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ICANDO is one of four training and activity centers managed by the Girlguiding United Kingdom (UK) organization. Girlguiding offers scouting programs for girls of all ages, and is similar to the Girl Scouts program in the United States (US). ICANDO takes up several floors of the Girlguiding headquarters in central London, and is used by groups of Girl Guides from all over the UK. These groups can visit to take part in educational programs, earn merit badges, or enjoy sleepovers and other special events. ICANDO is also open to other groups, including boy scouts, schools, and camp programs.
Girl Guides often visit the London headquarters to take part in scouting-related events. For example, ICANDO offers programs aimed at younger scouts, who are known as Brownies. At the organization's Brownie Days, girls complete workshops to earn merit badges in areas such as health, the environment, animals, or global issues. Older girls who have completed the Girlguiding Baden-Powell badge can celebrate this achievement at special award weekends at ICANDO. Baden-Powell weekends incorporate programs at the headquarters as well as an urban adventure that takes place on the streets of London.
This facility also serves as a headquarters for Girl Guide troops as they explore London or take part in sightseeing tours. It serves as an affordable alternative to standard hotels, where girls sleep in sleeping bags under a large tent. ICANDO helps groups organize these tours, and serves as a home base for the girls during their trip. Guides can take meals or store luggage at the facility as they visit various London attractions.
Girl Guides and other groups can reserve space at ICANDO for events ranging from birthday parties to sleepovers. The facility also arranges special camps and workshops for these groups. Some examples include a circus camp, science camp, construction workshops, and programs that focus on animal care or detective work. This organization also oversees holiday events that various groups may attend, including Halloween tours of haunted spots in London, St. Patrick's day events and winter wonderland days where young Girl Guides can visit with Santa Claus.
In addition to the ICANDO facility, which is located near Buckingham Palace, Girlguiding also operates three other activity centers throughout the UK. These include a working farm in Sussex, a property in the Lancashire countryside and a camp in one of Britain's National Forests. All of these facilities offer affordable lodging in addition to special programs and activities.
When I was a young girl I was a part of Brownies and Girl Scouts. I think the idea behind organizations like these is good, but whether they are successful or not will depend on the leaders.
Through the years we seemed to have a hard time attracting quality leaders. We lived in a small town, so there weren't very many other options available for us.
It seems like the few times we got a really good leader, they would never be there for very long. I can say that the quality of leaders played a big difference in how much I enjoyed my time there.
Most of the leaders were the mothers of girls in the
group and sometimes the favored attitude toward her daughter and friends was very evident.
This didn't usually go over very well with the rest of the group, and consequently there were problems.
The years we had good leaders that challenged us and really worked with us to develop new skills were the years that I have the best memories from.
I am familiar with Girl Scouts and Brownies in the United States, but have never heard of ICANDO until reading this article.
I was immediately drawn to the name of the organization. This sounds like a great name emphasizing to young girls how much potential they have.
Many girls struggle with self esteem as they are growing up. Being a part of an organization that empowers them and encourages them that they can do it, can go a long ways towards their future growth.
@irontoenail - I'm sorry you were singled out like that. It's true that girls (and boys in the male equivalent groups) can be quite vulnerable to the people in their scouting clubs, particularly the adults.
When they are taking overnight trips to facilities like ICANDO you definitely want there to be trust between you and the leaders.
Although often they will ask parents to come with the girls so that's another option.
My mother searched for a while to make sure both she and I were happy with my scouting group and we tried several different places before we found one that suited both of us.
@pleonasm - I can only remember going on one overnight trip with my girl guide group and it was the last one for a reason.
Unfortunately one of the leaders in my group was a bully and she picked on me relentlessly.
It was bad enough during the normal troupe meetings but during the overnight she decided that I was snoring.
According to everyone else, I didn't snore, but even if I had I still think it's cruel to point out a young girl in front of her friends like that. I can still remember the humiliation.
I refused to go back to the group after that.
If I had a daughter I would absolutely put her in to one of
these groups, but I would also get to know the leaders very well, particularly before I let her go on an overnight trip.
Most of the time they are fine but it's too easy for awful people to become leaders.
I remember being a brownie and staying for a few nights at one of the girl guide facilities, but it was one in the middle of a forested park.
We did all kinds of neat stuff while we were there. I remember I especially liked making candles, although I did think it was kind of cheating to be making the candles from melted down other candles. We also went on a lot of nature walks and did first aid courses.
I earned two badges while I was out there too and I have a vivid memory of sleeping in a sleeping bag among a group of other girls and thinking it was such a wonderful adventure.
Now, I think they must have saved a fortune on beds! But I enjoyed myself.
I imagine it would be just as good to be in a facility that's in the city, particularly London.