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Sophie leads SDG activities in Poland

Sophie Cassidy, who is a member of Drogheda Senior Branch and a Leader with St Anthony’s Brownies in Drogheda, spent the summer in Poland leading activities based on the Sustainable Development Goals. Here she writes about her experience:

This time last year I was excitedly preparing for a year abroad, working as a full-time volunteer with the team preparing the European Jamboree, due to happen in Poland in 2020. Myself and a team of volunteers from France, Spain, Canada, Poland and the UK spent the year working in the Jamboree office on various parts of the project, all looking forward to a summer spent camping on Sobieszewo Island alongside 20,000 participants. Unfortunately, the event had to be postponed until next summer but luckily that didn’t mean we couldn’t have the exciting Guiding and Scouting summer we had been looking forward to!

As restrictions across Poland were eased and the Polish Scouting and Guiding Association gave the go ahead for members to return to Guiding and Scouting, we saw an opportunity to keep the jamboree spirit alive. We couldn’t bring thousands of participants from across the world to camp together, but we could bring our own international presence to small camps and events across the country.

Together, we decided to create a day of activities that used the jamboree’s “Connecting Experience” programme – a collection of different games, crafts and discussions based around exploring each of the SDGs created by myself and a volunteer from France. These activities go along with the main theme of the European Jamboree 2020+1, which is all about encouraging participants to act for a better future for themselves and the planet. Along with the activities we chose from Connecting Experience, we each created a short workshop to introduce the young participants to our own cultures and to show what Guiding and Scouting is like for us at home.

Designing our day of activities seemed intimidating at first, even though it was something we were all used to doing. We needed to come up with ways to not only deal with the language barrier but also to work within the restrictions that came along with working in the current situation. But we weren’t going to let that stop us, and we began to think of ways we could still do the activities we had planned but in a safe way.

Once we got down to it, we found we didn’t have to change much at all! It was simple things like laminating the cards we were using so it was easy to wipe them down between groups, and making sure everyone had washed their hands before we started and during each break in the day that helped us stay safe. It wasn’t difficult to enforce these rules because, by this point, washing hands and keeping a safe distance was a normal part of the participants’ daily routines!

We decided to split the group into small pods for the day, meaning that everyone had the space they needed and it was easier for us to know if they knew what we were saying. The small groups would spend time taking part in a game to get familiar with each one of the SDGs, a craft where they would make sponges from old t-shirts as part of the Climate Action goal and a team game based around Quality Education.

Later in the day, they got to explore Canada, Spain, France and Ireland (a socially distanced version of the Walls of Limerick is even more fun to watch than you’d imagine). In the evening the participants would share some of their camping activities with us, teaching us some of their favourite games, inviting us to sing with them around the campfire and even introducing us to some of the typical meals they have on camp, which very surprisingly included putting strawberries on pasta!

Overall, the project gave us and the Polish Guides and Scouts that welcomed us, an opportunity to still enjoy an international experience during this very different summer!

If you’re interested in using the Connecting Experience programme with your Unit and finding out how taking part in these activities is helping to build beehives in Poland you can find it on https://ej2020.org/connecting-experience/