New Brunswick’s 2nd Tidewater Ranger Unit focuses on outside activities as much as possible. Our meeting place is in a ski hut in a park in Moncton where we have access to hiking trails, cross country ski equipment, snowshoes and canoes. We have nine girls registered in our unit this year and most of our girls have signed up for the Duke of Edinburgh Award program, which gives us tangible goals to plan for. So in our first year, we set off on a 17 km backpacking hike to a wilderness campsite on the Dobson Trail.
The Dobson Trail is a wilderness footpath stretching 58 km from Riverview, N.B., to the northern boundary of Fundy National Park. As the trail head is just minutes from our meeting place, it lends itself well for planning this type of activity. Last spring for the Silver level of the Duke of Edinburgh Award (three days, two nights on the trail), we completed another section of the trail spanning 30 km, starting 40 km out and hiking back to town. The goal was 40 km, but the terrain was wet and the girls were getting tired so we pulled out 10 km early just outside of Riverview. Not to leave it undone, we are planning a day hike in November to complete that last 10 km. Next spring for the Gold level, we are planning a practice canoe trip in Kouchibouguac National Park, canoeing to a backcountry site to get ready for a longer canoe trip later that summer on the Saint John River.
I find planning these types of activities really keeps the girls engaged – almost all are back this year to move onto the next level and their excitement is contagious with the new girls that have just moved up from Pathfinders. For us Guiders, we do it to challenge ourselves and push our limits.
I have been very blessed to have young Guiders join our unit with the expertise and excitement to engage and lead these activities. We also had the guidance of a Guider from Nova Scotia, who facilitated our outdoor adventure training and evaluated us for these hikes. For me, a more seasoned 50+ Guider, the 30 km hike was a personal challenge. My background is canoe tripping, not so much hiking – it was an eye opener! The luxury of extra space in the canoe for all my comforts was gone; everything had to fit in that pack. Recognizing the distance of the hike could be daunting for me, I spent many nights walking to prep for it. (I didn’t want to be the one to hold up the group.)
Working with this unit is keeping me young. I know I need to keep active and exercise if I am going to keep falling on the ski trail to a minimum, and be able to do another epic hike or canoe 60 km next summer. It forces me to push myself to learn new skills and hone the ones I have, which I might not otherwise have bothered with if I was not involved in Guiding. So all in all, this unit has been just as great for me as for the girls and I encourage any Guider who has been thinking of doing these types of activities to get out there and do it. Get training if you need it, find other Guiders who share your passion to go with you, find a facilitator if you are not qualified yet and then plan it and go!
Guest post by Debbie Stackhouse, a Guider with the 2nd Tidewater Ranger Unit in New Brunswick.
Have you achieved a personal goal through Guiding? Challenged yourself to try something new? Share your story! Email us: ggcblog(at)girlguides.ca.