Sparks Visit Seniors

Burnaby Mountain District is thrilled to have a great relationship with nearby seniors residence LJ Christmas Manor. Every month a unit visits there to share some Guiding spirit with the older adults who live there. The residence always provides a lovely snack of juice and cookies and the girls provide some entertainment and socialization. The residents always appreciate the visit, some of them looking forward to the event every month.

Last month the 1st and 2nd Sparks visited together. The visit happened to occur on February 22nd, which of course is World Thinking Day, a very special day for Girl Guides. The leaders spoke to the girls and the residents a little bit about the history of Guiding and then sang some favourite campfire tunes to celebrate. Some of the residents even joined in when they sang “Quartermaster’s Store” which is a very traditional song.

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Then the girls and residents paired up to play an exciting game of Sparks Bingo! Words associated with Sparks were called out and the players had to find and dab those words on their cards. These Sparks words included “sharing,” “friendship,” “Crystal,” “promise,” “sleepovers,” and “crafts.” The prize for the bingo games was a package of radish seeds, which happened to fit in great with the “grow” theme that had been decided upon by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts for this year’s World Thinking Day.

Everyone was amused to see just how much of a mess five and six year olds can make while using a bingo dabber.

It was a fun evening! Other groups that have visited the manor this year have done activities including skits, games, dancing, and quilting. We love the opportunity to share these moments and memories with others in the community. A huge thank you to the staff at LJ Christmas Manor for allowing us to come in each month.

Program fun

All units in Burnaby Mountain are back and meeting after the holiday break. Units are busy planning great adventures for the rest of the year including camps, sleepovers, trips, outings, community service, and more. Many units are taking advantage of the cold, wet, weather to focus on the exciting and enriching Girl Guides of Canada program materials designed for our girls.

At this week’s meeting the 47th Brownies tackled the Famous Five challenge, in which the girls learned about the five women who took part in the “Persons Case.”  In this famous legal battle, five women successfully convinced the British Empire’s highest court that several Canadian governments were wrong when they interpreted the British North America Act to mean that women were not “persons.” This is a great way to introduce Brownies to the important topics of politics, activism, and women’s rights.

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As a part of the challenge the Brownies invited a local female politician to talk to the girls about our right (and duty!) to vote and to be involved in change. The girls also decorated stylish 1920’s style hats, such as may have been worn by Nellie McClung and the other pioneers of women’s rights in Canada. The above photo shows the girls posing in their hats with the special guest.

On the very same day, the girls in the 2nd Sparks learned about life in another country important to the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts — Switzerland! The girls had a blast playing a game where they pretended to ski around the hall and watched the Lonely Goatherd puppet show scene from The Sound of Music. Pictured below are the girls performing a concert with their homemade alpen horns. Switzerland is awesome! Maybe some of these girls will one day visit the WAGGGS World Centre in Switzerland, which is called Our Chalet.

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These are just some of the amazing activities being led by our creative and enthusiastic volunteers here in Burnaby Mountain. Every week our girls are engaging in creativity, self-discovery, and hands on learning about the world around them… and all in a safe, empowering environment!

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!

NZ map

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!

District Thinking Day: Connecting

February 27th Burnaby Mountain District came together to celebrate World Thinking Day. Following the lead from the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) we took a “Connect” theme and decided to connect as a district while also connecting with the community. The focus of the event was a food bank drive for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank done in the style of a can art construction competition.

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Each unit had been working for the past few months on collecting non-perishable foods, mostly in cans, in preparation for the event. Girls took time to consider their donations and to plan a sculpture that took into consideration a Guiding theme (so we could also connect with worldwide Guiding!). At Saturday’s event, the girls worked together, showing great cooperation, to assemble their sculptures.

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Sparks, Brownies, and Guides had a great time building with the canned goods. Older girls got involved in other ways. One Ranger took the lead coordinating the donation drop off with the food bank and lead a team of dedicated Pathfinders and Rangers in tasks like assembling and filling the boxes, and arranging to have the goods dropped off at the local fire department, which would hold the donations until the Food Bank could arrange pickup on Monday morning.

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Pathfinders and Rangers also helped to run the bake sale, which was a fundraiser for the upcoming district camp, and also the WAGGGS inspired “Connect” picture frame activity, which helped some units complete their WAGGGS Thinking Day 2016 Challenge.

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Congratulations to the 49th Guides who won the sculpture competition with their trefoil-inspired piece. The unit won some funds for unit activities and each girl got a small prize.

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The real winner, of course, was the Greater Vancouver Food Bank which got a donation of more than 800 cans and other items (including a good number of Girl Guide Cookies!). Thank you to everyone who donated, and who helped to pack and move the boxes. We also want to thank the City of Burnaby, which donated cool prize packs for every participant including a pin, pencil, and chocolate treat.

 

Happy Thinking Day!

Today is World Thinking Day. February 22nd is celebrated as the joint birthdays of Lord and Lady Baden-Powell and has become a day for our 10 million members to think about each other and our history and all the amazing things that we do for girls worldwide.

This year, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) decided we should celebrate Thinking Day with a theme of “Connect” — connect with ourselves, connect with our friends, connect with WAGGGS, and connect with the world. Many of our units are working on the World Thinking Day Challenge this week and will be earning a special crest.

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Three Brownies and a Guider wearing the uniforms to school

To encourage us to connect with our communities, the WAGGGS challenge and West Coast Area have both challenged us to proudly wear our Guiding uniforms out in the community, to school, or to work.

