This year's county INTOPS (International Opportunities) group went on an amazing adventure to Slovakia last week! Highlights included a stopover in Krakow (Poland), river rafting, a visit to a monastery, fun with the Slovakian Girl Scouts, exploring the local town, bowling, swimming, a visit to some ice caves, a high ropes course, a 12km hike through a national park, and a visit to a castle!
Read our blog here: http://girlguidingglos-slovakia2017.blogspot.co.uk/
Photos from events around the county, celebrating World Thinking Day 2016 and helping connect all 10 million guiding members worldwide!
Yorkley Brownies celebrating Chinese New Year in style by cooking a feast and eating together. Dim Sum, sweet and sour chicken, stir fry noodles and vegetables in plum sauce.
On Saturday 22nd August a group of 12 members of Girlguiding Gloucestershire departed for a fantastic week in Switzerland.
After a flight from London to Zurich we traversed Switzerland by train, arriving in the pretty town of Interlaken. We spent 3 nights in the Youth Hostel, with beautiful views of the mountains, river and trains, and explored the local area.
The following morning we ventured up the mountain – taking 3 different trains to reach the top of the Jungfraujoch – the highest railway station in Europe, at 3571 metres. We managed to see the view for a few minutes, before the clouds came down, and then the icy hail/snow fell, stinging our faces, with a temperature of -1degrees. Forced inside we explored the sculptures in the Ice cave, and the tunnels through the mountain before returning back down to Interlaken.
That evening we met up with the Interlaken Scout group and had dinner with them in their Scout Hut. They were so welcoming, providing us with a fantastic Raclette dinner followed by games outside, laughter and swopping of gifts. The older adults amongst us were stunned to find that the Swiss Scout Association starts training the scouts as leaders from the age of 12, with leaders only being allowed to volunteer until they turn 25.
The following day was shared between a trip to the Grand Cafe Schuh and a visit to the Trummelbachfalle. The Head Chef/Chocolatier in the Grand Cafe Schuh showed us how the chocolates were made by hand, before we sampled them and spent our money on gifts to take home. We then took a train and a bus to visit the Trummelbach waterfalls. The falls collect the glacial water from the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau, where it flows in cave systems inside the mountain, at 20,000 litres per second – a deafening and amazing spectacle.
We finished Monday by taking the cable car up the opposite mountain towards Murren – a first experience for some of the group – but not one everyone enjoyed!
On Tuesday we left Interlaken and took more trains and buses across to Adelboden, to spend the following 4 nights at our World Centre ‘Our Chalet’. On the way we called in to see Mr Trummer the woodcarver, and purchased our trefoil badges and ate lemon cake in the sunshine. We found the outside toilet with the best view across the valley, taking turns to stand on tiptoe in the toilet and take photos through the heart shaped window!
During the next few days we experienced the beautiful surroundings, exhausting hills and Guiding friendship that make Our Chalet the special place it is. We stayed in the Spycher House, with all the girls in the attic, with beds in rows like the 8 Dwarfs! We shared meals and activities with the International staff, groups from America, Canada, and Wales, and had a fantastic time. Our onsite day included a welcome flag ceremony, where we all received our pewter ‘Our Chalet’ pins, campfire cooking, orienteering, recycling awareness and getting to know our surroundings. The International night saw us dressed up in our winter and wet weather gear, reciting a poem about the rainy British weather – much appreciated by the American group!
We visited the Rehari adventure park, where we traversed the river 12 times each, attached to a zip wire, and watched some of the girls jump off a bridge over the river, attached to the pendulum swing – which Mirren decided to do in the most unusual upside down position (heart in mouth time for the leaders!). This was followed by climbing up the rock face, before huffing and puffing back up the very long and steep hill to Our Chalet.
Fritz came up from the village with his Alpine horn to help us celebrate ‘Swiss night’. He played it beautifully and we all joined in singing songs including Amazing Grace and the Bernese Oberland anthem of ‘Vogellisi’ before competing in a quiz about ‘all things Swiss’, and winning the prize of Chocolate Fondue.
