About Bethany Koepke

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

District Victoria Trip

Last month Burnaby Mountain District took a day trip to visit our province’s capital for a day of culture, fun, and friendship. Organizing this trip was quite the undertaking as more than 70 girls participated. Girls left Burnaby on a school bus early in the morning and arrived back there late in the evening. In between they participated in their choice of a variety of experiences — all on a day that turned out to be very, very rainy!

Girls had signed up for their experiences ahead of time. Choices included the Royal BC Museum, Miniature World, a tour of the BC Legislature, and more.

Girls who went to the museum got to enjoy amazing artifacts from the Mayan civilization at the featured exhibition called Maya: The Great Jaguar rises. Some of the items were about 3000 years old! They also had time to check out some of the living world exhibits to learn more about the geography and creatures in beautiful British Columbia.

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The legislature tour was very informative, telling girls all about the history of how BC’s government was formed and how it functions today. They also got to enjoy the amazing architecture of a very beautiful building. The engaging tour was inspirational for the girls.

The incredibly detailed dioramas at Miniature World were a highlight of the trip for both some of the youngest and also some of the oldest girls on the trip. There’s something about the tiny figurines recreating periods of history and fantasy that really capture the imagination. They’re really cool!

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Some girls also spent time at majestic Beacon Hill park, including playing with some incredibly friendly petting zoo goats. What a group of silly kids! (See what I did there?)

Victoriabugs At the Victoria Bug Zoo, girls got to learn about, view, and even handle some amazing bugs. It’s a wild world out there.

The rain put a bit of a damper on things, making the planned scavenger hunt a bit of a bust. Pathfinders also had their bike tour cancelled due to the weather — but the girls still had a blast doing some shopping and stopping for tea at Murchies. It turned out to be a bit of a lesson for some girls about being prepared… for much of the day it wasn’t lightly drizzling, it was pouring.

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Everyone gathered at the end of the day for a huge group meal at the Old Spaghetti Factory. The staff there did an incredible job feeding our huge group and getting us out in a timely manner so we could get back on the buses and to the ferry terminal in time to get home on schedule.

What a day! Thank you to all the businesses, tour guides, tourist attractions, and friendly strangers who helped out our group all day. Thank you to the planning committee who worked hard to make this trip happen, and thank you to the girls who participated in cookie sales and other fundraising to make this trip (especially its transportation costs) manageable.

Brownies to the Theatre

Recently the 54th Brownies took a trip to the theatre! They went to the Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage in Vancouver to see an Arts Club production of Matilda the Musical!

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This trip was special because it represented some of the hard work these girls did selling Girl Guide Cookies this year. The unit was able to heavily subsidize tickets to the professional theatre show by using cookie money. Way to go, girls!

Everyone really enjoyed the showing, saying it was an excellent production. The girls were also very well behaved… unlike the kids in one of the show’s catchiest songs:

We are revolting children 
Living in revolting times. 
We sing revolting songs 
Using revolting rhymes. 
We’ll be revolting children 
‘Til our revolting’s done, 
It is 2-L-8-4-U  
WE ARE REVOLTING!

These Brownies are anything but revolting — even if they may have gone home singing this song! They had a wonderful trip to the theatre.

Camp Blankets

Recently, the 49th Guiders decided to use some of the girls’ hard earned cookie money to get camp blankets for each girl as a year end gift. This was just on time for the girls to bring their new blankets to camp.59533105_362280671160807_7263286084086267904_n.jpg

Camp blankets are a fun Girl Guide tradition that allows girls to sew their various crests onto the blanket as a momento. These blankets are great to stay warm around a campfire or as an extra bit of warmth while sleeping at camp. Many girls have blankets they’ve been working on for years filled with memories of their different Guiding camps, challenges, and adventures.

The 49th Guides got crests with the first letter of each girl’s name and sewed them on for them. This means there’s no way for them to get confused with who’s blanket is who’s! Together, they practiced sewing on some badges! Practicing their hand sewing skills fit into the “how to” badge, which is a cool way to incorporate program.

What a great idea! These girls all now have a camp blanket that they can keep working on for the rest of their time in Guiding — many adult Guiders even keep up the camp blanket tradition!

Sparks Fairy Camp

Last month the 1st and 2nd Sparks in Burnaby Mountain District went to camp together at beautiful Camp Olave on the sunshine coast. Their two-night camp used the theme “Fairies and Friends” and the girls had a magical, friendly time!

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Some of the best parts of camp were taking advantage of the wonderful camp facilities at Olave. The girls loved the teamwork exercises at the low ropes course. They challenged themselves to swing, balance, and more with the support of their friends. There was much laughter and fun.

The blind trail is also a favourite for the Sparks. They take turns guiding a partner through the tail. The partner can choose to close their eyes or find another creative way to become blind — some girls even put on their jackets backwards and hid their faces behind their hoods!

Fairy activities included some awesome crafts. These girls love to make things! The Sparks made little fairy houses to put into the enchanted forest. They also made fairy lamps. They all looked great.

They really lucked out with decent weather on a weekend that was not forecast in their favour. Even though it was too early in the season to swim in the ocean, it was still great to take a walk on the beach. It was a very fun weekend.

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The girls are really excited to come back to camp next year.

