Sunday, 23 March 2008

Here's why

Why am I this mad Brownie Guider who loves doing it?

Here's why:

Brownie: "The sleepover was the best thing I ever did, ever."
Her mum: "What was the best thing?"
Brownie: "All of it, every bit. I k
eep wishing I was there again and I want to do it again and again."

It's now one week later and the mum says it's all her daughter has talked about ever since. All we did was take them away for 16 hours!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008


Just vented a whole load of stuff to our newbie Guider that absolutely cannot be repeated in public.

And it felt GOOOOOOD.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Took two months to make a decision

But I have: I am not going to do my pack holiday licence.

The reason? We had SUCH a good sleepover last night! And I've come home tired but not exhausted so I have decided I am happy to stick with:sleepovers as a fairly regular thing like twice or maybe even three times a year,the occasional amazing overnight trip like the Harry Potter one when it arises once in a blue moonand when the county or Guiding Activity Centres offer weekends like the camp we are going on in July or the Santa weekend we went on last December, I will take advantage every couple of years of not needing the licence to participate.The girls were very well behaved, most were settled by 11pm and 4 needing a telling off at 11.15pm but then not a peep till 7.20am when I went in to wake them up! They made loads of crafts, the favourite being Hama beads (the very thing most of them can make at home whenever they want but whatever!) though they did enjoy all of them.
It really made it easier for us Guiders that we sent them home with their parents at 10am, we didn't have to struggle on to 3 or 4pm to make a weekend of it. So I'm learning my lesson from that, I came home, had a shower and now I feel tired but not completely
worn out so it's clearly the way to go!

PS: Jen asked what kind of beans we had with lunch: Heinz baked beans, what else would we have?
Are you telling me you don't have Heinz beans???
But Beanz Meanz Heinz!
And this is what potato scones are.

Friday, 14 March 2008

What - updated

What can 11 Brownies make out of:

  • 25 sheets of card
  • 25 sheets of paper
  • 25 laminating pockets
  • animal stickers
  • animal beads
  • animal foam sheets?

I'll let you know on Sunday!

OK, I was going to tell you on Sunday once they'd made them but as I have had two emails from Guiders asking what we are going to make from those things, I've decided to post the plans here now, then the results on Sunday instead.

The plan is to make:

  • Placemats for dinner and breakfast, which I'll laminate so they wipe clean
  • Badges with their names and an animal on
  • If time, napkin holders, but that's more of a time-filler if they do the first two things fast
  • Threading bookmarks and add animal stickers
  • Hama bead animals
  • Door hangers with the animal foam sheets
  • Bead bracelets

If we don't make them all, we'll use what's left in regular meetings. I'll take pics and post them on Sunday.

Thursday, 13 March 2008


Am feeling very appreciated tonight, and it is very nice!

Between the 5 Brownies who left us tonight, I was given:
  • A bottle of wine
  • A lovely email
  • A really nice note from a Brownie
  • A £10 M& S gift voucher and a lovely card with thanks from the mum and the Brownie
  • A beautiful mug with Quality Street chocs in, not just for me but for all 5 adults who help to run the Brownies.

These girls have had three years of Brownies, one had her first year in another pack then transferred to us because of dancing, but the other four had all three years with us, and they have had a lot of experiences during that time.

We do a lot for them, and d*mn it feels good to know they do actually appreciate it.

And you know what I have learned from this? I am totally giving a gift to any volunteer that works with my kids from now on. The only time I can think of where my daughter has attended somewhere with a volunteer is football, which she didn't stick at for long, and I didn't give a gift when she left but from now will be given.

Because it doesn't take very much to make a volunteer feel great about what they give your kid in terms of time, this I learned tonight!

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Gift just got a little bigger

I rang the one parent who hadn't signed the gift aid section at the bottom of the Becoming a Brownie form to ask if it was intentional or an oversight (we did have one parent deliberately score through it so we were sure he didn't want to do it!) and she said it was an oversight and she's going to sign it at our next meeting.

