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!

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!

Guides Build Bird Habitats

This year, as part of a Canada 150 initiative, Lee Valley stores across the country are inviting community groups to help make bird and bee houses. Loss of habitat for our birds and bees is a growing concern across Canada. Birds help keep the insect population in check, while bees are important pollinators for our plants. To help combat the habitat loss, Lee Valley Store is partnering with the community to build bird houses and bee houses.

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This week, the 56th Burnaby Mountain Guides had a great time contributing to this important ecological project!

The bird houses the group made will be going to the Surrey Parks department to provide homes for tree swallows. These very special homes feature a hole exactly the right size for tree swallows, but not for other species. To learn more about tree swallows, click here.

During the activity girls learned proper technique in using a hammer, screw driver, hand drill, plane, hand saw and a square; they also did the measurements to mark the spot to drill the hole, mark the corner cuts and mark the wood pieces to line up the walls evenly. New skills for everyone!

This was also a great chance for parents to lend a helping hand. Lots of moms and dads participated in this activity. It is so great to get to work on something together.

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A huge thank you to the people at Lee Valley who made this possible. Not only did the girls have fun and learn new skills, but it’s great to know that these bird habitats are going to be put to excellent use helping wildlife in our community. A few other Burnaby Mountain Units are taking advantage of this opportunity as well. Such a great project!

Sea-to-Sky Day Camp

Earlier this month Burnaby Mountain District hosted a day camp for girls from all branches at the beautiful Sea-to-Sky Gondola in Squamish, BC. We have already posted about some of the older girls going on an extended hike, and this post is about what the majority of the participants were up to that day.

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Everyone gathered at a local meeting spot to board school buses out to the gondola site. Once they got there, the girls split into groups and began working through a series of activities with Sea-to-Sky Gondola staff. The staff were so knowledgeable and they were great at working with the girls. Everybody learned a lot!

Much of the day involved hiking through different trails and checking out some of the highlights of the mountain. From the base, girls were brought to see the magnificent Shannon Falls.

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Riding the gondola was a great experience. Did you know the Sea-to-Sky gondola is the steepest gondola outside of Europe? The ride takes about 10 minutes and features incredible views of the surrounding area. The staff members also made sure to take time to show the girls some of the gondola mechanics, giving a cool engineering perspective to learn how the thing actually works.

At the top of the mountain girls got to go on another hike which featured a great lookout point to see The Chief mountain. The girls were surprised to see there was still quite a bit of snow up top.

We were incredibly lucky with the weather. Even though it had been rainy earlier in the week, we got excellent spring weather which made for a lovely day of walking about. For some of the Sparks and Brownies, this was the most hiking they had ever done!

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Another highlight of the site is the very cool suspension bridge. Even though some girls were a little bit nervous to cross it, everybody did great! On the other side of the bridge was another trail where girls got to do a Canada 150 themed scavenger hunt.

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A huge thank you to the Sea-to-Sky Gondola team who worked with us to make the day a success. The staff members were fantastic, the lunch was delicious, and girls had a great time! Offering this experience as a day camp was a great way to bring some outdoor adventure in a way more accessible for some girls who don’t prefer overnight experiences. We had a wonderful day!

Sports Hall of Fame & Museum Sleepover

Last month girls from all branches in Burnaby Mountain district gathered for a sleepover at the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.

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With so many girls involved in different sports at school or extra-curricularly, and living in a city with lots of great sports teams to be fans of made this a really exciting opportunity for girls and Guiders alike.

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Girls got a chance to explore the different parts of the museum, including an Olympic Zone and features about notable figures like Rick Hansen and Terry Fox. Staff from the museum led artifact explorations and a scavenger hunt to help girls learn about the items on display.

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Everybody especially enjoyed spending time in the participation zone which featured lots of fun hands-on sports activities and games. There was a climbing wall, foosball, a hockey shoot-out, ping-pong, a sprint track and more. This was a great place to be active and burn off some steam!

Evening activities also included a craft and a yummy pizza dinner. After a night-time movie everyone settled into their sleeping bags in the exhibit rooms.

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In the morning, the girls got to meet a local female athlete. Inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, Andrea Neil is best known for her contributions to the Canadian National Women’s Soccer Team (1990-2007). She retired after representing Canada internationally more than any other player, male or female. The girls really enjoyed listening to her speak — her presentation was informative, amusing, and really inspiring. This woman overcame a lot to make the achievements that she did, and several girls commented that meeting her was highlight of the event.

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Burnaby Mountain District is very thankful to the BC Sports Hall of Fame and Museum for hosting us. It was a fun event for everybody involved!

Guide Quilt to be Auctioned

The 22nd Burnaby Mountain Guides are thrilled to finally unveil a project that they’ve been working on for a long time: an original Girl Guide quilt!

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Over a year ago the unit found out about a collection of old Girl Guides of Canada uniform pieces that had been stored at Provincial Guide house but that no longer had any use. After confirming that the uniforms were not of interest to other committees, including the museum and archives, they decided they had to come up with a worthy project for this textile piece of Guiding history.

The idea was born to make the uniforms into a quilt. It seemed like a great idea… except for the fact that neither the girls nor their Guiders actually knew how to make a quilt.  The unit brainstormed some design ideas and sought out some expert advise from family and community members.

As an ongoing service project, units in Burnaby Mountain District take turns going to LJ Christmas Manor, a local senior’s residence, for monthly visits. When the 22nd Guides had their turn, they decided to appeal to the seniors for help. In September 2016 with the help of the residents of the manor, they dismantled the uniforms, removed the buttons, and cut the fabric into usable squares. It was a great hands-on project to engage the seniors and it was great to see the girls working with them on a task.

