Every so often, a malicious act by one troubled person can galvanize a community, giving it a chance to demonstrate its character in a way that results in a happy ending.
That’s the lesson Gillian Hurwood, the manager of the Milne’s Landing Girl Guide Camp, has taken from a spate of vandalism that threatened to derail some of the activity at the Sooke River Road facility.
“It started off when someone broke a window at our 1938 heritage cabin and got inside. They didn’t do any damage to the interior, but we obviously don’t want people breaking in so we shuttered and boarded up that window,” Hurwood said.
“Unfortunately, it didn’t seem to be enough. Someone came back a second time and ripped off the shutter and went back in. So we had to close it up more securely so that it couldn’t be broken into again.”
But rather than fix the problem, the remedial action had the unexpected effect of making it worse.
“I think whoever was getting in there was pretty angry that they couldn’t break in anymore and they pretty much destroyed our stairs up to the cabin and some of the railings. They also broke more windows,” Hurwood said.
But that’s when the good news part of this story begins.
Hurwood put out a call for help and five Sooke businesses responded in short order.
Warburton Woodworks donated lumber, Driver’s Welding donated more materials, and Home Hardware donated hardware and stain to the project. Sooke Glass stepped up to help with window repair and Canem Electric pitched in with a security system.
“We also had six Guide families donate their time and effort to the repairs and a Guide group from New Brunswick, who came in for a rental at the site, finished off the job,” Hurwood said.
“Thanks to the incredible generosity and caring of the community, this horrid bit of vandalism turned into a very positive experience. We made new friends and really got a sense of what a great community this is.”
Milne’s Landing Girl Guide Camp has operated since 1938. Girl Guides boasts a membership of 155 girls in Sooke, between the ages of five and 17.
“The girls learn about crafts and science and we take them camping so they learn all about the natural world. It’s a fabulous way to build confidence in young girls and give them a chance to learn as they make lasting friendships,” Hurwood said.
The cabin repairs came at an opportune time as next year Sooke Girl Guides will host SOAR, a nationwide gathering of Girl Guides that will be similar in size to this summer’s Scouts jamboree event in Sooke.
“We’ll have about 3,000 Girl Guides coming to Sooke from all over the country and we’ll be telling them the story of how the community came together to support us when we needed help,” Hurwood said.