Pippin Pen Pals

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!

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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:

NZ crests

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.

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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!

Sparks go “Go, Dog. Go!”

The girls from the 2nd Burnaby Mountain Sparks had a fun time at Granville Island this weekend taking in a production from the Carousel Theatre for Young People called “Go Dog Go”. This play, especially for kids aged 3-8, was a lot of fun for the Sparks. Having read the classic children’s book at a previous unit meeting, the girls were eager to see the story made live on stage.

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The 60 minute play was an exploration of movement, color, and music. Check out the colourful set pieces behind the girls as they pose here with one of the show’s talented dogs!

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The Carousel Theatre Company is one of Burnaby Mountain’s favourite local arts organizations and over the last few years, girls from several units have taken in great age-appropriate plays for Sparks, Brownies, and Guides (they have group rates available, too). Burnaby Mountain girls love experiencing the arts!

Dance Workshop for Sparks

The girls in the 1st Burnaby Mountain Sparks recently visited local Art Space Children’s Art Centre to partake in a physical, creative dance workshop put on by one of their talented instructors.

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The interactive workshop included lots of creative expression as well as working on a group routine that they could show to their parents at the end of the session.

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According to the Art Space website, “Children instinctively communicate ideas and express their emotions to others through movement. As children explore the creativity of movement through dance at artspace, they will develop coordination and endurance,
and strengthen their growing bodies.”

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Girls had a great time learning dance skills like coordination, movement, and technique. For some girls, this was their very first formal dance instruction — for others, they have been involved in dance for a long time. Either way, all the girls had a great time dancing with their Sparks friends.

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Thank you to the staff at Art Space for helping us organize this. It was a lot of fun.

The Perks of Being a Sparks Leader

There are times that being a grown up can be kind of hard. In my case, I’ve been hobbling around my normal life with increased difficulty due to the big awkward cast on my left leg. It has compounded my regular level of mobility difficulty which is due to nerve damage in my legs and feet and has made me a little bit grumpy. Walking is hard, and it makes me tired and sore after just a short time. Meanwhile, I’m busy with work commitments, Girl Guide volunteering, and finishing my final (and most stressful) semester of a Master’s degree.

20160105_183942So when I was arriving at Sparks last night, part of me was just eager for it to be over so I could go home and relax after a long day. Before long my spirits were lifted as I chatted with a dad who was so proud that his daughter would be doing her very first show and tell that evening – even though she was nervous and not sure she wanted to bring anything from home, at the very last minute she decided to bring a special doll and was excited to show it to her friends. He was thrilled by how much Sparks was helping her to try new things and develop her confidence.

At the show and tell circle, I started things off by showing the girls my cast. They expressed lots of concern and were very interested to hear lots of details about what it was made of and how it was put on. They even asked lots of really great questions – “are you able to wiggle your toes in there?” one asked, with big curious eyes. Yes, as a matter of fact, I can… but you can’t tell by looking at me. Several wanted to know if I was allowed to draw on it, and I told them that I was.

After show and tell finished and we completed another activity, I took out a pile of coloured Sharpies and invited the girls to help me decorate the cast.

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At first there was a little bit of chaos as they swarmed around me – they were so excited to do this! – but we quickly agreed that they could take turns and once someone finished a design they would move aside to let someone else have a turn. Not all 16 Sparks could colour one cast at the same time, after all.

Watching them attentively draw and write messages, I was quickly overcome with emotion. It was so clear how much they all cared. The cast was soon covered in hearts, flowers, and rainbows, along with carefully penned messages like “I love you” and “I hope you feel better.”

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Prior to going to Sparks I was grumpy and tired. I had also spent the last several days embarrassed of the cast, trying to hide it behind baggy pants and feeling awkward when people asked me about it. Today I love the cast and it makes me smile when I see it. I wore a skirt to work today and have been showing it off to my coworkers.

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Sure, being a grown up can be kind of hard – and being a volunteer Sparks leader is a lot of work sometimes too. But this week, I was reminded of why it is so worth it, and why I love what I do. Thank you, 1st Burnaby Mountain Sparks, for sharing your cheer, your caring, and your confidence. I am proud to be your leader, and so proud to wear the cast you decorated for me.

Units Visit Bright Lights

Recent weeks have seen outings from two different Burnaby Mountain units visiting the Bright Lights at Stanley Park and the festive Christmas Train.2nd sparks stanley park

First, on a Saturday afternoon, the 2nd Sparks enjoyed the sights and sounds of seasonal merriment, then on a Tuesday evening the 22nd Guides enjoyed the lights during a much darker time of day.

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The Sparks really enjoyed the train itself, oohing and ahhing over the different displays. They enjoyed the music and recognizing scenes from different Christmas stories that they all know and love, including Charlie Brown, the Grinch, and Frozen.

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For the Guides, at nighttime, what really stood out were the 3 million lights set up in a variety of displays. It really looked magical.

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The Bright Lights event benefits the local Burn Fund, an excellent cause! Both units had a great time.

