This is not how I wanted to begin my stint as a Girl Guide leader: "Don't worry, the police won't arrest us. We're Girl Guides!"
Alarms blaring at the Meenan's Cove community centre, I did my best to calm the four shocked and screaming first-year Guides in my charge. At the park on an outing, I had taken the girls to use the washroom without realizing I needed to punch a code in the security system after unlocking the door.
After a few panicked moments, the crisis was averted and none of the girls seemed the worse for wear, although I did overhear one say: "That was the most frightening thing that has ever happened to me!"
Despite that rocky start, my foray into Girl Guide leadership was one of the best decisions I made in 2014. And you know why? Because I was scared to do it. Never in my life have I regretted doing something I was scared to do, whether it was a big decision like going to journalism school or having kids or a smaller one like learning to drive or in this case, becoming a Girl Guide leader. Even when it's hard or it doesn't turn out the way I hoped, pushing past a fear always helps me grow.
I hesitated when 4th Quispamsis Guide leader Heidi Quinn asked me if I would help with the group this year. Girl Guide leader? Ha! I hate camping. I don't do crafts. I can't sew more than a button and badly at that. What could I possibly contribute? This was definitely out of my comfort zone. In the end, my oldest daughter gave me the final push. She wanted me to help with her group, and I wasn't going to let an opportunity pass to spend time with her.
Guide meetings are now a highlight of my week. The girls inspire me with their intelligence, creativity, curiosity, enthusiasm, eagerness to learn and humour. ("Let's sing that song like we are constipated!" is not an uncommon request.) I love watching their hands shoot up with questions and marvel at the leadership of some of the older girls as they get their group work done in an inclusive way.
Really, I am just an extra set of hands to veteran leaders Quinn, Carolyn McCoy and Lora Foster who floor me every week with their endless knowledge of campfire songs, fun games and crafts.
The girls don't seem to mind that I'm a rookie when it comes to crafts either.
"I've used a glue gun only twice in my life," I confessed to one girl who needed help making a bookmark.
"Really?" she said.
"Yep. You don't need to take a course on crafting to be a Guide leader," I replied.
"Seriously?" she said, rather astonished.
"I know, right?" I said. "Oh well. Let's give it a whirl together and see what happens."
We did just fine. That same night I helped a girl sew her first button. I could see she was scared to try. I gave her a few pointers and off she went. She sewed it snugly and beamed with pride at a job well done. I beamed with pride that my feeble sewing knowledge was actually helpful to someone. High fives all around!
Now, what fears shall I tackle for 2015? I'll keep you posted. I'm sure humorous adventures will follow, although hopefully the police won't be involved.
Li'l Girl Talk
"Daddy, would you ever change your name to Rico?" says The Oldest, age 11.