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Girl guides on the move to explore more

Deja Burrows, Da’Nae Pinder and Candace Thompson, senior rangers from #76 Nassau Guide Company at St. Ambrose Anglican Church, had a life-changing experience this summer when they explored the sights and sounds of two of the world’s biggest cities.

Burrows remembered, “It all started when my mother came back from a Girl Guides leaders conference at Our Cabaña World Centre in Mexico and insisted that I experience one of the world centers”.

Burrows shared the idea of traveling to a Girl Guides world center with two other rangers, and the three 18-year-old college students were ready to explore. Through the Internet, they researched the programs and places available to guides throughout the world, applied to be volunteers at the Our Chalet World Centre in Switzerland and looked into the Encounter London program at Pax Lodge in Hampstead, London.

With the cost of air travel and accommodations in the thousands per woman, they decided to choose London, which is cheaper than Switzerland. The women then embarked on an ambitious fundraising campaign that included a souse-out, bake sales and selling hot cross buns. The funds raised were able to assist greatly with funding their Girl Guides adventure.

The expedition started in New York City, where they were hosted by a Trinidadian Guide sister they met at the CARICAMP Girl Guides event held in Nassau in 2010. “We were able to experience many different cultures since we stayed with a former Girl Guide from Trinidad, who gave us a world class experience about her culture, through home-cooked Trinidadian meals and traditions,” said Burrows.

While in New York City, they went to the Girl Scouts Headquarters of GSUSA (Girl Scouts USA). Thompson recalled: “My experience in New York was one that I will never forget. I was able to experience firsthand the Girl Scouts USA Headquarters, where we learned about our sister guides and their organizations.” The young women also visited other well-known areas such as Times Square, China Town, Long Island and Brooklyn.

For the second half of the adventure, the rangers flew across the Atlantic to London, England. “We moved from the Big Apple of America to the metropolis of the United Kingdom,” said Burrows. “Although similar to New York, London was a whole new experience.”

The rangers were met at the airport by the protocol officer of the Bahamas High Commission and escorted to Pax Lodge, outside of London. Living in London for Pinder was a completely new experience. She shared: “We noticed how much of the American culture we have adopted in The Bahamas. Certain words in their (the British’) vocabulary stood out. For example, the elevator is called ‘the lift’, the bathroom is called ‘the toilet’, the subway, ‘the tube’ and having an accent is referred to as a ‘twang’.”

At Pax Lodge Girl Guides World Centre, the Bahamian rangers were surrounded by Girl Guides from all over the United Kingdom and the United States. Pinder recalled, “At Pax Lodge, we expanded our knowledge of the Girl Guide society. The first day we arrived in London, we received a tour of the world center. On this tour, we viewed pictures and things that belong to Lady Olave Baden-Powell (chief guide for Great Britain and wife of the founder of the Girl Guides) and had a chance to learn about the many different countries that are involved in WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts).”

The outside wall at Pax Lodge contains flags of different countries involved in WAGGGS. Pinder continued, “At Pax Lodge, the rooms are named after various countries that donated to Pax Lodge. I was ecstatic to know that there was a Bahamas room. Our tour guide informed us that, because WAGGGS represents the largest group of females, the United Nations uses the Girl Guides Association to reach out to women all around the world.”

Burrows recalled, “The world center was buzzing with activities, from indoor camp fires to games and cream tea. If our experiences in New York City was a bite into the apple, London was like purchasing the orchid.”

The rangers definitely took advantage of the Encounter London experience. They traveled on the tube, saw a play, went to a concert at the O2, enjoyed the afternoon in Green Park, went to Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Square, West Sussex and the country towns of Tottingham and Brighton. It was a whirlwind tour but an experience they will value for life.

Burrows reflected, “Looking back, I realized the valuable lessons we learned on our trip.

Thompson added: “I was able to fully understand the Girl Guides’ motto “Be prepared”, since I had to be prepared for every activity we faced during our stay. Overall my experience was one that I will always remember and appreciate.”

The rangers appreciate the training they gained from their years in Guides “We are so thankful for this opportunity and all the skills the Girl Guides Association has given us,” Burrows shared.

The rangers want to encourage other Guides to take advantage of the many international programs which are available to all Girl Guides through the world centers and Guide associations around the world.

“Talking with other Guide leaders at Pax Lodge, I realized that, in The Bahamas, we do not travel with our girls as much as they do.” Pinder shared. The rangers wish to plan a similar trip in the future and make “Girl Guides on the move” an ongoing adventure.

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