About Bethany Koepke

Burnaby Mountain Girl Guides District Commissioner - 1st Burnaby Mountain Sparks Leader - AKA "Sparkles"

Brownie Halloween Party

Girl Guides loves celebrating special days! Many units, including our 54th Burnaby Brownies, celebrated Halloween at the end of October.

In Brownies, Special Days is even a badge that the girls can work on in their programming. This unit incorporated those activities into their Halloween party. Girls came to the meeting wearing their costumes. Pikachus, mermaids, unicorns, Hermione Grangers and more all had a great time.

One of the activities involved girls in teams turning one of their friends into a toilet paper mummy. It was a close competition, but the mummy below was the winning creation!

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At Girl Guides the leaders love to get in on the fun too. This, clearly, is a fun leadership team to be a part of!

The units Guiders came dressed as Super Guider and She-Ra, Princess of Power. Thanks for being so festive, ladies!

Special days can be a lot of fun and they can also be an important part of how we connect as a community. Stay tuned for some photos of our girls at a local Remembrance Day ceremony this past weekend.

Relaxing Rangers

A couple of weeks ago girls from our 12th Rangers unit went for a relaxing weekend at beautiful Camp Olave. The main goals were to relax and to get to know each other better, and these goals were met with great success!

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The Rangers stayed in the Ranger cottage, which was a beautiful site right by the water. They were very lucky, as they ended up having beautiful weather the entire weekend.
They spent the weekend hiking the various trails that Camp Olave has, cooking, and spending a lot of time on the beach! Since it was the weekend before Halloween, the girls also carved pumpkins!
They also spent the evening playing a game of Monopoly that ended up lasting 5 hours. The girls got so serious about the game that they ate dinner around the coffee table, so that they wouldn’t have to move the game board! Afterwards, they made S’mores in the oven for mug up.
These girls work hard in Guiding, at school, and with their other commitments including family, jobs, and sports. It was so nice to relax together and have fun.

Nocturnal Animal Tour of Burnaby Lake

Last week the 24th Brownies and 56th Guides teamed up for an outing to Burnaby Lake where they learned all about nocturnal creatures with the help of staff from Metro Vancouver Parks. More info about their programming is available here.

It was a really fun night! Unfortunately, between the rain and the dark it wasn’t easy to get good photos, but luckily one of the Brownie leaders was happy to tell us all about it (and to share the couple of photos she did try to take). Here’s what she’s said:

Since the Guides group is so big, we had two interpreters, and it cost about $5/girl for a two-hour expedition. Since it was pretty well dark by 6:30, we did the Nocturnal Creatures program. My group started out with a “Hedbanz” style game where the girls had to guess which animal they had been assigned by asking yes or no questions.

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We talked about the heightened senses that nocturnal animals use. For the next activity, three bottles, each containing a different scent (lemon, coconut or mint) representing a different beaver family, were set out around the small area we were in.  The girls were each handed a bottle with one of three scents in it. They then had to use their sense of smell to identify which family they belonged to. Then we started on our hike. Along the way, we hoped to see a flying squirrel come out of a box high up on a tree, but none came out when our interpreter knocked. We were shown an owl skull, and a demonstration on how much noise a single goose feather makes when flapped through the air (a surprising amount) versus an entire owl wing (amazingly, none!). We looked (in vain) for salamanders. The girls learned about bats’ super hearing with wire hangers, string and a spoon.

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There was an activity on our (in)ability to see colour in the dark where the girls were handed different coloured crayons and papers and they had to write down which colour they thought each item was, and see if they were right when they turned on their flashlights.

Lastly, the girls played a sensory game where plastic toys (frog, fish, egg, etc) were hidden in a container they had to reach into blindly to find and discern. Despite the cold and the rain, it seemed like everyone had a good time!

Sounds like fun! The Metro Vancouver Parks people always do such a great job with their field trip programs. It’s a great way for our girls to learn about the natural world in a hands-on and interactive way. It’s always so cool to be reminded about the awesome nature that we have right here in our backyards.

