This September saw two of our Head Office staff make the short journey to Phoenix Park to take part in Gaisce PAL Training. As part of our new strategy, An Óige has been working to establish official links with other youth organisations and what better way to start then with the President’s Award?
What is Gaisce?
Over the last 30 years around 300,000 young people have participated in Gaisce. It is the premier personal development programme for young people in Ireland. It should be noted that Kate (Deputy Marketing Manger) and Colin (Programmes Coordinator) both kind of hoped they’d bump into the President while there. They were also promised deer in the grounds of Ratra House. Sadly they were let down on both counts. Thankfully the PAL training was not a let down, being informative, funny and well designed.
What is a Gaisce PAL?
A PAL is a Presidents Award Leader who is responsible for motivating, advising, assisting and generally supporting Gaisce participants throughout their award. The training covered all aspects of the Gaisce award. For those who aren’t familiar with the award, they involve Community Involvement, Personal Skills, Physical Recreation, Adventure Journey and the Residential Project. The Residential Project is only part of the Gold Award while the others are part of each award. Depending on the award level you are at each takes a certain amount of time to complete. So for the Bronze Award for example, you will spend 13 weeks on each section and then an additional 13 weeks on one of them. The Adventure Journey section is 2 days, including an overnight, at Bronze level.
Each participant has quite a challenge in front of them. Don’t be fooled into thinking the PAL can just sit back and sign things however. Every participant’s Gaisce Award is different and therefore the PAL has to be ready to cover a huge amount of different skills and interests. There isn’t a limit on the amount of participants a PAL can mentor other than their own common sense. Our trainers were very clear that being a PAL, while excellent fun, is a responsibility that must be taken seriously. You have to make sure each participant has picked goals that are both suitable and achievable for the Gaisce award and if not, they have to help the participants to come up with alternative options.