Then, the group reached out to some local West Coast Area Trefoil members to help with the next steps. In January 2017, with the guidance of these experienced quilters the girls helped lay out the quilt and did some of the sewing at their unit meeting. A huge thank you goes out to Guider Nancy who took the quilt home to help with putting the last bits together on her sewing machine.

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Almost done, the quilt came back to a Guide meeting in March 2017 for the girls to put on the finishing touches, which included sewing on buttons for decoration. In addition to the old Guiding uniforms and scarves, the quilt also features commemorative crests from Lady BP’s 100 club, 100 years of Girl Guides in Canada, Thinking Day,  the four original world centres, and West Coast Area.

The quilt is going to be auctioned off at the Trefoil Guild Rendezvous, happening April 28-30 2017 in Richmond, BC. Proceeds from the sale will be donated to the Canadian World Friendship Fund.

Guides Trip to Victoria

Last weekend the 22nd Guides took a trip to Victoria, BC to see the sites, have fun, and experience a great Guiding adventure.

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These girls have been planning this trip for about a year and have done extra fundraising and lots of planning sessions to make it the best trip it could be. Clearly their hard work paid off because they had a blast!

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The trip started with a Friday morning bus ride from Pacific Central Station to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal. Once they made it to the island they found their way to South Vancouver Island Guide House, a Girl Guide property, which was their home base for the weekend.

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Then it was time for exploration! Over the next couple of days the Guides explored the city. From attractions like miniature world, to shopping at the famous Munro’s Bookstore, to the Royal BC provincial museum, and beyond!

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One of the highlights of the trip was the tour of the BC legislature. A very knowledgeable tour guide informed the group about the role of the Legislative Assembly and MLAs and the history of both the province of British Columbia and of the Parliament Buildings. They even got to visit part of the building not normally accessible to the public! The tour guide gave them lots of cool tidbits of information and was even happy to take this commemorative photo of the girls inside.

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Meals on the trip included a supper at the Old Spaghetti Factory plus a chance to go grocery shopping at a local store for food they could make back at the Guide House.

Visiting all the awesome sites like Chinatown, the waterfront, and monuments, and staying out late into the evening made the group hungry!

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By the time they got home on Sunday afternoon the group was exhausted. But everyone had lots of fun, making Guiding memories to last a lifetime.

Guides Look to the Stars

Earlier this month, for one of their regular weekly meetings the girls from our 56th Burnaby Mountain Guides went on an outing to the Trottier Observatory at Simon Fraser University.

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This was a great opportunity to see some first rate astronomy equipment and learn all about the stars from a very knowledgeable tour guide. The observatory features a six-meter-diameter dome housing a 0.7-metre diameter reflector telescope that is capable of tracking distant galaxies billions of years old. Unfortunately, the girls were not able to look through the telescope due to cloud cover and high chance of rain — the very fancy telescope cannot get wet.

One highlight of the tour was when they got to press the button to turn the closed dome around – it was very cool! The tour guide showed them many images on the monitor that had been captured using the telescope – stars, planets, galaxies, nebulas. Some of these images captured by the telescope can be viewed on the observatory’s website, here.

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Other awesome things to enjoy at the observatory include the beautiful outdoor light displays of seasonal sky maps and the ROYGBIV light spectrum. The Guides were really interested in this event and had non-stop questions. Everyone learned a lot! It was an excellent hands-on STEM activity that tied directly into Guide program.

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Burnaby Mountain District is very lucky to have this world class university right on our doorstep. Many of our leaders are SFU students or alumni and are keen to share these opportunities with the girls. SFU also holds star parties that are open to the public — the Guides highly recommend this activity to anyone interested in learning more about the night sky. Check out the observatory website for more info.

Happy Holidays from Burnaby Mountain District

Wishing you and yours a joyful holiday season, whichever way you choose to celebrate it. May you find joy, happiness, and peace with family and friends. Guiding in Burnaby Mountain will pick up again in the new year. 

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Above are the girls from the University Highlands Guiding group showing off their crafty reindeer ornaments and a wreath made from all of their hand prints on which they wrote things that they love about the holidays and about Guiding.

See you in 2017!

Awesome Science Guest Speakers

In Burnaby Mountain District we are lucky enough to have access to lots of great guest speakers who are available to come in to speak to our girls about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). With close access to universities, museums, and other programs, we are fortunate enough to have lots of ways to expose our girls to these exciting subjects.

Recently the girls in the 24th Brownies applied to a Science World’s program where they send a professional scientist to your group. They had a chemist named Allyssa, who develops colours and formulas for gel nail polish for a living, volunteer to do a presentation on polymers for the girls.

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She started off with a bang, lighting some powders on fire. Next she did a trick where she poured some water into one of three cups, moved them around and had the girls tell her which one the water was in. When they were sure, she dumped the cup over her head, and nothing came out – and tried this with all three. Of course, she hadn’t disclosed that there was a polymer in the cup with the water, which absorbed the water and turned into into a spongy substance. Then she made fake snow, and lastly gave the girls these squishy little balls called Orbeez. Of course she briefly explained the science behind her demonstrations. The girls really enjoyed her presentation.

And this week, in the University Highlands Guiding group, the unit got a presentation from Let’s Talk Science, the same group that organized our District Science Day last year. For this unit of mixed Brownies and Guides, the SFU scientists led the girls in an activity where they got to extract DNA from strawberries! The hands-on learning was a great way to show the girls the science that exists around us every single day.

An important part of our programming STEM is always a hit with our girls. Stay tuned throughout the year for more examples of how girls learn all about the world around them and how this knowledge and these skills can be applied in on-going passions and careers.