We, the Youth Media Team, have been asked to write about the Youth Forum that has just taken place and what we thought of it. Our team consists of youth members from all of the Regions and we’re all Guides and Rangers.

Guides in front of a building throwing coloured plastic ballsWe had some members of the Youth Media Team who came along to the weekend in their necker, and then Michelle the Assistant Chief also mentioned at the opening that if anyone else wanted to join us they could just talk to her, so over the weekend we got six new members, representing three Regions. At the final session of the weekend we were asked to stand up, and it was great to see so many of our special neckers dotted around the room, all in different groups.

We met with Michelle at the start on Saturday and we split up the jobs that we needed to do over the weekend. We had some people taking photos and some of these were used on social media posts over the weekend. We had some people tasked with taking some videos of Guiders, asking what was their favourite part of last year. Some of us were trying to get people to do things for our Tiktok account, and then some of us decided to write the piece for the magazine. We all said what we were good at or what we were interested in and that’s how we divided up the jobs.

The Youth Forum 2022 was great fun and it was lovely to finally see others in person again. This year’s Youth Forum had so many incredible activities that took place over the action-packed weekend. When we arrived on Saturday morning some of us were already tired, the girls from Cork had been up on the bus mad early, like 6am! Our leaders registered us and got our room keys which was really cool because we all got a card to hang around our neck for our rooms. But then we saw where the rooms were, anyone that wasn’t tired surely was when they got to their room, we had to go up loads of steps, they said it was the second floor but it was about six flights of stairs. We were all in rooms with three bunkbeds and a bathroom, which was great, at least we only had to fight with the girls in our own rooms to hurry up in there. And if we were bursting, there was a toilet at the end of the corridor, but it had no sink in it.

Guide in a crowd smiling at the cameraThe weekend started with a welcome from Emily, the Chief Commissioner, and there was great energy in the room because it was the first time in over two years since such a large group of us had been together in one place, it was a sight to see. Then the Assistant Chief told us a little bit about Members’ Council and then a young leader did a presentation on it. She made the presentation when she was a Ranger, when the last Youth Forum was on. It was a bit long, but it’s a good idea to have a Members’ Council so we can say what we want.

Next it got a bit confusing because some Guides had to leave and go get their lunch early and change into outdoor gear because they were off doing bushcraft skills. The rest of us stayed sitting in the big hall and listened to another lady then tell us about cyber safety. She was very nice, but we had learned a good bit of this in school. I really liked the bit where she explained about how quickly something can spread on social media. She asked one girl to stand up, and she said I’m going to tell you a secret that I don’t want everyone to know, and you’re going to only tell two people. She said point at two people, so she did. Then each of those two people stood up, and they only passed on the message to two other people each, so they pointed at people and they stood up, and so on and so on, until nearly the whole room was standing up in a short time. It was a good illustration of what happens with things spread online, and how we think we’re being good just telling one or two other people, but if we all tell only one or two other people, that’s still an awful lot of people.

4 girls foraging in a forestThen we stopped for lunch, the food over the whole weekend was amazing, it was definitely the best food we’ve ever had on any camp that I can remember. We had loads of choice of food for dinner, then they had salad stuff as well, and lovely slices of cake and also some vending machines, but the vending machines broke over the weekend, but they did fix them again quickly.

After lunch on Saturday we got down to business with sessions. The Guides had bushcraft, it was great that all the Guides got to do bushcraft, but some of the Rangers were dead jealous and would love to have done it as well because they got to cook bread and make pesto and go foraging and make fires and use knives, it was great. Some of the Guides also had a workshop session with the Sticks and Stones lady, I know it was different than the first big session she did, and it was more interactive, but again we all knew quite a lot of it already.

We had laughter yoga, now some of us were thinking that’s just mad, but we did actually enjoy it and end up laughing. You have to be silly and make yourself laugh and it’s foolish at first, forcing yourself to be laughing, but then you do end up really laughing, so that was fun. My favourite activity was journaling. With all the chaos and excitement of the Youth Forum, I found that the journaling session was a great chance to relax and recharge. There was a huge array of stickers, tape, coloured paper and other arts and crafts supplies to choose from. We were even lucky enough to have access to photo printers. This allowed people to truly personalise their journals and by the end of the session we found that no two journals looked the same. It was really cool to see the ideas that people came up with. Some people created art journals, others made writing journals and lots of the girls made photo journals.

The other thing the Guides did on Saturday was games. This was done outdoors and we had some of the games we all know, like bean bags and throw and duck. But we also had the best games ever we’ve had on camp; we did hungry hippos but we were the hippos, on big skateboard things. It was so much fun. One person would lie down on the board and another would push and pull them by the legs and then the other member of the team would mind and count all the balls that the hippo caught. We changed place so everyone got to have a go as the hippo. Unfortunately, it got a bit windy and so the balls were flying around everywhere, but it was still class. The other game that was new was pass the pigs. There were two blow-up pigs and we had to throw them and then get different points for whatever way they landed.

