Earlier this year An Óige teamed up with Gaisce – The President’s Award to become official Challenge Partners. Doing the Gaisce gives you the potential to learn a huge amount skills you might never have thought would be useful. An Óige volunteers have been ensuring young people and teachers make it back from their Bronze Adventure Journey for 20 years, so linking with Gaisce was a natural partnership. As natural as Calvin & Hobbs, Jay-Z & Beyonce or avocado & toast.
The Adventure Journey is only one part of the President’s award however. The Bronze, Silver and Gold awards require participants to undertake the Adventure Journey as well as a Personal Skill, Community Involvement and Physical Recreation. For Bronze, you are required to do each section for 13 weeks with a minimum of one hour a week, along with an additional 13 weeks on a chosen area. Sounds like a lot? Well your dead right and that’s all the more reason take on the challenge.
In an era where “CV building” has become is more coveted then tangible skills, Gaisce is more important now than ever before. “CV building” can be defined as taking on large amounts of extra-curricular activities in the attempt to make yourself more employable. Often encouraged by parents and teachers alike, the assumption is that the more your CV says, the better off you’ll be. This is true to a certain extent but a packed CV that cannot be backed up is worse than a sparse CV that includes actual skills. You must be able to display that you’ve learned. And with a whoosh of its cape, in steps Gaisce.
Gaisce is much more than a shiny medal (or three shiny medals). Gaisce challenges participants to grow as individuals and asks them to push themselves. Achieving any level of the award is definitely a feather in your cap for potential employers. People are aware of Gaisce and have an awareness for the level of commitment it takes to achieve success. This makes it an excellent addition to any CV. But can there be more to life then CV building? What benefit is anything if you forget it the second you get the next shiny thing? Thankfully, participating in Gaisce provides a number of benefits other than smiling interviewers!
Like what, I hear you cry! Well the most obvious is the completion of a task. Sounds ridiculous but think about all the things you’ve completed over the years. How many of them did you want to do? State exams, dental appointments, house cleaning. All those things were completed at the behest of others. Gaisce is something you complete for yourself, something you do for yourself. You gain a huge level of independence from completing something you had to do, basically, alone. You can learn what you’re capable of and, in many cases, you’ll probably be surprised at your own abilities.
And while you’re completing your Gaisce you’re also working for others. This selflessness is an inspiring quality for any person to have and you’ll acquire this virtue without even realizing it! Through the Community Involvement section of the Gaisce you’ll work with people who need help. You’ll give your time and energy to simply helping others achieve something. The cynical among you might say “You’re only doing it for an award” and initially that is how it starts. By the end of this section most find the joy of helping those who need it far outweighs any medal. You’ll gain an understanding of how vital teamwork is within communities and of how important communication is for difficult projects. All of these help make you a more open and social conscious person! Employers for entry level jobs might not enjoy that but your fellow humans will!
Because Gaisce requires two large physical elements you can gain a good level of fitness from taking part. Depending on your award you may even get healthy without realizing it, through hiking, walking or coaching. A good base level of fitness benefits you mentally as well as physically. Keeping a little fit is actually good for your brain, not just for them gains!
The Adventure Journey, while very physically demanding, is one of the most memorable and enjoyable parts of the Gaisce awards. The vast majority of participants and Gaisce PAL’s are nervous about this aspect of the award. Thankfully, An Óige can provide help to those doing the Bronze award with support through our Gaisce programme. With experienced, volunteer guides to help your group you’ll all come back alive! As you progress through the awards the Adventure Journey gets bigger and the things you learn grow with that. Planning your route, your supplies, your accommodation and completing the journey are all going to benefit you later in life. Whether it’s adventures to south east Asia, emigrating or traveling around Ireland, these skills will stand you in good stead where ever you go!
Over all, the Gaisce is an excellent and worthwhile experience for any person. Challenging yourself makes you a better person. While Gaisce is undoubtedly difficult, there are the supports there to help you be successful and the benefits are worth any challenge. The Gaisce team are incredibly passionate and are constantly working to improve the award for participants. The stories from those who have done the award are captivating, inspiring and often hilarious.
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