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District Commissioner Bethany in uniform at work

Burnaby Mountain District will be hosting a special World Thinking Day celebration this coming Saturday which will include a massive food bank service project. Units will be engaging in friendly competition, building can art sculptures on a Guiding theme and then donating their collected goods to the local food bank.

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Stay tuned to find out how that event goes — we’re pretty excited about it. Some girls, such as the 2nd Sparks above, have been hard at work practicing the can art sculptures.

Happy World Thinking Day from Burnaby Mountain District!

 

Guider Participates in UN Commission on the Status of Women

Earlier this year one of our Guiders took part in an amazing opportunity where she was able to represent Girl Guides (and women, more generally) on the world stage. Saffina, a leader of the 47th Brownies, attended the 57th Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations, New York as a WAGGGS youth delegate. She was selected at the national level to participate in this event because of her dedication to Guiding as well as her personal accomplishments. Saffina majored in Women’s Studies and minored in Islamic History. She currently works at a local rape crisis center and crisis line as well as a youth detox facility and therefore has an ample understanding of the challenges girls and women face every day and their value to society. What an amazing role model to our girls!

activismLike many of the Guiders who take part in international opportunities, Saffina says that one of the highlights of her experience was meeting the other members from around the world. The delegation also featured World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) members from countries ranging from Pakistan to Malawi — a total of 13 countries were represented.

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The delegation focussed on educating others and lobbying globally for girls rights in all aspects of life by promoting the “Stop the Violence” campaign. Saffina invites you to add your voice to this campaign by visiting http://www.wagggsworld.org/en/take_action/violence.

Saffina’s incredible contribution has already been featured on the Girl Guides of Canada national blog. See what she wrote about her trip here. You can also check out more information about the Commission on the Status of Women WAGGGS delegation here. The other members of her district are extremely proud of her. We couldn’t have asked for a better representative for such an important event.

A Season in Sangam

We finally got a chance to sit down and talk to Chelsea, a Guider with the 1st Sparks and 54th Brownies about the time she spent as a volunteer at the World Centre Sangam, in Pune, India, last fall. She has been touring many local units to share her story, and here she has answered some questions and shared some pictures.

Can you tell us about your programme? What did a typical day look like?

The progamme was 12 weeks (Aug. 25 – Nov. 11). There were four others who did the 12 week programme as well. We were called “Tare”, meaning star in Hindi. The first two weeks was orientation so we were participants in an event, learning about Indian culture and learning how to get a rickshaw. The rest of the weeks we went to our community partner. I went to Door Step School four days (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday) a week from about 10:00 to 4:00. I would wake up about 7:30 and have breakfast at 8:30. 9:30 we would set out to our site. In the mornings I would hang out and lead activities for the younger children and then there was lunch at about 12:30. The children would leave at 1:00 to go home and come back at 2:00. From 2:00 to about 4:00 I would try to teach English to the older children. I would come back to Sangam at about 4:30 and have dinner at 6:30. On Wednesdays we would have cultural lessons, including Hindi class. The teachers and children knew only a very little bit of English so communication was hard!

Children from the Doorstep Program

Children from the Doorstep Program

 What made you decide to apply for a trip like this?

I wanted to do something that would challenge myself. I also want to learn about all the cultures that I can and I wanted to live in another country.

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Chelsea’s freshly applied Mehendi, an Indian tradition

What was the application procedure like?

The application process was relatively easy. You just need to find the application forms on Sangam’s website under Community Programme (http://www.sangamworldcentre.org/en/programmes/cp01) and fill them out. There’s a form that the applicant has to fill out and a reference form for their references. Send them to Sangam by the deadline and then you are all done the application. It took quite a while for Sangam to respond to me about whether or not I got through, but when I did I was so excited!

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Art called Rangoli created on the ground to celebrate Ghandi’s birthday

What was the best part of living/volunteering in India?

The best part about living in India was the people. The kids and teachers at site were amazing. They were so happy and willing to bond with you. I got to know everyone and how special they were. It made me so happy to go to site everyday, knowing that I could be changing these children’s lives. Both me and the teachers cried when I left on the last day at site.

What was the best part about staying at a world centre for so long?

I got to talk to Guiding and Scouting people from all over the world and I learned so much about them. I met people from Kenya, Ireland, Denmark, England, Costa Rica, USA and Australia, just to name a few. I also met people from across Canada too so I got to learn what they did. The two other Canadians that I met were from Ontario so we talked about things like the new uniform, on-line registration and Safe Guide. It was really neat to learn that in many countries Scouts and Guides do things together so there are co-ed units and events.

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Chelsea with another Guiding Tare volunteer, Meg, from the UK on Sangam’s beautiful grounds

Do you think this experience changed you as a person, or changed the way you think about Guiding?

I think this has changed me as a person. I am more aware than ever of the extreme poverty that there is in other places in the world. There are so many people in slums in India. There are even legal and illegal slums! This experience has made me appreciate all that I have, and everything that I have a right to. For many women in India even primary schooling is unattainable because people think that educating women is useless. The role that women play is that of housewife and many people do not think they need education in order to do that job. The Indian culture is totally different than in Canada.

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Chelsea has been busy visiting units to talk about her trip

What advice do you have for other girls or women considering an international Guiding experience?

I encourage everyone to go on an international Guiding trip. I have learned so much about different cultures and about myself as well. I never realized how much I could actually do. Going through things like language barriers and extreme culture shock is hard, but I managed to overcome them. I would advise to be cautious of the culture shock though, especially if you go somewhere like India. There is so much poverty and inequalities in India that you have to be mature enough to handle those issues. But like I said, I do encourage people to go out and travel. You learn so much and I had an amazing time with lifelong memories and pictures!