An Electrifying Sleepover

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The Chambly Brownies, Guides and Pathfinders enjoyed a great time at the Électrium in Ste. Julie – so much so that we would encourage other units to take advantage of this FREE experience.

The Électrium has a variety of programs available for youth, both groups and individuals, and the hands-on museum is also open to the public. The sleepover experience we had was a closed event, just for our group, and it was completely free – you simply contact them to book an available time.

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We opted for a Saturday night and had the girls arrive at 7pm. We took some time to get settled (girls slept on the floor in the auditorium, leaders slept in an adjacent room that was part of the museum space). Then the animators took over. At 22 girls we were close to their maximum number (25), so we divided into two groups for the museum tour. We divided by language (programs are available in English or French, you just have to specify when you book), but they were also willing to adapt by age, customzing the tour for older/younger girls. The tour was informative without being boring and the museum is interactive meaning the girls had lots of time for hands-on experimentation with the exhibits. It took about an hour and a half to go through the entire place.

Once the tour was over we went back to the auditorium where we all watched a movie (you have to bring your own DVD) and snacked on popcorn (which we also brought. There is no kitchen/dining space so any food you bring has to be of the *eat off your lap* variety). One the movie was done and teeth were brushed it was lights out for all.

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Sunday morning we woke up bright and early (because girls) and had our breakfast of muffins and fruit. We brought napkins and juice boxes and the girls were happy with the variety of options. Note that the only available fridge is their office fridge so it’s quite small. If you are bringing anything that requires refrigeration you may want to think of a cooler. Since we were there in March and it’s still January outside we were able to keep our breakfast items fresh in a leader’s car.

After breakfast and some quiet games, we started a scavenger hunt, again run by Électrium animators. We divided the girls into small groups (no more than 4-5/group) and because this was a multi-unit activity we opted for the *easier* version (and we were glad we did because it was hard enough!). Each group was given a list of questions (again, you have to pick a language as the clues are different for both) and went through the museum looking for clues. There was a prize at the end (and no, I’m not telling what it is – you will have to go yourself to find out).

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After the hunt we had a little time to finish bedrolls, watch a bit of another movie, play some games (you either have to bring something or make something up) and go back through the museum displays. Happy girls were picked up by parents at 11am and everyone agreed it was a great success.

So to summarize, FREE event, INCLUDES animators, LEARNING for the girls/leaders, LOCAL and FUN!!

Blog post by Sarah Horrocks from the 1st Chambly Guiding Unit.

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Learning, Doing and Achieving: Engineering with Sparks

Are Sparks too young to learn about engineering? No way! The 2nd Pincourt Sparks planned three meetings around that theme, the first being their LEGO creations! Each Spark was given her LEGO kit and an instruction booklet. Some girls were off and building while others needed a little more step-by-step guidance. Even with girls calling out: “can you do it, Saphire,” we encouraged them to try and they all built their own houses. They were thrilled to show off their creations to their parent at pick up. Step one complete!

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At the start of our second meeting, we asked them what they would need to build a real house and who could help. They knew enough to say that they would require tools and someone to build it. We found an activity on the Girls First platform and set up tools around the room. They were each given a bag with items in like staples, nails, nuts, glue sticks, etc. Each Spark started at a different tool and went on to do her best to match the item to its tool. It was interesting to see what they matched up and even more interesting that they didn’t copy their fellow Sparks but made their own choices. When we collected everything, we went over the tools, their names and what they were used for. Departure on night two brought the words: “Hey Mom! There are different screwdrivers for different kinds of screws.”

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What next? Well, I was a little nervous about giving our energetic Sparks nails and wood. So, dull nails and a plastic lid off a coffee can made great substitutes to practise hammering and nobody ended up with any injured fingers! Then, it was time to move on to engineering and designing their own creation: Instead of using wood and nails to make funky friends, we used straight pins and styrofoam with a variety of items from the craft cupboard. Each Spark engineered her very own friend.

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I don’t think they are ready to build a house, but they sure know how to create and it was a great three meetings learning, doing and achieving!

Joanne Cardinal is a Guider with the 2nd Pincourt Sparks. She is also known as Super Eagle, responsible for our exciting summer camp program at Camp Wa-Thik-Ane.

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We ❤️ the Québec Chocolate Challenge

For some people, chocolate and Valentine’s Day go hand in hand. When we think of Chocolate in Québec Guiding, our classic Québec Chocolate Challenge comes to mind. It’s been around for over a decade and although there have been three different crests, our love for it stays the same!

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You might think that learning about chocolate is frivolous or that completing the challenge is just an excuse for girls to eat sweets, but it is full of learning opportunities. First, members must either find out about the history of chocolate and how it came to North America or about chocolate geography and how cacao beans are grown around the world. The rest of the challenge pieces range from arts (finger painting with chocolate pudding) to math (using chocolate as a currency and talking about the pros and cons of that system) and everywhere in between. Girls can test their taste buds by blindly identifying different chocolate bars or by learning about the differences between unsweetened, dark, milk and white chocolate (spoiler alert: unsweetened chocolate is gross!). They can become archaeologists and go digging in chocolate chip cookies to find out which brand has the most chips. They can even come up with their own idea for a challenging activity, in true Girls First fashion.

