In 2002 I was one of 10 youth members, aged 15 to 17, chosen to represent Girl Guides of Canada on the nationally-sponsored trip to the Ma-Buyu Youth Forum and Commonwealth Games Camp in Manchester, England.
We all met at Pearson International Airport in Toronto before heading off to London the next day. We were in the arrivals area when the girl from Quebec’s plane finally arrived. I sarcastically quipped “Of course the plane from Dorval is late,” to which she replied, “You must be the girl from Ottawa.” Lindsey and I were pretty much inseparable from that point on.
Upon arrival at Waddow Hall in Preston, England, we discovered that the camp was co-organized by Elaine Patterson (former Chief Commissioner, and current WAGGGS Board member), and the special guest at the camp was her best friend, Dr. Roberta Bondar (an Honorary Lifetime member of GGC). It was a very surreal experience for us Canadian girls to spend a week with a national hero and witness the friendship between Elaine and Roberta. Though Lindsey and I were separated into different patrols, we always found a way to spend time together at meals, breaks, and of course in the evening, tucked into our sleeping bags next to each other. International camps forge friendships that can last a lifetime, and this camp was no exception.
We kept in touch after camp and she came to visit me later that year for my 18th birthday. Lindsey went off to university and then did her Masters in Australia while I stayed in Ottawa for college. We both kept on Guiding but were out of touch for a few years until Lindsey moved to Aylmer, Quebec in 2011, just across the river from Ottawa, and within the same Guiding administrative community. My mother (Area Membership Advisor) saw Lindsey’s name on a list and reconnected us. In June 2013, our Guide units went to Camp Woolsey together for a fairy-tale themed weekend camp.
As any Canadian knows, hockey rivalries promote some fun but fierce competitiveness. With Lindsey being a diehard Habs fan, and I, a hometown Ottawa Sens fan, we have enjoyed some friendly banter over the years. This year, as our teams went head-to-head in the first round of the playoffs, we put our money where our mouths are and made a bet on the Senators-Canadiens series: loser buys dinner, winner picks the restaurant.
I may have lost the bet (this year…) but I know I have a friend for life. It may have started with a sarcastic quip, but has grown into a friendship filled with laughter, books and a shared love of board games. Friendships forged in those formative years are incredibly important and it is never too late to reconnect with someone who meant so much to you, even for as short of a time as a two week camp.
Lindsey and I can relax as the Guiding year comes to a close and I treat her to a night of Japanese cuisine; but when hockey season starts up again, the gloves are off: Go Sens Go!
By guest blogger Erin Novodvorsky (formerly Erin Mulholland), a Guider for the 125th Nepean Guides in Ottawa.
Have you made a lifelong connection through Guiding? Share your story: ggcblog(at)girlguides.ca.