December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas wishes to one and all!

What a whirlwind, unpredictable, often trying year it's been on this end. Never dull for the tiniest of moments, 2011 has been one of the rockiest years I can recall throughout my adult life.

Yet, I’m the first to admit that it could (goodness forbid!) have certainly been worse, and I'm immensely grateful for those moments that did go right and the special people in my life who have helped make this year more bearable.

All thoughts of the past twelve months are but a distant memory this morning though, for Christmas is here and with it the invaluable gift of the unwritten future that lies ahead for 2012 and beyond.

While things for many, myself very much included, continue to be quite slow on the patch trading front, there too lies the prospect that perhaps one of these days our beloved hobby will see a resurgence of activity once again.


{A wonderfully charming vintage image of Canadian Girl Guide and Boy Scout who were helping Santa Claus deliver Christmas gifts to needy children during the 1920s. Photograph by way of The Glenbow Museum on Flickr.}


For the moment though, all is calm and right in the world on this frosty winter morn. Neighbourhood lights twinkle like fireflies in the pale morning light as a bitingly cold wind rustles through the air, while deep inside the recesses of my little apartment, the kitchen is already starting to heat up with activity for today's feast.

Soon present will be opened, laughter shared, smiles passed around the room, and holiday songs played for the soundtrack of another beautiful December 25th.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish each and every one of you a truly, incredibly lovely Christmas, holiday season, and New Year!

Let us all raise our glasses in a collective toast to the inspiring, important, and downright wonderful spirit of this most glorious time of the year.

♥ Jessica

November 21, 2011

Interviewed about my love of patch collecting

Recently I was contact by a young gal named Lilly from the States who wanted to interview about my interest in patch collecting for a school paper she was writing.

I was deeply touched that wanted to do so and instantly agreed to conduct an interview by email. Once it was completed, I asked her if she'd be ok me publishing her questions along with my answers to them here on this site and she said that was totally fine that.

Though I've been interviewed before by various blogs, publications and radio stations in relation to certain interests and aspects of my life, this was the first interview I'd had pertaining to patch collecting, which makes extra special in my eyes.

Long time readers of this blog may already know some of this information about me and my history with patch collecting, but as I haven't done a post on the specifics of what got me into swapping and gathering Girl Guide and Girl Scout patches in quite a while, I thought that this interview would make for a great post on that topic.

Without further ado, here's the lovely interview that Lilly and I held last week.


1. What was the first girl guide item you collected?

Technically the first Girl Guide item I collected with a Girl Guides of Canada Brownie program book and small number of Brownie badges that had belonged to one of my aunts in the 1960s. My Grandma gave me these items to play with for fun when I was little, however I did not become a member of the Girl Guides of Canada myself until a few years later when I was 12 years old. Once I was part of the GGC myself, I began to ardently trade and collect Girl Guide patches at camps and other Guiding events (in my home province of British Columbia) and have been hooked on collecting GG items ever since!


2. Why did you decide to collect girl guide insignia?

I've always enjoyed collecting a wide array of items (I have pretty eclectic tastes), but for me as an adult now these days, collecting Girl Guide items is a way to keep the wonderful memories I have of my years as a youth member of the GGC alive and in my heart. I've been chronically ill for the past decade and not well enough to be an active member of the GGC, so for me collecting is also an especially important way to not lose the connection I loved so much when I was younger with Guiding.


3. What is your favorite item in your collection?

This is a very tricky question to answer, because I have so many favourites, but I would have to say that my favourite item is the red and white, tasselled Canada Cord which I earned myself when I was a Pathfinder.


4.) How or where do you get your pins/badges/patches from?

When I was a youth member of the GGC I collected all of my patches and pins with other girls or adult members at camps and other Guiding events, however since I began collecting again a few years ago (in 2007), I've connected almost solely with fellow collectors online and arranged trades by email (with the items themselves going out and arriving by postal mail). Through online trading I've connected with people as close as my own city and as far away as places like Australia and South Africa - some of whom have since become good friends (as tends to happen when Girl Guides and Girl Scouts connect anywhere!).


