Saturday, 2 September 2017

'I recommend volunteering to anyone with adventure in their hearts!'

My name is Edel Harty and I am a Senior Branch member in the South West Region, (but my camp name is Sunflower) and I'm here to tell you all about the amazing experience I've had during my last two summers as a staff member at Camp Lachenwald!

I stumbled across this opportunity in 2016 as I was reading the IGG weekly communications newsletter and I thought ‘Why not?’!

I had no idea what I was getting myself into but, before I knew it, I was booking my flights from Dublin Airport to Munich.

Camp Lachenwald is a resident camp that is held for one week for USA Girl Scouts who are stationed in a European country because one or both of their parents are in the military/navy and are not living in the United States. It is such a great way for girls to make friends with fellow Girl Scouts who may have
to move to a different country every two to three years.

Pre-Camp was a great opportunity for all the staff to get to know each other and their camp names, figure out our schedules for our girls and make sure everything was set up and ready to go. Don't get me wrong, this is very tough work. This year we had 115 girls at camp and each unit needed to be cleaned out, provided
with cooking utensils, picnic tables and benches, mattresses etc! Staff and the campers slept in platform tents that held 6 cots each.

A Typical Day at Camp
7:45-8:00 - Morning Flag
We raised the American, German and Girl Scout flags.

8:00-8:15 - Singing time
All girls and staff head to the singing porch and sing camp songs and grace to get us in a good mood for the day!

8:15-8:45 - Brekkie
This is very different to Irish camp breakfast - at Lachenwald we had American cereal, cinnebuns,  fruit and, every second day, we had a cooked breakfast. One morning we had a unicorn-themed breakfast and it was truly magical!
(I have no breakfast pictures because generally people were understandably cranky this early!)

9:00 - Lunch
The girls did two different rotations of activities (with snack in-between). The activities included arts and crafts in the Kunst Haus (Art House) like Tie Dye (my absolute FAVE), outdoor activities like archery and shelter building, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), like building catapults and learning about simple machines. On the Monday and Tuesday of camp the older girls had a canoeing and high ropes trip, which they really enjoyed!  We then would have lunch normally on the green and sometimes we even got official Girl Scout cookies for snacks (which are delish)! We then had two more rotations of activities before dinner.

17:45-18:00 - Evening Flag
We would retire the American, German and Girl Scout flags. There are specific ways to fold the American and German flags, which we taught the girls.

18:00-18:15- Singing porch
Everyone joins in song to get in the mood to line their tummies. I learned so many different songs that I had never heard before … along with the actions, of course!

18:15-19:00- Dinner
We had a different themed dinner every night! We had Italian Night, Chinese Night, Mexican Night and Hawaiian night. The dining hall was decorated as per the theme and the food to match!

As I had the Brownies, after dinner we would bring the girls to the shower house and head for bed - you would be amazed at how long this process took! Older girls continued
activities like glow in the dark archery and street art.

Thursday 27th July- Europapark Day!
Camp Lachenwald's theme this year was Thrills and Adventures so 150 of us headed off to Rust on a bus to the second largest theme park in Europe. We had such a fantastic day filled with fun and thrills.

The kids returned home on the Friday to many different European countries and all the staff were happy, yet sad, that camp had ended. We headed out for the annual staff dinner where we shared funny stories from the past week and we received our "paper plate
awards". I was awarded the "Brownie Whisperer Award" as staff had joked all week that I had some sort of magic power to handle 21 Brownies!

I had an absolute ball with the best staff team anyone could ask for. From campfires to thunderstorms, I experienced everything that Girl Scout camp had to offer and it's an experience I will never forget.

I truly have made friends for life and I would highly recommend volunteering as a staff member to anyone with adventures in their hearts!

IGGNITE was so much more than I expected!

As a Leader relatively new to Guiding I had no idea what to expect. I thought we would be pitching our tent in a field and the girls would “do activities” the other side of the field. The reality was so much more…

Our girls did themselves proud. Cheerfully lugging tons of bags and tents they set up camp with a flourish. Hauling water from the water station and eating outside, they got themselves ready. Despite eight to a tent, they prepared for the many challenging activities organised for them at 10.00am each morning. Happy chatter filled the air as they headed off in hail, rain or sunshine for the day ahead.

The “field” became a “village” of tents all shapes and sizes, each Region having their own space, artfully decorated and signposted.

The programme ran like clockwork. Evening sessions were a chance for everyone to get together and badge swapping was a favourite activity, especially with the international Guides.

As a Leader, our food plans submitted months ago were allocated to us daily and we became Master Chefs on our two ring gas stoves churning out five different dishes of an evening to cater for all needs!

What was most impressive was the focus on inspiring and empowering our girls to believe that they each can make a difference. It was an inspiring message, powerfully delivered. The girls proved themselves capable and confident, resilient in all weathers and, working together, they had a busy, fun-filled week that should prove to them that they are more than capable of overcoming any obstacles they come in their way.

Standing Up for Equality at IGGNITE2017!

