Remembering Beyond Remembrance Day


On April 9, Canadians will commemorate the 100th anniversary of the battle of Vimy Ridge. Guider Michelle writes how inviting a woman from the Canadian Forces helped her Guides explore their own leadership skills and the achievements of those who ensure the freedoms we enjoy today.  


While we often reserve Remembrance Day as the time to consider the contributions of the Canadian military, reflecting on the horror of war and embracing peace doesn’t have to be saved for a single day on the calendar. Earlier this year, our unit invited a volunteer from the Memory Project, which connects schools and other groups with local veterans and members of the Canadian Forces to share their stories. Our guest was Lieutenant Rebecca Garnham. She’s stationed here in Calgary and helps train new recruits in the Navy before they head off for their first assignments.

Lt(N) Garnham is a former Girl Guide herself. She talked about how members in Guiding and the military both make a promise to make the world a better place. She also shared how the sisterhood of Guiding is a lot like the sisterhood she shares with her fellow women in the military.

We heard about how women started in the military as nurses, and we learned the names of female trailblazers who’ve made it possible for women today to hold any position in the Canadian military. It was a great opportunity for girls to discover the opportunities there are in the military – ranging from leadership roles and peacekeeping duties to positions that focus on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

After her presentation, Lt(N) Garnham led us through a little activity. She placed various leadership quotes on the floor and asked girls to stand by the one that spoke most strongly to them. We then got to share with each other the quote we had chosen and why we felt that quote described an important part or trait of leadership. The girls did a great job sharing their thoughts and then set to work on their Peace badge.

Connecting our girls with a woman in the Canadian military was an eye-opening experience for them. They not only met a female role model in their community, but they also discovered the role we can all play in bringing a little more peace to the world.

Michelle Head is the District Commissioner for 12 Mile Coulee District and a Guider with the 34th Guides in Calgary, Alberta.

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Lost and found in translation


I recently went on a two-week long B.C. Girl Guide trip to Peru. We toured over a dozen towns in Southern Peru as well coastal cities such as Lima and Paracas. We hiked Machu Picchu, explored the floating islands on Lake Titicaca and went sandboarding in the desert. It was  everything a perfect trip should be – educational, engaging and exciting.  

And as the only Spanish speaker on our trip, I had a slightly different experience than the rest of the group. Right from the start it became clear I was the unofficial group translator. A daunting role for even the most experienced.

Putting myself – and my language skills – to the test
The most challenging part of the trip was ordering food. Now, food was never my strong suit in Spanish class, so I would often guess a word’s meaning from the waiter’s hints. (And while my amazing Spanish teacher had taught me an extensive food vocabulary, as a vegetarian I didn’t bother learning any words for meat products. To anyone wanting to learn a language – I would not recommend doing this!)

It took us forever to order because I had to work my way through each item on the menu, translating it word for word.

Here’s how it kind of went: “So our first option is chicken with some sort of vegetable and a side of rice. Our next option, I think is a type of fish – not sure what type – with another local vegetable. Finally, our third option is some sort of animal. It could be steak, or pork or even alpaca. But the waiter says it’s good.”

It was a painstakingly long process but every meal was a delicious surprise. 

For future jet-setters, I have a few pieces of advice:

  1. Create and keep a list of keywords written phonetically
    It would also be helpful to print out a list of common foods in the country you’re visiting as well as phrases such as “only with,” “without,” “what’s in this,” etc.
  2. Download a translating app
    The apps often work without WiFi, but you should check in advance. If no one in your group speaks the language, there’s always Google translate! You can even use it to take a picture of a sign, and it will translate the words on it for you.
  3. Go low-tech and carry a notebook and pencil
    You can not only write down the new vocabulary you’re learning, but you can also use it to draw pictures or write numbers. This can simplify communication and help overcome language barriers.
  4. Speak up!
    This may seem obvious but one of the best ways to learn a language is to speak it! Before turning to your group translator, consult your handy phrasebook or dictionary and start talking. You’ll probably make a few mistakes or mispronounce a word or two but chances are, you’ll get your message across.

I was so proud of my fellow Guiding travelers who immersed themselves in the language and seized every opportunity to learn a new Spanish word. This trip was an incredible experience; it pushed me outside of my comfort zone and put my Spanish skills to the test. At times, it was challenging, especially given my Lima-ted vocabulary, but I always had the support of my fellow Guiders.

Guest post by Taylor Ball. Taylor is a lifelong Girl Guide originally from Vancouver and currently studying Commerce at Queen’s University. Taylor is a member of the Canadian Guider editorial committee.

What’s your Girl Guide story? Share it on the blog. Send your blog pitch to ggcblog(at)girlguides.ca

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In Guiding, I’m not alone

When I was growing up we didn’t talk about mental health and mental illness.

It wasn’t something we talked about at home.

It wasn’t something we learned about at school.

