Patricia Whiteley shows off a photo of the group of girls involved with the Canadian Girls in Training program in Vancouver in 1952. Whiteley is organizing the centennial celebration for the program at the First Metropolitan United Church in September.

Patricia Whiteley shows off a photo of the group of girls involved with the Canadian Girls in Training program in Vancouver in 1952. Whiteley is organizing the centennial celebration for the program at the First Metropolitan United Church in September.

Reunion planned for Canadian Girls in Training program

Patricia Whiteley is planning a celebration for the Canadian Girls In Training program (CGIT) that has been 100 years in the making.

Patricia Whiteley has a lot to celebrate.

The James Bay resident is planning a celebration for the Canadian Girls In Training program (CGIT) that has been 100 years in the making.

The national church-based program was developed in 1915 by the YWCA and leaders from Anglican, Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian churches. The program is for girls aged 12 to 17 to participate in activities that teach leadership skills and create well-rounded girls. In the summer there were also camps to attend.

Whiteley joined the program when she was 12 years old.

“I wasn’t going to go to CGIT. My father said I should go and I said no. He gave me very few ultimatums, but when he did, I did as he asked,” laughed Whiteley. “I’m very thankful that I did. I had wonderful leaders, lifelong friends from those days and it increased my ability to plan and organize events.”

Whiteley continued with the program for six years and served as a leader for 25 years in Vancouver, Trail and Victoria. The program gave girls responsibilities and skills, encouraged them to volunteer and help raise money for charitable organizations.

In September, the program is throwing a celebration at the First Metropolitan United Church to help reunite the hundreds of girls who attended the programs in Victoria. So far they have 50 women registered.

James Bay resident Lesley Crassweller is planning on attending the centennial celebration.

“I’ve been able to go to various provinces and meet people that you wouldn’t meet otherwise. I’m just waiting to see who’s coming and what’s happened since the last one,” said Crassweller who was involved with the program for 45 years. “It’s so exciting to see these women just as happy now as they were then. There will be lots of singing and laughing.”

The local luncheon takes place on Sunday, Sept. 27 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the First Metropolitan United Church (932 Balmoral Rd). Registration is $15 and can be sent to the church.