5. Was there anyone who inspired you to start collecting Girl Guide insignia?

No, not specially. I started collecting out of my own interest in Guiding as a girl and collected the whole time I was with the GGC. In 2007, wanting to reconnect with my Guiding roots, but not being in good enough health to be an active member of the GGC, I started collecting again and have been doing so ever since (and certainly plan to collect for as long as I possibly can).

6. How long have you had your collection?

Unfortunately only a few (perhaps six or seven) items from my childhood collection survive any more (nearly all of my first Girl Guide collection was lost during a move many years ago), however I've built up a wonderful collection over the past four years, which is the duration for which I've been collecting again for as a adult.


7. Why did you start your blog for girl guides and girl scout?

I started my Girl Guide and Girl Scout blog primarily for two main reasons. One, to share my love of Guiding and patch collecting with the world, and secondly as a means by which to connect with fellow patch collectors online.


I want to sincerely thank Lilly for finding me, this blog, and my patch collect interesting enough to interview. Doing so was a total joy and I very much hope that my answers helped her get a great grade on her school assignment.

October 20, 2011

Requirements for the All Round Cord

It's fascinating, as a result of this blog (which, has been online now for nearly four years, can you believe it?), I'm frequently contacted by all kinds of folks from around the world who have a bevy of different questions pertaining to Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

Sometimes people want to know what a specific badge or patch is (and certainly if I know, or have an idea as to where they can look to find that info out, I tell them), others want to share their personal Guiding experiences with me.

Many people are interested in knowing if I have a specific item they're after (remember, you can always see a current list of what I have available in my Dupes and Traders list), and others still have a more obscure query (such as if I know who the mascot was for a certain camp).

From time-to-time I hear from people who are curious as to what the specific requirement were to earn a certain badge, pin, or cord.

Earlier this month I received an email from a woman who was wondering what a girl had to do to earn the GGC's All Round Cord during the 1990s (this much loved Guide award was in place between roughly 1910 and 1993).

(The All Round Cord, also known as the All Around Cord, as it looked during the 80s and 90s. Image first used in my post from 2009 about what your Holy Grail of Girl Guide Collecting is.)

Though I don't have a copy of the GGC's Guide handbook from the the very early 90s, I do have one from the 80s, which includes the criteria one needed to complete in order to earn the All Round Cord. The requirements really didn't change much between the 80s and 90s, so I felt confident sharing this information with someone else.

Many of us are intrigued by all of the cords that the Girl Guides of Canada have offered over the years (including the Gold Cord and Canada Cord, on top of the All Round Cord), so I thought that I'd share the same information with all of you, too, in case anyone else out there is curious about what the requirements were that one had to complete in order to qualify for the All Round Cord.

According to the 1981 copy of the Girl Guides of Canada’s Guide program book that I have, in order to earn the All Round Cord, a Guide needed to do/earn (all of) the following:

-The Complete Adventure Challenge (badge set) and Voyageur Challenge (badge set)

-Complete at least one of the following badges: History, World Trefoil or World Neighbor Badge

-Hold the Camp Badge, plus at least four of the following badges: Explorer, Stalker, Astronomer, Naturalist, Hiker, Trackers, Forest, Bird Watcher, Outdoor Adventure, Ecologist, Conservationist, or Wildflower

-Hold at least one of the following badges: Cook, Homemaker, Handywoman, or Seamstress

-Hold at least one of the following badges: Fire Safety, First Aid, or Rescuer

-Hold both the Citizen and Law Awareness badges

-Hold at least one of the following badges: Health, Keep-Fit, or Athlete

-Learn about three organizations or agencies which held others. Tell how you could work with or contribute to the work of one of these.

