Thursday, 31 July 2014

So D-Day is approaching ... or C-Day I guess we should call it!

Lucy O'Donovan (left) and
Órla Reilly all set for Chief's!
Rucksacks are at the ready, boots are worn in, tents have been put up and down countless times and the last minute excited jitters have set in. It can only mean one thing .. The Chief Commissioner's Award 2014!

It feels like just yesterday Órla and I discussed doing Chief's together and signed up, but the days just flew by and now it's right around the corner! When we first decided to take on the challenge we sat down and planned a training schedule  (this wasn't easy as Órla and I both had holidays, Guide trips and shift work to get our heads around)! 

We started training by carrying those large 5 litre bottles of water in our rucksacks and walking around 8km. It sounds crazy but it really worked! We started to up our mileage and started adding things like the trangia, sleeping bags and sleeping mats to our rucksacks as the weeks went on. Then when we had put everything we might have needed for Chief's into our bags, we took out the 5 litres.... what a relief! Now the bag was much more manageable as we had got used to carrying so much more.

All my friends thought I was utter bananas when I explained I was being dropped in a place I didn't know for a week, with a strict budget to live on, camping in a tent every night, carrying everything I needed on my back and, oh yeah, the fact I would be covering 60km! And I would be enduring all of this in the hopes of getting a certificate, a woggle and, hopefully, a pin. But I guess that's Guiding for you! For Guides, this is a great opportunity.. but to others it's complete insanity! 

I'd be lying if I said I'm 100% confident and not at all scared about the challenge ahead. I'm quite nervous! (Did I mention that we don't actually know where Chief's is being held until the day?) but I've heard so many great stories about previous participants' adventures and how they got involved in the communities they walked through, so I'm looking forward to making my own. I know I've got a great partner in Órla who has exactly the same drive and humour as me and I'm sure we'll laugh and joke our way through the tough bits!

I hope you've enjoyed this little snip-it of my Chief's journey to date. Keep an eye on this blog during the 3rd-10th of August for updates and on the IGG Facebook page, Chief Commissioner's Award page and Senior Branch Facebook page as well as IGG twitter.

We won't have access to technology at all during the week (another part of the challenge), so if anyone has some final words of wisdom or encouragement for me, or any of the other Chief's participants. please let us know in the comments below as soon as possible! 

~ Lucy O'Donovan, Abbey Rangers, Kinsale

Friday, 11 July 2014

Proud to be Irish!

We have come to the final day of the conference and it's another emotional one. The 600 of us here in Hong Kong came together to share ideas and discuss policies and strategies so that Guiding/Girl Scouting can reach even more girls than it already does. This is part of our Vision 2020 and means every organisation needs to grow membership by offering quality non-formal educational programmes to our young people. This can be a challenge but I found great solace in the organisations here who increased their membership by over 200% in the triennium. I hope that we too can do that in IGG. Wouldn't it be great if every girl in Ireland had the option of Guiding in their local village or centre? 

Standing in the conference hall, it was great to think of the contribution IGG has made on the global stage of WAGGGS - we have 'produced' the head of the World Board in the past, the head of the Europe Region, we have had members on various world committees, we hosted the World Conference and today it was great to have our own Lorna join forces with her fellow Drogheda woman, Mary McPhail the Chief Executive of the entire world association. Up Louth!

The final day was a day of workshops and sharing of best practice and then the final voting session. It was quite a long session given all the motions and amendments we had to consider but we got through them all and well done to all those on the relevant committee who remained calm and professional throughout the whole process. These decisions shape the future direction of our organisation and are important to enable us to move towards good governance, transparency and compliance with charity regulation. As we here in Ireland, go through the same steps with the pending implementation of the Charity Act, we can empathise with those who put in long hours to ensure WAGGGS is also on the right track as a charitable organisation. 

And then came the goodbyes and farewells. Some people whom we have met before at other events and were reconnecting with, others who became good friends in a short space of time. Our new World Board Chair Nicola Grinsted gave each of us her personal commitment, and that of her committee, that they will work to ensure we continue to be the most powerful organisation for girls and young women in the world! 

Then we headed to the Closing Ceremony to round off the conference in style! Thanks to all who ensured this event happened and was a success. 

Helen & Lorna

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

All equal, all different, all united…

Helen Concannon with delegates from Kuwait 
The world of Guiding is divided into 5 Regions - Arab, Africa, Asia-Pacific, Europe, Western Hemisphere - and each one had their regional gathering on the morning of Day 3. It’s amazing to see how much each Region is similar yet different and to consider the vast array of organisations we are sisters with.