When I first heard that I was going to be an activity Leader for IGGNITE2017, I was anxious but ready to take on the challenge. When I heard that I would have to incorporate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into my activity, my readiness slowly began to dwindle. The SDGs are 17 global goals with 169 targets between them. They are focused on achieving sustainable solutions to some of the world’s most serious problems, including poverty and climate change. They build on the Millennium Development Goals and were formulated by the UN, which hopes to achieve these goals by 2030.

When we went to the staff training, there was a session on the SDGs and, once we had completed this training, I began to grow in confidence. I also did my own research on the SDGs so I arrived at camp fully prepared and excited to get started. I was placed in the ‘Be an Advocate’ zone and the activity I ran was called ‘Stand Up for Equality’. The SDGs that the activity focused on were 5-Gender Equality and 10-Reducing Inequalities. I was delighted to be running a workshop on equality as I believe that everyone deserves to be equal but that it is something we all are still struggling to achieve. I had attended the Use Your Voice international camp in England last year and I was excited to bring what I had learned at their advocacy session to this camp. We were going to run our activities four times a day and have around 30 girls per session. 

Before I get into details about my activity, I want to make it clear that I could not have run any activity at all without all the other amazing staff in the ‘Be an Advocate’ zone, especially the zone leaders Niamh Teeling and Aisling O’Boyle. I had been really busy preparing my activity, but the amount of work that they put into that zone to make it enjoyable and educational, was second to none.

It was probably the most challenging zone. It was more educational and mostly based in classrooms. There was less running around and I was afraid that the girls would get bored easily. Nothing could have prepared me for the overwhelmingly positive response that I got from all of the Guides and Senior Branch members that walked through that classroom door over the week. Myself and two other staff members started the activity by asking the girls what they knew about advocacy, the SDGs and equality. At the beginning, the girls were all really quiet. However, once the brave person spoke first, we had great discussions about equality and how the girls could become advocates themselves.

After the discussion, we played a game called ‘Walk in my Shoes’. The girls were each given a persona, from varying backgrounds. They had to think about their backgrounds, financial and family situations, where they lived and if they experienced inequalities. A list of statements was read out, and the girls took a step forward if the statement applied to their persona and a step backwards if it didn’t. The girls that took a lot of steps were ones playing daughters of high-profile politicians, or people who owned companies such as Google. Those that didn’t take any steps forward included those girls who had the personas of disabled college students and refugees with no English. It was a great game to play as it got the girls thinking. What was surprising was that every group was different and the girls had varying reasons to justify why they did or didn’t step forward.

After this game, we decided to run a short activity to look at stereotypes surrounding certain occupations. The girls closed their eyes and a list of jobs was read out. They raised their hands depending on whether they pictured a man, woman or both a man and a woman doing the job. Many of the girls believed that builders, taxi drivers and football players were all labelled as ‘male occupations’ whereas jobs such as hairdressers, nurses and models were deemed to be ‘female’ roles. This was interesting as opinions varied from person to person and it also provoked a lot of chat.  What became apparently clear was that most of the girls had experienced inequalities in their daily lives, most notably in the subjects that they could take at school and the sports they played. The main reason for this was because they were girls. We quickly discovered that there are certain stigmas and stereotypes surrounding what it means to be a girl. The girls told me that certain subjects were labelled as ‘boys’ subjects’ and were unavailable to them. Those who play on sports teams receive less funding, support and equipment than boys’ teams. Some of the girls were told that they couldn’t play with the boys in their school as the boys were ‘too rough’ for them. Games were made easier for the girls and some teachers described them as ‘weak and incapable’.

We then watched a video of an advertising campaign ran by Always. The people in the video were told to run and fight like girls. The adults in the video all ran like Phoebe in Friends and portrayed themselves as weak. It was the men behaving ‘like girls’ that really made the Guides laugh. The men in the video believed they were not being offensive to women, however, in fact, they were. At the end of the video, younger girls were brought out and told to do the same thing. They behaved like themselves. We learned that it is only as we grow older that we become aware of the stereotypes surrounded with gender and that girls are particularly vulnerable to these stereotypes when they are teenagers. It was great to see the girls’ reactions while they watched the video.

We concluded the workshop by recording voxpops (voxpops are short interviews with members of the public). They are usually based on topical and political items and are broadcast on radio. The girls broke into smaller groups and discussed how they could use their voice in the media and stand up and be heard. We had a great array of voxpops including skits, interviews, conversational pieces, news reports, songs, raps, stories and poems. It was great to see the girls growing in confidence and breaking out of their shells. Many of the topics recorded were based on what they had learned in other workshops in the ‘Be an Advocate’ zone, such as climate change and the refugee crisis. We also had voxpops based on gender equality, how women are portrayed in the media and, of course, how the girls were finding IGGNITE2017.

I am overwhelmed with how much the girls learned over the week and how they used their voices to advocate for change. We all learned many new things about ourselves and overcame many challenges. Seeing the girls leaving our room with smiles on their faces and a passion for the SDGs was probably my favourite part of camp. The advocacy session on Saturday morning with females at the top of their profession was further inspiration to go out and make a change. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to run this workshop and I came away with an amazing sense of drive, confidence and determination, as well as tons of new badges, friends and memories. I am using what I have learned at this camp locally and I have just been appointed as the SDG Advocate for Louth. This camp was unbelievable and I cannot wait for the next one.