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The Québec Chocolate Challenge has been completed far and wide. Check out our map of everywhere we’ve shipped crests since 2013 and see if you can spot the city where you meet!

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Even American Girl Scouts love it!

“The girls had a blast doing the activities but I think we need to have fruit at the next several meetings to make it up to parents for all the chocolate I have given the girls the last couple meetings lol!” wrote Jen from a GSUSA troop in Illinois.

“I’m the troop leader for a California girl scout troop of high school age girls.  We found out about the Chocolate Challenge and my girls LOVED it! (watching them eat very dark and bitter chocolate was a blast),” wrote Carol from Troop 10456 in Los Angeles.

In the spring of 2017, a sweet sister challenge was created: The Québec Maple Syrup Challenge. It follows the same structure as the chocolate one, inviting girls to learn about the history or geography of maple syrup before completing other fun activities.

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All of our Québec Challenges can be found on our shop page and can easily be integrated into Girls First. Many of the activities have even made it onto the platform itself!

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The Girls’ Open Forum = FANTASTIC!!

A provincial trip to the 2019 National AGM and Girls’ Open Forum held in Ottawa is being planned and registration for Pathfinders and Rangers is open here. Kyla from the 1st Riverdale Pathfinders recounts the fun she had last year.

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I had the pleasure of attending The Girls’ Open Forum on June 2, 2018. After a long bus ride in downtown Montreal, through rush hour and of course… construction, we finally arrived at the Omni Hotel along with many other girls and Guiders from all over Québec and even Ontario and further! It was amazing meeting other girls in the sisterhood!

Registration was awesome because we were given a pin and a crest as we entered the main hallway of the conference hall. We put our stuff at a table and went to get delicious food for lunch, as in hot-dogs, hamburgers, desserts, and much more. After we ate, the conference started!

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Girls were able to ask as many questions as they wanted. Most were about our new program: Girls First! A lot of questions were asked about the uniforms and how they are changing, and more questions were asked about how we as the girls can get more girls into Girl Guides.

It really was an amazing experience to know what was going to happen in the upcoming year and how we would be making our next big leap in the Girl Guide community. I would definitely recommend this to any girl who loves to be involved and help in our sisterhood! I hope we do The Girls’ Open Forum again because it was an amazing feeling to know I was part of the decision making for Girls First, and now that the website is out, you can really tell they took what we said to make it fantastic. I hope to see more girls at The Girls’ Open Forum next time.

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A Hero Lies in You

As the song goes, “a hero lies in you,” and that’s just what a group of Brownies from Beaconsfield in Lakeshore District spent their recent sleepover discovering.  The girls all arrived on a Saturday afternoon, thrilled by the idea of spending the night away from home with their Brownie friends.

After some excited chitchat and a snack, everyone got down to the very important business of crafting their first superhero creation: a mirror frame collage of positive words they felt described themselves. One girl summed up the purpose of the activity quite well by saying: “I’m going to look in this mirror every morning to remind myself of how awesome I am so I can go to school feeling good about myself!”

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(Wise Guider Tip:  I was able to find an amazing resource on the Teachers Pay Teachers website for this activity.  Someone had already gone to the trouble of cutting out words from magazines and collating them into a 50-odd page document.  It literally saved me precious HOURS of work, for only a little more than just one magazine would have cost me if I had needed to purchase one.  There are words in the document that are appropriate for use with all levels, from beginner-reader age, all the way up to adult, along with examples of how they can be used in creative projects.  Many, many great guiding-friendly things to be found on Teachers Pay Teachers!)

Next on the agenda was some time outside “silly-sliding” on the ice. After braving the frigid outdoor temperatures, a delicious cup of hot chocolate was most welcome.  Sufficiently warmed up, the girls were ready to begin their next activity.  Armed with fabric scissors and fabric markers, our superheroes created their own capes by cutting up some old t-shirts and designing logos that they felt would represent them and their special abilities.  The capes were a big hit; the girls were so pleased with their creations that they wore them for the rest of the evening!

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At dinnertime, the girls were involved in every step of the meal preparation, chopping vegetables, grating cheese and creating their own pizzas.  For some, it was their first experience using a sharp knife. And, although a little nervous at first, they soon gained confidence with the encouragement of their friends.

After working together to clean up, it was on to our last activity of the day:  to create a shield that they could use to defend themselves in the face of adversity.  Then it was time for some imaginative superhero games, the scene now complete with capes and shields!

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Our evening ended with the time-honoured Girl Guide tradition of singing around our (electric) campfire.  Several of the girls had attended their first District campfire only the week before and were happy for the opportunity to repeat many of the new songs that they had learned.  The stories and giggles continued long after lights out, until “quiet time” was called.

The girls were once again able to practise their culinary skills in the morning by preparing a hearty breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon and fruit.  While we were all enjoying the girls’ tasty creations, it was the perfect opportunity for a group discussion about tackling hard things, and situations in which the girls had been able to overcome challenges by using their “superpowers.”

