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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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Why Girl Guide cookies are the ULTIMATE Canadian treat

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

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

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


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

 

 

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


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

cookies mountainscape


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


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

historic cookie box

(1957, from Girl Guides of Canada National Archives)


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

roberta bondar

 

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

 

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How gender inequality impacts girls – as early as age 10


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

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

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

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

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

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

They feel dismissed or overshadowed.

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

They face negative stereotypes that limit their potential.

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

They’re held to different rules.  

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

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#girlguidesofcanada# Girltime#Mommyleader#lovemygirls

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#twins #girlguidesofcanada

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

 

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

 

 

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Reality check: What girls are saying about gender inequality

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

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

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

Gender-equality-stat-03-01

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

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

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

But how is gender equality really working out for girls?

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

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

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

Girls empowering girls – it’s a powerful thing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

National Youth Council in Banff.

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

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

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

Meet the new members of our National Youth Council!

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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Why soaking up summer in the great outdoors is the BEST

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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Sparks sparkle – and so do new Guiders!

Sparks

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

volunteers painting rainbow crosswalk

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

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

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

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

 

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5 things I learned organizing a sleepover for Sparks

Sparks

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


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

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

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

2. Sparks can totally set up tents.

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

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

3. Sparks are quick learners.

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

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

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

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

5. An exit strategy is always important.

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

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

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

 

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In Guiding, we have Pride in being inclusive

Photo: Saajid Sam Motala

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

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

Photo: Saajid Sam Motala

Photo: Saajid Sam Motala

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

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

Photo: Saajid Sam Motala

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

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

Photo: Saajid Sam Motala

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

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

  

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guest post by Nerissa.

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Oh the places she’ll go… with Guiding

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


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

 

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


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

 

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

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

Photo: Brittany Gawley

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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How girls in Guiding are creating #abetterworldbygirls

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

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


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


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


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

View this post on Instagram

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

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


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


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


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

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This girl-designed T-shirt is EVERYTHING

girl guide T-shirt

Abbigail wearing her winning Girl Guide T-shirt design.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

web-res_SS_3101

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

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

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

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

April27_Kiana.jpg

Kiana

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

April27_Emily

Emily

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Why I keep coming back to Guiding as a volunteer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Why Girl Guide cookies are the ULTIMATE Canadian treat

classic girl guide cookies

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

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


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

historic cookie box

(1957, from Girl Guides of Canada National Archives)


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

girls with microcope


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


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

girls selling cookies


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

roberta bondar


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

 

And some of our customers really are cookie connoisseurs…

cookie monster

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

 

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

cookie finder map


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

cookie gif

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How Girl Guides helped me shape an awesome future for myself


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Krysta Coyle
Girl Guides of Canada’s Guiding Ambassador

girl guides

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

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

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

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

Vision – A better world, by girls.

Mission – To be a catalyst for girls empowering girls.

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

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

A world where gender isn’t a disqualifier.

A world of equal possibilities for all girls.

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

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

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

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

Check out Krysta’s World Thinking Day video:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How girls are building survival skills to navigate the digital wilderness

girls with phones
Phones. Tablets. Laptops.

Snapchat. Instagram. Texting.

Fake news. Selfie perfection. Sexting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

girl guide members

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Why you should make travel part of your 2018 bucket list

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Let’s talk about… Violence against girls

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

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

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

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

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Why letting girls lead was the best thing to happen to our Guide unit

Last year, the Guiders of the 26th Orleans Guides stopped leading the horseshoe, the campfire, or organizing games – and it was the best thing we ever did.

girl guides
We had started our year with four Guiders and a productive planning meeting full of great ideas. We had no idea that our leadership plans were about to fall apart. A family tragedy, a new job, and a complicated pregnancy meant that suddenly, all but one of us was part-time and no one had time for planning. By Christmas, we were all stressed and exhausted.

So we put the girls in charge. They were in the lead when it came to choosing what parts of the program they wanted to cover and how we were going to do it.

It occurred to us that there was nothing in our meetings that the girls themselves wouldn’t be capable of leading. With our adult leadership team stretched thin, if we wanted to focus on delivering the great program ideas the girls had come up with, it would be much easier if we simply didn’t have so much to do at meetings.

