STAFF: How can you possibly not?! – Cate (USA)

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A favorite game this summer between the vollies is called Questions, which began as a game of 20 Questions with a group of girls on a hike early this summer.

They were bored, it was rainy and gross, and so we started asking questions of each other. At first it was things like, “If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?” but it grew to include”If you were Prime Minister of Earth, what one thing would you change in the world?”

The game has continued through the summer, often on cloudy hikes or long busrides. It’s amazing to hear the answers these girls have, and it’s been humbling to see how brilliant, funny, kindhearted and brave they are. Often it seems as though no one’s asked them about themselves before, which, apart from anything else, leads me to believe that all the problems of the world boil down to us not listening to teenage girls enough.

At an end of summer campfire a few nights ago with just the vollies, we were playing a particularly cheesy round of Questions. The question that really got me thinking was, “What’s your favorite memory of the summer?”

Here are just 10 of the best things I’ve done while I’ve been here:

Cate O'Donnell Hardcore Parcour

1. repelled out of the Main Chalet attic

2. climbed peaks still dusted with snow

3. jumped off a bridge

4. learned how to chainsaw

5. scootered down a mountain

6.  dived into a glacial lake

7. eaten chocolate from a Swiss chocolitiere

8. white water rafted

9. enjoyed fondue beneath jagged Alps

10. carried a lantern in a Swiss parade

At Our Chalet this summer I have had enough adventure and experiences to last me a lifetime, and I frequently feel as though I’m in a commercial for some kind of energy drink. But my many explorations, challenges and adventures pale in comparison to the incredible people I’ve met here.

I cannot describe the impact of the young women I’ve met at Our Chalet this summer.They have taught me how to speak “British,” shared their environmental wisdom and made me laugh so hard my abs hurt the next day.

One of the moments that has impacted me the most was during the WAGGGS wide game a few weeks ago. The girls this week were particularly fantastic to work with, and we were repping at least three continents. For the activity about the UN millenium development goals,  I always lead in by asking them what they would change about the world. Of all of our Questions, it is my favorite.

In the course of an hour, I heard dozens of girls tell me that they wanted to end racism, feed the hungry, save the rainforest, prevent sexual assault.

The young women came from a variety of backgrounds, but they each had something specific and incredible that they were planning on changing in their lifetimes, and it floored me. How is it, I wonder, that I hear about “kids today” in a negative tone when these girls exist before us with such visions?

Cate and SarahI love campfires more than almost anything. I love Girl Scout songs, and I love waterfights. All of these things are important to WAGGGS, but the most vital thing about Girl Guiding and Scouting is the way that we empower girls to become women who will revolutionize the world.

We campaign towards stopping violence towards girls, we educate about  environmental sustainability, and we send delegates to UN conferences; every day, WAGGGS works towards a better world in ways that I can still hardly fathom.

Girl Scouting and Guiding is as essential to a free world as air, and I could not be prouder to be part of a movement that empowers youth the way that it does.

The girls, young women and leaders I have come to know at Our Chalet have without a doubt have made my experience what it is, and I cannot put into words what this sisterhood means to me. My least favorite Question non-WAGGGS people occasionally ask is how I can possibly sacrifice a summer (or two, or six) to Girl Scouts, of all things.

My question is, how can you possibly not?

Caitlin (Cate) O’ Donnell (USA)

Summer Volunteer 2012

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