Well done to the 14 girls who earned the Chief Commissioner’s Award!

Congratulations to the 14 IGG members who reached the pinnacle of Guiding after hiking 60km in Kerry while carrying all their camping and cooking equipment, food and clothes, and surviving on €3.50 a day.

The girls from age 16+ also completed eight projects and kept a log book of their experiences during the five-day Chief Commissioner’s Award.

The girls didn’t know the location of the event in advance so they couldn’t prepare for the projects. They were delighted to find themselves on the picturesque Iveragh peninsula, however.

“We were completely over the moon when we received the Chief Commissioner’s Award pin,” said Nicole Moore of Bray Guides. “It means so much to us that all our hard work paid off and knowing that we went above and beyond in Guiding spirit in order to receive one of the highest awards in Guiding!”

She said her highpoint was calculating how far they had hiked each day. “We marked out our route every evening of what we had hiked and I was always extremely impressed with how far we had gotten,” she said. “I also loved speaking to so many people -

 from locals to farmers to tourists - everyone was so friendly and open chatting with us.”

Nicole admitted that some mornings it was very difficult to get up as she felt stiff, tired and sore all over. “That was one of the bigger challenges, along with carrying the rucksack in general as it just got heavier and heavier as the week went on! It was tough getting going in the mornings but we never gave up and we kept our spirits high with a large bowl of Alpen to get us started. Overcoming a very large and steep hill on the first day was another highlight. Frankly, it felt like a mountain with our rucksacks on our backs but I'm so glad we overcame it!”

Completing the 60km challenge does not guarantee participants the coveted Chief Commissioner’s Award pin. Once they have finished the hike, they are assessed by means of their projects and log books as well as a de-briefing with the organisers. A certificate is presented to everyone who takes part in the event while a woggle and certificate is presented to all teams who complete 60km, the log book and projects. The Award itself – a silver Celtic knot pin - is presented to all those who enter wholeheartedly into the spirit of the adventure challenge.

Emer Curtin, also of Bray Guides, said receiving the pin was a huge honour: “Very few Girl Guides manage to obtain the Award in full and so to discover that the work my team-mate and I did was worthy of the Award felt amazing,” she said. “A rather obvious high point was, of course, completing the challenge. But I also really enjoyed the sense of community between everyone doing the challenge this year as well as the dedicated and friendly staff.

“My low points included having to carry everything up a huge hill on the first day and attempting to cook dinner in the rain; but overall it was an incredible experience, we were so lucky with the weather and I wouldn't change a thing about my week.”

Congratulating the 14 participants, Award organiser Suzanne O’Brien, said: “A brilliant week was had by all participants and staff. I am so proud of all six teams who successfully achieved the cert, woggle and pin. Well done, well done, very well done!

“The weather was on our side, making the experience more enjoyable and memorable for everyone. No doubt a lot of effort was put into route-planning and projects. Over the course of the week all teams got the chance to strengthen their skills, including time-management, teamwork, leadership roles, communication, the ability to multi-task as well as the ability to remain organised.

“After facing one of the hardest challenges of their lives the girls have memories that will last a lifetime, more confidence, new friends and the will-power to reach their goals no matter how tough the journey is along the way.”