Circus Sleepover

Girls from several Brownies units in Burnaby Mountain District gathered last weekend for the first sleepover of the year! Used as a way to kick off the Guiding year, this sleepover at West Coast Area’s own Richmond Guide House, was a big hit with all of the girls.

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They started the event by exploring the city of Richmond! The group went on a tour of the Gulf of Georgia Cannery where they learned a lot about the local history of people and industry in that area. They also took a Once Upon a Time walking tour, seeing sites in the community of Steveston which have become famous as Storybrooke in the popular television show.

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Back at the Guide house, the girls embraced their circus theme for the rest of the night. At this circus, tents were used for sleeping, not performing — despite it raining in the night, the girls slept in tents in the secure backyard. What a great way to start girls with camp skills! Girls (and even some of the leaders) learned a thing or two about setting up tents. And by not dedicating sleeping space inside, the group had lots of space for awesome circus themed activities.

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The girls worked through stations including drama games, songs, and dance. The event earned girls the Arts to Go: Circus challenge for exploring all these different areas. Their craft was cool little acrobat dolls that had a marble inside which made the figures tumble down a slope on the right kind of surface.

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They ate some carnival type snacks (sliders, ribs, corn on the cob, mac ‘n cheese) before making a “dessert craft” of circus trains made out of graham crackers, animal crackers, and smarties wheels held together with frosting. The girls got a chance to try making balloon animals, and even had a talent show, before ending the evening with an indoor “campfire” with glow sticks.

Over all it was a fun and memorable way to get the Guiding year going. It was a great preview of some of the fun activities these Brownies will experience in their regular units.

Interested in joining the fun? It’s not too late. Even though all the units have started meeting for the year, we do take registrations all year ’round and most Burnaby Mountain units still have space available to welcome new girls. Registration is available online at http://www.girlguides.ca.

Art for Reconciliation

The 54th Burnaby Mountain Brownies got off to a great start this year by finding a way to contribute to peace and friendship in our community. The group participated in the Reconciliation Art Project as part of the annual Walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver.

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The Brownies painted rocks with messages of acceptance and friendship and then placed them as part of a large art installation in Strathcona Park which greeted participants where the walk ends.

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It is great to see our girls taking acting to support better relationships among Indigenous peoples and all Canadians. Way to go, girls!

It’s not too late!

Most units in Burnaby Mountain district are having their first meetings this week. Some have already gotten started and have been announcing upcoming sleepovers, camps, outings, and events to kick off the year.

But it’s not too late! We still have spaces available in every branch, so if your girl is aged 5-17 Guiding is available for her in this community. We accept new members at any time, though we do recommend you sign up soon so you don’t miss out on the fun!

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Experience the fun and friendship of Girl Guides where our mission is to enable girls to be confident, resourceful and courageous, and to make a difference in the world.

If you have any questions please feel free to let us know. Registration is available online at http://www.girlguides.ca.

Growing Fun with Grassy Gnomes

It is always so much fun to see the creative activities that our fantastic volunteer Unit Guiders come up with to present Girl Guides of Canada programming (on a related note, we love Pinterest!!). Especially at the Sparks and Brownies level, girls love making crafts. Finding crafts that not only encourage creativity and self expression but also promote hands on learning is a great way to have fun with program.

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At one of their weekly meetings, girls from the 24th Brownies learned a bit about plants and their life cycles. How do seeds grow? What do plants need to be healthy? They put this knowledge to work by planting and watering some grass seeds in an especially creative way. Grass is fun to work with because it doesn’t take long to grow. When the leaders brought back the gnomes the following week they were already growing some pretty rad hair.

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The finished grassy gnomes are adorable! Want to know how to make them yourself? Check out some instructions here. At this regular weekly meeting, STEM + crafts = Girl Guides of Canada fun.

It’s the Simple Things

As the days of summer of stretch out before us, are you looking for a simple, inexpensive way to keep your kids entertained? Look no further than balloons!

