Helen Storrow Seminar 2014
The Helen Storrow Seminar is a WAGGGS Leadership Development Program offered once a year held at Our Chalet. In March 2014 I was lucky enough to attend this event with another 34 young women representing 33 countries. The 9th Seminar had an environmental focus and was an amazing experience.
I arrived at Zurich airport where I met three other young women going to the seminar before venturing on the train and bus to Adelboden. We later arrived at Our Chalet and it was FREEZING! That night we got to know each other and settled into our rooms.
The next morning it was time to start the first of 7 days developing our teamwork and leadership skills and broadening our environmental awareness. The morning started with the opening ceremony in the snow! This alone was an awesome yet cold experience as coming from WA, I had never stood in falling snow before. The focus of day one was all about me, myself and my environment. We started with discovering more about WAGGGS and WAGGGS Leadership Development Program. To start with we were broken into our patrols, looked at what we wanted to gain from the week and began to look at leadership focusing on us as leaders. We then had the opportunity to share our leadership stories in terms of our experience as leaders, leaders we have had and those who are inspirational to us.
It has been snowing all morning so we took some time out to enjoy it. The snow was deep so we all decided to slide down the hill, make snow angels, and then try to climb back up the hill!
For the afternoon and evening sessions we spent time looking at the Dove Free Being Me Program which included participating in some of the activities set out in the program.
The second day of the Seminar focused on Me the leader. To start with our patrols took part in a five station round robin where at each activity, one of us took on the role of the leader using a specific leadership style. This was a great activity in demonstrating the different leadership styles that can be applied in situations and allowed us to focus on what style we liked, didn’t like and when we could use it.
We then looked at the values, beliefs and leadership in WAGGGS and reflected on our own values and used these to create a values statement as if we were an organisation. After lunch, we started our environmental part of the seminar with a Wide Game set up around the grounds of Our Chalet. We moved to each station in small groups and discussed the topic on each card in relation to our country. An example of one of the card topics was ‘does everyone in your country have access to drinking water?’ It was really interesting listening to the issues that the other girls in my group faced in regard to the environment. Although I come from an environmental science background, I found it really interesting listening to the explanations of their environmental situations in their own terms and how it actually effects them and the people in their country.
That evening it was international night where each region had a display table where we were able to try things and swap bits and pieces. Each region also had to do a performance which included awesome dancing from the Arab and African regions. Some of the national costumes were amazing!
The third day of the seminars focus was on me and my environment. We presented the posters we made prior to the seminar looking at environmental projects with Guides happening or that have happened in our member country. Mine focused on a biodiversity session I ran for my guide unit which included a night stalk and restoring a part of the sand dunes near our local beach. We also heard from a biologist and his work in the local environment in Switzerland and we also had a panel session where we could ask questions. We also played a really interesting game called ‘if the world was a village of 100 people’ which highlighted the different resources people didn’t have for example computers, education and drinkable water and how different ethnicities make up the total global population. The day sparked a lot of conversations about the environment around the world and what we could be doing.
That evening we had Swiss Night where we had a quiz about Switzerland, traditional musicians come in and play for us and a lovely fondue.
The fourth day of the seminar was one many of us were looking forward to with a focus on me the achiever. It included a half day outdoor adventure which was the opportunity to go to a high ropes course set over a river and ski run. I am personally not one for high ropes but gave it a shot with the idea of ‘when will I get to this again’.
The first activity of the course was a zip line that went across the river. There were 6 zip lines that got higher with the last going over the top of a bridge. The scary part was that we were trusted to attach our safety cord without it being checked. After the zip line we did a traditional high ropes course that was strung up beneath the bridge and then abseiled off the bridge onto the ski run. They were all really fun and definitely a challenge!
The other half of the day we spent going through the WAGGGS Glow program and how we can use it back home to complete leadership modules. That evening was a relaxed night after our busy day watching Wall-E.
The next day had a focus on teamwork. We spent half the day working in groups to complete a team challenge. The challenge was to build an igloo using different roles in the team. We used Belbin roles related to igloo building. Every 15 minutes we changed roles. I had never built an igloo before and was surprised it is quite a simple but hard work. Our igloo turned out really good and it was a great activity to show us the roles that are normally presented when people work in teams. It also gave us the chance to try different roles that we might not normally find ourselves in when working together. My favourite quote of the day was ‘TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More’.
After another delicious afternoon tea we looked at different scenarios and how we could create change through working as a team. That evening we had our campfire. Although it was indoors it was a fun evening. There were a huge range of songs, many I had never heard before with words I could not exactly pronounce but it was great that everyone was so involved.
The second last day of the seminar had a focus on Advocacy. We learnt about what advocacy is, what it isn’t and the advocacy that WAGGGS does. We then had to choose a session to attend. I went to a session on campaigning where we looked at how to create a successful campaign and what it needs. It was then time to start thinking about our action plan and what we will do back home to create change. We began writing up our plans and attending one on one coaching clinics with the WAGGGS facilitators. My action plan looks at the availability of Palm Oil in products on Australian shelves and the devastating effect it is having in the South Eastern Asian rainforests. My aim is to create a badge and badge syllabus for girls aged 12+ with a focus on education and enabling them to make better buying choices.
The final day of the seminar arrived. We spent time in the morning finalising our action plans. This included writing a pledge and drawing our dreams and what you need to get there.
That evening we had the seminars closing ceremony which was the same time as earth hour. It was a lovely closing with really nice readings and quotes. We were awarded with our completion certificates and our Our Chalet Challenge badges.
The Helen Storrow Seminar was an amazing experience. I was very lucky to spend 8 days with like-minded young women who bought so much experience and knowledge. I would like to thank GGWA for encouraging me to apply to go and the Irene Fairbairn Fund Committee for offering me financial assistance. I made friends with young women from places all over the world and learnt more about leadership, teamwork, and myself. Hopefully I gain support in creating a badge syllabus and help make a change.