Le Gros Dodo – Montréal!

Last Guiding year, with Canada’s 150th celebration ahead, some of my Guider peers of that certain age and I could think back to the amazing memories we had from when Text Box.pngCanada was a mere hundred years old! Many of us were in Guiding back then, singing with Bobby Gimby, visiting the high-tech (for the times) centennial train, the centennial caravan, visiting Expo ‘67 in Montreal, “a place to stand, a place to grow….”Well, I guess you had to be there.

We were very enthusiastic about creating memories for today’s members that would be as indelible as the ones we shared a half-century ago. In Quebec, we had the added bonus celebration of Montreal’s 375th birthday. The final piece of this dream-puzzle came together when the CFL’s Montreal Alouettes reached out to Girl Guides of Canada – Québec Council, to partner in building some sort of event. With the blessing of the GGC Board, the stage was set!

This was to be quite an event, and the cross-generational planning team wanted to give girls bragging rights for life. So, the pieces came together for an ultra-special sleep out. The Montreal Alouettes play on Molson Stadium field, part of McGill University campus. The stadium rests at the foot of Mount Royal. No one had ever held a genuine tent camping experience in the heart of downtown Montreal! How cool would that be?

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Plans took shape for a wildcard day of exploring Montreal and all of its 375th and Canada 150 special events and programs. This would be followed by Le Gros Dodo, on the artificial turf of Molson stadium (no pegs for THOSE tents!). A wonderful team of Rangers and newly-adult Guiders made up an excellent program team, pulling together diverse talents to create the evening and morning activities. The Alouettes organized a tailgate breakfast gathering, and we invited two CFL game officials to come and explain football so the girls (and women – we don’t all follow football!) would better understand the game that would be held on the Sunday afternoon.

Almost 380 girls and Guiders from communities all around Quebec made their way to be part of Le Gros Dodo on a sunny September day. The plans for their Saturday activities were as diverse as the girls, for each patrol had devised its own way to spend a day in downtown Montreal. The planning team provided a playbook of suggestions, helpful maps and logistical info.

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Smiles and laughter and a whole bunch of tents took over the stadium around the supper hour and by 8 pm everyone was set up in our football field Village. The stadium was pretty huge, and the ground nice and spongy.

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A whole crew of random gymnasts took advantage of this particular property of our campground!  There was lots of room in the end zones for giant Jenga, football beanbag toss, team-building action, football skills, and socializing with new friends. Rangers ran these free-flow activities throughout the evening, and we filled out a whole section of the stands for campfire songs, led by an animated team of Rangers and young Guiders.

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Then it was bedtime and lights out – though a stadium’s “lights-out” still makes for a mighty bright little village!

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From the 6:30 wake-up, we astounded team and media onlookers by clearing the field of all signs of our sleep-out in one hour flat! On to a pancake breakfast Sunday morning, our Football 101 session from CFL game officials (aka unofficial Guiding dads!), some face painting, cheerleader visits and tailgate shenanigans. There was just enough time for some selfies with the Grey Cup. We moved to the field to welcome the Ottawa RedBlacks with great enthusiasm.

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The Alouettes may not have come through for us with a win, but we certainly came through for each other!

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Here’s wishing all our 380 campers and over 300 additional members and families who joined us for the game many happy memories of Le Gros Dodo!

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Blog by Valerie Zaloum, co-lead with Pam Godfrey on Le Gros Dodo team.

Photos from Huntington Guides, Valois Guides, Secteur Argenteuil, Riverdale Guides & Pathfinders and our site PR team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Home from Nova Scotia

The 1st Lennoxville Guide and Pathfinder Units travelled to Nova Scotia this summer. These are some excerpts from their trip report written by Esther (with input from everyone else).

