This month we're talking about:

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Facing fears in Guyana - Rosy opens our new topic of courage

For as long as I can remember, I've been terrified of heights.  My chest gets tight, my legs start to shake, my head starts to spin and I just want to curl into a ball and cry.  Just thinking of heights brings on an attack of vertigo – that feeling that I'm falling and have to catch myself. 

In 2010 I was selected to be one of six UK participants on the first GOLD (Guiding Overseas Linked with Development) trip to Guyana.  GOLD had been my dream for over 10 years, since I first found out about it as a Guide, so to be selected was literally a dream come true.

One of the challenges of a GOLD project is that, as a representative of the UK, you have to be willing and able to “just get on with it”, no matter how you feel. I was totally prepared for this.  However, what I wasn't prepared for was finding out that Guyana is home to the largest single-drop waterfall in the world.  Kaieteur Falls is a waterfall in the middle of the rainforest with a drop from top to bottom of over 740ft.  Getting there involves flying over the rainforest in a very small plane and a short hike to the edge of the falls.  When you get there, there are no fences, just a small sign telling you how high the falls are.  That's right.  NOTHING TO STOP ME FALLING! 

With the rest of the team, we decided that Kaieteur was a must-see and we all agreed that we would go and explore it on one of our rest-days.  When we decided this, it was still a dream.  I didn't quite believe that I was going on a GOLD trip, let alone flying into the rainforest to face my biggest fear.  However, over the 9 months of planning, the realisation started to sink in, along with the panic.  How was I going to be able to get off that plane and walk into the rainforest knowing that, at the end of it, I would have to stand at the edge of a cliff and look over at this waterfall?  How could I “just get on with it”?  (Just thinking about it now, 2 years later, makes my head spin)

I knew no-one was forcing me – the rest of the team were really supportive – but I was terrified.  However, I was also determined to do this.  I just didn't know how. 

All too quickly, we were in Guyana, halfway through our project, in a tiny nine-seater plane flying into the rainforest and closer to Kaieteur.  As we approached the landing strip, the sea of trees started to clear and we flew straight over the top of the falls.  

The view from the plane

The view was absolutely incredible, but I could feel my heart start pounding, I started to shake and I couldn't breathe.  I still had no idea how I was going to manage to hold it together and not let the rest of the team down. 
I don't really remember the walk through the rainforest; I was so focussed on just putting one foot infront of the other and remembering to breathe.  All of a sudden though we came round a corner and face to face with a sign:

I couldn't do it.  I was so terrified, my mind went blank; I couldn't move.  I could see everyone else walking around taking photos, sitting with their feet over the edge of the overhang, admiring the views and enjoying themselves. 
I felt so disappointed with myself for being scared, and was ready to start crying when the rest of the team stopped what they were doing and came over to help me.  They all talked to me and encouraged me to crawl slowly towards the edge, while they held on to my ankles, so I could look over at the falls. 

When I eventually reached the edge, the view was absolutely breathtaking, it's impossible to describe:

It was at this point I realised – I had done it!  With the help and support of my friends I found the courage to face my fear.  They held my hands, gave me hugs, wiped away my tears (of joy!) and told my how proud they were of me.  This was one of the best days ever: 

For that I need to thank (L-R) Sara, Kirsty, Lizzy, Keeley and Sam
Rosy Burgess

PS There's another GOLD team out in Guyana right now! You can follow their blog here - and find out about the other projects for 2012 here.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Helene's been getting muddy with 2nd Preston Park Rainbows!

This week Helene spent time with 2nd Preston Park Rainbows in Brighton.

On Saturday she went to our County Diamond Games event at Sheffield Park NT near Lewes, where we celebrated the Olympics and the Diamond Jubilee!

Thanks for sharing your lunch Jess

There, Helene joined in fancy dress races, played cricket and golf, had lunch at our giant picnic and met nearly 1000 Rainbows, Brownies and Guides from all over Sussex East.

It was a VERY muddy event and Helene did come home with brown paws which have luckily cleaned up well. The photos show her having lunch with Rainbow Jess and joining in the dancing at the grand finale.
Wave your flag!

As I write, it's Monday and Helene has just come back from Hove Park where the Rainbows joined in the party to watch the Olympic Flame pass through our town.  The girls all enjoyed the music and build up and then were delighted to be in the front row to see the flame go by.

Helene’s time with 2nd Preston Park Rainbows has been very wet and muddy but she’s had lots of fun and made thousands of new guiding friends.

The Olympic flame whizzes by

Monday, 16 July 2012

Helene's summer adventures with 1st Bodicote Guides

Any writing in blue are words taken from Helene’s diary which has been compiled and written by our Guides.