-Chose and carry out a project in which you give service to others. This project was a challenge that was approved and evaluated by a Guide's company and the person(s) to whom she gave the service.

-Find out about Pathfinders and take part in an activity with them, if possible.

-Do a project which shows what the Promise and Law mean to you. This was then presented to either the Guide's Company or a small group of Guides.

"When you have checked off each of the items in this record you will have earned the All Round Cord. Congratulations!"


Though this was certainly a heavy work load, it wasn't incredibly tricky, especially for those girls who were quite keen on earning badges, and as a result thousands of young women earned the All Round Cord over the decades it was in use.

While no longer used today, the All Round Cord still sparks memories for many who were involved with Guiding when it was a popular part of the Guide program.

Much sought after as a collectible, those hoping to track down a blue and white All Round Cord of their own, are wise to keep their eyes peeled on eBay, where this earned Guide item does, very occasionally, pop up.

I'm always interested in trying to help people who are interested in Girl Guiding and Scouting, so if you have a query of any sort (while I can't promise you I know the answer), by all means feel free to email me with your Guiding questions any time.

August 31, 2011

It's time to kick off a great new Guiding year!

There's still a hefty glint of sunshine in the air, but as the days grow a little shorter and the familiar routine of the school year starts up again next week, it's time to make peace with the fact (hard as it can be sometimes!) summer will soon be behind us.

I've always loved autumn (it's my favourite season), and have especially fond memories of the new Guiding years that September ushered in. Just as going back to class meant fresh pencils, squeaky crisp binders, and perfectly unmarred erasers, so too did starting another Guiding year bring the chance to earn more badges, make new friends, and amass a wonderful array of skills.

Though those lovely days of badge work and weekend camps are long behind me, I still get a serge of excitement as the Guiding year gets underway and have been sorting through my patch box, organizing and doing inventory, for much of this week.

As a result I've updated my Dupes and Traders list, with what I believe to be an accurate account of those items I presently have available to swap.

I know that not as many of us are swapping these days, but for those who still are, I'd always love to hear from you. Shoot your patch trading offer my way and we can definitely go from there.


(Autumn and the return of the Guiding season means it's time to live the words of the classic Girl Guide song that say, "Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold". Making patch trading friends is always a great thing, too! Smile Image via the Girl Guides of Canada's clip art collection.)

Whether you're heading back to school, Guiding, or just readying yourself for the changing of the seasons, I wish you all a beautiful, happy, super fun month of September.

Here's to a great new Guiding - and patch trading - year ahead!

August 8, 2011

Memories of SOAR 1998

There are certain events in one's life that stick with them like super glue throughout all of their days. Sometimes an event is momentary - your first kiss, the instant your newborn child cries for the first time - other are longer, spanning days, weeks or even whole months at a time. While not as momentous as, say, my wedding day, one event that had a profound impact on my life was SOAR 1998.

For those who haven't heard of the Girl Guides of Canada SOAR (which stands for Spirit of Adventure Rendezvous) camps before, they're large week long camps for both Canadian and international Guiding members that are held in various lovely locations throughout the province of British Columbia.

As with many big camps - even national level ones - that carry hefty price tags, preparing for SOAR took several months of creative, dedicated fundraising and more than a little elbow grease. We did bottle drive after bottle drive, hosted event nights for friends and family, worked at the local Christmas craft fair, anything and everything we could think of to help us reach the funding we needed to attend SOAR 1998.

It was close in the end - I still remember standing in a local park near the beach in my hometown while one of my Guiders stressed to parents how important it was that contribute whatever they could to help send their daughters to this wonderful camp.

She was right, it was wonderful - in more ways than I could have ever imagined as I trudged through the snow in early spring to sell cookies for a camp that would take place under the sizzling hot July sun.

I'd been to many of Girl Guide camps before my feet hit the long, dusty path that wound through thick Vancouver Island brush to reach the SOAR '98 campsite. Some had been overnight, others for a weekend or three days - but this camp, at a week long - was not only my biggest camp to date, it was also going to be the longest I'd ever spent away from home and my family.

