Dec 6th Violence Against Women

Say No To Violence

Say No To Violence

(Go here for an introduction to our work on the Say No to Violence challenge)

For the final part of the challenge, we attended the Dec. 6th Vigil at the University.

Now, the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women, Dec. 6th, has a special meaning for us Guiders with the 19th Pathfinders. Both of us are Scientists – we actually met while doing our undergraduate degrees in Physics. In addition, for years we both volunteered and I worked for an organization called Women in Science and Engineering, Newfoundland and Labrador (WISE-NL). While we were both quite young when the Massacre at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique happened, as female scientists, it hits close to home to know that something so horrendous happened, and during our lifetime no less! We constantly tell ourselves, our friends, our daughters and young people in our lives that there are no limits to what they can do. And it’s true. However, explaining to these girls that there are people out there in the world who don’t agree that women can and should do anything they want is a difficult thing to do.

We prepared the girls ahead of time for what to expect – we told them about the massacre, we had a discussion about why it happened, and the girls had a lot of questions (some that we didn’t have the answers to!). One thing I think the girls really appreciated was getting open and honest answers to their questions and concerns. I think in our society, we try so hard to shield kids from scary/upsetting things, but the reality is they hear about it and see it on TV, without getting the information they crave. Personally I think it’s worse and scarier when we don’t address it, talk to them about it, answer their questions and help them to try and understand.

But I don’t think any of the girls knew what to really expect.

Guider Holly lighting a candle during the candlelight procession

Guider Holly lighting a candle during the candlelight procession. (Photo Credit: Chris Hibbs)

Our vigil involves a candlelight procession, comments from special guests, live music from a string quartet and time for community dedications, all followed by a reception with booths from community and university organizations. We prepared a community dedication in advance, dedicating our work on the Girls for Safer Communities and Say No to Violence challenges. Two girls were chosen to give the dedication at the microphone.

Two of our Pathfinders giving our Community Dedication

Two of our Pathfinders giving our Community Dedication (Photo Credit: Chris Hibbs)

The girls were definitely the only “kids” at the event, and it was clear from the start that the other attendees really appreciated them being there. Beforehand, I was nervous that a group of 12 and 13 year olds, rustling, asking to go to the bathroom, etc. would be disruptive, but it was not the case. Many people came up to us afterwards to say that the girls’ dedication made them cry, and that it was great seeing young women learning about Violence against Women and working towards a society free of violence.

Fast forward to 2012.

At the start of the year, we had a brainstorming meeting where we asked the girls what they wanted to do this year in Pathfinders.

We were surprised when one of the girls said “Can we go to that vigil thing at the university again?” and all of the other returning pathfinders chimed in saying they also wanted to go again! When the discussion is focusing around things like rock climbing, ziplining, art classes and sleepovers, and the Dec. 6th Vigil came up as something they really wanted to do, well we just about bubbled over with pride!

Since many of the girls had already done them, we didn’t re-do the challenges that we had done the year before. Instead, we showed the girls a video interview of a girl their age. This video –

This, of course, is Malala Yousafzai. We talked about how many girls around the world do not have access to education and that Malala was an activist working to secure access to education for girls in her region. We then told them that she had been shot in the head earlier that week for standing up for her right to go to school. We told them the whole story, how brave she was to stand up and about how there were people campaigning to get her nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The girls were entranced. I think knowing that Malala is their age made her story really click with them. We now keep up to date on Malala, her progress, and her nobel nomination, and she’s become a sort of inspiration to the girls in our unit.

So on the night of the vigil, our dedication was about Malala. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room.

Giving a Community Dedication

Giving a Community Dedication

The organizer of the event also asked our Pathfinders to help by passing out purple ribbon pins and programs! (Community Service hours!)

Distributing Programs and purple ribbon pins.

Distributing Programs and purple ribbon pins.

Overall, this was a great experience for the girls, and I’m so impressed that they have taken the issues to heart and are giving it thought. They are growing up to be wonderful young ladies with great heads on their shoulders.