What's even better is that when I was looking at her form, I noticed she had ticked willing to help occasionally at camps and holidays. Although we currently have 4 Guiders who can do holidays (as long as I am one as I have the licence) we will lose one at the end of the summer term when she emigrates.

As we always need to have three adults on holidays, unless we are only taking a very small number of girls, it means that the remaining three would all have to be available for a certain date to be able to go. While that is generally the case, it's nice to have a back-up adult just in case someone pulls out or circumstances change.

We did have a Brownie mum who went through the CRB process so she could come if needed but her daughter leaves to go to Guides this week so she'll be at their disposal rather than ours. We never had to call on her, but it was good to know we had the option, the forms can take months to process and generally we would have to cancel a holiday if an adult dropped out if we didn't have a back-up.

So while I was talking to this mum anyway about Gift Aid, I asked if she would do the checks and she said she was happy to. When I said the gift just got a little bigger I didn't just mean money, I am pleased we have another supporter!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008


I think this is a great idea - our county Brownie camp in July is holding a competition for Brownies to design the official badge for the camp.

Even better, they can enter even if they are not going, which means I can open it up to all our Brownies not just the 10-12 who will go on the camp.

If they enjoy it, I am going to suggest they also look at the designer badge, as one of the requirements for that is to design a badge for a special event, so any of the girls who enters will already have done one requirement.

We are also thinking of designing our own badge for the unit anyway, so anyone who doesn't enter this may get a second chance.

Monday, 10 March 2008

What a gift!

Anyone done Gift Aid for their Rainbows/Brownies/Guides?

We can claim back to when the unit begain, in Jan 2005 and my assistant - who called me three times over the space of five hours yesterday and has never made me happier that the one thing I don't do for our unit is the accounts - reckons we could be getting back as much as £800 for that three year period!

That could mean we charge a nominal sum for Disney on Ice in November. And that summer camp could be heavily subsidised. On the one hand, the girls who are Brownies now will be benefiting on the behalf of three years of girls. On the other, we need to spend it all by December (though we can spend some on very practical items that will last years) to ensure our accounts are in good order...and if the scheme continues it will mean an extra £250-£300 a year that we didn't have before so they will continue to benefit from it.

£250-£300 a year - that would cover about 75% of our annual rent, meaning our subs can go so much further!

Hope the sums are right!

UPDATE: Thanks Vickey, I hadn't even thought of census. We could use whatever is left of the £800 to subsidise that in 2009 as a guiding centenary present! As well as these incredibly cute boxes. And whatever else I buy between now and then. *blushes*

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Wine not whine

Just got given a bottle of wine as a thank you from one of the Brownies leaving to go to Guides. And a sweet little thank you note saying she loved every moment of being a Brownie.

Her mum did tell me her daughter felt rather sick after visiting Guides last week. She'd had a school dinner at lunchtime, a big tea to shore her up for going to both Brownies and Guides, then she'd gone on the Brownie walk and had chips, then at Guides she had a chocolate fondue!

Good job she'll never do all 4 on one night again.

Smiley smiley smile smile Part Deux

Got this email:

Thank you so much to you and the other Brownie leaders for all that you have done for Brownies. Flossy has had a thoroughly enjoyable time, with her most memorable time being the official launch of Harry Potter! Her most fun events were the trips to Ackers [abseiling] - basically she's had lots of fun at Brownies with some super experiences which I'm sure she'll remember forever (well, meeting J K Rowling at least!).

Thank you once again for all of your hard work - I really appreciate all you have done, giving up your free time and providing them with fantastic experiences. Please pass on my thanks to the others (forward this email if you like).

Flossy's mum

I've said before, we don't expect to be thanked, but when we are, it is really welcome! The irony of this particular email, is that Flossy (and no, she's not really called Flossy) is the Brownie who would not be part of a team when we went abseiling!

