her 15 years as a member
  • MP Sheri Benson completed her fire safety Guide badge and even still goes by the nickname “Safety Sher”
  • MP Bernadette Jordan enjoyed Brownies and Guides, then gave back to girls as an adult by becoming a Guider
  • MP Alaina Lockhart made great connections with Guiding in her eight years as a girl member, and now has a daughter completing the Guiding program
  • MP Lisa Raitt was awarded with her first aid badge and many more as a Guide member
  • MP Hedy Fry was enrolled in Brownies through Rangers in Trinidad and went on to become a Tawny Owl
  • MP Sonia Sidhu became a keen hiker as a Junior and Senior Leader in India
  • Parliamentary Secretary Joyce Murray joined her local Brownie unit after immigrating to Canada, which helped her quickly settle into her new home and life in Vancouver
  • MP Alexandra Mendès logged over 50 nights of camping adventures in just four years as a member in Portugal

Those experiences have strengthened their ability to confidently lead, and lucky for us, have strengthened Guiding’s connections to decision-makers in our nation’s capital. Girls can be inspired by the diverse female role models who have walked in their same footsteps as Girl Guides, song-singers, camp-goers, adventure-seekers and more, who are now taking on vital roles in public service.

oct27_campfireparliamentbldg

These inspirational women have taken to heart their life-long Promise to be true to themselves, their beliefs, and Canada, as they take action for a better world by representing their communities. Once a Girl Guide, always a Girl Guide!

Guest post by Diamond Isinger. Diamond  is an Ottawa Guider, keen camper and communicator. Recently transplanted from Vancouver, she previously served as West Coast Area Commissioner and PR Advisor, sharing stories of girl greatness. Check out her previous posts: Meet Charlie; Girl Guide cookies + green activities = a sweet combo!

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100 Years Strong – GGC Receives Heritage Plaque

Today, Girl Guides of Canada–Guides du Canada (GGC) received an incredible historic honour – we were presented with a Heritage Plaque from the Government of Canada recognizing our impact on girls and women over the past century. To celebrate this momentous occasion we hosted an unveiling ceremony with Parks Canada at the GGC national office in Toronto. In attendance were current girl members and Unit Guiders; our Chief Commissioner Pamela Rice and CEO Jill Zelmanovits; past GGC Chief Commissioners; and the first Canadian female astronaut and lifetime GGC member Dr. Roberta Bondar.

heritage_group

For more than 100 years, Guiding has been the place where girls and young women can challenge themselves, put their ideas into action, and gain the skills that allow them to fulfill their potential. Over seven million Canadian girls and women have been involved in Guiding – and they have gone on to do extraordinary things. They are our mothers, our neighbours, our doctors, engineers, police officers, entrepreneurs and artists. They are our mentors, volunteers and leaders, active in every aspect of our communities and society. They are our trailblazers and change makers and mark many firsts for females in Canada.

Trailblazers like Dr. Bondar, who addressed the guests at our national office and on Facebook Live. She mentioned that the very first wings she ever earned were her Brownie wings, and that they are still an inspiration to this day – in fact they travelled with her on the Discovery mission.

“I’ve had some pretty amazing experiences in Guiding,” said Andrea Chakma, a Ranger and Girl Assistant with the 285th Guides in Mississauga, who also spoke during the ceremony. “It has empowered me to be the best that I can be and continue to learn and explore different avenues of life. I’ve had the chance to get out of my comfort zone and try new things. I truly believe that without Guiding I would not be the person I am today. It’s taught me – and thousands of other girls – that I can do anything I set my mind to.”

Empowering, challenging and inspiring – that’s what Guiding is about.

roberta_bondar“Know that you have one thing in common,” Dr. Bondar concluded. “You believe in
yourselves. And you believe in opening up the world to others through the eyes of a confident, beautiful human being. That’s what Guides has given me, and I know that’s what Guides is giving you.”

Today we truly celebrated the power of girls, and the fact that Guiding will continue to make a mark on Canada – and the world – one girl at a time.

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The chance to make a change: Are you ready!?

In reading this blog post, be prepared to be very excited! Girl Guides of Canada is currently recruiting for our first ever National Youth Council! Let me repeat that: First. Ever. National. Youth. Council.

Instagram_Youth_Council.jpg

Applications are now open for girls in Rangers to get involved in this amazing new opportunity. What will the council do? Basically, members of the National Youth Council will provide their insights and opinions to help to determine the future of Guiding in Canada. What could be better than that?

The council’s main goal is to give girls the chance to have a voice in our organization. After all, girls are the most fundamental part of Guiding. GGC wants to learn about the issues that really matter to girls, and the issues that girls face in their daily lives.

We want you to tell us what you want from Guiding. What activities do you want to see more of? What issues do you want to take action on? How do you think we can engage more girls and make Girl Guides more popular? How do we make Girl Guides a more diverse community of girls?

Girl Guides of Canada is focused on fostering girls who are the leaders of tomorrow. But I think that if given the opportunity, girls are also the leaders of today! And this is your chance to put your leadership skills to work and lead Girl Guides of Canada into the future! As Chair of the council, I can’t wait to be amazed by your innovative insights and opinions about how to continue Guiding Greatness!

We are looking for Rangers who are passionate about Guiding and looking to play a leadership role in the organization. Applications close on Sunday, October 30 – so don’t forget to apply or to tell your unit about this amazing opportunity.

oct18_madeleineGuest post by Madeleine Deschenes. Madeleine is a Guider for a Sparks unit in Kingston, ON, and  Chair, National Youth Council. She is in her third year studying Kinesiology at Queen’s University. She is ecstatic to have the opportunity to develop the Youth Council and to have the chance to meet all the amazing Rangers who will apply to be a part of the council!

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Be prepared… for bears

Over the past few years I’ve heard from many friends, family and members of the community that they’re always wondering when Girl Guides will come to their door selling Girl Guide cookies. So when cookie delivery day in Sudbury landed on our meeting night, we didn’t waste a minute in bringing the girls door-to-door in the neighborhood where we meet.

We started our cookie blitz meeting the same way we always do,  by having the third-year Guides prep the rest of girls on how to go door-to-door:

  • Step 1: Ring the door bell, then step back – if they don’t have a door bell, knock three times and step back.
  • Step 2: Sing the ABC’s quietly. If no one answers the door,  then move to the next house.

Once each patrol was ready, they picked up their cases and headed out the door with a Guider.

oct13_bearWe were having a great night cookie selling. This was the first year in a long time that it hasn’t rained on us. To top it off it was actually warm.

But then, as one of our Guides, Samara, approached our twentieth house or so, I heard:

“Uh, Tanya…”

To which I replied: “Yah, Sammie?”

“Uhm, that’s a bear!”

So of course I rounded the car and sure enough, this is what I see:

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(Keep in mind we are in the middle of suburbia.)

“Yeah Sammie, that’s a bear! I want you to back up slowly, meet up with the other team.”

oct13_bear3Regrouping with the other four teams, we sadly headed back to the church with only two cases sold.

Although it was not our best cookie blitz ever, I know that 20 years from now, the girls will all remember and share the story of that cookie blitz.

Guest post by Tanya Taylor, a Guide and Trex Guider in Sudbury, ON. Tanya is also a Trainer and volunteers on many specialty groups within the Sudbury Guiding community. 

Do you have a one-of-a-kind Guiding story to share on the blog? Email us! ggcblog(at)girlguides.ca

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An investment in girls is an investment in our future

oct11_dayofgirl1This summer I took my nine-year-old daughter, Helen, to Kenya for the African Regional Conference of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). While in the capital of Nairobi, Helen met Brownies and Guides and young leaders from across Africa.

Confession: I thought Helen would find interaction with the African Girl Guides fun and interesting but, if I was being honest, I wondered if a Girl Guide from Canada would have little in common with a Girl Guide from Kenya

The truth: Helen actually statistically has MORE in common with a GIRL from Nairobi (or Mumbai or Budapest or Bogota) than a BOY from Canada.

oct11_dayofgirl2Despite huge global differences in access to education, food and medical treatment, girls as a demographic are united in disproportionately facing barriers such as violence, discrimination and poverty. Unless addressed, these barriers make it impossible for girls to reach their full potential. Girl Guides of Canada–Guides du Canada (GGC) is addressing these barriers by enabling girls to be confident, resourceful and courageous, and to make a difference in the world.

Today, we join girls across the world celebrating International Day of the Girl. This is a powerful day when the world stops and considers the importance of social, economic, and political investment in the power of girls as fundamental to breaking the intergenerational transmission of poverty, violence, exclusion and discrimination – and to achieving equitable and sustainable development outcomes.

Why is investment in girls so important? Because they have the potential to change the world – as the mothers, educators, law-makers and CEOs of the future. Investing in girls now means an investment in an equitable future.

As members of GGC, each girl is one in a team of 90,000, but as members of WAGGGS, each girl is one in a team of 10 million girls. That is 10 million girls all connected by one promise, one mission and one goal – to make this world a better place for girls.

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You can celebrate International Day of the Girl with your unit in two ways! Check out the GGC Make a Difference Day International Day of the Girl Instant Meeting. The meeting focuses on UN Sustainable Development Goal number 5 – Gender Equality by Closing the Gap between boys and girls engaged in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Crests are available here. Or, visit the WAGGGS site and join #teamgirl by participating in their International Day of the Girl campaign.

Happy International Day of the Girl!

By Jill Zelmanovits, CEO, Girl Guides of Canada–Guides du Canada. Jill has served in many positions with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts and is a strong proponent of Guiding’s ability to empower girls to be the best they can be.    

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STEM and the gender gap: Let’s balance the equation

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STEM – science, technology engineering and math. When we think of these things, we still typically picture men doing these jobs. While many women do in fact have careers in these fields, it still for some reason seems like a taboo career choice. As a young woman who will be graduating from high school in June and who’s thinking about going into chemistry, it is very important to me that we start closing the gap between men and women in STEM. That’s why I’m so thankful for Girl Guides.