-Amy McAuley (Drogheda Senior Branch)

Brownie Lottie doll to empower girls to pursue their dreams

A newly-launched Brownie Lottie doll is set to empower girls to become more adventurous and to pursue their dreams.

The Brownie figure, like all Lottie dolls, is modelled on the proportions of an average nine-year-old child. She comes with a Brownie uniform and accessories include a tent, camping equipment and a kayak. There’s even a campfire and sausages and marshmallows!

The Brownie Lottie doll was launched on 4 August at our international camp, IGGNITE2017, which saw 1,800 Girl Guides from 12 different countries camp under canvas in Rockwell College. The girls took part in a range of activities to help them ‘BE’ adventurous, active, confident, unique, limitless, inventive and to ‘BE’ survivors and advocates.

Launching the doll, Nicola Grinstead, Chair of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), said: “We love the way Lottie dolls are age-appropriate and relatable and they empower children to be themselves, to be imaginative, adventurous and, of course, to have fun. This partnership is a perfect fit for us as WAGGGS’s vision is that ‘All girls are valued and can take action to change the world’.”

Irish Girl Guides Chief Commissioner, Helen Concannon, said: “We hope the Lottie Brownie doll will not only encourage our younger members to be more active and adventurous, but will facilitate the empowerment of many more girls besides and might encourage them to become Brownies and Guides too.” 

Ian Harkin, Managing Director of Arklu, the Donegal-based company that designs the Lottie dolls, described the new doll as “a must-have plaything for every young Brownie, who’ll be able to bring Brownie activities to life with Lottie in their very own home. She’ll appeal to other adventurous-minded children too.”

The Lottie Brownie doll retails at €19.95. To find your nearest stockist, use the store locator on or order online. 80 cents of every sale in Ireland goes to Irish Girl Guides. 

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Discovering the fun of STEM through Lego Robotics Summer Academy

Twenty-two members of Irish Girl Guides aged 14-22 took part in a Lego Robotics Summer Academy in Dublin City University's LEGO Education Innovation Studio. Here two of the participants, Maggie Cumiskey and Méabh Lonergan, tell us of their experience:

Before starting our LEGO camp journey, we were all very excited and a bit nervous.  Some people came with friends, some with sisters, and some went without knowing a single person.

We arrived in St Patrick’s campus, DCU, on the Monday morning. We were each assigned our own room in student accommodation, which comprised of a desk, bed, wardrobe and a sink.

Each day was different on the Robotics course. We were gradually introduced to the robots and the idea of coding. We started off rather simply with a cute robot called Milo. Building the robot was really fun as I think most of us hadn’t played with LEGO in years. It was really nice to be able to sit back and feel like a kid again! Coding Milo was also really fun and surprisingly easy. We followed instructions step by step to make him go forwards and backwards as well as make him stop with different sensors.

At first it was really daunting because I don’t think many of us had done any coding before. However, once we got into it, it was very easy. Each of us turned to our partner at some stage and said “That was us. We did that!” and maybe high-fiving each other every once in a while.

After Milo, we moved onto a new, slightly more complicated robot. We built him as normal but the coding was slightly different and way more specific. It was a lot harder to make him move and there was a lot more work involved to make him go. We had to measure the distance we wanted him to move and then calculate the number of wheel rotations needed to get there. My original thoughts were Oh dear God, maths. I haven’t done maths in two years!” It was very easy maths, though, so I was very relieved. We also could make this robot turn, unlike Milo, which took two robots. On this new one we had to be very specific and calculate the exact degree we needed. He was a lot more challenging but also a lot more fun. It was really cool to code it ourselves and make it complete little challenges that we were set.

We used this robot for the rest of the week in our “Mission To Mars project. This was so much fun and I think it’s safe to say the most enjoyable part of the week. We were all split into groups of four and given a new robot to build (We called him Tobias Walowitz and Brobot). The aim of this project was to build and code a suitable robot to complete up to seven challenges on Mars in under than two and half minutes. This was so much fun as we had the freedom to extend our robot and use the skills we had learned in the prevoius few days. We measured, calculated distances and angles like crazy. There were so many different emotions running through everyone those few days when it went right and when it didn’t. Needless to say, we were all very proud of our robots when we finished the challenges. Especially as both our teams came at a respectable first and second.

During the week, we heard talks from Dr Niamh Shaw, a woman who took part in a Mars simulation experience and Rosemary Steen, director of Eirgrid.  It was interesting to hear these women speak, and hear their opinions on how to succeed in male-dominated areas.

After we left the robotics room, we took part in a number of evening activities:  we went to the cinema to see Baywatch and Wonder Woman, went rock climbing in Awesome Walls, went to Bounce Zone, and finally visited Google and Milanos! These were a great way for us to push our comfort zone and get to know the others better.

