The pandemic has changed the way guides are selling cookies and spending time together
COVID-19 accelerated the Girl Guides of Canada’s plans to begin an online cookie-selling platform that was initially set to release in September 2021.
In previous years, the company only fundraised with their cookies in-person, the only form of payment accepted being cash. Since October, they have been using the e-cookies portal, in order to become more accessible to people across the map.
“Previously cookies were only available through… individuals and group selling, but now they are available through grocery stores and the e-cookies portal,” said Elizabeth Robichaud, a volunteer for the 118th division Toronto guides.
Robichaud is a guider for 17 girls this year, ages nine to 11. She also works with a group of other guides to plan and execute activities for their units.
“This is a way to continue a tradition that’s been going since 1927 and maintain something that adds a little bit more normalcy and routine. Even if it’s not in the same delivery method, it’s still something that we can all rally behind,” said Robichaud.
The e-cookies portal was designed after a survey was circulated to determine if customers would support the online platform.
The way guides have been meeting and participating in group activities has also changed. Parents of the girl guides can decide whether or not they are comfortable with their daughter attending the program in person or take the activity home with them.
“Painting is a great example of where we’ve had to adapt,” said Robichaud.. “We’re providing paintbrushes and individualized painting. For those who may be opting out of in-person meetings, we can create kits that can be picked up. It’s changing a bit of how we plan and also the resources that we’re using, but we’re still doing some traditional activities that girls really enjoy.”
Natalie Smith was a girl guide from 2005 to 2018. When she was in the program, the Guides’ main ways to sell cookies were door-to-door and outside of grocery stores.
“I think it’s an amazing way that they’ve adapted. I just think that they need to maybe get it out a little more. I know that they were selling cookies in stores, but I had no idea that you could go online and order them,” said Smith.
When Smith was in the Guides, she found that participating in activities with other girls was most of the appeal.
“I definitely understand that social distancing is really important. I found when I was in the program, doing those activities with groups of people, it just made it that much more fun. I do hope that when all of this COVID stuff is over, they can go back to that,” said Smith.
As of Nov. 10, the Girl Guides of Canada announced on their website that they have returned to in-person guiding with their new safety protocols having recommendations from Ministries of Public Health, and other experts such as the Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. However, customers can still use the online portal.
“For people in the program right now, I would just say keep your head up,” Smith said. “I know, it’s really tough right now. It’s not how we’re used to doing things, but it’s, it’s a pandemic and we’ll get back to how we used to do things. It might be modified in the future, but the modifications will be for the best for everyone.”