Saturday, October 19, 2019

Destinations with Girl Scouts!

This is a guest blog written by Girl Scout Ambassador Kathryn from Troop 648.
Kathryn with her mom, Girl Scout volunteer Jennifer.

Traveling to other countries is a once in a lifetime opportunity for most people in the middle class of society in America. I've been fortunate to travel to other countries four separate times. The first time was just for a day, and that was to Canada to see the Niagara Falls. The second time was years later when I went on my first overseas trip with the Girl Scouts. I was 13 at the time and enjoyed it immensely. Because of that trip, I wanted to travel more, and eventually, go back to Switzerland. 

This summer, I went on the Girl Scout Celtic Adventures: Scotland and Ireland trip. It was a Girl Scout Destination trip, hosted by GSCCC, and the volunteer leader was my troop leader, Eileen Livick. This trip helped expand my cultural awareness and raised the number of countries I have been to from 8 to 11! I had a luxury that other girls didn't have on this trip, their mother, but between me and you, I don't think my father would have let me go on this trip without her being a chaperone. 

Girls taking part in the destination came to Boston to start the journey. The most memorable stop for me was the New England Holocaust Memorial. Six glass towers stand 54 feet in the air, each representing one of the six main concentration camps. One million numbers are etched on each glass tower to represent one million people in each concentration camp. The next day we visited the New England Aquarium. That afternoon, we went on a Boston Duck Tour and then, that evening, we took a short walking tour of Harvard's campus and ate dinner at the S+S Restaurant. 

On our third day in Boston, we did a walking tour of MIT in the morning and visited the Boston Museum of Science in the afternoon. My favorite part of the museum was probably the technology and engineering section, where the exhibits were very hands-on. That evening, we went to the airport, got on a flight, and flew overnight to Dublin. Here’s our awesome schedule we followed in Dublin!

Day 1
First stop was Trinity College. Enjoyed seeing the Book of Kells. Later, we went to the Hard Rock Cafe in Dublin and then walked around Dublin. 

Day 2
A guided tour of Dublin on our bus. First stop was St. Patrick's Cathedral. While we did not stop, we also saw the last pieces of the original Dublin City Wall and Gate from 1240 AD. We also saw the Brazen Head, the oldest bar in Ireland that was established in 1198. We stopped at Phoenix Park, which is 1800 acres and has the 4th oldest zoo in the world, the Dublin Zoo.

Day 3
Drove to Belfast, North Ireland. Saw impactful political murals! I was able to write a message for others to see on the Peace Wall. Then it was off to the Titanic Museum.

The next morning we were out of our hotel by 5 a.m. so we could take a ferry to Scotland. Once there, we drove for about two hours to the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum for lunch and a chance to explore it. After that, we drove for about another two hours to Edinburgh where we spent about an hour and a half at the Royal Mile to explore. 

Day 4
A day in Edinburgh where we walked the Royal Mile, followed by visiting Edinburgh castle. While there, we saw the crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny.

Day 5
Drove to the Highlands of Scotland, traveling to Loch Lomond. Then we traveled to Trossachs National Park where we met some Welsh Scouts and got a group photo -  35 from our group and 40 of them! It was pretty neat to meet Scouts from another country. Later that day we went to Stirling Castle and we explored for a couple of hours before going to the Scottish Wool Center.

The next couple of days were spent driving and stopping to tour. We went to Loch Ness and did a cruise on the lake. We walked around Castle Urquhart afterwards where the view of the mountains and countryside was gorgeous. We went to Oban for a few hours to stretch our legs. The last day was full of goodbyes to our tour guide, Ian, and to Scotland.  When we returned to Boston, a large group of us hung out in one of the hotel rooms, slowly concluding that we would most likely never see each other again like this. Most of us cried, hating to have it all end.  

Overall, I would recommend any destinations trips in the Girl Scouts. It is always an awesome time to meet new people and experience new cultures. Traveling is an experience that can change you, influence you, and help you learn new things about yourself. It can help you connect with people you least expect. If you can't afford time or money to go out of the country, travel to a new state!