Archive for the ‘Summer Camp’ Category

This is a continuation on my series on SOAR 2014. See also SOAR 2014: Pre-Camp Adventures.

I’m back from Spirit of Adventure Rendezvous (SOAR) which was hosted by Girl Guides of British Columbia during that last couple of weeks in July. I went as Core Staff and had a terrific time. It was HARD. Really HARD work. With long hours, early rising times with limited breaks. But it was extremely rewarding to work together for a common Guiding goal.

Packing and equipment

Be Prepared is a heavy burden for someone who is packing for a camp like this…but BP needs to be balanced against what a person can reasonably carry.

The best advice I  got was to read the kit list early and to keep an eye out for things you can get second hand, on sale or as a loan. In this case, you’ll be in a tent for approximately 10 days and upgraded/quality pieces are going to make a difference in your happiness level at camp. The kit lists from the camp committee are pretty general – some explanation may be required. I’m not the expert…but these are my thoughts. rollacot

  • A sleeping cot. Being able to sleep high off the ground is a wonderful luxury.  A cot helps keep the tent tidy because you can tuck your gear underneath.
    I currently use a lightweight Roll-A-Cot. It is a little more expensive than others around.  It is light but solid.
    You can get a standard army cot like this Broadstone Cot from Canadian Tire – it is heavy and that’ll be tougher (but not impossible) to ship on an airplane.
  • Bedding –  When I packed for SOAR, Enderby was in a heat wave with temps in the 38C range. Based on that, I packed only my summer (+10C) sleeping bag. When I got to camp, the first night was quite warm but after that, overnights were in the 12C range and I wished I had a warmer bag.61SsZ-Z2ACL._SY450_ Next time I will take either a summer bag with a fleece liner OR a mid-range autumn bag. I will also bring a fitted twin sheet and a flat sheet to go on my cot. Any combination of the above should fit most summer weather situations.
  • Flashlights – Lisa and Sue recommend the Energizer 3 in 1 lamp. It has a flashlight, lantern, and low-light night light with an elasticized clip/hook to hang it on anything. The light runs on four AA batteries. All features are useful at camp and I’ve since bought one.
  • Tents  – this is a personal choice, but whatever you get, after making sure it is dry and all the rest, make sure you can stand up in it and that it has good air flow. A hot tent at night isn’t fun. And neither is ten days of crouching.
  • Raingear – The kit list always asks for rain boots and full rain coat and pants. Be prepared means bring rain gear. No question.
    Bring full rain gear because, while the forecast was for gorgeous weather for the whole week, we ended up evacuated indoors for six hours for a major wind and lightening storm that crushed tents and soaked bedding.
  • Shoes – there will be a lot of discussion about shoes and footwear before camp. Follow the instructions you are given. But be prepared for the camp committee to be very particular about what you may wear on your feet.  Most camps prefer/require you to wear sturdy closed toe shoes at all times. That means hiking/running shoes and closed toe sandals.  Keen type sandals are usually ok (thank heavens!).  Crocs, barefoot runners and flip flops are usually forbidden.  And water shoes are probably going to be required (hint: yellow label Keens are waterproof and make excellent water shoes).
    Why the concern for footwear? Foot and toe injuries make up the majority of visits to the infirmary and starting with good footwear is the best way to avoid that. Whatever shoes you bring, break them in at home – and change your footwear often at camp.  Blisters are not fun. And those are often the least of the injuries that can happen.

I’m happy to say that all of my stuff fit into a big rolling hockey bag and a longish gear bag.  Whew. 

2014-07-16 10.04.31

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I’m back from Spirit of Adventure Rendezvous (SOAR) which was hosted by Girl Guides of British Columbia during that last couple of weeks in July. I went as Core Staff and had a terrific time. It was HARD. Really HARD work. With long hours, early rising times with limited breaks. But it was extremely rewarding to work together for a common Guiding goal.

