How Guiding can be an incubator for girls exploring STEM

Scientific innovation – it’s  what propels the world forward and leads to the discoveries that make our lives healthier and better. On International Day of Women and Girls in Science (February 11), ideas for how to balance the gender equation in the scientific world will be under the microscope. Here’s how one Guider and engineer inspires girls to be innovators and STEM explorers.

The fact is, companies, post-secondary educational institutions and nonprofits have researched gender inequity within STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields for years. A quick Google search with the keywords “women” and “STEM” will return plenty of research studies, statistical reports and opinion-pieces. Amidst all of this information, how can we – as advocates for women and girls – help drive the change required to achieve gender equity in STEM fields? Based on my experience, I propose implementing a tried-and-true problem-solving process: ideate, implement, and iterate, with girls in the lead every step of the way.

First, ideate with a girl-driven approach mindset. Identify the challenges faced by women in STEM fields and the skills required to overcome them, then brainstorm ways to learn those skills as a unit. Interview a local science teacher, professor, or parent at your unit meeting, or consult some current literature – I recommend the Harvard Business Review for Pathfinders and Rangers, and National Geographic for Sparks, Brownies and Guides. Plan activities, projects and field trips that build girls’ confidence, teamwork and problem-solving skills. Ideating as a unit requires proactivity, goal setting and prioritizing, and sets the stage for effective unit meetings.

Second, implement with a curious mindset. As a Guider, I have observed that girls engage the most with STEM activities that challenge their assumptions about the world. For example, I once gave a group of girls a temperature gun and told them I discovered that my cat’s paws are colder than its belly. Ten minutes later, the Guides were still completely immersed in measuring the surfaces temperatures around them. Another time, I demonstrated a typical Newtonian mechanics problem by dropping balls with different masses on top of each other. I will never forget the girls’ expressions when they discovered that a basketball can transfer enough momentum to a tennis ball to send it rocketing across the room. These moments of excitement and discovery are powerful, and learning to harness them equips girls with an invaluable motivational tool. Implementing as a unit requires synergy and teaches girls valuable communication and collaboration skills.

Third, iterate with a continuous improvement mindset. Debrief after your unit meeting and determine what worked, what didn’t, and how you can improve. Were you prepared for your activities? Did your experiments surprise you? Did you prefer building circuits or writing code? Did working together speed up your progress or cause conflict? Did your unit accomplish its goals? Iterating is analogous to analyzing your unexpected experimental results and developing a new procedure, or observing your malfunctioning prototype and taking it back to the shop for an adjustment. Iterating as a unit requires focus and creativity, and kick-starts the entire process all over again.

As sisters in Guiding we have the ability to help drive the change required to achieve equity in STEM fields. We are also mentors and friends, with countless opportunities to offer encouragement and support to girls who absolutely need it. When a girl tell you she’s “bad” at math, tell her that math can be tricky but it gets easier with practice. When a girl becomes frustrated or begins to lose focus during a problem solving activity, find a way to keep her engaged. Research has told us about the challenges women and girls face in the pursuit of STEM careers. Let Guiding be an environment where girls learn to overcome them.

Erica Glatt (BESc, MESc, EIT) is an Improvement Engineer with Dow Chemical Canada ULC and a Sparks unit Guider in Parkland Area, AB.

Girl Guides of Canada’s new Girls First program is exploding with opportunities for girls to innovate, experiment, design and create, including our Engineering Instant Meetings.

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Giving girls a space to try, fail, try again – and succeed

There’s a lot of judgment in today’s world but Guiding is a different kind of place for girls. In an accepting and judgement-free zone like Girl Guides, girls can seek challenges, try new things even if they might fail, learn from their set-backs and feel confident to dust themselves off and try again. Through this kind of growth mindset, girls learn that they really can do anything they set their minds to. Talk about a skill that will translate into the rest of their life.

Following up on last month’s exploration of safe space, in February we’re looking at the second pillar of girl-driven Guiding –  growth mindset. When girls have a growth mindset, they believe their abilities can be developed through hard work and dedication. They embrace challenges and are totally up for learning new things. Talent is just a starting point for these girls – they know it’s their effort and focus that leads to success in the end. True Guiding values!

Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, girls can learn to judge themselves and some may become ultra-sensitive to the judgment of others. This leads to a fixed mindset. Girls with a fixed mindset believe they are what they are – good or bad, winning or failing, cool or uncool.

In a fixed mindset, girls believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are fixed and cannot change. They spend their time demonstrating and proving their abilities instead of developing them. These girls avoid challenges and dream small, so their weaknesses aren’t exposed. Out of a fear of failure, they become afraid of taking chances and stretching their boundaries.

Yet, we were all born to learn. When we first tried to climb a tree, we probably didn’t make it to the top. We might have been scared of falling. We may have even suffered a few scrapes and bruises. But with effort and practice, our muscles got stronger, our approach got smarter, and we figured out how to move to the higher branches.

Guiders promote growth mindset by helping girls step out of their comfort zone, explore new skills and focus on process versus achievement. In girl-driven Guiding, positive feedback focuses on each girl’s effort, choices and strategies rather than her abilities and talents. Instead of praising girls for their personal attributes (like how good at math or singing they are), Guiders praise their passion, grit, determination and hard work. Because Guiding is a safe space, Guiders can also offer constructive feedback to help girls grow and improve in ways that matter to them.

Growth mindset supports girls as they navigate their world and grab hold of every opportunity that comes their way. As catalysts for girls empowering girls, Guiders who model a growth mindset help girls learn to sustain their own confidence throughout life.

Guider storytelling contest – enter to win!

This year, we’re celebrating the critical role Guiders play in girls’ lives! From January to May, we’re inviting Guiders to share their stories of girl-driven Guiding.

In February, we’d love to hear your stories of the second girl-driven pillar: growth mindset. How did you support growth mindset in your unit? How have girls thrived? What have you learned?

Contest details:

  • Send your stories of growth mindset in Guiding to delivery@girlguides.ca by February 25 for a chance to win a Guider self-care package
  • Please include your name, mailing address, iMIS#, Provincial Council and the branch level of your unit
  • Images encouraged (please ensure we have permission to share!)
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How one girl found her voice through Guiding

Girls need a safe space where they feel supported, respected and valued for exactly who they are. A safe space where they can use their voice. Fortunately, Guiding offers just such a space. And our volunteer Guiders play a huge role in creating the ultimate supportive and safe space for girls. As the winner of this month’s girl-driven storytelling contest, Guider Mandy from Burlington, ON shares how one Pathfinder found her voice in Guiding. We dare you not to be inspired by her story.

A girl came to us four years ago as a first year Pathfinder. She apologized profusely at our first meeting – for everything. Sorry for bumping into you. Sorry for being in your way. Sorry for having done nothing at all. She also struggles with anxiety. When asked to speak or share in front of the group, she freezes, stutters and clams up. You always want to give her an opportunity to share, but you often want to pass over her to spare her the embarrassment of freezing up. The silence is piercing in the room when it is her turn to speak.

She comes to everything. Camps. Parades. Every meeting. Her attendance is perfect. But we as a volunteer team wondered if her parents just signed her up for everything. She never indicated that she was happy at any of our events because she never spoke.  One of our Guiders was making strides in building a special connection with her. But we still didn’t know…  was she happy in Girl Guides?

We got our answer in her final year of Pathfinders. There was a talent contest being held at our meeting place. We put a call out to our girls to share their talents – guitar, dance, musical theatre. She said she wanted to participate in the contest. Now, we knew she was a talented artist – she doodled all the time while we were talking and the images were magnificent. But she did not want to share her art work… She said she wanted to sing.

We couldn’t have been more surprised. We had never heard her utter a word. We were worried for her – that she was setting herself up to fail, to feel embarrassed in front of her peers, who by this point were very used to the awkward pause when it was her turn to share. But as you do in a safe space, we of course encouraged her to sign up. Dress rehearsal day came and everyone was on edge as it approached her turn to sing. Would she freeze again?

A cell phone tucked into a coffee mug to amplify the sound played her background music. The song started quietly and she opened her mouth to sing. She seemed comfortable in her own world of music –  seemingly unaware that she had an audience in front of her. And her voice was beautiful! More words than we had ever heard her speak in three years were shared in that song, in that meeting place, at that rehearsal. No one quite knew what to do. There were tears from her leaders and even some of her peers for what that moment represented for her and for us.

Guiding created a safe place for this young woman to find her voice. It took years, and consistent work and connection from our Guiders. But she speaks often now as a Ranger, after discovering that Guiding is a safe space. She will raise her hand and contribute to discussions. And everyone is so happy to hear her beautiful voice!

Thank you to Mandy for sharing this story. She wins this prize pack for her winning story. Look for this month’s girl-driven storytelling contest – focused on growth mindset – to launch later this week.

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Confidence + independence: How Guiding sparked success for these Sparks alumni

“Sparks made me feel confident and independent. I loved that it gave me a chance to be the silliest, truest version of myself with a group of other girls.” Yes! For 30 totally amazing years, our Sparks program has sparked amazing experiences for younger girls in Guiding. We catch up with two alumni who share how Guiding sparked amazing things in their lives. 

Alyssa Newell – Sales Manager, Avid Apparel (who makes our Sparks 30th anniversary T-shirt)

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What was your favourite thing about Sparks?

I loved everything about my time in Sparks so it’s hard to narrow down just one thing! I really enjoyed getting to go away to my first weekend camp (I still love camping to this day!). I loved the sense of independence it gave me – being away from home for the first time can be a bit scary when you’re young, but knowing I was with my Spark unit made it the easiest experience.  Plus, sharing bunk beds with your best friends is always a blast!

How did you feel attending Sparks?

Sparks made me feel confident and independent. I loved that it gave me a chance to be the silliest, truest version of myself in front of a group of other girls. It helped me learn how to make new friends, how to be confident enough to speak in front of large groups, and how to set goals and achieve them (earning badges was the MOST fun!).

IMG_6222Can you share a favourite memory or experience from Sparks?

My favourite memories from Sparks definitely revolves around cookie selling (and cookie eating – they’re still my favourite!). I loved getting to go to the local mall with my Sparks unit to sell cookies and talk to everyone about all the fun we had in Girl Guides. I still love sales and have been in a professional sales role for over eight years. 

Would you encourage young girls to join Sparks? If so, why?


Absolutely! I can honestly say that my time in Sparks (and then Brownies, Guides, and Pathfinders) shaped me into the woman I am today. Girl Guides helped me learn to be comfortable in my own skin, taught me that it’s okay to be a girl and be a leader, and gave me the confidence to meet new people and try new things. 

Courtney Wong – Store Director, J.Crew  

DSC_4259_1_editedWhat was your favourite thing about Sparks?

My favourite thing about Sparks was meeting new friends both from my elementary school, as well as neighbouring schools. Most importantly, I met my best friend Natalie in Sparks and we have been friends for over 25 years!

How did you feel attending Sparks?

I was super shy growing up, so naturally at first I was a bit nervous! Once I realized many of the other Sparks went to the same elementary school, as well as lived in the same neighbourhood as myself, we would countdown the number of sleeps to our next meet-up!

Can you share a favourite memory or experience from Sparks?

My favourite memory from Sparks is wearing my pink Sparks T-shirt with my childhood best friends and singing our favourite camp songs at the top of our lungs. I am the oldest sister in my family and my pink Sparks T-shirt was passed down to each of my sisters. To this day, we still know all the words to our favourite songs from Girl Guides!

Sparks-2.jpgWould you encourage young girls to join Sparks?

Totally! Everyone, especially young girls need a safe and inclusive space to explore. By joining Sparks and continuing on with Girl Guides, I learned the importance of female relationships, feeling empowered to learn and explore new things, and to gain the confidence to use my voice. There is something really special about watching young girls grow into strong, powerful leaders and building positive relationships with one another. One of the most rewarding things about my job, is to guide my team and to watch them grow from associates into strong, fearless leaders!

Be part of the Sparks 30th anniversary celebration – get your classic Sparks T-shirt and join in our promise to ‘share and be a friend.’

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Six Important Things I Learned from Six-Year Olds

Sparks-glitter.jpgThere are so many reasons to volunteer with Girl Guides of Canada. As Sparks marks its 30th anniversary, I thought I’d share a list of what I’ve learned from a group of five- and six-year olds:

Lesson 1: Little Girls Walk the Walk

Don’t underestimate younger girls. Our Sparks start every meeting by reciting the  Promise: “I promise to share and be a friend.” This year I learned that our young Sparks understand that the Promise is more than a fancy phrase, but a way to live. Over the past year our Sparks demonstrated their understanding of their Promise by filling a Birthday Box for a young girl in Canada’s North, spreading cheer with Valentines for Veterans, and learning to take care of their friends with their very own first aid kits.

Lesson 2:  Engineers are not just for trains!

We celebrated National Engineering Month with a visit from two engineers from Engspire. At first the girls were slightly disappointed that they were not engineers from trains, but they soon learned that these engineers could teach them some really fantastic things like building flashlights and catapults on their own.

Lesson 3: There Is No Such Thing As Too Much Glitter

If you turn your back on a Spark with a jar of glitter, your Spark will be much more sparkly.

Also glitter is hard to clean up.

Also Girl Guide cookies make great gifts for school caretakers who help clean up said glitter.

