Monday, 19 December 2016

'I loved the Christmas and mindfulness theme of our Guide weekend'


Two weeks ago I went with Kinsale Guides to Leigh Dale Cottage, Ballincollig, Cork, for the weekend. 

It's a cute little cottage that has lots of vintage-looking furniture. The cottage is up the road from a few shops, which we jogged to on previous camps. It's in a rural area on the way to Blarney with lots of greenery around it. 

This was very different to other weekends I'd gone on as there was a very small group of us (only 12 in comparison to about 20 on other
camps) and we largely stayed indoors whereas we would usually go on hikes and cook outside. There was a big age range - from 10 to 17 (including Senior Branchers). 

This was my first camp as a Patrol Leader, which meant I was responsible for making sure all our jobs were completed sufficiently and that everyone in my Patrol was happy. It was a
very relaxing weekend full of arts and crafts. I really enjoyed it because I felt I got to know people really well over the weekend as there was such a small group.

When we arrived on Friday we had a junk fashion show - in our patrols we made very trendy outfits from recyclables. We made all sorts of clothes out of newspapers, cardboard boxes, straws and milk cartons. The

model in my patrol even had a unicorn horn! It was really good fun and you'd be surprised what you can make out of so called rubbish. We also made some very sparkly snowflakes from toilet roll - some of them were so fancy and detailed, they looked like we had bought them!


On the Saturday morning we did a
really cool activity where we filled out a survey about our current likes and dislikes, hobbies etc. When we finished writing, we put our surveys in an envelope not to be opened for five years. On the outside of the envelope we each wrote nice comments about each other. I really enjoyed this activity because everyone had such nice things to say about each other
and I can't wait to open it when I'm 18 to see what I used to be like!

On Saturday night we had an indoor campfire as it was too rainy to do it outside. We had a very cool fire made of candles in the middle of our circle. We sang songs that the Senior Branchers had learned on a previous camp. At the beginning of our campfire we enrolled two of our younger

Guides, which made it even better.

I really enjoyed this sort of camp, it was a lovely break from all the busyness that usually occurs at cottage. Our camps are usually very active and based outdoors. On our last visit to the cottage we went for a jog, cooked outdoors, had outdoor campfires, outdoor enrolments and did a lot more work and, obviously, on this one we hung out and did crafts. 


Lots of the older girls had had exams during the week so it was lovely to have this break afterwards.


The food at the cottage was also different this year as the Patrol Leaders helped plan the menu. We  abolished the traditional Guide stir fry and replaced it with pasta bolognese, which went down a treat! Not that we don't like stir fry but we thought it was time for a change! For dessert on Saturday we had chocolate fondue with fresh fruit and marshmallows, which we all adored! 

I loved the Christmas and mindfulness theme of the weekend. I'd never been to cottage in the winter before. I hope we do this type of camp again because I think we all loved it!


Thank you so much to the Leaders who helped organise it and who put up with us for the whole weekend! This has been one of the best camps so far!

~ Sophie Cumiskey, Kinsale Guides  

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

IGG winning WAGGGS competition will help girls learn more re STEM & SDGs!

The IGGNITE 2017 team are so excited to have just been named as one of the winners of the Stay Connected competition launched earlier in 2016 by the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). 

We are in the middle of planning IGGNITE (IGG’s international camp that will take place in Rockwell College, Tipperary, from 30 July 2017 – 6 August 2017) and the many different activities that the girls will take part in when they come to camp. Receiving this news will enable us to plan - and offer - great STEM activities to our girls. 

Our activities will be broken into zones with all of the girls spending a half day in each zone during the week. ‘Be Inventive’ is the zone that will be full of STEM activities, enabling our girls to explore, investigate and realize their own potential in the area of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

In addition, our Festival Day will offer all our members the opportunity to try all sorts of activities that they may not otherwise get a chance to.  We are planning on including various STEM activities so that girls get the chance to
challenge themselves. 

It is hoped that the girls will bring their ideas back to their communities, focus on how those skills can be put into practice in their communities and then report to us about them via vlogs, blogs and photos. Most of our activities are focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and these activities will focus particularly on SDG 4 and 5 – Quality Education and Equality in Education.