You might question my sanity (and the sanity of many other women like me) because I gave up valuable vacation time and I paid my own money to get to SOAR. Volunteer vacations are not a day at the beach, but I will tell you that they are my first choice if I can manage it.

I’m hoping to go to Guiding Mosaic in 2016 so I have written a few posts as a letter to me with notes about packing, travel and what to expect when you volunteer at a large Girl Guide camp. But first, here’s what we did before camp.

Here’s Sue, Lisa, and Cara’s Pre-Camp adventure notes… (or at least my version of them).  =)
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SOAR was in Enderby, BC and Lisa, Sue and I spent four days in Kelowna before we caught the bus to camp.

The three of us arrived on Saturday, July 12 and the temperature was around 38C. We checked in to the University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus residence where we got an air conditioned suite of rooms (one each – no sharing), two bathrooms, and a kitchen/living room. It was affordable, convenient and comfortable. From now on, I will always check to see if there’s a University campus with rooms to rent I travel.

Sunday, July 13 topped out around 45C … rather like walking on the SUN. We shopped in the morning (I think we hit every dollar store in Kelowna). Then we had lunch at IHOP. We don’t have those at home and breakfast for any meal is always awesome.

And then Sue got her wish and we headed out to the Gray Monk Estate winery. The property was absolutely amazing. Sue and Lisa enjoyed the wine. Afterwards we headed just down the hill to a gorgeous beach on Lake Okanagan.

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The next day was Monday and it was 28C and rainy. It was cloudy and cool and really nice to be able to walk around (huge relief!). Are you surprised to hear that we shopped in the morning? Then were off to Mission Hill Winery, bought some locally grown cherries from a farmer’s stand. Oh Yum.
2014-07-14 11.15.39 2014-07-14 11.17.45

We also went to Kelowna Mountain Suspension Bridges – the longest suspension bridges in North America. Lisa and I were sceptical. I think we both had fun (death grip on the cable, aside). I didn’t take pictures (mostly because of the death grip thing – no hands free). The area was devastated by the Okanagan Fire in 2003 and it was neat to see how it has come back from what I saw on TV.

I had a few minutes to stop at a Yarn Store called The Art of Yarn and got some locally dyed cashmere. And some stuff I just can’t get at home (mind blown!).

Dinner was at RauDZ Regional Table and it was the best meal I’ve ever eaten. I had salmon and was practically licking the plate. Afterwards we found a high spot to watch the sunset over the mountains.

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Tuesday was our last free day and it was 35C. Hot, but not 43C. There was more shopping, Sue was on the hunt for an Orange Boa. She has a thing about Orange and wanted to stand out in the parade.

After a lunch back at our rooms – we went for a drive North of Kelowna on the hunt for another winery (Alice the GPS was not helpful, but gave us some laughs). We happened upon GGC Camp Arbuckle, picked some cherries, and then went for a swim. On the way back we got stuck in a massive traffic jam. Then to the Mistral Cafe for one last “nice” dinner. It was cool.

Kelowna was a great city to visit. Nice people, beautiful scenery, and awesome company.

My next post will be about prepping for camp. Happy Saturday.

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I’ve just come back from Bridging Friends Forever (BFF) Camp 2013 hosted by Girl Guides New Brunswick/Prince Edward Island at Snider Mountain Ranch near Sussex, NB.  Now that I’ve had a bunch of naps, I have so many stories to tell you.

There’s one about the great friends I got to see again.

BFF 2013 Mary Dawn Cara1

Photo Credit: Dawn MacNeill
Mary, Dawn and Me at the closing ceremony

BFF 2013 Deb

Deb’s photo is a little fuzzy… but she never sits still so that’s not unexpected. =)

BFF 2013 Lisa and the feathers1

Here’s Lisa and her feathers!

BFF 2013 Bridget

And my new friend Bridget – I can’t forget Bridget. =)

And the one about how important it is to work with a dedicated and hardworking team.  Thanks to our fearless leader Kim, and my co-volunteers Melanie and Shawna for doing such an awesome job – and for making it fun along the way.

