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Group camping

Brownsea Island Activities Centre
Brownsea Island Activities Centre in Dorset | © National Trust / Mike Henton

‎Group camping is exclusively open to all Scouting and Guiding groups.

We welcome organised groups of young people from the Scouting and Guiding movement. A section of our campsite is reserved exclusively for groups and individual costs remain very low, supported by the wider National Trust public campsite and the Brownsea Island Scout and Guide Heritage Trust.

The nearby South Shore Lodge is a very comfortable and spacious bunkhouse for up to 16 people also available to Scouting and Guiding groups. The lodge is particularly popular with the very youngest and the more senior members of Scouting and Guiding. Full information and booking can be found here

Back to Roots

Brownsea Island is famously the location of the ‘experimental camp’ in 1907 that led directly to the foundation of Scouting and Guiding. Recognising this important place in the origins of a movement that has supported millions of young people worldwide, a stay on the island is literally a Back to Roots experience. Our approach to group camping reflects this. Our group camping area is in a separate part of the site believed to be the exact location of the original 1907 camp.

We're also the UK's only SCENES - Scout Centre of Excellence for Nature, Environment and Sustainability - with our campsite set in the heart of a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a National Nature Reserve. We’ve made a long-term commitment to protect the environment and promote environmental understanding. Camping for Scouting and Guiding groups is built around sustainability, environmental awareness and respect for the island’s unique and fascinating nature. Our impact directly on the campsite area is especially important to us but our national and global impact is considered too.

Camping on Brownsea Island with your group needn’t be complicated. We encourage a simple approach and for groups to travel light and leave no trace. This is compatible with the need to travel by boats to a campsite on an island with no roads. We provide the essentials for cooking and the rest you bring and take home yourself. Back in 1907 this spot was chosen for its peace, tranquillity and as a haven for nature in a busy part of the world: our challenge to you is to leave the island a better place than you found it to ensure it remains a special place for Scouting and Guiding for another 115 years.

The Campsite

With its views over Poole Harbour and the Purbecks and its toes in the water, the campsite is set around the very site used for the experimental camp of 1907. The group site is split into two areas that meet at a central flagpole. To ensure environmental sustainability and minimise impact, a maximum of two groups with 60 people (including leaders) in total can be accommodated. This provides plenty of space for activities on the actual site.

Both areas are reasonably sheltered, surrounded by bushes and trees and back onto a series of ponds (not useable for activities). There is direct access to Poole harbour from the site – ideal if you want to arrive with your own boats.

Clean, modern toilets and hot showers, including disabled facilities, a washing up area and drinking water taps are located at a set of central buildings around 50m from the group site. These also house a reception area, the volunteer run Trading Post scouting shop and a National Trust campsite shop. A snack van selling drinks and light snacks also operates from here at busier times.

The campsite also hosts public camping which helps support the group camping. This is separated from the group camping areas by patches of trees and fencing, but showers, toilet and washing up facilities are still shared. There is public access to the island and the central areas of the campsite, with signs advising no access to the camping area, but due to the site's historic nature for Scouting, there may be public accessing the campsite. This should be considered in your risk assessments.


We provide each group with access to an open sided field kitchen which you can use to cook your food. You will also be given cooking equipment for your group which includes pots, pans and cooking utensils but campers will need to bring their own personal items such as cutlery and crockery. A list of what we provide as cooking equipment can be found further down the page.

Getting here

You will need to take a passenger ferry from Poole Quay to reach the island. Once you have made your campsite booking, we will be in touch with you directly to help you pre-book your ferry.

Ferry timetables can be found on the main Brownsea Island webpage. Please note that the price of the ferry is not included in your campsite fee, and will be payable in addition. We will add this onto your booking when we get in touch once your initial campsite booking has been made.

Group ferry prices from Poole Quay 2024

Ticket typePrice
Adult £13.50
Child (age 5-17)£6.30

Please note that the luggage allowance on the ferry is up to one 70l backpack per person plus camping equipment. You must be able to carry this in one load and board the ferry without assistance or additional trips. If your luggage is over and above this, additional charges may apply.

Arriving on Brownsea

When you arrive on Brownsea Island, please collect a map from the reception team and make your way up to the campsite. This is around a 25 minute walk and you will need to carry your belongings with you.

When you arrive at the campsite, please send one of your leaders to the campsite reception and we will check you in and give you an induction. We ask that you please register with reception prior to pitching your tents and setting up camp.