Categories: Pathfinders | 2 Comments

Healthy Relationships

Girls For Safer Communities

Girls For Safer Communities

Say No To Violence

Say No To Violence

Last year (2011-2012), our Pathfinders spent most of October/November working on the Girls For Safer Communities project. We learned about leadership, we talked about what made us feel safe and unsafe, we did a safety audit of the area around our school, and even wrote a letter to the Principal to share our findings.

Some of the questions and discussions that came from these activities led us in a different direction. We decided to spend the next few meetings working on the “Say No to Violence” crest.  So we spent a few meetings doing activities from the Pathfinder Instant meetings, and then planned to attend the Dec. 6th Vigil at the University (more on that here).

One of the most successful meetings we had was one where we explored the differences between Healthy, Unhealthy and Abusive relationships. Many of the girls are getting to the age where they’re starting to date (or at least think about it), so it was really good timing. All of these activities are adapted from the Instant Meetings document available here (Memberzone Login required).

1. First we had a discussion about relationships, what they were, and what the differences between Healthy/Unhealthy/Abusive relationships might be.

2. Then we passed out a stack of statements, that the girls then sorted under large “True”/”False” signs that we had posted on the wall before the meeting started. We printed multiple copies of TrueFalse Healthy Relationships so that each of the girls had about 5 or 6 different statements to sort. Then we went through the answers (TrueFalse Healthy Relationships answers) together!

3. Next, on another wall, we posted “Healthy”, “Unhealthy” and “Abusive” signs. Again, we printed multiple copies of  HealthyUnhealthyAbusive relationship scenarios, so that each of the girls got a handful of different ones. Each girl read their scenarios and decided individually whether they thought that they were Healthy, Unhealthy or Abusive and taped them on the wall under the appropriate sign. Then as a group, we went through and read over the different scenarios and discussed them (and what we might do if we were in that situation)

4. Finally, for the last part of the meeting, the girls divided into groups of three, and each team was given a Healthy Relationships Scenario  to act out. They took about 10 min to plan their skit and then performed it for the whole group. After each skit we did a quick debrief to talk about how the characters handled the situations and other ways they could have dealt with them. We also talked about what we could do to help friends if they were in the same situation.

It was a great meeting, and while there were some (typically considered) “uncomfortable” topics like sex, sexual harassment, rape, etc., we had some great feedback from the parents. We had let them know ahead of time so that they could let us know if they had any concerns or wanted to keep their daughter home, but everybody agreed it was a great thing to talk about, especially in the safe and comfortable environment of Pathfinders.

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Postal Badge

Postal Badge

Postal Badge

Thinking Day Postcard Exchange 2013 Crest

Thinking Day Postcard Exchange 2013 Crest

This year, for once, we remembered to register in time for the Thinking Day Postcard Exchange! We’re super excited because every other year we would be so distracted by start of the year things like registration and enrollment, that we wouldn’t think of Thinking Day until just before Christmas and by then it would be too late!

So the way it works is that you register on the Postcard Exchange Website, and then you get invited into a Yahoo Group where there is a listing of all the different units that want to participate. They are mostly American units but there are also a bunch from Canada and some from elsewhere in the world. If you’re interested in exchanging a postcard with that unit, you send them an email requesting an exchange, and if they also want to exchange with you, then they’ll respond with their address.

Important Note: This is NOT a pen pal exchange. It’s a one time exchange with an entire unit. (ie, your unit sends their unit one postcard and vice versa. The idea is to learn about what that unit does)

We decided to try and arrange exchanges with at least one unit per Guide in our unit. That way, they would each get to keep a postcard from somewhere else in the world.

We are exchanging with: Iowa, New Hampshire, Texas, North Carolina, British Colombia, South Carolina, West Virginia, Ohio, Kansas, Missouri, Nova Scotia, Virginia, England, Yukon, Hawaii and Thailand.

We decided that this was the perfect opportunity to earn our Postal badge!


Most of the girls were pretty familiar with how to address an envelope, but we quickly went over it with the girls with some examples. We also explained how the postcard exchange works.