And it certainly wasn’t something we discussed at Girl Guides. Now there’s Mighty Minds, Girl Guides of Canada’s new mental health program.

My mental health story
I developed a mental illness at the age of 12. I live with a few body-focused repetitive behaviours. I hid my illness for over a decade. My family knew, and a few close friends – but that was all. Hiding my mental illness was something I’d always done and the concept of talking about it was terrifying.

March22_AnastasiaIn April 2016, I began to blog and write about my experiences with mental illness. Since then I’ve been talking to just about anyone who will listen about my experiences, about body-focused repetitive behaviours and taking care of ourselves.

I was compelled to talk, to open up because of one person. One person who made me feel like someone else out there understood. Someone who made me feel not alone, but part of something. It was in that moment of acknowledging I wasn’t alone that I knew I had to give someone else that feeling, too. I knew I had to speak about my experiences so that even one girl knows she is not alone.

In Guiding, we’re part of so many somethings
Girl Guides has made me feel like I’m not alone, and it does the same for thousands of girls across the country. It makes us feel part of something. Part of the change, part of the caring and part of a movement.

Talking about mental health and mental illness with girls will ensure they don’t feel alone, and ensure they know they have people to go to, but most importantly it opens up discussion. Mighty Minds allows girls of all ages the opportunity to talk – and to learn to talk about – mental health and mental illness. And that’s something I can’t help but think would have helped 12-year old me immensely.

I’m taking part in Mighty Minds so that girls know that mental health is something we need to talk about – and that they are never alone.

Guest post by Anastasia Smallwood. Anastasia is a third-year Bachelor of Public Relations student at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, NS. A Brownie Unit Guider and strategic communications coordinator for her provincial council, she loves to spend her time volunteering and planning events. 

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When the pieces click together

At university, they say the first semester is the hardest. To say I was nervous was a bit of an understatement: on top of delving into my specialization degree in Immunology and Infection at the distinguished (and somewhat menacing) University of Alberta, I was attempting to score stellar grades worthy of competing for a future spot in medical school. I was well aware that volunteering and extracurriculars are an asset to applying for this program, and this fit perfectly with my love for Girl Guides.

Time management was definitely a tricky task. The jigsaw puzzle of my life required fitting together the complicated pieces of my studies, going to the gym, family life, social life, and of course, Guiding. Hoping to alleviate the need to squeeze in a part-time job on top of it all, I applied for Girl Guide scholarships. (This year’s national application deadline is April 3.) To my amazement, I received both a provincial and national Girl Guide scholarships. Such news inspired feelings of relief and gratitude that I could never fully express in words.March16_KimJumpPuzzlePieces2

Consequently, I didn’t have to make sacrifices for other important pieces of my life, including that for Guiding. Volunteering with Brownies and Guides on a weekly basis offers a break – a welcome distraction. I deeply appreciate working with my experienced co-Guiders, who have marveled me with the world of programming, planning, and communicating. They have been patient and understanding of my limited hours during exam time, and they even encouraged me to be the Responsible Guider for our residential camp!

Of course, my top reason for volunteering with Girl Guides is the joy I get from working with the girls. The girls’ cheerfulness is contagious; a definite source, I believe, of mental health for me during that first semester. For all that the girls have given me, I hope I’m giving back to them in return as a young adult role model. I hope to embody what it means to stay with Girl Guides from girl member to Guider, as well as what it means to be a woman in science. As all my co-Guiders have pursued careers in sciences and engineering, we plan wicked STEM-themed meetings, inspiring the next generation of confident female scientists. And this is what makes everything worth it.

To Girl Guides of Canada, and to everyone who has helped me get to where I am, I wanted to thank you for your support— my life’s puzzle seems to fit together quite nicely.

Guest post by Kim Papp, a first-year student specializing in Immunology and Infection at the University of Alberta, who volunteers with Brownies and Guides in Edmonton. 

Hurry! Girl Guides of Canada national scholarship applications close April 3 at 11:59 pm EST. There are scholarships for full- and part-time studies and a variety of fields.

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Pamela Rice: Why Feminism Is Not a Dirty Word

Cory Seamer / Shutterstock.com

Nesta Ashworth is the kind of hero that girls today would have no problem relating to. In the early 1900s, she saved her pocket money to buy an axe and build a fort in the woods with her friends. When she wanted to sleep in a tent, she was told to “Forget it!” and to focus on womanly skills such as nursing and cooking. But Nesta pushed back. In 1909, she gate-crashed a Boy Scout rally at London’s Crystal Palace and demanded a similar program for girls. Nesta wanted equal opportunities for girls – nothing more, nothing less.

From the very beginning, Guiding has been led by girls who were feminists. Yes, I said it, the F-word. It’s not a dirty word – it’s a word and premise I stand behind 100 per cent, and am proud to say shapes Guiding. It’s at the core of how the Guiding story began. It’s girls like Nesta who weren’t held back by society’s view that women were subservient to men – “only” homemakers. They pushed boundaries to be all they could and should be, and embodied feminism in the face of limiting ideologies about women. They were brave and courageous – and they were Girl Guides.