The next few months are going to be very exciting for all of us here in IGG and we look forward to #StayingConnected!

~ IGGNITE 2017 Camp Chief Jenny Gannon

Keep abreast of IGGNITE 2017 updates by liking the IGGNITE Facebook page!

Friday, 9 December 2016

'Being a Girl Guide is all about challenging yourself!'

Tracey Keays, an IGG Leader from Caherdavin, Limerick, represented IGG at The Academy in Cyprus. This is her report following the trip:

It was late one evening in early September when I got the call from International Commissioner Lorna Finnegan offering me a place in The Academy. To begin with, I didn’t know what the Academy was. So when Lorna explained it was a week-long conference organised by WAGGGS and WOSM in Larnaca, Cyprus, I was so excited because, I’ll be honest, all I really heard was Lorna saying that it involved a week in Cyrus. After that she could have been telling me I would be counting grains of sand on the beach and it really didn’t matter – I was going to Cyprus for a week!
  
Most people wouldn’t know this but I have had two serious spinal surgeries in the past 18 months, which have left me with serious chronic pain, so on 2
September 2016 I had been fitted with a spinal cord stimulator to help relieve the pain. 

Going on this trip was a big deal for me on a personal level, as well as a Guiding experience, as I felt the pain consuming me at times over the past few months.  This would give me a chance to have something positive to aim and focus on. So, once my consultant cleared me for travel, it became very real, very quickly. I would be the only Irish representative going, which meant I would be travelling alone – that in itself was very daunting, but for me, who has only ever eaten in a restaurant alone once in her life, it was going to pose many challenges for me. But isn’t that what being a Girl
Guide is all about? Challenging yourself!

So, as time drew nearer, I liaised with Laura in National Office with regards my travel and Lorna briefed me on what I would need to do over there. I also spoke with others who had been to the Academy and it was great to hear first-hand exactly what to expect.

When the day actually arrived, I’ll be honest I was so scared – it was my first time in my life travelling outside Ireland alone – the plan was to fly from Dublin to Gatwick, then onto Cyprus. It was going to be a long day and it was very lonely but a Guide has courage and is cheerful so I put on my smile. Apart from an hour's delay in Dublin due to fog, the day went to plan and, when I arrived in Cyprus, I was greeted by two people in yellow neckerchiefs – the first Guiding/Scouting people I met on the entire journey - and it was great to finally meet someone in the Guiding family and not to feel so alone anymore.

Once I arrived at the hotel everyone was wearing neckerchiefs and it was an explosion of colour. We were all part of the same family and it was wonderful. Everyone was so friendly and would say 'Hello' and ask where you were from.

Our sessions started the next day and they involved a three-hour session in the morning and another three-hour session in the afternoon. The sun started to set around 4pm so, after the first day, it became very clear I wouldn’t be seeing much sun and certainly wouldn’t be returning with a tan, that’s for sure. 

The sessions themselves were excellent and it gave me an opportunity to meet with so many Leaders from all over the world. I found it fascinating to listen to how their organisations work, what we have in common and what problems we face. I learned so much from speaking with so many people and exploring all the different cultures. Many of the organisations were very interested in our Senior Branch programme as most of them have nothing at all in place for their over 18s. I was very proud of Irish Girl Guides and everything it stands for and was delighted to promote our all-girl movement and how IGG gives girls a safe place to grow in confidence to the best of her ability.

The night-time activities were great fun! We had a cultural night where each country promoted their own culture and brought something from their own country to share with the group. On another evening we saw a Cypriot wedding and had some dancing on the beach. We saw a band whose instruments were all made from recycled materials and I even heard a tune played from a carrot!
  
All good things must come to an end and my week in Cyprus went very quickly once I got into the routine of the daily sessions. I learned a lot about myself during the week. I discovered that I am strong and courageous. I learned that everything we strive to empower into our girls every week at our meetings, we are also doing that for ourselves as Leaders. 

The journey we talk about is not just for the girl – it is for the Leader too. We empower women. 

Irish Girl Guides – giving us all confidence J









'You need to be free to be who you are'

That was the message Free Being Me ambassador Emer Foley delivered to hundreds of teenagers at the recent Zeminar Youth Expo in the RDS.

