Spring has Sprung at Home Meeting

Spring has definitely started to show itself here in Toronto. I do recognize that in the North you may have to wait a little longer to say that. Since we can still go outside for walks and practice good social distancing this week’s at home meeting features activities to get the girls out and experiencing nature.


Watch these two short videos by renowned nature artist Robert Bateman on some techniques for how to sketch in nature.


This week’s activities lets the Pathfinders and Rangers take a look at spring from some different angles.  Each activity needs to be done on a walk but can be done on one longer journey or several shorter ones.  All four activities can be found on the Girls First platform under Natural Discoveries

Spring has Sprung


Night Prowl

I believe this challenge has been around for a while but I only recently noticed it since Aberta rearranged their challenge page.

It is intended to be a Camp Challenge but I’m sure you could do it over a series of evening meetings as well.  All the activities are either about the night sky or nocturnal animals and birds.

Night Prowl

Edible Soil

I find Guides are very motivated by food.  This activity from the Learning Resources Blog looks like a fun and tasty way to learn about soil composition.

Layer in a clear glass like a parfait. Discuss each layer as you go, then enjoy with a spoon.


  • Whole Oreos per person to represent the bedrock
  • Chocolate and butterscotch chips mixed together to represent the parent material
  • Chocolate pudding to represent subsoil
  • crushed Oreos and Gummy worms to represent topsoil and the creatures who live in it
  • Shredded coconut mixed with green food coloring to represent the organic material
  • Clear cups or glasses

Review: Downsview Discover Center

What: Downsview Park is a former Air Force base that was decommissioned in 1995.  The base has been converted into a park that combines a number of land uses including an urban farming, indoor and outdoor play fields, storm water management, walking paths and natural areas.  There are also a number of former Air Force buildings rented to third party activities.

The Discover Center is the lower floor of a converted administration building, with two classrooms, washrooms and a cloak room.   The classrooms contain a large touch table and a number of nature related activities which the Guides were encouraged by the program facilitator to explore as they arrived and at lunch.  There is also a large aviation themed playground across the parking lot.

The Community Field Trips are 90 minutes in length and you have a choice of a half day program including one activity or a full day program including 2 activities and a lunch break.  They have a wide variety of activities to choose from some of which are limited by time of year and some would suit some age groups better then others. We selected Wonderful World of Trees and Compass Challenge.

In Wonderful World of Trees, the girls were taught tricks for identifying trees in the winter.  Then we went outside to one of the walking trails where the girls were split into small groups.  Each group was provided with a clip board, work sheet and tree guide and they were allowed to wonder though the paths at their own rate finding trees marked with numbers and trying to identify them.  Our Guides did great with most groups successfully identify most of the trees they found.

In Compass Challenge the girls were taught the basics of taking bearings with a compass and then played an outdoor game where they had to use their compass to solve codes.

With both programs we were really impressed both with the teaching methods used by the facilitator and at how absorbed our Guides were in the activities.

When: Our program was in April 2019.

Cost:  The Community Program was $10 per girl for a full day (2 activities) or $7 per girls for a half day (1 activity).

Booking: Booking was very straight forward and was conducted though an online form and follow up e-mails.

For more information see: https://en.downsviewpark.ca/educate/community-field-trips

Note: The road to get to the Discover Center is a little bit hard to find but all our parents reported no problem finding the place with the assistance of a GPS unit.  Also note that the area around the Discovery Center can be a bit windy.

Happy Trails Challenge

 The Happy Trails Challenge is a new three part challenge from Ontario Girl Guides.

This challenge was designed by Mona J., a 3rd-year Guide in the 2nd Ontario Lone Unit, as part of her Design Your Own Badge project. Mona’s challenge was inspired by the Bruce Trail, a hiking trail going 900 km along the length of the Niagara Escarpment in Ontario.
Mona encourages every girl taking this challenge to find a trail in her community to have fun and explore nature. The Happy Trails crest will be available for purchase online mid-February.
There are places to hike and experience the natural environment pretty much everywhere in Canada! You may discover some of the remarkable hiking routes that cover our country and challenge yourself to explore somewhere new.

The theme of the Chipmunk section is “Get outside and move around!” This part of the challenge is all about learning how to hike safely and have fun.

The theme of the Earthworm section is “Love the earth and get dirty!”. The activities in this part all touch on the rocks and soil, learning about geography, and protecting the environment when you hike.

The final section is the Monarch Butterfly and the theme is “Appreciate the natural beauty of our environment!”. This part of the challenge is all about observing the plants, animals and changes in the seasons.

Challenge patches can be bought though Positive Identity.

Land Surveyor Challenge

The Land Surveyor Challenge is a joint project between the Ontario Council and Association of Ontario Land Surveyors (AOLS).  The goal of the challenge introduces girls to the science of Land Surveying and how it impacts us.

The challenge is divided up into four groups of activities:

  • What is Surveying?
  • How GPS Works
  • Measuring and Mapping
  • Finding Your Way

This challenge would be a great way to shake up/modernize Map and Compass work.

Challenge crests are purchases though Positive Identity.