When I think of my journey through Guiding, I can’t help but reflect upon the inspirational leaders who have played such a major role in my life. These amazing women are always there for me in both the highs and the lows. They encourage me to try new things and challenge me to show my leadership skills. In every way they model a world in which women are invincible and can do anything that they set their minds to. If it were not for Guiding, I would have missed out on so many amazing adventures in leadership and in the outdoors.
My Guiding journey began when I was five years old and a first year Spark. Immediately, I was welcomed into a family of sisters that has endured and I am sure will last well into the future. As a Spark, I learned to be resourceful as I worked towards earning Spark Keeper badges. From that very young age my commitment to badge work began and continues today, as is evident by my camp blanket that’s covered in badges and crests. Today, I am a Girl Assistant with a Sparks unit and get to witness growth in young faces as these young ladies get to explore their own leadership for the first time. Sparks is that opportunity for young girls to spend a night away from their parents in a safe loving environment and even though the girls and I hardly sleep due to their excitement at camp, it is well worth it to see their bright faces in the morning.
As I moved into the higher levels of Guiding, I began to spread my wings and experience the larger parts of the world. As a Guide I acquired camp skills such as cooking on a buddy burner and making a campfire. It was in Guides that I began to form amazing friendships with the most amazing people. When you spend the night in a tent with someone, a friend becomes family. A family that is created among Girl Guides, a family so wonderful that it is hard to describe. A family that I know that I can and will always be able to count on no matter what.
As a Pathfinder, the world of Guiding got a little bigger. Camps became more intense and regular meetings more involved. In Pathfinders we planned our own meetings and even our own camps. There was no such thing as cabin camping in Pathfinders and bad weather meant nothing as we were always prepared with our superb tents. Pathfinders was about chilling but also leading. Meetings ranged from watching a movie in our pyjamas to rock climbing. At the end of Pathfinders, I even got to tackle an international camp as our unit headed to B.C. for SOAR – which stands for Spirit of Adventure Rendezvous. SOAR was the best experience of my life, never before had I been able to see the power of women on such a large scale. I felt so proud to be a member of Guiding as I marched through the streets during the SOAR parade. Not to mention the superb activities that took place at this interprovincial/international week-long camp.
Now that I am a Ranger, I have taken the next challenge as I tackle harder camps. In January, my Ranger unit went winter camping. During this camp we spent a whole weekend outside in – 15° C degree temperatures. It was a rough couple of days but it was well worth the challenge. As well, my Ranger unit just finished going to Guiding Mosaic in Sylvan Lake, Alberta, my second international camp. At Mosaic I met some of the most interesting people from all across Canada. My adventure program led me to new heights, as I climbed to the top of some very rough terrain having the time of my life! The camp also taught me perseverance as it rained the entire week. But I kept smiling through mud covered teeth and I would go back any day! Guiding Mosaic was reflective of my entire journey through Guiding and confirmed what I already knew – Guiding.Is.The.Best!
As I enter my last year of Guiding as a girl member, I can’t help but reflect on what an incredible ride it has been. The leaders that have molded me and the friendships I have made will be forever imprinted in my DNA. Although I am sad that my girl years are coming to an end, I cannot wait to be a model of a strong woman for the Girl Guides of the future. If anyone is even considering registering their daughter in Guiding, let me be the first to say “Do It!” It will shape them, like it has shaped me, into a resourceful young lady!
Guest post by Erin Brintnell, a third-year Ranger in Calgary who enjoys all aspects of the Guiding world. She loves hiking, biking and exploring the outdoors as well as helping in her community. Guiding Mosaic 2016 was the highlight of her summer!