Lesson 4: Glue

See Comments re: Glitter

Lesson 5: Cookies Have Magic Powers

It is undeniable that Girl Guide cookies are delicious. This year I also discovered that Girl Guide cookies are more than delicious snacks – they have the magic power to turn quiet little girls into a supercharged group crushing cookies sales. I brought a group of girls to sell cookies at our local subway station. At the beginning of the day they were shy and quiet – but by the end they were confidently selling their cookies, coming up with creative marketing ideas and having a blast.

Lesson 6: Things don’t always go according to plan – and that’s totally OK

Sometimes carefully planned meetings don’t go quite according to plan. Sometimes the girls want to play and giggle (and play with glitter). Lesson learned – sometimes you just have to go with the flow!

Okay, I couldn’t stop at just six things – here’s one more thing I learned this year:

Lesson 7: Volunteering with Girl Guides of Canada was a great choice!

In my past two years as a Guider I’ve slept in a science centre, been to camp, discovered the recipe for a campfire treat called a ‘hairy beast,’ learned to Hug a Tree, made new friends and figured out just how long glitter stays stuck to a Guider’s uniform. Life experiences learned from six year olds!

Guest post by Angela Comella, a Guider with the 314th Spark/Brownie/Guide/Pathfinder Guiding Unit. In her non-Guiding life, she spends her days amongst books and briefs as a lawyer.

Be part of the Sparks 30th anniversary celebration with a classic Sparks T-shirt and join in our promise to ‘share and be a friend.’

 

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Here’s what happens when girls feel safe to spread their wings

Girls are under a lot of social pressure these days. They’re asked to be everything at once: smart, pretty, nice, athletic, ambitious and successful. And when they don’t meet the world’s expectations (because they’re impossible!), the judgments are often swift and harsh.

Girls need a safe space where they feel supported, respected and valued for being just who they are. Fortunately, Guiding offers just such a space.

Safe space is hard to define but we all know what it feels like. It’s the feeling you get when you can relax and share your most authentic self with the people around you. Safe space allows you to be silly without feeling self-conscious and share personal stories without being judged. And it encourages you to try new things, make mistakes and take risks knowing there’s a soft place to land.

Take for example the super confidence-boost that volunteer Guider Theressa’s own daughter Alex gets from Girl Guides:

“Reading my 11-year old daughter’s report card. One area for improvement was that she needed to get better at speaking up in class. She said it’s hard for her to speak in front of people. I reminded her that she loved being an MC for our huge community awards ceremony, standing in front of about 300 people and speaking for a couple of hours. Her response: ‘That’s different Mommy. It’s Girl Guides. I’m safe. People don’t judge you there.” – Theressa A., Ontario

One of the most amazing things our Guiders do is creating a safe space for the girls in their units. As mentors, Guiders model authenticity, acceptance and positive social relationships. Their leadership, dedication and warm presence helps girls listen to their inner voices, explore new interests and practice new skills, all while having fun.

In the end, safe space is about trustworthy relationships. By creating an atmosphere of inclusion and openness, Guiders create a unique sanctuary where girls can spread their wings and become everything they want to be. Guiders truly are the catalysts for girls empowering girls.

Girl-driven storytelling contest   enter to win!

This year, we’re celebrating the critical role Guiders play in girls’ lives! From January to May, we’re inviting Guiders to share their stories of girl-driven Guiding.

This month, we’d love to hear your stories of the first girl-driven pillar: safe space. How did you create safe space in your unit? How have girls thrived? What have you learned?

Contest details:

  • Send your stories of safe space in Guiding to delivery@girlguides.ca by January 25 for a chance to win a Guider self-care package
  • Please include your name, iMIS#, Provincial Council and the branch level of your unit
  • Stories should be maximum 200 words
  • Images welcome (please ensure we have permission to share!)
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How these women in policing busted stereotypes for girls

Dec20_girlscanpolice
When one of our Sparks dressed as a police officer for our Halloween party, another girl told her ‘That’s a boy’s job.’ Our response? We invited six local women police officers to our meeting the following week to show what girls CAN do. Here’s how it all went down:

After our Spark was told that policing was a boy’s job, she took her costume off before leaving for home. She didn’t even want to wear it anymore for Halloween. My heart broke.

My co-Guider, Jellybean (aka Melissa Hedges), and I were concerned to say the least and simultaneously came up with the idea to see if we could invite some women in policing  to come to a meeting to turn this into an empowering opportunity for our unit. With a little help from my best friend in New Brunswick with policing connections, I was soon in contact with so many officers wanting to participate that I lost count.  In the end we were able to have six members of the Ottawa Police attend our next meeting. It was simply amazing!

Dec20_SparksPoliceGroup
One brought a story, another brought pins and activities, and three were in full uniform.  We invited one Brownie from another unit – she’d worn a police officer’s costume for Halloween as that is what she wants to be when she grows up. (Even my daughter in another Guiding unit wanted to come because she ‘knows a police officer.’) Our own Spark and the Brownie both wore their police costumes, and the Brownie even wore a T-shirt underneath that had pictures of women in non-traditional roles with the words “She can do it” underneath.  Seeing girls choosing to be a police officer for Halloween gives hope. It wasn’t a pretend costume; this is something they can do.

Melissa and I were amazed and so happy this all worked out, especially to see how many police officers WANTED to come to our Girl Guide meeting. Part of Guiding is showing girls they can be what they want and how they can help bust stereotypes. We were able to show our Sparks and Brownie that girls and women CAN be in positions of power and that even within the police force there are many different types of roles.  I felt their sisterhood just like I feel the Girl Guide sisterhood when I go to events with fellow Guiders.

For me this was overwhelming, but in a good way.  I recently lost my dear friend Robb Costello, a member of the Fredericton Police Force who was shot in the line of duty. Seeing these girls took my breath away, because it reminded me there are others to take up the mantle.  Being able to have these extraordinary role models attend our little meeting left Melissa and I with a great sense of accomplishment and hopefully with an evening the girls won’t soon forget.

Guest post by Andrea Cook, a Sparks Guider in Kanata, ON.

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I volunteer to give girls their light bulb moment

Dec18_grouplightbulbmomentcrop.jpg
My favourite part of volunteering with Guiding is that light bulb moment – when you see a girl’s face light up with understanding, pride, or a feeling of accomplishment. One such moment happened early this Guiding year with a Brownie named Callie. It was just one of those moments that made me stop, smile to myself, and think, “This is why I do this.”

As the Guiding year was getting started, we asked the girls to choose their own circle leaders.  The parameters we gave them were simple: their circle leader needed to be a second-year girl; they could use any method to choose their leader; any second-year girl not chosen as a circle leader would be a circle second; and most importantly, they all had to come to an agreement.

One group did rock paper scissors, and one group just instantly came to an agreement. But one group had a lot of trouble choosing and they just could not agree. Finally, the two second-year girls agreed to let the two first-year girls choose their leader. After a very serious conversation, the girls announced they had chosen Callie. And Callie’s face immediately lit up in a huge smile. Really!?” she said. “That’s so nice! Thank you! I never get chosen as leader for anything!”

Dec18_CallieLightbulbcropped

“Callie was so excited to be circle leader and the whole walk home all she talked about was how she got chosen and how the other girls picked her,” Callie’s mother Janice told me later. “I think being chosen circle leader by her fellow Brownies will definitely help boost her confidence and drive to do better.”

I love watching each girl come into her own, finding empowerment in her own way.  It might be a girl who’s struggling with a certain skill, but finally getting it. Sometimes it’s the look on a girl’s face when she does an experiment and proves her hypothesis right, or the look of pride when a girl overcomes her homesickness to stay the night at camp. Sometimes it’s a shy girl coming out of her shell and making new Guiding friends.

I also love watching the girls learn to work together to accomplish a team task. You can almost feel the confidence growing, and the message soaking in that girls can do great things when they work together.

I’ll keep volunteering to keep giving girls those moments of awesomeness, knowing that I’m doing my part to empower these amazing girls to be anything they want to be.

Guest post by Jennifer Pierce, Brownie Guider and Deputy District Commissioner in Eastern Passage, NS.

 

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These Girl Guides show you’re never too young to stand up for human rights

girl guide at museum of human rights
No matter who you are or where you live, we’re all entitled to human rights. That’s what Girl Guides in Winnipeg would tell you on Human Rights Day (December 10) and every day. With a trip to the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, they discovered the very real power they have to stand up for everyone’s rights. Unit Guider Jennifer explains:

As the evening began, a buzz of excitement filled the air. Our first stop was the What are Human Rights gallery. As Guiders, we stood back and let the girls take the lead in how they wanted to explore. We watched with pride as each girl was drawn into a different exhibit, reading stories on what people in history viewed as ‘human rights’. We fielded so many thoughtful questions from the Guides. Some examples were, why was it like that? Or, how could they have treated people like that?

girl guides at museum of human rights As the evening progressed, we explored spaces devoted to the First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples and their views on human rights. Here the girls took in the sights of beautiful hand-beaded tapestries along the walls and stories of a peoples treated unjustly for many years. In the Canadian Journeys gallery, we reflected on both the freedoms and the discrimination people faced within our own Canadian heritage.

We closed our evening in the Inspiring Change gallery, where the girls took their own thoughts and feelings about love, beliefs and change and left empowering messages on the walls to share with visitors from around the world. Their messages were so moving and honest. Some chose to write about ending discrimination and fighting for equality while others added messages of love and hope…visions of a brighter, stronger, united future… together.

I believe that each girl gained so much from this outing and that it changed them in some way, both broadening their views on the world around them and strengthening their knowledge that they each have the power to bring about positivity and change in the world. It’s through Girl Guide outings like this that girls can discover that they have the power to change the world’s thinking. Girls can truly do anything – we just need to let girls guide the way. The CMHR has not seen the last of the Winnipeg 99th Girl Guides. We will be back.

Guest post by Jennifer Franzin, a Guider with the 99th Winnipeg Girl Guides. Do you have a story of a unique unit activity you’d like to share?  Email us: ggcblog@girlguides.ca 

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Space scientist? It’s now on these girls’ dream job list

girls with bethany downer
What happens when girls meet women with awe-inspiring career trajectories? Well, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how inspiring women role models can help girls reach for the stars. That’s what happened when Girl Guides in Paradise, NL, met Bethany Downer, the first scientist-astronaut candidate from Newfoundland and Labrador.

When she isn’t training for a potential future space journey, Bethany works in the international space sector, speaking on behalf of space organizations, planning astronomy events and more. She’s also a big time believer in girls setting big time dreams for themselves – that anything is possible and they too can be absolutely everything they want to be.

Hearing how Bethany blazed her own career path was an out-of-this-world experience for girls – a chance to see what they too might achieve one day. It was all systems go as Bethany described the endless opportunities available in the space industry, highlighted her educational journey in science (geography) and space studies, and spoke about her recent weightlessness training. She was even more excited to hear from the girls. (After all, Guiding is that girl-friendly place where girls know they can raise their hands in confidence.) Bethany fielded queries about her favourite planet, whether she believes in aliens and how she will sleep in space.

Only two Canadian women know what our planet looks like from space – Dr. Roberta Bondar, a neurologist and former Girl Guide, and current Governor General Julie Payette. As for who’s next, perhaps it’s one of the Brownies, Guides or Pathfinders who heard Bethany speak. Who knows, one of these girls might take a mission to Mars, or maybe they’ll invent a new career path for themselves. When girls have the chance to build their confidence through the kinds of activities Guiding offers, it’s a whole lot easier for them to stretch their limits. After all, a little inspiration from an aspiring female astronaut can go a long way in sparking a girl’s interest.

Guest post by Leslie Earle, a Pathfinder Guider in Paradise, NL. She is a former girl member and has also volunteered with Sparks, Brownies and Guides.

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Canada’s new $10 bill – this is for all the girls breaking barriers


Daring. Courageous. Risk-taker. These are all words that describe Viola Desmond, who’s featured on a the new Canadian $10 bank note. In 1946, the Nova Scotia business woman refused to leave a whites-only area of a movie theater. When it would’ve been easier to sit down and stay quiet, Desmond stood up and spoke out for equality –facing arrest and conviction as a result. Viola is the first Canadian woman to appear on a bank note.

A trailblazer in her time, Desmond is an icon today – and her sister Wanda Robson, who’s mentored countless girls as a longtime member of Girl Guides of Canada, is proudly keeping her legacy alive. Robson joined Guiding when her daughter came home from school asking to be a Brownie. She refers to the day she was asked to join Girl Guides as “my lucky day.” Guiding became such a part of her life that her family refers to it as “one of my other homes.”

Viola Desmond and Wanda Robson

Wanda and Viola at the Hi-Hat Club, Boston, ca. 1950. (via Bank of Canada)

When asked what drew her to join and remain in Guiding, Wanda talks about finding a place that she felt comfortable and accepted. She loves the interaction with the girls, watching them come out of their shells and their sense of achievement when they accomplish something. Reminiscing about her time in Guiding she talks about the way girls throw their arms around each other when they complete a challenge and how the older girls are such role models for younger girls.

“Once you are a member, you are always a member,” Wanda says of her unwavering commitment to Guiding. The value of Guiding to today’s girls is very real, she emphasizes. “The Guiding Movement makes young girls realize who they are, their potential, that they aren’t just in the background. It gives them a foundation of knowing who they are and that ‘I can do that’… I marvel at what Guiding has to offer girls. It gives them such confidence.”