Postcard and Envelope addresses

Postcard and Envelope addresses

Activity 1: Package wrapping game

We wanted to have something active and fun, so we created a game! We got the girls into teams, and then quickly went over how you should wrap a parcel before sending it in the mail. We gave each team a cookie box, a cookie case, some brown paper, scissors, tape, a marker, and a jumbled address. Each team had to wrap a cookie box, wrap a cookie case, and then correctly address the cookie case as if you were going to put it in the mail. (They could look at the examples above for help to address it right)

The twist? Each girl could only use one hand! They all had to have one hand behind their backs. This was super entertaining as they tried to use tape and wrap the boxes and realized how they had to slow down, communicate, and work together. Lots of giggles with this one!

Working together to try and cut the masking tape!

Working together to try and cut the masking tape!

While the packages probably couldn’t have safely made it through the mail following this activity, it was a lot of fun! The team who finished first, got to open their wrapped box of cookies and eat them! (and share with everyone, of course!)

I love the "Handle with Care" note. Nice touch, girls!

I love the “Handle with Care” note. Nice touch, girls!

Activity 2: Postcard time!

We took all the addresses that we’re exchanging postcards with and put them in a hat. The girls drew out of the hat which unit they would be exchanging a postcard with! After each girl pulled one out, we all looked at the map to see where that unit is from. (We bought a world map poster a few years ago for a Thinking Day activity and I can’t tell you how many times it has come in handy since! We use it for a LOT of things)

Checking out where the units are located in the world!

Checking out where the units are located in the world!

We had bought three different types of Newfoundland postcards and let the girls choose which one they wanted to send to their unit. The Moose and Newfoundland Dogs were most popular!

Moose, Newfoundland Dogs, and a harbour with an iceberg.

Moose, Newfoundland Dogs, and a harbour with an iceberg.

We typed a message from the whole unit, and printed them on labels that (sort of) fit in the message part of the postcard. (We used a small font so we were able to fit a lot!) We left a little space above the label so that each girl could write a personal message to the unit they were exchanging with. We gave them some ground rules (only first names, they could write or draw, maybe say what their favorite part of Guides is, etc.) and gave them some scrap paper with little squares drawn on them so they could practice and make sure what they wanted to write would fit in the little square. They also practiced writing out the address before writing them on the actual postcards.

Gillian's postcard to a unit in Hillsboro, Kansas.

Gillian’s postcard to a unit in Hillsboro, Kansas. (Click for a larger version to read the message)

Activity 3: Post Office

Now that the girls knew where their postcards were going, we went over how much they thought it would cost to send the postcards to their destinations. We also explained that how much it costs to ship a package depends on the dimensions and weight of the package, so we calculated how much it would cost to ship a case of cookies overseas and then for fun, how much it would cost to ship one of our Guides overseas. 🙂

We talked about where our local Post Office was and what they do and sell there. We talked about the different ways we could send the postcards – we could walk into the Post Office and pay them to send it, or we can buy the appropriate stamp, put it on the postcard, and then drop it in a local mailbox/red Canada Post mailbox.


I think the girls really enjoyed this meeting, and they’re super excited to get their postcards back! Some have already started to come in, but we’re going to wait until our Thinking Day meeting to pass them out and learn about all these other units! We are all looking forward to seeing what they have to share!


Categories: Badgework, Guides | Leave a comment

Puzzle Themed Enrollment

Understanding the Promise and Law


For our Guide enrollment this year, we did a modified version of the puzzle one found here on the Girl Guides of Ontario website.  The puzzle in that enrollment was the Promise, Law and Motto, but we wanted to do something a little different. We wanted to show what a diverse and interesting unit we are,  and wanted to highlight that each girl brings her own unique strengths to our unit – and that we are not complete without all of our Guides.

Enrollment Prep

Advance Preparation: First we took two pieces of poster board and taped them together to make one large puzzle. On the other side, we drew a large Trefoil, a couple little ones, and wrote the name of our unit across the top. Then we cut the puzzle into 15 pieces – one for each girl and Guider. (tip: on the back, number the piece so you know where it goes, draw an arrow pointing up so the girls know which way to decorate it, and have the girls write their names) Each Guider took a piece of the unit name and then the rest were to be distributed to the girls to decorate. The trefoil was large enough that each girl would get a piece of the trefoil but it wouldn’t necessarily be obvious that it’s a giant trefoil from their piece alone.