This led us to electing the Committee which will work on our behalf and represent all regions in the coming triennium. It was an electric vote which enabled us to see the results after each round and so therefore celebrate as each new World Board member was announced. A lot of emotion filled the room and we would like to say well done to all 14 who were nominated, and congratulations to all 6 elected.

Two interesting sessions followed on Leadership and Self-Esteem. With very powerful speakers and examples of research, it was thought-provoking to think that 6 of every 10 girls will stop doing something they like because of how they feel about their body. That is something we must work to change and we are delighted that IGG in partnership with CGI will be taking on the Free Being Me project in September with support from Dove. The impact of having low self-esteem is so far-reaching that we must take action - and this Free Being Me programme is a proven way of tackling the issue. Look out for September’s Trefoil News and keep an eye on our website for further info on how to get involved and help girls

It isn't always internal matters that limit our achievements and the Nigerian Girl Guides that are here have kept us aware of the horrifying situation in the north of their country currently. Because of the kidnapping of girls from schools, many parents have stopped sending their girls to school. And because many of their Girl Guide Units operate in schools, many Units have had to close down. We wish them strength and courage as they deal with the realities of conflict. 
Lorna Finnegan at the World Market with WAGGGS
 Chief Executive Mary McPhail and Margaret Treloar,
former WAGGGS World Board Chair

As a way of supporting organisations WAGGGS organises a World Market at these events so that members can sell items from their country to raise funds for their work. It was an assault on all our senses to literally walk around and taste, smell, feel, touch and see the foods, fabrics and feasts of the world in one room!

Looking forward to Day 4 of the conference tomorrow as we will vote on the final motions of the conference.

Helen & Lorna 

For a full report of Day 3 at the conference check out WAGGGS conference website

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

From Pembroke Park to Papua New Guinea ...

IGG Chief Commissioner Helen Concannon
with Papua New Guinea delegates
Another busy day in Hong Kong with important discussions and decisions being made for the future of Guiding.

The highlight of today was when Emily David, the Chief Commissioner from Papua New Guinea, approached us to say how they love to receive the copies of our international edition of Trefoil News each year because they have so few resources and this provides new ideas and activities. She explained that they hadn't received this year's one as they had changed their address.

Emily told us how when the different regional leaders come in from the islands to national meetings they are given photocopies of Trefoil News, along with other resources, as many have no means of accessing such resources. These women have limited electricity and some have no internet access.

The idea that our resource is so useful to others around the world made us very proud. And what an inter-connected world we live in!

So as the deadline for submissions to TN looms each month, I will look differently as I now realise how a game, song, activity or idea we include in it may end up being used by girls in Papua New Guinea!

Well done to our TN editor and all who submit articles and contributions!

~ Helen Concannon (Chief Commissioner) and Lorna Finnegan (International Commissioner)

Monday, 7 July 2014

35th World Conference of WAGGGS in Hong Kong

Well, who would have thought?! Here we are sitting in a conference room with 600 women from 145 different countries representing Irish Girl Guides! It is an amazing privilege and we are delighted to be a voice for IGG’s 12000 members at the global level of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.

Being here with so many different languages, cultures and people demonstrates how each one of us and each one of you, are 1 in 10 million WAGGGS members around the world. There is strength in numbers and to see the difference Guiding & Girl Scouting is making in the lives of so many people is inspiring!

We arrived in Hong Kong a day or two early to acclimatise to the venue and the 30 degree heat. But its not just the weather thats warm - the welcome from the local Hong Kong Girl Guide
Association has been fantastic. Their organising committee and service team are doing a great job and it brings back many memories of being on the 1999 World Conference team in Dublin! Hard to believe that was 15 years ago! Guiding has offered both of us such wonderful opportunities since then and we are happy to apply all those experiences to ensure we learn from this event bringing information back to IGG and also bringing IGG’s opinions and voice to share with the others present at this conference! 

Day 1 of the World Conference was a day of high emotion with some associations receiving full
membership, an inspiring speech from Princess Mabel Van Oranje and a wonderful Opening
Banquet with local and international dignitaries. It was also an opportunity to meet with new and
old Guiding friends and discuss some of the important topics of the conference - membership,
finances, federations and the fifth world centre project! 

For full report see  !
Follow us on twitter with the hashtag #35WoCo or find us on Facebook !

And check in tomorrow for more updates from Hong Kong.
Helen Concannon (Chief Commissioner) and Lorna Finnegan (International Commissioner)