I Camp Therefore I Have My Camp Blanket

GirlGuidesCANblog Big Deal SealUpdate: This post was voted as a 2011/2012 GirlGuidesCANblog Big Deal Seal winner in the Growing Guiding category! Bravo blogger Sarah!


When I was chosen to be one of the Nova Scotia delegates to the International Camp in Guelph ’93, I was lucky to have the greatest Pathfinder leader. She helped me fundraise, taught me to properly pack and made sure I was well prepared before going. This included introducing me to the ‘camp blanket’.

Camp Blanket. Guider Sarah L Dartmouth NS

Camp Blanket. Guider Sarah L Dartmouth NS

I was in my seventh year of Guiding and had never heard of a camp blanket. Immediately, my mother and Pathfinder leader created a poncho and sewed on the non-program crests we had lying around. There weren’t a lot, but some. I had never really paid attention to them – my focus throughout Brownies and Guides had been the badges I had earned and been “tested” on, the badges that filled my sash that I proudly wore every week.

Over the two weeks at the camp, I became a trader aficionado. My traders, including handmade painted stones and local crests, never left my side. When I arrived home, the first thing I wanted to do was get these new crests on my blanket. Turns out that wouldn’t be the case, my new skill at trading meant I needed a bigger blanket. But trading, or earning them at local events weren’t the only ways I started gathering crests. My father, a member of the Armed Forces, was often sent away internationally, and always found time to meet with a local Girl Guide/Girl Scout member, or go to their store to pick me up a souvenir. As I began to travel more I did the same, starting a new addition wherever I go.

Close Up of Camp Blanket. Guider Sarah L Dartmouth NS

Close Up of Camp Blanket. Guider Sarah L Dartmouth NS

By now, in my 25th year of Guiding, I am on my third camp blanket. Blanket number two was filled and my mother would not take the crests off to re-sew onto the new one. She cut them out in patches and sewed that onto blanket number three. So now I have this heavy, very large poncho with giant patches of old blanket on it. To make matters worse (better?), everything came full circle in July 2010 when I went back to Guelph for an international camp. I came prepared with my special trader/keeper bag… and came home with 100 new crests, and no mother to sew them onto my blanket.

My boyfriend also refused to sew them on. When we took our first camping trip together, he gave me a weird look as I set up the tent and sleeping bags. “What is that large, two-toned grey blanket?” he asked. “That’s my camp blanket,” I said, thinking everyone knows what a camp blanket is. “I am camping, therefore, I have my camp blanket.”

The next morning, when he woke up with a back and face full of triangle, square and circle outlines (in the earlier banter I forgot to turn the blanket onto the non-crest side), all I did was shrug, and tell him that next camp trip I will remember. But that the next and all future camp trips we will bring the blanket. And on our trip to Hawaii in June he asked, when are we going to the Guide store?

Think I won’t be trading him or the blanket in anytime soon.

By guest blogger Guider Sarah of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Check out her own blog ‘Sarah Smells the Roses‘, as well as her blog posts for Girl Guides of Canada:

Where’s your camp blanket? We were inspired by Sarah’s blog post so much, that we’ve started a public photo set on our Flickr account to highlight your camp blankets! Email us your camp blanket photo to marketing1 (@) girlguides.ca and we’ll upload it to the set: Camp Blankets!

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26 Responses to I Camp Therefore I Have My Camp Blanket

  1. Beautiful post – I hope one day to have my camp blanket look so amazing. I’m on my 13th year of Guiding and I still don’t have a crest sewn on a blanket -though I have a substantial enough collection. Over the last year I have begun sewing crests to my neckers as prep, but it is definitely a hard task!

    As a side note, the writer of this blog post has at least 2 badges on her blanket that I would give my teeth to own!! If anyone has the Guide t-shirt and Pathfinder t-shirt (both in the second picture in this article) hidden away in their trader/seller bag – I would love to hear from you!!


    District Guider
    Westglen District
    Calgary Area

  2. Carol Pike says:

    I know Girl Guides of Canada have already stumbled across my slight badge and blanket addiction.

    A quick look for Cazbly on Flickr will show that I am another who is always looking for another swap to add to the blankets 🙂

    Wonderful blanket and wonderful story.

  3. Jennifer Duggan says:

    Great article!!!

    Oh, the camp blankets… I’m on number three as well! If my house was burning down and I could take three things with me, first would be my cats, second would be my blankets, and third would be photo albums. The blankets are full of memories, from 20 years of Guiding, swimming, travelling, Scouts (I did that too for 5 years), and all the way up to being a Brownie leader going places and collecting badges, I hold those blankets near and dear to my heart.

    Everyone needs a good camp blanket, which is why every one of my Brownies is presented with one, embroidered with their name, at enrolment. The girls become attached to them early on and get very excited when they earn their ‘camp blanket’ crests on field trips or camps.