We also got two extra pieces of poster board and made a “backing” for the puzzle, where we traced out all the pieces so that they could be placed in randomly and still be in the right place.

For our Enrollment prep meeting, we brought a random assortment of craft things – markers, crayons, leads, stickers, scrapbooking paper, sticky jewels, etc. We told each girl that their puzzle piece should represent them and that they could do whatever they want with their piece, as long as they didn’t cover up the black line that was already on it.

Maggie's puzzle piece all decorated and ready to go!

Maggie’s puzzle piece all decorated and ready to go!

Once the girls had all finished their pieces, we placed them on the backing, so that they could see what their completed puzzle looked like! As a bonus, many of the girls learned that “that clover shape” was called a trefoil, haha. We also wrote their names on the backing in their puzzle space so they would be able to put it in the right spot on Enrollment night.

Enrollment Night

When we arrived for the Enrollment, we put the puzzle backing up on the wall, and put pieces of double sided tape all over it so that it would hold the pieces when placed.

The Puzzle Backing ready to go!

The Puzzle Backing ready to go!

We always have the girls arrive normal time, and then invite the parents to come for the enrollment about 30 min later, so that we have time to run through the enrollment, finish set up, give out their pieces (that we had collected so they wouldn’t get lost) and make any adjustments that we need to (for example, one of our 3rd year Guides was sick so we needed to get one of the other 3rd years to do double duty for presenting the new Guides to be enrolled).

Here’s how our enrollment ceremony went:

Guider 1: Hi Everyone, thank you for coming to the enrollment of our newest members of the 37th Guides. All of us here (Family, fellow Guides and Guiders) play a part in the Guiding days of each new Guide who will make her promise tonight and we are happy to have you all here to share the moment.

(Introduce Guiders)

Guider 1: Normally we would have our District Commissioners here to enroll the new Guides, however Sarah and I are actually the District Commissioners for our area, so we are wearing two hats tonight!

Guider 2: Each individual member of our unit brings her own unique personality, skills and passions to our group.

Guider 3: To represent this, each member has decorated a puzzle piece to represent their contribution to the unit.

Guider 1: As the girls are enrolled, they will place their piece in the puzzle.

Senior Guide: I present (insert name) to be enrolled as a Guide

(She says her promise, gets pinned, receives her badges and places her puzzle in her spot on the wall)

The girls received their Badges and pins on cardstock puzzle pieces that were cut out using the Cricut.

The girls received their Badges and pins on card stock puzzle pieces that were cut out using the Cricut.

Guider 1: As Guiders, we also play an important role in the unit. As we place the last pieces of the puzzle, we complete the picture and our unit. (present year pins to Guiders)

Guider 2: Now please help us welcome the now complete 37th Guides. (clap)

Guider 3: To symbolize the start of our new year, we would now like to do our horseshoe opening. This is the way we start every meeting.

Guider 1: Patrols fall in!

(Then we did our normal Opening/Horseshoe, which includes the promise said together at the end)

Guider 2: In our promise, we agree to respect the Guiding Law. To help us remember the Law, we have created a cheer that we would like to share with you tonight! A word of warning – this may get loud!!

(I found a similar thing for the Girl Scouts Law, but I can’t find it again for my life… I adapted it for the Canadian Guiding Law, and we do it as a yell – A leader yells each line, doing the action, and the girls respond as loud as they can, also doing the action. The girls love it because they get to be loud and silly AND they get more familiar with the Guiding Law!)

The Guiding Law Challenges me to:

Be honest and trustworthy (hands up, palms out, as if to say “I have nothing to hide”)
Use my resources wisely (rub fingers together like money)
Respect myself and others (point thumb to self and then hand out, palm up, as though presenting something)
Recognize and use my talents and abilities (hands on hips, head held high, like the superhero/superman pose)
Protect our common environment (spread hands out in a circle indicating “this area”)
Live with courage and strength (show your muscles)
Share in the sisterhood of Guiding (put arms around shoulders of girls in circle)

Guider 1: Thank you everyone for coming! We would now like to invite everyone for some treats!