So we stopped leading the horseshoe and campfire. Stopped leading games, handing out forms, even greeting girls as they arrived.

girls in guides doing activitiesWe made the girls do it.

After a month, we asked for their feedback. Here’s what they told us: “It was fun to do the things we had decided ourselves!” “Leading the horseshoe made me feel grown up!”

Most compelling of all: “It was really powerful being trusted with the responsibility of running our Guide meetings. I felt like for the first time in my life, the adults around me really, truly trusted me.”

As a Guider, this has been an incredible experience. Meetings feel relaxed and fun. We’re confident that the girls are going to enjoy the activities – since they choose what to do. We have a few minutes of breathing space every meeting while girls are leading things where we can assess and evaluate, have small but significant conversations with girls and with each other, and get set up for the next activity.

We’ve seen incredible things happen with the girls, too.

They’re more confident – our shyest, most tear-prone first-year who never spoke to the group as a whole announced loudly one meeting that she had not had a turn at presenting her Lego invention yet, and then spoke for a full five minutes. Two weeks later, she led the group through a song at campfire. This year, at our second meeting of the year, she chose to take the lead for an entire campfire.

They work together better. And, having led activities even when they’re not entirely sure they could do it, they’re much more supportive towards each other with more respect and empathy for each others’ differences in personality and ability. They’re less afraid to make mistakes and more likely to lean on each other in finding a solution.

Meeting attendance went up. Camp attendance went up. All our third-year girls earned their Lady Baden-Powell award. They all went on to Pathfinders. Putting girls in the lead has been truly transformative.

girls doing activities
But you don’t have to take my word for it.

In April, a guest speaker on mental health commented that our girls were very self-assured, thoughtful, and empathetic towards each other. Parents commented on the change in their daughters. Several parents made end-of-year gifts and donations to the unit.

We had thought that putting the girls in charge would be a fun way to teach program while easing our leadership burden for a month, and that we would look for more leaders to help with the rest of the year. We had no idea those new leaders would end up being the girls themselves, nor that it would inspire our girls to accomplish so much. Allowing every girl in Guiding to be to be everything she wants to be really does start with the girls!

Guest post by Andrea Drajewicz, a Guider with the 26th Orleans Guides in Ottawa.

 

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Smart. Funny. Confident. Why this Girl Guide should be your new role model

kinley girl guide
“Kinley is smart, funny, and kind. She also happens to have Down’s syndrome.” That’s how we were first introduced to 11-year-old Kinley in her 2017 Girl Greatness Award nomination. Kinley received an award in the Confidence category after being nominated by her friend and fellow Girl Guide, Julia. In Guiding, Kinley has truly found a place to shine.

Here’s what else Julia had to say about Kinley in her nomination:

“When we first started Brownies, Kinley was a little bit shy. She wasn’t too sure about sleepovers and camping trips but did a few with her mom. Now in Guides, she talks to all the other Guides and participates in all the activities. During Guide meetings, Kinley likes helping the Guiders and younger Guides. She is excited to go camping independently. Kinley loves being a Guide and is always very excited to attend. She has gained so much confidence in all areas of her life. She is involved in many activities such as skiing, swimming, wall climbing, yoga, skating, hip hop, tubing, fishing, basketball, choir and knitting. Kinley is an awesome, confident Guide!”

For Kinley’s mom, Janna, being part of Guiding has made a huge impact on her daughter:

“Having others notice and celebrate Kinley’s personal growth and achievements while attending Girl Guides is quite an honour. Attending Guides has given Kinley a huge sense of belonging as she has been very proud to be part of this amazing group of girls and leaders. Her level of responsibility and independence has grown over the years thanks to watching and learning from other Girl Guides. The many opportunities to participate in activities within the community have pushed Kinley’s independence. The volunteers and fellow Girl Guides of the 82nd group have given her exceptional support so she can be successful and have many positive experiences within a very inclusive environment.”

And what does Kinley think of receiving this award?

“I liked getting the award. It made me feel happy, proud, amazing and cool. I like being with the group of girls and doing fun stuff each week. My favorite is going camping and selling Girl Guide cookies. My friend Julia is so sweet, thoughtful, kind and helpful. Thank you for nominating me Julia!”

