At a recent awards ceremony I attended, every girl and adult receiving an award was asked what their favourite Guiding memory was.
“Oh my,” was my immediate thought. Just one?
I have been a Girl Guide for 20 years. A mere 20 years, in comparison to some of the women being honoured for 50, 55, 60 and even 75 years of service.
Just one memory? A memory from when? From the ‘girl’ years? A memory from when I was a Brownie maybe? Camping in the lower lodge at Piper’s Hill, when the Unit in the upper lodge accidentally set off the smoke detector early in the morning, resulting in a ‘real’ fire drill?
Or maybe from Guides, when my camp leader, Sam, was completing her camping certification. She was told by her co-leader that the last item she needed for her certification was inspecting the lavatory at the end of camp. While she did so, all the girls were gathered around to sing “Sam, Sam, the lavatory man…” Maybe that one?
How about Pathfinders? Making hula skirts out of garbage bags? Going horseback riding? Sleeping in the covered wagons at the horseback riding ranch? Cross country skiing? Making sock monkeys for the local shelter as a community service project?
Rangers…. Where we held a spoof fashion show, dressing up our commissioner so she was ‘ready for camp?’ I was the ‘toast of the town’ in that show, and wore a dress with toast glued to the front. Another Ranger was ‘Sally Sucker’, with lollipops glued to her outfit. You can imagine what the Commissioner looked like by the time we were done.
Or maybe a memory from the summer that I spent working at Camp Wyoka? Like Wacky Wednesday, where each week the camp would get together for an afternoon of activities, and the girls would be divided into teams with girls from other sites?
After that summer, I became a Brownie Guider. But again, what memory to choose? An event from an adult get together? An activity completed with the girls? Or maybe not even a hard and fast memory, but a concept…. A shy girl who develops over the year, and takes a leadership role within the Unit?
Taking the girls camping in the rain…. Again? And having a fabulous time…again?
Or maybe when my own daughter received her Lady Baden-Powell award, and my son, just barely a year old and not yet walking, was so angry that he had to sit in the audience with Daddy. He started attending Guides with us when he was 10 days old, and as far as he was concerned, those were his girls up there!” Dad, I should be there with them, not back here with you!” The entire time I was presenting the awards, his Daddy was trying to take pictures of his sister, while he was trying to crawl up the aisle to get to the girls. Daddy would grab him by the ankle every few seconds and pull him back. I was told afterwards that he kinda stole the show.
How about when my co-leader and I joined the girls in a game of ‘Octopus’ one night, and just killed ourselves laughing… and hurt for three days afterwards, after all the running and dodging?
Or what about the large gatherings? The Thinking Day events, the district camps, or the bridging events?
Events like the 100 year celebration at Ontario Place, where my cousin, also a Guider, came along with us to meet our ratio. My aunt and another cousin were there, and I ran into my Brown Owl from when I was a Brownie.
And all these memories after only 20 years… a short time, like I said, in comparison to some.
And after the awards ceremony, I have another memory to add…. during the photo shoot afterwards, when 100 girls and women in uniform sang the “Guide Marching Song” in the middle of University of Toronto’s Erindale campus, while students walked past….
By guest blogger Leslie Potvin. Over the years, Leslie has been a Brownie, Guide, and Pathfinder leader. Today she is a Member-at-Large. Check out her personal blog The Mighty Tiny Chicken Ranch, and her previous GirlGuidesCANblog posts: [Guiding] Ceremonies Are Supposed to be Hokey, The Freedom to Lead [and to Fail]; Bringing the Outdoors: Part I Camp Skills, Part II: Camp Planning, Part III: Getting Along with our Camp and Tent Mates, and Part IV: Post Camp Evaluation. This piece was originally posted on Leslie’s own blog.