Tuesday, 1 November 2016

‘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

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