Fast forward to International Women’s Day 2017 which arrives on the heels of the Women’s March, a historical moment in time that saw millions of women worldwide come together in support of women’s rights.  This was an incredible display of just how vibrant and alive feminism is today. And it is a good reminder that it is more important than ever for the Nestas of today – and the women who support them – to  keep pushing these ideals whether it’s about equality, leadership or human rights.

The girls and young women I know in Guiding reflect all the powerful things that feminism is and can be. They believe in equality for all. They are self-reliant. They explore new challenges. They support one another. No judgment, no competition, no put downs – that’s what Guiding is all about.

Jillian Ashick-Stinson is one of these young women. As a member of Girl Guides, she will be representing the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts at next week’s United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) in New York and speaking up about the rights of girls around the world.

“One of the most important lessons Guiding has taught me is the importance of empowering other women through positive female friendships,” she explains. “From being a shy Pathfinder trying to figure myself out to an active independent young woman, Guiding has let me be an active participant in my life and my future.”

The bridge between girls and young women like Nesta and Jillian is solid. Sure feminism may look different today than it did 50 or 100 years ago – but the underlying principle is the same. Feminism = equality for everyone – in absolutely every area of our lives. Girls’ lives are changing, but they won’t be held back and they won’t sit still for anything less. I am honoured to be a part of their world and so excited to see where girls and young women in Guiding will take us next.

By Pamela Rice, Chief Commissioner, Girl Guides of Canada.

Ready to empower your daughter? Registration for the 2017-18 Guiding year opens soon. Check the dates for your province/territory and mark your calendar to secure a spot in your preferred unit.

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The courage to start

Every day across Canada, girls in Guiding are accomplishing great and amazing things: overcoming obstacles, realizing their goals, and contributing in positive ways to their communities. I know this personally because I have seen it first-hand over the 13 years I have been privileged to be a member of the Girl Guide community – first as a Spark, then Brownie, Guide, Pathfinder, and now as a Ranger.

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Guiding teaches us valuable life skills that will stay with us forever. Confidence. Resourcefulness. Courage. And that each of us, regardless of our age or gender, has the power and potential to Make a Difference in our world.  These are important things for girls to learn because society still bombards us from an early age with subtle messages about who we are, what we are capable of, and what we should aspire to. Without Girl Guides, we might grow up believing in these limitations.

Through Girl Guides, we learn that we can succeed in any endeavor we choose to work towards – whether or not we also like to wear makeup, bake for fun, or obsess about boy bands. All we need is the confidence to believe that we can make a difference, the courage to start, and the persistence and the resourcefulness to overcome any obstacle we encounter. This is an empowering lesson to learn.

My goal was combating climate change. When I learned that aviation-generated emissions from hydrocarbon fuel combustion account for approximately 3.5% of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions, I decided to see if I could come up with a solution. As an aspiring pilot I didn’t want to be a part of the problem; I wanted to be a part of the solution!

After a year of work, I created a new type of morphing multi-winglet for airplanes that is 257.2% more efficient than a standard airplane winglet in reducing the trailing vortices that negatively impact fuel consumption and increase greenhouse gas emission. My design was chosen to represent Canada at the 2015 Intel International Science and Engineering Fair where it was awarded the NASA Grand Award. I hope that by sharing my design and research with the world it will help in our fight to combat climate change in the near future.

Girl Guides gave me the confidence to believe in my ability to make a difference. It fills me with immense pride to know that across Canada girls similar to me are equally determined to make our world a better place.

Guest post by Candace Brooks-Da Silva, a Ranger in Windsor, Ont., and recipient of a 2016 Girl Greatness Award for Making a Difference.

Girl Greatness Award pinNominations are now open for the 2017 Girl Greatness Awards! Help celebrate the amazing girls in Guiding and all the amazing things they do. Girls can self-nominate or nominate another girl in Guiding.

Nomination deadline: Wednesday, March 15.

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We are #STEMinists

As the world celebrates the best in cinematic achievement this weekend, all eyes will be on Hidden Figures, the Oscar-nominated film about female African-American mathematicians who played a vital role at NASA in the 1960s. This film has inspired many for its portrayal of a group that rarely gets meaningful screen time – women of colour working in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

Hidden Figures celebrates women who persisted – women who literally reached for the stars and knocked down countless obstacles to achieve their goals and make astronomical contributions to the fields of math and science.

stemWhen it comes to STEM, we still have a long way to to go to balance the equation on the levels of participation of women and girls. Gender barriers persist and many of our most brilliant physicists, engineers and mathematicians will tell you that women have to work harder than their male counterparts to be taken seriously.