Day 1 – Wednesday, July 5

The travelling members of the 1st Lennoxville Guide & Pathfinder Units, Natalya, Natania, Samantha, Esther & Vickie, took the train from Drummondville in the evening and slept on the train. This was a great way for us to get to Nova Scotia. The leaders weren’t exhausted from driving and the girls got to experience a new mode of transportation. As we were going to camp, we had a lot of gear to transport and the baggage allowance is very generous. On the downside, the seats were uncomfortable to sleep in and it was a very long ride.

“The view is awesome!” – Natania

“The bathrooms are wobbly and uncomfortable” – Samantha

“It’s really fun. And bring stuff to do.” – Natalya

Day 2 – Thursday, July 6

We arrived in Truro, claimed our luggage and called Discount to come pick us up.  We had booked a minivan for 8 days of travel within Nova Scotia. They brought us “Goliatha:” a Ford Excursion with all the little luxuries and conveniences. Vickie and I were somewhat nervous about driving such an enormous vehicle, but she handled great!

“I like Goliatha.” – Vickie

“I liked how she’s big and there was room for souvenirs, even with all of our stuff.” – Natalya

IMG_20170710_183003.jpgAfter some grocery shopping, we set up camp at Cranberry Campground. The sites are large, right on the water and it’s very nice there. It was extremely windy, though!

“We almost got blown away!” – Esther

“Sunset and sunrise were beautiful.” – Natalya

Day 3 – Friday, July 7

 

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We striked camp and headed to Anchors Above Zip lining. This was a new adventure for all three girls.

Ziplining was amazing!” – Samantha

Ziplining was so much fun!” – Natalya

Would you recommend it to others? “Yes! For sure!” – Natania

We wanted to attend the Antigonish Highland Games, but there wasn’t much to see on Friday afternoon. Instead, we spent the afternoon visiting the Antigonish Heritage Museum, home to mustache cups; attending the cultural fair that was in the same park as the games; and catching up with Sunny, a Guider who just finished at Bishop’s and moved to Antigonish.

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This cultural fair was pretty amazing. We played old Acadian games, learnt some Gallic, sang a couple of wool working songs, learned about Miqmaw dream catchers, learn the basics of drumming and of Scottish dancing, and tasted oat cakes.

“The Cultural fair was hands on and awesome!” – Esther

“Homemade oat cakes were amazing!” – Samantha

“Delish!” – Natania

“I really liked the drumming and dancing.” – Vickie

We then drove a couple of hours, stopped for supper and drove a couple more to get to Cape Breton Highlands National Park: nice sites, free showers, nice beach, no cell service. It was a good thing we had practiced setting up our tents ahead of time: the first time was in crazy wind and this time was in the dark.

“Setting up in the dark was ok. I liked it.” – Natania

Day 4 – Saturday, July 8

We drove north to Oshan Whale Watch and headed out for three hours on the water. Whale watching turned into wave riding.

“Wave riding was awesome!” – Samantha

“The wave felt like the boat was going to dive right into the water.” – Natania

“Fun, but cold and rainy. The rocks were beautiful.” – Vickie

“Sad we didn’t see any whales.” – Natalya

Oshan Whale Watch has this guarantee where you get to go out again for free if you didn’t see any whales, so the girls decided that we should go again the next day.

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We finished up this day with swimming at Ingonish Beach, a short walk from our campsite, and capped off the evening with a warm fire and s’mores.

Day 5 – Sunday, July 9

This day was nothing like we planned! We spent the whole morning back out on the boat and got to see some whales. The girls now understood what we meant by “it’s gonna be cold on the water” and dressed more warmly.

“The pilot whales were neat.” – Natalya

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The afternoon was so short with all the driving we had to catch up on! We made it to the Alexander Graham Bell National Historic Site in time, but strongly recommend allowing more time at this museum.

“So much to see…” – Natania

“You need like three hours to see everything; we had, like, 30 minutes.” – Natalya

We spent the night at Camp Cairdeas, a Nova Scotia Girl Guide camp. It was perfectly set up for the girls to cook in the kitchen while we Guiders could catch up on some paperwork! This was also a day when we didn’t need to set up our tents, and when we could hang up all of our wet gear to dry.

