The last few years have made it extra hard for kids to just be themselves.
With many activities cancelled or forced online, and interruptions to regularly scheduled programs throughout the pandemic, caregivers may think that childhood has been lost.
Girl Guides of Canada is trying to bring back the magic of childhood by creating a unique, safe space for exploration, curiosity, learning and play where girls from ages five to 17 can find fun, friendship and real experiences.
“Girl Guides is gaining in popularity because parents are looking for opportunities for girls to just be with friends and try new things they are excited about,” said Ashley Pamenter, Programs Team Lead at Girl Guides’ national office.
“Girl Guides is one of the few places where young girls don’t just come to study math or practice cartwheels. They come for the overall life experiences, to make friends, to be curious and learn problem solving skills, to build leadership skills and to advocate for themselves in a safe, friendly environment.”
Many Canadian women and girls have had experiences with Girl Guides over the years, and while the activities offered today may differ, the opportunity to make once-in-a-lifetime memories and build meaningful connections has remained the same. Today, girls in Guiding can take part in activities from STEM and scavenger hunts to community service projects and so much more that help them to be curious, adventurous and confident.
“We are really encouraging each girl to find her talents and explore new ones, says Pamenter. “Whether she’s designing a secret hideout, cooking over a campfire or playing games to practice speaking up for what she needs, she can follow her curiosity through activities designed with her in mind.”
While programming starts with Sparks for ages five and six, girls can join Guiding through:
- Brownies (7-8 years),
- Guides (9-11 years),
- Pathfinders (12-14 years),
- and Rangers (15-17 years).
Each age group, or branch, has distinct personal development benefits for girls at that age. As Pamenter points out that there are opportunities for girls to progress their skills as they move up.
“The programs all build on what participants have done before,” said Pamenter. “Camping is a really good example. Sparks might learn the basics of how to stay safe around a campfire and how to pack for camping. In Brownies they might learn how to build a fire. Guides would learn how to plan a camping trip, meal preparation, how to wash their dishes to avoid bacteria. They incorporate progressive learning skills throughout each unit.”
As a Girl Guide volunteer herself, Pamenter said she initially debated registering her own daughter into Brownies. It didn’t take long, however, to see the benefits her daughter has enjoyed as a result of her experiences.
“One of the things I realized is this is one of the few spaces where she gets to choose what she does and is one of the places where she gets exposed to things they don’t do in other places,” she said. “She’s learning conflict resolution skills and problem-solving skills. It gives her life skills she doesn’t get in other places. The other thing we love for her is being around kids her age and having role models to look up to. It’s so meaningful for kids to be surrounded by other kids with different experiences.”
Those interested in registering can find out more information and sign up at girlguides.ca/joinus.