What does this have to do with Guiding? A lot. Guiding is all about girls challenging themselves, putting their ideas into action, taking risks and gaining the skills to confidently take on every opportunity that comes their way. Girls need meaningful opportunities to reach their potential and to be who they want to be. They need role models who will support them as they explore STEM and not hold them back. They need the chance to create, design, test, calculate and conquer.

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I truly believe that when girls in Guiding  have the chance to experiment and connect with STEM , it gets them thinking about and exploring the world around them. Whether it’s Sparks getting messy and creative with bubble experiments, Guides designing their own marble runs or Pathfinders creating stop-motion animation on their smart phones, these kinds of hands-on experiences with STEM can help inspire the new generation of innovators.

Of course, you can’t be what you can’t see. One of the biggest benefits of Guiding is the opportunity for girls to connect with women mentors from all backgrounds. Our volunteers come from all walks of life, from every imaginable career field. Every week , they help girls discover they can achieve more than they ever imagined and realize that girls can and SHOULD make a difference in the world. When we invest in girls with connections to female mentors and exposure to STEM, we are investing in the next generation of innovators and imagineers – ultimately we’re investing in the future of our planet.

pamela_0561Guest post by Pamela Rice, Chief Commissioner, Girl Guides of Canada. Want to explore opportunities in STEM with your girls? Check out our Close the Gap programming.

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Opening the Vaults – World Thinking Day and the Intangible Spirit of Guiding

feb22_wtdlogoWhen we look through the collection in our national archives, we’re often inspired by the intangible spirit of Guiding that shines so bright in many of the images. For this World Thinking Day, we have pulled together a selection of quotes from past issues of  Canadian Guider magazine and photos that capture their sentiment.

Now more than ever, it’s so clear that there is so  much more that connects us than divides us. Guiding truly brings us together.

feb22_wtdcamp“Thinking Day has been set apart to carry Guide thoughts to Guide friends around the world. It is the day on which the Guide world emphasizes the peace and friendliness and the glory of our world-wide Movement as the Guides of each country join in thoughts of love, sympathy, friendliness and goodwill with their Guide sisters around the world.” – Canadian Guider, January 1936

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“We of the new world in Canada with our background of pioneering and adventure should contribute not only friendliness but also spontaneity, adaptability and vision.”  – Canadian Guider, January 1939

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“It does not matter to what nationality a girl belongs or what language she speaks; if she has the Guide outlook on life there you will find a common link with her.” –  Canadian Guider January 1940

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“To think of our war guests – how far from home they are and how we can help to make life a little happier for them. To think also of the refugees within our borders who are faced with the task of beginning life anew among strangers – how can we help lighten their burdens?

To think about our own community and ways in which we can make life kinder and more pleasant for our neighbours.

To ask ourselves whether we do not often demand too much of our families and our friends and whether we are giving as much as we expect to receive.

It does not hurt to think – and by thinking things through in each case we can avoid inconveniencing and often hurting others.

On Guide Thinking Day, therefore, let us think not only of the Guide family itself, but of its part in Canadian life as a whole” – Canadian Guider, 1941

Explore some of the previous posts in the Opening the Vaults series from our national archives: World Thinking Day and the World FlagCreative camp gadgets 1920s and 1930s Campfires and Cookbooks;  The Maple Leaf Forever; 

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A positive egg-sperience in responsibility

Warning: Some eggs may have been cuddled in the making of this post

feb16_eggs
The theme for one of our recent unit meetings was understanding responsibility. The girls brainstormed ways to be responsible in Guides, create kit lists and set goals for our unit. The top goals that everyone agreed on:

  • Go on a hike
  • Keep earning lots of badges and crests
  • Earn a badge with “sparkly thread” like they saw in Canadian Guider
  • Make dog treats as a service project
  • Go to Nunavut

All obtainable goals we could work on as a unit. Ok, so the Nunavut trip may have to be tweaked a little and take some imagination but it was something we could still discover together.

Then came the end of our meeting. The part I was most nervous about and the part the girls were most excited for. The eggs.

As part of my weekly email, I told their parents: A project is coming home for the girls to work on. Have them embrace it and make sure they have fun.

No further instructions on what was coming home. Just a little warning: what was coming home was a raw egg. Nothing I think anyone was expecting.

At the unit meeting, each girl was given an egg and a sheet of care instructions. They had to do their best for a week to care for their egg and bring the egg back the next week.

The girls would have some daily tasks to keep their egg healthy:

  • Give it a bath each morning by gently cleaning it with damp paper towel
  • Make it a cozy bed to sleep in each night and when the girls are at school. As everyone knows, eggs are too young for school.
  • Take your egg outside each day for at least 10 minutes for some fresh air.
  • Read it a bedtime story each night so your egg can fall asleep.
  • And the egg has to go everywhere with you, with the exception of school.

But like all people, the eggs had some wants, too:

  • It wanted a new outfit to wear to the next Guides meeting.
  • It also wanted a toy.

