Girls empowering girls is a powerful part of the Guiding experience. Whether they’re cheering each other on as they try a challenging new activity or sharing a special skill, girls in Guiding can stretch their limits as they mentor one another. Pathfinder Ursa shares what she discovered when she organized a sleepover for 5- and 6-year-old Sparks.
An important part for a Pathfinder working towards earning her Canada Cord is planning an event or camp. For my Canada Cord I chose to plan a Sparks sleepover. Many of the girls had never slept away from home, nevermind gone to Guide camp, so this was a first for all of us. Here are five things I learned that night:
1. Having Sparks bring a special adult friend to the sleepover is a good idea.
For many of the girls at the sleepover, this was their first time sleeping away from home, and it was a big deal. By having a mom, sister, aunt, neighbor, or other special friend come along, the Sparks were more comfortable. The Sparks always had someone to go to if they needed.
2. Sparks can totally set up tents.
Seems simple, I know, but tents can be daunting even for the most experienced camper.
When planning my camp, I proposed having the Sparks put up their own tents, and there was some hesitation. The worry was that the parents or leaders would have to put up all the tents as 15 excited Sparks ran wild around us. In reality, the Sparks were overjoyed that they got to set up their tents. There were some who had gone camping before and were happy to show their deep understanding of how tents work, and there were some who were just happy to learn. You just need a little bit of patience, and someone tall enough to reach the top of the tent, and the Sparks can and will put up a tent.
3. Sparks are quick learners.
Campfire is an essential part of camp in my opinion, and I didn’t want to leave it out of our indoor sleepover. I ended up typing up all the words to all the songs we would be singing and handed them out – which brings me to the point of Sparks being quick learners. Most of these Sparks had never heard any of these songs before, let alone sang them, and I was amazed to see them all with their flashlights huddled together around the song sheets and singing along.
There was a point when one of the girls looked at her mom and said: “You’re doing the hand motions wrong. Here, it’s like this…” and then proceeded to show her the proper way to ‘sail the ocean wide’.
4. Sparks will get up at six in the morning.
Yup, I thought it might not be true if I kept them up just a little bit late, but alas, Sparks rise with the sun. I learned that perhaps I should have gotten up earlier and planned for breakfast at 6:15 a.m. But, at least the parents were there to make pancakes.
5. An exit strategy is always important.
At the end of every meeting the volunteers in the Sparks unit wait for 20 minutes after the meeting is done as the Sparks and their adults chat outside the meeting space. So I chose to end our sleepover at the park. There is a park just a 10-minute walk (20 minutes if you’re a Spark) from where we had our sleepover. The Sparks were set free to run off all the excess pancake sugar, and at 10 a.m. the sleepover was done.
This sleepover was an amazing experience for me to plan, run and learn. For anyone looking for an event planning or leadership experience, a sleepover is a great way to introduce yourself to leading younger girls, having a major role in the behind the scenes parts of camp, and to have a really great evening.
Guest post by Ursa. Ursa will begin her first year as a Ranger this fall. Guiding has been a big part of her life for over seven years. Besides Guiding, Ursa acts, knits, writes, and plays the ukulele. Her favorite part of Guiding has always been the time around a campfire surrounded by friends just as the fire comes down and the coals shine.