Being a Girl Guide has pushed me to recognize that studying chemistry is an excellent choice. Many young girls need to realize that we NEED more women in STEM. Men and women think differently, and by having both men and women in STEM, they can combine their ideas into one. More women are needed to pursue STEM careers so we can shatter the myth of ‘that’s only a career for men.’ By reassuring young girls that wanting to be the next mathematical genius or the inventor of the cure for cancer is okay, they begin to gain confidence in themselves and feel empowered to pursue their goals.

Girl Guides of Canada–Guides du Canada (GGC) has always been there, helping me discover new career options and encouraging me to follow my dreams. Whether through some of my Guiders who work in STEM or through programming we have done, I’ve discovered that women are in fact needed to help make scientific advances. This year, STEM is the focus of GGC’s International Day of the Girl Instant Meeting programming.

Every girl should have access to STEM – it’s crucial. It can be through hands-on learning experiences, or even just taking one simple math class. That one simple math or science class could change their whole life. Girls need opportunities to discover all of the amazing aspects of STEM, all of the incredible career opportunities, and how STEM leads to so many advances in the world. Not only is STEM changing the world, the women in STEM are, too. If every girl in the world had access to learning one tiny branch of STEM, there would be many more women studying in these fields.

I was lucky enough to be introduced to chemistry in grade 9. From the moment I learned the periodic table and what the elements meant, and how to form bonds and balance equations, I knew it was what I wanted to do. I had never been interested in science until chemistry. As my interest grew, people began saying how incredible it was ‘that I was a girl going into sciences’ and ‘wow, you’re brave for doing that.’ But why should it be incredible, and why should I be brave for doing something that I think is interesting? It should just be considered normal for me to want to pursue science.

Every year, we get closer to closing the gap between men and women in STEM. One day, the gap will be completely gone and there will be no more ‘what a brave young women you are for doing science.’ Because it isn’t brave, it’s just someone following their passion.

Guest post by Olivia Trivett, a 17-year-old Ranger from Halifax who recently received her Chief Commissioner’s Gold Award. Olivia hopes to study chemistry, and eventually research pharmaceutical drugs in her own research lab. Check out her previous blog post, Marching with Pride.

idg_2016Check out the GGC Make a Difference Day International Day of the Girl Instant Meeting. The meeting focuses on UN Sustainable Development Goal number 5 – Gender Equality by Closing the Gap between boys and girls engaged in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

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Opening the Vaults: Before there was Instagram…

Long before Instagram and eons before selfies, Girl Guides captured their forever memories by printing and developing photos and carefully preserving them in photo albums. Among the favourite items in our national archives collection are two black photo albums titled, “Early Days of Guiding in Canada Prior to 1934” and “Guiding in Canada 1924-1934.” Despite our preservation efforts, the paper is starting to deteriorate and some of the photos are fading and yellowing.  Over the last few years we have been scanning these pictures to ensure that they are available for future researchers and members to enjoy.

Below are a selection of images from these albums, offering an enlightening reflection on the Guiding experiences of years past. Even without knowing all the details about these photos we love the way they showcase girls’ experiences and excitement in the early years of Guiding.

Album cover

Album cover

 

2nd Denbigh Guides in Camp

2nd Denbigh Guides in Camp

 

While there’s no date or caption to provide specific information about this image, it is obvious that this girl member was participating in a special moment during her time in Guiding.

While there’s no date or caption to provide specific information about this image, it is obvious that this girl member was participating in a special moment during her time in Guiding.

 

1917

1917

 

Pike Lake Camp 1925

Pike Lake Camp 1925

 

King, Ontario

King, Ontario

Explore some of the previous posts in the Opening the Vaults series from our national archives: Creative camp gadgets 1920s and 1930s Campfires and Cookbooks;  The Maple Leaf Forever; Mountaineer, Explorer and Girl Guide Phyllis  Munday.

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My Guiding Journey

When I think of my journey through Guiding, I can’t help but reflect upon the inspirational leaders who have played such a major role in my life. These amazing women are always there for me in both the highs and the lows. They encourage me to try new things and challenge me to show my leadership skills. In every way they model a world in which women are invincible and can do anything that they set their minds to. If it were not for Guiding, I would have missed out on so many amazing adventures in leadership and in the outdoors.

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My Guiding journey began when I was five years old and a first year Spark. Immediately, I was welcomed into a family of sisters that has endured and I am sure will last well into the future. As a Spark, I learned to be resourceful as I worked towards earning Spark Keeper badges. From that very young age my commitment to badge work began and continues today, as is evident by my camp blanket that’s covered in badges and crests. Today, I am a Girl Assistant with a Sparks unit and get to witness growth in young faces as these young ladies get to explore their own leadership for the first time. Sparks is that opportunity for young girls to spend a night away from their parents in a safe loving environment and even though the girls and I hardly sleep due to their excitement at camp, it is well worth it to see their bright faces in the morning.

As I moved into the higher levels of Guiding, I began to spread my wings and experience the larger parts of the world. As a Guide I acquired camp skills such as cooking on a buddy burner and making a campfire. It was in Guides that I began to form amazing friendships with the most amazing people. When you spend the night in a tent with someone, a friend becomes family. A family that is created among Girl Guides, a family so wonderful that it is hard to describe. A family that I know that I can and will always be able to count on no matter what.

As a Pathfinder, the world of Guiding got a little bigger. Camps became more intense and regular meetings more involved. In Pathfinders we planned our own meetings and even our own camps. There was no such thing as cabin camping in Pathfinders and bad weather meant nothing as we were always prepared with our superb tents. Pathfinders was about chilling but also leading. Meetings ranged from watching a movie in our pyjamas to rock climbing. At the end of Pathfinders, I even got to tackle an international camp as our unit headed to B.C. for SOAR – which stands for Spirit of Adventure Rendezvous. SOAR was the best experience of my life, never before had I been able to see the power of women on such a large scale. I felt so proud to be a member of Guiding as I marched through the streets during the SOAR parade. Not to mention the superb activities that took place at this interprovincial/international week-long camp.

Now that I am a Ranger, I have taken the next challenge as I tackle harder camps. In January, my Ranger unit went winter camping. During this camp we spent a whole weekend outside in – 15° C  degree temperatures. It was a rough couple of days but it was well worth the challenge. As well, my Ranger unit just finished going to Guiding Mosaic in Sylvan Lake, Alberta, my second international camp. At Mosaic I met some of the most interesting people from all across Canada. My adventure program led me to new heights, as I climbed to the top of some very rough terrain having the time of my life! The camp also taught me perseverance as it rained the entire week. But I kept smiling through mud covered teeth and I would go back any day! Guiding Mosaic was reflective of my entire journey through Guiding and confirmed what I already knew – Guiding.Is.The.Best!

As I enter my last year of Guiding as a girl member, I can’t help but reflect on what an incredible ride it has been. The leaders that have molded me and the friendships I have made will be forever imprinted in my DNA. Although I am sad that my girl years are coming to an end, I cannot wait to be a model of a strong woman for the Girl Guides of the future. If anyone is even considering registering their daughter in Guiding, let me be the first to say “Do It!” It will shape them, like it has shaped me, into a resourceful young lady!

sept28_erinb2Guest post by  Erin Brintnell, a third-year Ranger in Calgary who enjoys all aspects of the Guiding world. She loves hiking, biking and exploring the outdoors as well as helping in her community. Guiding Mosaic 2016 was the highlight of her summer!

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Welcome to Canada – we hope you like it here!

At the recent Burnaby Mountain District camp, girls had a great time all weekend with the theme “Camp Flower Power.” Activities were designed, where possible, to fit around the concepts of peace and love. This didn’t only involve tie dye (though it did, of course, also involve tie dye!). The camp’s program coordinators incorporated a service project for all girls at camp to put the idea of peace into practice. Girls of all ages spent some of their time at camp making welcome cards and letters for refugees arriving in Canada.

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Girls took the task very seriously and spent time thinking about how and why refugee families need to be welcomed. They considered what kinds of tips they could give about Canadian culture and how they could help newcomers feel more comfortable. In their messages, girls wrote things such as the following:

Welcome to Canada! I hope you like it here. In Canada we respect everybody.

I hope you feel safe here and make lots of friends. In Canada people are nice to each other and play games like hockey.

Some of my favourite activities are swimming, gymnastics, and being a Brownie. What do you like to do? You should try maple syrup when you’re in Canada.

In Canada it rains a lot. But that’s ok, just get an umbrella. It’s nice here.

Two of our Guiders visited ISS of BC to personally deliver the cards and get a tour of one of their welcome centres. ISS supports over 25,000 recent immigrants to Canada each year, helping them build a new life. (Earlier this week, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visited their welcome centre.)

Our Guiders were blown away by the important work being done by this organization and were amazed by the courage and strength of the refugees that they were told about. One of the Guiders described the experience as life changing.

The people at ISS of BC were touched by the thoughtful cards and letters and assured us that gestures like this can make a major difference to refugee families when they arrive. Feeling welcome and finding a sense of community can be important factors in how well refugees settle into Canadian culture. The girls of Burnaby Mountain District were given a lovely thank you card, pictured below.

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Burnaby Mountain District is proud to have been a part of such an experience and looks forward to finding other ways to spread messages of peace and welcome throughout our communities, especially to people in situations like this who need it the most.

Re-posted from permission from the Burnaby Mountain District blog.

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All-access pass to Guiding

It’s time to kick-start another awesome Guiding year – and to introduce or re-introduce girls to what Guiding is all about and the kinds of activities your unit will participate in. There are lots of simple tricks you can employ to ensure every girl and her family feels welcome and can take full advantage of the adventures ahead.

Assume nothing. Some families in your unit will be brand-new to Guiding or some of the activities we offer. Start with the basics – offer lots of information about the kinds of activities you’ll be doing, mindful that not all girls and their loved ones come with knowledge of what Guiding is all about. And even the most experienced Guiding families will benefit from a refresher on expectations, needs, and more! Try hosting a Sparks parents’ meeting in September, or writing a ‘Welcome to Guides’ handout that covers the basics and that can be used as a reference guide throughout the year.