Wanda Robson making the very first purchase with Canada’s new $10 bill, featuring her sister Viola Desmond. (Bank of Canada image)

Guest post by Catherine Miller-Mort, who works in the archives at Girl Guides of Canada’s national office.   

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The torch of remembrance and the desire for peace burns bright for girls in Canada


Remembrance of wars past. Fear of conflict today. These simple but powerful concepts are on the minds of girls across Canada as we mark Remembrance Day 2018. Somehow, we often forget that war and violent conflict – whether 100 years ago or today – affects and involves young people. Yet teens aren’t often asked about their opinions on these topics.

At Girl Guides of Canada, we believe it’s important to understand the issues facing girls and to amplify their voices. This fall, we commissioned a nationwide survey that involved talking to more than 500 girls in Canada aged 14-17 about their feelings on Remembrance Day, war, and peace. What girls told us is that to them, Remembrance Day is about reflecting on the past while thinking about the very real impact of the global conflicts happening today.

Shining a light on the fear of war and the hope for peace

In this research, girls shared that they see Remembrance Day as an important time to honour the sacrifices of those who’ve served their country, whether as soldiers or on the home front. They also believe Remembrance Day is about honouring peace builders and thinking of those currently affected by war around the world. After all, girls today often have a personal connection to the impact of war beyond the lessons of their history classroom. Many girls in Canada have welcomed those fleeing global conflicts to their communities, classrooms, and Girl Guide units – or may even themselves have experienced conflict firsthand. Some have neighbours or family members who’ve been deployed overseas.

How girls are fostering peace in their daily lives

Teen girls are also telling us that a majority (63%) are concerned that they might experience war in their lifetime. Concern is significantly higher among girls who’ve met someone with firsthand experience of war, such as those who have met a refugee or a veteran.  How we can we support girls who have these concerns?  We start by providing a safe space for girls to discuss what matters to them and how, together, we can build a better world by girls. Through actions big and small every day, girls themselves are fostering peace through their own leadership, community service and building connections with their peers.

During the First and Second World Wars, Canadian Girl Guides supported the nation’s war effort and helped children affected by war. They made surgical dressings, knitted socks for soldiers, and sewed clothing for children who were victims of bombings. Today, Girl Guides continue to connect with members of Canada’s military as well as welcome newcomers and refugees in their communities.

On November 11, many Girl Guides will proudly participate in Remembrance Day ceremonies. They will honour those who have served and acknowledge their responsibility to work for the peace they fought to accomplish.

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Our new Girls First Guiding program calls for a BIG celebration

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The launch of Guiding’s brand new Girls First program is a pretty big deal. Innovative science and tech activities. Outdoor adventures. The chance for girls to talk about what really matters to them. And. So. Much. More. The new Girl Guide program was totally designed to fit with what girls really want. That’s why we  had to celebrate our new program in a really big way – and did we ever.

Across the country, girls led the way in planning and running Girls First Launch Parties. Pathfinders and Rangers served as Launch Leaders, designing events that allowed girls in Guiding to test drive activities in the new program and discover their favourites. Along the way, our launch leaders picked up some resume-ready skills like event planning, public speaking, and more.

“Girls got to discover new things about themselves and try exciting activities,” said Caitriona, a Girl Guide Launch Leader and member of our National Youth Council. “It was cool to be part of a group of people and make new friends while feeling the welcoming sisterhood of Guiding! This is such an important and positive change in the program and it is important to spread the word and get girls talking about it and sharing it with their units. The option to bring a friend got everyone involved and learning about how positive Guiding is in young girls’ lives.”

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How girls in Guiding are going full STEAM ahead as they experiment, design and create

Guiding has always been a place where girls can experiment, design, create and imagine as they explore the infinite possibilities of science and technology. (After all, Aeronautics was one of the first badges ever in Canadian Guiding.) Now, Guiding’s new Girls First program takes science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) exploration to a whole new level.

As a civil design technologist by day and Girl Guide volunteer by night, I’m a huge fan of Guiding’s new Experiment and Create program area that’s part of the new Girls First program. It really lets girls explore not only science, technology, engineering and math, but also the world of design. This pulls the program in alignment with the new acronym of STEAM – an acronym that integrates the importance of art and design in STEM careers, whether in the form of prototyping, modelling, programming, and conceptual sketching. It can also involve using 3D printers, laser cutters, computer coding like Sketch, or plain-old paper and pencils to learn how to create new inventions or improve existing ones.

Through activities in the Science Lab and Design Space themes, girls will discover how engineering can now be so much more than marshmallow bridges, and math can be so much more than a Pi day party. Instead, units might explore robotics or digital arts at local makerspaces. They might tour local science-based employers like technology companies, composting facilities, research institutions, smelters, pulp mills or farming operations, and do related experiments and activities in the unit. Or, they might use Skype a Scientist to learn about something they’ve never imagined. It’s totally open to girls to explore what the Design Space and Science Lab themes mean to them.

Not every Girl Guide exposed to STEAM will pursue a related career, but that exposure can be invaluable to members who discover the STEAM career that is perfect for them. I was in Grade 11 when I googled “who builds bridges” and discovered civil engineering. Even then, I struggled with self-doubt and a lack of confidence that, as a woman, I could pursue such a career. The Girls First program’s exposure to STEAM at every age will help girls discover and hone their interests, and help them see that they can be biologists, mathematicians, geoscientists, or get a job in a field that may not even exist yet (lunar engineer, anyone?). Regardless of a girl’s chosen path, a solid introduction to STEAM will give her a foundation to solve world problems and make a difference in shaping her world.

Guest post by Anne Simonen, a Guider with the 1st Nelson Guides in B.C. and Kootenay Area PR Adviser.

Do you have a story about how your unit is enjoying the new Girls First program? Share it on the blog! Email us: ggcblog@girlguides.ca 

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Meet the Girl Guide who’s unstoppable when it comes to inclusion of all girls

Oct 17 Alexis Holmgren
Alexis Holmgren is a Girl Guide who’s a total goal-getter when it comes to advocating for what she believes in. And what she believes in is making sure all girls and women feel welcome in Guiding. As someone who lives with multiple rare medical conditions, Alexis has been a strong voice in speaking up for inclusion. She’s a total powerhouse with big ideas who’s taken on many leadership roles in Guiding, including running a diversity and inclusion session for Girl Guides in Alberta. She also recently joined the Girl Guides national Diversity and Inclusivity action team, providing input on how Guiding can attract and retain diverse members from communities and populations who are currently not well-represented in Guiding. Looking ahead to her future, Alexis aspires to go into the field of genetics so she can help others suffering from life-threatening illnesses.

This year, Alexis was awarded a Fortitude Award from Girl Guides of Canada in recognition of her perseverance, dedication and unstoppable passion for Guiding and inclusion. As her award commendation notes, Alexis has the ‘bright spirit of a unicorn and the courage of a lioness’. Here’s what Alexis has to say about how Guiding helped her turn her ambition into positive action:

“When I think of the 11 years I have been a member of Girl Guides, the words that come to mind are friendship, advocacy, leadership, opportunity, growth, skills, and of course fun. Guiding has truly shaped the person I am today, enabling me to become a better leader, build confidence, and discover what I am passionate about.

“From starting as a Brownie at the age of 8 to serving on the Alberta Council Youth Forum, and becoming a Link member this fall, Guiding has always been there to help me grow. Through Girl Guides, I found my inspiration to seek change and advocate for diversity and inclusion after I was diagnosed with a rare, genetic heart condition called Long QT Syndrome at the age of 12. By continuing my involvement in Guiding after my diagnosis, I was able to prove to myself and others that there are many things I am still capable of doing as a person with differences. Guiding also taught me to emphasize and use my strengths.

“While I might not be able to run, I have discovered my talents for organization, planning, and earning badges. Now that I’ve ‘graduated’ as a girl member, I am excited to continue my involvement as an adult Link member to give back after all that I have been given in Guiding. Guiding is still that place where I can continue to participate in opportunities I wouldn’t otherwise be able to have. Guiding is how I want to continue my advocacy efforts. I can’t imagine my life without being a Girl Guide.”

 

 

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Why Girl Guide cookies are the ULTIMATE Canadian treat

We’re interrupting your day to bring you this important announcement: Girl Guide cookies are here. And they are the ULTIMATE in everything.

Girl Guides sell some 6 million boxes of cookies every year. That’s a lot of tasty goodness. And this weekend Girl Guides will be in your neighbourhood with cookies at the ready for Cookie Days in Canada.

But our cookies are more than just a cookie. So. Much. More. Find out why Girl Guide cookies are the ULTIMATE treat.


Girl Guide cookies power amazing experiences for girls – which we’re putting front and centre on our brand new box designs. Whether it’s going on her first canoe trip, conquering a rock wall or participating in a science and engineering workshop, Girl Guide cookie sales help fund life-changing experiences for girls in your community. This fall, you can buy one of eight new chocolotey mint cookie boxes showcasing the range of activities and friendships that are part of the Guiding experience.

 

 

Be sure to get a box or two or five before they’re all gobbled up…


Cookies are a passport to adventure.
From Quebec City to the Yukon, India to Peru and everywhere in between, Girl Guide cookie sales raise funds for travel experiences that help girls see the world – and themselves – in a brand new way.

cookies mountainscape


Girls also develop some pretty sweet skills through cookie sales. 
Goal setting. Project planning. Money management. Teamwork. Cookie selling gives girls an edge with the kinds of marketable skills that pay off when they’re applying for their first job, an internship or a post-secondary opportunity.


Forget Dragons’ Den – Girl Guides could give a master class in entrepreneurism.
  In 1927, Girl Guides in Regina baked and sold cookies to raise funds for a camping trip. And so our iconic fundraiser was born.

historic cookie box

(1957, from Girl Guides of Canada National Archives)


Girl Guide cookies are an out-of-this-world sensation. 
As a Girl Guide, Roberta Bondar earned her Astronomy badge. As Canada’s first female astronaut, neurologist Roberta Bondar made sure to pack her favourite treat – Girl Guide cookies.

roberta bondar

 

When you need your cookie connection, there’s a map for that. Cookie Days in Canada is this weekend (October 13 and 14) – and our members will be bringing cookies right to your door, to your local mall and beyond. Our cookie finder map helps you find the cookies you want no matter where you are in Canada.

 

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How gender inequality impacts girls – as early as age 10


Every girl should have an equal start.  The chance at a fair race in whatever path she chooses. The opportunity to thrive. This is what we’re all about at Girl Guides – but it’s also what today, International Day of the Girl, is about, too!

We live in an awesome time: girls are taking the lead, eager to make change, and creating a more inclusive world. We see this every day in Guiding – a place where girls cheer each other on as they set their own goals and make their mark in the world around them. At the same time, it’s important to remember that too many girls are still held back by unequal treatment and unfair expectations about what it means to be a girl.

To learn more about young people’s experiences with inequality, GGC partnered with Ipsos this fall to commission a nationwide survey of teens. Here’s what teens, ages 12-17, told us:

  • Two in three (65%) teens agree there is currently an inequality between girls and boys in Canada – in terms of social, economic and/or political rights.
  • For girls who say they have been personally impacted by gender inequality, more than half (54%) say they first noticed gender inequality in their lives between the ages of 10 and 13.

Clearly, young people are seeing inequality in action – and this inequality is impacting girls sooner than you might think.

Girls, in their own words
It can be hard for adults to imagine how girls as young as 10 would face gender inequality in society – so we asked girls about it. In their own words, girls in our survey said:

They feel dismissed or overshadowed.

  • “I have felt that my opinions aren’t often taken as seriously because I am not a boy.”
  • “In sports and sometimes in mixed groups… the guys are louder so it is harder to express yourself.”

They face negative stereotypes that limit their potential.

  • “I had people pre-judge me when I walked into a woodshop class. They thought I wouldn’t be able to do any of the work.”
  • “Many boys in my school have said they can do sports better than girls and they challenge us to do athletic activities and always say they will obviously win because they are boys and we are girls.” 

They’re held to different rules.  

  • “My brothers are allowed to stay out later than me because, ‘You’re a girl. It’s not safe to be out after dark.’”
  • “I got in trouble for pushing a boy to the ground after he’d pinned me to a wall to kiss me. The teacher said he was just being my friend and I needed to be nicer.”
  • “Dress codes in school make me feel like I am a problem.”

#LetGirlsGuide
Not nice enough. Not strong enough. Not loud enough to be heard. Not smart enough to be taken seriously. Given that these are the messages girls hear, it’s more important than ever to make sure they have safe spaces where they can be valued for who they are and take their lead as the experts on their own needs and experiences. Girls agree: 81% of girls told us that it is important for them to have access to spaces dedicated to girls and women. When girls can support and empower each other in a safe space, they are better equipped to take on the challenges facing them, head on.

What’s really amazing is this: even though girls deal with these challenges, they’re still resistant and resilient, carving their own paths. In fact, we’ve found that most girls are still motivated to pursue their aspirations – even if it defies stereotypes.

That’s why at Girl Guides, we think every day is Day of the Girl. Because being a girl should always be celebrated.

