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From St. Helena to Montserrat, and Bermuda too, Girl Guides find they have a lot in common

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World travellers: Bermuda Guides attended the international Centennial Camp in Yorkshire, England this summer, where they met guides from around the world.

Whilst many Bermudian teenagers may have wandered aimlessly through the summer, not quite sure what to do, 18 young women travelled with a purpose, fostering the aims of Girl Guides throughout the world: making friends, learning new skills and having fun on an international playing field.

These young women, together with five leaders, comprised the largest Bermuda contingent ever sent overseas, and had the experiences of a lifetime. In July seven girls and two leaders travelled to Our Cabana Guide House in Mexico. In August Sarah Hopkin represented the Island Guides sailing around the South of England on the tall ship Lord Nelson, and a further ten Guides and three leaders, representing four Guide units, travelled to Harewood House in North Yorkshire, England to attend the World Centenary Camp. Here they joined 5,000 other Guides from over one hundred countries for a week of fun, activities, camping, water sports and adventures.

Island Commissioner Denise "Woody" Woodhouse, who travelled with the Guides and leaders Karen Trott and Mikia McGowan to Harewood House, noted there were numerous "mountain top moments" which would have made every parent and all Bermudians very proud. "During the opening ceremony," she stated, "I watched thousands of girls parade in, amongst them our Bermuda girls – so proud – their Bermuda flags waving!

Organisers were so impressed with the Bermudians' colourful and energetic display of Bermuda Gombeys during an International Night that they were chosen to repeat it to the VIPs during the Fusion event attended by 25,000 people.

Following the World Camp, the delegation travelled to a second camp, "Branch Out" in Lancashire, a gathering of contingents from all the branch associations: Anguilla, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, St. Helena, Turks and Caicos, Ascension Islands, British Virgin Islands and Montserrat. This provided a smaller environment for the girls to meet for fun and friendship. "During this time the girls found that although they live on different, unique islands around the world, many of their challenges are the same," Commissioner Woodhouse noted.

The trip concluded with three days spent at the Guide House, Pax Lodge, in London before returning to Bermuda.

Reflecting on her experience at the Centennial Camp, Caroline Dragonetti noted: "I made the best of it and met new friends, so I ended up having a blast at whatever I was doing. I enjoyed the bungee trampoline because the thrill was amazing, and it was an activity I had never done before. I also was really excited to see they had archery available, which I did as many times as possible. That was definitely a fun activity; I wish they had archery more in Bermuda!"

Aoife Rynne recalled: "I met girls from countries that I didn't even know existed. I learned a lot about their cultures, languages and their Girl Guiding communities, such as their uniforms, customs and activities." As a result of the experience, she explained, "I learned that I am more confident than I thought, and that I am able to do things that I would never have dreamed of trying."

Wendy Tuxworth loved everything about the trip. "It was all amazing," she declared enthusiastically. She came away with the realisation that, "No matter where we came from or what language we spoke, we were all dealing with the same issues that 13/14 year old girls around the world are dealing with!"

"It was so extraordinary that I could live and meet with people from all across the world for a week," declared Zindziswa Swan. "This Girl Guiding trip has been the most memorable trip I've ever been on in my life."

"I think that interacting with so many different people gave me a bit more courage and confidence," she continued, "because sometimes instead of waiting for people to talk to me, I decided to talk to them first which worked out really well because I made more friends. I also will not complain of long travelling plane rides, as my friends from St. Helena had to travel four days by boat to South Africa and then two days by plane to get to camp."

If you are over 14 and are interested in joining the Girlguiding Bermuda Senior Section/Ranger group, the first meeting will be held at the Guide Asser Hut on Friday, September 24 at 6.00pm. For further information call 292-0675.

Hola amigos: Taking in the view from one of the pyramids at Teotihuacan, Mexico are Girl Guides (from left) Reem Bushara, Sarah Hopkin, Hadiyah Barnett, Rodneyka Browne-Evans-Freeman, Keni Maybury. The Guides took in the sights while visiting Our Cabana Guide House in July. Other Guides participated in the Centennial Camp in the UK later in the summer.