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.

D McBrearty Wood Works - making a shelf with Daddy.

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.

D. McBrearty front page newspaper

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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A Day in the Life of an Adviser: PR

Provincial PR adviser Andrea Munster shares her experience in her role.

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In my two years of being an adviser, I have learned so much about our province and have come to appreciate all the hard work our senior volunteers put into the amazing events that go on throughout the year.

I had never planned on being an adviser. As a girl, I hadn’t even planned on being a Guider. Oh, how things have changed! One of the biggest changes has been my confidence.

I always had the impression that I was just another member. That is, until someone reached out and said that I would be a good fit to be a provincial adviser. I did not know what an adviser was and I thought that it would entail way more work than it actually does. I was worried that I would not be able to run a unit while being an adviser, but I have managed it!

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As an adviser, I get to work with awesome ladies who want to make a difference in the province and to make sure every girl feels valued and heard. The senior volunteers help me feel like my opinion and suggestions are valued as well. Their trust and respect have definitely boosted my confidence and allowed me to be more open to sharing. From running the Public Relations booth at the Gros Dodo to the St-Patrick’s Day Parade to PED week training, I sure have had a lot of fun experiences. I believe my favourite (so far) definitely has to be Guides Québec’s first ever participation in the Pride Parade. It was awesome to see all these strong and supportive Guiders show the girls and the public what acceptance and respect look like in our organization.

I don’t think I have ever felt so close to Guiding as I do during this second year as an adviser. I am happy to see my work have a positive impact on the province and its members. To see girls and Guiders get out in their communities and spread the wonderful sisterhood that is Guiding makes me so grateful for this opportunity.

If you have been thinking about becoming an adviser, feel free to reach out and ask questions. Write to nominations@guidesquebec.ca and we can help find the best position to fit your skill set.

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A Television Adventure

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Hi! My name is Michaela. I’m 9 years old and I’m a brand new Guide.  It was really awesome to have had the opportunity to go on Global News Morning TV Montreal with other girls to talk about Guiding and cookie sales.  I was wearing my Guide uniform with my Brownie sash ‘cause I don’t have anything on my Guide sash yet after only 4 meetings, but I earned all 72 Brownie badges and I’m really proud of that! The experience I got from it is something I will never forget.

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I was nervous, but being there with Lizzie made it so much easier for me, because I knew that Lizzie was brave and that I should be brave too. It was fun to be there with two Pathfinders, and the best part was answering a question about how I joined Girl Guides. My mother was actually a Guide when she was young and told me stories of her adventures.  The way my mom described her awesome experiences, especially about camping at Wa-Thik-Ane, just made me say “wow!” So eventually we decided to sign me up for a Spark unit. My mom volunteered a lot so it was easier for me to feel okay about the meetings and comfortable to make friends.

Watch the video here.

Back to the the studio…! It doesn’t look at all like what you see on your TV at home.  The room was painted green and was really small. The city scene behind us was put there by a computer, and only people at home could see it. There were cameras and screens in every corner, lots of wires everywhere, and a table that news presenters sat at or stood behind, etc. Laura, the lady that was interviewing us, was super nice! After everything happened we got to take a photo with her! Everything was so cool!!!  I’m so proud to be in Girl Guides, and to have my mom with me on my awesome adventure through the Guiding sisterhood!

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The Drag Queen Badge

On August 18, Guides Québec participated in the Montreal Pride Parade for the first time. Laura (a current Spark Leader) and Lisa (a former member and soon-to-be Leader) combined the skills they learnt through Guiding and their passion for performing as drag queens with great success. This is a piece they wanted to share to talk about their experience:

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Photo credit: Patrick Sicotte

So many small things brought us to this point. Here we were, looking like 5-foot-tall Sparks who just consumed too many s’mores, marching through a sea of rainbow flags and glitter. How did we get here? Why were preteens walking down Rene-Levesque boulevard flanked by drag queens? And where did these colourful clowns even come from? Well to explain it all we’re going to have to take you back to the start of our story.

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Photo credit: Isabella

Even though we both grew up in different Canadian provinces, we share very similar, fond memories of our experiences as Girl Guides. Lisa grew up in Montague, P.E.I., and was a  Girl Guide there and Laura began in sparks in Pincourt District here in Québec, and is now 23, so you can do the math there! We both have Guiding sisters that we are still in contact with and we have Leaders who played a strong part in influencing who we are today. From camps, to local community activities, to working on badges of our own accord, Guiding taught us a variety of different life skills. However, never in a million years, did either of our mothers think their girls would end up donning wigs and becoming drag queens. Nor could they predict that the skills we learnt in Guiding would give us an upper hand in the drag world.