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Girl Guides is starting, Girl Guides is starting! Why girls are THIS excited

Another year of Girl Guides is starting up in units all across Canada. And yes, girls and volunteer Guiders are just a little bit excited. And why wouldn’t they be? Guiding really is an all-access pass for girls to explore, experiment, design and create their own adventures – and the ultimate place where every girl knows she belongs. 

 

Science and technology. Outdoor adventures. Planning their own community service project. Learning about healthy relationships. Guiding really is that place where girls can try it all. This year, girls are diving into our brand new program, Girls First. It’s totally girl-driven and all about girls taking the lead as they jump into empowering activities and explore what matters to them. 

 

 

Friendship goals. Squad goals. Sisterhood goals. Guiding is 100% that  place where girls can connect and form a totally empowering, totally supportive peer network that will help them soar. 

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#girlguidesofcanada# Girltime#Mommyleader#lovemygirls

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#twins #girlguidesofcanada

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Of course, our volunteers are just a little bit excited for the start of the Guiding year, too.
  

 

Sisterhood. Empowerment. Making friends. It’s all a part of the Guiding adventure. But so is all the fun that girls have together in Guiding – sometimes it’s just that simple. 

 

 

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Reality check: What girls are saying about gender inequality

“I think it was early elementary [school] when I was told that I could not be as good at math as the boys.” – Emily, Girl Guide National Youth Council member

Whether they’re in elementary school or high school, gender inequality is definitely a very real part of girls’ lives. How do we know? We went to the ultimate experts – girls themselves. What girls told us was revealing, but maybe not all that surprising. The uncomfortable truth is that lagging gender equality might just be fencing girls in.

As Canada marks its first ever Gender Equality Week , we’re taking a look at how the equality equation is working out for Canadian girls. After all, listening to what’s happening in girls’ lives is something we do every day at Girl Guides of Canada. 

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While young people have unique experiences with gender inequality – in the classroom, on the sports field, in their part-time jobs and beyond – we know girls’ voices often go unheard. That’s why we recently partnered with Ipsos in commissioning a nationwide survey to ask young people about gender equality and uncover the reality.  Here’s what girls ages 12-17 told us:

  • 64% of girls are concerned about gender inequality today
  • Looking ahead to when they’re 25 years old, girls are worried about how they’ll be treated as adults – because of their gender:
    • 55% of girls are concerned they’ll be treated unequally or unfairly at work because of their gender
    • 47% of girls are concerned that they’ll be treated unequally or unfairly in the interests or activities they pursue because of their gender
    • 42% of girls are concerned that they’ll be treated unequally or unfairly by the public in general because of their gender

Overall, the survey showed that girls are more concerned than boys about gender equality – both now and in the future.

But how is gender equality really working out for girls?

Beyond the disheartening reality of what the numbers reveal, members of our National Youth Council shared some of their own personal experiences:
 
“I observe inequality between men/boys and women/girls in society daily. Whether it is in the media or at school, etc., I feel that the inequality barriers facing girls and women are affecting their abilities to live up to their full potential and achieve their dreams.” – Sophie, National Youth Council member

“The fight for more female representation in different career fields, school, politics, and home is not nearly over. Men still hold more power and make more money. There is especially an issue in inequality between men and POC [people of colour], LGTBQ+, and non-able bodied people.” – Anonymous, National Youth Council member

It’s clear girls not only feel the impact of inequity in their daily lives but are also discouraged about the inequities they’ll face in their futures. Let’s consider the consequences of what this means. Girls’ aspirations might change, they might dial back their ambitions – simply because of what they’ll face because of their gender.

Girls empowering girls – it’s a powerful thing

All of this reinforces the importance for girl-driven spaces – for the kind of gender-specific programming that addresses girls’ needs, facilitated by women mentors in an all-girls space like Guiding where every leadership opportunity is open to girls. Girls in Guiding cheer each other on as they work towards their goals. They listen to each other, inspire and empower each other – knowing they won’t be judged and don’t have to hold back.

“I stand for gender equality and believe women’s rights are important.” – Caitriona, National Youth Council member

The good news is there’s resilience and resistance among girls today. They’re pursuing their interests and still dreaming about their future. They’re fierce and engaged in standing up for what they believe in – a world where simply being a girl won’t hold them back.

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Girl Guides taught me how to be a girl in charge of my own life

I never used to be the person to speak up in class. To randomly talk to someone I didn’t know very well in the school hallway. I feel I’ve come a long way in the past few years – thanks to Guiding. Girl Guides of Canada has taught me not only what it means to be a girl in  this world, but what it means to be a girl in charge of her own life. Through Guiding, I have a place to express my thoughts and ideas. As a member of the National Youth Council, I can help shape the organization that I love just as it has helped to shape me.

Over the past year or so, I’ve put myself out there like I never would have in the past. When I applied and was accepted to attend the national Ignite. Inspire. Innovate. Conference, I thought ‘What have I done?’ But that Guiding event was life changing for me.  I met so many girls that were open and welcoming that I just knew I wanted to be that person who brought people together. I loved the feeling of the power of change when we discussed topics like mental health and feminism, and I knew I wanted to continue with that feeling in my life.

When I applied for National and Provincial Youth Councils I never thought that I would be successful. I didn’t think they would want just a small-town girl. I thought, ‘Would I really be able to contribute?’ But, now I find myself making connections with girls from across the country. I have found things that I am passionate about and have spoken at conferences and awards banquets on my experiences. It turns out we all have great ideas and things to contribute to the conversation whether it’s at our meetings, at a Provincial event or on a National Council.

National Youth Council in Banff.

Thinking back to where I was a year ago, I cannot believe the changes in my life. Making new friends, speaking up, and not shying away from new experiences are only a few examples of how my new-found confidence has helped me. Stepping outside my comfort zone and applying for these opportunities has changed my life for the better. My goals have gone from “get a good job that I like” to “find a job that I am passionate about and enables me to make a difference in the lives of others”.

Confidence isn’t just getting up in front of people and speaking, it’s taking charge of your life and advocating for what you want. The National Youth Council has given me an avenue to create the kind of social change that I thought I would always just stand by and watch, never be an integral part of. This year I am excited to see what the National Youth Council has to offer and what we will choose as our actions to focus on. I cannot wait to meet the new girls joining us this year and build many more lasting friendships. Nothing gives me more pride than to be able to advocate for the values of this girl-driven organization and speak about my experiences. Guiding has shaped my life in a truly remarkable way.

Guest post by Emily Lints, a Ranger from Manitoba. Emily is a member of the National Youth Council and received a Girl Greatness Award for Confidence in 2018.   

Meet the new members of our National Youth Council!

 

 

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5 reasons why a Girl Guide trip should be on your bucket list

Empowering. Challenging. Inspiring. And just plain awesome. Travelling with Girl Guides has it all. Whether it’s exploring the hidden corners of London where Guiding began, seeing the out-of-this-world vistas of Newfoundland and Labrador, or high-fiving your fellow Girl Guides as you finish your hike through the Swiss Alps, there’s nothing like a Girl Guide travel experience.

Here are the top 5 reasons why you should put a Girl Guide trip on your bucket list. (P.S. Now is the perfect time! Applications for our 2019 National-Sponsored Trips close on Wednesday, September 12.)

 

  1. The adventure quotient is off the charts. Hiking the alps. Exploring Ecuador. Many Girl Guide trips are designed to stoke your sense of adventure and give you the chance to reach new heights.

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🇪🇨 Ecuador is one of those countries whose beauty can only really be captured in person. Between the stunning colours that endlessly intertwined between the buildings and the gorgeous fabrics covering the shoulders of each person walking by to the kind hearts of the local people willing to share a little bit of their lives with us, there’s no end to the beauty of this country. The girls I attended this trip with were the true MVPs. Each and every one of them has their special qualities that I’m going to miss (including Kiera’s wiggly eyebrows). You guys are awesome, crazy funny and so supportive. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of pals to help build a school with. Thank you guys so much for making this an awesome trip and thanks to Alberta Council – Girl Guides for making my last trip as a girl member a spectacular one! ❤️ #GGC #AlbertaCouncil #GirlGuidesofCanada #GGCtravel (Side note: there’s no real order to these photos and aren’t my greatest captures tbh 🤷🏻‍♀️ & I used some pics from Taralyn & Asia as well❤️)

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2. If the sights, sounds and lights of big cities are your thing, we’ve got you covered
. From Paris, London to Rome, Girl Guide travel experiences will have you saying ‘Oui, merci!’ to exploring some of this globe’s most dynamic urban centres.

 

3. You’ll discover just how amazing Canada really is. Fact: Canada is the second largest country in the world. So there’s a lot to see and discover in the true North-East-and-West strong and free. A Girl Guide trip is way better than an old-school geography class for making you say ‘Oh Canada!’

4. You’ll get the chance to see and do. Sure, you’ll see lots of amazing sites and meet some great people on your trip. But many Girl Guide trips also offer the chance to take part in local service projects.

 

5. You’ll meet some super cool girls. It’s hard not to make new friends when you travel together. Whether it’s while sharing some amazing new food, sitting together on a long flight or cracking inside jokes as you spend days and days exploring a new country, you can’t help but form new friendships that are totally solid.

 

 

London. Rome. Paris. The Amazon. Newfoundland and Labrador. These are just some of the destinations you can apply for as part of our Nationally-Sponsored Trips program. Hurry! The deadline is September 12. 

 

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Why soaking up summer in the great outdoors is the BEST

Making memories, making friends, making s’mores. It’s all possible through the kinds of outdoor experiences Guiding offers girls. Whether exploring the hidden beauty of an urban park or experiencing their first overnight canoe trip, girls in Guiding are kind of famous for soaking up every ounce of adventure the summer has to offer. Bonus: Guiding’s outdoor experiences are also an awesome opportunity for girls to build new skills, discover the thrill of challenging herself, and make new friends around the campfire. Pass the marshmallows, please!

Check out just how much outdoor fun girls in Guiding had this summer:

There’s nothing quite like those magical summer moments of singing silly songs around a campfire, giggling in a tent or learning to steer a canoe together. Hanging together outdoors is like the perfect recipe for making new friends.

 

“I did it!” Camp is a place where a girl can try new challenges, learn from her set-backs, feel confident to dust herself off and try again, and experience the thrill of figuring things out for herself.

 

 

Whether you’re a budding foodie or just down for classic camp cooking, food just somehow always tastes better when cooked outside.

 

Sometimes being outdoors is just about soaking it all in. Enough said.

Of course, Girl Guides know you don’t have to trek far to have an adventure – exploring the hidden beauty of your own neighbourhood is another way to get your nature fix.

 

Cheering girls on every step of the way during their outdoor adventures are our amazing Girl Guide volunteers. These amazing women mentors are in it for the fun and adventure, too.

Looking for a place where girls are empowered to take the lead, jump into awesome activities, and explore what matters to them? That’s Girl Guides of Canada. The new Guiding year is starting soon. Find out what units are available in your neighbourhood and register today. 

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Sparks sparkle – and so do new Guiders!

Sparks

It’s been almost two years since I shared my story of being a new Girl Guide volunteer,  and while I’ve finally gotten the glitter out of my hair, the sparkle of Guiding still remains. Everyday spent with Sparks is a new adventure. We’ve planted trees, gone ice skating, explored outer space, and even had a sleepover at Girl Guide’s national office. I’ve watched Sparks form friendships, take risks and discover new talents and there’s no doubt I’ve grown alongside my Sparks, too. They remind me to be silly, sing at the top of my lungs, and live curiously. With the new Guiding year just around the corner, I can’t wait to see what happens next.  


A few months ago, an email arrived announcing that the national office would be hosting our own Girl Guide units. It read: “Are you looking for a little more glitter in your life? Looking to connect with nature and possibly even camp out under the stars? Well, we have just the thing for you!”

Immediately, I knew I wanted in. Although I was brand new to GGC as part of the Programming staff team, the opportunity to work with girls directly and be part of the Guiding tradition was immensely appealing. And of course there was the promise of glitter.

Within two weeks, and with several training sessions under my belt, I was officially a Spark Guider. Right away the world of Guiding began opening itself up to me in new and exciting ways. I quickly learned the Promise and the opening and closing songs, as well as how to tie a reef knot. I reviewed the programming options and wrapped my head around all the swag – badges and keepers and crests, oh my! Fortunately, my colleague and fellow Guider Chickadee (or as we call her in the office, Ashley) had experience with Sparks and has been incredibly supportive and helpful in showing me the ropes.

Finally, we were ready. We had all our supplies and a general plan for our first meeting. But it wasn’t until the girls arrived that I really understood what I had signed up for. That’s when the ‘spark’ was ignited in me.

feb9_sparkssparkle2Every week our Sparks come in smiling, ready and excited for what’s in store. They light up with each new challenge, and are delighted to learn more about what it means to be in Guiding. They have truly begun to demonstrate the Spark Promise and show excitement and imagination in all they do. We play games, craft, learn invaluable life skills and, most importantly, we have FUN!

The time spent with the girls is undoubtedly the highlight of every week. They make me laugh and smile, and they remind me to enjoy the moment. But perhaps the most rewarding part of being a Guider is watching girls discover the endless possibilities of who they are and what they are capable of. I see it in our Sparks every meeting, and it reminds me of what’s possible in my own life. I am proud to be their Guider and to be on this journey with them.

