by Jean Ann Berkenpas

Paige Springer (left) and Acaica Anderson practice their snowshoeing high above Valemount. / SUBMITTED

This winter, a small group of Girl Guides has been venturing into the local backcountry through some overnight snowshoeing trips. The group is unique in that their programing is centred on camping and outdoor excursions. The group gets out for active adventures throughout the year, each time discovering a bit more of the wilderness around Valemount.

Amy Pawliuk is a leader of three 12-year-old girls, participating in a Trex group this year. Trex is under the umbrella of Girl Guides, and is considered an “Extra Ops” (for “Extraordinary Options”). It is for 12 to 17 year olds who want to take on bigger and more challenging outdoor adventures. This winter they have snowshoed in to the McKirdy Meadows backcountry cabin and spent a night at Camp Creek Cabin. Both cabins are run by the Yellowhead Outdoor Recreation Association (YORA).

The Girl Guides of Canada is an organization that provides an inclusive all-girls environment. The aim is for girls to take the lead, take on new challenges, build skills, and make friends. The core programing takes place in five different age groups: Sparks (5-6 year-olds), Brownies (7-8 year-olds), Guides (9-11 year-olds), Pathfinders (12-14 year-olds), and Junior Leaders/Rangers (15-18 year-olds). According to the Girl Guides of Canada, Trex is an option “for young women who love to tackle challenging, exciting and bold outdoor adventures.”

The pair clean up after a meal in the McKirdy YORA cabin. / SUBMITTED

The group meetings of Trex focus on trip planning, and less on the traditional earning of badges and recognition. The majority of time together is spent outside adventuring.

Pawliuk finds it rewarding to see the girls gain confidence and inspiration from their trips.

“It is amazing to see the sense of self accomplishment and awe, when you get them to a ridge top and they get a 360 degree view on their own feet,” says Pawliuk.

She also grew up in Valemount exploring the outdoors through Girl Guides and with friends and family.

The girls recently snowshoed up the 6km trail to the cabin, which climbs 500m (the equivalent of 151 stories). They spent the night there and also did some exploring in the area, including a snowshoe hike to the top of the meadow above the cabin. From the ridgeline they were up above the clouds, with an expansive blue sky above and views of Mount Robson in the distance.

“We don’t allow any electronic devices on our trips other than cameras,” says Pawliuk.

This helps the girls engage with each other and their environment. According to her, the girls manage just fine. They are happily entertained with each other’s company and by learning social games that don’t rely on handheld devices. Cat’s Cradle was a big hit on the last trip.

The girls will be doing more trips throughout the year, including a combined Scouting and Guiding event in May. The girls have caught the adventure bug, and are embracing the wealth of opportunities for outdoor adventure in the Robson Valley and beyond.