Monday, 11 June 2018

Paddle Swift 2018

Our year-end camp this year was Paddle Swift, held June 8th to 10th at Camp Orenda, near London. We had 5 1st and 2nd year Guides earn their Boat Safety and Canoe Safety Badges, 1 3rd year Guide complete ORCKA 1 and 1 Ranger complete ORCKA 3. Way to go girls!!

When we arrived on Friday, we got our tents set up and then went to learn some of the theory for the Guides Badges and ORCKA programs. The 1st and 2nd Year Guides learned:
  • Names for the different parts of a paddle and a canoe
  • The difference between a life jacket and a PFD and how to take care of them
  • What supplies need to be carried onboard a canoe
  • About float plans and how to check the weather
  • Rescue breathing and an introduction to CPR
Afterwards, we had snack and got ready for bed - some people went to sleep right away, while others needed a few reminders!

On Saturday morning we had breakfast and then boarded the buses for Lake Whittaker Conservation Area. We has asked the girls to pack all of their supplies for Saturday separately from the rest of their gear so that nothing would be forgotten. The first thing we had to do was to help carry the canoes down to the lake before starting our program for the day.  Everyone then had to find a properly fitting PFD or life jacket and a canoe paddle. We then split up into groups depending on what program each person was working on. 

The girls learned and practiced different canoe strokes, found out how to properly get in and out of a canoe, how to launch a canoe, changing places, steering and paddling. There was a break for lunch, followed by more canoeing! The Guides practiced swamping a canoe, while the ORCKA participants performed canoe-over-canoe rescues. Wet people were sent to change and the rain started in earnest as we began taking the canoes and equipment back up to the trailers and waited to board the buses. 

Back at camp, we had downtime, followed by dinner and free time. The evening ended with a campfire with a boating theme. Sunday morning was spent packing and rolling up the tents for people to take home to dry out. Everyone was tired, but had a good weekend.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Advancement & Awards 2018

Our final meeting of the year was our annual Advancement & Awards Ceremony. Everyone received badges and certificates, and we also presented 1 Guide Challenge Pin, 1 Canada Cord, 1 Chief Commissioner's Silver Award and 1 Ranger Service Project Pin. 
This year, we tried something a little different from our usual ceremonies and had everyone sit in a horseshoe. Chairs for guests were arranged in a horseshoe shape around the outside of the room and the girls marched in and formed their horseshoe inside the guests' chairs before sitting down as well. Girls came up to the top of the horseshoe to receive their badges, etc. and everyone had a good view!

We welcomed our families, then started by singing Fire's Burning

Our first Guide speaker stood up and read:
Just like a campfire starts off slowly and grows over time, Guides learn new things and grow in Guiding. Our first years began by exploring Guide traditions through a Guiding heritage night, learning how to form a horseshoe and taking part in World Thinking Day activities. They have also built new skills by learning about money management, finding out the rules of the road for cycling, and by practicing outdoor skills. 
Badges were handed out to 1st Year Guides.

We then sang Make New Friends, and out second Guide speaker stood up:
As Guides we try to make new friends, treat everyone with respect, include others, and make a difference in our communities. Tonight 7 girls are receiving the Make a Difference Award. To earn this award, girls participated in activities for World Space Week, the International Day of the Girl, World Thinking Day, International Women's Day and Earth Day.
Certificates were handed out to the girls who had earned the Make a Difference Award.

The next song was Black Socks, followed by our third Guide speaker:
Guiding is all about fun! We know Guides love games, being loud and having time to be silly. Whether it's creating new fashions from newspaper, getting your elf or pirate name, learning more about Starburst candy or turning a different colour at messy night, our second years know how to have fun!
Badges were handed out to the 2nd Year Guides.