In December we celebrated the girls’ enrolment. On the day of the ceremony, the girls were all sashes, smiles and giggles. They made us proud as they recited the Spark Promise, and we sprinkled glitter over top of them as they received their enrolment pins. Being new to Guiding myself, I was also enrolled that night. I stood before our guests, three fingers to the sky, and recited the Promise just as millions of girls and women have before me. In that moment, with our Sparks smiling up at me, I felt myself become part of the sisterhood of Guiding. Perhaps it was the glitter in my hair, but I really could feel myself sparkle.

Guest post by Brittany Cohen, Coordinator, Global & Community Programming at Girl Guides of Canada and Guider (a.k.a. Emerald) with 73rd Toronto Sparks.

Interested in volunteering with a Girl Guide unit in your area? Call 1-800-565-8111 or check out our volunteering page

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How I jumped into a waterfall with Girl Guides – and you can, too!

Jumping into a waterfall –  sounds both exciting and scary all at the same time, right? But not when you’ve got your Guiding sisters to cheer you on. As Mackenzie writes, you never know what kind of adventure and amazing friends you’ll find when you take part in a Girl Guide travel experience.

P.S. You can get your adventure on by applying for a Girl Guide Nationally-Sponsored trip. Applications close September 12.

Traveling to the Girl Guide World Centre Our Cabaña in Mexico was more than I ever could have dreamed. From the moment I walked through the two blue doors donated by Lady Baden-Powell, I felt like I was home. While at Our Cabaña, I got to meet so many amazing girls that I still talk to today – from Scotland, United States, Venezuela, England and of course Mexico!

During our trip, we visited the pyramids of the moon and sun. It felt like I was climbing Mount Everest. But when we got to the top it felt so rewarding and the view was amazing.

One evening we had a campfire. It was so much fun getting to learn new Girl Guide songs in English and Spanish. I really experienced the sisterhood of Guiding when we’d all start singing the same song and everyone knew the words. This shows that no matter where you are in the world, you are connected through Guiding.

One of my favourite things we did at Our Cabaña was spending the day with kids from the local town. We made crafts, played sports, sang songs and laughed.

Another cool thing was going waterfall jumping. Waterfall jumping is exactly what it sounds like: standing on top of a waterfall and jumping down into the pool of water below. Some jumps were only 3 metres and some were 12 metres. Every jump felt so freeing and the support I found in my fellow Girl Guides as I took that giant leap was incredible. Everyone would cheer you on and congratulate you after you jumped.

On our last day at Our Cabaña, we all cried. I felt like I could have stayed there another two weeks or even two months. There was so much I didn’t even have time to do. As we walked out the door I said to myself, “I will return one day” – and I still plan on keeping this promise.

London. Rome. Paris. The Amazon. Newfoundland and Labrador. These are just some of the destinations you can apply for as part of our Nationally-Sponsored Trips program. Hurry! The deadline is September 12. 

Guest post by Mackenzie Furey, a Girl Guide member from  Newfoundland and Labrador. Mackenzie has served in many volunteer and leadership roles, including working with Guide units and as a member of the National Youth Council.

 

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Why an urban field trip should be on your summer bucket list

There is something truly awesome about the way Guiding can open doors to new adventures while supporting girls and Guiders in a safe space.  It really shouldn’t have, but it kind of surprised me recently – when our little unit from the ‘country’ found new experiences, tons of fun, and proven friendships while trekking around the ‘big city’.

Our unit, the 3rd Carter Guides, is from a small community outside of Halifax. While most of our girls take a school bus daily, only half had been on city transit. When we sat down as a unit to see if a city adventure was a good year-end trip the ideas flowed quickly. Girls had tons of ideas of what they would (and would not!) like to do during a day on the town.


We started our adventure by meeting up at the bus terminal one morning at 8 a.m. Each girl received a group name badge with emergency contact info, a scavenger hunt sheet (points for unique/creative answers), and a bag of snacks to start the day. As we hopped on the bus, I asked the girls ‘how many have never been on a city bus?’  As hands went up, others started sharing their experiences.  Snack bags were opened, scavenger hunts started, and our adventure day was off to great start!

Over the course of the morning, girls discovered parks and playgrounds, explored the waterfront, enjoyed the ferry ride (another first for some!), participated in the Halifax tradition of playing on ‘The Wave’ sculpture, and suggested other ways we could add to our day. We had tentative plans for the day, but our bigger plan was to roll with our day – as girls, weather, and opportunities allowed. Walking more than 6.5 kilometres, taking two buses and a ferry we were certainly able to see a lot.

After a picnic lunch, we explored the award-winning (and enormous!) Halifax Central Library and the historic Public Gardens, with the final stop at a the Halifax Oval – where girls had the chance to try roller skates/blades, scooters and bikes.  So many girls tried new things, and helped each other out.

As many traded in roller skates for (easier-to-use) bikes and scooters, one girl just kept trying.  Her perseverance impressed me.  When I skated passed on inline skates (for the first time in 20 years!) I told her I was proud of her and she yelled back “I’m proud of you, too, Jo!”  That moment stuck with me.  There is a girl, pushing herself, trying new things, and feeling comfortable doing so – and she didn’t just beam with pride, she passed it on.

Over our full day together, I saw too many Girl Guide-y moments to mention.  The girls embraced adventure and small challenges, solved problems as a team (picture a scavenger hunt blowing away), used kind words, and laughed with each other.  It isn’t often I take a day off work to spend away from my own family – but that Thursday, I couldn’t have been happier about my choice.

Guest post by Jo Swinemer. Jo has a been a GGC member for 30 years and has held a variety of roles – the past few years as a part-time Guider in Mount Uniacke, Nova Scotia. Jo is excited to open a Pathfinder unit for some of these advancing Guides this fall.  By day, Jo is the Membership Support and Community Development staff at the Nova Scotia provincial office.

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How Girl Guides showed their true colours – by painting a rainbow

volunteer paitingWhen the rainbow crosswalk in Smithers, B.C., needed a re-fresh, Girl Guide members in the northern B.C. community came to the rescue. Armed with paint brushes and a kaleidoscope of colours, local Girl Guide volunteers set to work in painting the colours of inclusion on Smithers’ Main Street. Guiding member Christine Tessier shares their story.


Girl Guides first got involved in our community’s rainbow crosswalk in July 2017, when Smithers hosted SOAR (Spirit of Adventure Rendezvous), an international camp for Girl Guides. This camp is held every three years in different B.C. locations.

As head of service projects for the camp, and a local Smithereen, I started searching for various projects that campers could participate in. Some of the projects included trail cleanup, painting tables and chairs on the site, collecting items for the Community Services organization and weeding at the community garden. We also painted fish on drains throughout the town and this led to a request to refresh the rainbow sidewalk on Main Street.

The sidewalk was originally painted in 2016 to show the town’s support and inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community, but the town of Smithers was unable to find a contractor to redo the job so they asked me. Unfortunately, the weather would not co-operate and camp ended before we could get to the job. I still felt this would be a perfect fit for Girl Guides so appealed to local Guiders and we took it on.

volunteers painting rainbow crosswalk

It took three hours for us to complete. It was a first time for all of us, including town staff who provided the supplies. Halfway through, the mayor of Smithers, Taylor Bachrach, came to thank us for our work and our project ended up on the front page of the local paper.

While this project turned out to be great promotion for local Guiding, that wasn’t the only reason for doing it. I truly believe this was a simple but powerful way to show how inclusive we are and that we believe that all persons are valued.

Girl Guides makes it clear that we strive to provide a safe space for our members, which isn’t possible without acceptance and respect. The rainbow sidewalk has been a controversial topic among some in our small community of 5,000 – yet slowly but gradually, it has been accepted. I remember the first time it was painted in 2016. It was less than 24 hours before tire tracks appeared to mar the colours as people deliberately worked to deface it. Now locals praise our work as they walk by.

Guest post by Christine Tessier, a Girl Guide volunteer in Smithers, B.C.

 

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5 things I learned organizing a sleepover for Sparks

Sparks

Girls empowering girls is a powerful part of the Guiding experience. Whether they’re cheering each other on as they try a challenging new activity or sharing a special skill, girls in Guiding can stretch their limits as they mentor one another. Pathfinder Ursa shares what she discovered when she organized a sleepover for 5- and 6-year-old Sparks.


An important part for a Pathfinder working towards earning her Canada Cord is planning an event or camp. For my Canada Cord I chose to plan a Sparks sleepover. Many of the girls had never slept away from home, nevermind gone to Guide camp, so this was a first for all of us. Here are five things I learned that night:

1. Having Sparks bring a special adult friend to the sleepover is a good idea.

For many of the girls at the sleepover, this was their first time sleeping away from home, and it was a big deal. By having a mom, sister, aunt, neighbor, or other special friend come along, the Sparks were more comfortable. The Sparks always had someone to go to if they needed.

2. Sparks can totally set up tents.

Spark setting up tentSeems simple, I know, but tents can be daunting even for the most experienced camper.

When planning my camp, I proposed having the Sparks put up their own tents, and there was some hesitation. The worry was that the parents or leaders would have to put up all the tents as 15 excited Sparks ran wild around us. In reality, the Sparks were overjoyed that they got to set up their tents. There were some who had gone camping before and were happy to show their deep understanding of how tents work, and there were some who were just happy to learn. You just need a little bit of patience, and someone tall enough to reach the top of the tent, and the Sparks can and will put up a tent.

3. Sparks are quick learners.

Campfire is an essential part of camp in my opinion, and I didn’t want to leave it out of our indoor sleepover. I ended up typing up all the words to all the songs we would be singing and handed them out – which brings me to the point of Sparks being quick learners. Most of these Sparks had never heard any of these songs before, let alone sang them, and I was amazed to see them all with their flashlights huddled together around the song sheets and singing along.

There was a point when one of the girls looked at her mom and said: “You’re doing the hand motions wrong. Here, it’s like this…” and then proceeded to show her the proper way to ‘sail the ocean wide’.

4. Sparks will get up at six in the morning.

Yup, I thought it might not be true if I kept them up just a little bit late, but alas, Sparks rise with the sun. I learned that perhaps I should have gotten up earlier and planned for breakfast at 6:15 a.m. But, at least the parents were there to make pancakes.

5. An exit strategy is always important.

At the end of every meeting the volunteers in the Sparks unit wait for 20 minutes after the meeting is done as the Sparks and their adults chat outside the meeting space. So I chose to end our sleepover at the park. There is a park just a 10-minute walk (20 minutes if you’re a Spark) from where we had our sleepover. The Sparks were set free to run off all the excess pancake sugar, and at 10 a.m. the sleepover was done.

This sleepover was an amazing experience for me to plan, run and learn. For anyone looking for an event planning or leadership experience, a sleepover is a great way to introduce yourself to leading younger girls, having a major role in the behind the scenes parts of camp, and to have a really great evening.

Guest post by Ursa. Ursa will begin her first year as a Ranger this fall. Guiding has been a big part of her life for over seven years. Besides Guiding, Ursa acts, knits, writes, and plays the ukulele. Her favorite part of Guiding has always been the time around a campfire surrounded by friends just as the fire comes down and the coals shine. 

 

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In Guiding, we have Pride in being inclusive

Photo: Saajid Sam Motala

Who doesn’t love a parade? Even better – when the parade is all about positivity and inclusivity. Now that’s the kind of parade that Girl Guides will totally join in. During Pride month, Girl Guides across the country participated in community celebrations big and small. At Toronto Pride, staff from Girl Guides of Canada’s national office and local members joined together for the first time to march as an official parade contingent. Their goal – to be loud and proud in showcasing Guiding as a safe and welcoming space for everyone in the LGBTQ+ community and beyond.

Here’s what some members and staff had to say about what it meant to march in Pride as a Girl Guide:

Photo: Saajid Sam Motala

Photo: Saajid Sam Motala

“I have always wanted to go see the Pride Parade in Toronto. When I saw the opportunity to march in the parade as a representative of Girl Guides of Canada, I signed up immediately. Why wouldn’t I want to be part of something bigger than just an on-looker in the crowd?

I learned that day that Pride isn’t just for the LBGTQ+ community but it’s for EVERYONE who is an ally and friend to the community. It doesn’t matter your gender, race or colour – you simply feel accepted for who you are or want to be on that day. Aside from the amazing costumes, make-up and diversity everywhere, the most memorable moment was when I saw a young girl in the crowd raise her hand and give the Girl Guide sign. For Girl Guides to be a part of Pride, it reinforces the fundamental message that we stand for INCLUSION.” – Julia, volunteer Guider

Photo: Saajid Sam Motala

“Though I’ve been to Pride a million times, I have never marched in the parade, nor have I ever worked anywhere that’s been IN the parade. I wasn’t sure what to expect – but what I felt was a sense of community like no other. It was a pretty powerful moment! When people saw Girl Guides in the parade, there were such cheers. Girls and women who clearly had some involvement in the organization at some point in their life waved and applauded joyfully.

It was very clear that on Sunday, people saw Guiding in a new light. They saw an organization that wasn’t just talking the talk of inclusivity, we were (literally!) walking the walk. And for girls and young women, it just reinforces to them that not only do they have a safe space to be who they are, but they have a sisterhood that truly has their back, no matter how they identify!” – Rochelle, Senior Manager, Programming

Photo: Saajid Sam Motala

“As an openly proud member of the queer community, I want girls, parents and even former members to see that there are openly LGBTQA+ Guiders who will be there for our girls unconditionally. Girls are still learning about who they are, how they fit into their  local communities and the world overall and I want them to know that there are adults in their lives who understand what they’re going through – and that no matter what struggles they may face, we are out there cheering them on.

