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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Opening Meeting and Brainstorming

Choosing Your Own Direction #3

The opening meetings for both of our Guide and Pathfinder units were very similar this year.

We started with making name tags and a get-to-know you game for the Guides since we have a bunch of new girls from a different school moving up from brownies (Hi, My name is Holly and I like Hiking. Courtney likes Crafts, Maddi likes Monkeys, etc…). All of our Pathfinders were returning girls that we knew well, so we caught up on all the summer news!

We did a quick introduction to the program and their program books, before jumping into our brainstorming sessions!


I got this idea from a Guiding friend and I really like how it went! We posted topics on the walls around the gym and gave each girl a pad of post-it notes and a pencil. The girls got a couple of minutes at each station to write down activities they’d like to do in each theme on their post its and stick them to the wall.

For Guides we used the following topics:

  • “What would you like to learn about?”
  • “How could we help people in the community?”
  • “What crafts would you like to do?”
  • “What have you always wanted to try?”
  • “What badges would you like to earn?”
  • “What would you like to do outdoors?”
  • “What games/sports would you like to play?”
  • “Who would you like to come visit our unit?”
  • “What songs do you like to play?”
  • “What special events would you like to do?”
  • “What outings would you like to do?”

The question format worked well for the Guides! For the Pathfinders, we went even simpler and just posted:

  • “Games/Sports”
  • “Outings”
  • “Service Projects”
  • “Special Events”
  • “Badgework”
  • “Outdoors”
  • “Crafts”

After they had each been to every station, we collected the signs and stuck all the post-it notes to them. After the meeting, we typed up all of their ideas and now we have a whole sheet of activities they want to do this year! For the Guides, it will help us plan our meetings and they came up with some great ideas! For the Pathfinders, we’ll keep the list with us for their planning meetings, in case they need some prompting or ideas for their next self-planned meeting (more about our Pathfinder meeting structure later)

At the end of the meetings, we set aside some time for games. The guides played Pac-man Tag and the Pathfinders played the hand game – both by request! They were the most popular games last year.

Pac-man Tag: The girls are only allowed to run along the gym floor lines, away from the girl who’s “it”. They can’t pass each other on the lines, and if they get caught, they have to sit down on the line and block it so that no one can get through. Once most of the girls are caught and sitting on the lines, we start the game again with a new “it”

Hand game: All the girls sit in a close circle, facing in, with both hands flat on the floor in front of them. Everyone takes their right hand and moves it between the person on their right’s hands, so that everyone’s hands are alternating. Whoever starts chooses a direction and slaps one of their hands. Then the hand next to the starting one, in the chosen direction, slaps. The “slap” continues around the circle until someone double slaps, which switches the direction back the other way. If anyone slaps out of turn, they remove that hand from the circle. The last two girls in the game, win!

Categories: Badgework, Guides, Pathfinders | 1 Comment

Hunger Games Camp

With the movie release and the massive popularity of the books among our Pathfinders and senior Guides (who were invited to attend Pathfinder camp), we decided to make this year’s Pathfinder camp Hunger Games themed! … with some modifications of course. Like the girls were specifically told NOT to try and kill each other off.

The theme, though, was a great way to incorporate some of the outdoors survival skills from their program!

Outdoor Know How # 1, 2, 3, 6

Finding Your Way # 2, 4, 6, 8

Survivor Girl # 1, 2, 8, 10

We prepared “challenges” in advance, and with the help of my creative mother, came up with rhyming couplets for each challenge. I printed them and glued them into gold cards (from the dollar store), sealed with a Capitol logo.

Messages from the Capitol

We used gold envelopes with the Capitol logo to add suspense and intrigue to the camp!

Categories: Camp, Pathfinders | Leave a comment

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