Saturday 9th June
Marie and Emily return home from camp to find Helene sleeping in a jiffy bag in the letterbox.  We tell her all the things we got up to at our Jubilee camp in the rain and gale force winds.  Helene agrees she was probably in the best place...
Tuesday 12th June
Helene has her photo taken with 1st Bodicote Guides' welly entry in Jubilee village flower festival.  1st Bodicote Guides were overjoyed to be awarded with 2nd prize rosette in the decorated welly competition. 
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Well done Guides!
Wednesday 13th June
Helene’s first meeting with 1st Bodicote Guides......
Today we made woggles and wind sock kites.  We had a lot of fun but it was really hard.  Hopefully we will get round to making one for Helene later.  Holly has made her a purple and green headband.

Olivia, Alice and Hannah are looking forward to taking her climbing next week! We hope she is not scared of heights. :0

Sunday 17th June
Helene joins a patrol of guides at Oxygen – Oxfordshire Annual Patrol competition held at Jubilee House near Oxford.

Today Helene came to Oxygen at Jubilee House.  In our patrol was Katie, Lily, Holly, Leah, Lauryn, Olivia and Alice.

The activities were
1.     – Transporting the Royal Family
2.     – Queens Lego challenge
3.     – Orienteering
4.     – Afternoon Tea
5.      – Pioneering
6.     – Geocaching

Helene had a great time and so did the rest of us. 
Helene had really good fun, she got to sit in a Lego castle, she got to solve a problem with us to try and put the puzzle together and guess where the flag came from.  Helene also got to ride in the Royal family carriage we made. Helene loves to have her photo taken and we have recorded all her adventures from today.  Helene has had an awesome time at this event with us and she is going climbing on Wednesday.  I hope she is careful. 

Helene in her castle!
Wednesday 20th June
Helene joins us at the climbing wall in Bloxham. 

Helene had great fun tonight at Bloxham.  Katy looked after her and they both prepared for the big climb. 

Written by Katy - When it was our turn Chris our instructor put Helene in my harness so Helene was safe and secure.  We started off well and got all the way to the top, but when we started to abseil down we were both trembling a bit.  In the end we both had great fun and were very proud of our achievements. -  Thanks Chris

Wednesday 27th June
Helene joined 1st Bodicote Guides again for their weekly meeting. This week we met at Horley Scout camp to take part in an evening of Archery.

I am enjoying my time with 1st Bodicote Guides.  Tonight I have been doing Archery and I scored a BULLSEYE ! -  Jazzy, Alice and Hannah

I had a lot of fun tonight doing Archery.  I had a million pictures taken of me posing in different places, whilst waiting for my turn with bow and arrows, it has been exhausting!!    - Emily B

Poor Helene got stuck in a cave with thorns in.  She was terrified - she had her photo taken to prove how brave she was.

The cave of doom with rabbits. Holly and Deanna.

I am enjoying my adventures with my new friends who include Leah and Sophie. I especially  had a great laugh when Sophie and Me tricked Leah pretending that a rope we found on the ground was a snake....She believed us !!

I went with Leah and Olivia on a bear hunt, we found a cone, a tent, and a trailer – but we didn’t find another bear.  I am loving my hat made in the colours of the Olympic rings –I have found a new hobby ARCHERY its great watching my friends all having turns.  I am really excited.

Alice made me a heart out of grass with her knees and I jumped into the middle. A picture was taken of me wearing my new hat Marie made for me.

Thursday  28th June
Helene went along with Marie to our Division meeting.  Fiona writes Helene joined us for the meeting and was very well behaved although she made little contribution.  To be fair she was unlikely to be heard over the noisy Leaders here (They know who they are!!)  We all enjoyed meeting Helene and wish her well on her travels.  Bon Voyage Helene from Cherwell Division advisors.

Friday 29th June
Helene joined Katy, Lucy, Lily and Katie (Guides) and Lisa and Marie (Leaders) at the Malvern Challenge in Gloucestershire.  None of the girls had been to the Malvern Challenge before so they were as new to the experience as Helene -  all of them were very excited.

Saturday 30th June
Today Helene is going on a seven mile hike with challenges all the way round the route. 
Helene is very excited and is all strapped into Lily’s bag - ready to go. 

Their challenges were -  An animal observation talk and question,  rifle shooting, and the obstacle course.

Helene had a lot of photos taken with us on the obstacle course.

Cosy in a sleeping bag
In the evening there was a terrible encounter....... Helene got KIDNAPPED!  Yes Helene got kidnapped because Katie introduced her to a Scout.  He ran off with her then asked for money to get her back.  BUT we have her back and we didn’t pay any money.  Phew that was scary.

Hiking together

Ready to go!

Sunday 1st July 
Today we are off to the fair and we are all very excited.  We had Malvern currency for Crazy Frog and Mega dance, Helene came on both with us it was great fun.  She also came on the bouncy castle and the inflatable bouncy obstacle course and slide.

All in all the girls had a fun weekend and have asked to come again.  If they get in again next year we will suggest they enter the Cotswold challenge.  Katie has become very attached to Helene and she will be very sad to say Goodbye.
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What a view!

