Congratulations to 17 Chief’s Awardees!

Well done to the 17 girls and young women who successfully completed the Chief Commissioner’s Award!

The Award is not for the faint-hearted as it involves hiking 60 kilometres over five days while carrying all your own camping and cooking equipment and completing eight projects … all while living on €3.50 a day!

The girls, who took part in teams of two or three, did not know the location of the survival challenge in advance so they couldn’t prepare for the projects. Some had never even met their team-mates before the start of the event!

They were all delighted to find themselves in rural Co Waterford and they were overwhelmed with the generosity of local people who filled their water bottles, offered tea and biscuits, helped with directions and allowed them use their bathrooms.

Ciara O’Reilly (18), a Leader with Lough Crew Guides, Oldcastle, Co Meath, said taking part was “an absolute pleasure” as they got to meet many amazing people who were happy to help them complete their projects and give directions. “The biggest challenge was the hiking itself,” she said. “It felt as though, with every kilometre, the bags on our backs got heavier. The high point was reaching the end and knowing we had completed everything.”

Sarah McShane (19), a Leader with Navan Guides, said taking part was surreal. “Every day was so different from the last – a new route, new people, new camping ground, new sights and new challenges,” she said. “It was tiring, I will admit, by day three but then you are hit by a wave of determination to finish and it just feels amazing. A high point for me was when we spoke to the local people throughout our adventure – they were just so kind and so determined to help us in every way they could.”

 Anna Higgins (19), also a Leader with Navan Guides, said, “It was all about getting to know the villages, the people and Waterford’s quirks. It was really freeing to be out and about chatting to people and seeing their curiosity in who we were and what in God’s name we were doing. A fair amount of people thought we were mad for walking 60km in five days while camping, all voluntarily!”

Sarah Canavan (22) a Leader with Sika Senior Branch, Killarney, said, “The biggest thing I learned from the whole experience was perseverance. On Tuesday morning I really wanted to give up but I’m so glad I didn’t as the proud feeling wearing the pin afterwards was 100 per cent worth any pain I felt during the week.”

Sarah Kenny (22), also a Leader with Sika Senior Branch, said, “I would definitely recommend to others to do the Chief Commissioner’s Award; it was a really amazing experience and we made so many memories.

“For me, Guiding has helped me become the person I am today. First-hand, I have seen how Guiding gives girls confidence and empowers them to do better. Guiding has given me the opportunity to travel and to make life-long friends. Having joined Irish Girl Guides at age five here in Killarney, and now being a leader, I feel everyone should give Guiding a go.”

Congratulating the participants, Award organiser Ann Doyle, said: “What a remarkable, determined and strong group of young people we have in Irish Girl Guides’ Senior Branch. As the week went on, I met people along the routes who had met the girls and I was blown away by the positive impact the teams had had on the local communities in Waterford. The energy and enthusiasm they put into achieving the Chief Commissioner’s Award was outstanding.

“I want to congratulate everyone on their amazing success. I know that each participant will bring amazing stories of their success back to their communities across Ireland. Their dedication and enthusiasm will no doubt be an inspiration to countless girls and young women.”