Guiding and Scouting

By Jill Passmore, Visitor Experience Co-ordinator

Some of the earliest and most fond memories of growing up in Oshawa stem from my family’s involvement in Guiding and Scouting. Everything happened at Glen Stewart Club House on Cartier Avenue, just west of the Oshawa Centre, though I’m fairly certain Waverly PS and St. Michael CS were temporary or later locations for some units.

I started as a Brownie, with a brown dress uniform, white tie with orange maple leafs printed on it, and sash and small leather pouch for dues. Today my daughter wears pants and a t-shirt with brown trim. The tie is the same, but the maple leafs are brown. The sash is still there but online payments ahead of time or post dated cheques have replaced the dues pouches! An online program has even replaced the Brownie workbook, but that just happened this year. Later I flew up to Guides, wearing my sister’s hand me down uniform, which I donated to the Museum within the last few years.

Guiding taught me so many important life lessons and I am proud to tell people how I learned them. The responsibility of taking care of a pet, learning to do laundry and why it’s important to keep a clean home. How to sew on a button and be a good hostess. These may seem dated and useless to many kids today, but I challenge you to find an eleven year old who can properly introduce themselves to adults or sew a hole in their clothing.

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My parents were supportive when we no longer wanted to be involved in Guiding or Scouting, but until then, they were just as involved as we were. Dad was Hawkeye and Mom was Rainbow as Beaver and Cub leaders. After I was finished with Guiding, I still spent a lot of time attending Cub meetings when my Mom was working. My Dad tired hard to lobby for me to join the organization at a time when the policy was staunchly ‘no girls allowed.’ My son wondered why I was able to tell him what the Beaver Motto was (complete with bent beaver teeth hand gesture); I bet he’ll wonder when I can recite the Cub Grand Howl to him too!

Recently, we all had the opportunity to visit the Scout Shop at Camp Samac. Did you know that it still smells the same thirty years later? Growing up the whole family had grey wool campfire blankets. We would sew on patches and badges we’d earned and later of other places we’d visited. When I went as a kid, we’d always get to pick out a new patch that we would sew on ourselves. We all took great pride in our campfire blankets. Returning as an adult is just as fun. Everything has a slightly different meaning. My new ‘I survived camp’ patch means I got through the weekend by sleeping in a trailer with a clean bathroom and kids that haven’t maimed each other and a bottle of wine, and not my daughter’s version of ‘I survived one night of Sparks camp without my brother.’

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I’m hoping that my kids will begin to understand how meaningful these experiences will be to them in the future. The games I played, the songs I’ve sung are all things that I share with them now as a parent and product of Guiding and Scouting.

My Reflections of Oshawa

By Jill Passmore, Visitor Experience Co-ordinator

I grew up on the west side of Oshawa, very close to the Whitby border. There have been many changes in that area in the last 30 years. I watched from my backyard as two plazas were being built on the north and south sides of King Street and Thornton Road. Sheridan Nurseries and a van rental company had occupied the land on the south side prior to the plaza being built. When it first opened, a Don Cherry’s Sports Bar was located there. I remember coming outside to hear that my dad and sister had just met Mr. Cherry himself! He was there checking out the restaurant.

We went on many walks and bike rides through Union Cemetery, picking wildflowers to lay on random graves. On one walk my brother fell behind and we heard him screaming like a banshee a few minutes later. We thought he thought he’d seen a ghost or something. It turns out he had just lost a marble!

I attended St. Michael Catholic Elementary School with my siblings and was saddened to hear that it would be closing due to low attendance. But now I am proud to see that it is being used for the Trent University – Oshawa campus.

We practically lived at the Civic Auditorium. Every Sunday in the winter we’d be at public skating. The theme from St. Elmo’s Fire was *THE* song to skate to! We’d always try and make it to the Skate With the Generals events too. Skate with the Generals, watch the Gens practices, go to games. A pretty decent benefit of living close to the Civic.

While I wasn’t born in Oshawa, I’ve been here long enough that it’s my hometown for sure. I’ve grown up with so many wonderful memories of this town, it’s difficult to hear people knock it. They obviously don’t know a good thing when they see it!

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