The Girl Guides of Canada launched their centennial celebration over the past weekend, recognizing the 1910 foundation of the organization in Canada, with the first troop established in St. Catharines, Ontario.
Across Canada, various government organizations are gearing up to help the Girl Guides of Canada (GGC) celebrate this milestone in 2010. Among the notable events announced to date are 100 on the Hill (where Senators and Members of Parliament will recognize Guiding at an event on Parliament Hill, home of Canada’s national government), a commemorative stamp to be released by Canada Post in July and Guiding Mosaic 2010 which will see 5,000 Guides from Canada and the world camping together in Guelph, Ontario. Everything kicked off this past Saturday with a day long national launch party at Toronto’s Casa Loma, an event that organizers were expecting to attract some 4,000 guests. For cookie fans, there is a special anniversary edition box holding the updated, trans fat-free versions of the ubiquitous cookies.
The US organization will be looking to 2013 as its Centennial (the first US troop was founded in 1912 in Savannah, Georgia), but in 2009 Michele Obama was named the Honorary President of Girl Scouts of the USA and on October 29, 2009, President Barack Obama signed the Girl Scout Commemorative Coin Act, which will see the US Mint releasing 350,000 silver coins in 2013 with $10 for each coin sold going to the organization.
Guiding is aimed at virtually all age groups:
Sparks (ages 5-9)
Brownies (ages 7-8)
Guides (ages 9-11)
Pathfinders (ages 12-14)
Rangers (ages 15-17)
My daughter -currently a Guide- has been involved with the organization since she was in Sparks. Besides getting out weekly and being involved with an organization that allows her to interact with lots of kids her own age (outside of school and her immediate circle of friends) while encouraging volunteerism and skill building, she’s been able to participate in some wonderful experiences, including multiple camping trips and an overnight stay at the Ontario Science Centre.
I have two sons who are part of the Scouting movement as well, but I find the Guides seem more modern in attitude than Scouting, specifically in the rituals and promises the members are expected to participate in. While I have no opposition to religion (to each their own), specific references to God still make their way into the scouting rituals; my opinion is that religion should be kept at arms length in what is supposed to be a secular organization. The current Guides promise is tailored to a more inclusive and I’m far more comfortable with it. I wouldn’t be surprised that this change and recognition of a multi-faith community is a major reason why the Girl Guide events we attend generally seem to be a little more multicultural than the Boy Scout versions.
“I promise to do my best,
To be true to myself, my beliefs and Canada.
I will take action for a better world
And respect the Guiding Law.”
Unfortunately, the past few years have been difficult on the Girl Guides of Canada, with the national organization currently faced with the prospect of selling 16 of 33 Guide-operated camps across the province of Ontario to combat a reported $1.3 million (Cdn) annual camp operating deficit. While that news has been disappointing, here’s hoping that 2010 marks the start of a turnaround for the Girl Guides of Canada.