About Bethany Koepke

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

Gold Camp at Manning Park

Last week Burnaby Mountain’s 14th Pathfinders had their year end camp at Manning Park. Gold Camp is the grand finale of Pathfinder program and allows third year girls to take on tremendous leadership in planning their own camping adventure.

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It’s great to see the Pathfinders continuing their programming even into July, after many groups have stopped for the year. Guider Marie is never one to let good camping opportunities slip away and nothing is better on a beautiful summer weekend than camping with your Guiding friends in a great BC park.

This Gold Camp was planned by three third year girls who each was responsible for her own site of two or three younger girls (Guides and Pathfinders) and got to host leaders at mealtimes.

It gives the girls a great chance to experience the work that goes into planning the meals, activities, and safety considerations involved in executing an awesome camp in Girl Guides. It’s a lot of responsibility to be in charge of what’s happening, especially when you have younger and less experienced campers in your care.

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The site was Coldspring Campground at EC Manning Provincial Park. It is a beautiful spot with lots of great nature and wildlife to enjoy. It was fun seeing the many marmots popping up to say hello!

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A particular highlight of the trip was spending a couple of hours canoeing and kayaking on Lightning Lake. It was a beautiful day to be out on the water.

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Other activities included field games like capture the flag, and a “campfire” that was hardly hampered by the campfire ban — the girls still sang their favourite songs and even roasted s’mores using their propane camp stoves.

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For the Guides who were invited as guests to this camp, it was a great chance to see what kinds of fun await in Pathfinders. Guiding is all about celebrating both old and new friendships.

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Well done, third years, for hosting such an awesome Gold Camp! Completing the Pathfinder program is a lot of work, but in the meantime you’ve all gained excellent skills, not to mention the fun, friendship, and memories!

Brownie Beach Explorers

Who would like to go to the beach???

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During their camp at beautiful Camp Olave this June, the girls from the 54th Brownies enjoyed an especially low tide during their beach time. With the tide so far out it was like an entirely different beach than the one some of them had experienced in past years.

The low tide meant there was a lot more sandy beach to play in. When the tide is up high the sand can be all covered by water leaving only the rocky beach behind. This cool low tide allowed for great digging and sandcastle adventures.

There was also a lot more wildlife that could be found (and safely observed and put back in its natural environment, of course). Beach combing is a great way to learn about the natural environments right here in our backyards.

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In some places the sand was very soft and girls had a blast feeling their feet sinking a few inches down. So much fun and laughter!

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The water, of course, was also great for swimming — the weather was warm that weekend and it was a real treat for everyone to cool off. One of the things that makes Camp Olave so special is the opportunity for this awesome beach play. The camp has qualified lifeguards there all summer long so we can enjoy this beachfront camp property as it is meant to be enjoyed!

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Nothing says summer like a great day at the beach and these Brownies loved every minute of their pacific ocean adventure.

Sparks at the Palace Camp

At the end of June girls from the 1st and 2nd Burnaby Mountain Sparks joined forces to close out the Guiding year in style at their Sparks Go Wild at the Palace Camp and beautiful Camp Olave on the sunshine coast.

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Activities included princess themed crafts like crowns and a stained glass castle. These girls really enjoyed the chance to show their creative side and camp — Sparks love crafts!

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The little princesses also enjoyed on-theme food like a high tea party, frog princess sandwiches, princess pasta, and chocolate fondue (that last one proved that even princesses can get a little bit messy). They listened to music from some of their favourite Disney princess movies, and perfected their princess wave whenever other campers passed by.

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In addition to all the princess themed fun, the girls also enjoyed their good old fashioned camp activities like going for long walks in nature, using the blind trail, and roasting s’mores over the campfire. The girls were lucky to have beautiful weather all weekend so swimming in the ocean was a particular highlight for everyone.

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The girls were lucky to have their friends from a few of the Burnaby Mountain Brownies groups staying at a different site on Camp Olave — those girls were having a pirate camp, so the Sparks joined them one night for a joint princess-pirate campfire for s’mores and singing of some of their favourite songs.

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Camp Olave is a breathtakingly beautiful spot and our Guiders very much enjoy the opportunity to bring girls there. Even at a very young age the girls have an appreciation for the natural beauty. For many members in the lower mainland, heading to Camp Olave feels a little bit like going home.