BFF Kitchen Crew (without me) serving popcorn one night.  =)  Kim, Shawna, and Mel.

Guiders of the BFF Kitchen Crew (without me) serving popcorn one night. =) Kim, Melanie and Shawna.

That’s especially important when you’re serving 600 breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks!  (It wasn’t just the four of us, Snider Mountain Ranch staff and family members did the catering and we all worked together to make this work in the Guiding way).

BFF 2013 Snider Mountain Ranch Dining Hall1

The dining hall – made especially for us. I think it is going to be moved to shelter horses after we leave.

BFF 2013 Evacuation Drill1

600 of my closest friends. =)

There’s another story about a World Record!  Girls, Guiders, and Guiding friends from NB, PEI, across Canada and even from around the world made an incredible 19,953 Bracelets (the old record was 8,000!).

BFF 2013 World Record Bracelets1

World’s longest chain of bracelets. BFF Camp 2013.

BFF 2013 Heidi Bracelets1

My new friend Heidi (aka Blackie) and her bracelets. She started it all and did an amazing job. So very cool.

There’s yet another story about Hat Crafts and Traders.  You couldn’t go anywhere without seeing the distinctive BFF camp hats – all covered in traders.  Girls really got into this (so did staff at Snider Mountain Ranch … they now plan to incorporate it into their regular non-Guiding program).

One of the neatest ones I saw was the Dragonfly Knot.

And this one called “My pet Mummy. No food. No water. No litter. No mess.”  Very cute.

BFF 2013 hat crafts traders1

Then there are stories about what I learned at camp … you get lots of neat ideas for what to do another time.

Neat boot dryer idea.

Neat boot dryer idea.

And even more stories about how beautiful the province of New Brunswick is.   I arrived about 24 hours before I needed to get to camp so I visited Shediac and Parlee Beach.  I got to enjoy fresh clams, fish and chips and even muscles.  So yummy.

Before Camp Cara Parlee Beach

Me on Parlee Beach in my rain gear. I like rainy blustery days by the sea. =)

Parlee Beach, NB.  On this rainy day, I had the beach all to myself.  I got to walk for an hour to the sound of the waves.  It was pretty wonderful.

Parlee Beach, NB. On a rainy day before Camp started, I had the beach all to myself. I got to walk for an hour to the sound of the waves. It was pretty wonderful.

And also how beautiful Snider Mountain Ranch is – especially early in the morning.

BFF 2013 Foggy Morning1

Kitchen staff get up early enough to take fog pictures.

BFF 2013 the bridge1

The footbridge over to the Rocky Mountain camp.

BFF 2013 Snider Mountain

Everyone heading back up the hill after an evacuation drill.

I had a fantastic time.  Thank you to Girl Guides New Brunswick/PEI.  Until we meet again.

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There are tons of things that appear on camp kit lists and few items are as important as having the right shoes.  You can usually borrow everything else or just make do with what you’ve got at camp, but if you make the wrong footwear choices you’re likely going to be stuck with what you’ve got.

Most summer camps don’t allow flip flops, open toed shoes, barefoot/vibrum runners, or crocs of any kind. Instead, campers must wear sturdy shoes or closed toe sandals that are supportive with a nice thick sole. If you are planning to go to Guiding Mosaic 2016, please wait for the official word from the GM committee before you buy special shoes… but it is my hope that we’ll get to wear our closed toe Keens.

Things to consider when buying shoes for camp – not just closed toe camp sandals:

  • Fit is important. Try your shoes on in the store and walk around as much as they’ll let you. I personally love Keens sandals, but someone else may find that they chafe – which will mean that you’ll only wear em once. You’ll be walking a lot at camp and you need happy feet.
  • Construction: Check the soles (treads), straps (how secure, any stitching that can chafe), toe coverage, heel strap. Camp life is tough on shoes and you don’t want your shoes to disintegrate half way through.
  • Multi-use: Can they double as swim shoes? Keen’s below are rubber so they can. Camp kit lists are large and you want to make every item you pack as versatile as possible.

