Black Forest International Trip

Day 1 - Travelling

On Sunday 28th July, 103 Girlguiding members from across Lancashire North West County embarked on an international trip to the Black Forest in Germany. Over 70 Guides and Rangers and nearly 30 leaders took off across two flights, landing in Frankfurt Airport and were transported by coaches to the Youth Hostel in Titisee-Neustadt. Some obstacles presented themselves at the beginning of the week in the form of lost luggage but in true Guiding spirit, girls and leaders rallied around lending clothing, toiletries and a comforting shoulder to lean on. The lost luggage finally arrived and cheers were heard across the land!

Day 2 - Schaffhausen

On Monday, the second day of our adventure, we visited Schaffhausen, Switzerland where girls were provided with a ‘Monopoly” selfie challenge around the small town and the opportunity to enjoy the delicacies of the area…most girls chose a McFlurry from McDonalds. Following a few hours of shopping and sightseeing in Schaffhausen, we returned to our coaches and were transported to the Rhine Falls a short distance away. These were spectacular to watch from the viewing platform with tons of water flowing forcibly over the waterfall and rocks to the side of us. There was an opportunity to go all the way down to the bottom of the falls from the top with wheelchair access going approx. half way down the falls. We slowly ascended from the bottom back to the top of the Rhine Falls to peruse the souvenir shops, where most people purchased another ice cream…it was a very hot day! That evening, the youth hostel was buzzing with excitable young people as well as leaders recalling the days events before taking part in an ice-breaker game of “Guess the Leader” as a number of baby pictures were presented to the young people. This was very entertaining as some leaders struggled to identify themselves amongst the pictures also!

Day 3 - Group Trips

On day 3, Guides, Rangers and leaders were off on activities within their prearranged groups encouraging everyone to step out of their comfort zones and meet new friends. One group was booked into the Action Forest, a tree top assault course in the heart of the Black Forest where girls and leaders faced their fears and climbed ladders, swung from trees and zip lined through the air. One girl in particular stood out as she overcame her fear of heights. She had moments where she felt she would not be able to continue, took some deep breaths and after gentle encouragement she was away through the trees and no one could stop her. She then went on to support others to overcome their fear!  Following the Action Forest, the group went on a lovely tourist train into the hills of the Black Forest taking in the area’s natural beauty. The second group had a lovely stroll around Lake Titisee before stopping at a lovely public park where they could swim in the lake, hire pedalos with slides at the rear and buy ice creams from the onsite shop. One of our dedicated Rangers had completed a lifeguard course prior to the holiday to ensure that everyone had an opportunity to swim in the lake safely. Lake Titisee’s water is kept clean and pollution free as all boats on the water are battery powered or man powered and the water is tested regularly to ensure it is clean and safe for drinking…though we did not encourage this! The third and final group enjoyed a day of shopping in the town of Titissee, some choosing to have a Apfelstrudel or a piece of Black Forest Cake before embarking as a group on a tour of the lake by boat. All groups completed the days outlined on a rota basis on the 3rd, 5th and 7th days of the holiday. On the third evening, Guides and Rangers were encouraged to take part in the Applestrudel ‘beetle drive’.

Day 4 - Waterpark

On day 4, we all walked to the water park where we spent the day swimming and sliding! There were a number of slides that used inflatable rings or mats as well as slides that you needed a sturdy swimming costume on! The one that sticks out in my own mind, is the plunge slide that one fearless guide encouraged me to go on twice advising me that I wouldn’t be as scared the second time as I knew what to expect. Her theory appeared flawed as I screamed as much the second time as I did the first and decided that twice was enough. She informed me afterwards that she had been on the slide at least five times prior to myself undertaking the task. Very proud of the brave and headstrong girls in our county!  In the evening, members enjoyed a game of bingo outside in the last rays of the sun and on the 5th evening, members were treated to a luxurious pamper evening

Day 6 - Europark, Cable Car, Freiberg

On day 6, the majority of girls went to the Europark Theme Park where they went on many, many rides and ate donuts, candy floss and sweets…not always in that order! Whilst most of the girls were at the theme park, a small number of girls chose to take a cable car ride instead. The cable car took them to a high hill where they could then walk up a tower to get a 360 degree view over that area of the Black Forest before taking a walk down to the lake or stopping for ice cream. Whilst the girls did this supported by some leaders, a group of leaders took the opportunity to go on a walk around the lake and take in the scenery. Another group of leaders, took the opportunity to visit Freiburg, the nearest city to where we were staying. Freiburg, known for its reconstructed medieval old town and crisscrossed by picturesque brooks was like stepping into a story book and the group enjoyed the art work, thriving market place, decorative buildings and the sweet treats on offer. On returning to the youth hostel, the girls were given time to prepare for the evening activity…a talent show! A number of girls and groups took part with a 1st, 2nd and 3rd place announced. There is obviously a lot of talent across our county!

Last Evening

On the last evening of our action packed week, we closed the international adventure with a traditional campfire, with some leaders and young members taking turns to lead sing-a-long camp songs, some that were well known across the county and some that were new to many. As half the group were leaving very early in the morning, the campfire provided an opportunity to say “see you soon” and wish a good journey home to old and new friends. Everyone was in agreement that the international trip had been one of the best holidays that they had been on with lots of amazing memories and new friendships made that will last a life time. The journey home was quieter than the journey out as tired members looked forward to seeing their loved ones and more importantly their own beds but when we finally landed back in Preston at 16:00 on Sunday 4th August, there was already a buzz in the air as members relayed their stories and best moments to family and friends picking them up.

Final Thoughts and Thanks

That brings us to the end of our adventure and all that’s left to say is; to the Guides and Rangers who were awesome throughout the week, we thank you for being amazing ambassadors for UK Girlguiding as well as Lancashire North West County; to the leaders, who gave their time, dedication and passion, without which, the trip would have not been possible, we thank you for being a source of knowledge, comfort and reliability at all times; and a huge thank you from us all to Elaine Clare who had a dream 2 years ago to organise an unforgettable trip to the Black Forest, Germany and made that dream a reality with the support and commitment of her core leadership team. It was evident from conversations with other leaders on the final night that the trip has inspired many to consider organising their own international trips, so keep an eye out for future opportunities across the county…I think Canada was also mentioned!?