Canadian Anthem Controversy

A fellow guider recently told me about a heated argument on a Canadian guiding Facebook page, where a leader shared that her unit didn’t sing the national anthem in their meetings. I’m not sure if she was just taking a poll on how many groups did or didn’t, or if someone had said something personally to her and she was asking for feedback…

Nevertheless, I felt terrible for her because she was 100% bullied for asking this question. To the point that she left the Facebook group. I have been bullied as an adult in guiding before and there needs to be much less tolerance for it among guiders, GGC leadership and by the admins of online sites and pages.

Leaders should and do share their questions and ideas online. We share resources and routines and solicit input from others in this community.

But we are a COMMUNITY. And we are shaping the next generation of women. If you are the type of person who brings others down, you should be removed from the guiding world. Period.

For the record, my unit does not sing O’Canada in our meetings. No one has asked to all year – girl, parent or leader – and last year we only sang it once. We will sing the national anthem in an upcoming meeting because we are doing the Canada badge and it is directly relevant, but I do not see any need to do it on a regular basis.

Does your unit sing O’Canada on a weekly basis?

xx

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Snack Signup

For the second half of our guiding year, we are trying out something new in our unit.

Weekly snacks.

Girls are growing and they are always hungry. Especially after 90 minutes of running around like chickens with their heads cut off.

So I set up a simple google docs spreadsheet, by inserting a table into a normal blank document. I changed the background to pink. Added a bit of info for parents.

And VOILA!

I shared the document with the other leaders and with every parent in our roster. There are two sharing options so if you decide to do this, make sure that you choose one that doesn’t require parents to log into a Google account, as not everyone will use gmail.

I have no idea how well this will go over, but it is difficult for the unit to pay for snacks every week, and children are hungry. Plus, badge work 🙂

Win-win!

We are preparing some special things to give the girls our last meeting. At the end of the document, I have asked parents to please email their recipe so that we can include a cookbook of kid-friendly recipes in this surprise.

You may notice that there are dates missing from the calendar. These are dates we are on a field trip, have visitors or are not meeting (example: March Break).

On nights that no one signs up, we will not have a snack.

Hopefully this goes over well and it successful! Leaders originally discussed this idea a few months ago, but we didn’t get it started quickly and decided to wait until after the winter break.

xx

Winter Camping Kit List

This is the Kit List that we provided to parents for our weekend long trip to Lake St. George in February. I always remind parents to label everything and provide the list with the initial forms, on our unit website (which is private) and send to parents via email.

Outerwear

  • snow suit
  • warm hat
  • scarf
  • 2 pairs mittens
  • snow boots
  • plastic bag to separate wet items from dry items
  • sunglasses

Clothing

  • warm PJs
  • 3 pairs underwear
  • 5 pairs socks (I’m assuming most of us will end up with wet socks at least once)
  • 2-3 pairs pants (again, wet pant legs from outdoor play)
  • 2-3 warm, long-sleeved shirts
  • Brownie shirt
  • sweater or hoodie
  • 1 pair of indoor shoes

Personal Items

  • stuffie (if desired)
  • ear plugs (if desired)
  • toiletries (toothbrush/paste; wash cloth; towel; hair brush and elastics; soap; kleenex; sunscreen; lip balm)
  • There are shower facilities at this location. You may send your child with shower shoes; towel; shampoo/conditioner if desired
  • medications (clearly labelled with child’s name and instructions for leaders)
  • reusable water bottle
  • pillow
  • warm sleeping bag
  • extra blanket
  • bedroll (if desired)
  • book (if desired)
  • personal mini first aid kit (made in unit meeting)

All of our food and mess items are provided at the location we are visiting so parents are not required to send these items with their daughters. Post in the comments if you notice anything that I have missed!

Lake St George Trip

We booked an Outdoor Experiences Trip for February 2019, at Lake St. George. We arrive on Friday evening, and parents pickup around lunchtime on Sunday. I wrote broadly about the Outdoor Experiences program in a recent post, but this one is more about our actual trip.

This camp weekend is for Sparks, Brownies and Guides so there may be other units there as well, although the ages won’t be too drastically different since my girls are the middle age group 🙂

Activities Included:

  • Tubing
  • Broomball
  • Evening Hike
  • Mini-Olympics
  • Dry Print Art
  • Astronomy

Assuming that all these activities go ahead, my girls will earn the following badges for attending:

  • Winter Outside
  • Winter is Great
  • Team Together
  • Which Way (possibly)
  • Be Aware (possibly)

What’s Included?

  • Friday night snack
  • 3 meals on Saturday + snacks
  • Sunday breakfast
  • All equipment rental (example: tubes and art supplies)
  • Daytime facility staff who will lead activities
  • heated, dormitory-style sleeping quarters

What’s Not Included?

  • Transportation to and from

We prepared a Kit List to share with parents on this trip. I will upload this in a separate blog post this week since there is a lot of content.

In addition, as I mentioned in my previous blog post, the registration process provides you with the necessary SafeGuide forms, so I just needed to print out copies for each of my families and collect the completed forms and money!

The badges we expect our girls to earn from this trip are:0

I am a little nervous about this camp but also super excited. It should be lots of fun!!

