Every week I volunteer with the Girl Guides (a girls-only volunteer organization similar to the Scouts, with less focus on knots and more glitter-glue). Along with my fellow volunteers, I spend an hour or two each week planning activities, doing paper work, and getting supplies for whatever the week’s activities are. Most meeting nights we try to expose the girls to things they wouldn’t normally see or do.
So, what’s the best place to show the Guides new things? Why, Camp, of course!
Camp is, hands down, the thing I love most about volunteering with the Girl Guides. Sometimes it’s “camp” at a facility (more of an overnight sleepover with really cool activities). Other times it’s the traditional camp in the woods, sleeping in tents, using an outhouse and learning how to best maintain camping spaces for future visitors.
One of my fellow volunteers has introduced our unit to the “leave no trace” approach to camping. I’ll be talking more about this when I prepare for summer camp, but basically it’s about camping in a way that doesn’t impact the space you’ve visited (for example, using existing fire pits, taking out everything you’ve taken in, garbage included, and so on).
For camping of the “overnight sleepover” variety, Manuel’s River (officially the Manuel’s River Hibernia Interpretation Centre ) offers an overnight program perfectly suited to this type of indoor Guide camp. My Girl Guide unit went there for camp last night and I’m definitely making a note to go back to that place again!
It’s a Wacky World!
We participated in the “Wacky Science” program, and the girls were thrilled! It started, as many of these things do, with fun-and-games. Icebreaker fun let the Guides get acquainted with our hosts and the facility.
Next, we moved onto some fun science activities – making a room-temperature lava lamp and then on to how to make film canisters – gasp – explode, along with some other amusing and messy experiments. (side note: I had a laugh when I overheard one of the hosts say to her colleague: “you gave them how much? I guess this will be really fun…”).
Nothing thrilled the Guides more than waiting for each canister to pop apart, some flopping over with a small -poof-, others jumping apart with a satisfying, ceiling-hitting -POW-.
Once the commotion from explosions (EXPLOSIONS!) had died down, the girls got to unwind before bed with some non-science entertainment. Manuel’s River has a nice theatre where the girls got to view a movie and have a pre-bed snack.
In the morning, we all had breakfast (using washable, “leave no trace”-approved dishes) before we headed out onto the trail for a guided hike and a game our hosts called “trilobite tag”. If you’re familiar with “freeze tag”, then you already know ninety-percent of “trilobite tag”: All but two people are trilobites. A person who’s “it” turns the trilobites into fossils by tagging them (like being frozen in “freeze tag”, fossils can’t move). A person who’s the “paleontologist” discovers (unfreezes) the fossils, again by tagging them. Rinse and repeat.
I’m pretty sure we’ll be playing “trilobite tag” for the rest of the year.
Staff and Facilities
The hosts were knowledgeable and informative, quickly answering all of the oodles of questions that the girls could think of. On the hike, our hosts offered a few historical tid-bits of info as we walked, as well as educating everyone on some of the differences between Fir and Spruce trees.
If we had had more time indoors (say, if the trails weren’t available) we could have also visited the facility’s exhibits. Unfortunately, we played one too many rounds of “trilobite tag”, so I don’t have much to say on this side of things. From my quick glance around, I’m intrigued enough to take my family when we have some down time in the spring.
Regarding the cost, they charge a reasonable rate for the overnight (which includes breakfast and all the activities, plus a large room to camp in as a group), however they do charge for adults over a ratio of 10:1 (for every 10 kids, they offer free admission to one adult). At Guides, we have a minimum 8:1 ratio for camps, so keep this extra cost in mind if you’re planning to visit with a group.
In a nutshell
In general, my measure of a camp success involves a tally of: how many times someone cried; how many times someone sat in a corner refusing to participate; how many kids went home early; and how many injuries were incurred. I’m happy to report that this time around the count was zero across the board.
Overall, the Manuel’s River experience was a positive one, due in large part to the well-organized program and knowledgeable hosts. The girls thoroughly enjoyed their overnight stay, and we’ll definitely be going back for camp in the future.
If you’re looking for a spot to bring a gaggle of kids overnight, Manuels River is a great place!