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26 Sep, Monday
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Montreal Families

Girl Guides getting with the times

The images associated with Girl Guides tend to be traditional ones: girls in uniforms selling cookies door-to-door and practising domestic skills. It’s an image the organization has carried for more than 100 years – it was founded in 1910 – and one that might make it look less than cutting edge.

Nothing can be farther from the truth, said Girl Guides provincial commissioner Valerie Zaloum.  Today’s Girl Guides may still wear uniforms and sell cookies – the organization is self-funded on registration fees and cookie sales – but they also practise leadership skills, budget and plan events, and travel the globe.

The badges they earn, which in decades past may have focused on domestic and farming skills, now include topics such as online safety, anti-bullying and technology, but a focus on camping, outdoor stewardship and community service remain.

“It’s the biggest all-girl, all-women social club out there,” Zaloum said. “The members build leadership skills in an environment of respect, where girls set the tone.”
Leah Suisson, 14, has been a member of Girl Guides for three years. Now a Pathfinder, she said she was originally attracted to Girl Guides because of the badges she could earn.

“I really liked trying new things,” she said. “And the nice thing about Guides is that you can do almost anything.”

A highlight of her guiding experience came this summer, when she travelled to Northern British Columbia as part of a jamboree called SOAR.

“I got to do so many things I could have never done in Montreal,” she said. “I shot a rifle, I went to a forest-fire fighting base and I met people from all over the world.”

She said that her experience with Girl Guides has helped her self-confidence and led to countless new friendships. She has her eye on attending another jamboree in three years and is already saving money and planning fundraisers to pay her way.

For more information, visit girlguides.ca/qc-en

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