GOLD Aruba 2018 - Gain skills, have fun and make a difference

Written by Nicki C

My GOLD project took place during summer this year (2018), and I have definitely grown in confidence and gained all sorts of skills. There were many highlights, but there was one funny moment that stands out. During our weekend camp, we were running a wide game when suddenly we heard “baaaa” and then saw a flock of sheep run across the playground to join in! The girls weren’t phased at all, apparently this was a normal thing in Aruba, but us GOLDies found it hilarious! It would never happen at a Brownie unit at home.

What is a GOLD project?
GOLD stands for Guiding Overseas Linked with Development. Each project is three-weeks long, working with the members of a Guiding association in a country that is a member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). Each GOLD team is made up of six 18 – 30 year olds from anywhere in the UK. Each project is different and depends on the needs of the host country, but it ranges from leadership training, to recruitment, to creating a new unit.

My first international trip
I had never been on an international trip with Girlguiding before and I wanted to challenge myself to something new, so I applied for GOLD. I took part in the selection weekend, called Go For GOLD. It was an intense weekend of camping and activities, and even that weekend was a learning experience for me. It made me realise that I could be thrown into a random situation and be ok with it; camping with 85 strangers is not something I thought I would ever do, but because it was with Girlguiding it felt safe.

Getting my place on a project
A month or so later I received an email to say I had been offered a place on a GOLD project to Aruba. I was so excited when I read it that I knew I had to accept my place. I hadn’t heard of Aruba before, but when I did some research and found out it was in the Caribbean I knew it was definitely a yes!

Meeting the team
Over the next 9 months we had four briefing weekends to prepare us for the project. On the first weekend I got to meet the other ladies that made up GOLD Team Aruba 2018. It was great to finally meet them, and we all got on really well.

Part of the GOLD project involved fundraising – I ran a quiz night for the first time, and also ran some “Rent a Leader” evenings at local Rainbow, Brownie, Guide and Ranger units. It was all fantastic preparation for the project itself and all really enjoyable.

My GOLD experience in Aruba (that’s in the Caribbean!)
It came around quicker than expected, and it was time to fly to Aruba. I am not a fan of flying, so that was my first challenge – two flights, totalling 14 hours. During the project, we ran successful training sessions with the Padvinsters (Guides), their Leaders, and the Board of the Aruban Girlguiding association on a variety of topics such as leadership and girl-led Guiding. We also ran a fun weekend camp with a mixture of games, activities and training sessions with the theme of “Best of British”. It was great to see everyone have fun and grow their skills at the same time.

I grew in confidence and made friends for life

We made a real difference
It was really rewarding to see the difference we were making – at the start of the project, the girls were not confident to stand up in front of each other to share their ideas. By the end, they were running games for each other, and creating plans to run future sessions. The girls kept coming back each day which showed they clearly enjoyed themselves. We saw a change with the Leaders too – after our training sessions they began to step back to allow the girls space to try out their new skills.

We left the Board with an action plan so they can continue to develop their organisation after the end of the GOLD project. One item was to create a Youth Board in the near future – exciting stuff!

On to my next challenge
I still have the debrief weekend in November left to go, and then my GOLD journey is complete. I gained a lot from the whole GOLD experience; I have grown in confidence, and realised I am more resilient than I thought. I met some great people and made friends for life. Don’t get me wrong, it was hard work, but also rewarding. Now I am going to sign up to become a Trainer with Girl Guiding. I really enjoying running the training sessions with the girls and Leaders in Aruba, so I want to continue that at home too.

Apply for GOLD
Taking part in a GOLD project is a fantastic opportunity. If you’re thinking about applying, my advice is definitely go for it! I never thought I would get a place when I applied, but I am glad that I did.

Find out more about GOLD here.

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