What’s out there:

  • Earth Spirit Sandals (Walmart).  While they were relatively inexpensive, the trade off for me was very little arch support and no ventilation (I’m not a fan of swamp foot)  Not suitable water shoes. I didn’t like these at all but someone else I know loved hers.


    Walmart Earth Spirit

  • Keen Sandals (Waterproof – Yellow tag) – The Guiders I know who camp LOVE their Keens. Guider Nikki says they’re expensive (around $100 for a pair), but they’re breathable, don’t smell after wearing them (they’ve got an anti microbial thing), fit great, double as water shoes and are durable with a great tread.  She says they had no break in period, she liked the arch support and found that there was no chafing (even when wet).  She says that they definitely cover all the toes too (some sandals let toes escape).  Definitely high praise.
    Post Camp Update (I got some on sale at Sail): I love my Keens.  I worked in a kitchen with slippery floors and LOTS of standing.  I generally switched shoes mid-day to give my feet a break – but I wore my Keens every day.  I’m very pleased with my purchase.


    Guider Nikki is keen on Keen shoes!

  • I bought Merrill Siren Ginger Sandals from Sail.  (Around $110 but I got them on sale).  They are super comfortable with lots of arch support, plenty of padding in all the right places and they are easily adjusted to fit.   I like that they’re nice and airy (no swamp foot) and that they’re cute…I can wear them on the campsite or to work with a casual skirt if I wanted to.   The manufacturer says “water friendly” but I don’t think I’d like to get em wet if I can help it.
    Post Camp update: I still love my Merrels.  I wore these most days – as I said above, I wore the Keens every day in the kitchen – and my second choice of footwear was usually my Merrels or Running shoes.  But I’m wearing them every day now to the office (I switch when I get here). I love the look And they’re super comfy for city life.


    I love my Merrills

Whatever shoes you take to camp (or send on your camper), they should fit correctly and be comfortable.  As many campers are finding out, they don’t stay on store shelves for very long at the beginning of summer.  If you want a pair, you may be out of luck for this season.

Do you have a favourite camp shoe that I should add to this list?  Thanks for the team effort on this post. I really relied on my readers for input this time.

Happy camping.

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2013-07-16 16.36.05 Swaps trillium flowers and OttawaTrading SWAPS is just one of many fun activities that you can expect to do at a Girl Guide camp.  SWAPs (Sharing With All People) are small gifts, tokens, crests, pins or crafts that you offer to the new people you meet – and they to you (just like a business card in an office).  At camp, they are great for breaking the ice with a new friend, especially if you’re shy.  After camp, they’re an excellent touchstone reminder of all the people you met.

In my opinion, traders need to be small, light, and easy to get/make – remember they have to fit in the bag you carry to camp.  Unique and personal traders are best… your trader should say something about you.  For example, as I’m one of only a few people going to camp from my area, my trader(s) will represent me regionally and as a crafter/crocheter.  Always try to put your name and maybe e-mail on your trader so your new friends can find you later.

This year, I’ve got three traders…

  1. City of Ottawa lapel pins (courtesy of my City Councillor),
  2. Government of Ontario trillium lapel pins (from my MPP), and
  3. Crocheted flower pins that I’ve made.

Pins from your local municipality, province or area can usually be obtained for free if you ask early and politely.  To personalize these, I could either put a small sticker on the baggie they come in, or I could stick each pin through a card with my name and e-mail.

For my crocheted flower, I’m using the five petal flower pattern from Maize Hutton’s crocheted flower bouquet post and I’ve pinned a small card with my name and e-mail on the back of each flower.  Size works out to be approximately 1″ diameter.

Looking for more on the subject of SWAPS and Traders?

Happy trading everyone.  What was your favourite SWAP at Camp?

