My amazing weekend at Polaris Youth Forum!

At 11:40am on Friday 27 October 2017, I left Monaghan Bus Station for Dublin Airport to meet a Leader called Joanna and another Senior Brancher called Nora May, who are both from Longford. Once I found my fellow IGG members in the maze of escalators and people carrying suitcases, that is Dublin airport, we soon boarded our flight to Glasgow.

The flight from Dublin to Glasgow was very short; we were literally in the sky, when the pilot was telling us to get ready for landing. In Glasgow Airport we met Annmarie, Orna and Méabh from Cork. All six of us headed for Auchengillan Outdoor Centre, just outside Glasgow. On Friday evening we were introduced to all Scottish Leaders and Senior Section members who would become our friends over the weekend. We were also given an outline of what we would be doing over the weekend and we also did a scavenger hunt.

On Saturday we got to go pole-climbing or abseiling; I chose pole-climbing. I had never done this before and I am not a fan of heights so this was a bit of a challenge but I was proud of myself once I reached the top because I can usually get no more than a metre or two off the ground! In the afternoon a woman called Jane came in to talk to us about public speaking. She was from a charity called Speakers Trust. I thought this was very useful because public speaking is a vital skill that everyone will require at some point in their life. Later we gave our opinions on new logos, names and straplines, which could be used for the Youth Forum (Polaris*) weekend in the future, as they were trying to rebrand it. That evening we went to a campfire which was organised by a group of Scouts, Cubs and Beavers who were camping at Auchengillan Outdoor Centre. I really enjoyed this and it was great to hear some Scottish campfire songs. Afterwards, back at The Providore Building, where we were staying, we had a table quiz. Joanna, Jennifer (from Scotland) and I made up the winning team.

After breakfast on Sunday morning we talked about sexism and gender stereotypes, as part of the campaign for Girlguiding Scotland in 2018. We talked about how sexism can affect girls and women in day to day life and different activities which could be organised from Rainbows/Ladybirds, Brownies, Guides and Senior Section/Senior Branch members to make people more aware of these issues. We also talked about what events could be organised for Senior Section members in 2019 and we told them about some Irish events that we had. I then got some swaps from the Senior Section members as well as the Scouts, Beavers and Cubs. We said “Goodbye” and headed for the airport where we bought some Scottish souvenirs and got on our flights back to Dublin and Cork.

Overall, we had an amazing weekend, the people of Girlguiding Scotland were very friendly and the food cooked by Vicky and Beth (two Scottish leaders) was delicious. I thought the subject of sexism and gender stereotypes was very well chosen as they are quite topical in today’s society. Auchengillan Outdoor Centre had fantastic facilities for all adventure-enthusiasts. I would highly recommend Youth Forum (Polaris*) to anyone who wants to meet new people and voice their opinion on current issues in a safe environment.

I had a great weekend and I would like to thank Hannah, Gale, Vicky, Beth and all the people from Girlguiding Scotland who organised this event, Joanna and Annmarie who travelled to Scotland with us Irish Senior Branchers and IGG for giving me this amazing opportunity.