We learnt a lot from this week: like, how to programme a robot (of course). It wasn't as hard as I imagined: so much of it was measuring and working out angles, before writing them into a basic code. I'd never played much with LEGO before and I was surprised at how easy it was to build a robot that could grab, lift, drop and spin things. Overall it was an excellent week and I think we were all sad to be going home. It definitely opened our eyes to the world of programming and computing, and especially how women can influence STEM.

One of the best parts of the week was because of the fact that, as we were such a small group (22), we all bonded really well with the others over the five days. Seeing each other push our comfort zones in the evening activities, watching each others’ creations fail and succeed, and supporting each other all the time, (and having impromptu singalongs to Fall Out Boy), made us become great friends, and feel almost like one big (and loud) family by the end of the week.

We'd like to thank Ross, Rob, Deidre, and all those at DCU for creating such a fab week, Rosemary and Niamh for giving up their time to talk to us, and Lorna and Emer for organising it, and making sure we didn't die or get lost in Dublin. And the other girls, for grabbing the opportunity with both hands (and not killing me every time I asked them could I use them on the IGG and SB Snapchat stories).

Make sure to sign up for next year!

Counting down the days until IGGNITE2017!

1,800 Girl Guides are counting down the days until the start of international camp!

IGGNITE2017, which starts on 30 July 2017, will see girls from 12 countries join Girl Guides from all corners of Ireland camping under canvas at Rockwell College, Thurles, Co Tipperary.

It will be the biggest ever Girl Guide camp to take place in Ireland!

There will be a total of 250 visitors, including Girl Guides from the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Georgia, Zimbabwe and St Vincent and the Grenadines as well as England, Scotland and Finland.

“After two years of planning, we’re excited to be in the final days of the countdown until camp takes place,” says IGGNITE2017 Camp Chief Jenny Gannon. “We can’t wait to welcome all the girls and introduce them to the different kinds of fun and adventurous activities they’ll be taking part in during the camp.”

Activities will include kayaking, horse-riding, water obstacle courses, building rafts and rockets and playing quidditch as well as drama, music, body confidence, yoga, meditation and coding workshops. “The girls will also learn how to advocate for gender equality and to stand up for refugees and, by learning about the Sustainable Development Goals, it is hoped they will be enthused to make a difference in their local communities and overseas,” says Jenny.

“Guiding aims to ignite a social and environmental conscience in our members from age five-plus while they take part in team-building and problem-solving games and challenges. They learn how to speak out on issues that concern them and how to inspire others to take action too.

“Our overall aim is to see our members become responsible citizens of the world; that is part of our ethos. Guiding is also a wonderful place to make friends for life!”

Jillian van Turnhout nominated for WAGGGS World Board

Former IGG Chief Commissioner and former Senator Jillian van Turnhout has been nominated to run for election for the World Board of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).

Jillian writes:

I am greatly honoured to be nominated by the Irish Girl Guides and Catholic Guides of Ireland to run for election for the World Board of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS).

In my volunteer and professional work, I instinctively advocate for children’s and women’s rights. From an early age, the Guiding flame burned brightly when I joined Brownies at the age of seven. The fundamental principles of Guiding and Scouting continue to be a beacon to guide me on my path through life.

WAGGGS has 10 million members in 146 countries across the world supporting girls and young women to develop their full potential as leaders and active citizens of the world. I believe we must see more women in leadership roles and this is one of the reasons that has motivated me to stand for election. I would bring my practical experience of working with Guides in my locality and leading the re-invigoration of the Irish Girl Guide national programme for girls and young women aged five to 30.

I would share my global knowledge of advocating for children’s rights at UN, European and national level. I believe my governance experience on European and national Boards would be an asset.

Anyone who knows me can see my belief in Guiding shines brightly. It is a tremendous honour to even be considered and I hope everyone can support me in my campaign to get elected to the WAGGGS World Board at the World Conference in September in India.  

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Europe Region Volunteer Training at Our Chalet

Jenna Goodwin, Jemma Lee and Elizabeth Moody all took part in the recent WAGGGS Europe Region Volunteer Training at Our Chalet. Here Elizabeth reflects on her experience:

Having applied to be a Europe Region Volunteer back in January and being accepted onto the Communication Working Group I was delighted that the time to actually travel to Our Chalet had come, so to say I was marking off the days on my calendar would be an understatement. The trip to Our Chalet wasn’t just for a nice holiday or a box to tick on my Guiding adventure but an opportunity to experience what it means to be a member of WAGGGS and to train with women from across Europe. Each volunteer would get a general training in each committee - External Relations, Growth, Gender and Diversity and Communication - and the general strategy of Europe Region for the Triennium (three years; don’t worry my sister didn’t know it either)! Every Working Group would get a detailed look at their specific task and the strategy they wanted to work on over the triennium, with a sponsor from the Europe Committee to bridge the gap between us and them. But the rest would be revealed when we arrived.

When I applied I thought that the chance of being accepted was slim to none as my experience levels weren’t everything I felt Europe Region wanted. So I was shocked and stunned when I got accepted. When I got over the excitement of being accepted then the feeling of doubt came in, moments where I questioned my experience or knowledge began. I questioned did I have what it took to make the most out of it for myself and for the team I was to be a part of. This feeling persisted till boarding the plane to Switzerland and arriving at Our Chalet as many of the people I met had more experience, but one thing for sure I wasn’t going to let my doubts slow me down.

