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

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

‘I am just one voice, but I am proud to have represented 10 million voices of WAGGGS members around the world’

I am just back from representing the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts at the 61st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York and what a whirlwind of a two weeks it has been!

The Commission on the Status of Women is the principal body dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women at the United Nations. Each year the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) sends a delegation of young women to represent its 10 million members worldwide. This year there were 11 young women on the delegation from different countries including Chile, Argentina and Scotland, to name but a few.

Our adventure started on Friday 10th March when we all gathered at Girl Scouts of the USA Head Quarters on Fifth Avenue for our induction training. Throughout the day, we practiced elevator pitches of what we might say if we met a government official in a lift and how we should best communicate WAGGGS’ key messages to decision makers. As we would all have the chance to speak at various events over the next two weeks, we practiced taking part in a
panel discussion and also discussed what questions might arise from the audience during the Q & A section.

On Saturday and Sunday, we attended the CSW Youth Forum where we had the chance to listen to some amazing speakers, including Amina Mohammed, the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations who told us that “Every one of us has a journey and that path is what you make of it – Even if you end up being a bread maker, please make sure you make the best god damn bread the world has ever seen.” We took part in various sessions including “Young Women
and Mental Health” and “The voices of young women in peace and security” as well as skills exchange labs on digital and political advocacy. I was part of the WAGGGS team running a session on the Free Being Me body confidence programme and some other members of the delegation also ran a session on WAGGGS’s Stop the Violence campaign.

The 61st Session of the Commission officially began on Monday 13 March 2017. Each year CSW has an official theme around which all events are based and this year the theme was “Women’s
Economic Empowerment in the Changing World of Work.” Throughout the two weeks, we each had the chance to influence policy makers by meeting with our governments to lobby them on the important and unique issues facing girls and young women in today’s society. Women’s economic empowerment starts with girls and we wanted governments to understand that investing in girls is a primary means of increasing economic outcomes for them in later life.

During CSW, each member of the delegation had the chance to sit on
various panels at different events in conjunction with other non-governmental organisations to speak out on important issues such as empowering girls’ economic futures through education, eliminating all forms of violence against girls and young women and addressing discriminatory social norms and practices that inhibit girls and young women in society today.

During the second week of CSW, I had the opportunity to deliver a statement on behalf of WAGGGS at an interactive
expert panel on “Enhancing availability and use of data and gender statistics to support accelerated implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals”. I talked about the importance of collecting data by age, gender and other categories so that progress for all girls is adequately captured. I also spoke about U-Report, a social messaging tool developed by UNICEF to enable anyone anywhere to speak out on the issues they care about.

At the end of the two weeks, the principal outcome of CSW is the Agreed Conclusions, which is a document that 
contains a set of concrete recommendations for action by governments and non-governmental organisations to advance gender equality. This document contains an assessment of progress, as well as the gaps and challenges facing girls and women. On St. Patrick’s Day I had the chance to attend a reception at the Irish Permanent Mission to the United Nations. Here I met with decision-makers from the Irish
government as well as officials from the Permanent Mission who were engaged in negotiations on the Agreed Conclusions and had the chance to share WAGGGS’s key messages and highlight the importance of governments recognising the unique perspectives of girls and young women and the barriers preventing gender equality.

Being part of this delegation has been an amazing opportunity for me to not only represent WAGGGS at a global level, but also to have a meaningful impact on global decision makers to ensure that the challenges facing girls and young women are taken into account. I have had the chance to develop my public speaking and critical thinking skills as well as connect with Girl Guides and Girl Scouts from around the

I am just one voice, but I am proud to have represented 10 million voices of WAGGGS members around the world.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

So much happening at the Commission on the Status of Women!

