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Being selected for International Community Experience (ICE)  - Jersey, I wasn't sure what I was letting myself in for... I personally was looking for the unknown, an adventure, something that I could grow and learn from. And this it has provided me with. 

Led by our leader Helen Hughes, we organised two selection weekends, and this was hard as we could have literally selected everyone! However, it was Maud Health in Wiltshire and Sandy Acres in Dorset who joined us. 
Then at our pre-weekend at Dudsbury Dorset, it was clear that the girls were going to make a special bond.  

Our flight was on time, the excitement tangible, and apart from a leader's suitcase that initially didn't appear until several hours after landing was our only concern. 
Our Accommodation at the Jersey Accommodation and Activity Centre, couldn't be more welcoming. Ina gave us a tour of the main communal rooms, which included a games lounge, Wi-Fi lounge, restaurant, and loads of outdoor space. 
Then Bella from the cafe was amazing too, even suggesting that leaders should choose the pudding choice first! She fed us all well, giving us sandwich-filling choices for the picnic lunches that she provided. 
In the evening we met a group of half a dozen Jersey Guides staying in the same venue and their leaders Nicky and Karen, and again they had become firm friends by the end of the trip. We also introduced the activity of a small scrapbook each and to look out for things to put inside it over the next few days. 

Initially, we started at the National Trust Victoria Tower - just a 5-minute walk from JAAC - A British Martello Tower completed in 1837. Alongside was an oak tree copse, that was being taken over by sycamore saplings. Josh from the NT tasked us with removing both the baby, teenage, and established trees. And the group got going with spades, pruning saws, and loppers and we made a huge pile of 'sycamore weeds' which in turn built a dead hedge for insects, etc. The difference from before to after was incredible and more light on the woodland floor - you could see the daffodils and bluebells lapping up the light!  

Then a steep walk down the hill to the Port of Gorey, a bustling medley of quaint fishing village buildings, with the start of a 5-mile stretch of white sand, Bay of Grouville. The formidable Mont Orgueil Castle, rising up behind us - Jersey's largest and most iconic castle at over 800 years old. After our picnic, we walked and paddled, and then went to Stuarts' whippy ice cream van whose ice cream is made from Jersey cow milk and all the extra creamier for it! With the smallest of zipped polybags filled with the fine white sand for our scrapbooks we set to climb to the highest point of the castle and back to the JAAC. For that tired but happy satisfied feeling you get after a varied fun day. 

Scrapbooking took off after our dinner and there were, sycamore leaves being pressed, postcards and diaries written. The signing of each other's books and a special unique moment was unfolding. 
On Friday, after breakfast, we split into two groups, one taking the public bus to the famous Jersey Zoo, and the other's to the War Tunnels dug out during the 2nd World War and whilst Jersey was under Nazi occupation. The exhibits were very thought-provoking.

After lunch and a bus ride back to St Helier and a couple of visits to touristy shops and a Co-Op! We headed back to Port of Gorey and yes you've guessed it, another visit to Stuarts' ice cream van before the steep climb back to JAAC! In the evening we enjoyed more games with the Jersey Guides. The Jersey Guides gave the ICE group a unique badge that has J.U.I.C.E which stands for Jersey Unites International Community Experience 

On our final day we stayed at our base and John took 12 girls at a time for an hour to do archery and Niamh did team games. The JAAC had homemade pizzas for lunch and we took a picnic tea to the airport. Initially seeing off Bella back to Guernsey. We were able to go to a departure lounge watch the sunset make our friendship bracelets and await our boarding and flight home. Things on the flight made it obvious that the friendships that the girls had made were strong and they were planning a 10-year anniversary reunion. Names and contacts exchanged - tears and hugs and not wanting it to be over. The girls went back to their families after a fabulous trip. We were so thrilled that they had made a special memory in their lives. They had gained this experience through being kind to the environment, to each other, and to themselves - it encapsulates the Girlguiding laws and spirit, and it was a privilege to be a small part of it.  

Every part of the trip from the airport staff on both sides, JAAC, Guide leaders, bus operators, and ice-cream sellers, couldn't have made us feel more welcome or made it a more pleasurable experience. But it was the girls themselves who were the icing on the cake and will stay with me forever.  

 

Jackie Poole 

 

 
 

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