Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Further rambling from the desert

It's hard to believe I'm going home in 2 days time. It's been a strange experience here in jeddah. Overall I think the camp isn't a disaster but a missed opportunity. With rovers from all over the world, so much could have been achieved but instead the saudi's have used this as a pr stunt.

It's not all bad. Making loads of friends (some interesting opportunities for collobaboration coming up), getting to learn about Arab culture and islam and getting to see this amazingly diverse country. Yesterday we went to the king Abdullah university for science and technology (kaust) which is the most amazing place ever (it has it's own cinema and shopping centre). And today we went into the Jeddah city centre which is like a completely different world.

You can watch tomorrow's launch of the messengers of peace here http://www.scout.org/en/information_events/news/2011/are_you_changing_the_world_today

Thursday, September 22, 2011

hello from saudi arabia

So i've been here almost two full days. Its an odd but enlightening experience here- deffinately a culture shock. The biggest challenge is the heat- it is far too humid for my irish body. The food is a challenge at times, curry at breakfast

Yesterday we went to the beach and played some sports followed by a course on improving dialogue. Today we visited a traditional scout camp and a market. Tomorrow is the Saudi's National Day.

One of the strangest things we've encountered is the tents- huge things with carpets and air conditioning. Very strange compared to what we're used to. At the same time many things are very similar (the song "everywhere we go" seems to be international).

Overall this has been an amazing experience so far and I feel quiet honour to be able to attend.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Off to a not so good start

So I'm here in dublin airport. It's been an interesting couple of hours since i left home yesterday.
Got delayed coming up when the bus broke down and then had my phone stolen from right under my nose. Thanks to lorcan and moose for letting me crash with them, maire doody for keeping me sane via fb chat, to Andrea for her sympathy and offer of help and to florin, elaine and Garda karen for their help when I found out the phone was gone.

So it cant get any worse can it? My Saudi adventure is about to kick off.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Counting down the days...

So there's only 3 full days till I leave and I still have no idea what to pack - seriously, what do you bring to a Peace Camp in Saudi Arabia??? Come 2pm on Tuesday they'll be no more time to worry- just better go with the flow.

Its been a strange experience trying to tell people why I'm going to Jeddah. I usually have to follow it up with "yes, I'm serious". I get a mixture of "how strange", "congratulations" or (the most common) "you jammy ****". The best response I got was- "If anyone else told me they were going I would believe them but it's you"

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Going for gold!

One of the reasons for restarting the blog will be an attempt to record my attempt to get the Chief Scout Award for Rover Scouts and the Gold Gaisce Award (Due to an agreement between Scouting Ireland and Gaisce, work done for the Chief Scout Award can be counted for Gaisce). These are two awards I've wanted to attempt for a while and i'm finally going to get my act together and get it sorted.

So what am I going to do? Here's a run down of my activities for the CSA

Personal Skill: Many of you who know me will know my love for photography but I'm by no means an expert. My aim is to take lessons in advance photography and improve my skill over time.

Community Involvement: Well as I'm already a leader in my scout group so this is a no brainer really. However to make it challenging, I'm going to agree a project with my group leader to improve the group.

Physical Recreation: I'm not the most sporting type but I do love mountaineering and orienteering so I'm hoping to build up my fitness in this area by going for weekly walks/runs/hikes with the aim of being able to a) complete my expedition and b) compete in a provincial orienteering competition.

Environment: to be decided. Possibly organizing something to do with Leave No Trace or Recycling for Jamboree 2013

Adventure Skills: My aim is to reach level 8 in Hillwalking and level 7 in Camping and Backwoods in the Adventure Skills.

Expedition: for my expedition, I hope to take on an ambitious challenge of spending 4 days in the Scottish Highlands trying to "bag" as many Munros (Scottish mountains over 3,000ft) as possible.

Residential: this has also to be decided but i'm hoping I'll have an idea for a project after i come back from Saudi Arabia.

I'll be posting more about each individual area as time goes on. My aim is to record my progress through this blog (alongside the required portfolio) through writting, photography, videos etc.

Monday, September 12, 2011

back on the road again...

Ok here we go - another "I promise I'm going to update you more" blogpost. One of the reasons i'm doing this is Sinead is heading off down under for a while and wanted to be kept up to date on my adventures (I've agreed as long as she does the same for trip).

Another reason was the beaver patrol blog. I was over in Sweden this summer at the World Scout Jamboree and I tried to keep a group blog. Unfortunately I didn't get to update date it as often as i liked but it rekindled my interest in blogging and with another trip abroad coming up I guess I should give it another go. (you can read the beaver patrol blog here)

So what's this other trip? Well this morning I found out that I was chosen to represent Scouting Ireland at the International Peace Camp in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. I applied a month ago not thinking I'd get selected but what do you know. So i'm off in 8 days time which isn't that much time considering I have to sort out my visa, pack and do some research about Saudi Arabia. This is going to be insane. Oh and I'll be turning 24 while I'm over there.

So what else is going on. Well I finally completed the project phase for my woodbadge (Scout leader training) and that's been submitted so I'll hopefully getting my woodbeads soon. I'm also going to be getting the UL President's Volunteer Award (Gold) for logging more than 60 hours of community work (in my case the Scouts) on October 12th. Got a nice message from the Chief Scout congratulating me on that. In the meantime i'm trying to find a job and pick a new Final Year Project title (easier said than done).

Yesterday was my Grandmother's 80th birthday and we had a lovely family dinner in the Woodlands in Adare. Four generations of the family were represented with my Grandparents, my mother and her brothers/sisters, myself, my sister and our cousins and (i think i have this right) my first cousins, once removed (i.e. the children of my cousins). This included James Byrne, my cousin Christopher's son, who is only 10 weeks old today.