In November of 2014, the 1st Burnaby Mountain Sparks were surprised to receive a package, hand delivered, from a woman who said it came from her family member in New Zealand. The leaders opened it up and discovered it was from a group of Guiding members from Whitby, Wellington in New Zealand, who wanted to be pen pals!
In New Zealand, the equivalent of Sparks is called Pippins, and it is for girls aged 5-7. Here in Canada, our Sparks promise “I promise to share and be a friend.” In New Zealand, the girls learn the Pippins saying, “Pippins care, so Pippins share with other children everywhere.” In keeping with both of those ideas, an international friendship has blossomed with each group sending the other packages periodically throughout the year.
The groups have exchanged greeting cards made by the girls, photos, crafts, friendship bracelets, postcards, and crests! In a recent package from the Pippins, each Spark in the unit got a cool crest like one of the ones pictured here:
The Sparks have heard the Pippins story and all about the different activities the Pippins group does. It is interesting to hear that many of the Pippins will be going to see Frozen on Ice in a couple of months, which is an activity that these Sparks did this year. The Pippins also take turns taking home a doll named Penny Pippin, similar to the Sparks doll, Crystal, who gets taken home by a Spark each week. The Sparks have also learned that New Zealand has opposite seasons to Canada, so when the Sparks had their winter-themed sleepover, the Pippins were having summer camp, and when the Sparks go to camp in the summer, the Pippins are doing winter activities!
Most recently, the Pippins sent the Sparks a package of their Guide biscuits! These biscuits, pictured below, are their equivalent to our Girl Guide cookies. Yum! The 1st Sparks will definitely be sending a box of our own cookies back to them.
Having gone on for more than a year now, the Pippin pen pal project has been a lot of fun. What an awesome way to experience International Guiding, even at as young an age as Sparks. It really helps the Sparks understand what we mean when we talk about the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts having more than 10 million members all around the world. There is even a possibility that we might get to meet some of the Pippins in person one day!