MOUNT FOREST ‒ The future of Mount Forest Girl Guides remains in jeopardy as their search continues for a new co-leader.
Cancelling their first meeting of the year and turning to social media last week after their former co-leader stepped down unexpectedly, current troop leader, Mary Wettlaufer, said trying to fill the position has been "stressful and time-consuming."
With meetings set to resume next week, Wettlaufer has received two inquiries for the position but maintained that volunteers are still needed, especially during camping and field trips.
"Throughout the years, it's sad but we are slowly dying down, especially in small communities like Mount Forest," said Wettlaufer. "No one really has time to volunteer even if it's an hour because life is so busy."
With seven active members, the Mount Forest Girl Guides began in 2018 after the previous unit closed due to a lack of volunteers.
In 2021, Girl Guide troupes in Elora and Fergus also faced closures but were able to rebound after the community rallied together.
“The biggest thing is to see a smile on their faces,” said Wettlaufer. “(We get to see) them grow as they have more confidence in who they are and who they want to be.”
Wettlaufer started volunteering for the troupe five years ago when her daughter asked to join the group.
Since then, Wettlaufer said she's had a fair share of new experiences alongside her girls, with highlights including a horse-drawn sleigh ride through Owen Sound last year.
"There's a lot of people that want to volunteer but they don't have the time," said Wettlaufer. "So it's been hard trying to fit into (our volunteers) schedules, especially if they have children."
While the group shrank to three during COVID-19, when regular activity resumed last year, Wettlaufer said all former members were beyond excited to rejoin the troupe in an offline setting.
"Whatever they feel like they want to do, I just get right into it," said Wettlaufer. "They come up with the ideas and I just arrange something so I can get them to do what they would like to do."
This year, Wettlaufer plans to emphasize the importance of volunteering to the troupe, with the activities planned including community garbage pick-ups and coordinating with other volunteer groups like the Mount Forest Lions Club.
"I think it is so important because it gives them a self-awareness of things that are going on in the community,” said Wettlaufer. “We're all girls, we're all in this together, and we all support each other. It's a sisterhood."
Meetings for the Mount Forest Girl Guides begin next Monday and will continue into the spring. More information can be found here.
Isabel Buckmaster is the Local Journalism Initiative reporter for GuelphToday. LJI is a federally-funded program.