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Beware the jargon. For Guiders, it’s easy to communicate in acronyms and Guiding lingo – but plenty of parents will get confused by the difference between units and your district/area/community, who Brown Owl and Tawny Owl are and what they do, or an instruction to contact a provincial or national council about an opportunity for girls. Use clear language to explain the whats and whos of Girl Guides – and translate it for them, i.e. “For more info, please contact our District Commissioner (DC), Guider Tanya. Tanya is the volunteer DC who provides leadership for the Guiding units in our neighbourhood. She can be reached at: 555-123-4567 or guidertanya@girlguides.ca.”

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Use inclusive and appropriate language. Families and girls are all different, with different interests, beliefs and experiences. That’s what makes Guiding such a great place to be! Sharing food at your meeting?  Choose a non-religious grace to sing before your meal, like these easy-to-learn tunes available online from BC Girl Guides. Do you want to host a ‘mom and me’ weekend? Pick a welcoming name for your adventure, and make it clear in all communications that girls may bring any female adult in their life to participate, not just a mother. Facilitating a discussion about healthy relationships with your Rangers? Be mindful of the normative language that can be our unconscious default, and opt for neutral words like “partner” over “boyfriend.” And don’t be afraid to respectfully interject to correct girls’ language if it’s exclusive. Your role as a Guider is to inform and challenge girls’ understanding of the world around them.

Ensure financial accessibility. Not all families know, or are comfortable asking, about the types of financial support that are available to help girls participate in Guiding activities. Be proactive and mention it at every opportunity! In an email or letter/pamphlet to parents about an upcoming camp, be sure to include a sentence or two about the types of support available and how families can access those subsidies. Help connect families directly with volunteers/staff at other levels of Guiding – stating that they should just “talk to the provincial office” can be confusing for those who don’t know how to navigate our organization. And be sure to highlight the fact that those subsidy funds come from cookie sales, helping drive home the importance of this program.

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Help girls gear up! Finances aren’t the only barrier to participation – families may silently opt their girls out of activities that they don’t have the gear to participate in. Lucky for them, Guiding often has a surplus of supplies. For an upcoming sleepover, mention in your unit newsletter that extra sleeping bags and mats are available and include info about how to request them. At a planning meeting for a Pathfinder hiking expedition, talk about how extra backpacks and specialized equipment are available from your unit, district, or other sources of loaned Guiding gear.

Last but not least – be available for questions and discussion! Guiders are pros at being sources of info and support, but make sure parents know how and when to reach you. Commit to having a Guider regularly check your unit email inbox or take turns showing up a few minutes early at unit meetings so families know they have someone available to answer their questions. Encourage parents/guardians to bring up their ideas, and if they are passionate about making something happen, involve them in your unit – to facilitate an activity, organize an event, be added to your roster for occasional help, or even become a full-fledged Guider. Take any and all feedback as an opportunity to recruit!

Check out our other resources on how to help ensure your unit is inclusive.

Have more ideas? Share them in the comments below, Tweet or post on our Facebook page, and don’t forget to use hashtag #GuiderTip!

Guest post by Diamond Isinger. Diamond  is an Ottawa Guider, keen camper and communicator. Recently transplanted from Vancouver, she previously served as West Coast Area Commissioner and PR Advisor, sharing stories of girl greatness. Check out her previous posts: Meet Charlie; Girl Guide cookies + green activities = a sweet combo!

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Guiding Our Way Through A Wedding

sept21-junior-bridesmaid-and-flower-girlMidnight. The night before camp. My fiance is sitting on the couch cutting out tiny white felt circles with child-size scissors. He loads the vehicle for camp, videotapes our enrollment, and has his own special name-tag that says “Mr. Sparkles” because he heard that the other Guider husbands have special nicknames, too.

When I asked about making one of my Sparks the flower girl, he suggested I have all my Sparks come and parade in front of me down the aisle. Due to our small venue, we couldn’t do that – although I know most of my Spark moms would have been onboard! My co-Guider has three amazing daughters, one of whom was in my Sparks unit last year, and the oldest who has been in my unit  for two years. They became my flower girl and junior bridesmaid.

Planning the bridal shower, my mother (Tawney Owl) and I explored Pinterest and found the idea to give away s’more kits as favours. Of course, several of our Guiding friends were invited, and were quickly delegated to the task of assembling the gift bows into a hat. The cake was also made by a local Guider. The MOST Guiding thing at my shower, however, was a gift from my mother’s fellow Owls – wrapped of course in a Girl Guide cookie case and decorated with pink, orange, blue, green, and red tissue paper.

Our Guide unit worked on goals for this past year, including the girls’ lifetime goals. Along with goals for school and future jobs, many of them stated they wanted to get married, so as a challenge I created a Special Event Planning badge. Our parents joked that I was trying to get out of the work of planning my own wedding.

At first I wanted to get custom badges designed for our wedding to give to my girls, but the cost of badges can add up. When planning our favours, the idea came up to get title tapes printed with our names and the date to tie onto our candy pouches. All of my girls got one, too.

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Girl Guides has been such a defining part of my life, that all these little nods to Guiding just weren’t enough. I had seen unique bouquets where people included lockets or pins. It seemed the perfect solution to include a Girl Guide pin on my bouquet. I chose the enrollment pin, instead of an appointment or other earned pin, because it symbolizes the core of Guiding. It is the pin you receive the day you promise to do my best, and it was the perfect pin to have the day I made another lifelong promise.

Of course, the wedding day wasn’t complete without the “Guiding” photo.

sept21-no-shoes-no-sleeves-no-hat-no-safeguide
Guest post by Jane Taft, a Unit Guider with Sparks and Guides and Community Guider in Southern Ontario who is addicted to camping and collecting crests. See her previous posts: The best seat at the campfire; Words in Action: It’s more than just collecting book donations.

 Has Guiding made its mark on your life in unique way? Share your story with us! Email ggcblog(at)girlguides.ca

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Marching with pride

sept15_marchingwithprideBeing a member of Girl Guides of Canada–Guides du Canada has always been an influential and positive experience for me. But I never realized just how proud I was to be a member of such an incredible organization until I was given the opportunity to walk in the Halifax Pride Parade this year.

I chose to march in the parade because my dad is gay. I also marched for some of my best friends who are trans, gay, bisexual, pansexual, and more. Being able to walk in a parade that is so important to people that are important to me was such an incredible feeling. Watching as their faces smiled as I walked past made me explode with happiness.

sept15_marchingwithpride2The morning started with some of my best friends, Jessie, Kaitlyn, Jade, Calena and Anna all meeting up. We all chose to carry posters that had been made by some Guiders that had inspirational sayings on them. Then, we began to walk! Throughout the whole walk, we exploded with Girl Guide pride. We sang songs such as the Girl Guide Marching Song and Thunderation and Everywhere We Go! My favourite part of singing these songs, especially Everywhere We Go, was hearing the crowd repeat the verses after us. The applause Girl Guides received made my heart so, so happy. The walk was long, but it felt much shorter when we were surrounded by happy cheering, and of course, the company of other Girl Guides!

I believe that this is the perfect event to showcase what a welcoming space Girl Guides of Canada truly is. This event is great because not only does it get people interested in joining Girl Guides, but it also shows that we, as members of this community, are welcoming and happy and proud. Girl Guides of Canada is one of the most welcoming spaces I have ever been a part of. This parade shows that Girl Guides accepts all girls and women. I am so honoured and proud to be a part of this welcoming organization, and I am so lucky I get to call myself a Girl Guide.

Guest post by Olivia Trivett, a 17-year-old Ranger who recently received her Chief Commissioner’s Gold Award.  Through Girl Guiding, she has made some of her best friends, as well as had the chance to visit Our Chalet in Switzerland and visit Paris, France. In the future, Olivia hopes to study chemistry, and eventually research pharmaceutical drugs, and have her own research lab.

Our new Community Event Kit contains all the info you’ll need to promote your Guiding group’s participation at local fairs, parades, and festivals. Check it out!

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Summer Guiding projects

I am a crafter. In the various areas of Girl Guide programming (and life in general), I have always excelled in the area of crafts, art and nifty things you can make. While this is a great skill to have, I have yet to find a full-time job where being excellently talented with sequins and immune to hot glue gun burns is a pre-requisite. Therefore, most of my crafting is reserved for Girl Guides and summer holidays where I can really dive in and go crazy with bits and bobs – only coming out of the craft room for food and sleep. It’s an amazing thing.

This summer my family is back out in New Brunswick visiting our family cottages. We got to spend three full weeks out here this year, so between book reading and trips to the beach, I’ve been crafting up a storm. Much of this time has been spent trying out projects I want to do with my Brownie and Spark units in the coming year or making things for them to use during our meetings. Below are pictures of my efforts that will hopefully inspire some of you to use your crafting skills and make something beautiful.

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This is a special box that is going to go under my unit’s Brownie Toadstool. Each of the fairy circles have their own little treasure box (with their attendance and dues pouch in them) that stays in their circle corner. Once the groups are called to their fairy circle, the circle leader will bring their dues pouch and it will go into the box under the toadstool after they do their dance.

PouchNext up we have a super cool project that I discovered online from another Guider – first-aid kits made out of pot holders! I’m planning on making these with my Brownies later on in the year to work on their Key to the Arts and Key to Camping. I’ve sewn the plastic bags to the ribbon with one set of stitches and then the plan is to teach the girls how to use the sewing machine to sew the bags into the potholder by placing a row of stitches on either side to lock everything in place. Then they will sew the button on the back for the loop to go through. I’m super excited to try this activity with the girls.

In our units (Brownies and Sparks) we have dolls that go home with one girl each week. In Sparks we have the girls write down/draw pictures of anything fun they did with the doll and in Brownies we ask them to draw or write about a good turn that they did that week to help their families. In Sparks, our doll is named Crystal and in Brownies, they are named Cindy and Brooke. The girls LOVE taking the dolls home and are so eager to share what they did at home with the visiting dolls. Sometimes the girls make different outfits or jewelry for the dolls and they always come back with new and interesting stories to tell. These are our new journals that will go home in a bag with both our units’ dolls.

