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