For certain literary buffs, the Ides of March (March 15) is an unlucky date. Taking its name from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, in Act 1, Scene 2, a soothsayer prophesizes to Caesar to “beware the ides of March,” which indeed turned out unlucky for Caesar, being assassinated by his closest friend Brutus on that very day in the ultimate betrayal of trust and friendship.
Indeed, many in Québec were cursing the Ides of March this year as we were besieged by an impressive snowfall just days before, making it seem that spring would never come. Everyone except for those going to the Provincial Guide Camp, that is! The Ides of March turned out to be a LUCKY day for us with the most perfect weather scenario one could hope for in a winter camp for 75 Guide-aged girls: tons of snow to romp and play in, with Saturday’s mildness of spring temperatures to keep us warm and cozy outside all day participating in the many exciting activities planned.
The camp was planned around a First Nations theme, with all activities (and even the menu!) being based on Canadian aboriginal traditions. What a wealth of inspiration for the girls!
After arriving at the Centre de plein air l’Estacade in Saint-Paul-de-l’Île-aux-noix on Friday evening, the girls started off by making nametags in Inuktitut, being assigned tribes based on arctic animals and making group totem poles with their animals. The girls bunked down that night with an enthusiasm and excitement that was palpable! A long-time Guider once told me that Guiders “get paid in giggles in the bunks at camp at night”. How true that is!
Saturday was a busy day for the girls, with a round robin of activities, including fire making, Inuit games, “finding balance”, trail making and soap carving, amongst other snowy fun. Some of the girls commented that it was their first time making a fire or using a knife! What great experiences for them! Menu items included Birdseed and Raven Patties (egg sandwiches), Nuktuk Caribou Steaks (hamburgers), and Sliced Seal or Minced Hare (lasagna), amongst other snacks and goodies that got the girls whispering amongst themselves whether it was “real caribou” or not!
Saturday evening included birthday cake for Deputy Provincial Camping Adviser Patricia Tellis followed by a memorable Campfire. We sang Fire’s Burning in Inuktitut, girls performed several skits, and we even ate “fish” (Goldfish crackers) to represent the Inuit birthday tradition of eating the fish that the chief has caught earlier in the day. Also part of the tradition is to dance around a fire and sing but, much to Patricia’s relief, we didn’t force her to do that!
Sunday featured bitter cold wintry weather, which hardly dampened the round robin of activities included making travois, bannock and inukshuks. During free time at camp, the girls had 12 Aboriginal-related challenges they could work on, inspired from the book Share in the Celebration – Learning and Activity Guide published by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (available in both French and English). Closing included the story of the origins of National Aboriginal Day, also from this book.
At camp, the girls received the Québec Provincial Guide Winter “Kona” Camp crest and Deputy Provincial Commissioner Elaine Keeble’s crest. They also earned the “Girls Go North” Challenge from GGC-NWT Council and the NEW “Québec, c’est la fête” program crest – ooooh jealous?
The girls had an amazing time at this very first ever Guide-aged winter camp. Special thanks go out to the organizing committee, under the expert leadership of Provincial Camping Adviser (and camp quartermaster) Angie Kruller, assisted by an enthusiastic team of Guiders from Lennoxville, Pincourt, St-Lazare, Des Montérégiennes, Lakeshore, Northshore, Argenteuil, and Lachine-St-Lawrence Districts. For many girls it was their first camp experience – one that they will surely cherish for years to come!
By Guest Bloggers Emily Koehler-Lemaire and Patricia Tellis . Emily is a Guider with the 2nd Mount Bruno Guides. Patricia is Deputy Provincial Camping Adviser and a Guider with the 82nd Montreal Guiding Unit. If you are interested in guest blogging, please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.