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Posts Tagged ‘Girl Guides’

This past weekend I brought my Pathfinders canoe tripping in Algonquin Park. It was a wonderful weekend & like most weekends like this a big reminder of how much I love it.

The downside of the weekend was that I got our two smallest, weakest paddlers making it a much less relaxing paddle for me.

We lucked out with terrific weather. Very light wind, a lightening storm at night with no rain & warm, sunny days. Perfect.

The water was beautiful for swimming. There wasn't even that gasping moment of "oh my it's cold" when you first got in. Beautiful!

My one complaint about the weekend was my inability to sleep well. This is something that has been plaguing me lately when camping & something I don’t want to admit, but I just struggle to get comfortable outside of my comfortable bed full of pillows. Sigh. One day I’ll find a set up that works & does not require dragging 4 pillows into the back country.

The upside to not sleeping is well is I get to enjoy a beautiful, peaceful morning in Algonquin - something I'd normally sleep through!

We had our own special encounters with wildlife which is always special for the girls. We saw lots of birds, snakes, frogs & mosquitoes! And on our way out of the park a young black bear.

This mama loon was my favourite part of the weekend. We saw her on the way in & on our way out she was still patiently sitting on her nest, keeping her eggs warm. She was very unthreatened by us & seemed to just want a nap but it made me teary how good a mama she was taking care of her little ones. So much harder to gestate your babes in eggs than in your belly!

On our way out of the park we stopped at the Barron Canyon trail to show the girls what we were thinking of for next year. So beautiful! Luckily we made it there about 20 minutes before the busload of scouts so it was a peaceful little hike.

I admit I have not paddled the canyon myself yet & look forward to the scenic route.

And most exciting this was the inaugural trip for my paddle a good friend carved for me.

I spent a lot of time in my slooooow moving canoe admiring my paddle dipping through the water.

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This past weekend a friend & I went backpacking in Algonquin. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for some time & then when we were having our beginning of the year planning session for Girl Guides she kept saying she wanted to go backpacking so I jumped on the opportunity.

We decided to do the Highland Trail leaving out of Mew Lake. We headed out Friday as early as we could but apparently it wasn’t early enough. The park said we arrived just in time ’cause no one was allowed to depart after 7:00pm but we’re thinking they need to reassess that timing as unless you are a serious runner there is no chance you can get in to the first set of campsites before dark.

So we hiked for about an hour & a half until it was quite dark. As we passed by Starling Lake the trail turned & headed directly UP & we decided that that was enough. We lucked out with just enough space between the trail & the lake to place our tent. A quick meal & it was time for bed.

Unfortunately neither of us slept well that night. You see Starling Lake was not labelled on our map so we weren’t 100% sure where along the trail we were. Did we pass the campsite or not make it that far? Plus just after we crawled in we heard a loud “Ka-splash” – damn bear threw a giant rock in the water! Ok – not really but neither one of us can figure out what the heck we heard & there was no other sound before or after.

Beautiful Starling Lake - much more inviting in the light of day.

In the morning we had a quick breakfast of oatmeal & tea & then hit the trail. As we suspected when we reached the top of the hill there was a trail sign but in the end we were glad we had stopped the night before as it was still a little ways to our intended campsite.

We followed this moose most of the day. It became a bit of a game to watch for her prints.

We had amazing weather – most of Saturday was overcast & cool. But we sweat enough to keep ourselves warm!

My friend kept us going at a good pace. Please note that this is not representative of the type of trail we were on - this was just one of the few areas I could safely walk & take a picture without risking an ankle.

I obviously need to work on my map skills. There was no problem in keeping to the trail but knowing where along the trail we were we found challenging. Most of the trail was through fairly dense forest so there were not a lot of landmarks to go by.

The Madawaska River as it heads into Head Lake was a welcome sight!

When we got to our site on Head Lake we were happy to stop & set up camp. We got everything set up & a snack into us before the rain started. Perfect timing! We crawled into the tent for a nap & a few hands of Gin.

We had an amazing supper of spaghetti made with dehydrated ground beef & mushrooms & tomatoe sauce leather - all of which I dried myself. So yummy! Mind you everything tastes amazing when camping!

After the rain we had supper & enjoyed a beautiful, sunny evening before a good night’s sleep.

Happy to see the sunshine come out!

Sunday we had the trail we had covered both Friday & Saturday to cover plus the drive home so we tried to get an early start to the day. We headed out about 8:00am hoping to make it back to the car in the early afternoon.

You've got to love a misty morning when you're lake side.

Most magical thing we saw all weekend (sorry for the poor photo) was this misty clearing. All the trees were full of spider webs all sparkly with rain water.

Nature's decoration.

Are you ready for the not so impressive stats? We hiked 1.5 hours on Friday night, 3 hours & 20 minutes on Saturday (plus 40 minutes in breaks) & 4 hours & 20 minutes on Sunday (plus 40 minutes in breaks).

Top priority on breaks after water? Foot care! Take care of those hot spots when they start & they won't become blisters.

We covered 26.5km over the weekend averaging about 2.5km/hour. Coming back on Sunday I counted the hills & we mountain goated up 19 hills (4 we decided were “small” so 17 might be more accurate) averaging slightly more than one hill every 15 minutes. So when the Algonquin website tells you a trail is challenging it should be believed!

Taking a much deserved break at the only lookout point we passed.

It's still too early for the fall colours - guess I'll need to make another trip out later in the season.

Although the trek was definitely challenging & muscles felt it I am definitely pleased with my fitness level. The weight I want to lose is still hanging on but I most definitely have improved my cardio & strength to a point that I am proud of.

And I seem to FINALLY be mastering the art of clothing packing. I used every piece of clothing I brought except my rain pants. No extras! But I must remember to bring a complete change of clothes to leave in the car to wear home.

