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I survived Brownie camp

You know how after all the participants on the Survivor television come together and reunite for the final show and you can barely recognize them because they have showered, brushed their hair and gained the weight back from the lack of food on the island? That’s how I feel right now. Except for the brushed hair. Oh, and the losing and gaining weight thing. Other than that, I look exactly like a Survivor finalist.

And that’s because this afternoon I returned from a weekend away at camp as a parent helper for Brownies (a Girl Guide program for ages 7-8). I am now showered and have a glass of wine in hand, so I am feeling much more rosy about the whole experience than I was 24 hours ago — in an unheated cabin supervising 8-year-old girls who preferred to stay up giggling than go to sleep.

Basically, being at Brownie camp is like my personal version of hell because I don’t like being cold, I need personal space, I can’t stand too much talking all at once. Oh, and there was no expresso machine, red wine or naps. So, yeah, hell.

But I believe so strongly that getting this kind of experience is so amazing for young kids that I agreed to help (I was just a helper, the leaders who organized the whole thing are my personal heros). When I was a girl, I was a Brownie and a Girl Guide and I can vividly remember going to overnight camp. And considering how many eons ago that was, it just goes to show that these kinds of camping experiences live with you forever. They’re lifetime memories.

And here are some of the memories we created this weekend:

There were more than 100 girls gathered for this weekend's camp. The Sparks slept in a heating area of the dining hall, the Brownies slept in unheated cabins (shown), and the Girl Guides and Pathfinders slept in tents (shown).

There were tons of group games. Here, the girls are playing an "elephant" race together.

And there were also tons of craft activities. Here, two Brownies are working together to make a raft from twigs and yarn.

And there some ceremony. Here, all the girls are gathered in a horseshoe formation for the flag raising and singing of the national anthem.

And there was also independence and responsibility. Here, the girls are washing their own dishes, which they then put back in their "ditty" bags (a mesh bag) to hand and dry until the next meal.

And last but not least, there was some plain old fashioned fun and silliness. Here, some girls are goofing around on their bunk beds together.

And Stella's favourite memory? The mascarade parade at sunset.


  1. Ah, the things we do for our kids. Congratulations on surviving the weekend. Enjoy your wine, Julie. You deserve it!

  2. I thought that Brownie and Guide camp was hell even when I was a Brownie and Guide. Honestly, you could not pay me enough to do what you have just done, but I think that you are amazing for putting your daughter first. Way to go Julie!

  3. The girls at school have talked of nothing else. I cannot wait to go back Monday and hear their version! Way to go!

  4. Love the comparison with Survivor 😆

    Isn’t it too cold for the kids to be outside? I guess now, they are real Canadian.

  5. I’m a Spark guider and have been involved in guiding for 20 years (I’m 26). I *love* taking my girls to camp, and am SO grateful for parents like you who come to camp, even if it’s not their thing. Watching girls blossom at camp, their faces light up at accomplishing something is what gets me through the cold, wet weekends.

    So thank you for giving up your weekend to freeze your tush off with a bunch of giggling 8 year olds. :)

  6. This made my day … the Girl Guides of Canada found me and tweeted this:

    “We luv the blog by @coffeewithjulie about camping [er, helping] with #ggc Brownies! Check it out!

  7. You’ve earned a slice of good karma for yourself, I think! My daughter was at her chilly Guide camp in the foothills of the Rockies this weekend, complete with a skiff of snow. No parent volunteers needed, thank heavens! Outhouses at -2 celsius are not my favourite!

  8. Um, that totally jive’s with my definition of hell. Hat’s off to you for doing that for your daughter, and keeping your sense of humour. The photos look like these girls will have happy memories of camp. You;ll need a bit more wine to erase yours. lol :)

  9. lol…I once went on a camping trip with my daughter’s Brownie group. I had to sleep for a week went I got home!!

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