Everyone, regardless of gender or orientation, has a story of finding that place where they fit in. I want Girl Guides to be that place. I want people to see that Girl Guides of Canada is a positive and inclusive organization for girls where they can become involved in their communities and not only be accepted but celebrated for their diversity. At Girl Guides, a girl can be everything she wants to be and, for  me, that includes being accepted for who she already is.” – Jocelyn, volunteer Unit Guider 

  

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How Guiding Supported Me When I Came Out and How I Helped Make My Unit a Safer Place

It’s been three years since I wrote this blog post and it’s incredible to see how much I’ve grown! Since then, I’ve become a member of the National Youth Council and I’ve witnessed GGC’s incredible journey towards becoming a more inclusive organization. I just finished my second term on the council, and have completed my final year as a Ranger. I’m looking forward to my next adventures in Guiding, and helping younger girls come out of their shells and discover who they are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guest post by Nerissa.

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Oh the places she’ll go… with Guiding

New friends. The most fun. The best adventures. Girl Guides is pretty much an all-access pass to the ultimate in everything girls want. And this Guiding year was no exception. Think of this as our mini-digital yearbook celebrating the wrap-up of another out-of-this-world year of adventures and accomplishments for girls in Guiding.


Who doesn’t want to snap a proud parent pic when they see their girls shine in a girls-only, girl-friendly and girl-driven space like Girl Guides?

 

There’s nothing like the sense of accomplishment from setting out to achieve what matters to you, taking on challenges and experiencing the thrill of knowing you succeeded and reached your goals – all while your Girl Guide friends and Guiders cheer you on. That’s definitely worth celebrating. 


For every accomplishment of every girl in Guiding, our volunteers are right by their side, supporting girls as they discover themselves and the change they want in their world. As Guiders, they are catalysts igniting the potential  in each and every girl in Guiding –ensuring that Girl Guides is a catalyst for girls empowering girls.  

 

Registration for the 2018-19 Guiding year (starting this fall) is now open! Don’t miss out. Learn more about our exciting programs for girls age 5-17, or find a Guiding unit near you.

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How Guiding is building a network of champions for girls and women

Photo: Brittany Gawley

I have met some of my best friends through Guiding. There’s something so perfect about weathering a storm in tents together, exploring a new location, or even just creating something new. And how cool is it to see girls helping each other, or teaching their friends something fun and exciting, or getting messy together? One of the things that makes Guiding so awesome for girls and Guiders alike is creating these peer connections: GGC is a place where magic happens when we put all the right ingredients together.

I’m so happy to see that the roll-out of our new Girls First program fits right into this model. Girl Guides, right from day one, has always been about creating an environment where girls empower girls. At the same time, our fantastic volunteers are out there supporting each other (women supporting women!).

While our new Girls First program model is totally girl-driven, it’s our volunteer Guiders working in units who help spark amazing opportunities and experiences for girls. And supporting our Guiders as they dive into our new program are Girls First Champions: women ready, willing and 110% able to use their experiences working with girls to help every Guider bring out the very best of girl-driven programming. (Bonus: Our Girls First Champions program is just another way women in Guiding have the chance to network with other amazing women and gain valuable professional and mentoring experience along the way.)

At our recent Girls First Champions conference in Edmonton, one of our Girls First Champions described our new model as helping girls turn “I can,” into “We can”. This IS Guiding – and this IS Girls First. This is a 6-year-old Spark learning to tie her shoe and using her confidence to help another Spark. This is a 12-year-old Pathfinder exploring mental health and using her knowledge to reach out to a friend. We’re still encouraging girls to explore the edges of their comfort zones and bring their friends – and Guiders – along. After all, life can be so exciting at the edges of our comfort zones.

Guest post by Krysta Coyle, Krysta is Girl Guides of Canada’s Guiding Ambassador. She currently lives in Halifax and recently completed her PhD in Pathology at Dalhousie University.

Guiders! Have you connected with a Girls First Champion yet? We’d love to hear about your experience learning about Girls First. Please take our quick survey and provide your valuable feedback to help ensure we’re meeting your needs as we move towards our launch this fall.

Check out what some of our Champions are saying about the new Girls First program:

 

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How girls in Guiding are creating #abetterworldbygirls

At Girl Guides of Canada, we’re working towards a pretty important Vision – A better world, by girls. Through innovative and empowering activities, girls in Guiding are making their mark and shaping their world.  

Here’s a round-up of what Girl Guides across Canada are doing to create #abetterworldbygirls.


Exploring, experimenting, designing, creating. Balancing the equation when it comes to opportunities for girls in STEM is just part of the formula for shaping #abetterworldbygirls. 


Breaking glass ceilings? You better believe that’s a part of #abetterworldbygirls. 


Taking care of the world? That’s 100% a part of #abetterworldbygirls, too.

View this post on Instagram

#abetterworldbygirls is filled with passionate like minded pathfinders who work together to overcome challenges faced by women around the world. This clean water filtration challenge from the Earth Day instant meeting educated our girls on the importance of potable water and how communities around the world are affected by water and our lakes, oceans, and rivers. The Port Morien Pathfinders are now more environmentally conscious thanks to this challenge and they are working hard to make the world a better place for girls like them in our community and around the world 🌎 . . . . . #girlgreatness #girlguidesns #GirlGuidesofCanada #oceanbridge #beplasticwise #water #challenege

A post shared by 1st Port Morien Pathfinders (@portmorienpathfinders) on


When girls have a safe space like Guiding where they feel free to talk openly about their experiences, goals and achievements, it’s a total thrill for them to stretch their limits and discover what they can achieve.


Ultimately, #abetterworldbygirls happens when girls have the chance to amplify their voices and make the world a better place in a way that matters to them. 


Give her #abetterworldbygirls by being part of Girl Guides. Registration for fall 2018 is now open for current girl members.

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This girl-designed T-shirt is EVERYTHING

girl guide T-shirt

Abbigail wearing her winning Girl Guide T-shirt design.

Amazing. Incredible. And so very styling. We were blown away by the 550+ entries we received for our Girl Designed T-shirt contest. Girls put their design savviness to work in creating  T-shirt concepts that girls in Guiding can wear at Guiding events or just hanging with their squad.

After 5,300+ votes, three winning designs were selected by girls and Guiders across the country. We check in with one of the shirt designers, Abbigail, a Pathfinder in Saskatchewan.

Tell us about how you came up with your design idea.
I heard about the design contest from one of my Unit Guiders. My mum suggested that I should keep my design simple, so I did! I decided to just write, “Is there a badge for that?” on my shirt because I hear other girls asking that all the time. I took a picture of a plain blue T-shirt from Google (because what other colour do you think of when you hear Girl Guides?) and I used my drawing app to write the phrase onto the picture. I emailed in my design and waited for something to happen!

What did it feel like to know your shirt design was one of the finalists?
Oh my goodness, I was so excited when I found out my design had made it to the top 15. I told all of my Guiding friends. I showed them my design and sent them my link to vote for my T-shirt. My mum posted the link to our local unit’s Facebook page. Soon, it was shared to both the District and Provincial Girl Guiding pages too. Everyone seemed to be loving my design!

When I got the email saying my shirt made it to the top three, I couldn’t believe it! At that point, I didn’t even care if I won or not. When they announced they chose all three designs as winners, that was just super crazy. When I got the shirt I designed in the mail, it was the COOLEST feeling.

Besides being a T-shirt designer, tell us a little bit more about yourself.
I’m 14 and I live in Saskatchewan. In my spare time I love to draw, hang out with my friends and participate in Girl Guides. I’ve been in Guides for almost 11 years. I’ve been Guiding all the way from Sparks to Pathfinders. I love Guiding because every outdoor experience, event and meeting is a new adventure. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next year in Rangers.

Check out the other two winning girl designs. All shirts are available on thegirlguidestore.ca.

Shirt designed by Keira (Brownie) with the support of her sister, Sienna (Guide) of Ontario.

Zoe, a Pathfinder from Alberta, in her winning shirt design.

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Why we should all be ready, willing and able to let youth lead

web-res_SS_3101

There’s no doubt that youth engagement has been getting a lot of attention lately. But youth engagement is nothing new for us – Girl Guides of Canada is all about girls empowering girls as they explore all the ways they can amplify their voices on the social issues that matter to them. Yet a recent poll conducted for a coalition of national youth serving agencies – including Girl Guides of Canada – reveals that a majority of Canadians don’t believe youth are prepared to be active civic leaders in their community. The poll shows that while a majority of Canadians believe that youth have too little influence over the decisions governments, 7 in 10 feel that young people are not prepared to be civic leaders in their communities.

We asked two members of our National Youth Council for their reaction to the survey. Here’s what they have to say:

What was your reaction to the data that 7 out of 10 Canadians believe young people are not prepared to be civic leaders in their communities?

“Honestly, my first reaction to this data was disappointment. I was shocked to see how little confidence Canadians have in youth’s potential to become leaders. The data highlighted for me how essential it is for more to be done to foster leaders among our youth and to change public perception about them. I personally feel prepared to become a civic leader in my community, but this is purely due to the opportunities I have had to develop skills that would aid me in this area.” – Kianna

April27_Kiana.jpg

Kiana

“My first reaction is surprise that few Canadians think that youth are well prepared to be civic leaders. I personally feel ready as I do research about issues in my community and actively participate in many different events.” – Emily

April27_Emily

Emily

Do you think adults need to do a better job of listening to youth – to what matters to them and their ideas?

“Without hesitation, yes. While some may think youth have less valuable opinions, their opinions should not be overlooked and their voices no less heard. If youth are provided adequate information you’ll find that not only do they offer a very fresh perspective but bring many innovative ideas to the today which are extremely valuable. All people have to do is ask us.” – Kianna

“I think adults should do more to listen. Youth have valid, well thought out opinions on issues that matter to them. While you must be 18 to vote, 18 is not some magical number where people suddenly start thinking about politics and having important thoughts on issues that affect our country. Adults should not dismiss youth voices on the false basis that we are inexperienced and do not understand what we are talking about. Youth have access to online resources that allow us to be up to date and well informed on a variety of issues.” – Emily

Among your peers, what are the issues that matter most to them at the moment?

“I feel confident in saying that everyone is affected by mental health in some form and that is why it is the hot topic of discussion for myself and among my peers. While youth are passionate about making change and supporting people when it comes to mental health, not enough of us are taking initiative to do anything about it. I think this is because my peers and honestly, myself included, don’t know how to take this passion to the next level. Encouraging youth to take action and making them aware of the opportunities out there to do so would be a great step forward in allowing our generation to become leaders and change makers.” – Kianna.

“I think post-secondary costs are an important issue to many. Many jobs are demanding more qualified employees, but university can be inaccessible without taking on great amounts of student debt. Another important issue is mental health and the stigma around mental health. Comprehensive education about mental health in the education system from a younger age would be beneficial to teaching us about mental health issues and helping us become more compassionate.” – Emily

Emily Vandermeer of Edmonton, AB and Kianna Benson of Bedford, NS are members of Girl Guides of Canada’s National Youth Council. For more, check out The Kids are all right and their time is now – Emily and Kianna’s joint article with other Canadian youth for iPolitics.

 

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Why I keep coming back to Guiding as a volunteer

brownie and volunteer
I was a first-year university student when I signed up for a course that included a requirement of 10 hours of community service. “What a great time to get back to Guiding!” I thought to myself. I had been a Spark, Brownie, Guide, Pathfinder and Junior Leader, but having taken a couple years away from Guiding, I decided it was time to return.

On the occasion of National Volunteer Week 2018, I’m prompted to think about what volunteering with Guiding means to me. What makes so many of us stick around, year after year? What makes Guiding feel like more than just another community service gig? What is it about watching a Brownie tie her first bedroll or watching a Ranger take charge that gives us so much joy?

I am constantly amazed by the girls I work with. They are proud Guides and proud feminists, passionate about evoking change in the world. When I look at the girls I’ve come to know through Guiding, I feel a great sense of optimism. I see girls and women who want to support and build each other up, rather than tear each other down. I see girls who are empathic and accepting, who understand the imperative need for diversity, acceptance, and critical kindness. I see girls who are engaged with issues of social justice, equity and human rights.

I volunteer because it brings me into contact with some of the most magical people on our planet: kids. Young kids who remind me that it can be fun to wash dishes, and older kids who are learning who they are, finding a voice and discovering what’s important to them. Today’s world is different and today’s girl is different, too. I am glad I can walk beside her, holding her hand and having her back, as she learns to navigate the world.

I’m proud to be a volunteer and proud to be a part of an organization that constantly seeks to provide a safe, inclusive and relevant space for today’s girl. For me, Guiding is more than volunteer service. It’s friendship, community, sisterhood and inspiration. It’s the Brownie you meet again as a Ranger, and the Ranger you now call a friend. Ten years and certainly more than 10 hours later, I’m still here, swinging along the road with a pack on my back and Guiding in my heart.

Rachel Collins is a Brownie Guider in Guelph, Ontario and Elected Member – Youth Adviser on Ontario Council.

