Anne Le Poidevin shares her recent travels.
The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) has 4 permanent World Centres: Pax Lodge in London, Our Chalet in Adelboden, Switzerland, Sangam in Pune, India and Our Cabana in Cuernavaca, Mexico and I have stayed at all of them celebrating the Day of the Dead in Mexico, learning how to wear a sari in India and sleeping overnight in a cheesemaker's barn as part of an overnight hike in Switzerland.
Last summer, I went back to Adelboden with 18 other members of Girlguiding Broadstone and Creekmoor District as part of our centenary celebrations.
During the course of the 10 day trip, the group hiked to Engstligenalp to take in the astonishing scenery, visited a woodcarver, went iceskating, curling, swimming in the outdoor pool and toboganning at Oeschinensee with spectacular views as a backdrop as well as flying across a river on a zip wire at an adventure park. Of course, we also visited Our Chalet where we met other Guides from different parts of Canada and Wales and the girls discovered that they really do sell cookies like they've seen in the films – and get a badge for it! That night the girls were buzzing having somehow managed to swap just 2 badges for Canadian caps, socks, flags, badges and lots more! We had our own cheese fondue evening and kept parents back home informed of what we'd been up to with updates and photos on our website. The scenery was stunning and everyone had an amazing time – whilst we were there, one Guide said she wanted to bring her parents back to experience it. It's a trip from which we will have many happy memories for years to come.
Closer to home, Foxlease is a Girlguiding training and activity centre just outside Lyndhurst and I always find it very quiet and relaxing and special, even surrounded by a group of lively and excited Guides! During February half term, I took 23 Guides from across the 3 Broadstone Guide units there for “A Taste of Adventure”. Staying in the Georgian mansion, individual rooms have been adopted by Guides from around the world and personalised by them so we had Guides staying in the Islands, Australia, BGIFC (British Guides in Foreign Countries) as well as Berkshire and Oxford. A special room to stay in is South Africa where Baden-Powell slept on the balcony when he stayed at Foxlease and even the bathroom in that room has a name – Zambezi. Having been a couple of times before, one group of girls from my unit were keen to sleep in the “haunted” room and had already decided in advance who would be sleeping in which bed!
One of my young Guides was so keen that 10 days before we went, she told me that she had already packed! During our 24 hours at Foxlease, the girls had the chance to take part in Crate Stacking (working together to build a tower of crates that supports 2 people on top), Zipwire, Leap of Faith (leaping on to a trapeze having climbed up a tall pole) and Slacklining, testing their poise and balance, but as well as enjoying the activities, the girls like the time together and often when we go away, I feel we're like one big family with the older ones looking after and supporting the younger ones. Sadly some of my older Guides were saying that it would be their last time at Foxlease as they will be leaving Guides later in the year, but I did point out that they might still have the opportunity to go when they move on to Rangers.
We were very lucky with the weather, although it did get quite cold and were very impressed by the evening meal provided by Foxlease (either a sausage and bacon or vegetarian casserole followed by apple and sultana crumble and custard) which met all the groups dietary requirements.
On the way home, I asked the Guides travelling with me what they got out of being a Guide and they told me it gave them opportunities that they would otherwise not have, increased their confidence to do things like the Leap of Faith and was a great way of making new friends.