Meet all of the 2017 Girl Greatness Award recipients. 

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How I turned up my confidence as a twentysomething in Guiding

girl guide member krysta coyle
Let’s face it: becoming an adult is all kinds of exciting and terrifying all at the same time. There are so many new things to learn and do – but it can also feel like just so much new all at once. As twentysomethings, we’re learning to live independently, to develop our own community networks, to figure out which adulting skills we haven’t figured out yet. We’re also discovering our personal identity as adults. Being a young woman in Guiding has helped me learn so much about myself – and now with GGC’s new Link program for members under 30, I have even more support during this in between phase of my life. Here are three important things I’ve gained from being a Guider in my 20s:

  1. A network of supportive women builds confidence. I might be confident on the outside, but my twenties have been full of self-doubt. Whether it was moving across the country to go to school, taking on new leadership roles, or realizing I was the youngest person in the room, it’s pretty easy to feel like I’m in over my head. I’ve been lucky to have incredible groups of young women in Guiding to share experiences and worries with – they encourage me to take risks and support me in planning for success. There are so many opportunities within the new Link program to build these networks, whether they are in person or online.
  1. You don’t always know what you’re capable of until you try. A huge part of Guiding has always been testing your personal boundaries and trying new things. Guiding has definitely given me a love for challenge: embarking on a solo adventure, advocating for the rights of girls and women, learning new skills for communicating science… the list could go on! Embracing these challenges has given me new professional opportunities which I never would have thought possible. The Link program challenges young women to try something new – perhaps it’s trying a physical activity, leading an outdoor adventure, or beginning to advocate for an issue of importance to you.
  1. Giving back feels good. With Girl Guides, I’ve discovered how powerful intergenerational relationships are – I have learned so much from the girls I’ve worked with, and I’m always learning from more experienced members of Guiding. This is why I am so excited that a key part of the Link program is applying new skills and knowledge back to Guiding: I can help a unit plan a visit to the cancer research lab where I work, I can bring a new activity to other adults I work with, and I can keep sharing my love of Guiding with the community.

Being connected to Girl Guides of Canada has made many of the transitions in my twenties so much easier. It’s helped me build confidence, develop the skills I need for success, discover my passions, and give back to my community. And it’s getting easier and easier to take risks, quiet the self-doubt and develop my own networks – and the new Link program ties all of these together with the Guiding experience!


Over the last 18 months, we worked with Rangers, Link members and Advisers, and other young women from across Canada to build a dynamic and engaging program that recognizes the unique needs and contributions of young women within the Guiding movement. The Link program will support the leadership of young women in a way they can totally customize to mesh with their needs and interests. Check it out and start participating today!

Guest post by Krysta Coyle. Krysta is a Guider and District Commissioner in Halifax and volunteers as the National Link Liaison. She is a PhD student at Dalhousie University studying breast cancer biology.

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Why Guiding is the ULTIMATE Choose Your Own Adventure

There’s nothing like a Guiding trip to empower girls to see the world – and themselves – in a whole new way. Bonus – it’s a pretty awesome way to find your global girl squad, too. With applications closing Monday, October 30 for our 2018 nationally sponsored trips, three girls share the impact a Guiding trip has had on them:

My passport to adventure

My passport has taken me on some of the best Girl Guide adventures of my life –  the best by far was Mexico. The day I arrived with 10 other girls from Canada at Our Cabana – a WAGGGS World Centre – is a day I’ll never forget. As with anyone venturing to a new place, I was filled with excitement, wonder, and a slight sense of insecurity as I didn’t know what to expect. However, the Our Cabana team welcomed us into their centre, which shortly became my home away from home.

I met so many different girls from different walks of life and made everlasting friendships that still thrive, though we are millions of miles apart. At Our Cabana we learned to be very thankful for what we had, the food we ate, and the friends we made. This lesson became very real to me during one event where we invited an orphanage to Our Cabana to participate in activities with us. During our activity we made paper bag puppets with the children and they loved it! It seemed like such a simple craft but it really opened my eyes to what little these kids had and overwhelmed me with joy to see them become so excited over what we had done with them.

This is an adventure I will forever cherish. Years from now I will look back on the impact I helped make because of Girl Guides and the person I have become because of my experience in Mexico.