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Why Girl Guide cookies are the ULTIMATE Canadian treat

classic girl guide cookies

We’re interrupting your day to bring you this important announcement: Girl Guide cookies are here. And they are the ULTIMATE in everything.

Girl Guides sell some 6 million boxes of cookies every year. That’s a lot of tasty goodness. But our cookies are more than just a cookie. So. Much. More. Here are just a few of the reasons why Girl Guide cookies are the ULTIMATE treat.


Forget Dragons’ Den – Girl Guides could give a master class in entrepreneurism.  In 1927, Girl Guides in Regina baked and sold cookies to raise funds for a camping trip. And so our iconic fundraiser was born.

historic cookie box

(1957, from Girl Guides of Canada National Archives)


Girl Guide cookies power amazing experiences for girls.
Whether it’s going on her first canoe trip, conquering a rock wall or participating in a science and engineering workshop, Girl Guide cookie sales help fund life-changing experiences for girls in your community.

girls with microcope


Cookies are a passport to adventure.
From Quebec City to the Yukon, India to Peru and everywhere in between, Girl Guide cookie sales raise funds for travel experiences that help girls see the world – and themselves – in a brand new way.


Girls also develop some pretty sweet skills through cookie sales. 
Goal setting. Project planning. Money management. Teamwork. Cookie selling gives girls an edge with the kinds of marketable skills that pay off when they’re applying for their first job, an internship or a post-secondary opportunity.

girls selling cookies


Girl Guide cookies are an out-of-this-world sensation. 
As a Girl Guide, Roberta Bondar earned her Astronomy badge. As Canada’s first female astronaut, neurologist Roberta Bondar made sure to pack her favourite treat – Girl Guide cookies.

roberta bondar


Customers never lie – and our customers can’t seem to get enough of our Girl Guide cookies.

 

And some of our customers really are cookie connoisseurs…

cookie monster

(1978, from Girl Guides of Canada National Archives APH95)

 

When you need your cookie connection, there’s a map for that. Cookie Days in Canada is this weekend (April 7 and 8) – and our members will be bringing cookies right to your door, to your local mall and beyond. Our cookie finder map helps you find the cookies you want no matter where you are in Canada.

cookie finder map


Be sure to get a box or two or five before they’re all gobbled up…

cookie gif

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How Girl Guides helped me shape an awesome future for myself


Girls in Guiding do amazing things – in their communities and in their own lives.
Girl Guides of Canada scholarship recipient Safira shares how Guiding has been a huge spark in her life.

My involvement with Guiding began at the age of five, as a Spark. In fact, some of my earliest memories come from playing sock wars and reading the Spark stories in meetings! These amazing memories kept growing as I continued in Guiding through Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders, Rangers and then Link. I have vivid memories of my first sleepover, of the first time I put up a tent, of backpacking into Camp Westover and so much more. Not only did I make some of my best memories in Girl Guides, but also some of my best friends that I still keep in touch with are from Guiding, even if they are on the other side of the country. (Shout out to you, Janelle!) We have such a unique and special bond because we have known each other since we were young, and share 14 years of memories (and counting!).


Girl Guides has also played a huge role in helping me develop leadership skills that serve me well as I enter this next phase of my life. For example, my leadership skills grew out from planning Girl Guide events, first a Spark sleepover, later a district camp, and eventually an international trip. I have also learned how to work with and empower different age groups through bridging events and being a junior leader. These skills have been extremely applicable to other aspects of my life, such as planning large events while I was on the students’ union, coaching younger debaters, and taking on different leadership roles. Girl Guides is the organization that gave me the skills to excel in these activities and effectively help others in my community.

In addition to helping me build up my skills, Girl Guides has shaped my values. Most notably, Girl Guides always encouraged me to stand up for what I believe in, which sparked my interest in public speaking, debate, model United Nations and civic engagement. In pursuit of this interest, I spent last year working as a Page in the House of Commons, and this year working in an MP’s office. It is also part of the reason that I decided to study Public Affairs and Policy Management at Carleton University, with a specialization in development policy studies.

Guiding has had such a pivotal role in molding the person I am today. Whether it be debating at Alberta Girls’ Parliament, hiking the Alps in Switzerland, practicing my Spanish with children in Mexico, or just volunteering with some of my closest friends, Girl Guides has sparked my passions and given me so many opportunities to grow as a person. I am so grateful to Girl Guides for supporting me with travel opportunities, a scholarship and of course infinite amounts of love and encouragement. I could not have asked to be part of a more supportive or impactful organization.

Guest post by Safira Teja from Calgary. Safira is studying Public Affairs and Policy Management at Carleton University in Ottawa and is the recipient of a Girl Guides of Canada Barrett Family Foundation National Scholarship.

scholarship logoApplications close April 9 for our 2018 Scholarships. Whether you’re studying engineering, education, history or anything in between, there’s a scholarship that’s right for you!

 

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Let’s hear it for boosting our own confidence, not just our friends’ confidence

girl guide
As a kid, I always felt like there was something that needed to be changed about me and about the way I look. I felt like the amount of your worth decreased the larger you were. But, as I grow older, I realize that there is no size limit on the love you can have and the kindness you can spread.

Loving the way you look is a marathon where you never quite reach the finish line. The best advice I could give someone based on my personal experience is that self-confidence is not a competition. It doesn’t matter who loves themselves the most, or who is able to walk down the halls with the most confidence. The most important thing is loving yourself.

As someone born in an age where our role models are everywhere in magazines and Instagram, it’s been hard not seeing anyone who represents who I am. I hope that in the future, it becomes normal to see all kinds of girls featured and represented. I shouldn’t only see a fat girl when it’s an article about being healthy, with a before and after image. Only seeing someone of similar weight on a television show where they are unpopular, nerdy and become the thin girl over the summer and become suddenly popular is hard to see – it feeds the stereotype that you have to be pretty to be loved.

In Guiding, I see so many girls sharing their love, their kindness, lifting others up with comments on social media, telling people they love their hairstyle, their outfit or their overall awesomeness. But we forget to show the same love to ourselves. Life takes a turn when you start treating yourself with love and compassion. It is so difficult to be happy when you’re tearing yourself down. You need to build up that wall of self-love, not knock it down.

Since starting high school, I have redesigned my own idea of body confidence, because it should be your own definition. It shouldn’t be what society deems as beautiful, but what makes you feel happy. Ideally, it becomes first nature to love yourself.

In the past year, I have been given many opportunities. These include leadership roles through Guiding, stepping into the role of Cabinet Minister for the day on International Day of the Girl, attending a Forum For Young Canadians in Ottawa, and being part of my Member of Parliament’s Youth Council. These opportunities have helped me develop into someone who is now able to maintain eye contact in conversations when I run activities for Guiding groups on  issues impacting girls and women. Working with such a young group of girls makes me feel the confidence I hope to pass on to these girls themselves.

My goal for the future is to empower youth around the world to love themselves. Tell themselves every night before they go to bed that they love themselves, every single inch, because there is so much to love. I want everyone to feel confident sharing their ideas and expressing their passions – because I never want anyone to feel like they must hold something back because they don’t think it’s worth sharing. Every idea is worth sharing, every question worth asking and every inch worth loving.

Guest post by Ainsley Jeffrey, a Ranger in London, Ontario. Ainsley is the recipient of a Girl Greatness Award for Confidence.

girl greatness award logoNominations for the 2018 Girl Greatness Awards close Thursday, March 8. Girls can nominate themselves or an amazing girl in Guiding in one of four categories: Confidence, Courage, Resourcefulness, and Making a Difference. 

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Let’s celebrate the impact of girls and women in Guiding

by Krysta Coyle
Girl Guides of Canada’s Guiding Ambassador

girl guides

It’s human nature to want to make an impact in this world. To feel like you’re making a difference. To feel like you did something that mattered. Yet sometimes – depending on the current news cycle or the social media whirlpool – it can feel like you’re not making any headway at all. The good news? As Girl Guides, we’re creating a better world through our actions every single day. And that’s an amazing thing.

Whether through individual actions or collectively, girls and women in Guiding are changing the world in big and small ways. Every time a Spark makes a new friend feel comfortable by telling a silly joke. Every time a Guide creates comfort kits for children living in shelters. Every time a Ranger can talk openly with her peers about gender-based violence. It all makes an impact.

As mentors and strong female role models, our volunteers have an immeasurable impact by offering a safe, inclusive space where every girl is welcome – where every girl can discover the world she wants for herself and her peers.

This World Thinking Day, the theme for the global Guiding community is Impact. At Girl Guides of Canada, today is particularly meaningful as we announce our new Vision and Mission:

Vision – A better world, by girls.

Mission – To be a catalyst for girls empowering girls.

Combined, our Vision and Mission create a powerful chain reaction, sparking extraordinary opportunities for girls in Guiding. Because girls have the potential to shape a better world – as today’s change makers in their own Girl Guide units, schools and communities and as our future innovators, lawmakers and CEOs.

On World Thinking Day, I’m fiercely proud to stand with the 95,000 Girl Guides in Canada and the 10 million girls and women who are part of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). Together, we are making our mark, making an impact and striving for a better world, by girls.

A world where gender isn’t a disqualifier.

A world of equal possibilities for all girls.

A world where girls and women lift each other up and empower those around them.

A world where every girl can be Everything she wants to be.

That’s the power of each of us in Guiding – every Spark, Brownie, Guide, Pathfinder, Ranger and adult volunteer.

Krysta Coyle is Girl Guides of Canada’s national Guiding Ambassador and currently lives in Halifax. She is a PhD student at Dalhousie University studying breast cancer biology.

Check out Krysta’s World Thinking Day video:

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How this shy, dinosaur-loving 8-year-old found her strong in Guiding

girl guide member
When  girls are a part of Guiding, there are tons of opportunities for them to shine. So let us introduce you to Ellie – she’s all kinds of amazing. She was recognized with a 2017 Girl Greatness Award. We dare you not to feel all the feels after reading her story:

“My name is Ellie. I am 8 years old. I am one of the only girls in my unit who cannot read and write things on my own. This made me feel very bad about myself because I try really hard to read but it is taking me longer than anybody else I know.

I am the only homeschooled girl in my unit. I am also the only girl (that I know of) that loves dinosaurs and snakes more than dolls or dresses. All these big differences make me stand out and feel really shy.

I begged my mom to let me quit Brownies because I felt so silly and different. She told me to be myself and take my time. I stopped trying to be like the other girls and started talking about what makes me special.

I am going to read a story to the unit this month. Brownies gave me confidence so I am excited to do it because I know they will support me. I am also planning to bring my toy dinosaur collection so I can teach them all about the different dinosaurs. I am so excited that I can teach them… maybe another girl will learn to love dinosaurs too!

Thank you for helping me with my confidence. I’m pretty awesome and Brownies helped me see that.

Here’s what Ellie’s mom Caroline has to say about how Guiding helped her daughter truly shine:

“I continue to be in awe over how much Elizabeth has grown over her two years of Guiding. She had one year in Sparks before moving up to Brownies and that transition was very difficult for her at first. She was still quite shy and was feeling like she had to start all over again with a new group.

By the spring, she was a completely different girl – she was racing out the door to go to Brownies, going to every sleepover and not shying away from questions about her love of dinosaurs, homeschooling experiences or things that made her unique.

Just a few short months ago, Elizabeth would become quite distraught if she thought more than one person was looking at her and the thought of introducing herself to anybody terrified her. Now she has no problems making friends, proudly wears her Brownie sash (it’s nearly full after only her first year) and is an incredibly confident and helpful little 8-year-old both at home and in her unit.

Brownies has truly brought out the best qualities in Elizabeth that were hiding right under the surface. I can honestly say that being a Brownie is one of the best things that ever happened to our Ellie girl.


girl greatness award logoNominations are now open for the 2018 Girl Greatness Awards. Girls can nominate themselves or an amazing girl in Guiding in one of four categories: Confidence, Courage, Resourcefulness, and Making a Difference. 

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Acceptance + Compassion: My wish list for teens like me who work a little harder on their mental health

Kate Pollett croppedMy name is Kate. I’m 17 years old and in my final year of high school. I love science and reading and aspire to be a neuroscience engineer. And my mental health is something I work on. Every. Single. Day.

I am a regular high school student. I’m highly involved in Girl Guides, my community, and school. However, I struggle with generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and depression. For a long time, I struggled to talk about it, as I did not have a way to cope. It interfered with my daily life and it continues to now as I struggle with the simplest things. I continue to stride through every day, and go to school and try my best despite my insecurities and fears. I take part and volunteer and try not to hold myself back. I have worked hard to receive high grades in school, as well as a variety of other accomplishments such as volunteerism awards, publications and participating in science fairs and programs. Every day, I feel as if I might just have to give up. That it is too much, but I continue to convince myself to get out of bed and try my hardest in everything I do.

I often worry about my mental illness and how others may react. I believe that even though I have things that hold me back in life, I can still move forward and overcome them to achieve great things. I believe that this is what courage is.

I joined Pathfinders in my first year of junior high school. During this time I was having trouble with peers and stress. I struggled to communicate and participate in new or overwhelming activities. After several stressful days, my mom decided that I needed a change. She wanted me to get involved and meet people to build my confidence. So she arranged for me to attend a Pathfinder meeting. After that meet-up, I registered and have stayed with Guiding since. As a result I have been allowed so many opportunities both in and out of Guiding. Through my participation in my community I gained confidence and managed to get through junior high.

