At the end of a long year of planning meetings, selling cookies, and going to numerous camps, many Guiders (and girls!) look forward to a summer break from Guiding. Normally I do too, but this year I had a summer filled with Guiding that I wouldn’t trade for anything. I spent a week and a half at Scouts Canada’s Canadian Jamboree as a volunteer and my Pathfinder unit was there as participants. This experience taught me so much about Scouting but also taught me even more about what it means to be a Girl Guide.
The Canadian Jamboree was hosted at Sylvan Lake Alberta with 6,500 participants and 1,500 volunteers. Several of the volunteers and Scouter moms were Guiders but there was only one contingent of Girl Guides attending the Jamboree. This was definitely not our weekend camp.
Even though we were at a Scout event they still made sure the Girl Guides were looked after. They even invited a few Area Commissioners from around Sylvan Lake to the opening ceremony. Sitting on the hill in our blue uniforms we stuck out in the sea of red and brown Scout uniforms. The commissioners could see us from the stage and gave us an enthusiastic wave from center stage when they were introduced. We felt very welcomed at the opening ceremonies.
As the week progressed we unfortunately heard more and more negative comments about our presence at the Jamboree (“Guiders aren’t real Scouters”). We would generally brush it off, but in the safety of our own camp we would tell each other what we heard others say about us. By the middle of the week I was tired of hearing all the negative comments about the Girl Guides. I decided to write an extra article for the CJ’13 newspaper about what was going on, without my editor’s approval.
My article was published on the second last day of the Jamboree and the response was fantastic. Scouters who had daughters in Pathfinders came to trade for our badges, Guiders that doubled as Scouters came to say hello, and volunteers at the Jamboree came and gave the girls rare collectable badges to trade. We even had a team from Girl Guides’ National office pop in on the camp to say hello after touring the campsite as a potential GM location. As all those visitors apologized for the comments we had received all week I heard one of the girls say the most amazing thing:
“Sure, it’s unfortunate that we received those comments, but its even more unfortunate that those people can’t see how similar Guides is to Scouting. I am proud to march around camp in my uniform with a trefoil, and those comments only make me more proud.”
We all learnt a lot at CJ’13, but we also learnt a lot about what it means to be a Girl Guide. Just because someone else doesn’t see your potential there is always a Guide unit that does. When you’re surrounded by your fellow Guides nothing can bother you that much.
By guest blogger Megan Lamothe. Megan is a 3rd year Ranger in the 64th Edmonton Rangers and received her Chief Commissioners Gold Award in her second year of Rangers. She loves volunteering at camps and traveling, and went on an international trip to Kenya this past summer. Don’t forget to read her post for GirlGuidesCANBlog: The Outsider Girl Guider.