Sparks See Frozen on Ice

Eight months ago when Disney on Ice announced their touring production of Frozen on Ice would be visiting Vancouver this November, one Spark Guider knew that this is something girls in her unit would love to see. She jumped on the opportunity to order tickets in the group sales pre-buy.

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This fall, girls in the 1st Sparks worked very hard to sell Girl Guide cookies — together they sold more than 70 cases! — to help subsidize the event.

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Eager for the show to start

On November 28th, 16 girls and their Guiders went to Pacific Coliseum to see their favourite movie re-enacted by world class figure skaters. Girls were dazzled by the special effects, impressed by the skaters’ talents, and eager to sing along to their favourite Frozen tunes.

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Mesmerized by the skating

The leaders were impressed by how well the girls followed instructions and kept together as a group. As you might imagine, there were a lot of little girls at the coliseum that day. The group navigated the busy chaos without any problems — even the super crowded bathroom at intermission!

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Olaf singing about summertime

It was a fun day, enjoyed by all. The only thing more magical than seeing Frozen on Ice is seeing it with a big group of your closest Spark friends.

Sparks Winter Themed Sleepover

The girls and leaders from the 1st and 2nd Sparks joined forces last weekend for a Winter Wonderland themed sleepover at a local community hall.

For many of the Sparks this was their very first sleepover ever. The leaders were impressed with how well everybody did. The Sparks really took to the spirit of sharing and being a friend, and there were no major problems at all. Even girls who were a little nervous about missing their families and being away from home were so busy having fun and being with their friends that there wasn’t a single melt down, even at bedtime.

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The winter-themed activities included making their own “toss the snowball through the snowman” games to take home, making snowflake headbands, and watching everyone’s favourite movie (Frozen, of course) on a big screen almost like being at the movie theatre. It was quite spectacular to see 22 Sparks singing along to Let it Go with perfect diction and clarity!

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Girls also got to eat yummy pizza, sing their favourite campfire songs, and spend time dancing with a disco light.

They even went to bed at a reasonable hour, without very much fuss at all.

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It was a wonderful night of fun and friendship.

This was a very successful first sleepover for these units this year. Both groups look forward to taking their Sparks on more exciting outings, sleepovers, and camps throughout the year.

Sparks Enrollment

Burnaby Mountain’s newest unit, the 2nd Sparks, had their first ever enrollment ceremony today.

20151024-_MG_0637 Eight new girls were enrolled, plus one girl who was a Spark in another unit last year. Special guests, the new Burnaby Mountain District Commissioner and Deputy District Commissioner came for the event, as did several of the girls’ family members.20151024-_MG_0645The ceremony involved the girls sliding down the rainbow, just like the girl Crystal in the Sparks ceremony. Girls felt very special as they said their promise and got their first collection of badges, including their Sparks enrollment pin.

20151024-_MG_0652 Following the ceremony, girls and their guests got to enjoy some delicious cupcakes, fruit, and juice. It truly was a merry occasion.

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At the end of the day one dad remarked, of his daughter, “between all the rainbows, friendship, and sharing, it’s like this program was designed right around her!” It’s so great to see the girls enjoying the Sparks program. Welcome to Girl Guides, girls!

Sparks Dr. Seuss Themed Camp

It wouldn’t be Girl Guides without camping!

2013-05-21 11.55.07Most of the units in Burnaby Mountain went camping one way or another in the month of June. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) most of them were too busy having fun to spend much time snapping pictures. We were lucky enough to get some shots of the fun-loving 1st Sparks from their awesome Dr. Seuss themed camp at Camp Olave.

2013-05-21 11.58.25The Sparks had a great time reading stories, doing crafts, eating Seuss-themed food (green eggs and ham, anyone?), and doing all the other awesome camp activities like swimming, nature walks, and s’mores. In one activity, girls learned the foundations of building a good campfire by using edible materials — this girl was so proud of hers we needed to take a picture of it before she could eat the pieces!

Edible campfireThe girls hammed up for the camera at their Dr. Seuss seaside photo booth with fun props and Who Hair Dos.

2013-05-21 11.54.25Some of their favourite characters were Thing 1 and Thing 2 as well as The Lorax.

2013-05-21 11.54.42They also had a great time singing their campfire songs and making (and eating!) their s’mores.

2013-05-21 12.18.50At the end of the day, camp is mostly about the food, right?

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For many of these Sparks it was their first time doing a two night camp. The girls were very resilient and dealt with some challenges including late ferries that added a little bit of stress to the beginning of camp. But none of that slowed them down. The girls had a great time at Camp Olave and look forward to going back next year!

Sparks Do van Gogh

Last night the girls in the 1st Burnaby Mountain Sparks went to a 4 Cats art studio to participate in a painting workshop to recreate Vincent van Gogh’s famous masterpiece, Sunflowers.

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A wonderful art facilitator gave tips on drawing and painting the vase full of flowers. Girls were encouraged to think about warm colours and cool colours and to group those together to emphasize mood.

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The girls had a great time and produced some really awesome art. By the end of the night they had each made their very own acrylic painting with modeling paste on an 11″× 14″ pre-stretched canvas. The 1st Sparks love 4 Cats!