Experience of a lifetime for 16-year-old
AMHERST – There’s a lot more to Girl Guides than selling cookies.
Chelsey Gould of Amherst found that out this summer, as the organization took her and several other young Canadian girls on a memorable trip to the Arctic.
© Photo by Jessica C. Levine
Chelsey Gould of Amherst (back, second from right) was one of eight youths from across Canada to take part in Arctic Adventure 2014 through Girl Guides, an organization Chelsey has taken been involved with for 11 years, and she fears for its future due to a decline in adult volunteers.
“I am so glad to have met these people, and now I have friends from all over Canada, just because we were connected through something amazing – Girl Guides,” said Chelsey. “I also came to realize how independent I can be, flying a plane by myself for the first time and arranging for this trip through preparation and fundraising.”
Having been involved in Girl Guides for the past 11 years, the 16-year-old high school student applied in November for one of the trips hosted by the organization every year. She learned in February that she was one of eight girls from across the country selected for “Arctic Adventure 2014,” which took them to Churchill, Man. On July 7-14.
To defray the cost of the trip she worked hard fundraising, and received generous support from local organizations such as the Amherst Rotary Club, the Amherst Lions Club, “The Fellas”, the Cumberland local of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, and numerous friends, including Jen Duguay and Janice Beed-Mead.
“I believe it was so worth the effort to apply for this trip, because what you accomplish from your hard work is overwhelming,” she said. “I am willing to do all that work again, and that’s good because I’ll be looking at international travel soon.”
During the trip the group stayed at the Churchill Northern Sciences Centre, and soaked up plenty of notable experiences, such as observing polar bears in their natural habitat, learning the ways of the Metis culture, walking on the Arctic tundra, and seeing the Aurora Borealis.
Chelsey fears, however, that these opportunities will not be available to other local youths in the future, due to a decline in adult volunteers for guiding in Amherst, which she said has been drastic during her time.
“In Amherst we have always been able to support at least three of the five main branches of guiding (Sparks, Brownies and Guides,)” she explained. “However, next year we may have to lose one of the branches; not because there are no girls, but because there are not enough volunteers.”
She has made it a personal goal to strengthen the guiding community in Amherst by attracting more female volunteers to lead the units, so local girls can enjoy the many experiences provided through guiding, such as camping, meeting friends, and going on trips.
“It has allowed me to become more confident as a person and has expanded my horizons,” she said. “This is why being a Girl Guide is valuable to me, and if we can’t keep that option open to girls at a young age because there is no one to lead the units, then girls won’t be able to experience what I’ve experienced and the guiding community will die here in Amherst.”
For more information about Girl Guides, visit www.girlguides.ca.