Our Guiding Family! Esther Keller

EstherImageDistrict Commissioner since 2013

Esther Keller is a District Commissioner in Lennoxville and continues to provide an awesome Guiding experience for the girls by supporting and mentoring the Guiders in her District. We had a chance to catch up with her and here are some Guiding tips she shared with us:

Her go-to resource:
Google images

Her Eureka moment as District Commissioner:
Delegate, delegate and delegate!

What she had to learn on the fly:
Conflict resolution

Best activity with her Guiders:
Tea party and district meetings

The biggest undertaking as District Commissioner:
Open house for the public and district camps

“Always listen to your guts”

Esther’s Guiding mantra:

At District Meetings, you will find:
Snacks, peace and quiet

Now is a good time to:
Have a Guiders camp weekend with at least two months notice ☺

WHERE TO FIND HER Esther is busy getting ready for the upcoming Lennoxville St. Patrick’s Day Coffee Party taking place March 14th, 2015. Check it out!

The 1st Lennoxville Guides keep a blog of all their fun activities! Read it here!

The Our Guiding Family interviews are created by DC Support Specialist Elaine Keeble. Get in touch with her at dc.ca-support(@)guidesquebec.ca.

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Learning the Lost Art of Needlework

The 4th Beacon Hill Guides from Lakeshore District recently learned the lost art of needlework! We were surprised at how few of the girls knew how to sew a button, darn a sock, follow a pattern, thread a needle & tie a knot at the end of the thread. So, we took on a slightly bigger sewing project & made sock monkeys!  The process took us three whole meetings and lots of extra help from moms and Guiders, but in the end everyone had a very cute stuffed sock monkey and loads of pride that comes with practice and the knowledge of how to sew something.

Here are some of the Guide’s comments as we sewed:  “Is this how surgeons stitch you up when you have an operation? Do they follow a pattern too?” “Oh no, my sock monkey is spilling its guts – quick help me hold it so that I can stitch it up!  Emergency surgery needed!” “Look at that – the needle is stuck in the skin of my thumb & I don’t even feel it.” “I need more stuffing so that my monkey has a big belly!” “After the button eyes, I gave my monkey a heart-button.” “My needle ran away again.” “I hate sewing – isn’t there a faster way instead of using a needle?” “But I love my sock monkey! And I made it myself!” “Can I make another one for my friend?”

At the start of the next Guiding year the girls will decide if they want to start an ongoing service project of making and donating Sock Monkeys to an organization for children.  Now that they are experts, they will be able to teach the 1st year Guides!

By Wendy Hauck, Lakeshore District Commussioner & Donna Wimmer, 4th Beacon Hill Guider

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Our unit meeting turned into a community project!

On January 19th the 1st Pincourt Guides met with Kanchan Quinlan, an architectural designer from the town of Pincourt. Kanchan was invited to come and share her knowledge and information on what she does as an architectural designer. Both Kanchen and I were excited about her visit to the unit and we planned ahead with both of us thinking that we wanted it to be hands on for the girls.Pincourt_micro_libraries     Kanchen was the ultimate visitor and held the girls attention from start to finish. She explained about her career for a short introduction and then began exercises in basic geometric shapes with the girls for building. She then gave them a printout of different materials for building a micro-library. Then, the introduction of the night’s project, a design on paper of a micro library. They were divided into groups of four and given maps of four different areas of the town of Pincourt with a photo of a park or nature area. Each example would be a possible location of a micro library. Next, they drew their ideas out on paper.

What is a micro library you ask? It is a fixture of any sort that is designed to hold books. Micro libraries appear across the community and operate on the honour system of borrowing or taking a book that interests you and you can also leave a book behind for someone else. They can appear as old telephone booths filled with books, an old pickup truck, or simple book cases enclosed. The night continued with the girls choosing one idea from paper or a combination of ideas and building a 3D model of their micro library. Their ideas were amazing and enthusiastic! Photos were taken of all the drawings and 3D models and sadly the evening came to an end. Two months down the road, a proposal has been put together by the architect and submitted to the town of Pincourt. It’s now up to the architectural designer and the Girl Guides to build a micro library. The Guide unit will be responsible for checking and maintaining the micro library once it is built. We received approval from the city this week and are very excited to follow through with our project and have it actually come to life! Next stop, meeting with the architect at the park to get a feel for our space and discuss the building ideas.