Last but certainly not least, I have to present my Guiding peg dolls! These were a very big labour of love because they took so much longer to finish than I thought they would going in.

Dolls

I was able to paint a Spark, Brownie, Guide, Pathfinder, Ranger and a Guider. My hope is to make more in the future that have vintage uniforms on them (Brownie dress with the dues pouch anyone?). I am so happy with how they turned out!

Guest post by Rebecca Sadler. Rebecca is a Brownie and Sparks Guider in Toronto, and loves sharing programming and crafting ideas on her blog, Brown Owl’s Adventures in Guiding, where this post originally appeared. 

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Go team Sparks!

August_GoTEamSparks_BethI love all of my girls in Guiding, but sometimes a group of girls touches my heart in a very special way – and  that was the case with 4th Dartmouth Sparks this past year. I was constantly amazed by their cohesion, their desire to be a team, and their limitless kindness and caring toward one another.

They did not utter a word of protest when placed in a cookie selling group that did not include their best friends. They did not ask if they could change teams when we randomly selected groups for games. They simply accepted the friend beside them and laughed and smiled together.

This group innately recognized that Sparks is a group of girls on a team who support one another, celebrate one another, and accept one another. The world could learn a lot by watching my girls. Their parents always thanked me after meetings and my response was always the same, “You’re welcome. It’s my pleasure.” And it was. I stood there some nights in disbelief at how a group of little girls could teach me so much about the power of this organization. They represented Guiding in a way that anyone who wears the uniform would be proud of.

When spending time with these girls, I experienced a special kind of peace that does not exist elsewhere in my life. They could be bouncing off the walls and yelling while playing an active game and my soul was soothed and calm. I was exactly where I was supposed to be. Exactly where I needed to be. Those girls took care of my heart, my sanity, and my soul. I was Giggles. And that is ALL I had to be. That is all they let me be. I wasn’t allowed to be a single mom who was worried about bills or a daughter who was concerned about her dad’s upcoming heart surgery. They made that all fade away with their smiles and laughter and magic. Such incredible magic!

At Advancement, we each had a tealight in a candle holder. I told them that the light represented the light of Guiding – that we shine that light on one another and it brightens our hearts even after it has moved on. My Guiding light truly shone brightly with these girls.

Guest post by Beth (a.k.a. Giggles), the District Commissioner for Banook in Nova Scotia, a Guider with the 4th Dartmouth Sparks and also for 1st Highfield Sparks/Brownies, and a Trainer with Dartmouth Shore Area. Beth has been in Guiding for 33 years and is the proud mom of an eight-year-old son.

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Meet Charlie

Want to meet someone inspiring? We’d like to introduce you to Charlie Lowthian-Rickert. As a first-year Girl Guide, she’s had the chance to explore and speak out about the issues she cares about while making a difference in her community. Charlie, who was born as a male but identifies as female, has not only found a place to be herself by joining Girl Guides, but is also working with girls and Guiders in her unit to ensure that Guiding is an inclusive, judgement-free zone. This past weekend, Charlie served as the Grand Marshal of the Ottawa Pride Parade in recogniAug24_CharlieGGCposterPridetion of her efforts to bring attention to trans rights.

Charlie’s participation in Guiding all started with our Guidelines for the Inclusion of Transgender Members, introduced in 2015 to ensure that we support all girls’ participation. “We heard on the news that GGC made a new policy to accept transgender and gender variant girls, and we were looking for something for Charlie to round out her activities and provide learning opportunities for her active mind,” explained her mother, Anne.

Guiding has provided an environment for Charlie to learn and explore. She loves to camp and participate in the endless variety of activities, and, she says, “I really like the engineering projects.”

Her mom has also observed the fun that Charlie is having with her peers. “Making friends has made the biggest difference,” said Anne. “For her to be welcomed among other girls, and validated as she is, is a transformative thing. Girls have all different kinds of bodies, but their brains and brawn are so much more important than how they look.”

Participating in community events like Pride and media interviews to draw attention to trans rights, Charlie has been inspired by the Guiding program to speak out and learn about challenges facing girls around the world. “We learn stuff about Guides in other places, and human rights issues, so that makes me feel good that I am doing something to make things better for everyone,” said Charlie.

Asked how Guiding has supported her daughter, Anne did not hesitate to share that Guiding is a “safe and judgement-free place” for Charlie. This year, their family is looking forward to providing “learning opportunities at her unit to talk about gender diversity and dispel some myths.”  With supportive Guiders, Sumac and Cricket, who “have been really open to discussing challenges with us,” Guiding has been a great choice for this family.

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As she prepared for Ottawa Pride, Charlie said it would be “really amazing to be at the front of the parade” and that it encourages her to “want to keep on reaching out to others” as she makes the world a better place. Charlie also mentioned how much she loved “singing songs the whole way” at last year’s parade – which sounds a lot like Girl Guides, too!

Guest post by Diamond Isinger. Diamond  is an Ottawa Guider, keen camper (bringing girls to Guiding Mosaic 2016 in Alberta and serving as core staff at a BC camp this summer!), and communicator. Recently transplanted from Vancouver, she previously served as West Coast Area Commissioner and PR Advisor , sharing stories of girl greatness.

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What’s next on your volunteering bucket list?

Whether you’re interested in helping shape the programming Guiding offers girls or having a role in our international travel program, our national volunteer opportunities are a great way to make your mark on Guiding. (Bonus! These roles are also an opportunity to develop many valuable and transferable skills.) In this re-post, GGC member Sunita shares what she discovered by volunteering at the national level.

Sunita Mathur 2016As you scroll through GuidePost, Twitter and Facebook, have you ever been intrigued by the national volunteer postings? If you’re like me, you might think to yourself, who can volunteer for a national position? Do you need many years of Guiding experience, an extra special talent or a secret Trefoil tattoo that shows your dedication to this movement?

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

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

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

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

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

As my term on the scholarship committee came to an end, I was eager to continue to serve Guiding on the national level. Today, I serve as a Director of the Board, which has been a tremendous growth and learning experience for me. So next time you see a posting on GuidePost or elsewhere, linger a little longer and think about it… Maybe it’s your next step to contributing and learning from our Guiding community.

By guest blogger Sunita Mathur, a Guider with the 1st Toronto Spark/Brownie/Guide unit and a Director of the GGC Board.

Be sure to check out our current list of national volunteer opportunities. Applications are currently open for several exciting positions.

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Bullseye at district camp

“What was your favourite part of camp?”

That’s a question that we like to ask as many girls as possible when we ride the ferry home from Burnaby Mountain District’s Camp Flower Power, held each June at Camp Olave on B.C.’s Sunshine Coast. This year, several of our older girls reported that they loved doing
archery.

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The archery range is one of Camp Olave’s unique features, allowing girls to try their hand at using real bows and arrows. Archery is one of those awesome things that not many girls get a chance to try outside of a setting like Girl Guides. Many girls leave eager to come back to Camp Olave to hone their skills with the bow even further — it’s not easy, but practice does help!

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Besides archery, another unique aspect of district camp is how it encourages girls to make new friends outside of their own unit and experience the sisterhood of Guiding. Girls from every  Burnaby Mountain unit camp together on three sites, allowing them to meet lots of new girls and Guiders.

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Guiders volunteered countless hours in the planning and promotion of this camp since February— hosting a camp for 78 girls and 20 adults is a lot of work! But it was worth it. Girls had a great time, which means we pretty much struck bullseye.

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Thanks to Burnaby Mountain District for sharing these stories from their blog with us.

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Splash! Water-balloon catapults at camp

July20_Catapult1This year, the 3rd Guelph Guides put their lashing skills to use on a different sort of camp gadget – catapults! This activity also reinforced physics, teamwork, safety and leadership skills. And, the fun of water balloons!

Several parts of the Guide program include making camp gadgets. Today’s fancy lightweight camping gear sometimes makes it hard for Guides to see the practical value in making gadgets. It’s fun to lash together a table or wash stand from sticks, but not very realistic when you can just unfold one from a bag. I’ve certainly appreciated lashing skills to repair and secure things but wanted a meaningful and memorable way to share those skills with the girls.

I modified instructions I found on a favourite outdoor skills webpage. I had to split long spars into two pieces so they could fit in my truck. The Guides practiced using hand tools, and nuts and bolts to fasten the two halves together.

The Guides built the catapults using diagonal lashing. There are a lot of joints so they all had a chance to try. Everyone saw the importance of lashing securely when poles shifted and the water balloon didn’t go in the right direction or didn’t go far enough. It is way more fun to hit someone else with a water balloon than to have one fall straight down on your own team.

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The Guides took turns on different jobs during launching, with one Guide acting as Safety Officer for each launch. Her job was to make sure that no one got smacked by the throwing arm. She checked that the launchers and spectators were all in safe places, then she counted down to launch. On her signal the two Guides on the ropes pulled backwards to fire the catapult. After each launch the Safety Officer instructed her team in carefully lowering the throwing arm.

Guides could launch a water balloon about 12 meters (40’). It was over 30°C that afternoon, so everyone was happy to get splashed.

Catapults were a very frequent ‘star’ at our end-of-camp evaluation. The girls had a huge sense of accomplishment at being able to build something so cool. Some loved the responsibility of being Safety Officers, others were gleeful to have fun with water balloons. Now that the unit has all the materials, this activity will certainly become part of our regular rotation.

By guest blogger Regan Avis, a Guider with the 3rd Guelph Guides as well as Community Guider for nearby Guide units. Regan is a life-long Guiding member. 

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Helping the Bees

Earlier this spring, the 2nd Cedar Park Guides in Quebec took an environmentally friendly action for the 3rd years to complete their Lady Baden-Powell Challenge and to help the bees. They also invited the 3rd Cedar Park Brownies to partake in their challenge and learn about Guides.

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The meeting consisted of cleaning up garbage around the school yard where they meet, preparing the earth for a flower bed, planting the seeds for wild flowers and watering them. Some of the seeds were from “Bring Back the Bees” and we bought some more. Each Guide was accompanied by a Guide-in-Training (also known as Brownies). The experience was very educational for both groups, as the Guides learned leadership skills and the Brownies learned about the importance of bees for our world.