When I entered high school, it became worse and I struggled again with anxiety. It impacted my school work and my ability to be with others. I began visits with a counselor and about a year later in grade 11, I was diagnosed with anxiety and OCD. This was both a shock and relief. After finally understanding why I struggled the way I did, I was able to find ways to cope and manage my feelings of being overwhelmed. I still struggle daily and there is no fix all solution. But as co-leader of my school’s Mental Health Committee I continue to learn and speak about mental illness and its stigma.

Overall, I have gotten through the previous years by doing what I love. I love volunteering and speaking about issues important to me. Girl Guides was a large part of that and I am thankful for it. It is amazing how impactful acceptance and compassion can be.

Guest post by Kate, a Ranger and grade 12 student in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador. Kate is a recipient of a 2017 Girl Greatness Award for Courage. 2018 Girl Greatness nominations open February 1.

Girl Guides of Canada’s Mighty Minds program helps girls develop positive mental health skills they can use to cope with the challenges they may face in their daily lives, while addressing the stigma that exists around mental health and mental illness in our society. Check it out!

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How girls are building survival skills to navigate the digital wilderness

girls with phones
Phones. Tablets. Laptops.

Snapchat. Instagram. Texting.

Fake news. Selfie perfection. Sexting.

Yup – it’s a digital minefield out there for girls. With countless options for connecting, sharing and shaping their identity online, there’s a lot for them to navigate. Yet, girls are digital trailblazers. They know their stuff, they’re early adopters – and they’re well aware of the importance of building survival skills for the digital wilderness.

While many girls are embracing the digital sphere to create their own stories and express themselves in positive ways, the digital world throws a ton of challenges their way, often affecting their self-esteem and connections with others. Consider what our recent survey of teenaged girls revealed:

  • 25% of girls have felt pressured to write or post sexy or provocative things about themselves on social media
  • 55% of girls agree that trying to meet social media expectations about how they should look or act has negatively impacted their self-esteem. This is strongest among heavy users of social media at 71%
  • 93% of girls use more than one social media platform on a regular basis – while 12% regularly use as many as six

While suggesting to girls that they just unplug, disconnect and go screen-free is a great idea from time to time, it’s not a realistic solution. For many girls, there’s no distinction between their offline and online lives. Girls see digital technology as an essential – and often fun – part of their everyday lives. While most are pretty confident and savvy in their tech skills, girls have told us that being online puts pressure on them to look and act in a certain way. They also worry about these pressures and their safety. Girls truly want to strengthen their digital know-how so that they’re empowered to navigate the digital world they live in. Enter Girl Guides of Canada’s new digital literacy program, DeCode.

decode crestCreated with the experts at MediaSmarts, DeCode focuses on supporting girls in critically assessing their digital world, particularly how girls are represented and treated in digital media. Through activities that cover a range of topics – setting secure passwords, how to assess what’s real and what’s fake online, the pressure to convey a perfect digital identity, and discussions on sexting for older girls –  DeCode gives girls next-level digital know-how.

Through Guiding, girls can build their personal portfolio of skills – whether it’s financial literacy, mental wellness, or self-acceptance. Learning how to be safe online, protect their digital identities, avoid hoaxes and fake content, and how to navigate intimate relationships in the digital sphere is a pretty much Stuff You Need to Know 101 for girls in 2018.

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We could learn a lot from girls when it comes to supporting mental health

girl guide members
Chill. Relax. Get over it. It’s no big deal. Don’t stress about it.

Who hasn’t been given this kind of not-really-helpful-at-all advice when they’re struggling?

And we all struggle from time to time – it’s totally normal for some days to feel less like a bowl of cherries and more like a roller coaster. For girls and young women, everything from relationships, body image and school to changing family dynamics and the topsy turvy state of the world can make the roller coaster just that much more intense, resulting in a range of feelings and emotions.

Our own data tells us that there are plenty of challenges that test girls’ resilience. Two out of three girls feel pressure to conform to unrealistic standards about what it means to be a girl. And over half report that trying to meet social expectations about how they should look or act has negatively impacted their self-esteem.

How does this impact a girl’s mental health? Well, as the Canadian Mental Health association notes, low self-esteem can change the way you understand your value and worth. And, ultimately, a healthy body image and self-esteem are a big part of overall mental health and well-being.

“I wish grown-ups would let us talk about our feelings more. If we can talk and use emojis every day, then why not real things.” – 10-year-old Guide

Girls have told us that they know the importance of talking openly about mental health and that sometimes they don’t feel like the adults in their world feel comfortable about this. Girls themselves don’t shy away from talking about topics like mental health. They crave the opportunity to engage in meaningful and authentic conversations about what matters to them and what’s going on in their lives – the good, the bad and everything in between.

girl guide members

Girls in Guiding exemplify what a total powerhouse of support girls are for one another.

“I think every girl has had a moment in time where they haven’t been okay mentally, including me. Mental health is something that affects everyone, but it can be combated if we all come together and share our stories.”  – Andrea, Ranger

Girls want the tools to confidently navigate their world – no matter what kind of roller coaster ride they may be facing on any given day.  And they’ve shown through participating in Mighty Minds – Girl Guides of Canada’s mental health program – that they’re not going to shy away from talking about this topic or learning how they can take care of their own mental health and truly support those around them.

“Mighty Minds helps us learn about the myths of mental health – and empowers us to help break the stigma, develop resiliency and the confidence to discuss issues in a safe and inclusive environment.” – Hari, Ranger

Girls in Guiding exemplify what a total powerhouse of support girls are for one another. They share their stories. They listen to one another. They support one another. They talk openly about their roller coaster days. And when it comes to supporting every girl to be Everything she wants to be, girls having the opportunity to talk openly about their mental health is everything.

Share how your unit is participating in Mighty Minds with #GGCMightyMinds.

Thank you to Kids Help Phone and the Psychology Foundation of Canada for their support and assistance in the development of Mighty Minds.

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Why you should make travel part of your 2018 bucket list

What’s on your bucket list for 2018? How about a little more travel and adventure and new ways to connect with your #globalgirlsquad? Good thing a Girl Guide travel experience has it all.

With applications closing Wednesday, January 17 for our 2018 B.C. Wilderness Adventure trip for girls 16+, here’s what Girl Guides Lois and Laura have to say about their recent adventure and leadership conference hosted by Girl Scouts in Japan.

(Warning:  After reading this, you’ll totally want to apply for a Girl Guide travel experience.)


girl guides at japan eventParticipating in this travel experience benefited me in so many ways. The main leadership event was held at the Girl Scouts of Japan’s Togakushi Centre. Placed right at the base of a beautiful mountain range, Togakushi was the perfect setting to be immersed in Japanese culture and the global sisterhood of Guiding.

Before attending the event in Togakushi, my travel partner and I were lucky enough to have a few days in Tokyo on our own.  This experience in itself was amazing. We faced several trials and tribulations during this period that challenged us to use our savvy and work as a team to overcome the obstacles in our way. We learned as much about ourselves and each other in those few days as we did about the city and the country.

One of the most important things I learned from this Girl Guide travel experience came from the other event participants themselves, young women from Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. Although they were so similar to us in so many ways, they still saw the world from a very different perspective. By learning more about them and their world, I learned how to be more understanding and tolerant. Biases I brought to the event were quickly challenged and brought down.

This Girl Guide experience has continued to affect my life in positive ways as I find myself applying lessons I learned through travel and at the event to my everyday life. I made new friends both far and wide and it has made me grow as a person and to see myself in new ways. I have always raved about Girl Guides and told anyone who would listen about the opportunities it has to offer – and this experience has made me appreciate Guiding even more.

  • Lois Fraser is a fourth-year forensic psychology student at the University of British Columbia- Okanagan. Lois was in Girl Guides for eight years as a girl and has now returned as a Unit Guider for the 1st Westbank Sparks. 

group at Japan girl guides event
This Girl Guide trip was such a unique opportunity to take action for a better world. There is something about gathering in a room of conscientious young women, with big ideas and a drive to collaborate that is an unstoppable feat.

One of the most profound things I learned from this is the idea of taking a worldly perspective. It’s is easy to get caught up in the weekly logistics of our own Guiding activities and forget that we are part of a worldwide organization. During this trip, I gained a whole new perspective into the vast impact Guiding can have all over the world, and I hope to take full advantage of that in the future.

After this experience, I am more excited than ever to meet sisters in Guiding from across Canada and around the world. Although we may come from completely different backgrounds or cultures, by sharing a love for Guiding, any differences we may have disappear.

I would encourage any Girl Guide member to seize all Guiding opportunities that come your way. Even if you think you don’t have a chance of being selected (as I felt myself before this trip), take a leap of faith because Guiding can open up incredible opportunities.

  • Laura Meleady is a third-year biochemistry student at the University of British Columbia. Laura has been involved in guiding since the age of 5, and continues as a unit leader for the 34th West Point Grey Guides.
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Meet the girls who are taking action on poverty

Do not underestimate the power of girls.  This holiday season, Girl Guides from coast to coast to coast are all about the giving as they take part in our National Service Project: Action on Poverty. They’re sewing mittens for youth experiencing homelessness, making snack bags for teens in need, and volunteering at local food programs – demonstrating their power to make a difference in their own neighbourhood. These Girl Guides are definitely proving that #GirlPower is more than just a catchy hashtag or T-shirt slogan.

According to Food Banks Canada’s Hunger Report 2016, more than 800,000 Canadians access food banks every month – 36 % of whom are children. Through Action on Poverty, Girl Guides are supporting those facing hunger in their communities. 


Some units focused their community service on those their own age, assisting youth and young adults experiencing homelessness.  


For these Pathfinders and Rangers, it was teamwork for the win. 

Check out our National Service Project page to see all actions logged by our awesome girls, members and volunteers!

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The world isn’t always great for girls – but Guiding is a powerhouse of support

nerissa
Even though we live in a world where girls are constantly treated as less valuable or powerful than their male counterparts, I’ve never believed that my gender makes me worth less. That’s because when I was 11-years-old I became a Guide – and I learned that girls can do anything. During 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence, I’m shouting out loud and clear that in Girl Guides, girls are a powerhouse of support. We’ve totally got each other’s backs when it comes to letting the world know that girls are more than rather than less than whatever you perceive us to be.

Whether it’s on purpose or just an underlying bad habit, boys are often treated as stronger and more useful than girls. It’s not uncommon, especially in elementary school, to hear a teacher ask for “a big strong boy” to help carry something. And in my experience, boys often get the chance more often than girls to speak in formal and casual discussions. In a girls-only environment like Guiding, it’s simply not possible to brush us to the side.

Early on in my Guiding experience, it became clear to me that my gender should never limit what I can or can’t do. However, on a daily basis, the media and our personal experiences remind us that society doesn’t always treat girls the way we should be treated. It’s important for girls to believe they can do anything, but equally critical is learning to step up and speak up when we aren’t treated fairly.

As a member of GGC’s National Youth Council, it’s been evident to me that Guiding helps amplify girls’ voices. All the adult volunteers in our organization genuinely care, value, and respect what youth have to say. I’ve had the chance to share my insights and personal experiences with our Board of Directors and other volunteers on a huge range of initiatives they’re working on. Their desire to hear feedback from a youth perspective is always genuine and never a token gesture.

I’ve also been lucky enough through Guiding to connect with girls in my communities about what matters to them in Guiding, and what changes they want to see. For example, in April I attended the Ignite. Inspire. Innovate. Conference with 150 Rangers from across Canada.

girl guide
I was amazed by Guiding’s ability at this event to create a safe space for us to discuss everything and anything we found important. From sexual assault and harassment, bullying, queer issues, and micro-aggressions faced by girls and women on a daily basis, it was clear no topic was off limits. Safe space isn’t just a word you can throw around, it’s a series of steps you take. In the case of Ignite, this meant making participants aware of the topics that were going to be covered before the presentations began, letting us step out of the room if it became too much – and having dedicated areas to chill out and take a break.

Whether it’s meeting with my own Ranger unit or connecting with Girl Guides across the country, Guiding has taught me to value my strengths and use my voice. In a world where girls are often treated less than fairly, Girl Guides offers a space for us to stand up and speak out about the issues that matter to us, in an environment where we are always supporting one another.

Guest post by Nerissa Kassis. Nerissa is a third-year Ranger in Vancouver and a member of the GGC National Youth Council. She is a self-proclaimed science nerd and always loves a good cup of tea. 

 

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Let’s talk about… Violence against girls

Sexual harassment and violence against girls. While this may feel like a grown-up topic, it’s really not. The truth is many girls in Canada are already dealing with harassment. It can start with catcalling in the hallways, creepy comments online and escalate from there.

While it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by this grim reality, girls in Girl Guide units across Canada are coming together during 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence (November 25 to December 10) to inspire action.  They are working together to stand up for themselves and their friends – and to take a stand against violence and harassment.

say no to violence logoAnd that’s what our Say No to Violence Challenge is all about. Whether it’s Sparks and Brownies learning about safe friendships, Guides learning about online harassment or Pathfinders and Rangers discussing dating violence, Say No to Violence covers the topics that Canadian girls need to know for safe and fulfilling relationships.

Check out the video above to hear how one Guider is empowering the girls in her Guide unit through the Say No to Violence Challenge and community service.

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