“Sometimes we miss the beauty that is in our bodies and inside us, and the things that we can do, because we are so worried about our bodies and the exterior,” Emer said.

“We have all wanted to be certain things in our future and I think sometimes we are the only ones that hold us back from accomplishing those things because of poor self-esteem and ideas that we are not good enough, that we do not look the right way.”

Emer, who is a basketball coach and plus-size model who played basketball for Ireland in her youth, said there was a lot of change necessary in the media. “We are tired of seeing people that are not real,” she said before showing a video that demonstrates how photos of models are airbrushed and digitally altered.

“Why can’t we just be happy with the way we look? We really should just be happy with the way we look. You need to be free to be who you are. Be Free Being Me.”

Growing up in Ireland half-Irish, half-Nigerian, Emer wishes there had been a body confidence programme like Free Being Me when she attended Brownies and Guides in Bray, Co Wicklow. She whole-heartedly supports the programme and would like to see Free Being Me rolled out to youth groups and schools throughout Ireland, believing it can boost the confidence of a whole generation of young people.


A video of Emer Foley’s talk at Zeminar may be viewed here.

Griffeen Valley's amazing adventures in London!

Griffeen Valley Senior Branch welcomed five new Senior Branch members this year and wanted to have an adventure when they made their Promise. So they raised funds, including a very successful table quiz, and planned a budget international trip to London.

The adventure started at 4am, getting ready for a 6.30am flight to Stansted. After checking into their hostel in Chelsea, they headed to Pax Lodge where they worked on the Pax Lodge Challenge. They then renewed their
Promise around the Pax Lodege flag.

On their way back to the hostel, they detoured via the West End for some dinner, a visit to the M&M shop and Chinatown.

On Day 2 the girls decided that the best way to see London and get to their selected locations was on a bus tour. The older girls chose five special locations for the unit to renew their Promise and to invest each one of the new girls. They included Trafalgar Square, Westminster (to the bells of Big Ben), on a Thames cruise at Tower
Bridge, at the Tower of London and, finally, Buckingham Palace, where all five new girls received their pins.

Despite the rain, they had lots of fun and met so many friendly, helpful Londoners, including soldiers selling poppies, policemen giving directions, Tube and railway workers helping them buy their tickets, and officers at Horse Guards parade who took time to fill them in on local history.

Day 3 included a visit to Girl Guiding UK's head office and shopping on Oxford Street and a visit to Covent Garden.

It was a weekend of great fun, visiting new places, welcoming new girls to the unit and working out the Underground system!

Can a girl have an amazing adventure? Yes, she can!

~ Griffeen Valley Senior Branchers

Sunday, 27 November 2016

We'll be carrying out 84,000 Good Turns this week!

Incredible, but true! 

IGG members will complete 84,000 Good Turns this week! WOW!!!

National Good Turn Week got off to a rousing start with over 1,100 girls and Leaders singing their hearts out today with a fab rendition of a #GoodTurns song at the IGG panto at the Gaiety Theatre in Dublin.

Thanks to Chief Commissioner Helen Concannon, IGGNITE Camp Chief Jenny Gannon and 70 enthusiastic Senior Branchers for leading everyone with these words:

Do a Good Turn daily,
Pin your smile on bravely.
Keep your Promise truly
And have fun in IGG!

Wear your uniform neatly,
Live the Law completely,
Do a Good Turn daily,
And a Ladybird/Brownie/Girl Guide/Senior Branch/Leader be!

We were delighted that Newstalk presenter Sarah McInerney, a former Girl Guide and Senior Brancher in Barna, Co Galway, was able to join us for launch photos outside the Gaiety Theatre. She said she would be joining in National Good Turn Week by doing Good Turns and encouraged the wider
community to join in too.

“National Good Turn Week will be positive for individuals, families and communities,” she said. “By the end of the week all the Good Turns will have had a ripple effect, reaching people across the country.”

Girls and Leaders of all ages will be offering a helping hand to their families, friends, neighbours, school teachers, IGG Leaders ... everyone, in
fact!