  • Kaitlin

Setting my sights on the world

My trip to Ireland and the IGGNITE camp had endless adventures and I love that I got to participate in every single one. The biggest adventure of all might just be all the amazing girls I met. And it turns out that swapping and trading crests proved to be the ultimate way to meet other members of the global Girl Guide squad. I loved being able to trade with so many girls and I got to know many of them well. I am pretty sure every time I went to my tent or the washroom there would be someone hollering my name up and down the rows of campsites trying to find me to trade. It was cool getting to meet so many girls from around the world, and sharing a bit of Canada with them.

  • Bethany

Apply now for our 2018 Nationally Sponsored Trips to the United Kingdom, Mexico, Switzerland and Australia. Application deadline: October 30, 2017 at 5:00 pm EST.

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The world may be divided, but the girls of the world are not

janicenoble
I am one of a kind. And I am also one of 10 million. I stand together with the 10 million girls and women in Guiding around the world who are making our mark and fighting for gender equality.

Attending the recent 36th World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) World Conference in India gave me the chance to see what it truly means to be a part of the ONLY global Movement for every girl and any girl. In 150 countries, Girl Guiding is the place where girls’ interests and the issues that matter to them are front and centre. This is our space and we’re making it count.

At the conference, I watched in the emotion-filled moments as new countries joined WAGGGS. Countries like Armenia, Azerbaijan, Aruba and war-torn Syria, where girls are coming together for sessions on self-esteem and gender-based violence. I stood in solidarity with my fellow youth delegates as we moved our own motion to include more young members in the global decision-making processes of WAGGGS. And I was continually inspired by the strong women who devote their time to Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting. Together, we are united in creating safe and inclusive spaces for all girls around the world.

group photo of conference
Being part of the WAGGGS World Conference gave me the chance to connect with young women representing a multitude of nationalities, cultures, languages, and worldviews. We asked questions, learned from each other, and ultimately formed connections that I know will stay with me as I continue to carve out my place in this world. But what truly blew my mind was that no matter how many differences we may appear to have, we all shared a common passion and mission for girls’ rights, education, and success. The courageous girls and women I met at the event are working tirelessly for the change they want to see in the world.

As I was growing up and a member of a rural Guiding unit in Nova Scotia, Aline was simultaneously doing the same in Burundi, Andrea was doing so in Cyprus, Katrine in Denmark, Alyssa in Barbados, Yoshika in Japan… and the list goes on. The exact activities we did in our respective countries may have been different, but they all resulted in shared values and belief in the power of girls to be a positive force in changing the world for the better. In a world where many things seem to divide us, I am ever so thankful for the global Movement of WAGGGS that unites girls and women.

Guest post by Janice Noble. Originally from Nova Scotia, Janice is now a Guider in Fredericton and is completing her undergraduate degree in Interdisplinary Leadership at UNB.

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Wonder how much pressure teenage girls face? Just ask them

Too girly. Not girly enough. Too smart, too dumb. Too skinny, too curvy. Too anything. For girls, the mixed messages they get about how they should act, look, and think are confusing and demoralizing. The sad reality is that girls are being held back by all of the unrealistic expectations placed on them. And way too often, most of the people around them haven’t got a clue about the realities girls are facing.

What better time than International Day of the Girl to reflect on the lives of girls in our own communities. While today the world shines a once-a-year spotlight on girls’ lives, listening to what girls have to say is something we do every day at GGC. And that’s a good thing, because addressing the issues they face is integral to who we are as a girl-driven organization.

infographic

What exactly are girls telling us? That society has an unrealistic vision of them – and that leaves them feeling like their appearance, ideas and abilities are never good enough. This is what we heard at our Ignite. Inspire. Innovate. conference in April. The girls were pretty blunt in describing all of the negativity, hurdles and barricades they face in their lives. Their stories were poignant and powerful – and we heard them loud and clear.

To determine whether these concerns affect the wider teenage community, GGC recently commissioned a nationwide survey of girls aged 15-17. The data confirms that the challenges identified by our own girl members are indeed widespread across the country and are negatively impacting the self-esteem of teenage girls.

