Visit to Pax Lodge with 1st Witchford Brownies

13 year old Bethany Dyson a Brownie Helper at 1st Witchford Brownies and member of 3rd Ely Guides tells us about a recent visit to Pax Lodge


From the 24 to the 26 April 2015, I visited Pax Lodge, one of the five WAGGGS World Centres, with the 1st Witchford Brownies. During our visit, we took part in two challenges organised by Pax Lodge: the Pax Lodge Challenge and the “Footsteps of Your Founders” Challenge. The first of these, the Pax Lodge Challenge, took us all around London in order to complete a certain number of tasks from each of five sections – Pax Lodge, Hampstead, London, the UK/Britain, and WAGGGS.

As part of the Pax Lodge Challenge, we had to use at least two different modes of transport to get around London. After adding-up all of the tube trains that we used, we came to a grand total of 11 Underground trains, as well as travelling by boat and on foot. This did not include the 2 trains we used on our journeys to and from London!

We also had to take a picture of ourselves “and your friends” in the telephone box in the stairwell of Pax Lodge. Of course, this was taken as a challenge to see how many Brownies we could fit into one telephone box. So how many people can you fit into a standard phone box? The answer is 10 Brownies, a Guide and Benny the Bear (who gets taken home by a different Brownie each week)!

In addition to the phone box challenge, we had to name all five of the WAGGGS World Centres: Our Cabaña (Mexico), Sangam (India), Pax Lodge (London), the Fifth Centre (which travels around Africa), and Our Chalet (which I visited in 2012 during a trip to Switzerland with my Guide Unit).

One of the final parts of the Pax Lodge Challenge was to renew our guiding Promises around Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square, in a similar manner to the 6000 who did exactly the same thing for the guiding centenary in 2010. Due to the Mayor of London’s Feast of St. George, Trafalgar Square was completely cordoned-off, so we had to come up with an alternative place to renew our promises: we decided to do this around a nearby Shaun the Sheep statue. There were 60 decorated ‘Shauns’ across London raising funds for Wallace & Gromit’s Children’s Charity and The Grand Appeal, supporting children in hospitals across the UK. The ‘Shaun’ by Trafalgar Square had been decorated in the style of the statue of Nelson (complete with a pigeon). We did get a few strange looks from passers-by as we renewed our promises, but it was definitely worth it!

Our second challenge, “Footsteps of Your Founders”, also took us around London but for a completely different reason – to discover more about the history of guiding. We started at Buckingham Palace, where we were lucky enough to see the Changing of The Guard. The 1st Buckingham Palace Guide Company was formed in 1937 when the Queen became a Guide and it reopened after the war when Princess Anne joined. We also visited Kensington Gardens (and the Brownies let off some steam at the Diana Memorial Playground) because when Princess Margaret was President of Girlguiding UK, the Queen’s Guide presentations (the highest award in Guiding) were held at Kensington Palace. Guiding has maintained its royal links with HRH Sophie, Countess of Wessex, becoming President in 2003.

We discovered the house of Lord Robert Baden-Powell – the founder of the Scouting Movement – and our explorations of Hyde Park Gate further uncovered the fact that Sir Winston Churchill had lived nearby. Finally, we called into Baden-Powell (B-P) House (a Scouting hostel and conference centre that was built as a tribute to Lord Robert Baden-Powell).

Surprisingly, we managed to visit all of the places listed above in just one day! This allowed us to visit the Natural History Museum before we left for Kings Cross Station on the Sunday (whilst trying to beat everyone returning from the London Marathon which took place on the same day). Prior to this, we had attended the daily flag ceremony at Pax Lodge, where both the Pax Lodge and the World Guiding flags are raised, and took part in a pinning ceremony (where we were all presented with a badge that can only be worn by the, relatively, small group of people who have visited Pax Lodge).

Overall, I really enjoyed this trip as it gave me a deeper understanding of Girlguiding’s history and an opportunity to visit many important places for guiding. It also allowed me to visit my second World Centre (having visited Our Chalet in Switzerland in 2012), which is a great privilege in itself.