We all have to start somewhere. For me, my love of camping and being outdoors were forged in tents, and on the shores of Lake Erie. From ages 7 to 16, I attended a Girl Guide summer camp for at least a week. These were not the type of camps we think of today.
We were up close and personal with nature. Our tents were canvas with a plywood floor (if you were lucky) and when they rained, you got wet. If you didn’t get your bedroll right, everything got wet. Where the lawnmower couldn’t reach, there were wild animals, from lady bugs to mice to rabbits to birds to frogs. When the waves got large on the beach, the lifeguards flipped the fish back into the water and insisted you still had to get wet – at least to your knees.
We played large field games, and we roamed free-range around the camp property. We completed badges, although it didn’t feel like work, it felt like fun. The activities on what we did grow hazy. I do remember arts and crafts shrinky dink art and Rexlace were always popular, and almost every activity we did required walking somewhere else.
In all of that, there were lessons. Ones on leadership when you had to lead your work team to do your daily duty when they didn’t want to get anywhere near a porta-potty. Ones on friendship and compassion when you learned about new people and included them. There were outdoor skills we learnt from how to survive to making really neat twig hangers from your socks out of branches. I discovered how to tie a variety of knots, which came in handy from hoisting the Canadian flag to learning how to rock climb later. Crafts, crafts, galore taught me flexibility and how to think outside-the-box, and the value of creativity.
When I went up for my Gold camping badge, I had to plan an entire camping weekend for myself and two others. I had to take into consideration their physical health, what things they liked and did not, and come up with a plan. These lessons stick with me into camping with my young family even now.
In all of the program, from the craftiness and love of DIY, to love of the outdoors has inspired me to become who I am now. It lead me down a road that loves outdoors, camping and eventually lead to my career in recreation. So to all the many Guiders who volunteered as my leader, you made a difference.
And now, I’m teaching my kids.
Were you a girl guide? Are you still involved in guiding? Tell me more in the comments below!
I did not receive any compensation for writing this post. Just many years of volunteers made me into the person who I am, and I want to share the love on Guiding!