All of this reinforces for us that it’s imperative to listen and understand what girls are saying so that we can empower every girl to become everything she wants to be. To support girls in overcoming all of the negativity thrown their way, we need to engage girls and ensure we are consistently giving them a platform to be heard – and as an organization, act on what they are telling us.

Girls’ voices matter. They are the experts in their own lives. In a world that largely devalues, objectifies and mocks them, Guiding can fill the niche of being their space where they are valued, respected and empowered to shape their world.

Jill Zelmanovits is the CEO of Girl Guides of Canada.

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Adventure. Confidence. Leadership. How my daughters found it all in Guiding

Fact: Guiding has changed the life of my daughters drastically in the past five years.

mom and daughter

It all started simply enough. I registered my third daughter, Hari, in Guides. In just a few weeks, I noticed some positive changes in her and soon enough I was registering my second daughter, Rishi, in Pathfinders. My youngest daughter joined Sparks, and my eldest daughter joined me as a Brownie leader. My whole family was now part of a larger family – the Guiding sisterhood.

Over the next few years, my daughters received so many opportunities and did so many things that I never could’ve imagined for them – or could have dreamed of for myself as a girl. Rishi was accepted to be a part of the Ontario Youth Forum, a tremendous opportunity that she recommends to all Pathfinders. She also went on a Nationally Sponsored Trip to the Sea of Cortez. Hari was part of the Ontario Youth Forum, as well as the National Youth Council. She even traveled to Scotland and Iceland through Guiding this year. It made me proud to see how my girls were taking hold of their future and achieving incredible things.

My youngest daughter, Ruby, had many friends at her school who were intrigued by the Girl Guide cookies she brought to school to sell, and were interested to know all the things she was doing at her Girl Guide meet ups. I seized the opportunity to speak to their parents. I told them not only about what my daughter does in Brownies, but also about my older daughters, and the benefits of being in Guiding as a teenager.

At first, they were skeptical as they mistakenly thought that Girl Guides would be a mainly white-dominated, Christian-based organization. But I quickly reassured them that this was not the case. Any girl can join Guiding, and every girl will find a safe and accepting space.

So many joined that eventually my daughter had trouble selling cookies at school! There were so many Girl Guides in her midst. Eventually, Ruby moved schools and she was worried she’d have to leave her friends behind. But now she looks forward to seeing them in Guides, where every week the girls pick a new activity. It can be as simple as a craft or inviting a female member of the Canadian Armed Forces. It’s such a diversity of experiences that you just don’t find at school.

To all parents of girls in Canada, Girl Guides of Canada is the organization for your daughters.

Guest post by Vidhya Ilangomaran, proud Girl Guide parent, cooking fan and a teacher in the Toronto area. 

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The Guiding year is starting and the excitement is REAL

Excited. Like really excited. That’s how girls, parents and volunteer Guiders are feeling about the start of the Guiding year. But don’t take our word for it (even though you can always trust a Girl Guide). Check out all the feels and all the 😍 😍 😍  members are sharing online. Because if a picture (and accompanying hashtags) is worth a thousand words, then these snaps speak volumes about Guiding’s impact.

Sometimes it’s just #AllAbouttheHashtags to show what Guiding means to you….

Who says adults can’t get in on a little Insta-crushing and gushing on being part of the Girl Guide sisterhood?  

Lift each other up, cheer each other on – that’s what Girl Guides do. 

Mother-daughter Guiding duos  yes!

The countdown is on for the launch of our new Girls First program in 2018  and this Guider can’t wait!

When trying something new can lead to awesome adventures…

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From networking to chilling out: 5 reasons being a Guider is an A++ idea

