Norfolk Guides camp 1940s style at Gressenhall

A group of Norfolk Guides are finding out what life might have been like for their grandmothers during the war by setting up a 1940s campsite.

After celebrating the movement's centenary last year, about 20 girls are spending a week under canvas at Gressenhall Farm and Workhouse as part of a wider research project called The Historical Jigsaw.

They have replaced the modern convenience of laptops and mobile phones with outdoor skills including skinning rabbits, cooking on wood fires, coping with air raids and sending messages via morse code.

And as the camp aims to recreate living conditions as accurately as possible, they will also host a traditional tea dance, 'make do and mend' with knitting and sewing skills, and help to 'dig for victory' on the farm.

'This is a brilliant opportunity for girls from the 21st century to find out at first hand what life would have been like for their grandmothers at Guide camp,' said Helen Green, county commissioner for Girlguiding Norfolk.


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'We have done a tremendous amount of research and gone to great lengths to make sure that we have nothing in camp that wouldn't have been here in the 1940s. It's made us realise how much we depend on modern conveniences, like plastic boxes and mobile phones.'

Camp captain Emily Archer said: 'Things have certainly moved on a lot since the 1940s.

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'The work involved in setting up a camp then, including making a lot of the equipment needed from wood found near the site, preparing meals from scratch and stoking fires, meant that there wasn't time or energy for some of the adventurous activities that we do on a modern Guide camp.'

Lauren Seeney, 17, from Desmond Drive in Old Catton, Norwich, said: 'It is very different, and we have had the chance to do activities they would have done and work for badges they would have earned in the 1940s. I don't really miss my phone – we have got so much else to do that it is not really needed.'

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