Our guides join jamboree
ABSEILING, rock climbing and rafting are all part of girl guides Rhiannon Cox and Savanna Stey's plans these summer holidays.
The 10-year-old girls left Gympie on Thursday to join 1700 guides from around Australia and the world to be part of the 2013 FanTAStic Australian International Guide Jamboree in Tasmania.
The girls flew with 100 guides from the Queensland contingent to Hobart for three days of sightseeing before heading to Quercus Park, south-west of Launceston, for the seven-day camp starting tomorrow.
They will drop head-first into such challenges as abseiling, mountain biking, hiking, rafting, rock climbing and fishing.
The jamboree aims to build confidence and explores issues facing girls. The theme for this jamboree is based on one of the UN's Millennium Development Goals - Ensure Environmental Stability.
Rhiannon's mother and guide leader Leonora Cox, who is with the girls, said it was a big decision to attend the camp due to the cost but what the girls would gain was priceless.
"Attending major camps like this is an incredible experience," Leonora said.
"They will learn so much. Their appreciation of other nationalities and kids from other states grows because they see how they do things differently.
"The friendships they will make: I've got life-long friendships from guiding."
Held every three years in a different Australian location, the jamboree is an international camp with girls and leaders attending from Canada, Fiji, the United States, Japan, United Kingdom, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, The Philippines, India and Ghana.
For seven days it will be a uniquely Tasmanian experience for the group in the rural beauty of 80 hectares of farmland in northern Tasmania.
As the only guides from Gympie, the girls will be together in a group camp of 150, and a sub-camp of 30 guides and leaders. It is a tradition to swap guide badges and homemade craft items with camp attendees at the jamboree.
Rhiannon and Savanna made mini gold pans and tiny guitars as Gympie tokens to trade at the camp.
The girls were excited about meeting new people and were also aware of the learning experience the adventure would be.
"It gets us active and you get to learn things in case you have to use it," Savanna said. "There'll be lots of fun activities and you get to go places you haven't been before.
"You get to meet people from different countries and sometimes you get mud all over your clothes and on your skin and in your hair," she giggled.
Leonora said the girls attended contingent meetings and practice camps at Maryborough and Burrum Heads.
"These girls already have friends from up the coast and down the coast from going on the Queensland camps," she said.
"The independence, the confidence, the skills to be self-sufficient and the ability to meet other people, I can see the difference between them and their classmates. They can pitch tents, roll them up, run camp fires; they've had to learn to pack properly and they've slept under the stars."
The girls return to Gympie, mud covered and tired, next Sunday ready for their next adventure.