Friday, 25 April 2008

And we're full again

I advertised in the school newsletter a couple of weeks ago because we were running at 22 members and we can have 24. Although my ideal is between 18 and 20, it's more cost-effective for us to have 24 and it's a number that breaks down very nicely in lots of ways when we split the girls up.

I was expecting we'd get a couple of girls who hadn't put their names down for Brownies before and had been put off thinking they wouldn't get in. Instead I got a transfer on Wednesday and now today, another mum has come up and asked for her daughter to transfer from a different pack to ours.

The circumstances are different for her, this girl was on our waiting list originally but by the time her name got to the top, her family had moved to an adjoining village, though the girls stayed at the same school. At the same time as we offered her a place, the pack where they moved to did as well, and her mum thought it would be good for her to get to know girls in the village.

But because they all went to school together, and she was still coming over here to go to school and all her friends at school went to our Brownies (or the other one nearby that the first girl is transferring from), she didn't really click.

I haven't spoken to the Brown Owl at that pack, but I have told the mum to talk to the Brown Owl, then give me the Brown Owl's number so I can talk to her too. Then if all is fine, I'll take her the same night the other transfer starts.

So we're at 24 again, till the summer when we lose one family to Switzerland and one to Canada.

It's all about...survival

So, camp is looming a little closer now - I'm off to Guide camp in just over two weeks and then Brownie camp is two months after that.

One thing we have been trying to find is big bags to put everything in, that are waterproof and don't tear. The idea is the girls will have their sleeping bags, and their rucksack, and they put both in the big bag during the day to keep everything dry and the tent tidy.

I'm pleased to say that after a recommendation from another Guider, I've found what we need. They're called survival bags - the main purpose is if you're up a mountain and something bad happens, you get in and conserve your body heat for as long as possible while you wait for rescue.
Can I just stress, we're not going near any mountains, we're going to South Warwickshire and Redditch. But if you can fit a bloke in one of the bags, I'm pretty sure you can fit a rucksack and sleeping bag into one easily too!

I intially found them at £2.49 each plus 99p postage for every two, so £3 each. But the Guider who pointed me to a marine sales shop had found them for £9.99 for 10 plus £10 postage for however I snapped up 20, making them £1.50 each, half what I thought I was going to have to pay.

I also got myself a bag for my stuff, we do own one rucksack in our family because we figured it would be handy in the summer hols for loading up with beach stuff and still having hands free (and it is!) and also that daughter would be able to use it when she went on a Guide camp when she was older.
But with both me and her going to two camps at the same time, we needed a second bag. I didn't want another rucksack, I wanted something that would collapse down easily to be packed away as it won't be used often. This looks like it will do the trick, and is waterproof.

Somehow I sense rain may be a theme of these camps, based on recent months/years/lifes so I am doing my best to follow in Baden-Powell's footsteps and Be Prepared.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Second Aid

If you go on a first aid refresher course, is it second aid?

I can hardly believe it is over 3 years since I started doing Brownies! We have to take a first aid course when we start, and then a refresher every three years after that.
I am happy to do it, it's so long since the first one I definitely think I can do with the refresher, though we did do the First Aid badge with the Brownies just over a year ago and the two nurses that helped us with that did teach us a few things then.
This Sunday me, 1 of my assistants, the Guide Guider and two other Guiders from our district will do our refreshers and our new Guider will do her first training.
There will be blood (fake), fainting (hopefully fake), tea, coffee and plasters.

Haaaaave Yoouuuuu Seeeeeen Neeeeeeemooooo?

Broke the news to the Brownies tonight that our big autumn outing this year (we do one every year, so far we've been to the National Space Centre and twice to Legoland for a special Girlguiding day, all of which have been excellent) will be to Disney On Ice: Finding Nemo.

There were many happy faces!
We're going on the train, which is an adventure in itself.
Though we are charging for the trip, we hope to be able to cover 75% of it through Gift Aid claim back so we will be refunding much of it nearer the time.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

New Brownie

We've got a new Brownie, a transfer this time, from one of the adjoining districts. I called the Brown Owl of the other pack to make sure she was happy, I didn't want to be accused of poaching.

She was kind enough to tell me that
  1. the family haven't yet paid their subs for the term
  2. the daughter has some special needs.

Funnily enough, the mum hadn't mentioned either! The subs, well, that's the old unit's problem to get their money but then it will become our problem if they don't pay up to us - our parents are usually very good at paying up quickly so hopefully the new parents will fall into line.

The special needs are simply some help with writing and being a little slower physically, we can deal with both issues but it is good to know about them.

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Rush hour

Yesterday, my stats went a little crazy: as well as the 20-30 people who regularly look at my blog (thanks guys!), I also had 112 unique visitors, up from the usual 10-15 that flick in and flick out again.

I couldn't work out why, especially as I wasn't giving anything away for free, so I had a look at where they were coming from.

