In July 2019, 17 Rangers and 4 leaders from Girlguiding Midlands took part in a volunteering trip to Sremski Karlovci, Serbia

In July 2019, 17 Rangers and 4 leaders from Girlguiding Midlands took part in a volunteering trip to Sremski Karlovci, Serbia, to work with a local Eco Center working on preserving and improving access to the wetlands on the Danube. 

Over a 10 day trip, girls removed invasive species from the wetland area, helped to build a new bridge, restored picnic benches, cleared areas for local children to be able to play, and removed a huge amount of litter from the site. They loved volunteering, particularly seeing the amount of change that the group had made in just a few days. Great group dynamics developed, and teamwork skills and techniques that emerged throughout the volunteering were amazing. 

The group also took trips to Belgrade and Novi Sad, where they explored fortresses, the botanical gardens, had meals out and free time in the city, as well as a huge amount of activities locally to the centre. These included a conservation workshop, an escape room, a day hiking in the nearby Fruska Gora National Park, making local cakes, a boat trip on the Danube, and ever popular walks up to the viewpoint overlooking the town, which was particularly scenic at sunset. Evening activities included a board games night, night walks, dinner out in Novi Sad, and an amazing International Night/40th Birthday party for leader Susie. 

They ate at a local restaurant run by an incredibly friendly couple, and really launched themselves into eating the delicious Serbian food. Although a few people struggled with the different flavours and combinations, everyone agreed that our hosts did a brilliant job.

The group stayed at the Radulovacki Eco Center in Sremski Karlovci, where the staff work with international volunteer groups on an ongoing basis to improve the wetlands and educate about conservation, as well as providing activities for local youth. The staff and volunteers at the Eco Center were incredibly friendly, organised and engaging, and they made sure that the programme was absolutely outstanding. 

Overall, the group had an amazing time, with favourite parts ranging from the friendships developed over the briefing weekends and trip, to seeing what a massive difference they had made in the wetlands and immersing themselves in Serbian culture.