Our last day at Our Chalet found us taking the Funicular railway to the top of the Niesen Mountain, at 2336m. We climbed right to the top and ate ice cream whilst admiring the view. We then took the steamer boat across Lake Thun, to visit the beautiful fairytale castle at Oberhofen. The sun was hot, the sky was blue, and more ice cream followed!
That evening we hiked in the twilight to visit the Bonder waterfalls. We were joined by the Canadian Ranger group, and listening to the girls chatting, swapping stories and experiences whilst walking in the dark was fantastic. This was followed by a badge swopping session – and lots more chatting.
Saturday saw us waving goodbye to Our Chalet and walking down the hill to the bus stop, where one bus and 2 trains took us back to the airport to fly home. Just before boarding the bus we were delighted to see the farmers bringing the cows down off the mountains, walking the herd along the main roads, with their cow bells clanging loudly. The girls chatted together like they had known each other for a lifetime, and we were all sad to say goodbye when we reached home.
We would like to thank everyone who helped us with the fundraising / donations for this trip. We had an amazing time and experienced Guiding at its best – and it couldn’t have been better.
The 'Dream Team' had an amazing time in California this summer. California Dreamin' 2 camp was very well organised and not very dis-similar to camps we have been on before - just a whole lot hotter and not at all wet! There were 400+ Girl Scouts and Guides on camp, ranging from 10 years to 18 years from right across the U.S., Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand. We were organised into sub camps, ours Yosemite. We shared our sub camp with girls from Australia, Lancashire and a local troop from literally down the road!
We enjoyed off site activities, including whale watching, Alcatraz and learning to surf. We had whole camp excursions to San Francisco for a scavenger hunt and beach time at Santa Cruz. These were a much appreciated respite from the heat.
We also had on site activities which including crafts, belly dancing and Zumba - fun in 45 degree heat! A cultural exchange afternoon, where we shared M&S Percy pigs and rolled babybel cheeses down a cardboard Coopers Hill - much to the bemusement of our fellow campers!
Our few days in San Francisco and Los Angeles were great, with highlights including Universal Studios, Cheesecake Factory, limo tour of LA and time on the beach at Santa Monica.
Once we had departed Heathrow (experiences for another day) our trip was uneventfully and came in on budget. The girls and County will be refunded most of the contingency money.
The girls were a great bunch and got along really well together. They are a credit to Girlguiding Gloucestershire.
My jamboree journey started back in August 2013, when I saw an advert on the GOLD Facebook page. I made a note of when the applications opened, filled in my form and waited without really expecting to hear anything. Having never been involved in large scale Scouting events or a World Scout Jamboree before, I didn’t think I stood much chance of being selected.
Thankfully for me, I received an invitation to the South West Region selection weekend in February 2014. The selection involved working in a group to plan a potential jamboree activity, helping to build a campfire circle and a formal interview. Again, when I attended the selection weekend I went ready for a fun few hours but not expecting to be offered a place at the jamboree.
Imagine my excitement (my colleagues did not have to imagine this, as they heard me screaming in the corridors at work) when the email came through inviting me to join the IST team for the 23rd World Scout Jamboree! I had very little idea of what I was letting myself in for, but I knew that it was something that was not to be missed.
I spent the following 16 months fundraising, which included applying for grants, selling badges and visiting Units across Gloucestershire to run Japanese-themed sessions. I found it quite a challenge fundraising for the Jamboree and this was, in part, due to the fact that I didn’t know what kind of role I would have when I arrived there. When I visited the Units and spoke to the members, I joked about not wanting to spend two weeks cleaning toilets. Little did I know that for some IST members, this was a reality!