I was one of three girls going to Our Chalet from Ireland to take part in the training. I was the only one to sit on the communications working group as the other two, Jenna and Jemma, were to be in the External Relations working group (you can imagine the confusion this caused two girls from Ireland whose names were basically the same, with similar features that both were on the same working group)! Our trip to Our Chalet was long and each of us took one bus to the
airport, a plane, a train in the airport, four trains and then a taxi. We arrived just after 1 o’clock in the morning and exhausted! We made our way into the very quiet Our Chalet to find welcome letters for each of us detailing which room we were to be sleeping in, where we could get a midnight snack and all the other basic information we needed. The best piece of information though was the complimentary wifi codes we were given because, you know what they say, if it isn’t on Instagram it didn’t happen. Safe to say we all immediately checked in online, had a midnight snack and crawled into bed.

The next morning we got up at 8am for breakfast not really knowing what to expect. We were welcomed by the slim few that were early birds too. We all tucked into a huge breakfast spread and COFFEE! We got chatting to all the different women from around Europe that had decided to take the plunge and volunteer on a working group. After breakfast we followed the blind leading the blind as we tried to find where all our sessions would be taking place in. Our first session was led by the chair of Europe Regions Committee, Marjolein: it was an introduction to the training and a look at Europe Region’s strategy for the next three years, the length of the Committee’s term.

The day continued with a few icebreakers and more sessions about the strategies of the individual working groups and, for those not in the know, what they were about. Thursday focused on two of the key areas – Gender and Diversity and Growth. After the sessions all the countries came together to have an international night where we got to share food and entertainment from the different countries.
We were offered a campfire song from Germany, the UK, and Denmark, a dance from the girls from the Czech Republic and Slovakia and Ireland decided to teach everyone how to do the Walls of Limerick. After the performances it was down to the important part, the eating! We enjoyed Viennese sparkling wine, haribos from Germany, the “best soda in the world” according to the Danish at the Scandinavian table and scones from the UK. Ireland certainly left our mark at the International Evening with everyone leaving with a lovely Irish (temporary) tattoo, let’s just say they were ready to be kissed.

The next morning there was a slight change of plans. Originally, we were supposed do our sessions in the morning and go for a hike in the afternoon but due to the weather this was rearranged. So after breakfast we all set out on our hikes – one to the village and one to the mountain in weather that could only be described as standing in a cloud with visibility only an arms width ahead of you and a constant drizzle of rain (the Irish were in their element). We were told this was better than the weather forecast for the afternoon. With this in mind I decided to join the group trekking to the village as there was a chance of shelter and a hot drink instead of imagining seeing the mountains. So we set out in all the waterproofs and warm layers and we arrived at the idyllic village of Adelboden where we took part in a scavenger hunt and only got as far as the question about the café where we stayed and chatted for the remainder of our time. We hiked back up to Our Chalet just in time for lunch.

After lunch the serious part of the training resumed again. The sessions focused on the work of the External Relations Working Group and the Communications Working Group. Included in the Communications presentation was a talk about the rebranding of WAGGGS. I found this really exciting as finally we got a more detailed look into exactly what I would get to work on and the background behind the new branding. Plus we got an impromptu break go out and play in the surprise snow.

That evening after dinner we took part in an exercise on Gender and Diversity. We listened to music from different countries and tried to guess where they were from and, let me tell you, I failed miserably: modern music is almost impossible to guess. We then looked at the kind of world we wanted to live in and the obstacles that were in our way but, in typical Guiding fashion, we didn’t just sit around and talk about it we visualised it through a game. Each person wrote on a sticky note two characteristics of the society they want to be part of. Then we wrote on two balloons our obstacles. We then helped each overcome these obstacles by bursting each others’ balloons.

Saturday was the day we got to work in our Working Groups. My group got the T-Bar which, for anyone who has been to Our Chalet, is the best room in the whole place as it’s got the comfy chairs and the coffee and tea. This became vital in my group as there were three British among the group who loved tea! The Communications Working Group is made up of four women from the UK, one girl from Denmark and one girl from Ireland, me (in case you didn’t guess). Our meeting consisted of two of the women from the UK, the Denmark Elizabeth, the Irish Elizabeth, as well as our sponsor from the Europe Region Committee, Lilit, and Ruth from the UK who work for WAGGGS Global as part of the communications team. We discussed the guidelines set out by the Europe Region’s Committee for what they considered was important for us to complete. We looked at how we felt we should achieve this as well as how we could work with the other committees. This all went into creating our strategy for the next three years.

That evening we took part in the Our Chalet Who Wants to be a Millionaire. This version of the game was very different to the TV original.  Our version was not only Guiding-themed but also included a challenge every round that typically involved running around Our Chalet, and in girl guiding fashion and with Olympic competitiveness my team fought successfully to win the competition.

