Guide Leader hikes 180km surviving on €3.25 a day

By William O'Connor

A Guide Leader has reached the pinnacle of Guiding after hiking 180km in Belgium while carrying all her camping and cooking equipment, clothes, food and water and surviving on €3.25 a day.

Sarah Kenny (23), a dietitian in St James’s Hospital and a volunteer Leader with Tír na nÓg Guides in Lucan, and her team-mate Sarah Canavan (22) were among 12 Irish Girl Guides members to take on the Explorer Belt challenge, which is held every three or four years to test the skills young women have learned through their involvement in Guiding.

Sarah Canavan left and Sarah Kenny compressor

Sarah Canavan and Sarah Kenny

The two Sarahs, who are both originally from Killarney, also kept a log book and successfully completed a series of projects during their 10-day survival adventure in the Westhoek region.

The projects involved finding out about the local culture, history and geography (without using a smartphone) and doing a service for the local community.

Their route took in many of the Flanders Fields historical battle sites as well as towns and countryside and a day at the seaside.

“Overall, it was a great experience,” said Sarah Kenny. “There were many challenges and long days but the people we met along the way were so lovely and so kind.

“One of the highlights was our first indoor night when we didn’t have to put up our tent and our lovely hosts made us dinner. Another was finding the most delicious ice-cream after a long day walking.”

There were many challenges along the way but the two Sarahs never felt like giving up. “Some days were hard but I think we were both a bit too stubborn to give up,” said Sarah.

“The biggest highlight was definitely getting on the bus at the end and collecting all the other teams and hearing their stories. Receiving the Explorer Belt, following the assessment interviews, was such a great feeling. We were extremely nervous beforehand and had convinced ourselves we weren’t going to get it!”

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