[V]isitors to the Beamish Open Air Museum couldn’t quite believe their eyes recently when 320 Brownies from all parts of South Cumbria spent a weekend there, although everybody emphasised how very well behaved they were. The girls, aged 7 to 10, and 80 leaders accompanying them, visited the various parts of the museum, travelled on period transport, enjoyed rides on the traditional fairground, got inky fingers in the Victorian school, and enjoyed fish and chips from the coal fired range in the museum’s chip shop.
They also had an opportunity to try rag rugging and traditional crafts such as boudie wear, a type of mosaic using found objects such as broken crockery, although the Brownies used cut up paper instead. 127 girls opted to complete their Arts Award at Discover level which included learning about the work of local artist Norman Cornish.
Sleeping arrangements ranged from glamping in bell tents and a vast marquee which housed 200 very excited girls, to the Masonic Lodge and even one of the rooms in the historical bank building. Not that they had much sleep, however, with many of the girls up again very early in the morning, eager for more fun and adventure.
Girlguiding Cumbria South County Commissioner Sue Gudgeon said that the girls loved the times when there were no other visitors in the museum, “playing a huge “real” game of Monopoly around the deserted streets of the Victorian town, singing camp songs at the Bandstand, and taking over the Pit Village after the visitors had left for a Victorian school day with traditional lessons as well as playtime with lots of Victorian playground toys.”
The weekend took almost two years to plan, since it had been the first time for Beamish Museum to host such a large group of young children. Brownie leader Sarah Beale, one of Girlguiding Cumbria South’s organisers of the weekend, stated “You only had to see the girls enjoying themselves to see that it was all worthwhile and the parents told us that their girls were absolutely buzzing when they got home.”
Sue Gudgeon: “It was a magical weekend and one of the best I have had in my many years in Girlguiding.”