Well done to Cork Guide Leader, Georgina Cantwell, on organising a hugely successful Campfire Against Suicide on 11th September to coincide with Suicide Prevention Week. Here Georgina writes about the experience ...
Campfires have always been one of the happiest places on Earth for me. When I was younger, every Saturday morning at Guide camp, I would wake up knowing that in just a few hours I would be singing and dancing around a crackling flame. And then the day would go on, and drama would nearly always ensue, energy levels would dip and emotions would be running high: the campfire becoming something I had no more interest in.
But, ever since I progressed to become a Leader with the Girl Guides, it has changed ever so
slightly. I still get tired and my emotions still run high, but I always know that no matter how bad I might be feeling, or how little energy I have, there is a young girl in the group who is going to be missing home, feeling way more sad than I and with even less energy.
So I know that this campfire has to be extra special, extra fun and extra positive. I need this
campfire to be the happiest hour and a half - silly, fun and entertaining. So, around Saturday
afternoon, while all the girls are off doing what Guides do, I pull out my camp songs and plan the best campfire I can.
The only problem is that 10 to 16 year old girls are full of those self-conscious and too cool
vibes, all worried that they will look foolish or be made fun of if they go all in. But, if there is one thing that is not allowed at one of my campfires, it’s judgment.
Generally, around eight o’clock we all move into the campfire circle, some with blankets full
with badges, me with my shirt. And, almost from the very get go, my loud, very happy, very
exuberant self comes to the surface, even when I am in the depth of a nasty depression. I put the whole day behind me and all I care about is everyone having a good time. I make it as active as I can so that, while I forget about my issues, the girls can forget about theirs.
For two hours there is only happy vibes and laughter, songs and silly dances. And, the next morning, as we prepare to end camp and ask the girls what the highlight of the
weekend was for them, and hear back ‘The campfire’, I know I’ve done my job well.
This past week has been Suicide Prevention Week and not too long ago, the main man behind Cycle Against Suicide , Jim Breen, messaged me to see if I would host an event for this particular week to further spread the message that ‘ It is OK not to be OK and that it is
ABSOLUTELY OK to ask for help ’. Within an hour of him sending that message, preparations
were underway for a Campfire Against Suicide especially for Girl Guides.
Weeks passed and soon enough it was the day of the event. The day prior, things were looking great. All the prep was done, and the excitement was mounting. But on the morning of the Campfire, I woke up to weather warnings and quite a bit of rain. I was close to tears as people started dropping like flies, but I was not giving up! This campfire was going ahead, even if I was to be the only one there.
But people did turn up - many, many people. It quickly sunk in that this campfire was 100%
happening, right now! My legs trembled right up until the last second, even as Jim Breen and his mate Barry assured me of my greatness. Even as some of my closest friends and my wonderful mother patted me on the back, gave me thumbs up, winks, smiles, everything they could to support
I was a nervous wreck the whole way through, but at the end of it all when people swarmed up to hug me (something I was in much need of) to tell me how proud they were of me, how impressed they were and how much of an awesome time they had, hearing the laughter of all the girls and seeing the smiles going from ear to ear, it was enough. It was enough to assure me I had succeeded in exactly what I set out to do, even if it was indoors around some candles rather than outside around a giant flame.
And a whole bunch of girls, some as young as nine, went home that evening having learned
nine new words:
Show you care, Ask the question, Make the call!
~ Georgina blogs at https://hernotsosecretdiary.wordpress.com/