That isn’t to say that IGG members don’t do Good Turns every day, anyway … Of course they do! That’s a promise we make when we join the organisation at whatever age. But this week we’re all going to go an extra bit further in helping out at home, at school, at work.

Girls who usually load the dishwasher each day will offer to do another household chore as well, like the vacuuming or ironing. Girls who feed their pet dog each day might (if they’re old enough) bring the dog for a walk (and clean up after it)! And so on …

Don’t forget to share your Good Turns with us on social media using the hashtag #GoodTurns!

~ Fiona Murdoch, 
IGG Communications Officer

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

'Nothing could surpass our trip to Sangam'

Mary Lee, Jemma Lee, Grace Grouden and Brenda Grouden attended Sangam World Centre’s 50th anniversary celebrations at the end of October. It was Mary, Grace and Brenda’s first time to visit Sangam. For Jemma, it was her third visit, having worked there in 2008-2009 and attended the Young Women’s World Forum there in 2011.  

Thanks to Mary Lee for writing the following post about their recent trip: 

Our trip to Sangam was certainly a trip of a lifetime; nothing could surpass it. To visit a World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts’ World Centre was to be an exciting adventure all on its own but, when we got there, it went way beyond our expectations, as we were taken out of Sangam and brought to explore real life India. 

Each of our days in Sangam was filled, not only with the Guiding programme but with trips to local areas where we got to witness first-hand what life is like in India - the culture, the poverty, as well as the wealth, visiting temples, receiving blessings, eating Indian food with their many and varied spices, travelling on a rickshaw and being part of the traffic system, with its seemingly non-existent rules or order.

We were in awe of how the families live - some in shanty towns, which looked like camps, and others in two or three storey houses where many generations of a family could live.

The roads in India are very dusty and the air is very hot and humid. Traders worked in stalls or make shift sheds, selling their wares - anything from tyres to cooked food, clothes and souvenirs. Most shops were decorated brightly with flower garlands.

We witnessed the slow pace of the Indian people, the beautiful clothes they wore and their friendliness towards us. We visited huge vegetable markets, with a huge array of fresh vegetables and fruit, an area called Bangle Alley, which exclusively sold bangles, bright and beautiful and so many to choose from. Visiting the Sari Shop had to be seen to be believed: it was amazing with so many beautiful and varied colours to choose from. 

Back in Sangam, when we all dressed up in our saris and punjabi suits, it was a wondrous  sight to see!

We visited some community projects in the local area and saw the amazing work that is being done there. We visited a Muslim girls’ orphanage. This was the highlight of our experiences. We played games and sang songs with the girls, all aged between 5 years and 17 years. We did art and crafts and generally had lots of fun, with many photos being taken.  We learned a great deal about their lives and realised that these girls are the lucky ones as they will be educated and trained in many and varied life skills.

Inside Sangam we experienced many ceremonies, each one unique in its own way, including  opening ceremony, birthday celebration, International Night and  closing ceremony. We received many Indian blessings. We were encouraged to challenge ourselves and to get out of our comfort zones in many different ways. 

One of the ways was by doing the Sangam Challenge.  We were very proud to successfully complete the required number of challenges and to receive our special badge of achievement. Jemma and Brenda surpassed themselves by climbing the Sangam Water Tower (while Mary and Grace took photos from far below)!

We learned skills such as Warli art, Indian embroidery, garland-making, yoga, Bollywood dancing and much more. We experienced a typical Maharastrian dinner, while using our right hand only to eat with and tasted the local sweets.

Sangam means ‘coming together’ and that is exactly what we did - meeting Guiders from different countries and working together using the Patrol system.

The staff and volunteers in Sangam are amazing people with extraordinary organisational skills. It was wonderful to meet Catherine O’Connor, IGG member turned Sangam staff, and to have her join us to represent Ireland on our International Night.

Sangam should be very proud of themselves, capable of looking after the needs of so many guests while managing to keep a very full programme running smoothly. We packed so much into our week in Sangam, that it did not seem possible.

Thanks to everyone in Sangam and in IGG for supporting and encouraging us to take this trip.

Truly this was the most amazing and unforgettable experience of our lives.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

‘Being unique is a lot more fun than being like everyone else’

My favourite part of the Trail Blazer badge was the life skills section.

