A ditty bag by any other name…

Every Girl Guide knows a mesh bag is essential at camp to do dishes, but what do you call it? A mess kit? A ditty bag? A mess sack? Every unit uses different terminology but generally within the same region, terms are pretty much the same. But when you start Guiding in a different province, there are many differences in both terminology and in song lyrics. It’s like learning to speak Guiding all over again.

Campers at Caddy Lake in Manitoba.

Campers at Caddy Lake Girl Guide camp in Manitoba.

This summer I worked at Caddy Lake Girl Guide Camp in Manitoba. I was excited to make new friends in Guiding outside of Edmonton, but I did not expect a language barrier. The first couple days at camp I had no issues while planning campfire but when it came to the execution of campfire I soon learnt that not everyone has a hugging competition while singing “40 Years on an Iceberg” and not everyone hums the last verse of “Barges”. Even when the words were the same in “On My Honour”, the order of the verses were not always the same in Manitoba as they were in Alberta.

There was some terminology that was unique to Caddy like how they call the bathroom “The Jinx”. But there were some terms such as the mess kit that caused confusion amongst all the Manitobans, and then I brought the confusion home with me. Back in Alberta, it’s called a mess kit, but when I told all 20 of my Manitoban campers to pull out their mess kits they all looked at me with  great confusion. It was only until my co-counsellor clarified to the campers that when I said “mess kit” I really meant “ditty bag”, did the girls jump into action. After six weeks of calling it a ditty bag, I came home and told my sister to pack her ditty bag for camp. She gave me the exact look my campers gave me six weeks earlier.

Even though we were all speaking English, we all seemed to speak different types of the “Girl Guide language”. Even with a “language barrier” and a the nickname of “the crazy Albertan”, I was able to have the most fantastic time at camp with those crazy Manitobans.

By guest blogger Megan Lamothe, a Guider with the 7th Lethbridge Pathfinders. She loves volunteering at camps and travelling. Check out her previous posts for GirlGuidesCANBlog: Back to Guiding MosaicMy Summer of Guiding, and The Outsider Girl Guider.

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5 Responses to A ditty bag by any other name…

  1. caracastson says:

    I attended SOAR in BC (I’m from Ontario) and they called my ditty bag/mess kit a Dippy Bag. It was fun to see the differences. Thanks Megan!

  2. guideylaurie says:

    I’ve always known them as “dilly bags”. Perhaps that just an Australian variation??

  3. Darlene says:

    We call it a dippy bag

  4. Jen says:

    I’m a Guider in Alberta too, and we call it a ditty bag!

  5. Cheryl Ryan says:

    I too am a Guider in Alberta and we call it a ditty bag. even when I was a guider in Germany it was a ditty bag.

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