What do you get when you mix a group of excited and enthusiastic JCI members with a weekend full of Activities, Training, Food and Fun? The best four days in Twinning history? Quite possibly!
Two years ago, JCI Sheffield and JCI Mayo officially twinned as chambers and have since then shared ideas, held monthly Skype calls and helped each other to run better and more successful chambers.
As part of this relationship, reciprocal visits are held each year. The weekend of March 14 – 17 2014 saw five JCI Sheffield members (and a JCI Leeds convert) fly out to Mayo, Ireland, for an incredible four days.
In the true spirit of JCI, all areas of development were covered: Business, Community, Social, Training and of course, International. In a nutshell, we were given a tour of the Mayo County Council, took part in a Random Act of Kindness Nomination activity, had some incredible training, pulled together for some (competitive!) team building exercises and watched the annual St Patrick’s Parade.
All this while still finding the time to relax in an exquisite log cabin looking out at the most beauteous of views, making new friends, taking in the incredible Irish scenery on county walks, cooking together, laughing (A LOT) together and creating some very happy memories.
See below snippets from the group themselves on their experience and why the International and Twinning sides of JCI will help you in your personal development journey.
Also, don’t miss out on the next Twinning weekend this July, 11-14, where we’ll be showing the JCI Mayo team what Sheffield’s all about! Details to follow on our Website and Facebook page. Alternatively, you can contact our International Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ilona Alcock, President, JCI Sheffield: There are certain moments in your life that you know will stay with you forever. Usually these are pretty few and far between, but last weekend was FULL of them! Why? Because I was lucky enough to spend four days with our twins in Mayo.
The team worked so hard to ensure they covered all aspects of JCI – business, community, training and international – within the weekend. As a result my stand out memories include handing out balloons to strangers, racing round the Crystal Maze and breaking an arrow with my throat. Really.
More than any of those moments though I’ll remember the constant laughter. Sometimes to the point of tears. I’m so, so lucky to be part of two amazing chambers and proud to call the members of each my friends. Never have I been so convinced that twinning really is winning!
Adrian Corcoran, President, JCI Mayo: Hard to pick a favourite of all the things that happened at the weekend: making pizzas together, training and learning more about your friends, competing at games (!), chilling out on the couch, fancying it up in the restaurant and going for an exhilarating walk. I suppose what I took most from the weekend was something that I love about JCI and the reason I am a part of it: you can meet someone you don’t know on a Friday and on Monday you can be good friends with them. And that’s happened with three new people this weekend. Looking forward to the next one guys!
Deborah McAndrew, Immediate Past President, JCI Mayo: What an amazing bunch of people – one thing I can say about all JCI members I meet is that they are so passionate but when JCI Mayo and JCI Sheffield get together there really is no stopping us!!! I unfortunately only joined the weekend on Sunday but what a great 29 hours I had!!
We started with Boda Borg (or as I call it Crystal Maze, without the crystals!!) crawling, climbing, balancing, dancing, problem solving and even sunbathing were just some of the tasks we had to carry out to complete the quests!! This was brilliant and really let me get to know two Sheffield members, Ashleigh and Matthew, I had never met before. Everyone really got into the spirit of things but I have to admit I loved being on the winning team!!
Sunday evening was just cool – chilling with like-minded people in a beautiful lodge with log fire!!! What more could you want for a Sunday evening – pizza and drink of course!!!! Yep we continued our pizza making again this year, we didn’t have any stuffed crusts but we did have fully loaded toppings!! Not mentioning any names there…….. Matthew. Sitting chatting till the wee hours with Ilona, Adrian and Ashleigh was so cool, all coming from such different backgrounds but so much the same – determined, driven and inspirational!
It always amazes me when I’m at JCI events you never want to miss a moment…..last to go to bed but first to get up in the morning! So St Patrick’s Day morning Adrian, Ilona, Ashleigh, Mark and myself hopped into the Big Red Fun Bus and headed off to Leeaune for our early morning walk!! What else would you expect from young active citizens!! After a quick shower of rain on route, we parked up and set off on our leisurely walk in the fresh Irish weather. We steered off path and came across frog spawn, sheep with very curly horns and big boulders, it felt like we were on top of the world…….and some of us didn’t really like heights but like all JCI members Mark rose to the challenge.