Next up was a Unit favourite - Fried Ham (Guide, Pathfinder and Ranger verses only!), and our fourth Guide speaker:
Our Pathfinders are growing up and ready to use their voices to make a difference. They've increased their awareness of girls and women's rights, developed their leadership skills, and learned about first and and knife safety. But we also know Pathfinders like to have fun, so scavenger hunts, a trip to Tim Horton's, art nights, an Alice in Wonderland Tea Party and Spa Night also featured in their program.
Badges and knife permits were handed out to the Pathfinders.

As we started to quiet down, we sang Land of the Silver Birch, followed by our fifth Guide speaker:
Did you know that Rangers were the second branch of Guiding to be formed? Girls who had been Guides didn't want to leave, so a new program was created for them in 1918. Rangers are still going strong today, exploring their interests, practicing their leadership skills, providing service and making the world a better place.

Here, we called up Lynsey, our only Ranger and presented her with the Chief Commissioner's Silver Award, Ranger Service Project, and Girl Assistant Certificate of Appreciation.
Lynsey is receiving the Chief Commissioner's Silver Award, the second highest youth award in Canadian Guiding. She has completed the Ranger Service Project by undertaking camp maintenance projects at Camp Woolsey last summer. We are also happy to present Lynsey with the Girl Assistant Certificate of Appreciation for her work with the Guides and Pathfinders.

Our final song was My Paddle, followed by our final Guide speaker:
All good campfires must come to an end, and so must each stage of a person's Guiding journey. Guides and Pathfinders are each 3 year programs and during their time in each, girls have opportunities for new experiences, learning new skills, trying new things, making new friends, and exploring new and old interests. As a Guide moves to Pathfinders, she is ready to spread her wings and take on bigger challenges, new leadership roles, and ownership of meetings, events and camps. Advancing Pathfinders will look wide as Rangers, and when they think they are looking wide, they will be challenged to look wider, expanding their awareness locally, nationally and globally.

We presented the Guide Challenge Pin to Abi:
Tonight Abi is finishing her time as a Guide. She is receiving the Guide Challenge Pin to remind her of her adventures as a Guide and we hope that she continues to find fun, friendship and new challenges as she continues her Guiding journey in Pathfinders.

Sophie was receiving her Canada Cord and moving on to Rangers:
Sophie is finishing her time as a Pathfinder and is receiving the Canada Cord. The Canada Cord is the highest award girls can earn in the Pathfinder program, and the fourth highest youth award in Canadian Guiding. Completion of the Canada Cord usually takes three years. To earn this award, girls complete specific modules to learn more about Canadian and World Guiding, event planning, the outdoors, relationships, safety, health and fitness, and the arts. They learn and demonstrate leadership skills, plan and carry out small service activities and larger service projects, participate in bridging activities with older and younger girls, learn about first aid and earn the Citizenship Certificate. We are all proud of Sophie and her accomplishments and hope that she will look wider for service, experiences and skills as she continues her Guiding journey as a Ranger.

To finish, we thanked everyone for coming, invited them to join us for cupcakes and lemonade, and sang Taps.

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Girl Guides in the Great Outdoors

This weekend 10 Guides and 1 Guider took part in the Girl Guides in the Great Outdoors Event held at McMaster University in Hamilton, where our instructors for the day were the team from Altitude.

We started the day off with a whole group activity where everyone stands in a big circle and when something is called out, i.e. "I like Girl Guides', anyone who can also make that statement runs into the centre and cheers. All of the Units were then divided up between 6 groups, so girls weren't necessarily with any of their own Guiders. I was with Group #5, who chose the name "Mighty Blue Dragons". The first thing the girls did was to create a group cheer:
Here we come, see us soar,
Mighty Blue Dragons, hear us roar!

Our first station of the day was Navigation. Here we learned how to use a compass and followed an orienteering course.  First we learned the parts of a compass, how to read one and then we practiced using the compass to find directions. The remainder of the session was spent using our new skills to navigate an orienteering course to find hidden letters. 

