Girl Guides have been around in the Valley since the 1970s. After a hiatus due to the pandemic, they are back in Ormstown, Huntingdon, and Howick this year. There are still spots available for Sparks, Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders, and Rangers.
Renee Sabetta-Cavers grew up in the Valley participating in all levels of Guiding. She is now a leader for the Ormstown meetings and explains that “Every night is different. It could be a crafty night or programming badges. We do touch on some things about self-awareness.” They try their best to let the girls themselves lead the sessions. They can be silly, or they can be serious; it’s up to the participants. “Their program work is based around them. Their imaginations and their ways of looking at things bring up the creativity in them.”
Sabetta-Cavers says that the Huntingdon and Ormstown Guides teamed up last year for a camp during the weekend of September 24, with 19 campers and four leaders, as a way for the different groups to meet. They hope to offer many joint outings, since the groups work very well together. Coming up, they will be visiting Morin Heights for a “district camp” from May 26 to 28. Participating Guides will be coming from districts in Ontario to Saint-Bruno to Sherbrooke.
This year, the Girl Guides sold their famous chocolate and vanilla cookies throughout April. They are hoping to organize a bottle drive as well. COVID put a halt to the bottle drives, but Sabetta-Cavers hopes they will make a reappearance this year, probably in the fall.
A space to be themselves
Sabetta-Cavers says, “I think it’s very important for the girls to have somewhere for them to go, where they can be themselves … You get a shy girl, you can see her really open up just within the meetings. [And] it’s a good learning tool for them to be out in the community.” As well, having the girls lead the meetings means they depart excited to brainstorm and come back with lots of ideas for next time.
Guiding also provides opportunities for girls in their education. “When members of Guiding start CEGEP, college, or university, there are scholarships available,” Sabetta-Cavers says. Plus, the opportunity to do national and international camps allows the girls to meet people from around the world and gives them a chance to travel and learn.
This year, you can find Guide meetings in Howick on Mondays, 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the Pink School; in Ormstown on Tuesdays, 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Village Church; and in Huntingdon on Thursdays, 6:15 to 7:15 p.m. at Heritage Elementary School. Enrollment and engagement have risen this year, which is great for the leaders to see. Folks can try a “try now, pay later” model for their girls to give it a try and see if it’s for them. Sabetta-Cavers emphasizes that all are welcome to join at any point, and there is no cutoff date for new girls to join. The Guides are also always happy to help out with community organizations when they’re needed.