Through this section I learned how to deal with peer pressure. I mainly did this through the Free Being Me badge. This programme helped me to learn that everyone doesn’t have a perfect image. Everyone is different and has their own unique body. 

Through Free Being Me I learned that everyone is beautiful in their own way. No one should feel pressured into wearing make-up.

Free Being Me taught me that everyone has their own flaws and blemishes that shouldn’t be hidden away.

Peer pressure, I feel, is everywhere but Free Being Me taught me that being unique is a lot more fun than being like everyone else.

~ Andrea Cotter of Ardilaun Girl Guides, Macroom, delivered this speech at the National Guide Awards in Croke Park

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

‘Much of what I have learned in Guiding will be useful in my future’

After many years in Guides and with much encouragement from my leaders, Lorraine O'Connor and Trish Mulvihill, I had the honour of receiving my Trail Blazer Award in Croke Park on 22 October 2016 along with four other fellow Guides from my unit (St Dominick’s, Listowel).

Faye Mulvihill,
St Dominick's Guides,
Listowel
The day began with my journey to Dublin from Kerry; it was a very early start but well worth the effort. The Croke Park Conference Centre looked so well. I felt really proud of the fact that I was a Guide and had earned the right to get my award.

The gold theme was very evident in the room - from the decorations on the tables to the gold goodie bags we were given. I was so nervous of getting up in front of everyone and was glad I was in the last group to go up. I thought it was a lovely idea how each Guide got their own moment of fame with a personal message from our Unit Leaders.

A group of female reenactors depicting the women from the1916 Rising gave a very interesting display on the important role of women in the Rising and a female soldier, Lt Jennifer Larkin, told us of her experiences with the Irish Army.

Her advice to us was always to have a plan B just in case your first plan doesn't work out; as we have been taught in Guides – ‘Be Prepared’!

Faye with her fellow Guides, Fiona, Annya, Tori and Mary Kate
pictured at the National Guide Awards ceremony in Croke Park
with their Leaders, Lorraine O'Connor and Trish Mulvihill,
IGG President Maureen Dillon, Chief Commissioner Helen 
Concannon and Guide Branch Chair Carol O'Brady
The Award consisted of completing a variety of challenges, helping organise Guide meetings, helping out with community projects and earning badges. Some of my favourite times in Guiding were helping out with the Brownie Unit and, at times, Guides and Brownies worked together with our local Tidy Towns group. I really enjoyed this group activity and got great satisfaction when our town won a big award this year.

Our Leaders organised a lot of different skills, tasks and challenges for our Unit over the years and on reflection these really helped with my confidence and Patrol Leader skills.

I am sure that much of what I have learned in Guiding will be useful in my future and I will always have happy memories of my Guiding years.

~ Faye Mulvihill, St Dominick’s Guides, Listowel, Co Kerry 

‘It seems so surreal to have achieved the Trail Blazer Award!’

When I got my letter to say I would be attending the National Guide Awards in Croke Park on 22 October 2016, I was over the moon. There were 68 girls receiving awards.

The ceremony started with “Flames not Flowers”, which was a tribute to the women who were involved in the 1916 Easter Rising. This was an entertaining act, full of colour and life.

After this performance Lt. Jennifer Larkin of the Army Equitation School presented 21 national flags to Irish Girl Guides and spoke about how to care for the national flag. She also talked about how the Defence Forces work as a team, much like how myself and other Guides have done to achieve their Trail Blazer Awards.

When they started presenting people with their awards, each girl had a few lines said about how she had worked towards this award. President of IGG, Maureen Dillion, presented me with my Trail Blazer pin. To receive my Trail Blazer, I completed activities in areas such as teamwork, outdoor survival, community service and global awareness. I also worked with younger members in IGG as well.

Lauren pictured with IGG President Maureen Dillon,
Chief Commissioner Helen Concannon and
Guide Branch chair Carol O'Brady 
Afterwards we had tea and sandwiches. Croke Park was a spectacular venue; the views of the stadium were amazing. Whenever I was in Ladybirds I heard about older girls in Guides getting their Gold Award. Now that I have actually got the newer equivalent of the Gold Award - the Trail Blazer - it seems so surreal!