The first stop in Japan was ISTokyo, a two-day event where 885 members of the UK IST team explored Tokyo. Included in the itinerary was a meal at a traditional Japanese restaurant which had entertainment such as a sumo wrestling demonstration (who knew sumo wrestlers were so flexible!), a visit to the earthquake centre and a trip up the 634m tall Tokyo Sky Tree.
Once our ISTokyo was completed, we then had the mammoth task of boarding a bullet train. Normally, getting Scout and Guide Leaders to board a train is nothing unusual. However, getting Scout and Guide Leaders to board a bullet train 300 at a time, carrying large bags and rucksacks, with only 90 seconds to do it in is quite unusual! We’ve been told that we made the national news.
Our bullet train took us to Hiroshima, when we were privileged enough to visit the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum. Reading through the eye witness accounts and seeing the burned and melted artefacts was both harrowing and uplifting. To see such devastation alongside inspirational stories of hope was quite moving. Outside, we then explored the Peace Garden, saw the hundreds of paper cranes and had time to see landmarks such as the A-Bomb Dome. One key message came out of the memorial Museum and Garden: never again. Scouts from the jamboree were chosen to attend the 70th anniversary memorial on August 6th.
From Hiroshima, we made our way to the Jamboree site in Kirarahama, Yamaguchi. Arriving at 7pm, our first evening was spent registering, having our Safe From Harm certificates checked and putting up a multitude of tents. The first few days were a blur of trainings, making sense of the huge jamboree site and tightened guy ropes to ensure that the tents weren’t blown away by the forecasted tropical storm. Luckily, we survived the storm with only a little light rain.
The opening ceremony signalled the formal beginning of the jamboree. Seeing the flags of each represented nation brought onto the stage was like watching part of an Olympic opening ceremony! The majority of the 8,000 strong IST volunteers and 24,000 Scouts and Leaders joined together to celebrate the start of the jamboree. Scouts and Leaders across the world were also able to watch the ceremony live online so that they could also be involved.
July 30th brought with it the start of the programme for the Scouts and Guides, and the start of my proper work. I was lucky enough to be part of the calligraphy team. This meant that I worked with and made friends with IST volunteers from Japan, the UK, Sweden, Bulgaria, Korea and Slovenia. I have also picked up a lot of the theory of Japanese calligraphy and can now read a few basic characters.
Being part of this team also meant that I was lucky enough to meet Scouts from many different cultures and countries as well as have some free time to explore the jamboree site. Or hide in any shade available as the high temperatures and humidity were difficult to handle.
The jamboree continued until the closing ceremony on 7th August. The closing ceremony featured a Japanese pop group called °C-ute as well as the obligatory playing of the jamboree song, Come Together Now. It was only really at the closing ceremony that I saw the real scale of the 23rd World Scout Jamboree and its reach across the Scouts and Leaders who were present. The key moment for me was listening to the UN Secretary General’s Envoy for Youth, Mr. Ahmad Alhendawi of Jordan, deliver a message from Ban Ki-Moon was just incredible.
The following day, I helped the transport team to help see off the 24,000 Scouts onto their buses to take them to the train station and beyond. Thankfully, they didn’t all arrive at the same time! On Sunday 9th August, it was our turn to leave. We departed from the jamboree site at 7am, having taken down our tents and removed all signs of us having been there.
I had signed up for a post-jamboree tour, so spent the next five days travelling around Japan. As part of the tour, we visited the Itsukushima Shrine and Hall of 1,000 Mats on the island of Miyajima. We visited the 5th station on Mount Fuji and had free time in Tokyo where a group of us visited the Imperial Palace Gardens and did plenty of souvenir shopping!
Of course, the jamboree wasn’t just about the holiday and shopping. It was about playing a part in the development of global Scouting and Guiding and ensuring that the participants received the opportunity of a lifetime that they signed up for. The Scouts who I spoke to all talked at length about their jamboree experiences and how much they were enjoying it.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who supported me in this project, by helping with my fundraising or listening to my endless jamboree stories!
15th Gloucester Brownies & 1st Severn Robins Senior Section
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