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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.