When I was five years old, I started Ladybirds. I gained many friends outside of school. Ladybirds helped strengthen my social skills and confidence. I believe that this is very important for people of this age group. I attended outings to places such as Causey Farm and Armagh Theatre to see the panto at Christmas. At the age of seven, I started Brownies which helped me learn core values, such as what you put in is what you get back out.

I attended Bailiú in Thurles, County Tipperary, in 2011. It was an amazing event, which I will have memories from for the rest of my life.

Guides made me more aware of the world around me. I completed my Spruce and Copper Beech Awards. When the Journey Programme was introduced, I completed the Innovator and Trail Blazer.

Ballybay Guides Lauren, Laura and Derbhlá pictured at the
National Guide Awards with their Leaders Sheila Linden
and Paula McQuillan 
In 2012 I went to London. I was the youngest Guide on the trip and we stayed in Pax Lodge, one of the five world centres. For me, this is the best part of being involved in Irish Girl Guides, as I love travelling and meeting people from other cultures.

Guides helped me to develop my leadership skills by attending the regional camp “Camp Connect” in July 2016. Through Guides I went to the fantastic Butler’s Chocolate Factory, which is heaven for a chocolate-lover like me! I also got to visit The Dáil and meet Irish author, Sarah Webb, through Guides.

I recently started making a camp blanket, so I will have it for IGGNITE 2017, which I am really excited about.

I am the only Senior Branch member in the Ballybay Unit but I am content as I have many friends in Guides.

I am grateful for all the opportunities and experiences IGG has given me.

~ Lauren Mooney, Ballybay Girl Guides, Monaghan

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

'The knowledge I gained from doing badges & the experiences they gave me I will carry in my heart'

Well done, well done, very well done to the 68 Guides who received the Trail Blazer Award at our National Guide Award ceremony in Croke Park on 22 October 2016!

During the ceremony, Eimear Hehir from Limerick delivered this superb speech about her experience doing the Award -

Hi! My name is Eimear Hehir and I am a member of Blackberry Guides, Limerick, in the Mid-West Region.

Today I’m going to tell you a little about interest badges and the role they play in the Guide programme. An interest badge can be completed by a Guide on her own or with her Guide Unit. As part of the new Journey Programme we have to complete at least three interest badges a year.  During my four years as a Guide I completed over 12 interest badges and they helped me develop as a girl, as a Guide and as a better citizen of the world.

Some of the badges that really helped me grow as a person were the Team Player badge and the health promotion badges as they gave me a better understanding about working with others and looking after myself in body and mind.

When I was doing the First Aid badge, the Drug Awareness badge and the Road Safety badge I learned a lot about the dangers in the home and outside in the community and how I can help people and possibly prevent potential accidents.  The Girl Guide motto is “Be Prepared” and, after completing these badges, I felt a little bit more confident and prepared on how to react in an accident and what action I need to take should I encounter one.  

Badges like the Art and Craft are really fun to do, especially on a pack holiday weekend in Violet Hill, where we had lots of time to be creative and use our imagination. We also did the Camp holiday and the Campers Bronze at Regional camp in Mount Mellary this year, which I really enjoyed and it helped me prepare for IGGNITE 2017.  Of course everyone’s favourite is the Chocolate Badge where we learned all about Fairtrade and how chocolate is made, but we also tasted some very yummy chocolate! 

The Free Being Me badge is a badge that we completed to help promote positive body image and how important it is to be yourself and not to worry about how others see you, which is so important in today’s society. 

The interest badges I completed over my four years as a Guide look very pretty on my Guide bag but the knowledge I gained and the experience they brought to me I will carry in my heart.


Thursday, 29 September 2016

Barna Guides' trip to Switzerland: Last Day

Today was our very last day in Switzerland and, in my opinion, one of the best days, because we finally got to visit Our Chalet. 

After breakfast in the barn we headed back to Hari 3 to change and pack our bags for the trip home the next day. Then off we went to Our Chalet. 

Once we got there (in the pouring rain!), we attended our Pinning Ceremony, where we were presented with the Our Chalet Pin, and we sang the Our Chalet Song. 