The next morning was the last of day of the training weekend and there was already a feeling of sadness about leaving. We started off the morning again in our Working Groups to finalise our plans and figuring out how we were going to achieve our goals. After this all the Working Groups came back together to discuss their strategy and goals for the triennium. As well as discussing how we, each group, could work together. This is very
important for the Communication Working Group as we will liaise with the groups the most. After the presentation from the Working Group we had to wrap up just in time before it was time for the Irish to leave. We were the last group to leave on that day after many heartfelt goodbyes throughout the day.

The journey back to Ireland wasn’t as long or as complicated as the journey to Our Chalet, I wouldn’t even change that for the world or all the Badges in Our Chalet.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Excitement is building for IGGNITE2017!

Girl Guides from around the world are getting excited as the countdown for IGGNITE2017 continues … there’s only 73 days to go!

Irish Girl Guides look forward to giving a big Irish welcome to Guides from Canada, the US, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Georgia and Zambia as well as England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

“We’re thrilled to have received such a great response and we’re looking
forward to hosting Ireland’s biggest Girl Guide camp,” says IGGNITE2017 Camp Chief Jenny Gannon. “Some of our Guides and Leaders have visited Rockwell already; it’s a great location and the grounds are perfect for camping. Having a lake is a definite bonus as the girls will have the opportunity to kayak and do other water-based activities.”

The camp will see the girls building rafts, rockets and volcanoes, playing quidditch, cooking international dishes
and doing an assault course as well as taking part in drama, music, body confidence, yoga, meditation and coding workshops. There will also be sessions on climate justice and sustainability and trainings on how to advocate for gender equality and to stand up for refugees.

Day trips will include a visit to Cloughjordan eco village and to nearby Cashel where the girls will take part in a community mural project.

“We want to give the girls a fun and memorable experience,” says Jenny. “As well as the water sports and all the many other fun activities we will arrange for them, there will be a serious side to the camp too. Through a variety of activities and challenges, the girls will learn about the Sustainable Development Goals and they will be encouraged to explore ways that they can make a difference in their local communities and overseas.”

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Trefoil Guild AGM 'full of friendship and enthusiasm'

Thirty-three people from SW Region, SE Region, WCM Region, NE Region and Eastern Region attended Trefoil Guild's AGM and the atmosphere was full of  friendship and enthusiasm. 

Seven new Lone Members were enrolled by our President Maureen Murphy and eight members  (including Maureen)  were presented with the first bead of the Evergreen Challenge.  

We were also very excited to launch our  new Journey book and 95 of these have now travelled to Guilds around the country.

We had presentations about the visit to Our Chalet that six members had made during the year and also a presentation from a member who had attended an event in Slovakia.

Looking forward, a visit to Lorne is planned for the autumn and a presentation was made about an IFSG gathering in Eastbourne in October 2018. 

Monday, 15 May 2017

Join our Lego Robotics Summer Academy!

IGG members aged 15-25 are invited to take part in a Lego Education Robotics Summer Academy in DCU St Patrick’s campus, Drumcondra, from 26-30 June … 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Good engineers are simply curious!

'What do you want to be when you grow up?' This can be, perhaps, the most limiting question you can ask a child.

Why? According to the World Economic Forum, 65% of children entering primary school education today will be in jobs that don't even exist yet! The rate of development in the fields of Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Systems at the moment is amazing – even where I'm from in Cork, the city is changing all around me. The single largest research building in the European Union was opened just a few months back in University College Cork and it is dedicated purely to the computational and mathematical sciences.

The future work life of our current Ladybirds, Brownies and Guides is largely unwritten and, as Leaders and Senior Branchers, we can all do our bit in our own little way as volunteers to help them be ready for it. Looking back on how Guiding started up in the first place – with the intention of giving girls practical and outdoor skills and confidence to contribute their all to society, it does seem a bit absurd to be talking about technology but the closer you look, the more relevant it seems.

When I was in primary school, I was absolutely convinced I wanted to be a teacher and nothing else! All the other kids around me had similarly simple dreams, of being a nurse or a vet or a famous actress. I'm even struggling to think of more of the options we chose because they were pretty limited. That was fine for a bunch of primary school students filling in a bunch of questionnaires but the pattern continued into secondary school and, more troublingly, as the CAO application deadline approached. During one particular Irish class every student either wanted to be a nurse or a teacher – and when my turn came round to speak up as a hopeful Energy Engineering applicant, there was a bit of a silence – I mean, Engineering? What's that?

I will always stand firm in the belief that 'you can't be what you can't see' and the field of technology suffers hugely from this inconvenient truth. As a child I wanted to be a primary school teacher because day-in-day-out I headed into school and saw the teacher leading the class and doing a great job. I looked up to her and, at that age, I had a small understanding of what the job entailed. I can assure you I have no childhood memories of coloring in a picture of an engineer, but I was always taught how to spell 'nurse'.

