My camp blanket is gone. I’d feel better if I’d left it behind at camp, or accidentally swapped it with another Guide, or if it had been the victim of a flooded tent (kidding! I don’t actually wish that).
The truth is this: I left Guiding when I moved across the country by myself nearly a decade ago. I always had the intention of returning (both home and to Girl Guides) but as the years have passed I’ve found new career goals and it looks like this move might be more permanent. My dad is selling my childhood home in the Ottawa suburb of Orleans. I went home to move a final dozen boxes of my belongings out of my old bedroom… and my camp blanket wasn’t there. My dad had accidentally included it in boxes he sent out for donation.
I was beyond upset. That was my 18 years of my Guiding life right there. My dad still has his entire Scout uniform from the 1960s. I sent sad messages out to friends, checked area thrift stores (who thought I was nuts), posted ads through online buy and sell sites: “Lost, one camp blanket. Grey fleece, poncho style. Has all three 90s Brownie, Guide and Pathfinder sashes sewn to it, a series of Camp Woolsey log crests (1991-1998) and pennant, my Canada Cord, various other patches.” What kind of Girl Guide loses this irreplaceable piece of personal history?
My best friend, Beth, also a former Girl Guide, was a bit more hopeful. “It’s not about the blanket, it’s about what you learned in Guiding. Think of that.” So I did. Fortunately she lives in the same province as me, a mere two-hour hour ferry trip and 90-minute bus ride (or two days by bicycle, or 40 minutes by float plane if you’re feeling adventurous). We spent some time together over New Year’s and brainstormed…
Things learned and reflected on my (lost!) camp blanket:
- Specific skills: camp craft, skating, collecting, orienteering, citizenship, environmental stewardship, skiing, crafting, sewing… So much sewing, especially after our moms refused to sew on any more badges!
- Goal setting: whether it was the goal of obtaining more badges or conquering other daily challenges at Guides or in our community.
- The importance of hard work: yeah, it was hard work to obtain all those badges and crests. It takes hard work to achieve your goals in the real world, too.
- Organizational skills: I remember this being particularly hard, especially organizing our joint Pathfinder Gold level camp, which we both had to repeat!
- Confidence (and confidants): I’d never have had the bravery to try new things without Guides. I found role models, and confidants to share some parts of my personality (I’m looking at you Radar and KJ) before trying them in the real world.
- Friendship: Guiding helped cement the friendship between Beth and me, and we both made friends through Guiding and camps that we’re still in contact with today.
Ok, I did learn some pretty great life skills through Guiding, and those are things that I’ll never lose…
But if you do happen to find my camp blanket at a local thrift shop or elsewhere, please hold on to it for me!
Guest post by Adrienne Quane, who now lives in North Vancouver, B.C. She stays connected to Guiding by helping Guiding friends at the Burnaby area Girl Guide cabin on nearby Hollyburn Mountain and always buys Girl Guide cookies each spring and fall.