As an added surprise, the girls discovered their eggs knew how to email. Because half-way through the week, the girls’ eggs emailed them some new requests:

  • The eggs were cold from going outside each day. So they requested some winter wear. No one wants their egg to become sick, after all.
  • The eggs wanted to build snow-eggs!  With a lot of snow falling in Halifax, we had a few snow days so the eggs wanted to play outside.

feb16_eggsgridWhen our next unit meeting rolled around, all of the girls’ eggs made their way back to Guides. Some with more Band-Aids and hot glue-filled scars than others. But to all of the Guiders’ surprise, additional eggs came to our meeting, too. Amazingly, the eggs had multiplied. Why you may ask? Because the girls made their eggs a friend. Just like in Guiding, friends are important to eggs, too.

This project was such a positive experience for all of the girls. It gave each of them such a unique way to shine. It was also parent-approved!

At the end of the evening, with the girls sitting in a circle with all their eggs, one first year Guide chimed in:
“We did good with our eggs. Now can we buy some hamsters and test our responsibility skills further? Plus earn our Pet Lover badge at the same time?”

Uhm….

Guest post by Kayla Bernard. Kayla is a Guide and Pathfinder Guider in Halifax and a Link member. She is currently studying Psychology at Mount Saint Vincent University. See her previous posts:  What does it mean to be an Arts Adviser? and Life of a twenty-something Guider.

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Sparks sparkle – and so do new Guiders!

feb9_sparkssparkle
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, I was Safe Guide ready, 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 program book 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 Guides unit in your area? Call 1-800-565-8111.

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Lost: One camp blanket

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My camp blanket is gone. I’d feel better if I’d left it behind at camp, or accidentally swapped it with another Guide, or if it had been the victim of a flooded tent (kidding! I don’t actually wish that).

The truth is this: I left Guiding when I moved across the country by myself nearly a decade ago. I always had the intention of returning (both home and to Girl Guides) but as the years have passed I’ve found new career goals and it looks like this move might be more permanent. My dad is selling my childhood home in the Ottawa suburb of Orleans. I went home to move a final dozen boxes of my belongings out of my old bedroom… and my camp blanket wasn’t there. My dad had accidentally included it in boxes he sent out for donation.

I was beyond upset. That was my 18 years of my Guiding life right there. My dad still has his entire Scout uniform from the 1960s. I sent sad messages out to friends, checked area thrift stores (who thought I was nuts), posted ads through online buy and sell sites: “Lost, one camp blanket. Grey fleece, poncho style. Has all three 90s Brownie, Guide and Pathfinder sashes sewn to it, a series of Camp Woolsey log crests (1991-1998) and pennant, my Canada Cord, various other patches.” What kind of Girl Guide loses this irreplaceable piece of personal history?

feb7_lostcampblanketMy best friend, Beth, also a former Girl Guide, was a bit more hopeful. “It’s not about the blanket, it’s about what you learned in Guiding. Think of that.” So I did. Fortunately she lives in the same province as me, a mere two-hour hour ferry trip and 90-minute bus ride (or two days by bicycle, or 40 minutes by float plane if you’re feeling adventurous). We spent some time together over New Year’s and brainstormed…

Things learned and reflected on my (lost!) camp blanket:

  1. Specific skills: camp craft, skating, collecting, orienteering, citizenship, environmental stewardship, skiing, crafting, sewing… So much sewing, especially after our moms refused to sew on any more badges!
  1. Goal setting: whether it was the goal of obtaining more badges or conquering other daily challenges at Guides or in our community.
  1. The importance of hard work: yeah, it was hard work to obtain all those badges and crests. It takes hard work to achieve your goals in the real world, too.
  1. Organizational skills: I remember this being particularly hard, especially organizing our joint Pathfinder Gold level camp, which we both had to repeat!
  1. Confidence (and confidants): I’d never have had the bravery to try new things without Guides. I found role models, and confidants to share some parts of my personality (I’m looking at you Radar and KJ) before trying them in the real world.
  1. Friendship: Guiding helped cement the friendship between Beth and me, and we both made friends through Guiding and camps that we’re still in contact with today.

Ok, I did learn some pretty great life skills through Guiding, and those are things that I’ll never lose…

But if you do happen to find my camp blanket at a local thrift shop or elsewhere, please hold on to it for me!

Guest post by Adrienne Quane, who now lives in North Vancouver, B.C. She stays connected to Guiding by helping Guiding friends at the Burnaby area Girl Guide cabin on nearby Hollyburn Mountain and always buys Girl Guide cookies each spring and fall.  

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It’s more than OK to be myself

feb2_tessI like being a Pathfinder. I’ve made so many new friends and they’re really inclusive and accepting. They make sure I always know that it’s ok to be myself. Through Pathfinders, I also get to do a lot of things that I don’t usually do such as geocaching, playing some really weird, different games and camping.