“The stir fry was sooo goood!” – Natalya

“Awesome, especially the camper. We saw fireflies and they were awesome!” – Natania

“We saw two rabbits and they were so cute!” – Esther

Day 6 – Monday, July 10

We made our way to Sherbrooke Village Museum, which is a small village set in the mid-1800s, full of people to show us around. We liked the different treasure hunts to choose from, that took us to many cool places: a doctor’s house, jail, general store, weaver’s house, wood turner’s shop…

“The blacksmith’s shop was amazing. He shaped the metal and told us all about it.” – Samantha

“The photography studio was fascinating; I learned so much.” – Esther

We then hit the road toward Halifax, but stopped for a swim at Martinique Beach Provincial Park.

“It was freezing cold and awesome!” – Natania

“Run in, get soaked, have fun and run out.” – Natalya

“Don’t drink the water.” – Samantha

“Trekking through the sand… It was a long trek.” – Natania

Shubie Park Campground is where we stayed for the next three nights. The sites are very close together, but it is very convenient to head into the city and get back in time to cook supper and do some laundry. The beach is also very close and warmer than the ocean!

“I liked Shubie Park Campground.” – Natania

“Four-minute showers would have been perfect, instead of 3½ minutes.” – Esther

“Three and a half minutes went on forever.” – Vickie

Day 7 – Tuesday, July 11

We made the most of our Guiding connections and had a private behind the scenes tour at the Canadian Museum of Immigration, before going in to see the exhibits. The free guided tour helped us understand the different challenges immigrants faced when coming to Canada in the late 1800s. Lunch time came all too quickly because we could have easily spent another two hours looking at the exhibits.

“It was interesting. I would not have wanted to be an immigrant.” – Natania

“It was really interesting, but you need three hours to go through the whole thing.” – Natalya

“I thought it was huge and a maze, and the gift shop could have more things.” – Samantha

“Definitely suggest going!” – Natania, Natalya, Samantha.

Halifax Seaport Farmers’ Market was disappointing. We planned on having lunch there, expecting a wide selection of edibles. Alas! The selection was measly. Good-tasting, but measly.

“Not much of a variety. I would have expected more for tourist season.” – Vickie

Halifax Citadel National Historic Site was my ‘coup de coeur’. This fortress is teaming with staff in historic dress there to help us see what life would have been like inside the fortress. There was also a special exhibit recreating the trenches of World War I, and staff there to explain what life was like.

“The Citadel is really interesting. I would have liked to stay longer.” – Natalya

“I like the tailor shopwhere they explained what the different coats were for and what was a good fit and not. And you got to try it on!” – Samantha

“The trenches exhibit was fascinating, informative and insightful.” Esther, Vickie, Natania

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Again, time was running away from us! Woozles, the oldest children’s bookstore in Canada, awaited us. All of the girls just happen to be avid readers, so this unplanned stop was quickly voted in!

“It was so fun and I definitely want to go again. I recommend it to everyone.” – Natania

“Leave your footprints in the oldest children’s bookstore in Canada.” – Natalya

Day 8 – Wednesday, July 12

We drove out to Peggy’s Cove and frolicked on the rocks around the lighthouse. This was a good place for gift shopping because the store has some of everything. On the way back into Halifax, we stopped for some fish n’ chips and ate on the waterfront.

“I loved climbing around on the rocks. The waves hit really hard and it looked beautiful.” – Natania

“Running around the rocks was really fun, and I wish I could have gone inside the lighthouse.” – Natalya

“I liked the rocks and the waves. I would have liked to know more about the history of Peggy’s Cove.” – Samantha

“I would have liked to visit the Swissair memorial, but there were no signs.” – Vickie

“Shaw’s Landing was delicious!” – Esther

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Next stop for us was the Nova Scotia Girl Guide provincial office. We got a tour of the place and purchased the Nova Scotia Crest, which is pretty nice.

