Mairi Gordon: Discovering new lands and new confidence

Girlguides in Cambodia. Picture: Contributed
Girlguides in Cambodia. Picture: Contributed
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Girlguiding Scotland opens a world of adventure for young women and girls, says Mairi Gordon

Finland, India, Ghana and Mexico…what do these locations have in common?

They are all destinations for Girlguiding Scotland members who enjoyed an action-packed summer of international adventure.

This summer, hundreds of Girlguiding Scotland members had the chance to travel and volunteer abroad, many for the first time. International travel lets guides try new experiences, develop new skills, grow in confidence and make memories that’ll last a lifetime.

Here, four of our young members share what their adventure meant to them.

Molly Garrett, a member of Kilmacolm & Bridge of Weir Senior Section, celebrated her 15th birthday deep in the forests of Finland.

“Celebrating my 15th birthday out in the forest was something I’ll remember all my life.

“I was one of 16,000 guiding and scouting members from across the world who took part in Finnjamboree this summer – a once-in-a-lifetime camp set in Southern Finland. It offered us the chance to try so many new experiences – like paddle-boarding, dragon-boating, bushcraft skills, screen-printing, metal working and more. There was even a farm on-site.

“I loved getting to know guides and scouts from so many different countries, learning more about each other’s cultures; we even taught them how to ceilidh dance”

Lauren Evans, 19, a Leader in training with the 3rd Vale of Leven Guides, discovered her leadership skills in India.

“From visiting the Taj Mahal to riding in a rickshaw, tucking into mountains of curry and rice to meeting elephants up close – my trip to India has given me so many amazing memories. Setting off on an 18-day trip with a group of girls you’ve never met before to a country you’ve never been to is a little scary, to say the least. But throughout our adventure we became great friends.

“The biggest highlight for me was staying at Sangam, the World Association of Girl Guide and Girl Scouts Centre in Pune, India, where we took part in a leadership and community action project.

“I had the chance to volunteer with a local children’s club where we were challenged to run fun activities. As a science-lover, it was the perfect challenge for me, and when the kids started asking ‘why’ I knew I had done my job well.”

Emily Gonnella, 22, a member of Paisley Senior Section, made an impact in Ghana.

“I travelled to Ghana this summer as part of the 25th anniversary trip, celebrating the long-running partnership between Girlguiding Scotland and the Ghana Girl Guides Association. Over three weeks we worked with the Ghana Girl Guides Association and the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves to raise awareness of the health and environmental dangers of inefficient solid-fuel burning stoves and train local girls to take the lead by introducing cleaner technology to their communities.

“We were made to feel so welcome – one school we visited even presented us with our own specially-made neckerchiefs to remember them by.”

Sophie Dickson, 16, a member of Stenhouse Senior Section, made a connection in Mexico.

“Having the chance to see world wonders like the Chichen Itza Mayan ruins was an amazing way to spend my summer holiday.

“We also toured Mexico City and had the chance to run summer school activities for local children. I really enjoyed it and even picked up a little Spanish. It felt great to know that we had made them smile.

“The experience – from travelling somewhere totally new, overcoming the language barrier and taking the lead in our social action programme – has shown me just how much I’m capable of. I can’t wait until my next adventure!”

International travel is just one of the opportunities Girlguiding Scotland offers its nearly 50,000 young members to grow in confidence, reach for the stars, have fun and be a powerful force for good.

• To find out how you can join Girlguiding Scotland – as a young member or adult volunteer, go to: www.girlguidingscotland.org.uk/get-involved/