We know that Woking District is a special District and that there are not many that can show the results that it can. We also know that the District and Group leader teams are a great example of how good scout leaders can be. It is, therefore, only fair that they are given a campsite that will allow them to do as much outdoor scouting as they would like.
Birchmere Campsite, the Woking District Campsite, is open primarily for our District to use, and use it they certainly do! The bulk of the campsite’s bookings are filled with Woking groups, so much so that there seems little time for visitors. Bookings at peak times are made one or two years before the event to guarantee the date. What has happened to make it such a popular site?
Over the past two years the campsite has upgraded their aged activity hall with two refurbished halls acquired from a school in London and now it is able to offer visiting groups not one, but two halls, both with a modern kitchen for group use. But these things don’t just happen by themselves. It has been amazing how Woking District Executive stepped up to the mark by supplying the bulk of the refurbishment costs. Others have also very generously supported the upgrade and we are really grateful and thank them.
Not only have there been new indoor activity areas built, but the way the campsite deals with an increased campsite use and resulting waste water has also been improved with a new soakaway being created for rain water and an upgraded septic tank facility for waste water for showers and toilets.
The Birchmere Wardens, Steve and Katy Valiant, have now become established as an enthusiastic management team after joining us last spring. Over that time, they have worked hard to change how the campsite runs. A notable improvement is the monthly wardens work morning. Occurring on the first Tuesday of the month, a small team meets to do maintenance and repairs. From painting to door hanging, grass mowing to cake eating, they tackle most things. This, combined with support from Woking District who bring specialist help when needed, the campsite has seen steady improvements over the year.
These improvements however go hand in hand with the day to day tasks of the Committee who always are available to keep the campsite busy and safe. Birchmere is very lucky to have all these “friends” who are so willing to do these tasks. Thank you!
It is no secret that the campsite’s main users should be groups in Woking District, however the site is also available for hire by youth groups for elsewhere. To publicise the improvements at Birchmere the campsite’s web site has been replaced with a modern and stylish means of allowing potential visitors to view the site and to book a visit on-line.
In the coming spring we hope to reduce the height of the row of Poplar trees on the M25 side of the site. Later in the year our plans are to upgrade the septic tank drainage system, create a small on-site firing range and to clear coppiced areas of Woolgars Wood for small group use.
The outcome of all these plans is to continue to provide Woking District Scouts with a “Proper little campsite” and for another very busy year at Birchmere Campsite.