Because I am an above the knee amputee, I have to find different solutions every day to situations that most people wouldn’t even realize were a problem. Guiding is about being confident and resilient and resourceful. For example, when I’m not wearing my prosthetic, I use crutches. I love my crutches because I can go really fast and they are easier for me to use than my heavy prosthetic, which causes me to fall more easily. But when I use my crutches, my hands are kind of already occupied. So carrying my books and technology at school is tricky, let alone hauling camping gear out into the woods. And camping is fun! My Pathfinder group never says I can’t go on a campout, and they never question whether I will be able to do something. Recently we went on a night trek, where we hiked for about five hours (from 9 pm to 2 am!). In the dark. Uphill. In the mud. Thank goodness for back packs and head lamps!

Recently, I was introduced to a girl at another school who needs to use arm crutches just like mine. Only she was too shy and embarrassed to use them. Her doctors and her parents and her teachers all tried to get her to use them but she was afraid. Her principal asked me if I would be willing to meet her and help her overcome her fears. If she didn’t start using her crutches, she was going to cause injury to her spine and to her good leg. I understood.

I wanted to help her have a better life and enjoy doing the sports and activities she loves. I wanted to make her feel like it’s ok to be who she is. Suddenly, she had a friend who could relate to her. And she found out that even with crutches, she still had lots of friends – they were right there cheering her on and supporting her, and she had nothing to fear. I told her about Pathfinders and now she’s going to join too, so she can discover what she can achieve in her own life.

Guest post by Tess Beasant, a member of the 48th Calgary Pathfinders and recipient of a 2016 Girl Greatness Awards for Resourcefulness.

Girl Greatness Award pinNominations are now open for the 2017 Girl Greatness Awards! Help celebrate the amazing girls in Guiding and all the amazing things they do. Girls can self-nominate or nominate another girl in Guiding.

Nomination deadline: Wednesday, March 15.

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Shining a Light on Mental Health on Parliament Hill

picmonkey-collageGirl Guides in Ottawa came to Parliament Hill to celebrate the launch of Mighty Minds, our new mental health program. Girls had the chance to try some of the activities from the program, while meeting Members of Parliament, Senators and the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of Status of Women (top right).

sophie_g_9723Sophie Grégoire Trudeau – a gender equality activist, public speaker, devoted mother of three and wife of the Prime Minister – lent her support to Guiding and the Mighty Minds program by sharing this letter with girls at the event:

It is with great happiness  that I welcome the beautiful and courageous Girl Guides to tonight’s launch of Mighty Minds. I wish I could be there with you to share stories and learn together.

I believe that mental  health is the pulse of our society. Our  mental wellbeing affects us all, and by addressing  the stigma and engaging with each other, we can ensure that no one feels like they are without support.  For me, the key to a healthier mind is rooted  in balance, based on self-care and self-love. We have to celebrate our differences  and surround  ourselves  with compassionate  and positive friends who help us thrive. We are truly at our best when our personalities shine through.

I am always deeply inspired by women and girls like yourselves who want to grow and work together,  as well learn from one another.  Your inspirational actions are all the more powerful in a world that craves unity and harmony.

You girls are already your own  guides. Your inner compass  is developing  through  this wonderful  organization,  a group  based  on  the values of strength  from  compassion,  empathy,  knowledge, and  courage. The  leadership  you display every day makes me proud and it makes Canadians proud.

I am raising my daughter, Ella-Grace,  to have a deep sense of who she is and what she stands for. I am teaching and inspiring her to love and care for herself, and I already see that she has a strong sense of self. My hope is that she surrounds herself with other  girls who love themselves and speak kindly about each other, girls like yourselves who support and see the good in others.

Remember  that we carry you in our  hearts and  that we trust that you will lead a generation  of girls to guide and build bridges between  us that soar over  our differences. As you continue  along this journey, may you laugh, cry, discover, and live fully. The reality is that we do not always have it all together, but if we stick together, we have it all.

With all my love and friendship, I welcome you to tonight’s launch of Mighty Minds.

  • Sophie Grégoire Trudeau
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What girls have to say about mental health

“I think mental health is  more normal than people think. If more people talked about it, it would become normal.” – 10-year old Guide 

Girls have a lot to say about mental health, and we’re giving them the space to start talking. This month, girls across the country are taking part in Mighty Minds, our comprehensive new mental health program. Girls in the 3rd Halifax South Pathfinders and the 4th Bedford Guides and Pathfinders were among the first to try the program and shared their thoughts on mental health with us:

jan18_mminds_girlstable2“Would you be ashamed if you broke your leg. No. So why be ashamed of a mental illness?” – 14-year old Pathfinder

“Lots of people have mental health issues. It’s society that makes it seem like a big deal.” – 12-year old Pathfinder

“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

jan18_mminds_guide“Talking to people is a good thing. People love you and want to help. It’s what people do.” – 9 year-old Guide

“Stigma is just cruel and unnecessary. Your illness cannot bring you down. You can do so much.” – 13-year old Pathfinder

Thanks to Kayla Bernard, Unit Guider with the 3rd Halifax South Pathfinders and the 4th Bedford Guides and Pathfinders for her assistance with this post.

candle2Our Shine a Light events across the country are celebrating the launch of our Mighty Minds mental health programming. Kayla will be the host of our event in Sackville, NS on Saturday, January 21, 6-7 pm. There’ll also be an event at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square on Saturday, January 21, 5:30 pm, with Chief Commissioner Pamela Rice and two-time Olympic gold-medalist Cheryl Pounder. All events are open to members, their families and the public. 

