Yesterday my thoughts went back to the time when I was a Girl Guide Leader and Commissioner. I had started volunteering as a helper when my oldest daughter became a Girl Guide and became so involved that I soon opened my own Guide group, then a Sparks group and a Guide Commissioner. During that 10 year period, I was very busy getting weekly meeting prepared, organizing group activities, planning camps and going to meetings. It was a lot of work but great fun and I immensely enjoyed the experience.
I remember one particular overnight camp that I planned for my Sparks group, a lively bunch of 5 year olds. When I requested permission to have this camp-over, I was initially turned down. Sparks were fairly new and there had never been any overnight camping for that age group. I was told that it would be a waste of time and that it would never work out. For several years, I had been part of camping experiences for Brownies, Girl Guides and Pathfinders and I wanted to share this exciting adventure with my 12 Sparks.
Being a persistent person, I was not ready to give up. I was certain that the camp-over would work and it was being held on my own property where I had full control of the situation. At that time, I lived in the country where there was plenty of room to have outdoor activities and room inside for meals and crafts. They weren’t expected to put up tents and sleep outside like the older girls. Instead they would be comfortable and safe in our carpeted rec room.
I won the battle and the sleepover was planned. Comments were made from other leaders about how the girls would probably all start crying at bed time and want to go home. I didn’t believe this, but of course, we would all know in time.
Twelve sweet little angels came over Friday night with their little backpacks and sleeping bags. The mothers all gave me their phone numbers and told me to call if there were any problems. I already had all this information, but it seemed to comfort them. After hundreds of hugs, kisses and good-byes, we started our program which would end the next day at noon. First we played some outdoor games, then we came inside for some crafts. After that was snack time, movie time and a sing-song. Then then got into their cute little pajamas and laid out their sleeping bags all over the floor. When the lights went out, all you could hear was talking and giggling.
When I fell asleep, I was at the far end of my rec room where I could see twelve little bodies covering the floor right over to the other side of the room where my youngest daughter was sleeping on the sofa. In the morning, I opened my eyes when the sun came through the window and I was alone in my corner. Startled for a moment, I tried to separate the shapes I could see piled at the other end of the room beside the sofa. I crawled out of my sleeping bag and as I got up, I could see all twelve girls sleeping as tightly as possible to where my daughter was lying and in fact, one little girl was laying beside her on the sofa. I’m sure if there had been more room, they would all have been up there with her.
My daughter loved working with the girls. She had been through Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders and earned her Canada Cord just as my other daughter had done. Now she was helping out as a Junior Leader and the Sparks just loved her. It would have been a great picture if there had been cell phones back them, but the picture will always be in my memory.
When the girls got up, we had breakfast, played more games and did another craft, then it was time to go home. All the parents were astounded at the fact they hadn’t been called to pick them up. I knew the camp-over would be a success because the Sparks all enjoyed being together as a group and we provided them with what they needed – love, encouragement and actively participating with them in fun activities. We were helping them build confidence and increase their self-esteem. What child wouldn’t want to be with people who love and care about them? Do you show love and appreciation for the children around you?