The Poundland blog!

I mentioned Poundland a couple of weeks ago when I snapped up some camping bargains for me and my daughter for Guide camp next month and Brownie camp in July.

And despite the fact I basically said what I bought was not of the best quality but was perfect for the circumstances, Poundland said - in their words - "There has been much discussion online regarding the Poundland summer camp range." And linked to me.

I am not sure me posting about a few bargains, and Guider on the go agreeing, counts as "much discussion". But if it makes them happy...

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Right To Be Happy

The girls started Outdoor Skills tonight and also Right To Be Happy.

They washed up lots of plates, cups and cutlery covered in ketchup, vinegar and oil (practice for camp) and also selected what foods they hate and what foods they like and considered a balanced diet. They really enjoyed the washing up, it was very funny, something we see as a chore they rarely do, so they see it as fun!

We also started Right To Be Happy with our first game. They had to sit in a circle, and each took it in turns to smile, explain why, pass on the smile then cross their legs so they didn't get chosen twice.

We had some great reasons why they were smiling:
  • thinking of their fish or rabbit

  • thinking of when their dog jumped in the bath with them

  • because they are at Brownies (loved this one, and three or four of them said it too!)

  • because you told me to (made me laugh so much)

  • because I had a cheese sandwich yesterday (loved this!)

No doubt, it lifted everybody's mood! We had 3 new girls start too, they all seemed to have a good time so I am pretty sure we will see them back next week.

We also had a visit from Dolphin, our former Young Leader/Leader who went off to university in the summer last year - our unit has changed so much that only 11 of the girls remembered her! Although I keep up with her through Facebook, it was really good to see her, she seems happy.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

We got Olympic badges

We got a set of Silver ones, which means we need to do six activities.

In light of the qualms I was having earlier this month relat
ing to these badges, I will definitely make sure we talk about what life is like in modern-day China - I suspect the fact that will hit home most strongly to the girls is that you aren't allowed to be a Brownie in China!

I need to read up on the syllabus to work out what we can do - and whether to fit it in before the Olympics in this term (which we had already planned to fill with other things) or do it in the autumn term, which is easier to fit in but after the Olympics.

Update: Jen asked what we would do. We have held our own Olympics twice before, so I was going to try and stay away from that.
I was thinking:
  1. Ask Daughter's TKD teacher if he would run a session (the suggestion was an Olympic sport, and I know it is in the Olympics this year, because she already noticed that!)
  2. Some Chinese food
  3. Cycling a chalk course shaped like the Olympic rings
  4. Talking about the Olympic symbols and meanings
  5. Researching and playing a typical Chinese childrens game
  6. Creating an Olympic stamp
  7. Creating a future sport for the Olympics and playing it
  8. Talking about life in China and what it is like for children there

If the TKD teacher agrees, that covers 7 requirements when you need 6 for the badge, plus the talking about life in China.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

District meeting

District meeting tonight - all the Guiders in the district of 4 villages get together and run through anything we need to know, pass on info, plan anything we need to plan (thankfully nothing for a while!) and then have a general gossip!

This time we're not meeting at someone's house, we're meeting at the pub (Jen, it's the one you stayed at) so a nice little drinky too!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Splish splash done

Only 8 of the 10 girls that wanted to swim in the gala turned up and 1 of the 8 changed her mind so with 7 girls to choose from, I was able to fill the 9 places with a girl in each race and the two fastest in the relay as well.

Splish splash

We have a swimming fun event for Brownies this afternoon...and we are also selecting the girls who will represent us at the Brownie swimming gala.

We are NOT competitive about the gala, we have 6 individual races and a 3 person relay, so if I was, I would pick the 6 best girls and 3 of them for the relay too. Instead, to maximise the chance of swimming, I will pick 9 so as many as possible get a go and hang it if we don't win - which we never do anyway!

But what makes me sad is I have 10 girls who want to be in the gala, so only 1 will not get the chance this year. In a way it would be easier to pick the best 6 and have 3 of them in the relay so that 4 miss out rather than 1.


Friday, 11 April 2008

Brownie Scouts and Brownie Guides

We had Jen's two daughters Graceful and Elegant, both Brownie Girl Scouts, visit our Brownies last night and they taught us a new game that had the Brownies in stitches. I don't know what it was called but here's the description if anyone wants to try it with their girls:

They partner up then Jen called out head to head and they have to touch head to head. Then she called elbow to elbow and they have to find a new partner and go elbow to elbow. So on and so on with a different partner and different body part touching each time. Belly button to belly button was a particular favourite, plus bum to bum!

No-one is out for not finding a partner, you just join the next round.

They also taught our girls the Boom Chicka Boom song (though one of our Pack Leaders knew it already) which was a bit less successful, we never did quite master it but we'll try it again in the future.

Both we and they knew the Bumble Bee song which was fun because it showed them all just how alike girls of that age can be while they pretend to throw up their bumble bee!