Saturday, 8 March 2008

Fire, police...just doctor to go

Have called the local fire service and police HQ to notify them of our upcoming sleepover, as we will be staying in a village hall.

If a building doesn't normally have people staying overnight, eg if it is not a youth hostel/pack holiday house etc, we are supposed to let fire, police and the local GP know. Some Guiders call their fire and police HQ to be met with bafflement as to why they are supposed to care! However, mine were happy to note it down, the police just wrote down the date and venue and said they'd let the local beat bobbies know.

The fire service wanted to know how many and what spread of ages - the idea of telling them is if there is a fire, they would know the building was occupied and needed to be evacuated rather than just an empty building. Of course, it would almost certainly be us calling them so we would have evacuated anyway, but it is best to be covered.

I will call the GP on Monday, it's less relevant for us than the other services, as we will only be 20 mins or so from home so most parents would prefer to collect and take their daughter to their own GP service if there was an issue.

Moving on

Josie asked if, with 5 Brownies moving up to Guides at Easter, we will have mostly new Brownies once the new sessions start after Easter.

The answer is: half and half. Losing the 5 brings us down to 19 and we will have 3 new ones starting, bringing us back up to 22 (I could go back up to 24 but I am keeping the remaining 2 spaces for younger sisters of current Brownies ready to start in September).

So the truly new ones will be only 3 among 22. However I don't stop thinking of them as new until they've been with us a year. And we had 6 new ones start in September and 2 new ones start in January, so that means 11 newbies out of the 22.

Typically, as a pack is usually up to 24 girls, and they spend 3 years in Brownies, we have about 8 move up per year so another 8 come in. It means that at any one time, the pack will have roughly 8 seven year olds, 8 eight year olds and 8 nine year olds.

This year's numbers are slightly higher basically because it is three years since we started. So the girls we took in at seven that hadn't been able to get places at other Brownie packs are now ready to move up to Guides. When we started, we had loads of seven year olds, a few eight year olds and just a few nine year olds. So inevitably now, we are seeing the girls who were the very youngest initially move on.

Having 50% newbies does change the dynamics of the pack. We have to go over stuff we've long since not had to do - such as running a nearby sleepover for our seven year olds. The last couple of years, our girls have got very adventurous, having weekends in London and a pirate camp in the next county. But with such a large percentage of newbies, we need to make sure they are comfortable being away before we take them that far.

It's not all negative, they are much more, shall we say, compliant when they are seven! The nearer they get to ten, the feistier they get! And everything takes a bit longer for the girls to grasp, so we don't have to plan quite as many activities per meeting.

Still, with the addition of these three, we can bed down for a bit. The only girl due to leave between Easter and December is the girl moving to Switzerland so they will have time to bond again in the new sixes. Even in December we are only losing three to Guides, then no more due to leave until the following July, when we will have four or five moving up.

With the exception of not being sure what to do when my daughter moves up (do I give up Brownies and move to Guides because it is hard for my husband to get home in time for Brownies to look after our son and it would be easier all round if I was a Guide leader starting after 7pm? But I love the Brownie level and it will be good for daughter to have a Guiding experience without me.) I do love doing Brownies and the turnover of girls is just one of the things that needs to be managed.

So far, we always fill a spot when a girl leaves, and by far the majority of our girls leave to go to Guides or to move house out of the area, we rarely have one that just gives up. Since July 2005, we've only had one girl leave because she didn't actually enjoy Brownies, so we figure out of the roughly 60 girls who've had some connection with the pack, that's not so bad. She was going through a really rough time at home and just wanted to be there, she'd given up all after-school stuff and persevered with us for a while but she was just in tears weekly, so we agreed with her dad she would leave and her space would always be open till she turned 10. If she wants to come back, we'll juggle the waiting list and find a space for her.

(How do I know it's roughly 60? Because we ordered name tapes when we started and I just finished my batch of 60 and had to order new ones!)