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Over all the Sparks had a royally good time. They’re all looking forward to what kinds of adventures Guiding will bring them when we get started again in the fall!

Year-End Family Picnic

At Burnaby Mountain District we believe that part of our job as an organization within the community is to provide opportunities for the families of all of our girls to gather for fun, informal, social events. This is why we love putting on events like this year’s advancement and family picnic!

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The event began with a simple advancement ceremony where girls symbolically crossed footbridges to signify crossing over to the next branch in Guiding. This leaving ceremony complimented whatever celebrations different units had to give girls their end of year badges, awards, and recognition.

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The main part of the event was a family picnic including barbecued hotdogs and other snacks plus a variety of games and activities for the kids. Check out one Brownie, below, showing off her cool temporary tattoo, and some other members catching a watermelon break at the craft station:

Activities like these are really exciting because it gives the girls a chance to play and interact with girls from other units. Older girls and younger girls have a good time together, plus siblings get to get in on the fun as well!

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We really appreciate all the families who chose to spend the day with us to celebrate the close of the Guiding year. Although summer has just started, we can hardly wait to get back at it in the fall.

Welcome to Canada

As we embark on a Canada Day long weekend celebrating Canada’s 150th birthday, it seems like a good time to post about Burnaby Mountain District’s Thinking Day event from this year — although this happened back in February, it is just as relevant today.

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Back in 2016 at our district camp, girls from all units in Burnaby Mountain District worked on Welcome to Canada cards which were donated to ISS of BC to help welcome immigrants and refugees new to Canada. When we delivered these cards, our Guiders were so impressed by the work of this organization that we wanted to do more to help welcome these newcomers.

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This is what inspired our Thinking Day 2017 Welcome to Canada luncheon. Working with ISS of BC, we invited six families with children aged 4-17 to join us for our Thinking Day celebration. Girls and their families from all of our units came out to this event, demonstrating how kind, friendly, and welcoming our community is.

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We began with a colour party and the singing of O Canada. We served a tasty lunch to everybody. Nothing builds camaraderie in a community quite like sharing food together, after all. Following the meal, girls gave presentations that they had worked on in their units which included sharing songs, dance, and artwork. At the end of the presentations, the entire district encouraged all the special guests to participate in a sing-a-long campfire. Specially chosen songs with big actions and repeat-after-me lyrics were chosen so that even those unfamiliar with our songs or language could still enjoy.

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In the closing remarks a representative from ISS of BC helped us hand out welcome gifts to the families. These were composed on donations from our girls and families of gift cards, transit tickets, and new gifts like Canucks scarves, toys, and treats — and of course, the gift bags also had Girl Guide Cookies! We were also able to donate a large basket of gently used toys, books, and games for ISS of BC to bring back to their welcome centre to use in their daycare facilities.

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This project felt more important than ever this year with the socio-political context in some parts of the world being less than welcoming to immigrants and refugees. Many parents commented on how valuable it is to have Girl Guides provide the opportunity for their girls to get involved and take action to welcome newcomers like this, to demonstrate their compassion and the warmth of our communities, and to get them engaged even at a very young age in conversations about why this is so important.

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The special guests all seemed to have a good time as well. They appreciated the warm welcome and their children had a great time singing the songs and then afterwards playing outside on the playground with our girls. Some of the families even made inquiries about how to join Girl Guides. Over all, it was a Thinking Day that we’re not likely to ever forget.

Happy Canada Day from Burnaby Mountain District!

Sparks Go Fly a Kite

The 2nd Burnaby Mountain Sparks recently celebrated their last regular meeting of the year by taking their meeting outside to fly some kites! Girls had a wonderful time running around to keep their kites in the air and filled the sky with bright moving colours.

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Each girl was thrilled to be able take their kite home at the end of the day. The beautiful kites you see here, plus several more, were donated by the wonderful folk at the Kelowna Actor’s Studio. Plenty more girls in Burnaby Mountain District are going to get to have fun with kite flying thanks to their incredible generosity.

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Although they’re done with meetings until after the summer, this group is looking forward to camp next weekend. Rumour has it they’re preparing to walk the plank all the way to pirate camp at Camp Olave!

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Did you know the 2nd Sparks are one of the only groups in the Area to meet on Saturdays? Burnaby Mountain District is thrilled to offer this option to families. If weekend meetings work better for you, register your girl for next year today at http://www.girlguides.ca.