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In conclusion, both parties had fun, learned a lot and helped “save the bees” (who are endangered from pollution and loss of habitat!).

Guest post by the 3rd year Guides, 2nd Cedar Park unit, Pointe Claire District. Originally posted on the GuidesQuébecBlog

Do you love to write? We’re always on the lookout for great Guiding stories from our girl and adult members. Send your ideas to: ggcblog(at)girlguides.ca

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Little Free Brownie Library

July13_FreeBrownieLibrary3The current National Service Project: Words in Action has been well-enjoyed by our unit! In its first year (2015), our unit held a book swap which resulted in a donation of 325 books to our city’s library. This year, we thought we’d do something a little bit different by building a Little Free (Children’s) Library.

Little Free Libraries are small cupboards stashed with books, housed on people’s lawns. They are free for people to visit, and they encourage people to take a book / leave a book. We thought this was a perfect fit for a literacy activity! To make the project more fun and more relatable for our Brownies, we went with a kid-focused theme.

We initially wanted to place our LFL in a city park, as we thought it would optimize the amount of traffic it could potentially receive. I contacted Guelph’s Exhibition Park Neighbourhood Group (EPNG) to see if they had any tips on permits, and was met with a friendly suggestion that we not immerse ourselves in the wonderful world of city bylaws and permits, but that we instead plan to plant our LFL on the front lawn of one of the EPNG members. A few weeks later, we met up with our host and had a plan!

July13_FreeBrownieLibrary1Fast forward a few months, and we had the LFL built! The next step was to paint it. It took multiple coats of paint for the colour to come through strongly. We left the roof blank, and got each girl to leave her handprint on the library.

Our hosts were wonderful and built a reading platform into their tree. Each girl was asked to bring one or two books to donate and in the end, we filled our library with approximately 50 books, all for kids. We celebrated our library with bubbly juice then spent the rest of our evening playing at the park. We plan to return to our library once a year to restock the shelves of our LFL. We hope it will be a point of community for the neighbourhood, and well-used by kids of all ages!

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By guest blogger Rachel Collins. Rachel is a Guider in Guelph, Ontario and Chair of the Canadian Guider Editorial Committee.

NSP 2016Don’t forget to log your actions for the current National Service Project: Words in Action! The more units that log their actions, the better we can track the impact girls and Guiders are having towards promoting literacy across Canada. There is also still time to participate in the NSP. Why not incorporate NSP initiatives into your summer activities?

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Opening the vaults: A camping we will go…

As girls are set to arrive at Guiding Mosaic 2016 (July 9 to July 17), our 13th national camp, we have combed through the archives and discovered some pictures from past national camps.

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Our first national camp was held in 1927 in Victoria, B.C.  It had 316 attendees from eight provinces and Newfoundland (which was not a Canadian province at the time). Pictured here is Sarah Warren, our second Chief Commissioner, travelling in the scenic train car en route to camp. (APH 1843b photographer K. MacDougal)

 

 

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Our second national camp was held in Rothesay, New Brunswick with 250 attendees representing every province plus campers from Girl Scouts USA. (APH 1615)

 

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Pictured above is a march past the Connaught Ranges in Ottawa where the 1952 national camp was attended by 1,303 girls and women, including representatives from the USA, Bermuda, Dutch West Indies, Jamaica, and Great Britain. (APH 1625 photographer Donaldson)

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The National Heritage Camp in 1967, held on Morrison and Nairn Islands, St. Lawrence River, had 1,800+ attendees, coming from every province and territory, as well as guests from 11 countries. (APH 1164)

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Echo Valley ‘88 held in Echo Valley Provincial Park, Saskatchewan, welcomed 2,500 Canadians and 429 international guests from 41 countries. (APH 2735)

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Guiding Mosaic 2006 held at Guelph Lake having fun, no matter the weather.

No matter the location or how they have grown, our national camps have always provided opportunities for new experiences, making new friends and having fun.

Explore some of the previous posts in the Opening the Vaults series from our national archives: Creative camp gadgets 1920s and 1930s Campfires and Cookbooks;  The Maple Leaf Forever; Mountaineer, Explorer and Girl Guide Phyllis  Munday.

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Until September…

The Guiding year is coming to an end – insert sad face emoji here. For girls and Guiders alike, it’s a time to celebrate – the good times, the fun times, and all of their achievements together as a unit.

In today’s blog, we share the perspectives of a Guider and Pathfinder from the 3rd Halifax South Pathfinder Unit as they celebrated at their district’s advancement ceremony:

June30_KaylaBTonight was advancement night for my Pathfinders. One of my Pathfinders wrote a speech about Guiding. How much she loves it, wish she had joined sooner (this was her first year) and thanked both my co-Guider and me plus the third-years for making this year so special.

Another Pathfinder wrote a song and music to it on a ukulele. She taught it to everyone and the unit performed it tonight.

We awarded another Pathfinder a special award for completing all 66 interest badges.

And all of the third years earned their Canada Cord.

I’m not going to lie – in September this unit had a challenging start. It has tripled in size to 20 girls, 13 of them first-years. But with patience and time this unit has truly come so far and has done so many great things.

These girls – the whole unit – has truly blown me away this year with their leadership, dedication, creativity and so much more.

Needless to say, there were some tears tonight. And a lot of girls already wishing for September.

– Unit Guider Kayla Bernard


June30_MadeleineI’m new to the whole Guiding thing. This year has been a great experience for everyone. We’ve accomplished multiple things as a unit, which make me regret not joining earlier.

As a new Pathfinder I’ve learned many things. I’ve learned that we don’t just sell cookies, we do more. We help make a difference in the world. As an example: we helped girls in Africa and we’ve done lots of community services. It’s all thanks to our Guiders Kayla and Margaret.

It’s amazing to think that they do all that for Girl Guides of Canada and especially for our unit. They set such a good example for everyone. I’m looking forward to coming back next year. I’d like to congratulate Leah, Anna, Maddie and Gillian for advancing to Rangers with their Canada Cord. I’d like to also thank them for planning all the activities they did for the first- and second-year Pathfinders. They made all of the first-years feel so welcome as soon as we became Pathfinders. Thanks for being such a great unit!

            -Pathfinder Madeleine  

Kayla Bernard is a Guider with the multi-branch 3rd 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. See her previous posts: What does it mean to be an Arts Adviser? and  Life of a twenty-something Guider.

 Madeleine McOnie is a Pathfinder from 3rd Halifax South Pathfinders. She participates in dance and swim competitions and enjoys life with her family and friends.

 

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2,000 pictures

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I have a thing about taking pictures. A lot of pictures. It started the first year I joined our unit, the 12th Ottawa Guiding group. First, I used photos to make personalized enrollment certificates. And then, collages of the photos made really nice thank you cards. By the end of that year, I had so many great photos I just HAD to do a retrospective slideshow. Why keep them all to myself, and what better way to celebrate our year and the girls? Well, that year, it was pretty easy. We had about 25 members in three branches. Six years later, we are 80 youth and 20 leaders in all branches, and even though it’s not so easy, I am still doing the slideshow.

June28_2000PicturesGirlsThis year, I trolled through over 2,000 pictures. I’ve learned to sort and label them as they come in. And I’m diligent about image releases – we check before showing photos at our internal events and make sure that any member who is a “no” is not in an image that leaves our unit.

Quite aside from the technical and organization tricks I’ve picked up along the way, seeing that many photos of our members has taught me so much:

  1. June28_2000PicturesSnackWhen the girls take the pictures, they get the most candid (and goofy, so the best!) pictures. They are at their most natural with each other.
  2. Tracking who is in the photos, and who they are posing with has given us clues about who is being left out and how friendships are changing.
  3. Using the cameras and sorting photos has been an awesome way for me to get to know all the members in our big group by name.
  4. June28_2000PicturesSparksThere are definitely patterns in what the different branches like to do, and what we take photos of. Food. Dressing up. Being outside. Animals. Getting messy. Year over year, from Sparks to Rangers, these things seem to show the most delight in the girls’ and Guiders’ faces.
  5. I am mushy and nostalgic.Being a multi branch unit, I have the photo evidence of kids changing from small, shy seven-year olds, to bold, capable young women – it’s pretty amazing. I see the baby-tooth smiles, the missing tooth smiles and the braces-filled smiles.

 I feel like the sum total of those smiles and things we catch in the photos really is a window into the spirit of Guiding and the spirits of the girls. Maybe that’s why I will probably keep taking those pictures and making that slideshow – whether it’s 200 or 2,000 pictures.

 

Guest post by Kathryn Lyons, with the 12th Ottawa Guiding Group, Sandy Hill, Ottawa. Check out her previous posts: Big ‘mistakes’ make good memories;  Small actions for inclusionManaging Friend DramaSustainable crafting: Or, what can we do with all of that leftover fleece?;  How do you organize all your Guiding stuff? 

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Proud of ‘My Girls’

June23_ProudMyGirlsLadyBP
This past weekend, I had the absolute pleasure of watching ‘my girls’ receive their Lady Baden-Powell awards. Were you there? Did you see that person hiding in the back with a box of Kleenex? That was me. Yup, I cried.

This year, the crying started the night before, as I was looking through eight years of Guiding photos for pictures of the Guides as Sparks and Brownies to share during the awards ceremony. (While my goal is not specifically to make the parents cry, too, it’s nice to have some company.) The pictures, of course, led to a trip down memory lane – baking a thousand cookies for seniors, countless campfires, cookie sales in April snowstorms, camping out at Citadel Hill, sleeping in a tent during a thunderstorm – all the funny and amazing moments that became their Guiding experience. Moments we shared, that became our Guiding experience. These memories get all wound up into that one little award pin.

June23_ProudAshlynFor many of these Guides, it’s their first time getting an award and being recognized like this. Nova Scotia does a Youth Recognition event for Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers, in an auditorium with a photographer, flowers, a formal program, biographies being read, scholarships given out  –  whole bit. It’s a big deal.