Currently, the proportion of jobs in telecommunications, scientific research and development and computer programming that are held by women stands at less than 30%.  Ironically, the courses that are the foundations for these have some of the most attainable CAO points (Engineering in CIT was 410 in 2015) while primary school teaching and medicine continues to be unreasonably high. To further add insult to injury, these jobs are amongst the best paid in the country. Soon the gender pay gap, in Ireland anyway, will not be stemming from society’s bias against women, but more so from women's uncertainty and lack of confidence in pursuing tech and engineering careers.

Even as a college student, I am noticing the great benefits of following the path of an Engineer – faculty loans are offered to Engineering undergrads at a lower interest rate, I am in receipt of an industry scholarship from Intel to help with college fees, and there are plenty of summer internships to go around for everyone. These little things make such a huge difference, and would not be accessible to people outside of the STEM fields.

What can we do to help solve this problem? Exposure! Has your unit ever visited an observatory? Would your unit like to call to a meeting of Coder-dojo? Would you like to do a show-and-tell session on the Guide or Brownies’ favourite invention? Could you get speakers in for your Senior Branchers?
I find these days I'm defining the Engineering mindset as, thinking about a more efficient way to get jobs done. That's the job description in general really. Engineers learn about how things work and how to make everything run better – they solve problems. We frame engineers, computer scientists and IT leaders as nerds, or people who just love maths but trust me, there are plenty of engineering students, even in UCC, who struggle with maths just as much as anyone else – most mathematical problems can be solved with a computer anyway! 

In reality, good Engineers are simply curious, like to complain about how things are run, and like to provide their own remedies for a particular problem - and I don’t know about you, but I sometimes find Guides to be particularly good Engineers at meetings!

In conclusion, I would like to mention why I chose Energy Engineering as my specified discipline. I never had any experience programming, didn't do Engineering for my Leaving Cert, and did not study Applied Maths either. I simply asked myself the question – What's the biggest issue facing our generation, and how can I help be a part of the solution? (I would recommend this as a solid starting point for anyone struggling with their career choice at the moment). I realised that reducing energy consumption and aiming for more sustainable and green production for our ever-growing needs seemed like a good cause, so here I am, learning all about it. 

~ Vera O'Riordan, McEgan Senior Branch, Macroom

Monday, 24 April 2017

'I started to appreciate how important the International Scout and Guide Fellowship is'

Sarah Cahill, a Trefoil Guild member living in Waterford, recently went to Slovakia to take part in a workshop organised by the International Scout and Guide Fellowship. Thirty-two people from 13 countries attended to discuss the challenge of recruitment. Sarah thoroughly enjoyed her first experience of international Guiding/Scouting and wrote the following about her experience:  
It was an unexpected and wonderful opportunity to participate in the 7th Europe Region Workshop that took place in Smolenice, Slovakia (3 - 8 March 2017). I am still not sure how I got the chance to go on this adventure. A lot of credit has to go to my Fellowship contact in Ireland, Margery, who was very good about explaining as much as she could to me and being very persuasive.
My first impression of Slovakia was definitely a great one as we left Ireland in the rain and came into Bratislava in full sunshine. For those of you who are from a warmer climate that may not be a novelty but, to an Irish person who hadn’t seen such sun in a long time, it was heavenly. Thankfully, this continued throughout the week we were there.
I’ll admit one of the main reasons I said ‘yes’ to this trip originally was because of the location. Who doesn’t want to stay in a castle? This certainly didn’t disappoint either but became very much a backdrop to a wonderful experience rather than the focus. The workshop itself was a great experience. I met so many interesting people and learned quite a lot about the organisation throughout Europe.
On the first day we learned a lot about Slovakian Scouting. It was great to hear about this group that I, for one, would not otherwise have contact with. This was also so throughout the workshop with a few of the members there telling us about their own organisation. It was fascinating to learn what was important to them and the many activities of the different countries that were present at the workshop.
I must say, for a country and people I knew nothing about, I was very impressed. They are really nice and accommodating. The one thing that was so noticeable when we went touring in the towns on the last day was the quiet and calm nature of everyone.
The food was always plentiful but the one thing I’d say is bring your own dessert: they do not know the sweet type of confectionery that we know! They are much better off for this, of course, but it’s not easy for me to go a whole week without any! Thankfully, some people had brought chocolate for sharing. One thing to remember for next time.
Over the course of the workshop we had many presentations on many different topics. For a new member, like me, there was a lot of interesting aspects to these. Of course the focus of this workshop was recruitment. For a group only representing Europe we had a certain amount of similarities but some very interesting ideas come out of it too.
The one thing I personally had to get my head around was the lack of groups for adults in Guiding and Scouting in other countries. In my innocence and lack of knowledge of the international side of Guiding (which I do plan to change) I thought every country with an established Scouting or Guiding organisation would have similar to us, an adults’ section or a group that you can retire to if you can no longer be an active leader. This seems to be not the case at all and the need for the Fellowship really started to solidify for me.

Over the weekend I really started to appreciate how important the Fellowship is to so many leaders. As a young member of this organisation I was in Slovakia as much to learn from the workshop as to get answers as to what it was, why does it exist? I definitely had my answers by the end and so much more.

