Go for GOLD is a guiding event doused in mystery. It includes a top-secret selection weekend where members are selected to join a three-week international trip the following year, the official Guiding Overseas Linked with Development (GOLD) trip.
In September 2019, nine of us represented Girlguiding North West England, hoping to gain a GOLD(en) ticket to travel on a guiding trip of a lifetime.
Upon being accepted for the selection weekend, there were months of anticipation and planning, which included chats on social media, organising travel and tent groups, and conversations getting to know the large group of women, aged 17-29, across the UK, who would also be attending the weekend.
The weekend was full to the brim of activities made to challenge us, through fun and adventure – the particulars of which, must remain a secret. So, I can’t reveal everything we did, but what I can say, is that the activities were designed and led by previous GOLD participants, to reflect the array of cultures and experience that they experienced on their trips.
All weekend, we worked in teams that kept changing, which gave us a chance to interact with everyone. On the Friday, we had games to allow us to get to know each other – the perfect ice breaker. It was awesome to network with different people, who were of different ages, guiding journeys, and life experiences. There were even five others who – and I’m sure some will disagree –were ‘ancient’ like me. I assure you, none of the activities are set to trick you. It’s hard to give a true reflection of them without revealing all, but that’s the exciting part.
Over the weekend, we learned all about GOLD, hearing about the previous projects which developed guiding in so many communities across the world. It was inspiring and made me want to take part in GOLD even more. It was also great to learn more about international guiding and fundraising, and how guiding can extend their reach and empower women all over the world. The previous GOLD participants were happy to answer questions about the process of GOLD; it was absolutely fascinating to hear stories from them and hear, first-hand, how it has changed their lives, as well as the lives of others.
Having secured my place at the start of Summer 2020, it felt like I had to wait a lifetime for the weekend to finally come around. But, typically, the GO for GOLD weekend came and went so quickly, and before we knew it, it was time to go home. The wet and windy weather didn’t stop it from being a fantastic experience. We all started as a large group of strangers, but we left as friends. I came away tired and muddy, with the biggest smile on my face.
I would definitely encourage others to apply; do not be put off by the mystery of it all. Give it a go, embrace the unknown, and just go for it! Even if your GOLD journey doesn’t go any further than the weekend, the experience you have at the selection-weekend is still so amazing. All of us now have the long wait to see if we have been selected to go on one of the trips, but we’re all in this together.
For everyone who attended, I wish you all the very best of luck. Finger crossed there will be at least one of us from North West with a golden ticket on the trip!
If GOLD sounds like something you might be interested in, I would encourage you to find out more information here, and get in touch with our region international team for this and so many other international experiences with Girlguiding both regionally and nationally. You can contact the team on email@example.com.
Emma Ashman, 18-30s Adviser