InterAmerican Leadership Training 4, 2016
Hey all, my name is Carina Westford and this is a piece of my Scouting Adventure for 2016. Scouting has always been the one constant in my life since I was a little one of age 8, it has changed my life. In 2015 I was given the opportunity by my NSO to attend a training programme in Guatemala and for that I am forever grateful to them. Being a participant at Interamerican Leadership Training (ILT 3) in 2015 was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and I would never experience that again; or so Ithought.
Returning home from ILT3 in 2016, I was determined to start my MOP projects and empower more youths. I started with my personal MOP project, Our Youth, Our Future. With the support of my closest friends in scouting and my group scout leader I was able to provide uniforms for scouts who were unable to acquire any because of finance. I also was selected to be a Youth Comissioner on our National Team. Everything was going so well, my country was hosting the 14th Caribbean Cuboree and I was happy Scouting. But then things were getting stormy, I was beginning to have a hard time in scouting and add college to that I was not In the best frame of mind. I was seriously contemplating to quit scouting, thinking that it may ease the stress building in my life. Then I started talking with Marcelo Guerra Hahn and he was something different. He made me feel relaxed and because of him I started to remember why I enjoy scouting. His perspective and way of doings things inspired me to not only keep scouting but to aim to reach the highest points in the WOSM organization.Then in July I was selected to attend The Boy Scouts of America’s National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) Academy in Washington DC, USA. It was such an amazing experience that helped me grow as a leader and also helped me to ease any of my doubt that was left. It taught me about a safe special place that we all have that we can be ourselves. And then I came to the realisation that, that place for me was scouting.
Fast Forward a month or two, and I recieved an invitation to staff at ILT4. I was shocked to say the least. I started crying. Not out of sadness but happiness. In ILT3 I was not Vocal at all, but someone saw something in me and asked for me to staff and I was so happy that someone saw that I was more than that quiet scout in the corner, I was so happy that someone believed that I had the quality that can change other lives the way my Team Advisor, Emily, did for me.
I had to have Skype calls with my astl to prepare my presentations for Staff Development and for the course. I had to go to Guatemala to attend Staff Development for 4 days in November. Staff Development is usually the beginning of the staff bond but unfortunately I was not able to attend due to some minor problems. To say I was sad would be an understatement. I was so filled wit anxiety that I would not fit well with the others come the course in December.
Suddenly time was approaching very fast, my nerves never left. And suddenly I was on my way to Guatemala on the 27th December, 2016. The moment I arrived at Camp, I was engulfed in hugs and "Finally you're here!" from everyone. I was worried for nothing, everyone was so welcoming and it just emphasized that scouting is the place I'm meant to be.
My Role was a Team Advisor for the Pink Team. I was tasked with 8 participants to guide and bond with during the course. They were an amazing and diverse bunch. They were from Uruguay, Canada, Brazil, Curacao, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago. They all understood english, but all weren't proficient in speaking english. The one thing that made me happy was that by the end the spanish speaker's were speaking english well and the english speaker's were learning to speak in spanish for the sake of their friends, myself included. My team was made up of the most amazing and well informed scouts ever. They were so enthusiastic and and so insightful, that It was like I was a proud mother looking over my little chicks. They bonded so easily and over the strangest things like Friend chicken or using me as a baby simba to re-enact the Lion King opening scene. They were the best team I could ask for and my own little crazy family.
My other duties included my presentations that included an Ethical Decisions Conference, Understanding the Group, a fun team work activity called Puzzle Hunt , the Fleur de Lis knot, Zulu Toss (a fun Communication based game), Problem Solving and Communication. It was tiring and the end seemed far away but everytime I looked at the participants and noticed that they were so interested and eager to learn what I was giving them, that I was filled with energy to keep going on and deliver an amazing program. The assistant senior team leaders were always there finding out if we were ok, helping us prepare, encouraging us and pushing us to be the best we could be. But the person that inspired me the most was our Senior Team Leader, Kesi. I never bonded with her before ILT4 so I wasn't sure what type of person she was, but I can say she is the most amazing person ever. She was so patient and encouraging, she has this fun personality that I loved and her knowledge blew me away. She's someone I aspire to be like and if i'm even half the person she is in the future, I'll be able to do greater things. For almost a week it was a hectic job. Waking early to eat breakfast with our teams, late staff meetings at night, helping out others when need, but it was all worth it in the end.
This year for ILT4 we did a Disney theme and I just loved it and so did the participants. I was Captain Jack Sparrow and my team just loved using Pirates of the Caribbean references any chance they got. We carried the theme all through out the course, in our games, activities and presentations to make the participants feel apart of something special.
The thing I loved about the course most was the bonds and friendship that we shared as a staff. Anytime we were feeling down there was someone there to pick us up. And we had the best Course Director, Ligia Bianchi. She was like our mother for the course, always looking out for our needs, trying to make sure we were always alright and being there for us when we weren't that well.
Finally it came to the end of the course and we were all sad to see each other go, but excited to see what amazing fetes we'll accomplish in creating a better world. And in that retrospect I know I'll always keep the bonds I gained at ILT close to my heart, and ILT4's journey is not finished but only starting and I'm proud to say that I had a hand, along with my fellow staff members, in lighting those flames in our participants to go out and illuminate the world.
One of my Favourite Song Lyrics is "And then for the times when we're apart, Well then close your eyes and know, These words are coming from my heart, And then if you can remember, Keep smilin', keep shinin'. Knowing you can always count on me for sure,That's what friends are for. For good times and bad times. I'll be on your side forever more.That's what friends are for". I think this sums up the long lasting bonds that we all have gained thanks to the InterAmerican Leadership Training.
And that, everyone, was a part of my scouting adventure for 2016.