“Seeing the old uniforms and hats was awesome.” – Natalya

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Back to the campsite with us and we spent a few hours hanging out, swimming at Shubie Park Beach and enjoying some down time.

“The supervised area was too shallow and there were too many people.” – Natalya, Natania

Unfortunately, we didn’t get to do the Ghost Walk Tour of Halifax because I made a mistake when transcribing the time. Instead, we went back to camp and made up a huge batch of travel mix. We spent some extra time relaxing, which was needed by this point.

Day 9 – Thursday, July 13

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We left early to head over to Burntcoat Head Park where we had a guided tour of the ocean floor. This is the spot where the world record for the highest tides was recorded.

“Walking on the ocean floor, seeing sea creatures and getting muddy was really cool.” – Natania

“We wish we could have gone deeper into the mud.” Natalya, Natania

“The tour guide was very informative.” – Vickie

“It would not have been nearly as great without a guide.” – Esther

Between tides, we set up camp at Smiley’s Provincial Park.

“Putting up the tent in the rain was panicking.” – Samantha

“I forgot how to do it for a few seconds.” – Natania

After a quick supper, we headed back to Burntcoat Head park to see the site at high tide.

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“High tide wasn’t as high as I expected.” – Natalya

“To think, the water is so deep that we could have had a blue whale above our heads!!” – Esther

Horseback riding at Evangeline Trail Rides was our last activity of the day.

“It was scary at first. I was much more comfortable by the end.” – Natania

“It was awesome how the horses moved and how healthy they are. And they told us how to hold the reins and how to make the horse move.” – Samantha

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Day 10 – Friday, July 14

We packed up all our gear and headed for a picnic at Victoria Park, in Truro.

“We got to play like little kids. It was awesome!” Natania, Natalya

We then met with a Discount agent at the train station to return Goliatha; this was greatly appreciated! And back on the train for the ride home.

We used some of these long hours to evaluate our trip and to look back on some of the goals we had set out for ourselves and some challenges we faced.

Day 11 – Saturday, July 15

We arrived at Drummondville with all of our luggage, hugged and said our goodbyes.

The End

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Summer Guiding in Monklands District

Just because most people end their Guiding year in May or June, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have meetings throughout the summer. Inspired by Riverdale District’s pop-up meetings last summer, Monklands District decided to try some of our own this year.

How did it work?

Girls from all five of the Guide units in the district, as well as siblings from other branches, were invited to sign up for one or more week this summer. They were given all of the themes and locations ahead of time and could sign up online using a Google Form until a few days before each meeting. The registration fee that families pay is good until the end of August so we simply asked for $1 in dues each week to cover supplies and a crest.

Our meetings were all on Tuesday evenings, but we didn’t have a particular location — we moved all around so that we could attend different events and not stay too close to any one unit so it was fair for everyone.

Our numbers varied from week to week — anywhere from 1 to 11 girls — and Guiders took turns attending so that everyone still got a summer break.

What did we do?

Week 1: Outdoor Messy Science

For our first meeting, we got messy and made oobleck (a non-Newtonian fluid made by mixing corn starch and water), shot coke up in the air with mentos, had a giant bubble fight and made a water wheel.

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Week 2: Jazz Fest

For our second meeting, we headed down to the Family Zone of the Jazz Fest. The girls got to dance on a giant piano, make buttons, jump on a bouncy castle, run through a mist fountain and discover some new music.

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Week 3: Montréal Complètement Cirque

We hopped on the metro and headed over to the circus festival. We followed acrobats and street performers to Place Émilie-Gamelin where we saw a free outdoor circus show.

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Week 4: Team-building games

Some of the older girls planned great team-building games in a local park.

Week 5: Nature Fun on the Mountain

We headed to Mount Royal for a scavenger hunt through the park.