Launching June 6th – the micro-libraries project Word to Word – Mot à Mot is launching June 6th at Trotter Park in Pincourt. All are welcome! Read the Media Advisory here.

Joanne and two Guides Hana and Alicia spoke to CBC Radio’s All in a Weekend June 6th, about their project.


Joanne Cardinal, 1st Pincourt Guides

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Guiding in the Golden Ratio

1st Argenteuil Pathfinders are super proud and would like to congratulate Pathfinder Catherine Gagnon for her participation in the Hydro Quebec Montreal Regional Science & Technology Fair at Concordia University from March 29 – March 31, 2015. Catherine’s project about the “Golden Ratio” was insightful and interesting.

CatherineGagnon-Argenteuil Path

At the awards ceremony on March 31st; Catherine won the McGill University Psychology Award and an Award of Great Distinction. Congratulations Catherine!






By: Monica Horvath, Guider – 1st Two Mountains Guides / 1st Argenteuil Pathfinders, Deux-Montagnes, QC

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Host a Literacy Tent in 5 Easy Steps

Valois- Dorval District organized a reading tent over March Break and read to 32 visitors! Literacy Agent, Esther Szeben has the low down on how to make this a successful PR event for your district while earning the Words in Action crest.

What you will need:

Camping tent, a colorful rug, stuffed animals, craft materials, stringed lights, Free Meeting cards, a clip board, pen and paper, a flashlight, GGC swag (bookmarks, tattoos, stickers)

  1. Partner with a community organization. We asked the Dorval Library if we could animate a reading tent one morning during March Break. They were happy to offer us some space in the children’s section and the librarians preselected the English and French books for the girls to read. They even gave the girls an informative summary of what qualities to look for when selecting story time books for a group.
  2. Advertise. Use social media, posters, and word of mouth. We invited local preschools and daycares as the library story time shares the same goals as the NSP of promoting literacy.
  3. Arrive early. The library opens to the public at 10 but we arranged to set up at 9:30 giving ample time. A colorful rug and some stuffed animals make the tent inviting. White tree lights were strung on top of the tent to give the effect of reading/camping under the stars. A flashlight helps shed light on the pages for the readers and gives the guests a simulated camping experience!
  4. Enlist girls from all levels to help. Sparks helped distribute “marketing material” i.e. GGC meeting cards and GGC book marks, Brownies, Guides and Pathfinders read out loud and assisted with the craft. Give a girl a clip board and ask her to approach all the guests to take “statistics” or register children for the activity. We used a simple tally system of check marks and gave each guest a sticker. Have enough Guiders to ensure Safe Guide standards and to support the girls as they lead this activity. Ask the girls how they want to help and assign roles to girls within their comfort level and ability. Rotate as much as possible to give everyone a chance to read. Anticipate that some guests don’t want to read in the tent. Our girls spread out in the kids section and read one-on-one with guests.
  5. Prepare as much of the craft in advance. Bring supplies from your unit and precut anything to make the craft easy for little hands. We stuck to the literacy theme and combined the novelty of camping and owls to the bookmarks that the children made with the help of our girls.

Log your activities on the NSP website. We invited some girls from the North Shore district. Their Guiders will enter their girls’ numbers in the NSP database, not to be duplicated with the hosting districts numbers.

Words in Action is running until August 2016 so there are many opportunities your district may want to consider: National volunteer week, St Jean Baptist or Canada Day celebrations at a community park. Is your town hosting a soccer tournament?  Summer day camps, Library summer programs, Freedom to Read Week, TD Canadian Children’s Book Week and Family Literacy Day.  The possibilities are endless. But it takes time, so best to start planning well in advance.

Esther Szeben is one of the Québec Literacy Agents for the Words in Action NSP. You can contact her at words.mots.nspqc@gmail.com.

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Québec Snow Trails 2015 – A Two Weekend Event! (Part 2)

Read Part 1 of the Snow Trails Weekend here!

A week later on February 21-22, the second Snow Trails event, the “Quinzee Sleepout”, was held in Saint Lazare on Lydia Berryman’s property.  This was a much smaller event attended by 5 Pathfinders, 3 Ranger, 6 TREX and 6 Guiders.  A camp site had been tentatively booked but since we were only 20 participants, Lydia decided to hold the camp on her property.

