I have been a Guide Guider for 10 years now, and have also worked with Pathfinders during that time. I love working with the Guide and Pathfinder age groups, the girls are keen and capable, they have a developing world view and are not afraid to voice their opinions. It’s awesome to watch them grow from shy Brownies into confident young women ready to take on the world. They teeter between trying to be serious and grown up to downright silly. And I find it endearing that no matter how mature they can be, one of their favourite games to play is Duck, Duck, Goose.
This past fall my daughter’s Spark unit had a waiting list and they desperately needed more Guiders to allow them to clear it. I volunteered to help them out and jumped into Sparks with both feet. What an experience it has been!
Despite having a Spark at home, working with the Spark unit was a huge adjustment for me. I learned about the Spark program, how the Keepers work, and all of the Spark songs. Check! I also learned the hard way that playing the Dutch Shoe Game will result in spending the rest of the meeting tying the girls’ shoes, as most of them can’t tie their laces yet. Since all branches of Guiding share the same Provincial and National challenges, I thought that those at least would be a breeze. Wrong! The first time I presented an activity to the girls I realized from their bored expressions that I was talking over their heads. I needed to simplify my explanations and take my cue from the girls’ questions instead. Since their fine motor skills are still developing, a lot of the craft projects in my Guider bag of tricks were too frustrating for little hands to tackle. I needed new ideas fast! So I indulged in my Pinterest addiction and searched for age appropriate craft and program ideas.
While there are a lot of differences between the girls in each branch, I found that there were also strong similarities. Sparks and Pathfinders need a lot of sleep and food to function properly. This is especially evident at camp. Both groups get moody when they don’t have enough sleep, and both need healthy snacks at regular intervals to keep up their energy and good cheer. Sparks, like the Guides, love to help others. They want to be involved in community service, help set up for games or crafts and they will cheerfully tidy everything up at the end of the meeting. They love to explore and experiment and have a lot of questions. And both Sparks and Guides love to tell their stories.
One of the most amazing and unexpected aspects of Sparks is the magic. The girls believe that anything is possible. You can have the most amazing fun when you let your imagination run wild and sprinkle a little magic into each meeting. Last week we visited the Brownies and the Sparks learned about a new kind of magic. The kind that is woven around a pond and a toadstool by Kelpies, Elves and wise old Owls. As I looked around the Brownie circle I realized that the year has flown by. The Sparks are now ready for their next adventure, and I will really miss them. I’m looking forward to catching up with them again in a few years when they’re ready for Guides. Until then, I’ll be sprinkling some magic into my Guide meetings and hoping like crazy that Brown Owl teaches them all how to tie their shoelaces.
By guest blogger Karen Cross, a Guider with the 146th Toronto Guides and the 257th Toronto Sparks. She was a member of the 13th Chateauguay Girl Guide Company as a girl.