We were then brought on a tour and given the history of the Chalet. We were allowed to wander around Our Chalet on our own for a while, which I thought was amazing, since it had been my dream to visit Our Chalet ever since I was a wee Guide. 

The staff were so lovely to talk to and very helpful, and I myself am planning on applying to volunteer there in a few years' time. After a good look around the chalet we headed back to Hari 3 to prepare for the trip home.

~ Aoife Colfer, Barna




Barna Guides' trip to Switzerland Day 6: Scottish Girls!

We were up very early, around 6am, to get the bus to Berne. Everyone slept the whole way there. 

Once we arrived, we went to see the Bear Pit, which was really cool. Then we went on a mini-cultural tour of the city, where we followed a map to see some historical sites. 

After that, the girls had permission to go shopping for about an hour, and we went back to our chalet afterwards.


Earlier in the week, we were invited to another chalet to visit a group of Scottish Guides. We went to visit them after we got back from Berne. The lovely Jeka staff picked us up from our chalet, and we headed for the Scottish Guides' chalet. We arrived and we received such a wonderful warm welcome from a lovely group of 36 girls. We spent quite a while chatting and making friends. Swaps were swapped, snacks were had, and songs were sung. It was a great night, and everyone enjoyed it. 

After we got back to our own chalet, we packed up and headed for the little barn down the road to sleep in straw for the night! We thought it would be very rough, but it was actually very pleasant. We were supplied with pillows and blankets, and we played a few games and headed to sleep, anticipating the next day.


Barna Guides' trip to Switzerland Day 5: Adventure Park!

We got out of bed a little later than the previous few days and went straight to the Adventure Park and, afterwards, the pool. 

All the girls went up onto the high zipwires and some of them were even brave enough to abseil off a bridge! I wasn’t! 

I was too terrified to do any of those things!

Barna Guides' trip to Switzerland Day 4: Woodcarver's Cottage

Today was the day we were allowed a little lie-in - until 9 am! 

We took a very long hike to the Woodcarver's Cottage. When we arrived, the girls spent about an hour just wandering in and out of the cottage, buying some gifts for friends and family at home. 

Afterwards, we went to the café next door for lemon drizzle cake, which was absolutely fabulous, and some amazing hot and cold chocolate drinks.

After we left the cottage, we walked back through a gorge. It was so scary – you could see the rocks below you, and oh, I was very scared.

Barna Guides' trip to Switzerland Day 3: Blue Lagoon

Today was the day we went to Kandastag - a bus journey and a half! 

After we arrived, we were greeted by more cable cars to travel up the mountain! 

After we made it to the top, we went tobogganing, which was quite the experience I must say! There was a whole process involved in this activity – each person was allowed five rides on the toboggan run, and each could go as fast or as slow as they liked. 

Sharon, one of our Leaders, described it really well when she said: “On the first trip, you’re nervous and crawling along; by the third time, you’re flying it, and by the fifth, you’re yelling OWWWW!” 

This was completely accurate as there were a few burns and, of course, I almost broke a finger! Well done to me!

But this wasn’t the end of our eventful day! After this, we walked to the Blue Lagoon, which was very close to the toboggan run. It was beautiful. 

We had lunch there, and then the girls decided to go for a paddle, which brought some lovely photo opportunities. And of course, after we came back down the mountain again, we headed back to Adelboden and once again the pool, which was an almost daily occurrence. The girls loved it!


That evening the girls had to come up with an activity for everyone, so they decided on a Spa Night and a Talent Show! It was such great craic - a complete success!


Barna Guides' trip to Switzerland Day 2: Cows!

As a responsible Senior Branch Leader, I was given the responsibility of banging on the bedroom doors to wake up the girls in the morning, which they very much appreciated! And we were off, our first adventure in Switzerland! 

The plan for the day was to walk down to the bus stop and take the bus to the cable cars up the mountain where we planned to play some mountain games, like Welly Toss and hitting the cow bell with a ball (which is actually harder than it sounds)!
But my favourite thing about this day was definitely the new friends I made – the COWS! Honestly, I never thought I would be petting a cow in the Swiss Alps! But now I can strike this off my bucket list!