Merrittonians who looked twice when driving past a four foot tall cookie with arms and legs could be forgiven, as the rare species emerges from its winter slumber.
In reality, the Merritt Girl Guides have received their shipment of their iconic vanilla and chocolate Girl Guide Cookies, and eager guides looking to make their first sale in support of the cause are donning their cookie costumes. The Girl Guides are an international service organization for young women and girls that keeps leadership, outdoor skills, and volunteerism at the forefront of its activities.
Lilly, a member of the Merritt Girl Guides’ ‘Ember’ unit for 7-8 year olds, told the Herald that her favourite part of the program was “earning crests and badges, and going on fun adventures.” Fionna, another Ember, said her favorite part is camp, like the space camp the unit participated in last year, or the camp skills they learn, such as making a campfire.
The Girl Guides rely on cookie sales, community donations, and grant funding to operate across the country, and the Nicola Valley is not exception. The funds generated by the six dollar boxes of cookies go towards a number of service trips, community initiatives, and group operating costs. Members of the Girl Guides praise the program for its many social and learning aspects.
“I have always felt so safe and comfortable around Girl Guides,” said Maggie, a member of the local age 15-17 Rangers unit. “Even if we just met, you are always accepted no matter how unique, it is something special.”
The Girl Guides program starts with Sparks at age 5, and goes through multiple age-based stages, ending with Rangers at age 17. Participants explore topics such as outdoor survival, science and technology, healthy finances and relationships, community service, and mental health through a number of activities and service projects.
Hannah Hedrick, a member of the Rangers unit, will soon head to Costa Rica with a group of other B.C. based Girl Guides for the trip of a lifetime. Part service trip, part cultural exploration, Hedrick is fundraising for her adventure by taking on an extra load of Girl Scout Cookies this time around. The class of 2023 graduate says the Girl Guides program has broadened her horizons in a number of ways.
“It’s definitely made me more well rounded, and I’m involved with a bunch of other organizations through it,” said Hedrick.
“It’s given me lots of experiences and valuable life lessons that have led me to this point.”
Hedrick will soon age out of the program as she heads to Acadia University, but plans to stay involved through Link, a Girl Guides group for those aged 19-30 who are unable to commit to a unit. She has been involved with the program for a number of years, participating in trips across Canada, and making her impact on the world. Soon, Hedrick will earn her Gold Trailblazer Award, the highest honour for a Girl Guide. Her advice to those considering joining up to their local unit: “do it.”
The Merritt Girl Guides are currently seeking additional group leaders, as their units are currently at full capacity. For more information, or to get involved, contact Chelsea at 250-936-9015, or by email at email@example.com.
To support projects such as Hedrick’s strip, and other local initiatives, purchase a box (or three) of Girl Guide cookies. To find local sale information, visit the Girl Guides’ ‘Cookie Finder’ at www.girlguides.ca.