IGG Assistant Chief Commissioner, Jenna Goodwin, is currently attending the Commission on the Status of Women in New York: 
The WAGGGS delegation has been in New York for nearly a week now, taking part in the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61). So much has happened in that short space of time!
Last Friday (10 March), we went to Girl Scouts of the USA HQ for our delegation training. During this training, we were prepared for what to expect from our time at CSW. 
We practised pitching our key messages and we answered questions as if we were on a panel at an event. We also talked about what our plans were for our action projects when we returned home.
Over the weekend, we attended the CSW Youth Forum. This was a chance for all youth participants attending CSW to input their ideas into the youth declaration – a culmination of the important issues that we see facing the young people of today. The youth declaration prepared by the participants highlights the issues young people want global decision-makers to address over the course of the next two weeks.  
Alongside the declaration, we also attended lots of events including panels and breakout sessions which gave us food for thought on a range of issues including investing in young women’s leadership in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, building young women’s entrepreneurship skills and how we can strengthen inter-generational partnerships.
At the Youth Forum we ran a Free Being Me session. Participants had the chance to try some of the activities offered by the Free Being Me programme. We had important and engaging discussions around the “Image Myth” and what we can do to build body confidence among girls and young women.
Some members of our delegation also ran a session on Stop the Violence which provided a chance for participants to discuss the causes and consequences of violence against girls as well as what solutions could be provided to overcome these challenges.
On Monday 13 March, CSW started and we all began to attend different side events and parallel events which were being run by various other NGOs as well as governments. Many of the members of our delegation had the chance to speak at various events and highlight our key messages as the only global movement for girls worldwide.
As we continue through the first week of CSW, we are looking forward to attending more events and speaking out on behalf of our 10 million members worldwide.
I am so proud to be part of this delegation. It’s so important youth voices are heard at CSW because young people are the adults of tomorrow. Young people understand the issues that affect them in their lives and who better to share these issues with global decision-makers than young people themselves.
~ Jenna Goodwin, IGG Assistant Chief Commissioner

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Brownies attend ‘Dream Big’ Engineering Week launch

Liffey Brownies, Celbridge, and Droichead Nua Brownies, Newbridge, were thrilled to attend the launch of Engineering Week. Here Leader Georgina Guy and Liffey Brownies, Edana and Megan, share their experience of the event:

The film ‘Dream Big’ was the starting event for Engineering Week. The short stories were about girls and why they pursued careers in engineering and science - the stories behind them and how they make a difference.  

One story was about a girl who lived through an earthquake with buildings falling down around her. She decided to study different types of ground and how to make buildings survive earthquakes by going down to bedrock.  

Another was a group of secondary students who built an underwater robot out of pipes and won the competition against MIT. Another secondary school built a solar car and raced it across Australia: they came last but crossed the finish line with an $800
solar car they built themselves.

The girls were amazed to discover that, by twisting a building, the wind current goes around the building, not pushing agent it. The girls loved the story about a man's wife who died crossing the river to get medicine. A woman engineer goes around Africa teaching the locals how to make suspension bridges; she said for every one bridge they teach, the knowledge is then brought to build ten more bridges. The bridge meant the community could go to school and the hospital without crossing the high river every day.

The girls came out saying how interesting the stories where, especially the one about the difference a bridge can make in a community .

The girls really enjoyed the day and would like to thank all the staff at Engineering Week.

~ Georgina Guy, Liffey Brownies Leader

On the trip we got to go on a train because it was in Dublin. In Dublin we went to see a movie but it wasn't just a movie, it was a movie about Engineering Week. It was called "Dream Big". It was great, it was also a lesson. We all enjoyed it very much. After it Margaret went to buy Georgina a cupcake for her birthday and we all sang ‘Happy Birthday’. It was a great day and so much fun. We got to come home on the train too. - Edana.

We started off by meeting Margaret and Georgina at the train station in Maynooth. Then we got on a train. We got the train to Dublin, then got off and onto the Luas, which brought us to the engineering event. The minute we got in we saw a ninja turtle in the corner. Then we went on the escalator and at the top the
Engineering Week girls greeted us with wristbands. There were lots of colouring sheets on different tables, they had science things on them about rockets and particles. There was face painting, there was a mad scientist doing some experiments making a balloon supper train racing them against one another. He showed us how to make a volcano with coke and menthos and the reaction that happens. Everyone that helped had to wear safety glasses and a white coat. When we went to the film we got popcorn, jellies and a drink. We watched the film ‘Dream Big’ and afterwards we got the Luas and train home. - Megan

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

‘I am learning what we can do to help make things better for women and girls everywhere’

My name is Grace; I am nine years old

I believe that girls are at least as smart as boys (actually, I think that sometimes they are smarter but we won’t tell my little brothers that)!

I have learnt a lot of things about girls and women all over the world since I joined Ladybirds when I was just five years old. Since then I have moved up to Brownies and am learning more and more about change in the world and what we can do to help make things better for women and girls everywhere.