An experienced Girl Guide leader always has a few tricks up her sleeve that come in handy when she needs a quick fun activity with very little preparation. Maybe the weather didn’t cooperate with an outdoor plan, or a guest speaker cancels at the last minute, or craft you’ve planned just doesn’t come together… whatever the case may be, there are always reasons to have a quick easy back up ready to go.

At the 1st Burnaby Mountain Sparks the leaders pulled out balloons on one of these occasions. And wouldn’t you know it — the kids had a total blast! There are so many things you can do with balloons:

  • Use them as a name game — pass the balloon to someone after saying their name
  • Find out how long you can keep one in the air using only “wind” power (i.e. air blown from your mouth, or with a paper fan)
  • See how long you can keep one balanced on one finger
  • Work as a group to keep many balloons in the air as long as possible
  • Use one as a ball for a game of soccer
  • Try to “juggle” 3 or more balloons at once
  • Create an obstacle course and complete with a balloon between your knees

Use your imagination to come up with activities that can be done alone, in pairs, or as a group. The possibilities are endless! And since balloons are inexpensive and can easily be stored (before inflation, of course) in just about any bag you might carry, they make for a great “rainy day” back up.

Pirate Camp

When three different Brownie units came together to do their year-end camp this June, the leaders knew they wanted a fun and dynamic theme to help all the girls get excited and engaged in the camp. With girls from the 24th, 47th, and Highlands Brownie groups all participating, lots of girls didn’t know each other or all of the leaders so a fun theme was a great way to get everyone on the same page.

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The leaders did a great job decorating the site, Kwi Kwa at Camp Olave on the sunshine coast, with pirate flags, ships, and other related items. They played pirate themed games and even learned a fun new pirate themed campfire song. Food had a fun pirate element too — at dinner, for example, girls created their own flatbread pizza to look like a treasure map.

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They also made cool pirate crafts like their skull and cross bone hats and fun spy glasses. The hats especially made them recognizable as pirates as they roamed camp and tried out one of the hiking trails.

Camp Olave is a great place to spend time outside enjoying nature. These Brownies challenged themselves with hiking the nature trail, trusting each other in the blind trail, and working together on the low ropes course.

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Aside from the forest, Camp Olave also has a wonderful waterfront. A pirate theme works especially well at a campsite on the water and these girls also very much enjoyed their time swimming in the ocean on a beautiful sunny day.

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Over all the camp was a huge success. The girls all had a wonderful time. It was so great to see many of them making new friends. These Brownies, even if they belong to different units, all share in the sisterhood of Guiding. One of the great things about this organization is knowing you’re one of the 10 million Girl Guides and Girl Scouts in the world — that’s a lot of friends to make!

SOARing to Adventure

Last week a few girls plus two leaders from Burnaby Mountain District participated in a very exciting week-long provincial Girl Guide camp in Smithers, BC. SOAR — which stands for Spirit of Adventure Rendezvous — is a momentous occasion that happens every three year. Roughly 2500 girl and adult members gathered in Smithers to celebrate Guiding, camping, and fun.

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This veritable army of Girl Guides came from all around the province. There were also visiting patrols from across Canada and even international patrols from places such as Japan, Peru, and Scotland.

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SOAR is known for being an exciting camp full of incredible opportunities for activities and out trips. Program options at SOAR 2017 included horseback riding, paddle boarding, river rafting, forensics workshops, sculpting, a First Nations world heritage site, an amazing race, cycling, fly fishing, and more! Girls also got involved in local community service projects including putting together hygiene packages for a women’s transition house, renovating a horse arena, and constructing a horseshoe pit at a senior’s home.

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Flying to Smithers and camping for a week was an exciting — and expensive — endeavor. These girls worked hard selling a huge number of Girl Guide Cookies to make this experience possible. Thank you so much to the hard working Burnaby Mountain volunteer leaders who made this possible for their patrol.

Photo credits to West Coast Area. Check them out on Facebook for many more photos of this incredible camping experience!