Brownsea Island Leaders Story

Most of us associate any “Guiding Time” with having our unit meetings around us, but there are many people who are part of London South West Guiding who can’t commit to a weekly meeting so assist with district administration, accounting, recruitment of leaders and any number of other roles.

In the same way, when we have large scale events, be they one off “Trafalgar Square VISION 2010” or our Crystal Palace event to kick off the Centenary, to the large scale residential events – “Brownie Funtenary” taking over Bognor Regis Butlins or  our “Centenary Camp”, some leaders will work in a purely organisational or supervisory role and barely see the girls who are enjoying the event they worked so hard to create. If you don’t feel you have the time to give on a weekly basis, this won’t mean we don’t want to hear from you! Feel free to email info@girlguidinglondonsw.org.uk for further information. 

One such circumstance was the team running the activities on Brownsea Island for the Centenary Camp based from Cudham Campsite in Kent – all were unit leaders but mostly with Brownies or Rainbows. The leaders therefore not having their own Guides to bring to the event, took part by acting as the host team on the Island, working with each other rather than supervising Guides. The four sub camps from Cudham took turns taking a day trip down to Brownsea Island, location of the first Scout Camp in 1907. Each day at about noon, a set of around 300 Guides and leaders would decend on the otherwise tranquil isle, and take part activities from conservation to crabbing on the shore to tracking down the red squirrel inhabitants. With the day done, the girls would depart at around 4pm to have a fish and chip supper on the coach back to Cudham, and the Island Team would gather their thoughts, and get ready for the next day……….. With evenings free from Guides and Leaders, the team would have time to relax and enjoy themselves, and meaning their brains turned to a  little “experienced based creative writing”………..

BROWNSEA’S INTREPID SEVEN

Brownsea Team

Brownsea Island Team AKA The Intrepid 7

 Chapter 1
After much planning and paperwork it was all arranged. The morning they were due to leave dawned grey and drizzly – not an enticing prospect! The Intrepid Seven were leaving today bound for Brownsea Island.

Cars were piled high with kit and activities and off they went. Down the motorway with only a short stop for ludicrously named American coffee between them and the coast. With car parks located and a good lunch had by all, the ferry was ahead – only a minor panic about how much milk would be needed before the wind was catching their hair and smiles could be seen on all faces. 

All eyes turned to the Island as they approached. Help arrived to unload baggage and food in the form of a trailer. A short drive and tour saw them safely installed at the South Shore Lodge. First things first – tea and cake all round while a plan of action was divised. Once energy levels were restored they all headed to the beach to start exploring. The Island was found to be full of history and plenty of stories and the Intrepid Seven were convinced they would find lots to keep them interested.  

Trish, tall and experienced, took charge of dinner. Fish Pie and crumble were washed down with lashings of sparkling wine. True guiding spirit kicked in and the kitchen was spotless again in no time. The gang rounded the evening off with a game of Trivial Pursuit before retiring for their first nights sleep on the island.

 Chapter 2
The first full day of Brownsea Island dawned bright and relatively early for the intrepid seven. The ever adventurous and tenacious Kate and Jo decided that an early swim would prepare them for breakfast! Having waded quite a way out their heads could be seen bobbing away in the middle of the shipping lane. Returning somewhat blue they joined the rest of the gang for breakfast. 

A full day of exploring ahead of them bags were packed and straight off to do a full tour of the Island – today they would unlock it’s mysteries. First up the national trust team – who was in charge and what needed doing? A tour of the shop and an ice cream to quality assure the merchandise. The Visitors Centre gave a great insight into what to watch out for and a tour of the church was launched. Before dinner, kite flying and crabbing were the order of the day.

 Fliss, steady and reliable, remained behind to prepare a feast of chilli con carne and baked poatoes. Splitting into groups the others delved off to field and shore. Poor equipment made the kite flying less than a soaring success and despite relocating to more suitable waters the crabbers didn’t fair much better. Never the less all agreed that tomorrow would bring much more luck and returned home happily contemplating a glass of wine or two. Final preparations for the big day made for a late night and with fresh air and exercise all were pleased to see their beds.

 Chapter 3
An early start saw a brisk jog completed by Kate, Jo and Hannah. Breakfast together and then the welcome team, led by Pip, calm and resourceful, headed for the mainland. They were planning to return with supplies and 250 guides for more adventuring. The Island-bound part of the team did particularly girly things including nail polish application – in preparation for the big day. While waiting, another attempt at crabbing was made and with the tide in their favour and the sun in the skies, success was to be had. Despite the scatter-brained Hannah letting go of the crabline at both ends and reliable Fliss being unable to drop her crabs into the bucket, a very positive mood settled.

Island Welcoming Team

Daily Quayside Island Welcoming Team

A call from the mainland meant it was action stations and the whole team re-united on the quay to welcome the provisions and the Guides ashore. With the sun high and spirits to match the was soon activity to be found on every part of the island! Neva, ever laid-back, witnessed and dealt with the only injury of the day and treated the wound to a trip in the trailer to make up for it!

