130 Senior Branchers take part in Camp Echo!

Congratulations to our 130 Senior Branch members who took part in Camp Echo over the June Bank Holiday Weekend!

Each Senior Brancher completed a number of challenges at home and in their locality. These included a mix of outdoors, camp crafts, service projects and sustainable-themed activities, such as litter picking, upcycling an old T-shirt into a shopping bag, making tie-dye neckerchiefs and investigating dangers to the environment in their local areas.

The Senior Branchers also made short demonstration videos on knots, how to make a bedding roll and tips for sustainable camping. You can see some of their videos on the IGG You Tube channel. These came in handy for other IGG members who took part in our Sustainable Camp At Home the following weekend.

A number of times over the course of the weekend Camp Echo participants took to their laptops/tablets/phones to connect online with their fellow campers.

There was plenty of hiking too! Some took to the roads, parks and countryside in their local area while others opted for a virtual climb of Carrantouhil by going up and down their stairs 371 times! A few even managed to complete a virtual ascent of Ben Nevis – 470 flights of stairs!

You can read in this blog post how Emily (14) and Rachael (22) succeeded in summiting Ben Nevis.

By the end of the weekend participants had notched up the equivalent of Malin Head to Mizen Head and the entire length of the Camino de Santiago. On Monday they took a virtual day trip to Pax Lodge World Guide Centre in London and back again. Total mileage for the weekend was 2,609 kilometres. Incredible!

The weekend concluded with an online Birthday Bash on Monday evening to mark Senior Branch’s 100th Birthday! Everyone had made amazing hats out of recycled materials to mark the occasion!

Sarah Canavan, the main organiser, summed up Camp Echo by saying, “It was an amazing weekend. It just shows that, even when we’re apart, the girl spirit lives on. There is something empowering about a group of Guides from across Ireland – and we even had members living in the UK and Poland take part – working together, exchanging tips, sharing stories and laughing together.

“As Juliette Gordon Low (founder of Girl Scouts USA) said, ‘Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting can be the magic thread which links the girls of the world together’.”

Laura McSweeney (25) of Bandon Senior Branch enjoyed the fact that Camp Echo was based around sustainability and that participants were encouraged to consider their water and plastic usage and to get out and explore their local environment. “The entire weekend was packed with different types of challenges, so everyone got an opportunity to take part,” she said. “The use of Zoom meant we were all able to come together and take part in a Senior Branch weekend while staying at home and having fun.”

Laura was one of the few who managed to complete Carrauntoohil. In fact, it was the highlight of the weekend for her! “I have thought about climbing Carrauntoohill for the last two years or so, but never thought I’d be doing it virtually first!” she said. “I knew I was in some way fit enough with my sporting background. I chose the church steps in Bandon as my location, which contain approximately 95 steps, so I calculated how many flights that would count on my Fitbit to reach 371, which was the required number to reach the top.

“I set out at 8am on Saturday morning to try and complete it before the heat of the day. I set little goals for myself: I knew if I’d get to 100 flights, I’d be able to keep going. The most challenging part I found was that sometimes I’d walk up but my Fitbit would either not count it correctly or not count it at all, which got really frustrating.

“The distance to climb to the summit and back is 12km. I ended up walking about 18km in total up and down the flights of steps. It took me seven hours to complete the whole challenge. Celebrating sub goals along the way was to keep me committed in completing the challenge.

“Once completed, I was naturally exhausted – more so from the heat as it was 25 degrees. There wasn’t much celebrating as it was straight into completing other challenges for the virtual camp!

“Overall, I enjoyed the weekend and hopefully there will be more weekends like it in the future.”

You can see lots of Camp Echo photos and videos on the Senior Branch Facebook page.