Richmond Girl Guides on an adventure to find leaders

New program replaces badge system with online, interactive platform

A lack of female volunteer leaders in Richmond has forced a Girl Guides unit in East Richmond to close, leaving numerous girls on the waitlist for other units.

But while Richmond’s two Girl Guides districts – Ocean Vista and River’s Edge districts – scramble to find more volunteer leaders, the organization will still kick off its new “guiding” year with a welcome-back campfire Sept. 27 at Garry Point Park.

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“We have quite a few girls on our waitlist, and we can’t accept any more girls until we have some volunteers to sign up and be leaders,” said Stephanie Bell, Girl Guides’ Ocean Vista district commissioner in Richmond.

She added that the Guides association welcomes “all sorts of people, but because (it is) an all-female organization, (it) can only accept women volunteer applications.”

Bell believes that “lots of young people and families moving out of Richmond” as well as people “not having enough time to volunteer,” are the reasons for the dearth of leaders.

But despite the leadership challenges in Richmond, the Girl Guides of Canada is returning this year with a new program called Girls First, which replaces the “well-known badge system” with an online and interactive platform.

Through the new platform, girls will decide what activities they would like to do, what adventures they want to experience and what things they want to learn about. This provides leaders with a better idea of how to plan activities.

“The new program highlights the girls doing their own programming by choosing what they like to do best,” said Bell.

Girl Guides of Canada also announced that girls who earn two specific awards – pathfinder and ranger awards –can receive two high school credits, similar to Scouts Canada.

For those who are looking forward to Girl Guides’ chocolate mint cookies, they will be on sale for $5 starting Oct. 1 with Ocean Vista district selling them at Cambie Plaza on Oct. 5 and Seafair Shopping Centre and Terra Nova Village on Oct. 26.

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