The Covid crisis sadly didn’t allow us to go to Slovakia for the Woodbadge Days this year. They were therefore transformed into a four-hour online meeting on Saturday 13th February afternoon. Quite a challenge!

52 members involved in leadership training from 14 different Associations of the UIGSE met online. It gathered participants from Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Czech Republic, France, Germany KPE, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland and Ukraine.

After a few welcoming words from Bruno Borde, UIGSE Federal Commissioner, a prayer led by Father Kamil Ganóczy, Slovakian Religious Adviser, the meeting started with a short presentation of the Slovakian Association and the place of Marianka, where we should have met. It is a beautiful pilgrimage place near Bratislava in Slovakia, that we are looking forward to discovering next year, hopefully! 

Then the plenary session – entitled “What can Associations offer each other in the field of training?” – was animated by a wonderful international team composed of Halya Bilan (Guide General Commissioner, Ukraine), Marco Leopardi (Regional Commissioner, Yellow branch, Italy), Bartosz Mleczko (Camp-master 3rd degree, Interbranch, Poland), Isabelle Peyroutet (Guide General Commissioner, Switzerland) and Etienne Roland-Gosselin (Camp-master 3rd degree, Green branch, France).

While Bartosz was playing the role of the interviewer (like a real TV presentator!), each speaker shared its experiences and thoughts on the subject from its own association’s point of view: France, Italy, Poland, Ukraine and Switzerland. It turns out that each association has its own difficulties regarding training, but also possibilities that others don’t have. Certainly, more cooperation in the field of training between associations could benefit more to all of them in the future.

It was followed by a first round of workshops, where participants organised in patrols exchanged and discussed on the topic: “Critical pedagogical points and their means of transmission”.

And after a short summary, a second round of workshops on various interesting subjects took place:

  • What do you need to start a training? Basic requirements for training leader.
  • What efficient methods of transmission for training? Is the ex-cathedra conference the best method?
  • Third degree training: the mission after training – what is the purpose?
  • Woodbadge attribution and harmonisation in the UIGSE: similarities and differences between associations. A path towards unity?
  • Training camps and what else? Other forms of methodical formation in associations.
  • E-learning and training experiences during the Covid crises – what did we learn so far?

The participants were active and involved, the exchanges fruitful, and most patrols would certainly have wished to have more than 3 minutes to summarise their interesting (and sometimes even exciting!) discussions.

The meeting was then concluded by a few words from Bruno Borde, an Ave Maria and the final blessing. And at last but not least, we all shared an Ad Mariam Europa with our scarfs in a cry of joy from distance!

The meeting owes its success to all participants, but also and above all to Paul Giraud, Camp-master of yellow branch training camp (Seeonee) in Belgium, and Joanna Skowrońska, Team member of multi-branch third degree training camp (Kudu) in Poland, who have been working on it for several weeks. A huge THANK YOU to them!

Text and photos: Eléonore Claret