Credit: Girl Guides Nova Scotia

Credit: Girl Guides Nova Scotia

Our Provincial Commissioner takes a moment when giving the award to talk to each girl. She tells them she is proud of their hard work and dedication. They feel so special! And then I cry some more.

June23_ProudOneGirlTo help them earn their award, our district holds a Lady Baden-Powell Camp for third-year Guides. Going to camp with only the older Guides makes them feel very grown-up and they love seeing their friends from other units. At camp, the Guides make a lapbook to learn about the life of Lady Baden-Powell, and a “story box” – a set of props to tell the story of Guiding. They also complete a service project by making something for our Spark and Brownie units (our biggest hit was sets of bean bags and a booklet of games and activities). After camp, the Guides visit the Spark and Brownie units to run a meeting, where they play games and tell them the story of Guiding. These moments of growth and leadership show their potential, and make me so proud.

June23_ProudTwoGirlsOur district has created a certificate, which is signed by the girls in each Guide unit and presented at District Advancement. I also talk about the many things the Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers have done to earn their awards, and the beaming smiles on their faces tell me how much those words mean.

I know they go on and earn more awards, bigger awards… but it’s the Lady Baden-Powell that gets to me. I think it’s because they start Guides as girls, but they walk across that stage as young women. I guess, in the end, it’s about the journey. Not just where they have been, but also where they are going. Will this be the end of their Guiding journey? If it is, I hope we made enough memories so that Guides will have a special place in their hearts and, someday, they will be the mom signing up their little Spark. Or maybe today’s Guides will become tomorrow’s Pathfinders and Rangers, and they will go on to change their communities, change a life, or even change the world.

The rest of their journey is brimming with possibilities, and I can’t wait to see where Guiding takes them.

I’ll be watching, Kleenex in hand.

Guest post by Alana Coneen. Alana is a Pathfinder Guider and District Co-Commissioner in Bedford, Nova Scotia, who would like us to be sure to mention that she is also very proud of her Pathfinders.

 

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Opening the Vaults: Timeless summer fun

Exploring the outdoors through activities such as hiking, camping and rock climbing can have an extraordinary impact on a girl’s life. With the approach of summer, we’re showcasing some of the outdoor activity photos from our national archives. Although the uniforms and photographic methods have changed, many of these activities could have taken place yesterday or 100 years ago. The timelessness of these images and the experiences they depict are truly striking.

Canoeing, 1939. Photograph courtesy of Miss Harvey.

Canoeing, 1939. Photograph courtesy of Miss Harvey.

 

Hiking at Emily Park Guide Camp, 2012. Photographer Lisa Miles.

Hiking at Emily Park Guide Camp, 2012. Photographer Lisa Miles.

 

Spark hanging out down by the dock, Morin-Heights, 2008. Photographer Andrea Dubec.

Spark hanging out down by the dock, Morin-Heights, 2008. Photographer Andrea Dubec.

 

Lightweight camping, Manitoba, 1972 (APH 0537).

Lightweight camping, Manitoba, 1972 (APH 0537).

 

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Rafting the canoes at Camp Sizzle and Splash, Harvey Station, New Brunswick, 2010.  Photographer Inez Paul.

 

Outdoor Cooking at Kelso Beach, Owen Sound, 2010. Photographer Melody Vachon.

Outdoor Cooking at Kelso Beach, Owen Sound, 2010. Photographer Melody Vachon.

 

Sitting around the campfire, from Early Canadian Guiding Album, pre-1940

Sitting around the campfire, from Early Canadian Guiding Album, pre-1940.

Explore some of the previous posts in the Opening the Vaults series from our national archives: Creative camp gadgets 1920s and 1930s Campfires and Cookbooks;  The Maple Leaf Forever; Mountaineer, Explorer and Girl Guide Phyllis  Munday.

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The best seat at the campfire

Sit-upons, bum buckets or camp chairs: The great debate

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One of the central parts of a camping trip is the campfire. It’s where we cook and eat, where we bond and strengthen our sisterhood, and where we sing and create memories that can last a lifetime.

But sometimes, the worst thing about a campfire can be an uncomfortable or ill-suited seat! There are so many options for you to choose from, and for new (and sometimes old!) Guiders, it can be hard to choose which to put on the kit list. Sit-upons, bum buckets and camp chairs are the most common seating around a campfire. But which one should you choose?

The first step in deciding is to know your campsite and to know your girls. If your campsite comes with benches, you may decide that you don’t need to bring seating of any kind. If this is the case, sit-upons are a great option. They can be packed up small, and they can be added to the bench for cushioning and insulation against the cold. They are also a great backup in case your benches aren’t where they are supposed to be!

Sit-upons are easy to make for Sparks and Brownies and can be a wonderful accessory for cold meeting halls, hiking trips or camping. (For the uninitiated, they’re a homemade insulated and waterproof pad – often made from duct tape and newspaper – that keep you from getting cold and damp while ‘sitting upon’ the cold ground.) The downside of sit-upons is that for older/taller girls, it really only provides protection for your bottom and not your legs.

If your campsite doesn’t have benches, the next option is a bum bucket. Contrary to some first impressions, this is not for going to the bathroom, but rather a bucket for you to sit on. Bum buckets are great – they can be used to store rain gear, sunscreen, extra shoes, etc. Years ago I knew many Pathfinders who had bum buckets made from old drywall buckets. They were bulky, but the perfect size for teenagers.

In our Guiding community, girls make bum buckets in Brownies. They use gallon ice cream containers a local business saves for us during the summer and donates. Guiders drill a hole in either side and the girls attach a bungee cord as a handle. They then decorate and personalize their bucket. These buckets last well into Guides.

The last option for sitting is camp chairs. As a girl I remember a ban on chairs for girls – we had sit-upons or benches at the campsite. I think our Guiders made the rule for two reasons: 1) because at the time camp chairs were an expensive investment and it brought visible attention to differences in income and 2) girls or parents would bring lawn chairs which were bulky and added too much weight to girls’ gear. Now, camp chairs are lighter and  more affordable.

We allow our Guides to bring either camp chairs or bum buckets. Our girls generally do around a 10-minute walk into camp – they are allowed one bag, one bedroll and a bum bucket. For many, they prefer a bum bucket to a chair because it allows them to fit more in their bag!

Sit-upon, bum bucket, or camp chair, there is no wrong choice! Whichever you choose, factor in your campsite/activity, the age of the girls and their experience, and include them in the choice! Most importantly, have fun, and don’t forget the marshmallows!

Guest post by Jane Taft, a Unit Guider with Sparks and Guides and Community Guider in Southern Ontario who is addicted to camping and collecting crests.

Have you come up with a great camping solution? Share your story! Email us: ggcblog(at)girlguides.ca

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Behind the scenes: Girl Greatness Awards

Three  cheers for our new 2016 Girl Greatness Award recipients! These members reflect what girls in Guiding can achieve, no matter what their goals or what challenges they face. Find out what it’s like to be a part of this awards program from one of our volunteers.  Being part of the awards’ selection committee gives a unique look at just how widespread Girl Greatness really is.

Girl Greatness Award Pin

Girl Greatness Award Pin

Confidence. Resourcefulness. Courage. Making a difference. Reviewing applications for the Girl Greatness Awards reminds me that, every day, girls in Guiding are doing things that fit into these categories.

For the past two years, as a member of the Girl Greatness Awards selection committee, I’ve had the privilege of learning about how girls are overcoming challenges, accomplishing their goals and contributing to their communities. Girls and Guiders on the selection committee read through a set of applications nominating girls from one branch. I’ve read about learning a new language, welcoming new Brownies to a unit and courage in the face of health challenges. I’ve learned about girls who organize service opportunities on issues that matter to them, and who take action to ensure that we have more inclusive communities and healthier ecosystems.

Reading through these applications reminds me of how Guiding helps girl members grow up to be more confident, courageous and resourceful, with the drive to make a difference. Being part of the selection committee gives me a small taste of the great things that girls across Canada are doing and of the positive impact that Guiding has.

Participating in the Girl Greatness Awards selection committee is a unique volunteering opportunity within Guiding. It is a wonderful chance to connect with Guiding at the national level and a flexible way to get more involved, whether you’re a Unit Guider or not.

The Girl Greatness Awards encourage girls to recognize their peers and help us celebrate the accomplishment of our girl members. As a member of the selection committee, these awards help me learn about the amazing things girls in every branch are doing across Canada.

June14_MelissaMoorGuest post by Melissa Moor. Melissa is a law student at McGill University in Montreal and a member of the Canadian Guider editorial committee.

Had a unique volunteering experience in Guiding? Share your story! Email us: ggcblog(at)girlguides.ca

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A Sparks outing to Fire Hall #6

This week, girls from the 1st Burnaby Mountain Sparks had a very exciting visit to Burnaby Fire Hall No. 6 — a little bit more exciting than they had hoped! Every time Guiders book this outing they are warned that it is an active on-duty fire hall and should there be an emergency the firefighters will need to respond. This time, that actually happened!

Firehall (2 of 5)
The girls had barely arrived when the first truck had to leave. It was exciting watching some of the firefighters quickly gather their things and take out the truck. The siren was really loud, too. Once that truck left, the remaining firefighters started a talk about fire safety and the importance of calling 911… but only in a real emergency!

 

Firehall (1 of 5)

A few minutes later the buzzer sounded and the remaining firefighters had to take the second truck and respond. The Sparks and their Guiders were left alone on the grass outside the station. After talking for a bit longer about fire safety, the group decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather to play some duck-duck-goose in the grass.

Firehall (5 of 5)

Luckily, before too long, one of the fire trucks came back. The firefighters had responded to a medical emergency, but the ambulance had arrived allowing the firetruck to go back to the station. The firefighters told the girls a little bit more about fire safety and they practiced “stop, drop, and roll.”

There was just enough time left for each girl to take a turn using the fire hose. The firefighters set up a cone to use as a target and each Spark got the chance to spray it with water. It was lots of fun using the equipment.