I do not know yet exactly what I what to be when I grow up but I met a very important person when I was just 10 months old: her name was Mary Robinson. She was the first female president of Ireland and she also became a UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. She now is working on important issues about climate change. In case you do not know we need to reduce, reuse and recycle and do so much more.

I think children should be able to vote but I am not sure what age would be best. Maybe about nine?  

I am not sure if I will be the third female president of Ireland, or maybe the first Taoiseach or maybe a female builder, electrician carpenter or plumber or any other job that women don’t usually do. I may even do something out of this world, like be an astronaut.

I think girls and women should be allowed to be the best that they can be, whatever they like and whatever they are good at. I hope whatever I decide I will be happy.

This is a picture of myself and former President Mary Robinson; I have changed a lot since then.

~ Grace Keane, Merlin Woods Brownies

'There is nothing girls can't do as well as their male counterparts'


The meeting of the first week of March each year is a great excuse for the Ladybird and Brownie Guides in Merlin Woods, Galway, to put on their best singing voices and sing Coccinella’s favourite song, ‘Can a Woman….’.  Unfortunately, the words are always a bit of a challenge so this year we typed them up in very BOLD print (pardon the pun) and sang them louder than ever!

The call for action for this year’s International Women’s Day is one which asks each one of us to #BeBoldForChange.  Imagine the
delight on the faces of first our group of 20 Ladybirds, and then later 20 Brownies, when it was suggested that they go home and tell their parents that their Guide Leader had said they were to go home and Be Bold!  It took quite a few attempts to get a definition for ‘bold’ which went from ‘naughty’ to ‘dark print on the computer’ and finally some-one suggested ‘brave’. 

As this calendar event follows closely after our World Thinking Day themes, it was easier to re-visit our chats on how lucky we are here to have the opportunity to go to nice schools, and then go on to universities or colleges if they want to. The Ladybirds loved the words of ‘Can a Woman’ and in the words of Sinead (age five), when asked later what she’d like to be or do when she grows up: ‘fly a plane, drive a truck, be a plumber, be a firefighter, do anything, Ohh Ohh and a baby minder’!

The Brownies embraced the debate on what kind of differences quite strongly. There were many potential presidents in the group! Lots of scientists too, and engineers….  It was great to see how these girls clearly feel there is nothing they can’t do as well as their male counterparts and don’t believe that there will be obstacles to them later. 

When we passed on some of the International Women’s Day information, like how if things continue as they are now, it will be 170 years (2186) before the gender gap is closed entirely (according to the World Economic Forum), they were almost disbelieving. Rachel (8) told us that it made her very sad that in some countries girls had to stay at home and tend to the housework and farm while the boys were
sent to school to be educated. She wasn’t sure what kind of a difference she could make now when she’s only eight, but she hoped when she was older and lucky enough to have been given a good education that she might get a job somewhere she could help girls around the world fulfil their dreams of an education (another potential presidential candidate!)

All the Brownies contributed to our #BeBoldForChange posters with their wishes on yellow stickies for their futures. And the girls photographed each other with their selfie posters on how they might make a change. 

Happy International Women’s Day everyone!

~ Sheenagh MacLaverty, Merlin Woods Ladybirds & Brownies, Galway

Monday, 6 March 2017

'Everyone is perfect in their own special way'

Well done to Tivoli Guides, Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin, on completing the Free Being Me programme. Here two Guides, Rachel and Sally, share their experiences doing the programme. 

Free Being Me is a programme for young kids whose self-esteem is low. It teaches people that they are beautiful no matter who says otherwise.

A lady called Emer came in and taught all the Guides all about how to be happy with who you are and not someone else.  She taught us that
everyone is perfect in their own special way.

We also learned about the image myth: the image myth is something you see everywhere, in movies, in social media, magazines and a lot more, it is what people think is the ideal figure. Lots of people in this world are jealous of famous people or someone who is ‘perfect’, but really what they are jealous of is fake. Almost all ads and magazines are air brushed, which means that it is photo-shopped to make people seem perfect.

Emer showed us a time-lapse video of a woman going through the air-brushing process and she looked completely different at the end. I was so shocked to find out how many people are fooled by the image myth and how much pressure social media are putting on people to be perfect.

Emer was very inspiring and kind! I hope that more and more people are aware of this. Free Being Me is a great programme and I learnt a lot over the past few weeks.

