It took six or seven months to settle on a name for the new branch. About 1,000 Guiders sent in suggestions of almost 200 names. Some names that were popular in one part of Canada had different meanings in another part; many were already "owned" by business or industry; others were double entendres; and still others were quite inappropriate, even hilariously so. "Sparks" wasn't even on the committee's original short list.
However, one of the first things we had to do was decide on a colour because of the time factor involved in designing, manufacturing and distributing uniform and program-related items. Like the program manual, they had to be ready for the field to purchase in September.
In late January 1988, I was at a conference for Ontario's Senior Branches Guiders where I was asked for information about the new five-year-olds' program. I mentioned our need to find a colour for the youngest branch of Guiding.
Immediately, a Guider jumped up and waved aloft a hot pink Hilroy Note Tote binder. "Take this!" she said excitedly. "Show it to them. It's the exact colour. Every five-year-old loves it!"
A little taken aback by her vehemence, I said I'd suggest it at the next meeting of the committee. "That's not good enough!" she exclaimed. "This is the exact colour."
She opened the book's rings, took out her own papers and thrust the empty binder in my hand. I asked for her address so that I could return it to her. "I don't want it back. It's yours to keep. I want that colour."
To this day, I have no idea who the Guider was. I still have that hot pink Note Tote and keep ideas for Sparks in it, including the few sets of minutes from the task group along with the paper I prepared for the group's presentation to National Council.
At the next meeting of the task group, I told the story and showed the binder. The Director of the Merchandising Centre, who was a member of the task group, sent for colour swatches and in short order we found the match for the hot pink of the binder.
I knew it was the right colour. That season, little girls in every schoolyard I passed and every children's clothing store in malls had hot pink jackets.
And that's how the T-shirt and all the subsequent items for Sparks became
pink. Sparks pink.
Note: The Sparks program was changed to a two-year program for 5 and 6 year-olds (Kindergarten and Grade One), and Brownies reduced from a three to two-year program for 7 and 8 year-olds in 1995.