Firehall (4 of 5)   Firehall (3 of 5)

Finally, everyone got to have a popsicle, which was a great treat on such a hot day. Thank you to the firefighters of hall #6! The girls learned a lot and it was great to see the first responders in action. They do amazing life-saving work and it was a treat to get a taste of what it’s like to be a firefighter.

Guest post by Bethany Koepke. Bethany is a proud Guider of the 1st Burnaby Mountain Sparks as well as District Commissioner of Burnaby Mountain District. Thank you to Burnaby Mountain District in B.C. for sharing this post from their blog – check them out!

Does your unit do a unique spring activity? Share your story with us! Email: ggcblog(at)girlguides.ca.

 

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Going green and going global with Guiding

June8_CaitlinGreenGlobalThis past March, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the Helen Storrow Seminar (HSS) at Our Chalet in Switzerland. HSS is a WAGGGS leadership development event that focuses on the environment. It’s all about young women leading for a greener future. I met 22 passionate and inspiring individuals from different Member Organizations around the world who reminded me why I love Guiding.

As a Link member attending university, I sometimes feel disconnected from the Guiding community. Attending HSS and seeing how young women who share a passion for the environment and Guiding can come together and develop close bonds by learning from, teaching and challenging each other, made me proud to call myself a Girl Guide.

June8_CaitlinZiplineGlobalGreenWhether learning about environmental issues facing each other’s countries and how climate change affects us all, sharing games we play in Guiding back home, or singing a campfire song in six different languages during Earth Hour, they reminded me just how powerful and meaningful Guiding is. One day as part of the seminar we went to the adventure park and were zip-lining and abseiling (rappelling) in the Swiss mountains. It was terrifying but I never once hesitated because I had my fellow Guides cheering me on. Attending the seminar and learning about leadership and advocacy made me challenge myself and realize that I shouldn’t hold myself back, that each small action collectively has a big impact, and that I am capable of so much more because of the support I have in this incredible global sisterhood.

June8_CaitlinGroupGreenGlobal
So whether it’s applying for a GGC trip or scholarship, or taking action on an issue in your community, my advice to you is simple – go for it! I am coming home from HSS with new skills, excitement, and a plan to take on an environmental project of my own: tackling water pollution and addressing how important the environment is to our health. If you want to make a difference, pick a cause you are passionate about and then connect with others to motivate and empower them. Together we can take action for a better world and make a difference in our communities.

Guest post by Caitlin Aldridge, a Link member studying biology and psychology at McMaster University. From Newmarket, Ontario, she has grown up in Guiding, from a Spark all the way to a Sparks Unit Guider. Caitlin is passionate about health and the environment and can’t wait to share that passion with other members!

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Reflecting on positivity

June2_PositivityMirrorsOur unit is just starting the Key to Me, and being the end of the year I really wanted to find something special for our girls to do. I knew it was recently Mental Health Week in Canada, and there were many related Instant Meeting activities we could incorporate into our meeting. I also remembered an idea I had had as a Spark Guider – positivity mirrors, where the girls take a simple mirror and decorate it with positive sayings.

So the night of our meeting arrived, and as the girls entered they were given a sheet with their name on it and told to come up with one positive word for each letter in their name. The girls definitely got creative – as they discovered, Y and X were not easy letters!

After our Brownie opening, I introduced the topic of self-esteem to the girls by asking them if they knew what it was. Most weren’t really sure as I don’t think the term had been mentioned before, but they seemed to have an idea of what it was. We talked about ways to improve your self-esteem and I then introduced the positivity mirrors. I had made a sample mirror beforehand (to work out some of the kinks and make sure everything worked), and I could tell the girls could not wait to get started.

June2_PositivityMirrors2The first step was to paint the canvases and right from the start the girls’ creativity and individuality shone through. I had assumed the girls would just choose one colour for their canvas, but most went with a rainbow of colours and patterns with some abstract painting thrown in as well.

After painting the canvases (and one set of purple footprints across the gym floor!), the girls set about to find the words and phrases that best described them and use them to decorate their paintings. With 16 Brownies meeting in a school gym, it can get pretty loud, so to hear almost complete silence during the activity was something really moving. You could tell the girls were really proud of their work and couldn’t wait to show off their work to their parents.

It was a fun activity that I will definitely do again, and I hope that the girls will use these mirrors if ever they need a little pick-me-up.

Guest post by Laura Litvack. Laura is a Guider with the 2nd Northwood Brownies in Pierrefonds, Quebec, and District Commissioner for Northshore District.

Coming soon! Our Be You Challenge (launches October) is designed to help girls become more self-confident while building their self-esteem.  And our new Mighty Minds Challenge (launches January 2017) focuses on the importance of building positive mental health in girls.

 

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Avoiding checking out too soon

If you’re like me, you may have noticed the girls in your unit have had a little more trouble sitting still lately. Maybe they’re just a little more chatty than normal. You may have even had to remind yourself to focus in meetings, or go that extra mile to plan something awesome for your next get-together. It’s quite possible you’re all just experiencing spring fever.

Yes, the weather is warmer, the flowers are out and the Guiding year is almost over. While you’re a dedicated Guider, you’re also only human and you’ve probably started to fantasize about your summer plans. I’ve found that in the last two months of the Guiding year I sometimes have to remind myself to get those extra craft supplies, to plan every detail of the meeting, to keep the finances organized. I will admit that a small part of me starts to ‘check out,’ to start thinking about next year and forget to be fully present in the last few meetings.

May31_CheckOutSTEM

Guest ‘Broadway’ Allye teaches the 115th Toronto Bilingual Brownie Unit about her job in coding and how to build websites.

I think this can be a totally normal reaction to the end of the year, but I suggest you use the momentum of the year to really make those last few meetings extraordinary. To help you with this, I’ve made a little list of ideas. I’d like to encourage all Guiders to add to this list through Facebook comments and blog comments. I love reading all the great ideas I find from other Guiders on the internet.

  • Get together with your co-Guiders if you can! Plan those last few meetings, decide what your goals are for the end of the year. How can you make each girl feel empowered when they leave that last meeting? How can you keep them excited for next year?
  • Invite someone in! It’s not too late to invite a guest for a meeting. Is there a parent with a cool job who could come in for a Q and A? Have you had a police officer or firefighter or other strong female role model come in for a chat? What about an MP or other leader in your community?
  • Do a meeting outside! Use that beautiful fresh air, get some sidewalk chalk, learn a new game. Go for a walk in your neighbourhood with a list of animals you could find. The days are longer which means you might be able to do a whole meeting in daylight now.
  • Do one last badge as a group. Find a badge you could complete together as a unit, such as a cycling badge or one that has the girls do just a little bit of research into the past.
  • Visit a local museum or community centre and learn about the resources in your area. Last fall I took my unit to a farmer’s market that meets in the area and we learned about sustainability. All the vendors were super nice and gave the girls samples.
  • Do a girls’ meeting where they plan the agenda. Have your unit sit down for some team building and decide what they want to do for a whole meeting. I did this with Sparks and we had a PJ party.
  • Get together with another unit. This can be great if you have girls moving to the next branch so they can see what’s in store for them next year. It may make the difference in a girl coming back in the fall, you never know.

Lastly, give yourself a pat on the back! You made it through an awesome year, changed the lives of the girls you lead and made an impact. I like to try and organize a dinner for my fellow Guiders after the year is done to say thank you and congratulate ourselves. Way to go ladies and have an awesome summer!

Guest post by Guider Chelsea Kennedy. Chelsea is in her fourth year as a Guider, currently in Toronto, and has a seriously nerdy passion for history and knitting. Check out her previous blog post, Our bilingual unit adventure.

Do you have a unique way to wrap-up your Guiding year? Share your story: ggcblog(at)girlguides.ca

 

 

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In Guiding, I know my daughter is accepted

May26_AcceptedEllaMost of the time, being a mother to Ella, who is six and has down syndrome, is just like being a mother to my son or younger daughter. That being said, every child is different. Every child progresses at their own pace and in their own time. Some children are better at music while others are more physically inclined.

When we lived in Vancouver, we enrolled Ella in soccer. She LOVED it but I knew that it wouldn’t be long before the gap between her peers and her would become too big for the soccer field and, even at five years old, there were instances of bullying from the other girls. I’m not saying that all physical activity is like this but for a child with a gross motor delay it makes it especially hard to find appropriate activities or groups. Ella is also in ballet and she continues to dance at a studio with peers her own age, where she is loved and accepted just like any other ballerina.

When we moved to Edmonton, however, I wasn’t sure if Ella would get into the dance studio I had in mind, as it filled up very quickly and she was placed on a waitlist. That being said, I wanted to make sure that she had at least one commitment outside of school at which she could make friends and grow her social skills. I also wanted an activity where the cognitive and gross motor spread would not be so glaring.

One of Ella’s classmates in Vancouver had been in Girl Guides so I asked her mom about it. The mother said that she loved it and it was a very positive experience for her daughter. I myself had never been in Girl Guides but loved the fact that the Mission of Girl Guides is “to enable girls to be confident, resourceful and courageous, and to make a difference in the world.” What more could one want for their daughter?

4th Edmonton Sparks Unit

4th Edmonton Sparks Unit

As with anything, I was nervous about how and if they would accept Ella. I emailed the Guider to ask about Ella’s involvement. She didn’t seem worried about it at all and it didn’t take Ella very long at all to see what a special place Girl Guides is. The Guiders are committed to making each girl feel welcomed and important while having a great time and lots of fun. The other girls were also accepting of Ella – some more than others, as more often than not it is a learning process for all involved. That being said, there is nothing that Ella cannot be involved in – she is 100% a part of the unit – no exceptions.

It’s hard to believe that the year is almost over. This week, we will attend Ella’s advancement ceremony where she will bid farewell to Sparks and be welcomed next year as a Brownie. I am so thankful for Girl Guides of Canada for being inclusive and helping Ella grow not only her confidence but also her sense of belonging. The decision to re-enroll her for next year wasn’t a difficult one because as a parent of a child with special needs, you don’t take these things for granted and we are looking forward to  many more years of Guiding to come.

Guest post by Krista Ewert, whose daughter Ella is in  the 4th Edmonton Sparks Unit. Krista is a graphic designer, blogger (www.kristaewert.com) and Girl Guide mom in Edmonton.  

