I grew up with Guiding, joining as a shy Brownie and going through Guides, Pathfinders, Rangers, and Link. I never doubted Guiding would remain a part of my life, but I didn’t know that I would begin my journey as a Guider in a rather unique way.
When I finished school, I moved back to my hometown, began a new job, and got married, all within 3 months. Needless to say, becoming a Guider wasn’t the first thing on my mind! But one day, I happened to be near the Guide office and decided to pop in. By the time I left, I was signed up to “help out” with a new unit.
The principal of a local school had called, concerned about the number of “latch-key” kids who were going home to empty houses. She wanted to introduce a program that would provide a positive environment for girls, and thought of Girl Guides. An idea was hatched to provide a multi-branch, after-school program for girls once a week at the school, and the 7th St. Catharines Guiding unit was born!
That was 10 years ago. From a very small number of girls meeting in one classroom, we have grown to 30 girls (and still growing!) meeting in the school’s gym. We have seen our youngest Sparks grow to Pathfinders and head off to high school.
Along the way, we have learned a few tricks of the multi-branch trade. We begin our meetings all together with a snack and opening, then break into branches for program work. We come together at the end for campfire or games and closing. Sometimes, we do a craft, field trip, or outside activity all together, or have a guest speaker.
One of the great joys of being a multi-branch Guider is witnessing the Sisterhood of Guiding in action. The older girls help the younger ones, and everyone knows everyone else’s songs and Promises (a great bridging benefit)! The more experienced girls mentor the newer ones. We go camping every year (in tents!) and have never had a girl need to go home because she’s homesick. The girls intuitively watch out for each other, and celebrate each other’s achievements.
The benefits don’t stop with the girls. I have the honour of working with some amazing Guiding veterans, who have taught me much about Guiding, planning, and most importantly, being flexible! And this year, I have the added benefit of sharing the sisterhood with my own daughter, one of the newest Sparks in our Guiding family.
If you ever have the chance to be a part of a multi-branch unit, go for it! There’s never a dull moment, and it is one of the best rewards to watch girls grow in Guiding!
By guest blogger and Guider ‘Glowie’, aka Megan Gilchrist. Megan is the Contact Guider for the 7th St. Catharines Guiding (multi-branch)Unit. Read Megan’s other contribution to GirlGuidesCANBlog: Every Penny Counts.
What’s New with Girl Guides? Every year on March 8, the world celebrates International Women’s Day (IWD), which falls within International Women’s Week (IWW), from March 2nd to March 10th, 2013. Here are some girl programming activities to help celebrate the day with girl members in Canada! Don’t forget that WAGGGS’s is also having a special 24 hour chat that day!
What an awesome and inspirational blog! Your unit sounds like a blast! If I didn’t hold so many roles in Guiding already, I’d be inspired to start up a multi-branch unit in my city! 🙂 Keep up the great work.
I also run a multi branch unit in Brampton. The guide unit was going to close at one time and I couldnt let that happen, then siblings started to want to attend as sparks and again I just couldnt say no. It is a really great experience to watch all of these girls grow up and mature. I also let them come back and help out when they can. It is tough to make age appropriate activities some time when we are short on leaders but it works and the kids and parents love it . Camping with them all really is fun too. keep up the great work guiders
I just recently signed up as a volunteer Guider for the 486th in Etobicoke/ community 18 .. My daughter is a Brownie. We are moving to a Brampton location and would very much like more info about your group, if you ate looking for a guider and another Brownie!
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
hello I also have a new multi branch in Brampton on Monday nights as my spark leader has chosen not to return so I the same could not see my spark unit close so this is my first year doing both. We also have a guide unit in the other gym on Monday nights as well we are the 112 Sparks 105 Brownies and 107 Guides. I am looking for a parent to help or leaders to help out when they can. Please let me know email is email@example.com
Hello Catherine, when do you have your unit in Brampton as I am in Brampton as well brownie leader. just starting to do the multi branch as I have taken on the sparks as well did not want to see the unit close. can you email me as I need advise on how to do the opening and closing with multi units.
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