During your stay

We have free trails, walks and self-led activities to do once you have arrived on the island. We encourage groups to enjoy Brownsea Island for its unique history, nature and wildlife and you are free to explore the island during your stay with us.


Please click here to submit an enquiry about a group booking.

We can accommodate a maximum of 60 across our group campsite pitches at one time, so please consider this when you are putting in your bookings request.

Please note, this is a booking request only and we will be in touch once received to confirm if we can accommodate your group size.

Our camping dates for 2024 are as follows:

Open daily from 29 March - 30 September


Due to the sensitive nature of Brownsea Island (being an area of high fire risk), we DO NOT PERMIT OPEN FLAMES OF ANY KIND including open fires, coal BBQs, liquid or solid fuel cookers/ trangias. Field kitchens with gas cookers are provided for all campers. Please do not bring candles, sparklers/fireworks or candle lanterns of any kind. Any liquid fuels are prohibited and will be confiscated if discovered. We encourage you to bring battery lamps and torches to use over night as there is no street lighting on Brownsea Island.


Cooking inside tents is NOT permitted and can be lethal due to carbon monoxide poisoning. Fully equipped cooking shelters and safety checked gas equipment are provided for all campers.


Rubbish and waste is an increasing global concern and on Brownsea Island it is a significant problem: everything has to be manhandled from bins to vehicles to bins to boats to bins. In line with our SCENES designation we operate a zero-waste approach for group camping. This means that all waste generated by your camp should be taken home with you and you should plan activities and menus to help with this.


We have hired tents and other equipment from you previously, can we do that again this year?

We provide cooking shelters and cooking equipment such as pots, pans, and utensils for your use, and this is included in the cost of your stay. All other equipment such as sleeping tents will need to be brought with you and carried by your group. As this is a low impact and back to roots experience, we encourage you to consider what you pack and bring to the island carefully.

What should we pack?

Please see here for recommended packing list and tips. Leaders should encourage their group to pack as light as possible as part of the adventure and challenge will include carrying their belongings to the campsite from where they land on Brownsea Island. This is approximately a 25 minute walk along a gravel track.

Consider more traditional and basic ways of camping by using a bivouac sack or lightweight tent.

Booking travel for campsite stays

All groups of 15+ are required to pre-book their ferry. We will be in touch with you directly once your campsite booking has been made to help you pre-book your ferry.
Your ferry fare will be added on to your booking and a payment link sent to you for the balance once the booking has been made. We require you to book an outbound and return ferry and ensure you arrive in good time for your booked ferry crossing. We can not guarantee space on alternative ferries if you miss the one you are booked on.

Ferry timetables can be found here.

Check in and check out times?

You can check in to the campsite between 14:30 and 17:00. If you plan to arrive via your own boat, you can arrive on the island at any time but please check in between 14:30 and 17:00.

Please vacate your pitch by 10:30am on the day of departure and return your clean cooking equipment to the campsite reception area by this time.

Can I pay a deposit?

For bookings under £200, payment is required at the time of booking. For bookings over £200, a deposit of £200 will be taken at the time of booking and the balance is due 60 days prior to travel.

We can hold a booking for your group for 14 days prior to payment of deposit, providing the travel date is greater than 90 days away.

How much does it cost?

2024 pricing:

The flat fee per group is £10 per night. We then charge a fee of £7 per person, per night. This fee is the same for adults and children.

This does not include the cost of the ferry.

What is the cancellation policy?

Our standard terms and conditions and cancellation policy will apply to your booking.

Details can be found here.

Is there a minimum stay?

Our minimum stay is 2 nights inside of school holidays. We allow 1 night stays outside of school holidays.

Brownsea Island Activities Centre, Dorset
Brownsea Island Activities Centre, Dorset | © National Trust / Mike Henton
The field kitchen for adventure camping at Brownsea Island Campsite, Dorset

Brownsea Island Campsite group camping enquiry form 

Please use this form to make an enquiry about a group booking at Brownsea Island Campsite. We can accommodate a maximum of 60 across our group campsite pitches.


Brownsea Island Campsite group camping equipment and tips 

A list of the group camping equipment provided at Brownsea Island Campsite

Camping at Brownsea Island Campsite, Dorset

Brownsea Island Campsite information 

An island campsite that feels a world away from the nearby mainland, surrounded by thriving habitats for rare species, trails and views of the Purbeck Hills.