We all know that Guiding empowers girls to learn, explore and find their place in the world. And as I discovered, volunteering with Girl Guides as a university student also pays off in a big way – both for the girls and for you. Here’s why:

girl with guider

  1. The girls will teach you more than a textbook can.As a Psychology student, you can ask me all about children’s language milestones or at what age they begin to feel empathy for others. But what I’ve learned from the girls I volunteer with is on a whole other level. They’ve taught me everything from how to improvise when an activity doesn’t go according to plan to how to empower other girls and women as we work together on a goal (something that should come in pretty handy when I enter the workforce.)
  2. Guiding is a chance to connect IRL.Making those real life connections is a big part of Guiding. It would be easy to use your four years in university to just go to campus and not really explore the new city you live in. For me, Guiding was a chance to dive into my new community and get to know it beyond the campus quad and the library. It was one evening a week dedicated to a group I feel a part of. And nothing beats the network and support you build in Guiding.
  3. It’s also a chance to chill out.Whether it’s hustling between classes, studying for midterms, writing essays or the 237 other things on your average student’s to-do list, who couldn’t use a chance to zen out? Volunteering with Girl Guides is the perfect balm for all that busy – whether you’re just laughing with the girls, learning how to master a power drill together or dealing with a glitter explosion during a craft. (Because, let’s face it – there can never be too much glitter in your life.)
  4. Volunteering in university is an A++ move.Volunteering is an opportunity that I’d recommend students take advantage of while in school. In a few years, I’ll find myself busy with full-time work or traveling – so this was the perfect time for me to get into volunteering while developing some skills that’ll give my resume a boost.guider in university
  5. Guiding is a chance to be the kind of role model you’d want for your 8-year-old self.I volunteer with Brownies (girls 7-8) and it’s a little bit humbling to know that these girls look up to me and the other volunteers – just as I looked up to my own Guider when I was a girl. But this may also be the best part of volunteering. These girls want to know that someone is listening, that someone is paying attention – that someone gets them. With just a few hours a week, you can be that someone – someone that helps them explore activities that’ll leave them feeling a little more confident, a little more resilient, and a whole lot more like the world gets them. And that’s pretty A++ in my books.

Guest post by Paisley Pinard, a recent graduate of Trent University and Brownie volunteer in Peterborough, ON. Interested in volunteering with Girl Guides? Get started on our website.

 

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How a Girl Guide trip helped me find my #globalgirlsquad

Travelling as a teenager to another country can definitely be a little bit scary – but also super exciting and amazing at the same time. This summer, I was part of a Girl Guide trip to Ireland and it’s no exaggeration to say it was the most amazing, unforgettable and fantastic experience. I met girls from across Canada, Ireland and around the globe. I got to be a leader, to do things I never would’ve done before, to take a giant step out of my comfort zone – all while being myself. TBH if you asked me if I’d want to go back in time and relive it all, the answer would be a thousand times ‘yes.’

The minute we stepped off the plane in Ireland, I knew this Girl Guide trip would be my passport to adventure. We started by exploring Dublin, learning so much at every place we visited. Then it was off to IGNITE, an international camp hosted by the Irish Girl Guides. Every day, we got our adventure on with classic camp activities like kayaking and swimming. But we also got to explore topics like gender equality, refugees, science and tech and more with activity themes such as Be Limitless and Be an Advocate. I learned so much, but it was nothing like school. I was just having so much fun.

marlina in ireland

And when we went with our Irish hosts to the town of Cashel to learn Irish dancing, I knew I’d found my global girl squad. The Irish girls totally had our backs, helping us learn and encouraging us even though our dance moves were pretty rough at first. By the end of the week, it was incredible to see girls from so many different countries coming together as a united squad.

girl guides in ireland
This was honestly a once in a lifetime trip. The girls I met and the places I explored will forever have a place in my heart. Every minute of the trip made an impact on me and it was unforgettable.

My advice? Be the girl who decides to go for it and apply for a Girl Guide travel experience – it’ll give you a whole new view of yourself and of the world.

Guest post by Marlina Forgione, a Ranger in Toronto. She loves chocolate, gymnastics, swimming and of course, Guiding!

Apply now for our 2018 Nationally Sponsored Trips to the United Kingdom, Mexico, Switzerland and Australia. Application deadline: October 30, 2017 at 5:00 pm EST.

travel graphic

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These girls put the POWER in empowering by mastering how to use a drill

Learning how to drive a nail and use power tools are empowering skills that can make girls feel strong and fearless.  Meet some Girl Guides who mastered how to swing a hammer while learning about female entrepreneurship along the way.

Girls with drills

In the 12th Toronto Girl Guide Unit this year, we’ve really dived into exploring different career paths and trying our hand at new skills. We’ve done everything from taking a self-defence class with a female boxer and making urban planning maps with our city councillor to learning about some pretty awesome careers at our career night meeting. By far one of our top highlights this year was getting busy with power tools – and the girls totally knocked it out of the park.

