About a decade ago, I was very involved with Girl Guides of Canada. I wasn't a member as a youth but found myself volunteering casually then I was asked to take on a unit or it would have to close (I think most leaders hear that line as they are joining, the urgency to keep the unit open for the girls).
I fully immersed myself as the unit guider for a Sparks unit. To the girls and their parents from our unit knew me as "Guider Chantal". I planned amazing weekly meeting with fun and educational crafts, I took the girls on trips, and special events. I found the greatest ideas for meeting and activities to do with my unit because of pinterest and that growing social media was most of the inspiration to the awesome things the unit was able to accomplish together. I blogged about the things we did and I dedicated most of my Instagram feed to my Guiding life. For the first year or so, I was the only guider on the roster and the community guider and administrative leader would rotate weeks to assist me/to cover ratio. I loved it but eventually I wore myself out. I was exhausted after my time as Guider Chantal with the 43rd North Bay Sparks unit. I left that unit in June 2015, and that was the spring that I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I had to step away, I became controlling and wasn't a good co-leader to my fellow guiders.
Because of Girl Guides, I was able to find myself. I made great friends and wonderful memories. I learned to love camping and challenging myself to a new activity each summer I was a volunteer at summer camps. Girl Guide camps became my favorite thing; I would volunteer in the summer, attend Guider training and skill weekends, and my family enjoyed a family camp or two, or three.
I am so grateful for the sisterhood in Girl Guides and all the wonderful opportunities my daughters and I experienced over the past decade. Girl Guides was my safe space when I was lost in my illness; the support from co-guiders, women I worked with through GGC-ON council, and the summer camp teams gave me strength when I needed it the most.
I hung up my Girl Guide hat in September 2019 after my last camp. For now, I am focusing on college and I maintain my membership through an internet Trefoil Guild. I hope to return to unit guiding in a few years.
2018 Reflections was originally a blog post I wrote for my Blogger account,
Chantal \shahn~ TAHL\
A devastating beauty with a fiery personality. Part lover, part fighter.
Chantals know how to make it rain. Your life is incomplete if you lack a Chantal. A completely magical girl.
- Urban Dictionary