Girls on small trollys scooping up plastic balls in life sized Hungry Hippos gameThe Rangers had totally different sessions to the Guides, and I think that was a great idea because we are older and we’re into different things and I don’t think it would be fair if we had all the same things to do as the Guides. We spent the afternoon in the same hall we’d been in since arriving, and we did a smoothie bike and Batak challenge. The smoothie bike is exactly that, it’s a static bike with a blender on the front and you put in whatever you want in your smoothie and then you pedal-power your blender to make your smoothie. There was only one bike, so it was a bit slow and some people didn’t want to make smoothies, but all in all it was fun. The Batak challenge I think was much more fun and everyone enjoyed that more. It’s like the game Whack a Mole, but it’s an X shape with eight lights on it. They light up randomly and you have to hit them as quickly as you can once they light up.

After dinner we all went back to the big hall and we thought we were going to have a disco and a campfire, so when we saw the girl setting up her karaoke stuff we were delighted. We had to queue up and say what song we wanted to sing and then we all lined up waiting for our turn to get on stage. The karaoke was some of the most fun I had on the weekend. Singing Bohemian Rhapsody and Let it Go with my unit is something I'll never forget. Especially when we got our Leader Arlene up on stage with us.

The karaoke went on much longer than any of us expected and people kept on lining up to sing, and it was only fair that they all got a turn, unfortunately lots of us were really tired by that stage and so people had begun drifting off to bed before everyone had finished. The result was that when the karaoke finished there weren’t many left for a campfire, so we didn’t have one, which is a great pity, we should always make room for at least one or two songs on camp.

Next it was off to bed and trying to get to sleep. It was the same as the usual first night on camp with girls knocking on doors, people running and shouting in the corridors and rooms around us, and of course everyone tucking into their goodie bag, full of sweets and crisps we brought with us, or got from the vending machine. But I think everyone was probably still asleep soon after 11pm because we were all so tired from travel and from the activities of the day.

Sunday morning and we were all up and at breakfast bright and early and ready to get on with the second day, we couldn’t wait to see what activities were planned for us.

5 girls walking in a line towards the cameraThe big highlight of Sunday was the planetarium, there was an actual blow-up planetarium lads! It was amazing, I bet some girls even fell asleep in it because it was so relaxing. The lady told us that the software she used for the planets and stars and all was free software and that we could all download it and project it onto our walls or ceiling at home if we liked, that’s a great idea. Everyone got to have a go in the planetarium, even the leaders, but it was only half an hour each to enable everyone time.

Today some of the Guides had a drumming workshop, which was great, but some people were still nearly asleep and really tired and the noise was hurting their heads, but it was great to play the music and try out different drums. The other sessions the Guides did were the same as yesterday; bushcraft, journaling and games.

The Rangers had sessions of laughter yoga and with the Storrows on Sunday. The Storrows were going to tell us about options after school, though lots of us really haven’t made up our minds what we’re going to do yet, and they also talked about period poverty. My favourite part was the PEPP talk. I really enjoyed it because it's a topic that's not talked about too much and really should be talked about a lot more. It was interesting to find out exactly what period poverty was and to have that time to ask questions about it.

Another novel thing we had over the weekend was the Quiet Space. It really was beautiful and lots of us used it. It was in a room at the end of a corridor and the lights were off and blinds closed and there was just candle lamp lights, there was soothing music playing and a well where you could drop a glass pebble into, and an altar with a tree of life. There was so much to see in there, but it was so calming when you walked in, even if you were talking you just fell quiet, and sat awhile. I think we should have one at all camps from now on, I heard that girls were even going in there really early in the morning, so it definitely worked.

After lunch on Sunday we all moved back to the hall for the final part of our weekend. We had a Guides Own, led by Fiona the Eastern Regional Commissioner and girls from all the regions got to take part, we all got to write a word about the weekend on a post-it note and we finished off with a rendition of On My Honour which was lovely to hear so many of us singing together once more.

Next up, Gillian Garvey from the Take Action Project team spent some time going through the different projects each team had brought and looking at their posters and getting them to talk through what they did. There was a great variety in the projects on display, it just goes to show how we all think differently and can all come up with great, but very different, ideas.

two girls huuggingFinally, Arlene the Outdoors Commissioner took the mic and broke us back into our groups from the weekend, we had a few minutes to discuss a range of topics including faith; outdoors; programmes; international and development. Then we all came back together and gave feedback to the Board members that were present. We didn’t have much time to get into real discussions at this stage because most of the buses were already there, but the Chief said that the Board would look at everything we had suggested and discuss them all.

We finished up with one of the Rangers thanking Emily the Chief, on behalf of all the youth members, for all she’s done for us and for all the work she’s put into CGI in the past number of years and we wish her well as she steps down from her position in a few weeks’ time. This made the Chief cry, so the Assistant Chief took the mic and said goodbye and safe home to us all and then we picked up our bags, said our goodbyes, got on our buses and made our way home.

Overall I felt that the Youth Forum was an amazing experience and I can’t wait to go back next year. 

It was amazing and I had a great time connecting with other units, along with my own. The venue was great and I always felt comfortable in my environment whilst there. It was my first Youth Forum, but won’t be my last, I loved the whole thing; all the activities, the people and the food.

Thanks to members of the Youth Media Team, this article was compiled from pieces written by a number of them.