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For those of us who are on the Friendship Bracelet World Record Attempt bandwagon (are you one?), here’s a pretty tutorial from PurlBee for an interesting way to make friendship bracelets.  The instructions to close are new to me, and look very cool (but if you’re submitting yours to BFF, it is very important that you DON’T close those bracelets!!!).

Happy Braiding!

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Girl Guides – New Brunswick Council is hosting an all branches provincial camp this summer called Bridging Friends Forever (BFF).  Some people go to the beach or visit Paris on vacation … but lots of fantastic women (a lot of you, I expect) volunteer time and talent to pitch in at a summer camp as Guiders.    BFF Logo C borderlessSMIf you’ve got the time or inclination, there are lots of different ways to help out at a camp near you – even for a day or two.  It is so worth it.

I got hooked on Girl Guide camps two years ago when I went to the Nova Scotia Heritage 2011 Camp as a volunteer staffer.  Everything was new to me, but familiar too, because it was a Guiding event.  I was blown away by how much fun it was.   I left thinking “I have to do that again” and I’m now looking forward to helping out at BFF (I booked my flights to NB last week – so exciting!).

I realize that volunteering at a summer camp isn’t for everyone, but there is a way you can help without leaving home.  

The BFF Team is planning a Guinness World Record Attempt … they are going to try to make the World’s Largest Chain of Bracelets (their goal is 8,000) and Guiders and Girls across NB, PEI and Canada are working hard to make that happen.  At last count, they had around 3,000.

The instructions are simple… make friendship bracelets! Lots of them!  There are so many different patterns on the internet (here’s a good tutorial).
But follow these rules from the Guinness World Record people:

  • For the purposes of the record, a bracelet is defined as an “article of jewelry that is worn around the wrist”
  • The items in the chain must be of a size to be worn around the wrist only (no necklaces, ankle bracelets, etc.).
  • DON’T link the bracelets together before you send them in! The BFF team has to link them together during the actual record attempt at camp. (Thanks to BFF Program Director, Faith Cormier for the updated text!)

Mail them so that they arrive in New Brunswick before August 7, 2013

BFF 2103 Bracelets
c/o Girl Guides of Canada – NB Council
55 Rothesay Ave
Saint John, NB
E2J 2B2 (Canada)

Also, let the organizers know that you’re working on bracelets so they can add it to the tally on the website.   E-mail bff2013@rogers.com.

When they’re done, bracelets will be donated to the WAGGGS Friendship Bracelet Project.  Happy braiding!

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I didn’t really finish up on my summer camp stuff from last year (Summer Camp: What the heck is a swap?) and, since I came across my traders from the Nova Scotia GG 100th Anniversary Camp I attended in August, I thought I’d write a post about what I’ve learned about swaps and traders.  Big thanks again to the Nova Scotia Girl Guides for their hospitality.  It was so much fun!

Swaps (or SWAPs – Sharing With All People… Guider Nikki – did you tell me that?) are things that you make in advance of a camp to share with the new friends that you meet.  You trade them – kind of like business cards.  It is a lot of fun – and it gives you an incentive to mingle too (and works as an ice breaker if you’re a bit shy about it).  My favourites, and therefore the most memorable swaps, are the personal ones.  Some were a lot of work… but not all of them.  Alberta Girl Guides Bright Ideas has a great handout too.

When to bring a Trader:

  • A big organized camp – Check your kit list or other notes in advance of camp – they’ll suggest you bring a trader or SWAP.
  • If you’re travelling and may meet Guiding friends… bring a trader.
  • Maybe your Brownie Unit is participating in a multi-level camp or is partnering with another unit to make up numbers at camp.  The unit could make a large number of one kind of trader to share with their new friends.  Make the suggestion to the camp organizer so that everyone knows to bring something.
  • Traders are great bridging tools for the girls too.  Have the girls make traders to give to the girls at a unit you’re visiting (or to your guests).

