Throwback Thursday: Meeting in the Dark

Was: International Year of Light Meeting

In 2014, National put out a Meeting in the Dark as part of National Service Project – Operation Earth Action.   I thought it was a really neat idea but couldn’t fit it into my schedule that year.  When I heard the that 2015 was the International Year of Light I knew I wanted to do a meeting in the dark. This is still one of my favorite meetings and could be adapted to outdoors and social distancing.


We did our normal opening but in the dark with flashlights.  Then we talked a little bit about the International Year of Light and what is meant by Light based technology.

Round Robin Center #1 – Light bulbs

Discuss different types of light bulbs.  Show examples of different types of light bulbs.  Discuss things like colour, cost, lifespan, energy use and disposal.

Incandescent Incandescent Halogen CFL LED
Advantage Inexpensive Similar light to incandescent Lasts 10 times longer than incandescent Longest lasting
Disadvantage 94% energy lost as heat So-so efficiency Not all are dimmable Most expensive
Lifespan (hours) 1,000 3,000 10,000 25,000
Energy saving 28% 75% 90%
Cost $0.75 $3 to $10 $6 to $22 $10 to $42
Source Toronto Star

Round Robin Center #2 – Craft

Glowing Creatures

Round Robin Center #3 –  Light pollution

What is light pollution.

Types of light pollution.

How many stars can we see in the city on a clear night

How many stars can we see in the country side

Light pollution effects other species as well.  Birds fly into windows of skyscrapers for example.

How can we stop it?  Bad street lighting causes light pollution and wastes money.  Dark sky preserves.


Proofi was the game we planned for the original meeting, but Night Prowlers or Night Eyes would also be appropriate and might be easier to socially distance.

Pollinators At Home Meeting

Some of the information in this weeks at home meeting is a GTA (greater Toronto Area) specific.  If you want to adapt these activities for your own Pathfinders and Rangers you may need to find some local resources to suggest.


Did you know we live in/near a butterflyway? What does that mean? How can we help?


Learn about and lend a hand to the pollinators around your home.



The Bees

Aquatic Ambassador at Home Meeting

Many of my Pathfinders and Rangers had planned with their families to be somewhere south this week by an ocean.  These plans have been disrupted by the Corvid-19 crisis but I still thought the Ocean might make a good theme for our first at home meeting.  The platform cross lists these activities for Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers so this meeting would be suitable for any of those branches.  My Pathfinders and Rangers have Discord server for sharing their results/thoughts but any social media would work.  Or perhaps they could send them by e-mail to a Guider who could consolidate them into a mailer for the next week.


Explore the creatures that live in the ocean with this interactive.  What is your favorite sea creature? Would you want to travel to deep ocean if you had the chance?


Aquatic Ambassador at home challenge

I tried to pick activities that would only use items the girls would typically have at home but Amazing Aquaponics would be a solid alternative to Coral Chemistry if basic gardening supplies are more accessible in the home.


Shark! – from Lunarbaboon Comics

Aquatic Ambassador

Aquatic Ambassador is a new challenge from Nova Scotia for Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers.  “The goal of the Aquatic Ambassadors Challenge is for you to learn more about the ocean and our connection with it from different perspectives while highlighting our cultural mosaic and diversity as Canadians.” It contains a starter and closing activities and activities on three themes:

  • Marine Life
  • Shoreline Protection
  • Water Conservation

This challenge might be a great companion piece to a Great Canadian Shoreline clean-up.  Or could be done at a camp in combination with the WAGGGS Ocean Challenge.

World Sustainable Development Goals

If you are working on any WAGGGS generated program, I’m sure you’ve heard about the UN Sustainable Development Goals.  The UN has a great set of printable resources for these goals including logos, and posters.  They are available in both North American and European paper sizes and in any of the six UN languages (English, French, Arabic, Chinese, Russian or Spanish), making this a great resource for bilingual units.

There is also a wide variety of videos available.  Including this adorable Tomas the Tank Engine video which might be a fun way to introduce Sparks to this rather daunting topic.


Magnetic Pole

It is not uncommon during discussions of map and compass work to find yourself explaining the difference between magnetic north and true or geographic north.  I knew that the magnetic north pole moved over time but I did not know that it’s movement was accelerating to the point where scientists were having to update their models of the Earth’s magnetic field sooner then expected.    Currently, it seems the magnetic pole is now closer to the geographic pole then at any time during the history of Guiding.  For more details see: Earth’s magnetic field is acting up and geologists don’t know why

Magnetic Pole

Plastic Free Challenge

The Plastic Free Challenge is a new Challenge from Nova Scotia.  The focus is to teach girls about the problems associated with single use plastic items and get them to think about long term solutions.  There is a separate list of activities for each branch but each branch has to do an opening and closing activity and then one activity from each activity area: At Home, In the Community and In Nature.

This challenge would pair well with a shoreline cleanup service project.


I’ve been fortunate to see coyotes on a number of urban hikes I’ve been on.  Several of my Guides saw one last year and it was all they could talk about for weeks.  There are a lot of myths about coyotes and especially eastern urban dwellers tend to over react to them.  Coyote Watch Canada has some great resources to educate yourself and your girls on co-existing with coyotes (either in an urban or rural setting).  For example you might want to check out the FAQ, print copies of these common myths or play this coyote vocalization.

Ontario Turtle Tally and FrogWatch

When my unit was at the Toronto Zoo last fall we learned about the Ontario Turtle Tally and FrogWatch.

If you live in Ontario and you see a turtle, the Toronto Zoo wants to hear about it.  You can report your sighting on the Turtle Tally Observation Form.  You can learn more about different species of turtles in Ontario from the species guide.

Similarly, FrogWatch wants you to listen to the sounds of frogs and report what you find.  You can learn about different species of frogs from the species guide.  If you register to become a FrogWatcher, the zoo will provide you with a CD of frog sounds so you can match what you hear by the pond edge with the species of frogs and you can report frog sightings


WAGGGS Climate Change Challenge

This is a topical challenge with the recent completion of the Paris Climate talks.

The WAGGGS Climate Change Challenge is a 164 page booklet divided into five sections

  1. Climate is Life
  2. Causes of Climate Change
  3. Impacts of Climate Change
  4. Solutions to Climate Change
  5. Take Action

This challenge was created by WAGGGS in co-operation with the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the Youth and UN Global Alliance (YUNGA)

The badges are available from the WAGGGS shop.