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Week 6: Kind Messages

We had intended to have a no-fire campfire, but we only had 4 girls so we brought out some chalk and left kind messages around the park. We also posted some signs with take-away slips and free meeting passes. We even managed to stick in a song at the end of the evening.

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Week 7: Shakespeare in the Park

Repercussion Theatre put on Much Ado About Nothing in many parks around Montreal this summer.  We grabbed some snacks, blankets and chairs and headed to one of the performances. Luckily, one of our Guiders is a Shakespeare fanatic and gave us a fabulous introduction.

Week 8: Camp Skills

This was probably my favourite week of the summer. One of our Rangers planned the whole thing. She had the girls set up tents. But that just seemed too easy, so she added an extra element of challenge by giving them large rainboots, socks to put on their hands, and ski goggles covered in something that meant they couldn’t see. It was all supposed to simulate bad weather and forced them to work together.

Then, she had them make a shelter with rope and a tarp. To test it out, they all had to huddle under it while Guiders tossed water on it.

After that, she taught girls about the value of making a sturdy bedroll through a game of chuck-the-bedroll – a variation on chuck-the-chicken. Guiders went up against girls and they most definitely beat us!

For the next activity, she pulled out some first aid supplies, had the girls decide what each item might be used for and then they played a Kim’s game with them.

Last but not least, they made sit-upons out of grocery bags and newspaper.

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Week 9: Québec Maple Challenge

Our last meeting was supposed to be biking and roller-blading, but parents said that that was too complicated logistically. So, we went to the park and completed the *NEW* Québec Maple Syrup Challenge. It was the night of the big storm so we weren’t sure how many girls would turn up, but they must have a sweet tooth because we had our best turn-out all summer!

We did some maple trivia, invented new maple products (maple bath bombs, maple flour and maple tents), did a table syrup/maple syrup taste test (everyone could tell the difference) and completed a maple collage (while eating maple cookies).

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Would we do it again?

Yes! We got great feedback from parents, girls and Guiders. We might consider expanding it to other branches to get some more girls next year, but it was a resounding success. People got to see us out in the community and we think there’s a good chance it will help us with girl retention as well.

You could do it too!

Think it would be too hard in your community? You don’t have to go to special events. Local parks make for a great meeting place and the library, grocery store and even a Guider’s house will do for a rain plan!

Blog post written by Lizzie Knowles. Lizzie is a Guider with the 1st Milton Park Guiding Unit and the 85th Montreal Guides. She also works at the provincial office.

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Home from SOAR

Blog post written by Brianna from the 1st Lachute Pathfinder Unit. Brianna was part of the Québec provincial patrol that went to SOAR in July.

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This year, SOAR (Spirit of Adventure Rendezvous) took place in the beautiful town of Smithers, BC. The plane ride was long but was definitely worth it. SOAR was well organized and all the activities were awesome! Some of my favorite activities were Power Up (where we built simple machines that didn’t use electricity like wind-powered cars and solar ovens) and skateboarding (where we went to a local skateboard park and learnt how to skateboard, it was lots of fun). All of the events were well planned and the staff were very kind.

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Whenever we went into town, the people who lived there welcomed us warmly to Smithers. We also met girls around the world, from countries like England, Peru, Australia, the US, and even Japan! SOAR  was a great experience and I hope I get to go again sometime!

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The Tadoussac Trip Continues

Blog post written by Dylan, Amanda, Amy and Melissa from the 1st Valois-Dorval Pathfinder unit.

Day 3 of our trip began with a 15-minute sleep in. We found out that the duty roster had been rigged by Vladimir Poutine, the leftovers from Dylan’s lunch (from the future), so we only had one cook on the roster for the meal. She was, nevertheless, able to cook great food in her pyjamas. (editor’s note: It sounds like the girls were tired and giddy when writing this. It doesn’t make much sense but it’s funny!)

