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.