Here are some notes and ideas:

  1. The internet is a good starting point… check out this list of SWAPs ideas from About.com.
  2. Small plastic zip bags are great ways to make something you can’t usually pin to a hat, easily pinable (look for 1″x1″ bags for beading and jewelery found at the dollar store).  Add a safety pin and a label with your name and/or e-mail and you’ve got something personal and easy to assemble.  For example, one Guider put some Nova Scotia Tartan fabric and an explanation in a baggie.  Another Guider is a geologist and she traded a small sample of a local stone.

  3. Crests are great traders too.
    • There were a few people who made their own crests.  That isn’t a cheap option, but it is really cool – and I remember those folks.  If you go to a lot of camps, or are going to a big camp, this would be a good option.  A Google search finds e-Patches and Crests – they appear to be able to make a crest for you – and they’ve got some neat challenge crests too!
    • Commissioners also have their own crests… be sure to introduce yourself and maybe get a crest too.
  4. Laminate something… I got a bookmark from a girl from Britain that had UK flag stickers on one side, and a water saving tip on the other.  Fun, memorable and useful.   Also, Guider Kathleen printed and laminated small cards with her provincial flower on one side and her e-mail on the back.  Both good SWAPs all around.
  5. Shrink something… The waterfront staff and another Guider at camp made their traders from Shrink Art (Shrinky Dinks).  You can buy kits, but you can also Make your own Shrink Art.
  6. My favourite trader was the sea glass I got from Guider Marie.  It has (frustratingly!) gone missing in my move, but I had it hanging in my office for the longest time.
  7. Lots of people went to their local municipality and got pins to trade.  That was fun because you got to have a conversation about their area.  Items from “away” were pretty hot commodities.
  8. Do something unique to you… My Ontario Crocheted Trilliums were a hit and they represented me as a crafter very well.
    cropped Trillium

To sum up…

  • The best SWAPs are memorable and personal/regional.
  • Keep them small – you have to carry them to camp.  And the people you trade with will need to carry yours home too.
  • They don’t have to be a lot of work.
  • Don’t forget to put your name and possibly e-mail on it.
  • Add a safety pin on it so it can be attached to a hat.

Happy swapping!

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NS Heritage Explosion Camp – Post 1

First of all, I will say that it takes a lot to get a camp like this one off the ground.  As a staff member coming in only for the event itself, you can only marvel at the number of things that the team thought of, and accommodated for.  They did a fantastic job.

Staff brought their own tents.  Mine was a little swampy the first day.  But my new Eureka Pinery 400 tent held up very well.  The Monday before camp, Nova Scotia got about 70 mm of rain in about 2 hours.  I just about cried when I squished across the campsite to put down my tent.  It also held up very well to the wind that is ever present in Nova Scotia.

Conditions at camp were pretty good.  There were so many outhouses – and they were maintained almost every day, that everything was pretty fresh.  You could barely take a photo without a loo in the photo.


Flags of Many Nations – there were people from almost all provinces in Canada – we were missing PEI, and Quebec.  As well as guests from Britain and New Zeland.  Very cool.  The NZ flag got on the pole later on.

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Crafters are a cool bunch. They’re my kind of people.

They are the kind of people who have a darning needle in the change compartment of their wallet – and who don’t mind sharing.

They show you how to do things, and elevate your own crafting adventure by suggesting a really good tweak here and there.

And they are the kinds of people who – when you are faced with the challenge of making as many Trillium Swaps as possible for an upcoming camp – offer to make them for you.

Patricia Kossatz, is just that sort of person.  She offered to help me out.  I gave her the supplies (which she tweaked to make it much better) and she has been churning out trillium leaves and petals like a machine.   There are 90 of them complete as of last night.  I am responsible for sewing them together so I didn’t abdicate all responsibility, but I was thinking I’d get around 30 done.  We’re on track for way more than that.

Only another crafter would step in like that.  You’re awesome Patricia!  Thank you!

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