Wednesday 4th July
Our last evening with Helene before she continues on her travels.  Tonight she joins us again at Horley Scout camp for Rifle shooting. [check out the A-Z of activities for info on this activity if you're a Girlguiding UK member]

Helene loves coming to Horley – Katy
Katie is sooooooo pleased to see Helene again and has been attached to her all night.  It was wet but everyone enjoyed themselves. – Maisie
Helene will miss Katie very much and the girls who spent the weekend with her were very excited to see her again.  Katie has become very close to Helene after the amazing weekend at the Malvern Challenge.  Katie has taken great care of Helene whilst shooting by protecting her in her jumper and only letting Helene have a photo with the gun under strict supervision.
We love Helene - Katie and Lucy
I love Helene so please look after her for me, give her loads more adventures and loads of love.  Katie

It has been great fun hosting Helene and she certainly is a conversation starter!

1st Bodicote Guides

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Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Helene travels to the USA to join in their 100 year celebrations

In her first week with us, Helene had great fun at Foxlease (one of Girlguiding UK's training and activity centres), at the Singing Circle.
During her stay, Helene made friends with some Brownies from Dorset.They were about to have a pyjama party and Helene sat on their heads to have her photo taken! What a fabulous weekend.

Outside Princess Mary House
Joining in the pajama party - can you spot Helene?

She's not for sale!
In her second week, we set off for the United States of America! Helene enjoyed our stay with friends on the beach and had her picture taken by the Myrtle Beach sign. 
She had a good look at what was on offer at a Girl Scout Store in Tampa Florida – and got a photo opportunity in their window.  Everyone there was really nice! Helene now has a GSUSA 100 badge added to her necker.

Week three was Helene’s most exciting week.  We headed to Savannah—the birthplace of the Girl Scouts.  Juliette Low met Agnes Baden Powell during the early years of guiding and decided to take Girl Guides to the USA.  Starting with a group of 12 girls in Savannah, Georgia, in 1912 they soon become Girl Scouts and the rest is history. 
Helene at Juliette Low's birthplace, the founder of Girl Scouts USA

We were there in Savannah to join in the Girl Scouts’ Centennial Camporee, to celebrate 100 years of Girl Scouts USA. Helene had her picture taken with friends at Juliette Low’s birthplace and at the first Headquarters—then we went to camp.  

With Girl Scouts at the Camporee
Finally to add to all her exciting adventures, she got to go to Radio Station WTKS (the local radio station) and be on the live show with Bill Edwards. What an honour! Here she is below with some Gold Award Girl Scouts being interviewed for Bill’s Show.

Being interviewed on the radio

All of us together!
Helene has had such an adventure in the last few weeks, and can't wait to find out where she's off to next!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

A marathon challenge for Lizzy

I took on the Girlguiding UK Queen’s Guide Award – the highest award anyone in guiding can achieve. It’s a chance for Senior Section members to challenge themselves and try new things over around three years of hard work and determination. For many people, the Personal Skill element is the hardest – and this was definitely true for me!

I have never been particularly sporty and so to challenge myself registered for the Barcelona Half Marathon and the Madrid Marathon. It was something I had always been meaning to do and the Queen’s Guide gave me a good opportunity.
I had to fit my training around travelling - while on my GOLD project in Guyana, I couldn’t run for a month, but when I reached Brazil afterwards I started doing around 3 miles each time. In October, I ran my first ever 10km, in a local race in Menorca, where I spent my third year away from University. I gradually built this up, running for hours at a time on my own in the Menorca countryside. In January, I managed the Barcelona Half Marathon. My training was disrupted by a trip to Our Cabana but on 17th April 2011, I was at the start line of the 26 mile challenge ahead of me.

I did it!!
My training had taken a lot of determination. I had never run as far before, and each week, I pushed up my distance, forcing myself to run further and further. In my half marathon, I “hit the wall” at around 17km (11 miles) so I knew it would come during the full marathon, but wasn’t sure when, or how hard it would hit. The first half passed without incident but as I entered the “Casa del Campo,” a big park on one side of Madrid, I started to feel pain in the backs of my knees and in my right calf. I didn’t want to stop yet though.  I ran without stopping until 34km, when I walked as fast as I could. Finally, I saw my parents around 5km from the end and focused myself and beat them to the finish line!
As I reached the final ascent, I saw a young guy leaning against a car. He was clearly in a lot of pain. He turned out to be American and I managed to persuade him to continue running alongside me. Together we pushed on and managed to beat the five hour pace runner to finish in 4hr50 minutes.  Being together meant that we supported each other not to give up. Being determined can spur you on to things greater than you realise possible!

Coming from not being able to run for more than ten minutes and hating any kind of physical activity at school, completing a marathon was a huge achievement but one that took a lot of hard work and effort. Crossing the line was only the very final part of it.
I like to think that the athletes who participate in London 2012 will feel the same.

Receiving my Queen's Guide award
On Friday 29 June, I was presented with my Queen’s Guide Award after 25 months of work. Like the athletes crossing the line, only I will know how much determination it took, how much I challenged myself and how hard I worked. I think that this makes it even more satisfying.
Lizzy Nay