Brownie Keepsakes #TBT

Happy Throwback Thursday, Guiding friends! Check out this cool wall hanging that one of our Guiders recently unearthed when tidying her basement. Guider Kim from the the 56th Burnaby Mountain Guides says she remembers making this more than 30 years ago as a keepsake of her Brownie memories in the 32nd North Vancouver Brownies where she was a member as a girl.

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As we come upon the end of the Guiding year it’s a great time to think about how you’re going to save your girl’s Guiding memories. What can you do with those badge sashes and fun crests? Lots of people sew them onto a camp blanket. Others have incorporated them into quilts, or made them into wall hangings with or without frames.

Thanks, Kim, for sharing your cool keepsake project!

Brownies Gotta Camp

Last month girls from the 24th and 54th Burnaby Mountain Brownies took part in an overnight camping experienced organized by the West Coast Area camping committee called Brownies Just Gotta Camp!

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This awesome introduction to camping event was a great way to show the girls some of the fundamentals of camping. They got to sleep in a tent, eat traditional camp food, have an awesome campfire, and learn some great skills. Woodwards Landing is the perfect spot for these kinds of adventures — this beautiful campsite is in Richmond, so it isn’t too far from home.

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As an Area level camp, this event featured girls from all across the lower mainland. So not only did the girls from two Burnaby Mountain Brownie groups get to make friends with each other, they got to meet new friends from other parts of Burnaby plus Vancouver, New Westminster, Richmond, Ladner, and Tsawwassen. We have lots of Guiding friends!

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Guiding loves to empower girls to take on new challenges. At this camp, girls learned how to safely light a match, worked on their tenting skills, and got to learn about using a compass for orienteering. These are skills that the girls will build on as they continue to move through Guiding.

These units are both looking forward to ending their Guiding year with a trip to Camp Olave at the end of the month. It is so wonderful to see the girls making so many great Guiding memories.

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Outdoor fun is an important part of what Guiding offers girls. It is so great that West Coast Area is able to put on events like this to help support our Guiders in giving girls these opportunities. It’s a lot of work to plan camps like this, and the girls and leaders had a wonderful time — thank you!

Girls Jump to the Sky

Back in March the University Highlands Guiding Unit had a fun active outing at Sky Zone, a trampoline park in Surrey.

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This unique physical activity is lots of fun. With massive wall-to-wall trampolines to bounce on, these girls had an absolute blast! They just about defied gravity with their high jumps.

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Sky Zone was a great way for girls to play with their friends. In Girl Guides, even adults make new friends. The Guiders for this unit didn’t know each other before working together with the unit this year and it’s been so great to see their friendship grow.

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If you haven’t done so yet, make sure to bounce over to girlguides.ca to register for next Guiding year. Some units in Burnaby Mountain District are very close to full already. And if you want to volunteer, please reach out and contact us — we’d love to hear from you!

Looking for the University Highlands Guiding Unit? Next year this mixed Brownie and Guide group is splitting into two separate groups. Look for the 27th Brownies and 49th Guides if you want to register your girl at the Highlands location.

Cleaning Up with Teamwork

This week girls from the 22nd Burnaby Mountain Guides and the 54th Burnaby Mountain Brownies worked together to collect litter, cleaning up the environment around Silver Creek and Forest Grove elementary school where the Guides meet.

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A registered service project with the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup, this group of 17 girls managed to collect about 4 pounds of garbage — not bad since most of what they found was lightweight objects like food wrappers and cigarette butts. Together they walked about 4km, leaving the area much cleaner than they found it.

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The project started a few weeks ago when as part of their program work, the Guides invited the second year Brownies to one of their meetings so they could see what it was like to be a Guide. One of the things the Guides were doing that day was planning their upcoming community clean up project. The Brownies helped the older girls plan, brainstorming what supplies they would need, what routes they would take, and how to organize the day. It was a great example of girls taking the lead.

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On the day of the clean up, the Brownies once again joined the Guides to see the project through. The girls started with a fun ice breaker game of Unicorn Tag to energize them and get them working together. Then they set out on the clean up.

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We are very fortunate in Burnaby Mountain District to meet in an area of such great natural beauty. The forests and creeks around our meeting places feature lovely and important greenery as well as salmon-bearing streams and habitats for wildlife like birds, bugs, and even bears. Thank you, girls and their leaders, for helping keep our community clean!