In November 2016, I attended my very first provincial forum. This was such a good experience for me as I got to meet so many new people and make lots of friends I now consider my scouting family. Everything was new to me at this weekend. The whole ‘rep’ role was something I had never done before and I was a learning experience to say the least. I learned how our provincial reps are really active even though from an outsider’s perspective it may seem like the opposite. That weekend was amazing, I quickly discovered how much I loved being with the provincial team and how much I would love to be on the team.
I was then elected as a Venture Scout Provincial rep for the Northern Province, and I can safely say it is still to this day one of my proudest achievements. In January we got to attend the National Youth Forum in Cork. I had never really travelled before so the prospect of a 9/10 hour journey from one end of the country to another was daunting, but I knew it would be bearable as I had all my new provincial team travelling with me. It was an incredible weekend with very little sleep and a lot of excitement as I was greeted by loads of new people from all over the country. I was surprised by how well we all got on. I arrived as this brand new ‘northie’ and I left feeling happy and warm inside as we all shared our different stories growing up in different parts of Ireland. I really was an eye opening experience and I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
That weekend I was also elected as a national rep. Before national forum I thought that the national reps travelled internationally to represent scouting Ireland at various events across the world (oh how naive I was) and I was under the impression that I was unable to be a national rep as I did not have a passport at the time. I was quickly informed that the national reps attend national meetings and represent the views of their section at a national level. Learning that made me determined to become one . I am extremely grateful for being a provincial rep as without being a provincial rep I would have never gotten to be a national rep.
In March we had a team meeting before the provincial planning day in Cookstown. Our team meetings were not like regular scout meetings, they were different. We would spend time getting to know each other and not just jump into the ‘boring’ stuff. We had some laughs and sometimes we shed a tear for each other. It really was like a family bonding session, we all shared stories of our life, sometimes revealing stuff even our closest friends didn’t even know. That night we ventured out into the dark and bought ourselves dinner in a local Chinese and sat up to an ungodly hour in the night just talking and bonding more. The next day was the planning day and (not gonna lie) it was a bit scary. To walk into a room full of adults I had never met before that were all important people in the province. I had to introduce myself as I was new which was scary, I had never met these people before but I had to sit and watch as they all interacted as good pals, while I was constantly saying ‘Hi, I’m a new rep this year’. But that feeling suddenly faded when I realised that they all respected us as reps and how hard it is for some of us to speak to a room full of ‘strangers’ the day went smoothly with a hour long governance talk, Jamborí talk, and talking about various training events. Then we split into youths and adults and spoke about what we wanted in the three year plan. This is where I felt most comfortable as it was just us as a team speaking about what we as reps would like to see in the near future. And then Emily, Niamh and myself had to deliver our points. Which did frighten me a bit, but seeing how supporting the team was, gave me confidence in myself.
We had another team meeting in July and we had a fun photoshoot in front of the Peace Bridge which sparked hilarity as we jumped for a cute picture, but we had to jump a solid 10 times to get a good shot. We were sweltering in the heat of the summer sun in our dark uniform and we were also blinded by the sun, but it was good craic nonetheless. That night we walked to a local chippy (again) and bought dinner and talked about our hoodie design and our plans for provincial forum. It was again a fun meeting where not much sleep was had, but that’s the fun of our team meetings. We learn so much about each other at every meeting, and we always have a good time.
In November we took the trip of a lifetime to Brussels, Belgium. It was the most amazing
trip I’ve been on and I would go back without question. Our flight to Brussels left Dublin airport at 6:30am, but due to public transport we were in the airport from 12:30 that morning. We were all tired from the long journey to Dublin, but we could not sleep due to our excitement. When we arrived in Brussels we got the train from the airport to Central Station and then the tram to ‘Comte de Flandre’ which was the station near our hotel. We then left our luggage in the Hotel and we set off on our tourist adventures we first went to Pizza hut and had lunch, where I fell asleep. After that small power nap I was ready to go again, walking to the Grand Place of Brussels where we acted like proper tourists taking a million photos and everything in sight. The next day was the day we visited the European parliament. It was such a good day with everyone feeling refreshed after a full night’s sleep. We were presented with our international neckerchiefs and we then had a Q + A session with a civil servant from European Parliament and with Jim Nicholson, an Ulster Unionist MEP. It was a very insightful talk as we learned a lot about how Brexit affects us and how it affects our rights.