We were very fortunate that the weather warmed up a bit and we had perfect weather to be outside building quinzees.  The girls broke up into small groups of 3-4 girls and worked very hard to build their quinzees.  The Guiders who planned to sleep outside worked on a quinzee of their own.

Once the piles of snow were made, they were left to sinter (harden) for just over an hour while we had a leisurely lunch break.  It was such a pleasant day that we were able to cook and eat our lunch outside.

After lunch the groups started to hollow out their pile of snow.  All the groups did well except the Guiders whose quinzee came crashing down on them!  The snow was very fluffy and it hadn’t had quite enough time to sinter.

Once it was established that no one was injured, it was decision time… do they start building a new quinzee OR do they pack it in and sleep inside.  It did not take them long to decide… these Guiders had come with the intention to sleep in quinzee and they were determined to do it!  And that they did, even though it took them until almost 9:00pm to finish hollowing out their quinzee.  There was not enough room for all the Guiders to sleep in the quinzee so one Guider slept in a tent.

While a few girls came inside for bathroom breaks during the night, everyone made it through the night in their quinzee.  In two of the quinzees, the girls slept so well that they had to be woken up at 9:30 am!

This format of a winter outdoor sleepover will hopefully become a yearly event for 3rd year Pathfinders, Rangers, TREX and any Guiders that would like the challenge of sleeping outside in the winter in a quinzee, tent or igloo.  A special “Quebec winter sleepout” challenge crest is even being considered and could be earned at any Pathfinder, Ranger or TREX winter camp, not just at Snow Trails.

All in all, both camps were a success.  We are now waiting to hear back from the girls and Guiders to know if they preferred this new format of two separate camps.

Thank you to the many Guiders who were a part of the planning team for the Winter Lodge camp… without your input and assistance, this camp would not have been as special as it was.

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By Patricia Tellis, Deputy Provincial Camping Adviser

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Quebec Snow Trails 2015 – A Two Weekend Event! (Part 1)

Snow Trails is a Provincial winter camp that brings together Pathfinders, Rangers, TREX and Guiders from all over Québec.  It is a camping event that takes place every second of year.  The main featured activity of the weekend is to build a quinzee and sleep in it.  A quinzee is a shelter made by hollowing out a pile of settled snow.

This year the planning committee decided to change things up based on comments from girls and Guiders who participated in Snow Trails 2013.  For 2015, it was decided to hold two separate camping events, a winter camp with many choices of outdoor activities open to all Pathfinders, Rangers and TREX and a second camp with the sole purpose of sleeping outside for one night in a quinzee for 3rd year Pathfinders, Rangers and TREX.

The first Snow Trails “Winter Lodge” camp took place February 13-15 at Base de Plein Air Saint Lazare.  There were a total of 38 participants: 16 Pathfinders, 5 Rangers, 2 TREX and 15 Guiders.

The planning committee came up with ways the girls could plan their weekend.  On Saturday, the girls had a choice of 5 outdoor activities (cross-country skiing, snow shoeing, skating, tubing and igloo making) which they had to fit into 4-1 hour time slots.  For duties, duty patrols were not assigned, rather girls signed up for duties, the only requirement that they could not do the same duty all weekend… at some point everyone has to clean the toilets!  Even for most of our meals, there were a variety of food options to choose from.

Despite the -25°C weather, the girls were warmly dressed and were able to spend most of the day outdoors.  While most girls had been skating, snow shoeing and tubing before, for many girls, it was their first time cross-country skiing.  And it was a first for everyone to try and build an igloo.

Saturday evening we did murder mystery dinner with a ski lodge theme.  It was a lot of fun!  Saturday ended with an outdoor campfire to make the requisite S’mores.

Sunday was a much more relaxed day with snow shoes games and some more tubing.  We cooked lunch outside with a special technique using waxed burlap.  Camp ended with a short Guides Own planned by the girls and voting on the crest design for this camp.  One of the challenges for the Winter Lodge camp was to design the event crest.  The girls will receive this crest along with the BC Winter Camping Challenge which they earned.

Read Part 2- Québec Quinzee Sleepout Here!

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Photos by Lisa Labelle


By Patricia Tellis, Deputy Provincial Camping Adviser


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