Saturday, 8 March 2008

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!)

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