Online registration is currently open for all returning girl members. Don’t miss your  window to secure your spot in Guiding for next year. Registration opens to new members on Monday, May 30 in Ontario and on Wednesday, June 1 in all other provinces.   

Check out Guiding’s inclusivity resources.

 

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Now my family understands why I’m a Guider

It’s almost the May long weekend – which means you might be camping in shorts and T-shirts, wearing flannel and a toque, or a combination of both on the same day. In this blog re-post, Guider Jodi shares how her Girl Guide skills saved the day on a rainy family camping trip. 


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

Inspiration hit.

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

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

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

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

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

Doing what I do with girls…

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

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

By guest blogger Jodi Paulgaard, cowgirl extraordinaire, Guider with 3rd Airdrie Guides, PR contact and Co-Deputy Commissioner for Goldenfields District in Alberta. Check out her previous blog post, Sparks can Snowshoe!

 

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A Very Royal Correspondence

Spark Pax Lodge Sleep overEarlier this spring, Sparks in Regina packed their sleeping bags for a night at Regina’s Guide building. But this wasn’t just any sleepover – it was a celebration of the 25th anniversary of Pax Lodge, one of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts’ World Centres.

The sleepover was a fun way for girls to learn how, as Girl Guides, they’re part of a unique network of girls and women that spans the world. The night included a tea party, complete with cucumber sandwiches and English trifle.

Envelope from Bukingham Palace1As a craft, the Sparks made birthday cards for Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday, which Guiders mailed to the Queen. Imagine their surprise when the Queen cordially responded with a thank-you card:

 

 

royal collage

Guest post by Alice Gaveronski, a Spark Guider and Public Relations Adviser with Saskatchewan Council.

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Guides learn the nuts and bolts of auto mechanics

May12_tireUniformThis year, our programming has been focused on trying new things. Our unit brainstormed ideas of things that girls should know how to do but might not traditionally learn. Most of the girls had participated in a tool or building night in Sparks and Brownies, so that led us to the idea of car maintenance. Lucky for us, the automotive team at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) embraced our idea and developed an amazing hands-on evening. This dad-and-daughter programming night ended up as one of our favourite field trips of the year.

Girls and their Dads were split up into four groups and rotated through stations.  They learned how to change a tire, explored a working motor, learned about oil changes while working under the hood, and saw the underbelly of a car up on a hoist. They also worked as teams, racing to see who could loosen the bolts on a tire, take off the tire and then get it back on – we had some very competitive teams! When power tools and timers are involved, you see another side of Dad and daughter duos! It’s hard to know who had more fun on this night.

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A couple of weeks after the event, we received an email from a Mom advising us that her daughter and husband were out in the garage changing her winter tires. She thanked us for providing this experience for her daughter – and saving her money! For us, this programming is a fantastic example of Girl Greatness.

Guest post by Kathy House. A former girl member, Kathy has enjoyed being a Unit Guider in Sparks, Brownies and Guides with her daughters. She is also the District Commissioner of Emily Murphy District. It is her honour to give back to the organization that taught her so much as a child.

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What has Guiding taught me? Where do I begin!?

May10_LindsayRangerA few weeks ago, I was at a community breakfast for volunteers when a woman across the table spoke of how her organization had recently partnered with a local youth organization. I immediately mentioned my involvement in Girl Guiding and how I would love to pass on her organization’s information to local Guiding groups. This triggered other women at the table to talk about their years in Brownies as a girl or similar stories. One of the men at the table decided to say that Guiding is an organization that tries to keep women and girls in the home. This false statement made me think of all the experiences in my life I have had because of Guiding.

Guiding has taught me how to clean but not in the conventional way people expect – Guiding has taught me how to keep the environment clean and how to decrease my global footprint while camping. But Guiding has never taught me that my only purpose in life is to clean. I have learned so much through Guiding – how to organize events, work with groups of people and how to plan my future.

Guiding has also taught me how to cook. I have learned different cooking styles from a variety of cultures. I have learned how to cook a four-course meal over a campfire. I have learned how to plan healthy meals that meet the standards of the Canadian Food Guide. I have learned all of this because of my experience in Girl Guides.

Guiding has empowered girls for over 100 years by teaching us that we are more than any stereotype about girls and women. Guiding offers science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programming that challenges girls to explore careers that are not typically pursued by women. Guiding has allowed me to connect with other young women through a girl-centered program that allows young women to succeed in a safe and welcoming space.

I thank the women behind the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), Girl Guides of Canada, Guiders and fellow girl members for allowing girls the opportunity to become the kinds of leaders that will make their mark. I hope that future generations of girls are able to have the experiences that I have had in Guiding.

Guest post by Lindsay, a second-year Ranger with the 1st Ridgevale Rangers, in Ancaster, Ontario. She is an avid camper and has traveled internationally with her unit.

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Girl Guide night in Qatar

It was important to me to enrol my daughter in Brownies to help her learn about all of the great things girls can do. I was pleased to see that participating in Brownies was one of my daughter’s favourite activities. Every week she would put on her uniform, excited to learn and play with her Brownie friends. When I picked her up she would excitedly tell me all about the new things she had learned.

This past fall, when my career brought our family to Doha, Qatar, I knew that I needed to find a Brownie unit and enroll her to help her adjust and to develop a sense of community. Unfortunately, it became clear that she would have to enroll in the British or American Brownies program. While I know they have great programs, I felt like she needed to keep in touch with what makes her Canadian; this was especially true now that we were living in the Middle East. I spoke with other mothers of Canadian girls in our community and we all agreed that it would be ideal if we could organize a Canadian Guiding unit.

May3_DohaShelter

1st Doha Girl Guides of Canada Unit visit a local animal shelter in Doha, Qatar.

I took the lead in working with Girl Guides of Canada in setting up the unit to ensure that there was one primary contact person. With a seven hour time difference and different working days, the messages could quickly get lost. The process of starting a unit, especially for a new Guider, could have been very confusing and daunting. For example, I had to register each girl (and Guider) as a member by emailing our key contact at national office. Thankfully she is a master at what she does and walked me through each step of the process. After a lot of coaching and guidance, and a few hiccups along the way, we officially became the 1st Doha Girl Guides of Canada Unit. Our enrollment consists of one Spark, four Brownies, and six Guides. We are about to enroll our third Guider and hope to increase enrollment next year.

May3_DohaGroupThe best part of setting up this unit was that the girls developed our whole program themselves with guidance from the volunteers. They decided that we would have multi-level unit meetings instead of separate ones, how we would begin and end our meetings, and what badges and activities they wanted to complete over their first year. They were sure to include a snack responsibility rotation, and quickly decided on their patrol leader, circle leader and circle second.

The Guides chose to be “Poppies” in honor of our soldiers and veterans, and the Brownies all became “Kelpies” so that no one had to feel different or left out. From their first democratic election of leaders to the inclusion of “O Canada” at each meeting and having an activity with the local animal shelter, the Girl Guides in Doha are learning and teaching each other about true Canadian values.

While it isn’t easy logistically, the smiles and sense of accomplishment that are evident on the faces of the girls each week make me proud to be their Unit Guider. I am thankful that each week I get to witness Girl Greatness first hand.

Guest post by Daphne Kennedy. Daphne Kennedy is a nurse educator living in Doha, Qatar, teaching maternal-newborn nursing at the University of Calgary in Qatar. She has lived on both coasts of Canada, and is proud to call New Brunswick her home. She has fond memories of being a Girl Guide in Gander, Newfoundland and Labrador, and enjoys creating and learning with (and from) the Canadian girls in Qatar.

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Words in Action: It’s more than just collecting book donations

When we started off the 2015-2016 Guiding year, we asked our Guides what they thought Guiding was about and what they wanted to focus on this year. To our surprise, the number one answer (tied with camping) was community service.

NSP 2016As a “literary agent” (a resource Guider who helps units participating in our National Service Project: Words in Action), I was excited to help the girls create a literacy-based event, and I knew I could count on them to be ready and willing for any service needed.

I contacted a local group who runs the women’s shelters in our region. It turns out they are always looking for book donations, so we got organized to start collecting!

April28_NSPLiteracySign
We also decided to create literacy packs to donate to a local back-to-school program. With the help of a couple of our Brownies, the Guides created nine literacy backpacks full of school supplies, and another 15 pencil cases which were fully loaded for the school year.

April28_NSPBooksCollectedAs successful as our literacy packs were, it was our book drive that had not only the biggest impact on our community, but on our girls as well. Our community is fairly large, and it is difficult to have events where all the girls can participate. To bridge the gap, Melody, another literary agent, collected books from other cities to bring to our book drive, collecting 229 books in the weeks ahead of the event.

Throughout the day, we had Sparks, Brownies, and Guides all bring in books and participate in some activities about literacy. They learned that literacy extends beyond reading words and into numbers, and of the challenges that some First Nations communities face with literacy.

The biggest part of the day was the workshop hosted by the women’s shelter. The girls learned about healthy and unhealthy relationships and earned their Say No To Violence Challenge crest.

While collecting book donations, the girls would count a box of books and add the number to a large list on the wall. They occasionally would stop and do a quick tally in their heads but they weren’t focused on how many books they had – they were focused on how amazing it was that people were donating books and the size of the individual donations.

After a write-up in the local paper, we had several non-Guiding members of the community bring books by, like a local teacher who donated more than 100 children’s books that their library was clearing out.

At the end of the day, the girls couldn’t believe it when we had collected 1,449 books. They were proud of what they had accomplished, and of the community for supporting them. Even though the numbers may  have been impressive, it wasn’t the numbers that the girls took away from the day – it was the sense of community and knowing that they’d helped to make a difference.

Guest post by Jane Taft, a Unit Guider with Sparks and Guides and Community Guider in Southern Ontario who is addicted to camping and collecting crests.

Words in Action has reached 50,000+ books donated and 10,000+ participating! It’s not too late to log your actions. If you’ve participated in the NSP over the past two years, you can still visit our website and showcase your impact.

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