We invited the experts at Fix-It Females, a local all-women renovation company, to come in and teach the girls about proper tool use and what it takes to run your own business. After a tour of their tool truck and a few parking lot cheers of “GIRL POWER!” the girls got hands-on lessons on hammering a flush nail, how to use a drill, and how to safely saw wood planks. Energy levels were high as the instructors doled out high-fives and the girls cheered for their friends focused on efficiently hammering a nail.

The girls’ confidence grew as they realized they too could use their strength to complete tasks put in front of them, and be rewarded with cheers from their fellow Guides. As one girl exclaimed as she looked up triumphantly from her wood plank, “Look, I literally nailed it!” (I’m not sure what she was more pleased with, the pun or the nail in the wood.)

Girls hammering

While learning how to use power tools like a boss is an important life skill, what was truly rewarding was watching the admiration in the girls’ faces while the Fix-It Females did their demos and talked about the challenges and rewards of their careers. In a world that often tells girls to be quiet and take up as little space as possible, the Fix-It team showed us that women can successfully run a business centered on strength, technical knowledge and a willingness to get their hands dirty.

When girls have the chance to explore new skills in an all-female environment like this, it’s a great way to make them feel empowered and ignite a spark of just what they’re capable of. And that’s just one way Girl Guides helps girls thrive.

Guest post by Rachel Vickerson. Rachel recently returned as a Guider to her own childhood unit of 12th Toronto Girl Guides and is also a member of the National Programming Committee. She is currently completing a Masters in Public Policy at the University of Toronto. 

Registration for the 2017-18 Guiding year is ongoing! Find a group (unit) near year. 

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Why giving girls a little bit of freedom in the great outdoors is a recipe for awesome

Think Sparks are too little to cook their own meal or set off on an adventure? Think again. As this Guider writes, when girls get outdoors and have the chance to discover just what they can do on their own, they’ll show you they’re pretty unstoppable.

As a Girl Guide volunteer who’s been lucky enough to work with girls of every age, it always amazes me when I hear other Guiders (or parents) say “Oh, if you’re working with Sparks you probably can’t do {insert uber fun, cool or challenging activity}. They are just toooooo little!”

WHAT? Sure, I can’t take my Sparks white water rafting but can a Spark go canoeing for the day? YOU BET SHE CAN! And, this small adventure may give her the confidence to try out for a new school team or to tackle some rapids when she’s a Pathfinder or Ranger.

When our group of awesomely capable Sparks recently visited a local Girl Guide camp for  an afternoon of adventure, they proved once again just how awesomely capable they truly are. We started off roasting hot dogs on an open fire. Each girl had their own roasting stick and safely cooked their own lunch like the mini culinary pros that they are. Shocking, right? When their hot dog was roasted to perfection, the girls got busy getting their own buns and toppings. (Yes, some did have a bit too much ketchup on them, but that’s what napkins are for!) Then we had s’mores for dessert – because obviously.

Girls cooking at campfire

 

Next it was off to the shore of Lake Okanagan to have some land training for our canoeing fun. We donned our life jackets and into the canoes we went. Each girl got to paddle along the shore of the lake proving they’re ready to go anywhere.

Girls canoeing at camp

Once back on shore, the girls got to work on a craft that involved some pretty intricate knot tying. A few friends had said to me, “Oh, I bet you’ll end up having to finish all those crafts. Five and six-year olds can’t tie knots let alone their own shoes.”  Well, doubters back off – the girls persisted and all of them completed their own distinctively styled flip flops.

Girls doing flip flop craft

So before dismissing a fun activity as too challenging for younger girls, think again. By encouraging age-appropriate levels of independence and freedom, girls can discover just how brightly they can shine on their own and succeed at whatever path they choose. And that’s what’s so awesome about Guiding – it gives girls a sense of fearlessness and independence they can’t get anywhere else.

Guest post by Claire Sokoloski, a Sparks Guider in West Kelowna, B.C. She has been lucky enough to work in all the branches of Guiding as well as travelling numerous times with older girls. Currently Claire is also the Monashee Area Program Adviser.