~ Rachel (age 11)

I loved doing Free Being Me because it made me feel more confident about my looks. Free Being Me was a great experience I would like everyone to have:

Be(lieve) in

I will now, thanks to the programme, be happy forever.
I also loved it when Emer Foley came because she made Free Being Me the funniest thing ever.

Sally (age 11)

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Abbeyside Senior Branchers explore the Wild Atlantic Way!

It’s that time of year when everyone starts planning – and looking forward to - their summer camps and trips! Thanks to Abbeyside Senior Branch for sending us the following piece reflecting on their adventure last summer:

On the 18 August 2016 the Abbeyside Senior Branch set off on an exciting adventure along the Wild Atlantic Way. Three cars left the Abbeyside Scouts’ den at 9am carrying three Leaders, five members of Senior Branch and plenty of luggage to the Burren Outdoor Education Centre, Ballyvaughan, Co. Clare. Here we were welcomed warmly and set off on our first activity of the weekend.

All the girls changed into a pair of long johns and buoyancy aids and left in a mini bus for the sea where four barrels,
eight planks of wood and lots of string awaited us. Our task was to build a raft and paddle it out to sea. While the raft may have broken slightly when on the water, this only added to the overall enjoyment! When we were all warm and dry again we explored the centre and raided the kitchen in order to make our own pizzas. 

On Friday morning phone alarms could be heard buzzing all over the centre as we awoke early in order to head towards Doolin and prepare for our early ferry departure. The ferry pulled out of Doolin at 10am and left for Inis Mór. When we arrived on the island we
were very lucky to find the sun shining. We hired bikes and began to cycle along the coast. The scenery was fabulous.

After half an hour of cycling the girls all went in search of ice-cream and crepes whilst the Leaders got a break and had a chance to sit down. As we headed off again the wind definitely picked up and we did more walking than cycling. All in all, it was a fantastic day thoroughly enjoyed by all; at least until the journey home began! I think it is fair to say that the journey home was extremely rocky.  We were all in a state of panic when the boat docked in Doolin again after a crossing that took over two hours. I’d never seen a group of people move so fast in order to stand on dry land again.

After our active packed day on Friday we definitely deserved a treat and decided a day trip
to Galway would be perfect. We began our day trip in the gorgeous Claddagh Cottage. We were given the history of the Claddagh ring and got to see the amazing bog wood statues that the tour guide himself had sculpted. After a brief tour we decided to go for a train ride around the city in order to see all the historical buildings and the spectacular scenery of Salthill. When we had finished all of our sightseeing we set off on a shopping tour of the city. There was a great variety of shops and side streets to explore and, after a long day, we settled down in Supermacs for pizza and chips.
When we returned to the centre we changed into our party clothes and prepared for our awards ceremony. Here we ate too many sweets and gave out some pretty interesting awards!  

After a very late night we had a chance to sleep in before packing up and getting on the road again.  On our way home we stopped in the Hazel Mountain Chocolate factory and enjoyed a brief tour along with a delicious hot chocolate before heading to Father Ted’s house. This house is in one of the most remote places we had ever been to - we were sure that we were lost more than once. But on a dreary and wet day we finally came to a big grey building which was, in fact, the house of Father Ted himself. Here we were greeted warmly and rushed out of the rain into a warm sitting room and, of course, there was plenty of tea as well as enough brownies and scones to feed an army. We ended our trip on a high!

We arrived home to Abbeyside at 5:30 on Sunday evening extremely tired after a trip that will never be forgotten and always remembered for its late night laughs! Thanks to all for an amazing trip!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Over 100 IGG members celebrate 100 years of Guiding in Bray!

On Sunday 19 February 2017 over 100 Ladybirds, Brownies and Guides celebrated World Thinking Day and 100 years of Guides in Bray.

The girls first spent time in the parochial hall doing a variety of crafts before learning a dance choreographed by
members of the Senior Branch in Bray.

After lunch the girls, with their Leaders, walked to the Civic Plaza outside the Mermaid Theatre where they sang campfire songs before parading up to Christ Church where a short thanksgiving
celebration was led by Rev Martin, Leaders and Senior Branch members.

The girls were also joined in the church by previous Leaders and friends who were able to look at a display of photographs from the 1940s to modern times.
During the year we will be having other activities to mark the centenary.

~ Mary Byrne, Bray, Co Wicklow 

(photos Orlaith Nic Aidhne)