At the end of it all, the girls earned a superhero crest, their Be a Chef badge, and a lifetime of memories of the sleepover with their Brownie friends!

A special thanks to the creative team behind the 2017 Brownie Superhero Day that inspired this “Super-Caffeinated Guider” to pay the fun forward!

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Blog post by Mayali Cousineau, a Guider with the 5th Beaconsfield Brownies in Lakeshore District.

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The Path to Deputy District Commissioner

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When I was young enough to be a girl in Guiding, there weren’t any units close by for me to attend. It would have been a 30-45 minute drive each way on country roads that weren’t great in bad weather. However, by the time our daughters were old enough, we had moved to the South Shore and we immediately enrolled them, something they still thanks us for today.

The second year, when our youngest girl was in Brownies, one of the Leaders had to take time off and I was asked to step in to “help.” Before I could turn my head, I was a Leader taking training sessions and the rest…and it’s still an ongoing adventure.

The following year, we moved to Pincourt and I was put in contact with the District Commissioner and then the Brown Owl of one of the Brownie units. I was happy to be Smiley Owl and do my thing. Next thing I knew I was asked to leave my safe nest and become Brown Owl for the other Brownie Unit. This was a shock and I was very nervous. I had only 2 years of Brownie Guiding under my belt and both as a helper, not the lead for the group. Well it was a chance to see what I was made of and I was pinned with my mother-in-law’s Brown Owl pin, which was a pretty special honour in every way.

Back then I went to several training sessions, camped at Wa-Thik-Ane and stayed at Lac Adair, each a wonderful experience in my safe little nest with Brownies. Again, quicker than I could blink I suddenly became a Pathfinder Leader. Okay I thought, the other Leaders are great, I can do this and we did and I did, until I was needed as a Spark Leader. I figured I was coming up on a respectable number of years as a Guider and that this was just one more change before I hung up my uniform shirt…No, not a chance! I was then asked to be Deputy District Commissioner. Whoa, hang on, this was a whole different story and I needed to think carefully about it. I’d loved my time in Guiding: the girls, the parents, the Guiders, the 1 hour a week, really truly even at trying times I loved it. So, why not? I could I do this. How hard could it be? It would just be an experience I haven’t had before. I knew the woman taking on the Commissioner role was someone I dearly liked and I knew she’d do a great job. And she has — her Guiding years at least double mine. I could do this, how hard could it be… right.

Well Pavolina Owczar and I are into our third year as a team and we did this. Was it always easy? Crackerjacks NO! Was it always rewarding? Well, most of the time. Would I turn back time and not do this? NEVER. I have learned so much, enjoyed so much, and I’d like to think I’ve helped so much too. It’s training you could never get in just one weekend or in any other organization. There is so much to learn and do, but there are such wonderful Leaders here in my own district and provincially to help with the hurdles and each hurdle has been a worthwhile experience. I’ve gotten to know folks, many just via e-mail, but when I meet them — and I will someday — they will already be trusted, valued friends and sisters. This is something I probably wouldn’t have experience if I hadn’t taken on the adventure of Deputy District Commissioner.

If anyone ever asks you whether you’d like to be a District Commissioner or deputy, think about it and then go for it. Will you have times when you wonder why you ever said yes, of course! But in the big picture, it is truly a wonderful experience and I’d recommend going for it. I would say that it is easier as a 2 woman job, but whether you take on Commissioner or Deputy, you’ll have a great experience.

What’s my next adventure? Who knows — this is Guiding, right! Around every tree, in each tent, on every badge, there is an adventure waiting to be experienced. Would I do it again? In a nanosecond!

Proudly submitted Heidi Whipple, Deputy Commissioner Pincourt District (aka Deputy Dawg)

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I Earned Them All!

This blog post was written by Darcy, a Guide with the 1st Lachute Guide unit.

1. D McBrearty with special certificate June 2018.

I was a Brownie for two years from 2016-2018 in the 2nd Lachute Brownies in Secteur Argenteuil. Snowy Owl was my Brownie leader and she was the one who introduced me to badges. I wanted to earn all of them because I like challenging myself.

My favourite badge was Be Aware because I love fires. I wanted the Saving Water badge because I like the way it looks, there is a blue heron on it.  I’m most proud of Be A Chef because I got to show off that I know how to cook.

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The hardest badge was Wood Works because I had to build something with wood. I made a shelf for my bedroom wall with my dad. I put all my baseball trophies and medals on it.

I was in the local newspaper for earning all 73 Brownie badges. The reporter who came to my house was my baseball coach, Evelyne. Being interviewed by my coach was like having a friend asking me questions. After being in the newspaper, I got too much attention and it made me feel shy.

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For me, it was really fun earning the badges because I had a chance to learn a lot of things. Also, I had a chance to do stuff I wouldn’t have done without badges, like trying new food for Food Power or inventing Bacon Day for Special Days.

I couldn’t have done it without my mom (A.K.A. Momtastic)!

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