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Ok – I’ve been away from here for a long time. Partly ’cause I’ve been at camp for the past 2 weeks & partly ’cause the outdoors have called with lovely weather for the weeks before that. I’m sorry – I will try to reform my ways.

So I just returned from Guiding Mosaic 2010 where I worked as the co-lead for waterfront.

There were many things (outside of my control I must add) that did not go well, but I really don’t want to dwell on those things.

There were many things that went fabulously as well.

I co-lead waterfront with my friend Bert & I couldn’t have asked for a better partner. We balanced each other beautifully & I don’t believe at any point we had a conflict. We were able to make decisions on behalf of one another without worry of upsetting each other or disagreement. I would work with her again in a heartbeat!

Bert takes a moment to go for a short paddle.

Our team was equally wonderfully. With 41 Guiders & Rangers working with us there was potential for some tough times as well as wonderful but it never really happened. We had no major conflicts between personalities & for the most part everyone worked hard to make the camp a success (at least as far as waterfront was concerned).

Thankfully many of our team came over prepared with equipment which really saved us when much of the supplies & equipment we ordered didn’t turn up (can I reiterate this was out of our control?!).

I was so excited before camp to meet the women I had been interviewing by phone & corresponding with via e-mail. They seemed so wonderful from a distance & I was not disappointed in person!

Somehow a request for red mesh tanks turned into cotton candy pink long-sleeved t's. Ah well - at least you could tell who was on our team.

From their upbeat attitudes despite the “glitches” in equipment & supply requisitioning & scheduling to their get ‘er done spirits I was impressed. I was especially touched when the kayaking & canoeing groups decided they could offer a fourth session time most days to give more people a chance to paddle & then offered an evening paddle for adults a couple nights.

Just a few of our boats out on the water.

Even when our beach was shutdown due to water quality the lifeguards cheerfully helped us relocate our free swims to another beach with better water.

Our waterfront was pretty but being in a somewhat protected bay full of geese & gulls & a heat wave meant our water quality was not ideal.

Even the fact that despite the heat & sunny days we had we didn’t lose any of our team to heat or sun related illness was a testament to the quality of these women. I was impressed everyone kept themselves hydrated & practiced good sun safety (don’t get me wrong we had some burns but nothing major), even our Ranger members who were trying to get themselves a good tan.

We got our share of heat but we also got our share of storms! This one had us literally holding down our waterfront "marquee" for fear it would fly off leaving us all even wetter!

One of the things I find most inspiring about Guiding is the women I meet. I think with most other groups of people under the same stresses & disorganization things would have ultimately fell apart. Instead everyone pulled together & worked hard to do whatever they could do to make it come together (even if that meant some covert acquiring of supplies!).

From improvising buoy lines with string (instead of rope) & empty detergent bottles to figuring out how to repair the antennae on the weather radio that got stepped on during a busy rush to get everything safely stowed before a quick upon us storm this group knew how to get things done!

I am really proud to be able to say the waterfront team did everything we could to provide a great program & give as many girls as possible the opportunity to enjoy the water. I don’t believe anyone could accuse us of being inflexible or hard to work with.

Right up to the last day when I made a long list of things to do to shutdown waterfront everyone chipped in. I didn’t even need to follow up on our shutdown to do list ’cause someone else took over the responsibility of crossing off everything that was done!

In the end I think we ended up having a pretty good time & I definitely made some new friends.

Now, how to get us altogether again so we can go tripping together?!

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This weekend I went “camping” with my Girl Guides. Normally I try to make our winter camp weekends an outside all weekend event but I was not taking the lead on this one so most of our activities were planned for inside. Perhaps I should call it a winter event instead of winter camp.

But we did get outside for some snowshoeing (which really was kind of ridiculous as we only have about 6 inches of crusty snow on the ground with a very little sprinkling of fluffy stuff. The girls had a great time with it though & that is the whole point afterall.

They're not walking on top of the snow due to the snowshoes - regular boots would have accomplished the same.

Much to my delight the girls were very keen on being outside & we skipped a craft session in the afternoon to play sardines – my favourite wide game. It’s a variation on hide & seek where only one person hides. Everyone else looks for them & as each individual finds the hidden person they join them. Keep going until everyone has found the hidden individual. It’s better at night but the girls could not get enough of it in the afternoon.

Time in the forest is good for the spirit.

We agreed that after supper we would head back outside to play sardines a little longer (at this age the girls tend to want to play the SAME games over & over & over….). The plan was supposed to be no fire – but I overruled that decision & got one going. Diaperbutt was delighted with campfire singing – especially the action songs!

These weekend trips are one of the things I love best about Guiding. I much prefer a true camping trip but a weekend hanging out with the girls, joking with them, teaching them new skills & listening to their giggling is always revitalizing to the spirit.

Flashlights apparently are a fabulous toy!

And Diaperbutt thought the whole thing was just fabulous. Grumpy Bear came to get him after breakfast & dropped him off again after supper but while he was with us he was a pretty happy boy, afterall he had a room full of girls all doting on him!

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2010 is the 100th anniversary of Guiding in Canada!! We will be celebrating with all sorts of activities with the biggest being Guiding Mosaic 2010. I am super excited to be attending this event as the Co-Lead for Waterfront with my good friend Bert!

I attended Canadian Mosaic ’99 in New Brunswick as a lifeguard & Guiding Mosaic ’06 as a patrol guider & part-time lifeguard. Both experiences were absolutely fabulous, memorable events.

Bert & I have been working on getting our team in place (of course we are still needing lifeguards!) & planning out the details of the waterfront, but really I’m most excited for when everyone arrives in Guelph next July.

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