Stories of Giving: Volunteering with Girl Guides
Welcome Jenelle, who has been a software developer at TextbookHub since January 2020! Jenelle does full-stack development on TBH web applications, which means she takes care of maintaining software and helps fixing bugs.
Jenelle’s interest in volunteering is about creating supportive connections in the community, especially creating opportunities for girls and young women to have positive role models and new experiences. She finds it is particularly supportive of the Girl Guides organization to include nonbinary and transgender girls. Witnessing the joy of girls being accepted at camp for who they are, and the safe space that scouting offers is one of the reasons she continues her work.
Jenelle’s involvement with Girl Guides of Canada started when she was small. As a child, she was a Brownie and as a teenager, a very involved Pathfinder and Ranger, as well as a regular volunteer with younger kids. When Jenelle started university, she became a Unit Guider with a group of Guides in Victoria, BC, and have been involved ever since (over 10 years).
Girl Guides of Canada (GGC ) is the leading organization for girls and women in Canada, with 97,000 members. GGC is affiliated with worldwide scouting groups, like Girl Scouts in the US. Guiding provides a safe environment and a wide range of activities, including leadership building, arts, sciences, outdoor experiences and much more. Guiding is a fun and a great way for girls and young women to challenge themselves, meet new friends, have fun and make a difference.
Currently, Jenelle is the contact Guider for a Pathfinder Unit, which means she guides a group of 12-14 year olds. They have weekly meetings along with special activities and camps. Currently, the group is not able to meet up in person but Jenelle and the girls have continued their regular meetings online. GGC programming is quite diverse – everything from feminism to 3D printing to community service to adventure camping. The organization tries to put the girls in the lead, and they decide what they want to explore and take charge of their own program.
Jenelle also holds the role of the Deputy District Commissioner and works as part of a team to keep Guiding working smoothly in East Vancouver. This includes interviewing and onboarding new volunteers, liaising with the larger Guiding community and ensuring Guiders receive awards and recognition for their work.
A part of what Jenelle does also includes seeing kids grow and try new things. Many kids were in Jenelle’s younger Guide units whose nights at camp are their first nights away from home. A particularly touching moment she recalls is when a nine-year-old girl in her unit in Victoria was taken on a weekend trip to the Vancouver Aquarium. This was the first time she had ever left Vancouver Island!
Now that Jenelle works with older youth, she finds it particularly amazing when they start to take charge and gain confidence and leadership skills.
Jenelle shares that guiding makes her feel connected to both the local community and a larger community of women throughout the world. She even had the opportunity to attend an international seminar in Oman last November held by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, which as she shares, reminded her of the importance of maintaining these networks of women supporting and leading each other.
For more information about Girl Guides of Canada:
- Learn more about how and when to register your child.
- Volunteer! GGC needs a diversity of people to be role models to the diversity of girls in various communities. You do not need to have any experience, have a daughter, or have been in Guiding as a child.
- Girl Guides of Canada is committed to the values of diversity, inclusion and accessibility.
- Guiding has a lot of specific traditions that you will learn over time. Jenelle remarks that ‘it’s okay if you don’t know what “mug up” or a “sit-upon” is – somebody will be very happy to teach you”‘.
- For our neighbors in the US, check out Girl Scouts of the United States of America.
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