Friends of the 4 World Centres

Our Chalet

Our Cabana

Sangam
Pax Lodge
www.worldcentrefriends.co.uk Logo
Friends of the Four World Centres was started by Marie Ruiz who was at the World Conference in Kenya in 1987, representing Pax Lodge..  New Zealand spoke about the Friends of the Four World Centres in their country.  They had set it up because they were finding that people wanted to support all the centres, but couldn't afford four separate subscriptions.  Australia also had a Friends of the Four World Centres.

Judy Ellis, the International Commissioner for the Guide Association agreed that it could be started in the U.K.  Originally it was called Friends of the Four World Centres GA.

 

Marie gave the 'Friends' a very good start and ran it for six years, opening up 'Friends' in the USA.  Her daughter was responsible for this part.

 

June Webb took over in 1994 and was a one-man (or woman?) show until 2001 when Charity Status was given by the Charity Commission of the UK.  There is now a committee of seven.

We now have 'Friends' in USA, Canada, The Netherlands, Ireland and Japan, with many other countries being represented by individuals.

 

WAGGGS owns all of the buildings and pays the staff.  Our Chalet is slightly different as it also has a Foundation which looks after the property.

 

Volunteers such as House Assistants, Life Savers, Ski Instructors and Programme Assistants are given pocket money and their board and lodging.  Apply early for positions at the Centres.  Each Centre encourages young women from around the world, so many nationalities work there.

 

The World Board decided that instead of a committee for each of the Centres there should only be one committee.  This has been in place for three years now.

Our Chalet:  This was the first World Centre to be opened.  It began in 1928 with a generous benefactress,Helen Storrow, who agreed to pay the overall coats.  Frau Ida van Herrenschwand (Falk), a Bernese guider, found the site after much searching.  It was completed in July 1932.  The Baby Chalet was built so that Mrs Storrow could entertain Lord and Lady Baden Powell.  Our Chalet was officially opened by Lady Baden Powell  on 31st July 1932.  It has a campsite for 30 and the complex can accommodate 85 guests.  Spycher was opened in 1999 to provide extra space.

 

Our Cabana: This began with a group in Havana, Cuba, singing the 'Our Chalet' song and deciding that Our Chalet was too far - they needed somewhere nearer!  A proposal was put to the World Bureau in 1950 and approved in 1952.  The Juliette Low Friendship gave $25,000 for 5 acres of land.  Juliette Low was a great friend of Lord Baden Powell, and was the founder of the USA Girl Scouts.  It was planned to be opened on 22nd February 1956 as Lady Baden Powell was visiting Mexico, but as it was not completed this was a dedication ceremony.  It was officially opened on 24th July 1957 by Countess Bernadotte of Sweden.  The first session was a Juliette Low Session.  In 1969 a 4th dormitory was added and in 1996 the upstairs office was added.

Sangam: This is situated in Pune, 120 miles from Mumbai (Bombay).  It was built in 1964 and opened by Lady Baden Powell in 1965.  Sangam means 'Coming together' in Sanskrit.  It can accommodate 60 guests.  It has a newly refurbished swimming pool and the camp site it used by local guides.

 

Pax Lodge: This was opened on 1st August 1990 when the Hon. Betty Clay (daughter of the founder and Lady Baden Powell) unveiled the foundation stone.  Although it is the newest building, it is the third centre in London.  The original was Our Ark in 1939 which moved in 1959 and renamed Olave House.  Lady Baden Powell had a dream to have the World Centre and World Bureau together, which they now are. The Baden Powell family opened the doors on 29th September 1990 and Her Royal Highness, Princess Benedikte of Denmark officially opened Pax Lodge on 15th March 1991.  The name come from - Pax: Pax Hill was Baden Powell's house in England and Patu was his home in Kenya; Lodge is from the former house on the site - Rosslyn Lodge.

The World Centres are open to any member of WAGGGS.  There is a variety of sessions.  Some are adults only and the girls sessions have different age ranges.  All of them bring much fun and laughter.