Any tips to share?

xx

Ontario Outdoor Experiences

New this guiding year, Ontario created a series of overnight weekends called Ontario Outdoor Experiences. This is a new way for leaders to bring their girls outdoors and work towards different badges, without the guiders have to arrange as much as they would during independent camping trips. girls All we have to do is register, fill out the normal paperwork, and show up with the girls to supervise!

The provincial council has partnered with third party outdoor experience providers to arrange dedicated GGC weekends, with each weekend being dedicated to a specific branch.

We have booked our first outdoor experience for February 2019. This is a pretty big trip for us – two nights – which is the most I would feel comfortable arranging at the Brownie level.

While searching for a camp to book, our main requirements were less than 1 hour’s distance from home (one-way) and the correct branch on a weekend Guiders were free. So that pretty well narrowed it down to the camp we are doing!

The benefits to booking this type of trip:

  1. With Outdoor Experiences, you have to cover 10% of the total cost for the unit in the deposit. Leaders are free within the Safeguide Ratios. We were able to cover this, so that is the amount that we are subsidizing for our unit. The remainder, the parents are expected to pay for. The province automatically transfers the deposit amount from our account to the providers, so I didn’t have to deal with credit card limits and submitting receipts!! As treasurer, I definitely appreciated this!
  2. Every girl member in your unit is automatically applied for a campership (subsidy), based off the information parents submit when they register their child each year. This means that the province will subsidize a portion of that girl’s cost due to financial hardship. The lead guider for the trip and the parent are both notified by email. In our unit, two girls qualified and the Province deposited the amount of each girl’s campership subsidy directly into our account within one week.
  3. When you register your unit, the process prompts you along and tells you exactly which forms you need to prepare for SafeGuide. More, it actually fills out most of the form for you! For me, the margins weren’t lining up properly so I printed blank forms and wrote it out anyway, but I was able to copy out their answers directly which still made the process easier!
  4. Girl receive a special crest for participating in this type of program.

The main drawbacks to these programs that I have discovered so far are:

  1. The unit has to be able to afford the 10% deposit before collecting money from parents for the trip to book it. In the fall, our unit couldn’t afford this and so missed out on the opportunity to do a fall overnight trip.
  2. When you are booking, you have to upload each person’s information, including name, IMIS number, medical concerns and food allergies to be able to submit the form. For a large unit like mine, this meant that registering took about 90 minutes. It also means you have to input everyone’s information since you don’t know yet who isn’t attending.
  3. The cost. The amount our girls are paying is ~$140.00. This isn’t extreme considering that it is two nights, all our meals are included and so is equipment rental. But for some families, that is a lot to shell out. I really hope that the trip proves worth the expense!

I am going to write a separate post about our actual trip later this week 🙂

Edit: Unfortunately, the amount owing that was in the emails I received from this registration was not correct. I had to contact GGC Outdoor Experiences in order to get the correct amount.

xx

Your Day Badge

The Your Day brownie badge is all about the girl and how she celebrates her birthday. I also refer to it as the birthday badge.

I created a brief sheet to send home with the girls so they could work on this with their parents. I really want to get away from worksheets, but I have yet to find a creative way to have girls work on badges away from our meetings and actually have them get done… 

Please! Send me some ideas!

Feel free to download or share this worksheet.

xx

Christmas Badge Presentations

How do you award your badges?

We are awarding them periodically throughout the year. Personally, I really don’t like waiting until May. For many of our girls, receiving them – and watching friends receive them – is a motivating experience. Everyone wants to get every badge that they can. It is the reward for all of their hard work.

We handed out a few right after Halloween, although we hadn’t earned much by then. Most of the girls earned a fair number this time around though and they were So. Excited. 

Badge Presentation Idea

Sorry for the rough quality in this picture. I shot it really quick as I ran out the door to our meeting on Tuesday night.

I made the infographic using this free website. I place it in wordpress to play with the sizing a little and ended up with the following document, which you are welcome to download and use for yourself:

I printed out enough copies on plain white cardstock, and we cut them into rough Christmas tree shapes. Then we stapled brown ribbon to the bottom for our tree trunks and used safety pins to pin the badges onto the ribbon. 

This was a fairly simple process. All in all, it took about 2 hours to do everything and I had 19 Brownies to prep for.

I knew they were excited for the badges since they ask for them every single week but they were so happy with the presentation as well, which surprised me. We could overhear them saying to their parents, “Look what Skye Owl made for us” , “It is so pretty!”. This was lovely and reiterated the importance of making this a big deal every once in a while.

I am a stickler for only giving the girls the badges they have earned, so they didn’t all have the same ones. However, if someone is sick for an evening, I try to make sure I have a way for them to “make up” the badge work at home, if they want to. 

While handing out the badges, I also recognized three girls for outstanding Brownie work. Two of the girls went with their Mums in the fall to plant trees with a local community group. A third girl collected new, warm socks with her Mum to send to the far North of Canada, to communities with a lot of poverty. Each of these girls got a crest for her efforts (see pic below) and I explained how and why they earned them. We all clapped for them. Hopefully their actions will encourage the others to take action for a better world as well.


In retrospect, seeing what a big deal it was for the girls, I wish that we had invited the parents to pick up a little early so they could see the presentations. But I am positive they heard all about it on the way home.

xx