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Photo credit: Andrea Munster

On top of the obvious lessons learned from sewing, performing arts, music and arts & crafts badges, the constant messages about girl empowerment equipped us with the courage and brazenness to pursue a passion we both had. It just so happened that the drag community is historically male-dominated, but luckily we came prepared. While drag is traditionally known as a man dressing & performing as a woman, as society becomes more open to the LGBTQ+ community, more women have become active members in the drag scene too. With that has come a variety of discussions, and in some cases kickback, about women’s place in portraying gender and the validity of us doing drag. To which we say: girls can.

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Photo credit: Andrea Munster

So when we got the opportunity to combine our Guiding life with our drag life, we jumped at the opportunity. Being the well trained Girl Guides that we were, we met to plan ideas for how we wanted to make a big and colourful splash at the parade. After sketching ideas, fabric shopping, sewing, hot glue gunning (a skill we can definitely say applies to both Guiding and drag), finding practical shoes, early rising, painting (our faces) and packing backpacks, we were on our way to meet up with the other Guiders and girls marching in the parade. Fast forward 2.7 km and the whole parade is a a blur of dancing, bubble blowing, huge smiles and high-fiving any kids we passed in the crowd. For both of us, getting to be a part of the Montreal Pride Parade for the first time was an incredible experience and that’s thanks to being able to do it with a group of girls and women who share our goal of uplifting, connecting with, and mentoring girls to celebrate not only our strengths, but especially our differences.

Be prepared and power on,

Laura (Fawn Darling) & Lisa (Lizzy Strange)

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The Last Days of Summer Camp

Friday

We were up early for a good breakfast before a day on the water. We were all in the parking lot for 9 a.m. ready to board our bus to Mont Tremblant for our 6-kilometre canoe trip. At arrival the staff looked at us with a little concern as all the campers invaded their small space. I checked in and they were impressed by our organization when I presented them with our waivers already filled out. Our canoes were in the water a short walk away so all we had to do was grab PFDs and we were set to go!

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Finally we were off with a little weaving side to side for some. Our Wa-Thik-Ane boating specialists were glad there was a current to help everyone along. After passing a few sandbars, we chose one to stop at just around a corner to break for a swim and lunch. Everyone was ready to cool off and headed into the water only to realize how fun it is to ride the current. Some campers also had fun making sand castles.

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After a short paddle, we arrived at our final destination. “What already? That was easy! We could have done the 12-kilometre trip,” some said!

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We arrived back at camp just as the Mom and Me campers were arriving for their weekend at Wa-Thik-Ane.

We had time for our out-trip campers to hop in the water for another quick swim after the hot bus ride before our new arrivals completed their swim tests.

After a long day, we were all ready for a fairly early bedtime!

Saturday and Sunday

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It was misty on Saturday morning but the young campers and their Moms were determined to get their morning dipping in to start earning their crest. As I made the rounds visiting the two sites that were leaving, I could hear thunder in the distance. I radioed waterfront and notified them. After a quick change of plans, the Moms and girls geared up and started their camp tour rather than do the boating and swimming that was planned. An hour later, the storm was right above us and I called on the walkie to make sure all campers were on site and in their Marquees. All sites confirmed. Mother Nature dropped a boomer on us, but those are part of the fun! With the power out, we still had a hot lunch and were able to deliver dry luggage for those departing between the two rainstorms. Thank you for the perfect break in the storm Mother Nature!

The weekend campers did get a swim in later in the afternoon when the weather cleared. A beautiful evening brought the opportunity for a campfire and s’mores with the excitement of snuggling in for a sleep under the stars.

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The weather was perfect on Sunday so our last campers of the season got to enjoy a fantastic morning at the waterfront with boating and swimming, topped off with an amazing lunch before heading home.

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As I sit on the waterfront deck this evening overlooking the lake, camp seems so quiet and empty. I’m scrolling through the pictures of all the amazing memories this season has left me with. Thank you Wa-Thik-Ane and all its campers, volunteers and staff for another great chapter in camp life. As the last day comes to a close, I feel so grateful to be at this beautiful place and watch the sun set on an amazing 4 weeks!

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Super Eagle signing off till next year!

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Food: An Important Part of Camp Life

Morning brought a few morning dippers to the shoreline after a hot and humid night.

After breakfast, the Guides headed down to waterfront for boating and a swim.

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Just before lunch, a car pulled in to camp and it was Donna, the missing link in the food building trio. It sure was nice to see her and thank you to Stephanie for kidnapping her for a visit. The laughter from Donna’s storytelling rolled down the hill to waterfront bringing news she was here. It was a great lift to everyone’s spirits.

In the afternoon, Pathfinders completed the Blueberry Island Life Jacket Swim (for another challenge crest) and Guides practiced lashing and fire starting.

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The day ended with campers wrapping their dinner in foil packs and cooking it on the fire. It’s not a quick meal, but it is a delicious one and I saw Pathfinders coming for seconds to cook more.

The food service building was busy in the evening with all the campers and their leaders heading down to make sandwiches on the assembly line. Thanks to our food ladies, Holli and Charyl, we are all set with a picnic lunch for outrip canoeing tomorrow.

Have a good sleep everyone!

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Super Eagle

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