Friday, 7 April 2017

'We should campaign for all the rights we deserve'

We are four Guides in Ireland, aged 11, 12, 13 and 14. We each believe strongly in gender equality whatever your age, faith, or nationality. We are all approaching this topic from different points of view, yet we are all approaching the same conclusion. 

I would consider myself a feminist and I am definitely for gender equality. It has been something I know women and men have been fighting for since time immemorial. We should never just accept the norm of society, we should campaign for all the rights we deserve. – Martha (14)

The world is evolving so much with technology, but some people like to move back rather than forward in society, and go against equality. – Aisling (11)

I believe that everyone should be given equal rights, equal pay and equal opportunities and it is disappointing to think that in some countries this is still not happening. Women and girls are being refused education and jobs outside of their home. – Hannah (12)

Women have not been treated nicely by men all throughout time. They have been denied their rights and opportunities. It is still very common and happening on a daily basis in offices, sports, factories, schools, and entertainment. I believe strongly that women's rights are important. As a feminist, I believe that both genders deserve equality. Equal pay for equal work, and so on. I strongly hope and believe that from our generation forward, there will be equality in our society. – Aoife (13)


This is a universal goal that we all wish to achieve and we hope you wish to achieve it with us. 

~ St Rynagh's Guides, Offaly

Friday, 31 March 2017

Our trip to Our Chalet was truly amazing … we would all go back in a heartbeat!

Dunshaughlin Senior Branch members had a fab trip to Our Chalet. Here they tell us all about their highlights:

On 20 February 2017 we met at Dublin airport at 8am. From there the excitement started to build between the whole group. After two years of planning, fundraising and waiting we were finally on our way.

Coming into Basel airport there was no sign of any snow. However, once we got on our way after all the trains, planes and automobiles (not to mention our own carriage on a train) we ended up waist deep in snow much to our leaders’ delight!

We were greeted by many different Guides and Scouts from Norway, America, England , Hong Kong, Malaysia, The Netherlands, Argentina, America and Canada. Later on in the evening, after we all got settled, we had a tour all around and learned about the Chalet, which we would have to remember later on in the week for our quiz.

Our early morning rise was definitely worth it once we looked out our windows to the amazing views of the Swiss Alps. However, if we wanted breakfast and to go snow-tubing we would have to get a move on!

Our slippery hike to the frozen waterfall was our first real experience of Switzerland. Once we reached the waterfall and took loads of pictures we
made our way back to an opening in the forest where the benches were covered with snow! There we had a fabulous lunch of sausages or falafel burgers, which many people described as the 'best sausages they've ever had'. Snow-tubing was next on the list. From our little 'camp' we made our way to a gondola which would take us high up into the Swiss Alps. From there we hopped into our snow tubes and down the mountain bringing us all the way into a cabin to have hot chocolate for everyone.

Back in the Chalet we had a Swiss night where we were treated to a couple Swiss traditions including chocolate fondue (which didn't last too long)!

After breakfast we had free time to work on our Our Chalet challenge badge and explore the chalet and the grounds a bit more before we headed off again down the hill and up another (longer) gondola to begin our sledging. We started off with the basics before being thrown into the deep end sledging on the
same slopes as all the skiers. We quickly found ways in which to make us move faster sledging down the twists and turns of the mountain (avoiding one speedy leader). Once we all got down the mountain it was a race back up to the top for another round!

That night we took part in a Thinking Day WAGGGS night learning all about each World Centre and about Guiding in different cultures!

Day 4 we were up and off to the wood carvers to get our woggles that we saw everyone in the Chalet had. Once we reached the wood carvers, after hiking up the long spindly roads, we each had a chance to look around and buy little woggles with our names on them. Our hike back into the village of Adelboden was steep but definitely worth it. We cleared out the Co-op of their 50c chocolate that we had been told so much about from the staff at Our Chalet and, before we left, we stopped in to grab a cake and some hot chocolate.

That night we had quite a strange dinner - mac'n'cheese with potatoes and apple sauce. They say hunger is a good sauce but I don't think that meant apple sauce!

Snow shoe hike to the magic tree was our last thing to tackle on this adventure. Getting them on in the dark was the hardest part but once we began our trip to the magic tree we all became accustomed to our oddly shaped shoes. Our night hike was something else. When we stopped to look at the stars it was truly magical and we hadn't even made it to the tree
yet! Once we eventually found the tree after a fair search we each stood inside and made our wishes. It was there that the people who completed the Our Chalet were awarded their badges before we made our way back to the Chalet for our final night.

On our last morning in Our Chalet we made our snowwoman and went sledging down baby chalet hill before going inside to swap badges and say our thank yous and goodbyes to everyone before we made our last trip
down the hill, which was not so bad as the hard part was getting up it so we headed off down the hill singing songs and taking in the sights all around us before our crazy manifesto of transportation began again! Nearly missing our plane definitely made everyone run through the airport with bags flying and all our bits and bobs falling everywhere gave us all a laugh once we were on the plane ride home.

Thanks to Annamarie and all our leaders for organising a wonderful trip! Our trip to Our Chalet was truly amazing and I'd say we would all go back in a heartbeat!

~ Dunshaughlin Senior Branch members