Girls First in Action

Girl Guides of Canada launched its newly updated program, Girls First, this past fall. Over the course of the Guiding year, our members have been getting trained in and familiar with our new program. Built on a girl-driven approach designed to give our girls choice, voice, and action, Girls First helps the Guiding experience meet the needs of each individual girl in a way that is relevant, meaningful, and fun.

Part of making Girls First work is making sure that girls have an active voice in making unit plans. How they approach their badge work, what kinds of outings they go on, and the goals they have for camps or community service projects depends on the girls in that unit and what they are interested in. Our 49th Guides recently shared some photos of a Girls First planning day with their unit. Girls loved getting involved in making plans!

Part of their exercise was thinking of all the things they had already done that year to figure out how it maps into the Girls First program (so they know what badges they’ve earned!) and to give them some guidance for what they should try next.

From group brainstorming to exploring the various Program Areas and Themes within Girls First, there is a lot that girls can do to shape their Guiding journeys. Based on their collective efforts, the 49th Guides were able to identify topics that their girls have liked or still want to explore like Guiding traditions, active living, wellness, STEM, and leadership.

Girls First is a bit of a learning curve (did you know the program is now entirely online rather than in traditional book format??) but we’re super excited about how it puts girls in the driver’s seat. It’s a program that really does allows each girl to be everything they want to be.

Pathfinders Urban Art Walk

For a recent unit event, our 10th Pathfinders explored Vancouver through art! They found and viewed murals as they traced their way through Main Street with the previous year’s Vancouver Mural Festival map to view different styles of art with various mediums making up beautiful city walls and alleys.

As many of the girls hadn’t spent much time in this vibrant part of the city before, it was a great adventure for them! They were able to deepen their appreciation of local artistry at the same time.

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They enjoyed lunch in the park before making their way to a  4CATS art studio to create a panda planter from clay!

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On the way home, they checked out some Vancouver history from antique shops to record stores.  Learned lots and saw some real west coast gems!

Recognizing Our Awesome Volunteers

Recently, West Coast Area Girl Guides hosted its annual awards dinner, which is wonderful night for Guiders from across the area to get together to celebrate everything that we do to support girls in our various roles. Several of our adult members came out to celebrate together.

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At this year’s event we saw awards granted to Guiders Helen, Sandra, and Gerry — thank you ladies, for all that you do! From helping with camping equipment, to coordinating our cookie deliveries, to managing our volunteer human resources, these ladies are all fundamental parts of our district’s success.

Did you know that we are now planning for next Guiding year (2019-2020), and we have many vacant positions in our rosters? If you are interested in volunteering to join this amazing team, please reach out and let us know. Guiding is all about running great programs for girls, but it is also a way for like-minded adults to find new friends, have lots of fun, and make a difference in the community.

Sleepover at the Aquarium

Burnaby Mountain recently organized a district-level event for all girls in Guides, Pathfinders, and Rangers to spend the night at the Vancouver Aquarium. The sleepover was full of fun and hands-on learning about nature, the environment, and important lessons about conservation.

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The overnight event packed in 12 hours of interesting educational programming with a little bit of sleep mixed in. It sure was a unique experience to get the place to themselves, to get to explore scientific labs behind the scenes, and sleep with aquatic friends.

The program included a hands-on Invertebrae Lab, 3 Eco-System guided tours (Northwest Pacific, Arctic, and Tropical), and some free time after breakfast to explore the Marine Mammal Deck And the Amazon Free Flight Gallery.

It was a very late night, so girls were exhausted when they finally laid down their heads for some sleep. Earlier in the year, Sparks and Brownies had the aquarium come to them at an event better suited to younger girls’ bedtimes.

The Aquarium sleepover was an amazing night full of amazing wildlife. Girls will hang on to these memories for a lifetime. We’d like the thank the amazing staff at the Vancouver Aquarium plus the planning committee of Guiders who worked hard to make this happen.

Girl Guide Cookies on the Mind

Happy Spring Equinox! What’s your favourite part of spring? Ours is classic chocolate and vanilla Girl Guide Cookies, of course! Cookies are now on sale throughout the community. Cookie sales help support excellent girl programming including sleepovers, camps, guest speakers, craft supplies, outdoor adventures, building skills, and international travel.

The girls at the 54th Brownies recently had cookies on their mind, celebrating spring cookies season with a bunch of fun cookie related games and activities. Here you can see them trying to get cookies from their foreheads to their mouths using only their face muscles! It wouldn’t be Brownies without laughter.

Watch out for Girl Guides in your local community and support our fun and friendship by buying a delicious box for only $5.00.

Pathfinders at Lighthouse Park

This January, the 14th Pathfinders went camping at Lighthouse Park. The Phyl Munday nature house is operated by Girl Guides in West Vancouver and is an optimal place for Friday night sleepovers, close to the city but steeped in nature.

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The girls planned everything from meals of rainbow pancakes to exciting nature activities and it was a great success! These all-weather girls enjoyed a crisp cool January weekend, exploring the forest and sea side with great enthusiasm.

They had a great time exploring the beautiful surroundings on night hikes, day treks, and geocaching. There are lots of geocaches in the area, making it a great activity for girls interested in trying out that exciting world of technology assisted community scavenger hunting.

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What a weekend! In addition to all this fun, it was a great chance for girls to practice camping in cooler weather — although they slept indoors, the old army hut that the nature house has been converted from does get very chilly in the winter months. They spent most of their time outdoors and having a great time together.