It would take a lifetime for me to explain the dynamics of my home life when I was growing up, but sufficient to say, it wasn't exactly a bed of roses. Freedom was as obtainable to me as a child as the sea is to a person standing smack dab in the middle of the Sahara desert, so you can imagine my elation at being hundreds of miles away from home, just my close Pathfinder friends (and our two Guiders) and I setting up tents, cooking three hearty meals a day, learning new skills and having a ball.

SOAR '98 was many things, one of the most memorable of which was hot, hot, hot! In fact, though I do recall at least one drizzly day, this camp earned the nickname "Sear" because of it's constant warm temps and gorgeous sunshine.

Under that toasty summer light I paddled a canoe, hiked up a mountain, bicycled for 40 kilometers (my legs felt like aching Jell-o after that!), paddled canoes, made my first (and subsequently second) dream catcher, learned about the eco system of Sooke (where the camp was located), greatly enjoyed a day trip into Victoria, and swapped with anyone and everyone I came in contact with during the whole week (but that, I think, is another post unto itself).

Over the week my summer tan darkened, I slept beneath the diamond-esque stars, took a shower under a bag of water with a hole poked in it. I spent my own money on souvenirs without having to ask my parents for permission to do so (or doing so in secret, which would have been more probable by that age).

I bonded even more deeply with the other Pathfinders in my unit (two of whom, Karen an Anne, were my best friends at the time), stood my ground during an argument that arose one evening during meal prep, sent postcards home to my siblings, took walks around camp on my own and felt, perhaps for the first real time in my young life, like I could sense what adulthood was going to be like.

Of all the things to take away from a week long summer camp, that may seem like an odd one, but it was so immensely poignant in shaping many of the life altering decisions I would make in the coming years.

Though sadly, I do not have any photos from that camp (and the only patches from it currently in my collection are ones I've bought online in recent years), the memories of those summer days spent on Vancouver Island, camping with around 2,000 other Guiding sisters, learning new skills (both Guiding and life related) and growing as a person will remain vivid in my memory for the rest of time.

While '98 remains the only SOAR I've ever attended, with the recent occurrence of SOAR 2011, I couldn't help but pause to reflect back, with a wave of nostalgia and immense fondness, at that amazing week I spent under the golden Sooke sun and the many, many important lessons I learned from my time at such an exceellent Guide camp.

June 12, 2011

Going to be missing in patch trading action for a little while


My goodness, can we really be nearly half way through the sixth month of the year?! I realize that there haven’t been too many new posts so far throughout 2011 on this site, my friends, but serious ongoing health problems have been occupying much of my time.

To that extent, this message is actually to let you all know that I’m going to be heading into the hospital for a pair of surgeries this week, and that I will not likely be online much (if at all) for the rest of the month. (For more details about this matter, please see the post on my other blog, Chronically Vintage, about it.)

As always, you can send patch trading offers my way, just be aware that it may be a smidge before you hear back from me.

Whatever you’ve got planned for the coming summer (or winter, for those south of the equator) months – from starry nights spent in a sleeping bag under the stars to mountain hikes, international Guiding trips to some good old fashioned patch trading around a campfire, I wish you all an absolutely fantastic summer!!!

March 21, 2011

Have you seen Lee Ann's awesome Girl Guide patch collection?

No? Neither had I until a Google search last night (for "Northwest Territories Guide patches", a term I periodically hunt for in the hope that someone out there on the good ol' interwebs will be looking to swap some of their NTW or Yukon patches) led me to discover the delightful homepage of a fellow collector named Lee Ann, whose put up images of some of here wonderful Girl Guide patch collection on her site.