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When Girl Greatness spreads to the office

dsc_0719

Inspired by our girl members, Girl Guides of Canada national staff participate in Action on Poverty.

“It is better to do good than be good.” – Lord Baden-Powell

Every day we challenge girls to go out and make a difference, to go over-and-above to make their communities a better place to live. And every time, they do this with enthusiasm and ingenuity. Over the course of this year, girls in Guiding have built little free libraries, filled purses with feminine hygiene products for women’s shelters, cleaned up shorelines, finger-knit scarves, and basically just made the world a little better through their generosity.

Throughout my own life, I have been encouraged to lead by example, but it was by the example of the girls that I decided to spearhead a National Service Project: Action on Poverty initiative at Girl Guides of Canada’s national office this month. Every year we try to give back a little during the holidays, but this year we were inspired by the girls and took our giving up a notch.

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With the help of Guider and awesome NSP agent Jane, we were put in touch with the Shoebox Project, a continent-wide initiative connecting those who want to do good deeds with women’s shelters. The staff came together to donate 30 kilograms of self-care supplies to make approximately eight “Make A Difference Boxes” for women living in shelters throughout the Toronto area. Our office elves also helped to wrap, assemble and deliver these overflowing boxes. It was such a wonderful kick-off to the holiday season, and feeling a little bit of Girl Greatness rub off on our office team didn’t hurt either!

Guest post by Ashley Pamenter, a Coordinator, Programming at Girl Guides of Canada and a Guider (a.k.a. Chickadee) with 73rd Toronto Sparks.

nsp-graphicFor more information about the NSP: Action on Poverty check out nps.girlguides.ca  or email programs@girlguides.ca to reach out to your own amazing NSP agent like Jane.

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Full STEM ahead

The overwhelming theme for our unit’s activities this fall has been science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). With Girl Guides of Canada–Guides du Canada programming like Girls Count, and instant meetings like International Day of the Girl 2016, it’s been fun and easy to emphasize STEM as a key part of our programming.

Girls Count
A chorus of “But I don’t liiiiiiiiiike math” echoed out when we first introduced the topic and theme for the evening. But the girls quickly dove right into the activities of the Girls Count financial literacy program, reminding us why programming like this is important for helping girls to build not only important life skills, but to remind them that math isn’t scary.

stopmotion

International Day of the Girl 2016
As busy Unit Guiders, we love the variety of instant meetings for Make a Difference Days that GGC has been developing lately. The 2016 International Day of the Girl instant meeting offered lots of great activities for the girls to further explore STEM. One of the most popular was the creation of stop motion videos. The girls truly showed their creativity in planning out their video, making elaborate sets, and filming.

draftingCareer Awareness Badge
Plumber. Furniture maker. Computer coder. Architectural drafter. We were fortunate to have four exceptional women who work in non-traditional careers visit our meeting and give girls the inside scoop on these careers. The girls were very engaged throughout the meeting, which included activities like drafting your bedroom in 3D, cutting plumbing tubing and playing video games.

Physics Badge
Here in Nova Scotia, we are so fortunate to have access to an exciting program called SuperNOVA at Dalhousie University. SuperNOVA has developed hands-on workshops that align directly with six GGC STEM badges (Chemistry, Astronomy, Science, Physics, Engineering, Body Works). This year, we took advantage of the Physics workshop. Girls completed a variety of activities that explored the laws of motion, friction, gravity and light and colour. They were totally into it.

frictiontest

We’ve definitely had a busy fall, incorporating lots of STEM-related programming. Don’t let STEM programming be overwhelming! For new Guiders or Guiders who may feel they aren’t  STEM experts (we certainly aren’t!), there are so many GGC resources to choose from, it makes it easy to incorporate STEM into unit programming.

Guest post by Lashauna Smith. Lashauna is a Guide Guider with the 1st Timberlea Guides, in Timberlea, Nova Scotia. She and her co-Guiders appreciate the range of instant meetings provided by Girl Guides of Canada!

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All in the family – sisters and role models

Viola Desmond

Viola Desmond portrait, ca. 1940. Communications Nova Scotia (via Bank of Canada)

Daring. Courageous. Risk-taker. These are all words that can be used to describe Viola Desmond, who’ll be featured on the new Canadian $10 bank note. In 1946, the Nova Scotia business woman refused to leave a whites-only area of a movie theater. Desmond’s court case was the first known legal challenge against racial segregation brought forth by a black woman in Canada.

