Submitted by Jessica Brannon, Co-Leader
The first troop meeting of this year I asked each girl what they most wanted to do in scouts. All except for 2 girls said they wanted to travel. Some requests were simply “go to a beach” while others went big with Paris, London or Canada. Well, lucky for the one girl who chose Canada – and she happened to be a girl that returned this year after previously being with our troop as a Daisy (our troop is now 5th grade Juniors) – we already had a Canadian event planned! And as a teaching moment, it was a good segue way into “how do we pay for big trips like that?” and oh by the way here is your Fall Products info!
This trip was being funded by our spring cookie sales and so our girls had the opportunity to go to Canada and attend the International River Crossing event. Granted, we live in Michigan so it’s not that far. However, only 1 girl had ever been out of the U.S. and many had never been out of the State of Michigan. Canada was a big deal! We are part of the GS Heart of Michigan council and fortunate enough to be able to take part in this function hosted by the GS of Southeast Michigan. The GSSEM works with the Canadian Girl Guides in Ontario to put on this event.
Marine City, MI is about a 2-hour drive from where we live so we decided to have a sleepover at our co-leaders house so we could get up early and hit the road. In preparation for the event we had the girls work on making S.W.A.P.s. I had read enough about the event to know this was a big S.W.A.P. opportunity. Our girls were less than enthusiastic at my suggestion of making about 100 S.W.A.P.s each, which was the recommendation by the GSSEM. We finally said ok you have to make 10. My daughter begged to stop at 9! Apparently we have not made S.W.A.P.-making a big enough priority.
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After a normal restless night (typical GS overnighter you know) we were all ready to go and cross the border early Saturday morning. When we got to Marine City and checked in we received some cool trading cards and info about the various activities planned for the day. The GSSEM and the Canadian Girl Guides did a fantastic job of setting up fun events including a butterfly house, S.W.A.P. making station, science exploration tent and an opportunity to earn a Free to Be Me patch.
But what was THE biggest event you ask? Why S.W.A.P.s of course! Within 5 minutes the girls realized why I was pushing them to make so many. They were enthralled by the many, many girls that had hats, vests and shirts covered with S.W.A.P.s! They proceeded to trade their 9 or 10 S.W.A.P.s over and over. They would get one and trade it off, keeping ones that they thought were the coolest.
Actually, maybe that was the 2nd biggest highlight of the day. The real highlight was taking a ferry to cross the St. Clair River over to Canada. The ferry ride took just a few minutes for the girls to become international travelers. We bought a box of Canadian Girl Guide cookies, their version of the Thin Mint. Yummy! We bought a few little souvenirs and patches to commemorate our visit. We stopped at an ice cream shop and had some flavors of ice cream we’ve never had here in the States. A nice older woman that was talking to my daughter on the ferry ride gave her a Canadian coin and Ellie was ecstatic over that gift! We also chatted with a leader of a Canadian Girl Guide troop. As she was looking at my daughter’s vest and asked what the 200 bar represented, she was amazed that someone could sell 200 boxes of cookies in one season. We told her that was a good amount, but many girls sell way more than that!
So in a day, our girls got a crash course in S.W.A.P.s, ate “foreign” food, earned a cool patch, and of course became international travelers! Oh and at the next troop meeting several of the girls informed me that had started making S.W.A.P.s at home so they will be prepared the next time they need them!