 

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5 retro camp pics way cooler than anything on Instagram

Who needs Instagram to give their camp photos a nostalgic vibe? At Girl Guides of Canada, we’ve got lots of classic camp pics with that hazy look that can only come from the 1970s and 1980s. More permanent than Snapchat and more legit than an Instagram filter, our archives has an authentically curated photo collection that proves that Guiding has always been the ULTIMATE place for girl-driven adventure.

  1. Have K-Way jacket, will travel.
Girls arriving at camp

GGC National Archives APH 2213

When packing for camp, you always want the essentials – like a rain jacket that folds into a pouch (hello, K-Way jacket). And of course, a Cabbage Patch doll. You never know when you might need a Cabbage Patch doll.

  1. Photobombing was the bomb even in the 1980s.
Girls hiking at camp

GGC National Archives APH 2431

Hi mom! Look at me – making friends and carrying a gi-nor-mous backpack!

  1. Girl Guides were crafting and DIYing long before Pinterest and Etsy.
Girls building at camp

GGC National Archives APH 2444

Give a girl some sticks and some string and she’ll build something amazing.

  1. Girl Guides were taking foodie photos before it was even a thing.
Girls doing campfire cooking

GGC National Archives APH 2436

No, it is not just a hamburger. It is authentic Canadian beef cooked over an open flame and nestled in the finest of Wonder Bread goodness.

  1. Girl Guides are not afraid to be daring and try the latest food ‘trends’.
Girl Guides cooking at camp

GGC National Archives APH 2440

Pour some cupcake batter into an orange peel and bake it over the fire pit? Sure, we’re game! (But let’s leave the relish for the authentic Canadian beef cooked over an open flame and nestled in the finest of Wonder Bread goodness.)

Camp T-shirtYou know what else makes for a great retro camp pic? Our new Camp Hair Don’t Care t-shirt. It’s available in navy and red on The Girl Guide Store Order yours today!

 

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The moment this Guide learned to ride a bike will give you all the feels

Guide riding a bike
Learning to ride a bike is a childhood rite of passage. But it can be scary. Like really scary. What if you fall off? What if you get hurt? What if other kids laugh at you? It can take a lot of courage to try riding a bike in front of other kids.

So I’d like to introduce you to Emmy, who found a safe and supportive space in Guiding to to learn to ride a bike. Emmy showed all the courage in the world – and then some – when she decided to tackle this new skill when our unit was working on our Cycling badge.

Emmy was a little nervous, but we loaned her a bike with the pedals removed and let her practice balancing and scooting as the other girls arrived. By the time we started talking about safety, signalling, and some basic maintenance, her nervousness was almost all gone.

After we had all done our checks, the girls who were confident riders headed out with three Guiders to tour the bike paths near our meeting place.  I stayed behind with a Unit Assistant and a determined Emmy.  This was her first time trying to ride in years – she’d never shown much desire to ride before and was generally more interested in her books and her tablet. We put the pedals back on and let her figure that out for a few minutes.  By her tenth push, she was able to keep the pedals going for a few cycles and finish without falling over!

Guide learning to ride a bike
Once she had her confidence built up, she tried starting herself off.  That was more difficult… but she stuck to it.  She was drenched with sweat, but high on success and praise.  By the time the girls got back from a 45 minute ride, she was able to get herself started and keep on going!

Our girls are awesome. The moment they got back and they realized what Emmy had achieved, their praise came fast and loud. They were so pleased for their friend.  They sat and watched Emmy keep working and cheered her on.  (We may have disrupted the baseball practice across the street – just a little!)

The next day, we got an email from her mom thanking us.  It turns out that not only did Emmy come home excited about her new skill and wanting a bike, but she inspired her brother who now wants to give biking a try, too.

I am very grateful for the safe, secure, supportive, empowering environment that Girl Guides gives our amazing girls.  And I’m so thrilled for Emmy, who has come such a long way since she was one of my first Sparks a few years ago.  Riding a bike gives kids such freedom and Emmy is on her way!

Guest post by Cathy Hirose.  Cathy is a Guider for 312th Guides and 308th Sparks in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Guiding offers a safe and supportive space for all girls. Register now for the 2017-18 Guiding year.

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