The Big Brownie Birthday year was a good year to have Bristol’s first ever County Brownie Camp. Everyone was enthusiastic and lots of people took part.
I (fortunately!) was not in charge of organising the camp. Judging by the stress levels and facebook posts of the people who were, it was a mammoth task – one which they deserve great thanks for.
To accommodate all the girls that wanted to take part, the camp was in two halves – both running the same programme, and overlapping in the middle so there was a day when we were all there. I was there for the whole thing, with different sets of children, which was interesting from a watching-the-organisation-develop point of view.
Most of the camp started off well-organised and only got better. The bits that didn’t get better were excellent to start with… feeding that many people, for example, was an enormous operation and was very smooth.
The activities were excellently run – leaders who came with girls had to help, but I would honestly have been slightly disappointed if we were told to sit and watch. There were a couple of teething issues with some of them, but they were quickly resolved, and were nothing that you would notice if you were eight!
There was one thing that I thought was actually better organised the first time around, and that was the wide game in the evening. It might have been that everyone was running out of energy by that point, but the second time just seemed a little more subdued and a little less enthusiastic.
The theme of the camp was “Brownies Around the World”.
There were five sub-camps, each named after one of the five regions of WAGGGS: Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, Arab, and Western Hemisphere. My Brownies were in the Arab sub-camp.
There were also five zones with activities to complete, one in each of the (permanent) World Centres and one in the “Adventure Zone”.
Pax Lodge was the “Science Zone”. We made volcanoes, did CSI investigations, and played a game involving running around with rubbish to try and get it in the right bin. Most of the girls were in favour of somebody else sorting their recycling for them after that one! There were also some people there from Bristol Water, who used magic (or “science” as they prefer to call it) to turn sewage into sweet-smelling water.
The Craft Zone was in Our Cabaña, which anyone who has been there will realise was a good choice. There was a craft from most of the major continents – native American dream catchers, Australian aboriganal dot painting, henna patterns from India, West Country whipping (a kind of knot-work used to make little keyring people), and the ever-popular friendship bracelets.
Our Chalet contained the Archive Zone. The archives contain enough old uniforms for everyone to dress up, and we used the six badges attached to the uniform to split into groups for activities. We danced around a toadstool singing rhymes about our six:
This is what we do as Elves
Think of others, not ourselves
My group decided that they weren’t going to be elves, and were going to be smurfs instead. More accurately, one of them decided, and the others tolerantly rolled their eyes and went along with it.
This is what we do as Smurfs
Care for others and the Earth
Once we’d properly started our “meeting”, we did some of the activities that Brownies would have done in the past, looked at some old badges, and did a little quiz about Brownies.
The World Music Zone was in Sangam, and consisted of making bongo drums using flowerpots, and then playing them.
To make bongos you will need:
- two equally sized flowerpots
- two circles of stiff fabric
- lots of string or ribbon
- a hole punch
The method is left as an exercise for the reader.
The Adventure Zone was the only one that wasn’t in a “world centre” – climbing, abeseiling, low ropes and the muddy assault course wouldn’t fit in a marquee!
One of the lovely things about camp was how many people there were there. It sometimes seemed like I saw someone I knew every five minutes. But there were also people there that I’d never met – people who had never camped before, people who had only been running Brownies for a term, people who were actually Guide leaders, people from different areas, and people that I know the name of but didn’t know their faces.
It was a reflection in minature of the worldwide sisterhood that is Guiding, a perfect way to end the Big Brownie Birthday celebrations!