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    Girl Guides Thriving in Chestermere

    With activities that range from personal interests, life skills and volunteerism, the Girls Guides in Chestermere have been so successful attracting kids that they had to start a second troupe.
    “I’m a third generation right now with my daughter and my granddaughter still in Guides,” said Holly Sweeney, Co-Commissioner for the Girl Guides East Bow District which includes Chestermere.
    Sweeney said that she thinks part of the success of Guides is that it is still a girls and women’s organization.
    “We have no males in our group at all,” she said.
    While maintaining the girls only organization, Sweeney said that the Guides offer a wide range of programs to their members.
    “The girls have the opportunity to go out and do the camping…as well as learning new life skills,” said Sweeney.
    In Chestermere, the guides also help build community amongst the kids as they have the opportunity to meet and make friends with kids from different schools.
    “Each unit could have kids from all over Chestermere,” said Sweeney.
    The success of the guides relies in part on the adult volunteers who keep the program running and the relative affordability of joining guides compared to other recreational activities.
    “A couple of the ladies do two units and this is how the second guides got going,” said Sweeney.
    As a volunteer, Sweeney said the reward is, “knowing that you’re helping kids.”
    “As a leader, I like to see the girls happy and learning something,” she said.
    Just like the kids, the volunteers also get to meet new people and make new friends through the program.
    The Girl Guides have been in Chestermere for 11 years.
    The program was started out with the Sparks program which is for girls five and six years old.
    From that point on the programs in Chestermere have grown both with the existing girls and to accommodate new members.
    As the girls in Sparks grew out of that program, a Brownie unit for seven and eight year olds was started.
    This was followed by a Guides unit as the oldest girls outgrew the Brownies.
    Guides encompass girls from 9-12 years-old. The final program is Pathfinders for those aged 12-15 years.
    The guides have also been growing as the community has grown around them.
    “As the…city grew, then, of course, the demand for Girl Guides out there started to get more and more,” said Sweeney.
    The continued success of Guides in Chestermere has seen second troupes of all three levels started, the most recent of which is the new guide group that opened earlier this year.
    Spread out over the seven Girl Guides units in Chestermere there are 113 girls and 14 adult volunteers in the program.
    For more information on the Girl Guides go to www.girlguides.ca/web/.