Thursday, 6 March 2008

Blanking the badges

A commenter spotted my post about badges from way back in November and asked how I blanked the names? Pretty simple, I just had pics of the ones I wanted, opened them in Paint (right click on the picture and choose Open With...Paint) and painted yellow over the badge names.

An update on my son by the way, he flopped on the sofa for the afternoon while I finished off my work then we had a cuddle, he had a nap, and he bounced back enough to demand a sandwich about 5pm. So I still sent my daughter to Brownies with another mum but he was definitely picking up.

He's just gone to bed, dosed up on Calpol, and we have a pretty easy day planned tomorrow so he should have time to recuperate if he's not right yet.

Never noticed

how much I deal with in phone calls etc just before a Brownie meeting till today, when I have time to process it:
  • call from a mum to say her daughter will be at parents evening so running late and can she still come
  • call from unit helper to say he's running late.I text the three other Guiders to pass this on.
  • Text back from one of the others worrying about ratios
  • Text her to say it's ok, we still have 4 adults until the unit helper turns up, even without me.
  • Text from same mum to say her daughter is now ill and won't be coming at all, or to the Guide meeting after she was meant to be visiting.
  • Sent text to Guider leading this week to pass this on
  • Send text to Guide Guider and her assistant to pass this on

Plus I got a delivery, just in time, of Fairtrade leaflets and postcards, so I passed these, along with our attendance register/emergency contacts to the Guider who was kind enough to bring my daughter home from school.

And one girl missed last week so didn't get a badge she was owed so I passed that on too.

And this is WITHOUT going to the meeting and with 45 mins to go before meeting starts! Definitely not complaining, just observing what I don't normally have time to spot.


My son is not well (not very unwell, just a bit listless and not hungry, both of which are unlike him) which means, as my husband is away that I will have to *gasp!* MISS BROWNIES THIS WEEK!

What will I do with myself? They're doing their walk and Fairtrade products, with chips on the way back, so I am sad I am missing out. It will be very weird having them out there without me! We have 5 adults going anyway for the 24 girls so well over necessary ratios even without me but I will miss it/them!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Hangs head in shame

Only one Brownie and one leader haven't filled their forms in for our sleepover this month.

That would daughter and me.


Still, one person hasn't paid yet and she's my assistant so I'm not alone in my shame!

I only paid last Friday myself!.

When I held the parents meeting, the others were running the normal Brownie meeting so I wasn't able to get money off them straight away like I was from the non-leader parents and I forgot to ask.

Because it is such a low cost event, I hadn't clicked we were missing three payments till two weeks ago.

The girls on their first sleepover will get the badge on the top left of the set of five.

The girls on their second sleepover or more will get the owl badge - cute aren't they!

Aim Hi

Here's a new resource from Girlguiding UK for Rainbows, Brownies and Guides (not sure why not for Senior Section but I am only quoting what is said on the GGUK website).

It looks interesting, lots of health-related stuff. The training weekend for trainers is 10 days from now, so the training will take a while to filter down to unit level.

But as the earliest we could use it is September (we only have two meetings left for this term and the summer term is already broadly planned), hopefully we'll have some guidance on it before then.

I can see that winter term filling up already, if the girls decide to go for it. If not, I'll put it to one side and suggest it again later.

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

Planning. Or rather not planning.

I'm thinking of letting the Brownies wholly decide what we do in the September term (the term after Easter is already planned).

Normally we survey them and use the results to form the programme. But when they've decided stuff this year, they have really liked it and we've felt good about their decisions too.

So I'm thinking a big sheet of paper with boxes on for each week. Set them the proviso they have to include a Rights badge and some community action plus allow time to make something for the division Christmas service. Then see what they come up with.

We have some suggestions, like the Designer badge would let them make a bag and badge each, but leave it to them.

Need to chat to the two other leaders that will be here from September and see what they think.
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