At the weekend I found myself in Dundee for the annual Polaris day event (it’s a Guide thing, where Scottish members aged between 16 & 25 get together to voice their opinions on various things), and I’d like to start by saying it was a really good day. We made balloons look like pirates, wandered around the Discovery (a big boat) and went on a treasure hunt (have you guessed the theme yet?). As well as all that, we had some really interesting discussions about Guidey things that I’m not going to bore the non-Guidey people amongst you with…except the one which triggered this post. (I apologise for my recent absence, not enough hours in the day)
One of the things that they asked about was the location of next years day event. “Do any of you have any suggestions for where we could hold next years day event?” they asked, and within the group a shy silence fell. As I realised nobody else was going to say anything, I proposed Aberdeen to them. You know what they did with that idea? Shot it down in flames. Why? According to the powers that be (the Glaswegian girl taking the notes) Aberdeen is too far away to expect everybody to travel to for just a few hours (the day event normally lasts about 6 hours). This, ladies and gentlemen, is a common attitude in Guiding as well as elsewhere I’m sure, that those of us not from Edinburgh or Glasgow live too far away. We are constantly expected to travel to Scottish events, but Heaven forbid we should ever ask them to travel. I was mildly amused when everyone was introducing themselves and the Glasgow ones made a scene about how they had to leave ridiculously early just to get there on time. Clearly their ‘ridiculously early’ is different to mine because they got on a train just after 8am apparantly. Newsflash girls, I caught the bus at 6am and the only time I brought this to your attention was when you said Aberdeen was too far away, I didn’t mention it every 10 minutes. I don’t drive, and I’d have to travel into Aberdeen to get to a train station anyway so I have no option but to take the bus.
Every year Girlguiding has SSO, a camp for all the Scottish Senior Section girls, and every year they held it at Netherurd, in Peebles. Then a few years ago they decided to take it somewhere different in an attempt to open it up to people who might not otherwise go. So they took it to Aberdeen, and it was brilliant. When was the last time you woke up in the morning and your tent was literally frozen solid?(also the one and only year they have hels it in September) Girls came from all over the place, because they could. Transport links to Aberdeen are very good. The next year they took it to Largs, which was an absolute nightmare to get to. So you know what they decided? Taking it to different places wasn’t working so they put it back to Netherurd- a place you can only get to by car. At least everybody has to travel to get there, but that’s beside the point.
There is a strong senior section contingency in Scottish Guiding, and the majority of them are forced to miss out on all of these great opportunities because the journey just isn’t feesible. They make the Polaris day free so that it is accessible to all, but it ceases to be accessible to a large amount of people when the only option for getting there is to get accomodation the night before so that you can be there on time. I love where I live, I never want to leave, but I don’t see why I should always have to make sacrifices for this.