Thursday, 7 July 2016

Journey Through London - Day 1

Hi, we're Clodagh and Nia. We're in Kinsale Senior Branch and we also help out with Kinsale Guides and Brownies. We first heard about Journey Through London in Trefoil News in March. IGG offered two places to members aged 13-18 to attend this international event in Pax Lodge - the World Centre in London. We sent off our applications and got ready to attend selections at Go Global in Dublin in April. 

We had a great day at Go Global - we learned new things, gabbled our way through our interview and made some new friends. It was a really good day and it became even better when we later found out that we had both been selected to represent IGG at Journey Through London. We travelled to Pax Lodge with Kinsale Guide Leader Carol-Anne O'Reilly on June 26th.

Day 1 - Sunday

We arrived at Pax Lodge at noon. Much to our delight, we were one of the first to arrive, which gave us time to relax and explore. We met Sr Anna and Mamahase from Lesotho who had just had an 11-hour flight! Soon everybody else started to arrive, and at 3pm we all gathered in the dining room to have a traditional British cream tea. The journey Through London Event Team introduced themselves - Tadeja from Sloveni,a who works at Pax Lodge, and summer volunteers Hannah from Canada and Maria from Venezuela. They explained the tradition of afternoon tea, then we were free to enjoy our tea and scones. We then had our opening session where we went over our timetables and talked about what would be happening over the course of the event.

The World Board of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts was meeting next door at the World Bureau, so we were very excited when Tadeja said some of them wanted to drop in to say 'hello'. We got to meet World Board Chair Nicola Grinstead, Vice-Chairs Connie Matsui and Natasha Hendrick, World Board member and WAGGGS Treasurer Fiona Harnett, and WAGGGS Chief Executive Officer Anita Tiessen. They told us a bit about Guiding worldwide and the jobs that they do in WAGGGS and in the 'real world'. It was really inspiring to hear from such interesting, successful women who are so passionate about Guiding and WAGGGS. They gave each of us a special World Board Badge. 

Next up were some ice-breakers, where we got to know our new group members a little better. We soon discovered that our event group was made up of Guides, Girl Scouts and Leaders from the Philippines, Lesotho (in Africa), California, Washington State and Pennsylvania. And, of course, us three Irish. After the games, it was time for a lovely roast dinner!

We had a bit of free time before our International Night, which started at 8pm. It was fascinating to listen to our Event Team tell us about Guiding in their home countries. We were amazed to hear that Slovenia has both boys and girls in its Guide units, and therefore these boys are members of WAGGGS.

Then it was our turn: we had songs and presentations from the USA, the Philippines and Lesotho. We sang a song, 'The Rattlin' Bog', with Clodagh playing the mandolin. Luckily some of the Californian Girl Scouts knew the words so we had plenty of help. We had great fun and we learned loads of new songs and games that we can hopefully teach to our girls back home. International Night ran late and we were all exhausted so the Leaders decided to keep our SWAPS* until the last night.

*We always thought that Swaps, those little tokens and badges we exchange with international Guides at camp and overseas, were simply that - an exchange or swap. But this week we found out from one of the Californian Leaders, Chicha, that SWAPS stands for 'Some Watchamacallit Affectionately Pinned Somewhere' and that the name came from the Girl Scout Round-Up in Michigan in 1956. How does Chicha know this? Well, she was there at the event! She is 77 now and still leads a troop of Girl Scouts with her daughter, Debbie.

~ Clodagh Butler and Nia Daly, Kinsale, Co. Cork


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