I loved every minute of our second invasion from JCI Sheffield! I am so looking forward to our next get together……..not long till Malta!! If you haven’t booked on for European Convention do it now, you really don’t want to miss the experience!!
Thanks to all the JCI Members from Mayo, Sheffield and Leeds who made St Patrick’s Weekend 2014 so memorable!
Mark Smith, Deputy President, JCI Sheffield: I was very excited to visit the JCI Mayo gang in Ireland for the second time. They are a great friendly bunch and I remember when I first met them last year, how quickly I got to know them all and feel very comfortable with them.
Going on the twinning visit is totally amazing. The scenery is gorgeous, the lodge where we stayed was stunning and relaxing and the range of activities we did was brilliant.
In one long weekend we did something that covered all the areas of opportunity that JCI is all about – a business tour of the council chamber, a spot of volunteering in the community with our ‘random act of kindness’, a great inspiring training session from a life coach, lots of giggles and laughter and sharing ideas and tips and of course eating with the odd drink.
I cannot recommend it highly enough – you really won’t want to miss next year’s visit. A massive thank you to JCI Mayo for making us so welcome.
Keira Keogh, Deputy President, JCI Mayo: Hard to know where to begin with the Twinning Weekend, so I guess I’ll start at the beginning. Liaising with everyone to plan the weekend and come up with some surprises was a good experience. Filling a super trolley full of goodies for everyone to enjoy over the weekend was like being in Super Market Sweep. Great excitement when greeting old and new friends at the airport with bystanders wondering what is ‘this JCI’ as we took our first of many, many pictures. Finding out a little more about my own county at the council offices, and sharing a first meal (for free). Next up arriving at the lodge and taking in the absolute beauty of the untouched countryside, and truly fabulous lodge, and getting settled with our new home for the weekend. I then enjoyed sticking on the apron and being ‘mammy’ for a little while as I cooked my special fajitas for the family with help from expert onion choppers Onwards to charades that was lets say ‘friendly competition’ that left us ready for zzzzzzz
Day 2: After a delicious pancake start it was straight into training, and straight out of our comfort zones. From awkward dancing, to inspirational final moment speeches, ending with us breaking arrows with our throats; I think it is safe to say we knew each other a whole lot better!! Lunch was interrupted by our special guests, ‘the Scottish Pipe Band’ who flew in exclusively to entertain our twins Our random act of Kindness was a nice way to give back to the community and add another element to our international partnership while put a smile on a few children’s faces. Obviously the meal at HQ (aka The Helm) was amazing (despite being an hr behind schedule & Ashleigh’s meal being delayed –awkward turtle)
Day 3: A good Irish breakfast by our resident chef Mr P Adrian set us off for the day… another fun bus ride with a strange circus crew proved a little much for our tired darlings Vicky and Mark. Boda Borg was amazing fun and a great challenge, unfortunately my team lost out (insert second awkward turtle), but this was probably my favourite part of the weekend. A nice lunch in Boyle and back for a little snooze for me!!! Woah woah woah I nearly forgot the most important part!!! Stopping to pick up my beloved pick a mix (not forgetting to get a second tub for the general group). Loved the pizza making and spent the rest of the night crying laughing over chocolate and sweets mmmmm
Day 4: Waking up to find my beloved was stolen was a hard blow to take but I got over it and got stuck into the tidy up, presentations and photo!! Getting in the parade was a last minute treat for an already jam packed awesome weekend!!! After departing my twins on a small country road I went home to cry for a few hrs … sniff sniff I then slept solidly for about six hrs zzzzzzzzzzzz
END RESULT = AWESOME WEEKEND, AWESOME TWIN, EVEN MORE AWESOME PICK A MIX!!!!
Hannah Woodcock, Director, JCI Sheffield: Where do I begin to describe JCI Sheffield’s trip to Mayo? First, let me express how fortunate we are to have such a friendly, welcoming twin chamber, who made sure we well accommodated and entertained the entire weekend.
I loved gaining an insight into the region; we learned about the county’s plans for future expansion by visiting their local council, supported the parades and floats on St. Patrick’s Day and had a sumptuous three course meal at The Helm (their roast duck is highly recommended).
In true JCI spirit, each activity pushed us to our limits. Whether we focused our mind to break an arrow with our necks (yes, really), worked in a team at the fantastic Boda Borg, or created homemade pizzas (before Matthew stole all the toppings), we had an absolute blast.