    Just this summer we took a girl to the hospital from camp, and when we got there we gave the nurse one of our patrol crests as a token of our appreciation. He said he was going to sew it onto his (Scout) camp blanket. A whole excited conversation errupted about camp blankets and how much they meant to us all. Camp blankets tie us together in many ways. 🙂

  4. Michelle says:

    I’m a Rainbow, Brownie and Guide Guider in Scotland and i’m on my second fairly full blanket (my first one got too old and tatty). I have learnt to sew all the badges on to neckerchiefs and sashes so that when the blanket gets old you can easily sew the badges on a new one. I’m always on the lookout for new badges and neckerchiefs for my very heavy, but very warm blanket

  5. RaeAnn says:

    I have only been a leader for about 7 years but the first thing I tell kids is to get a meter of fleece that they like and that is the start of their camp blanket. We always have some kind of crest to hand out along with their badges.

  6. NavyHawk says:

    I have a beautiful Camp Blanket that is 20+ years old. I sewed on my brownie, guide and pathfinder sashes. I took to sparks and they asked why my brownie sash was in “black and white” I told them that it was in Yellow and Brown (yeah 80’s cool), and they said no it’s black and white and you’re old. Bah! Love those 5 and 6 year olds! They spend hours asking me where I got each crest, what they mean, etc. It’s a great conversation piece and gets them interested in camping!

  7. I forgot to mention in the post, that I made sure once I became a Brownie leader each of the girls had a camp blanket. That way no crests go missing!

  8. Renée (Barnowl) says:

    I can sooo relate! I started a crest blanket about 20 years ago when my son was in beavers and I was a unit helper. I have been active in guiding with my daughter for about 15 years now. My crest blanket is full and I have started a crest vest. Around here I even have a reputation as the one who will do anything for a crest!

    During the queen’s golden jubilee, a guiding friend of mine found me a collection of crests on ebay with a silver jubilee crest that I had been looking for. When I opened the package there was a very old felt crest in it that just had the date of 1953 on it. I realized that this was the queen’s inauguration. So now I have crests for all 3 events on my blanket. I also have a 1967 centennial crest from hubby’s scouting days. These are my most prized crests on my blanket.

  9. srdiane says:

    Sigh, I had to leave my camp blanket at my parents house and only bring a few with me to work on when I moved to Whitehorse from Victoria as not enough space in my car. On the other hand, I started collecting pre-Brownies as my brother already had his being six years older then me and a Scout. I’ll see if I can find my photos, but my Brownies from about 10 years ago counted 350 crests, since then I’ve been to a Scouts Canada Jamboree, worked at Our Chalet and GirlGuiding Waddow Hall in the UK (when the Commonwealth Camp Mabuya was on) and generally trapse around Europe for a year, not to mention SOAR… so I have a lot more which haven’t been sewn on as they are all done by hand on my 100% wool 2.5m of fabric, my second blanket.

  10. Anne says:

    There is a story behind every camp blanket – and every crest on it – – I loved reading about yours! I don’ t have my own camp blanket but did make a promise to my daughter many years ago that I’d sew her badges on hers. Here is her camp blanket (so far!) http://64thguides.blogspot.com/2010/12/sheris-camp-blanket.html

  11. Candice says:

    Has anyone made a Unit blanket? I’m really new to guiding (this will be my 2nd year as a Spark and Brownie Unit leader) and I’m wanting to ramp up this year with some fun activies.. and I’m thinking this would be good for my unit.

  12. Heather says:

    Guiders! I would love to see directions on how to make a camp blanket. As a non-sewer, making camp blankets is intimidating.

  13. Heather, I think I might do a follow up post with ideas and suggestions about campfire blankets!

  14. It’s going up today!

  15. Jennifer Buchanan says:

    Hi I am from New Zealand and have just started trading badges for my daughters blanket, she just started as a pippin this year and recently moved up to Brownies, so after just sewing the badges on I found out that we had to start over with Brownie badges and the Pippins badges should go on a blanket, her few badges which looked like alot on her small sash looked very small on the queen sized blanket I got her, anyway I saw this artical and thought that they look amazing and would be quite amazed if we even complete quarter an eighth of a blanket…..amazing!!!!!

  16. Carla says:

    I had a campfire blanket that had every crest I ever received as a girl member and from every corner of the world. Unfortunately it has disappeared (broke my heart). I do however have another large box of them saved and plan to make another one (poncho). My niece just started Sparks and has her Mom’s blanket (she wasn’t as crest crazy as myself). While her and my Mom were shopping the other day she picked some awesome fleece that almost matches her blanket. I can’t wait to get it made. We can both wear them to Area camp in June!!

  17. hcarley says:

    I’m interested in your special keeper bag…what do you use. I have 2 Guides, a soon to be Spark and a Girl Guide in training at my house and I need some great ideas for our keepers. We often make special traders for taking to camps and events as well….

    • Anonymous says:

      I was also part of Guelph ’93. Stayed with the Nova Scotia guides before the camp but lost touch! 🙁 Felicity from the UKdelegates!

      • Anonymous says:

        Hi I am Helen who travelled with the UK Guides as well. I have lost touch with most people & decided to have a quick search. I travelled from Newcastle upon Tyne.

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  20. Helen Pendlington (was Davison) says:

    I went to Guelph 93 as part of the English party. We stayed in Nova Scotia before the Camp. The trip was packed full of memories that will last a lifetime. We have probably met. I stayed with Diane Davison & family. It would be so good to be in touch with friends once again.

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