Overnight survival at IGGNITE2017

We are Megan and Abigail from Griffeen Valley Senior Branch, Sub-camp Glow 14. On 2 August we took part in the overnight survival. We and two others from our sub-camp arrived outside the pool and were greeted by a team led by a Trócaire representative named Ellen. We soon realised it would be an extraordinary night. We would be taking on the role of climate change refugees from Honduras in an evacuation simulation. Due to flash floods many families were evacuated.

We, in groups of four to six, were given roles as these families. We were a “family” together with two girls we had never met but coincidentally were also from Dublin. We were given folders and selected characters. We became the Flores family consisting of Elvia – a 65-year-old woman and her three-year-old great granddaughter Kritza. The rest of our “family” were the Lopezes with a 32-year-old woman and her two-year-old daughter. We were told to become our characters as the Sparks and Ellen would be treating us as these characters.

The folder also held $120 in monopoly money, identity cards for everyone but the grandmother who had a passport and, lastly, cards explaining the family’s story and a picture of the family. As we passed the Sparks they gave us sheets with belongings on them. We accumulated a bike, credit cards, a photo album and a selection of sanitary items. When we were about to board the bus they said it would cost $100 to get on. We scrambled through our folder to pull out the required cash after we realised we would have to take good care of all our belongings and barter wisely.

When we arrived at the “border” to Guide Land we were ordered to gather some firewood. We were the first to approach the border and we were told to stand to one side for an intelligence test. After the rest of the families were cleared and sent to register we started the intelligence test. We presumed it would be about our backstory and why we were at the border but soon realised it was to test our logical thinking, like a game. There was a river constructed with two buckets of water along with a five-litre water bottle and a three-litre water bottle. Our test was to show exactly four litres of water in five minutes as the border was closing. We have to admit it took us at least twenty minutes to complete as it took a while to find a solution and even longer to pour all the water around. When we finally completed the task we were chastised for wasting too much water. We were strongly advised to “Sweeten the Deal” to be allowed in.

We all agreed the best option was to hand over the bike as it would be the least useful to us in the future. Our bribe was greatly appreciated and we were led to registration. Here the rest of the families were either already across the border or were filling in registration forms. We presented our IDs, but with only one passport between four people there was a slight dilemma. As women of very young and very old ages without, as they said, “a man to take care of us”, we would not offer enough in return for their kindness . We tried to mention various skills like how Elvia was a seamstress but it was to no avail, as to get in we were forced to hand over our last $20. As we walked towards the refugee camp in the forest, we were given a ground sheet, rope and a tarp.

After all this one of our family members muttered one word of complaint not thinking straight so we were immediately told to stop and drop everything. As we were “ungrateful” we were forced to do star jumps while the Sparks yelled at us to go faster. They then ordered us to do push-ups on the wet grass and, needless to say, none of us were successful. After we had each collapsed on the ground several times they showed slight mercy and asked us to sing instead. We discussed for a while and came to the conclusion that the only song we all knew was Happy Birthday. This was another mistake as Ellen took advantage of this saying if it was her birthday we owed her a gift. No single item was enough so we surrendered all of our remaining belongings.

We finally were able to enter the site but the main camp was full so we were placed in the back of the forest. As it was getting dark we hastily began to set up our shelter. Using our trusty reef knots we tied our rope at a comfortable distance between two trees, threw a tarp over and held the edges down with rocks we found. At this point we were taken off camp by two Sparks who were acting suspiciously nice compared to earlier, we were soon informed the simulation had ended. Our group were led through the dark forest across a wooden bridge to a spider web of rope. We had to pass each player through a different hole to earn s’mores for the campfire. After a few falls and failed attempts we completed the task.

We approached the campfire first and the Sparks began repeatedly attempting to light the fire, but in fairness they said they had lit the fire perfectly the past few nights, we were just a bit unfortunate that night. After the fire was lit we sang some campfire songs, which included a new song we had never heard before from Malaysia, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. We roasted marshmallows and drank hot chocolate before retiring to our bivvies for the night.

Through all the rain and wind we both still slept fine although our sleeping bags were a bit damp in the morning. We then discussed the effects of climate change and the struggles of refugees. It was an enlightening, albeit slightly scary, but overall a fun adventure.

It was something we would recommend to all Guides, Senior Branch or anyone else who has the opportunity (wecwould recommend lots of layers and a mosquito net though)!