I wholeheartedly urge anyone reading this to visit next year. Along with the great company and events, the cabin looked even better in person and the landscape was gorgeous. I could get used to waking up to the Mayo countryside every morning…
Declan Nolan, JCI Mayo: First of all, thanks to all for a great experience. I enjoyed meeting all the people I had , and had not met before. Friday night was so relaxing and I felt everyone was so comfortable in each other’s company, the banter round the dinner table was fantastic (I still have laughter pains!) and the food on offer was not bad at all.
To pick a single highlight is difficult to say the least, from the wonderful weather, location and scenery and not to forget the company, but for me it was Saturday from start to finish. Pancakes for breckfast, training with Brendan and overcoming my fear of dancing and arrows in the throat. Looking forward to next year already. Unfortunately for me I had to head off on Saturday evening, but as I headed north to Killala I was thinking about my time in The Lodge and it occurred to me that in the short space of time we had together we achieved a lot. #Be Better. This is what JCI is all about. Finally all I can say is “Enjoy every sandwich”.
Derek Reilly, Former JCI Mayo President (now National President JCI Ireland): I was lucky enough to have spent all weekend for the 2nd JCI Sheffield invasion to JCI Mayo. A really great bunch of people that I would have never met if it hadn’t been for JCI.
Everyone is so positive and friendly. From shopping for the weekend, to the pick up from the airport, to communal meals in and out of the cabin. Group activities and one to one conversations with people makes this weekend one of the highlights of my year. It’s a select group of people that spend quality time together. Building relationships is what JCI is all about. The contacts you meet are those chance encounters that may lead to different experiences that you could only dream about.
My highlight was the whole group laughing together and real laughter can’t be faked. Thanks for another set of memories that I’ll never forget and I’m so glad to be part of. See you all very soon. Remember Irish time isn’t my time…. Ha ha!
Matthew Wong, International Director, JCI Sheffield 2014: What a great weekend! I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland but never really had the opportunity. I was not disappointed! It was brilliant meeting our twins in person especially after speaking with them on our Twinning calls every month – always good putting faces to voices.
The weekend was so packed with activities that by the end it felt we had been there for an entire week (in a good way!). It helped that, whether it was charades or Boda Borg, I was on the winning team – it’s good to win (especially when there is no cheating involved!).
I can’t wait until the next trip. As an international organisation, this is what JCI is all about for me! Come and speak to me if you’d like information on how to get involved with our international events.
Ashleigh Gray, Marketing Director, JCI Sheffield 2014: Ireland has a very special place in my heart. As a girl I regularly visited the isle to see my family and in my formative years spent many an hour reading about its history and seminal cultural figures to try to understand my heritage and identity.
So when I found out JCI Sheffield was twinned with JCI Mayo I was delighted and couldn’t wait to get over there and meet our twins!
I genuinely can’t recommend International events enough. They give you the chance to travel, broaden your horizons, experience other cultures, taste new cuisine and most importantly, make friends for life. The added benefit of doing it with JCI is that you’re guaranteed to be surrounded by like-minded folk who share the same desire to better themselves and help each other out.
From being picked up by Derek and Keira at the airport, it was clear in an instant that our weekend in Mayo would be full of memories and special moments. I could just feel it.
We were made to feel so incredibly welcome by the entire JCI Mayo team and the chosen spot for us to reside, the Eaglewood Lodge, was heaven on a hill. Tranquillity and nature surrounded (perfect for us hardworking lot!) and we were able to orchestrate our own time when we wanted to.
The four days moved at a perfect pace; plenty of activity coupled with relaxation and chill time. We trained together in some very “look at yourself in the mirror” training, cooked together, competed in charades and the Boga Borg experience (and won both times, woop!), walked together, gave back to the community together, laughed and laughed and laughed together and supported each other throughout.
So why have we written this piece and why should you come along to the next Twinning event? Because happiness and laughter is what life is all about and the collision of these two chambers will encourage you to be and do both. Copiously. If you need advice, you got it. If you want to develop a skill, someone will help. If you simply want to experience something and somewhere new and have some light-hearted fun, then these are the weekends you should be at!
Don’t miss out on these opportunities that JCI offers – amazing friendships and empowering activities await and you will, guaranteed, emerge as a more enlightened and experienced person.
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Ashleigh Gray