When it would have been easier to sit down and stay quiet, Desmond stood up and spoke out for equality – facing arrest and conviction as a result. Her act of courage and defiance continues to resonate with girls and women across Canada.

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–Guides du Canada, is proudly keeping her legacy alive. Robson became a member when her daughter came home from school asking to be a Brownie. Robson enrolled her daughter in Brownies, thinking that meant she would have a few hours a week to spend alone at the library. After about three weeks, her daughter’s Guider asked if she could help out with the unit. She didn’t get the alone time, but still 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 her 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.”

At the unveiling of the new $10 bank note, Wanda Robson spoke about her sister Viola Desmond. Pictured (from left to right) Bill Morneau, Minister of Finance, Stephen S. Poloz, Governor of the Bank of Canada, Patty Hajdu, Minister of Status of Women and Wanda Robson. (Courtesy Bank of Canada)

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

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Ending violence: The power of girls

 

Geneviève Bergeron, 21
Nathalie Croteau, 23
Anne-Marie Edward, 21
Maryse Laganière, 25
Anne-Marie Lemay, 22
Michèle Richard, 21
Annie Turcotte, 20
Hélène Colgan, 23
Barbara Daigneault, 22
Maud Haviernick, 29
Maryse Leclair, 23
Sonia Pelletier, 28
Annie St-Arneault, 23
Barbara Klucznik Widajewicz, 31

These are the 14 young women who, on December 6, 1989, were killed at École Polytechnique in Montreal in what became known as the Montreal Massacre. Young women, pursuing their goals. Young women, hated simply for being women in engineering. Young women, killed for who they were, and who they wanted to be.

I was living in Montreal on that horrific day. It was a heart wrenching moment in time for me. That anyone would be murdered is awful, but especially a woman targeted just because she’s a woman.  And yet, the murder of these women was not an isolated act of violence.

Violence against girls and women is an all too common problem in Canada and around the world. It happens everywhere – in homes, in schools, in workplaces and in the community. Violence happens to our members, our colleagues, our family and friends. And we all have a responsibility to these girls and women, and to ourselves, to make it stop.

Because girls are key to the solution. While they’re not solely responsible for ending the violence, Guiding ensures that girls are well placed to shape their own futures and as the leaders of change within their communities and globally. I believe in the power of girls and am proud to be a member of Girl Guides of Canada where together, we celebrate the power of girls.

pamela_0561By Pamela Rice, Chief Commissioner, Girl Guides of Canada–Guides du Canada (GGC). GGC’s 16 Days of Action campaign and Say No to Violence Challenge empower all girls and women in Guiding to speak out and take action

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Feeling Safe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Say No to Violence – end of discussion

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

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

But why?

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

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

How can we change this?

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

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

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

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

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Work hard. Be kind. That is all.

be-you“You’re not good enough.”

“You don’t try hard enough.”

“You don’t fit in.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

nov22_beyoucutoutsSome of their favourites were:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Sangam_games

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

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

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

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

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

The Thinking Day Tree at the Sangam World Centre.

The Thinking Day Tree at the Sangam World Centre.

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


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

 

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Spicing up the program

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

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

nov15_spices

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

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

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

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

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The rewards of volunteering are real

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

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

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

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

“I remember that,” I said.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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So many Pokémon, so many ways

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

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

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

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

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

“Hello?”

“Mom…”

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

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

emma-and-kris

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Boo! Cooking for a cause

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Campfire on the Hill

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

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

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

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

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

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

A few highlights from our Guides-turned-MPs:

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

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

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

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

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100 Years Strong – GGC Receives Heritage Plaque

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Be prepared… for bears

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Uh, Tanya…”

To which I replied: “Yah, Sammie?”

“Uhm, that’s a bear!”

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

oct13_bear2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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An investment in girls is an investment in our future

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy International Day of the Girl!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Opening the Vaults: Before there was Instagram…

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

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

Album cover

Album cover

 

2nd Denbigh Guides in Camp

2nd Denbigh Guides in Camp

 

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

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

 

1917

1917

 

Pike Lake Camp 1925

Pike Lake Camp 1925

 

King, Ontario

King, Ontario

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

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My Guiding Journey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Welcome to Canada – we hope you like it here!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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All-access pass to Guiding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guiding Our Way Through A Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Guest post by Jane Taft, a Unit Guider with Sparks and Guides and Community Guider in Southern Ontario who is addicted to camping and collecting crests. See her previous posts: The best seat at the campfire; Words in Action: It’s more than just collecting book donations.

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

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Marching with pride

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Summer Guiding projects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Go team Sparks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Meet Charlie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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What’s next on your volunteering bucket list?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Bullseye at district camp

“What was your favourite part of camp?”

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

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

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

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

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

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Splash! Water-balloon catapults at camp

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Helping the Bees

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

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

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

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

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

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