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Next stop: the Tadoussac interpretation center. We posed with Beluga statues and watched a great documentary on whales in the St. Lawrence River. We then zoom-zoomed to the Marine Interpretation Center where we had a visual and audio live hook-up to some divers exploring the bottom of the St. Lawrence. We’re not sure, but some of our girls think they saw a baby beluga during the video session, but all of us saw wolf fish, sunfish and some anemones.

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Our storm lashing knowledge proved useful when a massive storm warning was issued near our campsite. Fortunately, it passed right by us, though it didn’t stop the girls from playing some intense games of Werewolf inside the common room cabin at our campsite. We finished our day with shish kebabs, s’mores, and cherry surprises by the fire, ready for the next day’s journey home.

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A Trip to Tadoussac

Blog post written by Melissa from the 1st Valois-Dorval Pathfinders while on a unit trip to Tadoussac.

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The weather was warm, the perfect day. The trip had just begun and already we were having so much fun. We had pancakes for breakfast with strawberries and sausages, a tasty treat, definitely good enough to eat. After that we were on our way to a brand new place to explore. We really couldn’t ask for more. We started with a hike that was longer than expected, but we couldn’t complain because the view was amazing! We didn’t see any whales there, but we’d only just started, so we went on to Tadoussac to get boarded. We rushed a little but we still arrived on time for our whale watching tour, the star du jour.

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We saw different whales, porpoises too, and we even had a fin whale come up to say “how do you do?” We learned lots of things, and shared some jokes too. I know in my car, we were all going cuckoo! We did the gift shop tour and got some neat stuff, some sweaters and nougat and a snow globe too, after which we made our way to “le bateau” a delicious buffet for supper. Although their lemonade was odd the sugar pie was divine.

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We finished up and paid the bill before heading on our way. We took a little detour and got to see some more sights. We got back and saw the beach, chatted and wished each other goodnight. Now I’d say that’s the perfect way to end a perfect day!

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Days of Summer at Wa-Thik-Ane: A Perfect Ending

On Friday, the adventure campers headed to the St. Sauveur water park to enjoy a sunny day sliding and splashing!

Guides got ready and headed out for their last boating session of the week. They do enjoy the Rabaska (giant canoe) and I enjoy hearing all the wonderful voices singing in unison as they paddle along.

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Wee campers (Sparks, young Brownies and their Moms) arrived today for the weekend “Wee” camp. They were all very excited and happy to jump in and do their swim and boat test on such a hot and sunny day. They were so quick that they even had leftover time for free swim.

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After a late supper, they got to share a campfire with the Guides. who made them feel very welcome.

Saturday early morning brought another beautiful view to my sleepy eyes as I walked down to open waterfront for morning dip. Despite the cool temperatures, everyone had smiles on as they came to dip. Saturday also meant swimming and boating for the Wee campers and their Moms. Everyone enjoyed being on or in the water on a hot sunny day.

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In the afternoon,  the Wee campers did their Camp Tour challenge. It was a lot of walking but with games to play along the way and snack breaks, it was great fun for the young ones and their Moms to get to know the camp.

For lunch, the Guide and Adventure campers roasted hot dogs and then off to the parking lot they went to meet their families. It always makes me chuckle to see them say hi to Mom or Dad and then turn back to their camp friends to chatter about all they have done and how they can keep in touch.

The Wee camp made mini pizzas for lunch and learned how to use buddy burners.

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Supper brought the challenge of eating dinner with a strange utensil. The Sparks and
Brownies really enjoyed it!

Sunday was another misty morning dip for the little ones and their Moms but a few
troopers did it. Some campers even slept out under the beautiful starry sky to earn their
Sleep Under the Stars challenge crest.

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As we pack up and close up the tents at the end of another summer season, there are many friends to say goodbye to. The planning takes so long and the event passes so quickly as with all good things that offer us memories, friendships, fun and adventure. Goodbye and thank you to all the campers who came to share their summer days with us. Until next year…

Super Eagle signing off,

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