Next up was Teambuilding and Initiative Tasks. The girls worked in pairs to complete a trust walk along a series of logs. One partner was blindfolded and the other person had to stay in contact with them and verbally guide them along the course, including balancing, climbing over logs, and stepping on and off platforms. We finished up this station with a communication activity where the girls had to stand on a log and place themselves into birthdate order without talking - or stepping off the log!
After our snack break, we headed for Fires. We discussed fire safety, clearing a space for your fire, choosing tinder, kindling and wood, and how to put out a fire before breaking up into teams to building our own group fires. Each group was challenged to lay and light a fire that would burn through a piece of twine strung about 2 feet above the fire. The girls gathered their own supplies, chose either a teepee or log cabin style fire, and built and lit their fires.
After lunch it was time for a hike to learn about Edible Wild Plants - and also some poisonous ones! Our guide, Tag, took us along a short part of the Ravine Road Trail towards Cootes Paradise and showed us a variety of different plants and trees, including Garlic Mustard, Dandelions, Stinging Nettles, Burdock, Plantain, Mayapple, White Oak, Birch, Poison Ivy, Shagbark Hickory and Wild Roses. 
Garlic Mustard
  • An invasive species found throughout Southern Ontario
  • Has a garlic-y flavour 
  • Whole plant is edible
  • Can be used to make a good pesto in place of basil
  • Flowers and seed pods give the best flavour
  • Whole plant is edible
  • Those growing in the shade have a better flavour than those in full sun, which are more bitter
  • Leaves may be rounded or lobed, hollow stem contains a milky sap
  • Good source of Vitamins K and B, and Iron
  • Plant picks up toxins from surrounding air, so do not eat those found on roadsides or lawns
Stinging Nettles
  • Leaves have needles that inject histamine into the skin causing irritation and inflammation (a defense against animals)
  • Pick with gloves and put in warm water to wilt needles, making the leaves safe to eat
  • Can be brewed to make tea, or leaves can be cooked similar to spinach
  • Source of Vitamins K and B, and Iron
  • Looks like rhubarb
  • Sap found in the stems can be used as an astringent to treat bug bites, stings and irritations
  • First year plant has wide leaves, second year plant grows burrs
  • Roots of the first year plant can be cooked as a potato substitute
  • Looks like spinach
  • Whole plant is edible
  • Juices from leaves and stems can be used to treat bug bites and irritations if crushed or chewed
Mayapple (American Mandrake)
  • The only part that can be eaten is the fruit when it turns yellow at the end of the summer, but the seeds are still poisonous
  • Rare annual, reseeds each year
  • Roots look like arms and legs.
White Oak Tree
  • White Oak leaves have rounded lobes, Red Oak leaves are pointed
  • Acorns can be eaten, but need a lot of preparation: put any water and throw out any that float (they are rotten), remove the outer shell and boil the insides until the water is black, change the water and reboil, repeat until the water is clean. The results can be eaten or ground into flour.
  • Good source of protein and fats
  • Tea can be made from the leaves and bark to treat toothaches and sore throats
  • White mold from a dead tree can be used on cuts to prevent infection
  • The black water from the acorns contains tannin and in the past would have been used to soak skins and hides for tanning.
Birch Trees
  • Sap can be made into syrup, but it takes 80 L of sap to make 1 L of birch syrup!
  • Bark is full of oil and good for starting fires even when wet 
  • Polyps (fungi) were used as fire extenders - can be used to carry a live ember for a long time.
Poison Ivy
  • Can grow up trees as a vine or a ground cover, leaves are found at the end of the stem
  • Vines look furry
  • When oil gets onto the skin it causes an allergic reaction - if you come in contact with the plant, wash the area with soap and water before symptoms appear!
  • Contact causes a sensitivity - future reactions will be worse
  • DO NOT BURN - smoke still contains the oils and gets into the lungs causing serious damage
Shagbark Hickory Tree
  • Identifiable by its 'shaggy' bark
  • Nuts are edible - similar to walnuts and very good tasting!
  • Wood is durable and resistant to rot
  • Good fire wood and for smoking meats
Wild Rose Bush
  •  Rosehips (flowers) are high in Vitamin C and can be used to make a tea, but it should be taken in small doses as it is hard on the liver
We then moved on to Knife and Axe Safety where we learned about the parts of a knife, how to use one safely, how to open and close a folding knife or multi-tool and how to pass knives from one person to another. For axes, we found out how dull blades are more dangerous than sharp blades and about the different types of axes - seeing a splitting maul (for splitting large logs), a regular axe (for chopping wood), and a hatchet (for making kindling, cutting small logs/branches). Our instructors demonstrated how to cut with the grain of the wood, how to safely use a hatchet by getting down on ones knees and placing a piece of wood in front of your knees so if the hatchet slips it will hit the ground of the wood and not your legs. Then it was the girls turn, they used plastic knives to try their hands at Soap Carving!
Following a snack it was time for our final session of the day - Shelter Building. Here we learned about the importance of shelter to protect you from the elements and keep you warm and dry. We found out that using a coniferous tree rather than a deciduous tree to build a shelter is better because the needles become part of your cover. When building a shelter, it should be just big enough and not lots of open space at the top in order to preserve heat. The girls worked together to make a teepee and then split up into groups to build A-Frame or Lean-To Shelters using tarps and rope. The groups were very creative and all managed to build a shelter in a short period of time.
We ended the day with a final group activity in the field before heading home. It was a very hot day and some of the activities were in the full sun, but everyone wore their hats and kept drinking water. It was a great day and we loved it!