Of Course, what would an enrollment be without treats like cupcakes, cookies, fruit and juice!

The final puzzle! After the enrollment, the girls kept their puzzle pieces as a souvenir.

The final puzzle! After the enrollment, the girls kept their puzzle pieces as a souvenir.

Categories: Guides | 1 Comment

Understand the Promise and Law Parts 1 & 2

Understanding the Promise and Law

We took two meetings to work on our Understand the Promise and Law badge. We completed all of the points except the Patrol elections and Enrollment (those will come later!).

Meeting 1:

We started the meeting by going over patrols, how to do dues, etc. and then we practiced our opening and march. We may have had to do it a couple of times because we all (including the Guiders) had to try it a few times to remember it!! haha

Promise relay race
We took the Promise and divided it up into 6 different parts, and put each part in a balloon. We made two sets so that we could do a relay race (different coloured balloons so we made sure each team had a full set!)

The girls lined up at one end of the gym and we put the pile of balloons at the other end of the gym. One at a time, the girls ran to the pile, picked one, and either sat or stepped on the balloon to pop it. Then they found the little strip of paper and ran back to their team. Once each girl had popped a balloon and the team had the full set of promise pieces, they had to arrange the pieces to put the promise together. First team to have the promise correct, won!

Be Prepared Bags

We talked about the motto and what it meant for our daily lives. We printed out cardstock pages with a tote bag image on them, each with a different location/event like “Guides”, “school”, “dance class”, “outside play”, “camping”, etc. We had enough for each pair of girls to have one. We asked them to think about 5 items that they would bring with them to be prepared, and then draw them in the bag. We kept the sheets in their patrol boxes so they could finish up the following week during patrol time.

Be Prepared Bags

“empty” Be Prepared bags ready to go!

Meeting 2:

During Patrol time, the girls finished up their Be Prepared bags and then we went through our opening a few times to help the girls get used to it.

Be Prepared Bags

We started the meeting with a few announcements and then each pair of girls presented what they would put in their Be Prepared bags. The other girls would then suggest additional items that would be good to bring. They found that some of the places (like camping and sleepovers) had a long list of things that would be good to have, while

Handshake Game

To practice the Girl Guide handshake, we played a game somewhat similar to musical chairs. All the girls (an odd number) mix and mingle around, and when the leader yells “Go” they have to find a partner, shake their hands, and say the motto. Since there’s an odd number, one girl won’t have a partner, so she is then “out” and gets to be the one to yell “Go” next. (Since every second round there would be an even number of players, a leader would step in and play. This also helped to shake up the girls who were just following each other around, haha)

Reef Knot tying

About half of the girls had their scarves with them so we went over how to tie the Reef Knot with the group and then had them pair up so that each pair had one scarf. Then they helped each other practice tying their reef knots, while we went around and helped them. Simple but effective 🙂

Law activity

We explained the difference between the motto, promise and law, and then read them the Law. We went through each part of the law and asked the girls what they thought it meant. We were really impressed with some of their answers and stories!

We certainly don’t expect the girls to memorize the law, but to help us remember/understand the law, we did a little “action” activity. For each law point we had an action to go along with it. The girls loved learning them, and even challenging ourselves to see how fast we could do them! Here are the actions we used:

The Guiding Law Challenges me to:
Be honest and trustworthy (hands up, palms out, as if to say “I have nothing to hide”)
Use my resources wisely (rub fingers together like money)
Respect myself and others (point thumb to self and then hand out, palm up, as though presenting something)
Recognize and use my talents and abilities (hands on hip, head held high, like the superhero/superman pose)
Protect our common environment (spread hands out in a circle indicating “this area”)
Live with courage and strength (show your muscles)
Share in the sisterhood of Guiding (put arms around shoulders of girls in circle)

The girls enjoyed it so much I think we might actually do it more often either as part of campfires or on nights we have some extra time, during our closing right before we sing taps.

Categories: Badgework, Guides | 3 Comments

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