The Rimbey Pathfinders/Rangers, selling cookies at Rimbey Co-op last year. (Photo submitted)

The Rimbey Pathfinders/Rangers, selling cookies at Rimbey Co-op last year. (Photo submitted)

Rimbey Girl Guides facing COVID challenges

With media reports of an anonymous benefactor purchasing around $15,000 worth of Girl Guide cookies from a group on Vancouver Island over the last two years, the century old organization has been making the news from coast to coast.

To put in perspective just how many cookies $15,000 worth of Girl Guide Cookies is, according to Rimbey multi-unit group leader, Carol Hannessonthere, there are 12 boxes of cookies in a case. Each box is $5, making each case $60. This means that 3,000 boxes of cookies have been purchased over the last two years by the one buyer.

According to the Girl Guides website, the Girl Guides began selling their synonymous cookies in 1927 when a guide leader in Regina began baking and selling cookies to help pay for uniform and camping supplies. What began as a simple fundraiser for one group quickly turned into the official fundraiser for the Girl Guides of Canada.

In Rimbey, residents will not be able to buy cookies on their door step this year and will instead have to phone to place their orders.

Unfortunately, due to complications stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, the younger, multi-group unit, comprised of five to 11-year-olds and covering Rimbey Sparks, Brownies, and Guides, is not operating this year. The Rimbey Pathfinders and Rangers, made up of girls from 12 to 17 years of age will be continuing to meet though.

“We’re not having meetings this year,” said Hannesson.

“We’re having a year off again due to COVID. I’ve lost three leaders and I don’t have any other leaders. I tried to recruit some leaders this year, but it’s been very difficult with COVID, for a few reasons.”

One of reasons Hannesson has had trouble getting leaders is due to the Girl Guides of Canada vaccination policy. As an organization, they have decided that all leaders and all girls aged 12 and up need to be vaccinated in order to participate.

Another issue impacting things over the last year-and-a-half is the number of activities going virtual.

“There is a lot virtual programming last year and this year due to COVID,” said Hannesson.

“It’s kind of hard in the rural area because not only kids, but leaders in the area too, have problems with internet availability being good enough for virtual meetings. It’s not like the big cities.”

While moving group activities outdoors has been an option, the organization has been hampered by a lack of an outdoor area with a washroom facility.

“That caused problems,” said Hannesson.

The Girl Guides of Canada is a uniformed girls’ organization which focuses on helping girls “develop a sense of self and sense of belonging,” according to Hannesson.

“It’s a safe space,” said Hannesson.

“They challenge themselves for a lot of different things.”

She says that the girls themselves have considerable input on what the program is going to look like and then the leaders facilitate it. Areas of focus include science, technology, engineering, math, nature, hands-on learning, and leadership skills.

“Previous to COVID, camping was a big thing,” said Hannesson. “Indoor in winter, and outdoor in summer, and in that they learn all sorts of hands-on, mind and body stuff. It’s a big part of our program, the nature aspect of it.”

Other camps include sleepovers at the zoo or the science centre.

The Girl Guides began as an offshoot of the Boy Scouts in England in 1909, when girls in England demanded an organization of their own. The Girl Guides had reached Canada by 1910, and by 1912 the organization reached into nearly every corner of the country.

Registration for the year is $150 per child and anyone interested in becoming a Girl Guide of Canada leader can contact Hannesson at 403-704-9795 for more information.

Anyone interested in getting their hands on Girl Guide cookies before they are gone can contact Loretta at 403-843-4679.