Sadly over the last few years, many folks who once kept similar sites bursting with photos and/or scans of their great collection of Girl Guide and Girl Scout patches have closed down, which makes it all the more awesome that people like Lee Ann (whose patch collection - which includes very recent items, including some GGC centenary patches - attests to the fact that this site is currently wonderfully up-to-date) decide to share their treasured collections with the world.

Though I couldn't find an email address on Lee Ann's site (so as to contact her to discuss doing a patch swap), she does have guest book on her site, which you can contact her through (or simply leave a friendly message from a fellow patch collector, if you prefer).

Thank you, Lee Ann, for sharing your marvelous collection of beautiful GGC items with the world. Finding your site has definitely been one of the patch collecting highlights of 2011 for me! :)

February 28, 2011

Are you looking for Girl Guide cookies?


Like many of us, I have scores of memories pertaining to Girl Guide cookies. I happily trooped around my neighbourhood as a youngster (often with my elementary school best friend and fellow Girl Guide, Karen, and my little sister in tow) selling box after box, case after case of Classic Vanilla and Chocolate cookies, as well as those wonderfully scrumptious Thin Mint cookies (which were often easier, I found, to sell in multiples).

Girl Guide cookies are delightfully fun to eat, while also being highly important to the GGC (the funds they generate go a very long way in helping the organization). However, sometimes they can be tricky to track down (even during cookie campaign time), especially if you don't live in the immediate vicinity of a Guiding unit. For example, I've lived at the same address for the better part of three years and never in all that time, have I had a single Spark, Brownie, Guide, Pathfinder, or Ranger come merrily knocking on my door with their case of cookies.

Yet, what some folks may not know is that many Guide units (and/or District offices) often have a supply of cookies available for part or all of the year (or know another unit that still has some in stock). If you're not a member (or have a child who is) of the GGC though, it can sometimes be tough to find unit in the phone book or by word of mouth.

Happily for all those who are looking for Guide cookies, there's a great form on the Girl Guides of Newfoundland and Labrador's website that you can fill out and then be put in touch with the nearest GGC unit in your area.

So the next time a craving for a wonderfully crisp vanilla sandwich cookie or delectably sweet Thin Mint biscuit strikes you in between cookie campaigns, you can get in contact with the just the right person to help satisfy your need, while your purchase helps the GGC at the same time (definitely a great - and very yummy - win-win situation all around!).

January 31, 2011

New Girl Scout patch collector launches blog

You may have heard me comment on before that it seems as though with each passing day (or least month) there are fewer and fewer of us actively trading and collecting patches online any more. Whereas once this hobby was alive and buzzing across the net, these days it seems that more many more sites devoted to patch collecting come down than go up.

As such, I feel that when I get wind of a new site or blog devoted in some capacity to Girl Guide and/or Girl Scout patch trading and collecting, it's all I can do not to jump for joy! I love knowing that people are still taking up (or renewing an interest in) this rewarding, fun-filled hobby, and believe that those of us in the GG/GS patch trading community should do our best to help support these fledgling collectors.

A few days ago I received a lovely email from a woman named Ashley "Stormy" Martin in which she informed me of her brand new site, called "Stormy's WAGGGS Patch Trading Blog", that's devoted to her interest in GSUSA patch collecting.

I'm sure many of can remember when we first started building up our collections and how fantastic it felt when veteran traders were able to help us out by swapping patches and sharing their years of knowledge with us. I will always be indebted to a few kind souls who assisted me in this way (especially my good friend Louise St. Germain).

I definitely remember how I felt when I started collecting patches online, openly encourage any and all fellow patch collectors who are reading this post to bop on over to Stormy's great new blog to say "hello" and see if there's something on her dupes list (which includes some of the beautiful new GSUSA 100th anniversary items) that you'd like to trade for.

If this terrific hobby of ours is going to continue to thieve as we head into the second decade of the twenty-first century, we really need to foster and support new patch traders as much as possible, and I for one am absolutely thrilled to see sites like Stormy's blog emerging again.