We did reciprocate by feeding them some English Scones and jam, teaching them the Oranges and Lemons game, making Welsh dragon bookmarks and singing Ye Canny Shove Yer Granny Aff a Bus, so it wasn't all one-sided!

We also had some Girl Scout cookies another lady had sent me, and at the end Jen gave out badges from her council and we also had American badges from the cookie lady so the girls each went home with two. Jen's girls had a Brownie package from me that included some badges and a bear and we gave them some pin badges from the Brownies representing each of the sixes to remember us by. (Jen also gave my kids lots of sweeties and glowsticks, they both loved them.)

We ended with Brownie Bells and then Jen showed us how her girls end their meetings, with crossed arms sending a squeeze round and then twisting out of the circle.

It was a good, busy, night and the girls were talking about it in the playground at school this morning which is always a sign it was a hit!

Later: the non-Brownie version of meeting Jen and her family!

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Nails and Wales

I sound like I have been gargling with a bag of nails but on the plus side at least I can talk a little now!

I have been printing off Welsh dragons to turn into bookmarks at tomorrow night's meeting, the girls will play an English game, sing a Scottish song and eat Irish food as well as doing American stuff and the craft will finish things off.

Am eying up the two boxes of Girl Scout cookies I have for tomorrow and wondering if we will have enough to go round if I have one of each today...

Monday, 7 April 2008

Moral qualms

I applied for the WAGGGS Olympia badge back in February. Though I don't know if I will be getting them, I am having moral qualms about doing the badge, given the media coverage over the weekend about the torch procession in both London and Paris.
I feel better informed now about the protests and am not sure about going ahead and doing the badge.
So my question is: as an informed adult do I make a decision that we shouldn't do this badge and just have a general Olympics night with the Brownies? Or do I put it to them and hope the wisdom that has come (?) through doing the Rights badges will help them come to the conclusion we shouldn't do it.
At the moment I am leaning towards doing the badges but focussing on the Olympics more than on China, asI know the girls are excited about the Olympics, what with London 2012 in four years.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

The merits of Poundland

Sad though I was that the Mothercare closed down where I live, a Poundland has opened up in its place.
And after checking out the kit list for camp (I am going on a Guide camp next month for practice before our Brownie one in July) I made some shrewd purchases:
  • 2 sets of knife, fork and spoon, one for me, one for daughter - £1 each

  • 3 dishtowels - £1

  • 2 enamel plates - £1

  • 2 sets of an enamel mug and bowl - £1 each

  • 3 hand towels

  • 2 bathtowels - £1

So for a grand total of £4 each, me and daughter each have our eating stuff and cleaning stuff for camp. And a spare dishtowel and hand towel.

I'm the first to admit these are not the best quality items. I would not offer a guest in my home any of the towels. But for camp, where they will likely get muddy or even lost, I'm cool with it.

Then I went to Milletts and bought one of the new hybrid mat things - halfway between a plain rollmat and an air mattress. More comfortable than a mat but not as bulky as an air mattress. I also bought a new sleeping bag as I managed to kick the zip so hard while sleeping on the Brownie sleepover I broke it! It probably could have been fixed but I will keep it as an extra layer for me or any cold Brownies. Got my 10% discount for being a leader.

So, while not totally equipped for camp (I still need a good torch and some waaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrmmmmmmmmm socks, daughter needs the socks too) I did take care of most of it.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Brownies AND Guides

Because the leader who is assistant at both Brownies and Guides is still in South Africa on holiday, the Guide Guider asked me if I would stay on for Guides last night. Seemed fair, as she was turning up early to Brownies to help with our camp meeting.

While the Brownies played crafts on one side of the room, we ran the parent meeting for camp on the other side, talking them through the plans, the cost, the kit list and letting them ask questions. We have 11 girls signed up, plus me, and the Guide Guider's entire family: husband, young leader daughter and Guide daughter.

I also collected the subs in last night for the term. Just one girl owes for camp AND subs, and her dad is dropping the cheque off this morning. [Update, the cheque was there when I got back from the school run] And one more girl owes for subs, she wasn't at Brownies last night, not sure why, it may be because I wouldn't let her go to camp because she didn't come on our sleepover. We were really clear that they had to have one night minimum away with us to be allowed to come to camp, but her mum was still asking if she could come during the Easter hols, so that may be why she didn't appear.

We gave out the World Issues badges from last term to the girls that completed it, plus lovely little pin badges of their animal sixes.

Then I stayed on for Guides, they were doing Right To Be Heard led by the Guide Guider's Young Leader daughter so it was a very easy night. It was fun watching the four former Brownies that had turned up, one of them seemed to have assimilated instantly, another was pretty close to it and two were still travelling at Brownie pace and you could see the frustration of others in their group when they took too long to finish a sheet or tried to take over the group instead of work together.
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