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Messy Night 2018

This week was our annual Messy Night, the highlight of the year for many of our girls! We started the evening off as usual, covered some basic rules for activities, and headed outside for some messy fun. Prior to this meeting, parents are sent an email explaining the types of activities we have planned and suggesting that girls wear old clothing, bathing suits, and/or clothes that can get wet and dirty, along with crocs or sandals that can get wet. Parents are also told that we do not have shower/bathing facilities available, but all supplies are washable. As many of the girls go home in various shades of dried paint, this is an important notice!

Messy Twister
Messy Twister requires a tarp, shaving cream and washable paint. Shaving cream is squirted onto the tarp to form the circles and paint applied to make rows of red, green, yellow and blue. Play as regular Twister! Fun Fact: The smell of shaving cream will stay on the tarp no matter how many times you try to clean it!

Shave the Balloon
In order to shave balloons, girls work in pairs. They inflate a balloon, cover it in shaving cream and then use a razor or knife to remove the shaving cream. Sometimes this is done successfully, while other times the balloon bursts! Be sure to pick up all scraps of balloons when you're finished. 

Spray Painting
For this activity we mixed washable paint and water in spray bottles and spread out a tarp on the ground. Girls used the spray bottles to create designs on card stock ... and later on each other...

Water Fights
As a filler activity, we provided a bucket of water, lots of water pistols and water balls for the girls to play with. Some girls have better aim than others...

Jello Eating
We made 5 packages of cherry-flavoured jello and mixed in wrapped Jolly Rancher candies. Each girl had a pie plate of jelly to eat without using her hands to get the candies out.

Worms and Mud
Basically worms and dirt, except that the Pathfinders didn't feel like breaking up the cookies so they were lumps of 'mud'. We used small paper cups and put a gummy worm in the bottom with half a chocolate pudding cup over it and a cookie on top.

We also attempted to do water marbling, however we discovered that the nail polish we had was too heavy and it did not work (the videos we had watched didn't specify a type of nail polish) - so we hope to try this activity again in the future. 

The night ended with lots of clean-up, reminders for next week, and we closed with Taps. 

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Time Capsules & Scrapbooking

Tonight we finished up the Art Production Badge by making Paper Bag Scrapbooks and Time Capsules! We started out with our usual opening, followed by Four Corners. 