Waving goodbye to the Guides the Intrepid Seven agreed a bit of cake and a cup of tea was in order. Trish, tall and experienced, decided it was her turn to test the waves and enjoyed a swim before cocktails on the terrace. After a filling dinner of pasta and stewed fruit it was an early night all round. Three crept out for a midnight walk and narrowly missed being caught by the warden! Panic over, all were tucked up before they were missed by the others!

 Chapter 4
The fourth day of the Brownsea experience dawned bright and blue. The Intrepid Seven had all the benefitted from their early night and it was early starts all round. Pip, calm and resourceful, led the off-island team of Hannah, scatter-brained and Jo, desperate and tenacious. While they shopped for kites which were able to fly, the on-island team relaxed in the sunshine. Once again the island was over-run with two-hundred and fifty guides. This time the rivalry with the Scouts was to come to a head and much chanting was to be had. Trish, tall and experienced, escaped the island for a secret over-night trip and left the remaining six of the gang to fend for themselves in the kitchen. Thankfully there was lashings of alcohol in addition to the home-made cake and the evening started well. Having decided not to go to bed as soon as they were all tired, it was cups of tea after risotto and bananas in custard. Kate, adventurous and a budding zoologist, decided to take charge of the games. The six laughed and joked through lots of games and could probably have been heard at the campsite. All agreed it had been another successful day and divided up jobs for tomorrow with much excitement. Still tucked up relatively early all boded well for more fun and adventures when the team were all together again.

 Chapter 5
The day dawned grey and windy – not a happy prospect. After dividing up jobs the on-island crew were left to fix equipment damaged from yesterday’s adventures and deal with the broken fridge, Pip, calm and resourceful, and Fliss, steady and reliable, headed on shore to meet the Guides and reunite with Trish, tall and experienced. The weather took a turn for the worse as the adventure become imminent. The arrival of the Guides heralded the first of two down pours. The second left the whole gang soaked to the skin and wondering how they would raise their spirits. Some kites went up while the rain fell and as the clouds began to move everyone leapt into action. Once again the island was buzzing with activity and the gang were in high-spirits again (despite the minor upset of the fridge breaking down and all the contents being lost – except for the milk!).

The first near calamity was to be had on day five of the Brownsea jaunt – two Guides missing when final

Waving Off Team

Waving off the day's Island Guests

 head count was done. After some fuss and a few calls a trailer was dispatched to scour the island until they were found. Happily this was a short exercise and all was well when the ferries arrived. The Intrepid Seven took the opportunity to go off island as a whole and ate fish and chips in the harbour as the clouds passed by. This set them up perfectly for an evening of alfresco entertainment – a comedy on stage. With bags packed with extra layers, sweets and wine they were off to the open-air theatre. A fun evening was had by all and a walk home by starlight with the rescued milk finished the day off well.

 Chapter 6
The final full day of Brownsea started with enthusiasm all round. Having got the procedure down to a fine art, the off-island crew led by Pip, clam and resourceful, with Neva, ever laid-back and Jo, desperate and adventurous. The on-island crew got on with some reading, only breaking for essential tea and biscuits. The island filled up with extra visitors totalling 300 Guides and leaders! All activities went well and the weather held off to allow fun to be had all round. The end of the visit heralded the end of the Intrepid Seven gang and Trish, tall and experienced, left to head homeward.

Commemorative Stone

Team at the Commemorative Stone

The remaining six headed out for a final walk to enjoy the many facets of the island. The sun and sea were an intoxicating mix and soon a stroll became a paddle and a paddle a swim. A late dinner followed and after a full de-brief all six were too tired to entertain the idea of staying up. All were safely tucked up at a sensible hour.

Chapter 7
The remaining Intrepid Six got stuck in first thing to clean the house from top to bottom. Floors were mopped, sides wiped and all returned to ship shape order. Packing up early meant the gang were on the first ferry of the day and were very soon waving goodbye to their island. After a coffee all piled into the cars. A slow and traffic filled journey bought them into London. Fliss, steady and reliable, headed home next and said goodbye after the team had indulged in a fast food lunch. 

Arriving at Cudham the remaining five were treated to tea and supper with the London South West Guide camp. Made to feel very at home they enjoyed seeing how the campers had been fairing. The finale show promised entertainment and an opportunity to re-live the highlights of the week. Treated to seats with the VIP’s the gang enjoyed the talent contest and were really pleased to feed the judges score. Pip, calm and resourceful, was co-opted into the judging team. To follow, the gang re-joined the London South West Guides and danced the night away to ABBA. A great night was had by all.

 As the sun went down and the torches on, it was time to head home. The team divided into cars and headed off. All very contented on a great weeks work and a lovely trip. I wonder what adventures could be next?!?!?………………