The first activity was to assemble the scrapbooks (see the link at the bottom for complete instructions). Each girl had 3 paper bags and we trimmed the bases off before stapling them into booklets. The open ends of the bags form pockets where the girls can put more pictures. We had prepared a 4-page file for each girl - 1 page of GGC clip art, 1 page with the new GGC logo, her Patrol Emblem and images of badges she had earned this year, and 2 pages of photographs. The contents of our cupboard also came out for decorating purposes - stickers, construction paper, markers, ribbon, etc.

We had also printed out an "All About Me" sheet for each girl to fill out about her favourites right now as it will be interesting to see how things change when they reopen their time capsules! The time capsules themselves were simply large coffee cans - 1 per girl. Some girls had also brought items to put in their time capsules as we had talked about making them at a previous meeting.

Links and Downloads:

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Climb or Shoot at Camp Orenda 2018

This weekend, 2 Pathfinders and 1 Guider joined up with the 5th St Thomas Pathfinders and Rangers at Climb or Shoot Camp, held at Camp Orenda near London. There were about 80 girls and a total of 105 participants for the weekend. The forecast: Rain.

The girls hit it off and all went to do crafts in Chapandale before joining the Guiders in Toadstool (where we were supposedly singing, but rather just enjoying being warm and dry!). The girls did sing a couple of songs and played quiet games before going to find an evening snack. Due to the rain, everyone drifted off to their tents early - although not necessarily to sleep. The rain continued throughout the night - letting up at times, but always returning. 

We woke up to more rain on Saturday morning, but we were hopeful as the forecast was for it to end mid-way through the morning and for sunshine in the afternoon. The picnic shelter was a great, dry space for breakfast and we stayed mostly dry through camp duties (we were on garbage patrol) and opening. At 9.30am the rock climbers boarded the bus for East Park (archery participants would leave at 10am for the Archery Hood). By the time we reached East Park it seemed like the rain had finally let up. The areas of the park we were using didn't open to the public until 11am which was nice as the girls were able to access all of the activities without long waits. We headed inside before splitting up into two groups. We were doing rock climbing first and learned all about the proper knots, ropes, safety rules, climbing techniques and belaying before actually going up the ropes. The girls each had 2-3 goes at climbing different sections of the wall before their session ended. 

The groups switched, and we moved on to the other activities until lunch time. Their first choice of activities was the Jungle Gym - a large indoor structure with tunnels, slides, bridges and a ball pit - and they said that it brought back some fond "childhood memories". Each girl was also given tokens for the arcade games and tickets for a round of mini golf, 3 rounds of bumper cards, and a go-kart session. The go-karts were originally closed due to the weather, but we were lucky to be able to get in just before lunch. 

Lunch was an outdoor barbeque, followed by drop-in activities including finishing up activities from the morning, crafts and games. Crafts were a choice of fabric string bags, bandanas, small tote bags or pencil cases to colour with fabric markers. Games were human bridge (girls hold thick dowels while one person crosses the bridge) and the game where people try to move an object using rope only. But the best part - THE SUN CAME OUT!! We left East Park about 4pm and had free time back at camp. The girls dried up any remaining puddles or wet spots in the tents and then sat in the sun until supper. 

Supper was roast pork with apple sauce, mashed potatoes, corn and salad with brownies and ice cream for dessert - very tasty! Afterwards the girls all went to the lower camp to play a whole-camp game of Capture the Flag. We ended the day with a campfire led by Kris McGee. Songs included Tall Trees, Land of the Silver Birch/My Paddle, Listen to the Earth, Here the Lively Song, Whooping Cough, Flee Fly Flo, Ach Ven de Musica (in German) and Hey Hey Superman (in Spanish). We closed with Say Why and Taps. 

Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny, but with some threatening clouds - though thankfully theses cleared quickly. We had everyone dressed, breakfasted, packed and the tents put away by 9.30am when the St. Thomas girls were being picked up. One of our girls left a short while later, while the two of us remaining settled in to wait for our pick-up at 11am. I think everyone enjoyed camp - we certainly made some new friends, survived the rain, and enjoyed some very tasty food.