Friday, 30 January 2009

Pyjama party

So last night at Brownies we finished off the Brownie Skills badge with a picnic. The girls each brought a healthy packed lunch for their dinner - amazingly only one girl forgot!

It was a teddy bears picnic, so they all brought a bear, most of them brought the one they made at Build a Bear.

All but one came in their pyjamas, the one was the oldest girl who declared she was in Year Six so was not going to wear her pyjamas, but she joined in with everything else, and it was optional to wear them anyway.

So, we looked through the lunches and talked about what was healthy, what was not, and how pretty much anything was fine in moderation. Then we let them eat...they were hungry! Then a pin the bow on the bear game, some sweeties to dole out and then they played a game with our two Guides that involved making furniture shapes, in their sixes, for points.

I gave out Brownie Skills badges to those who had completed the badge, made it clear to the one who didn't all she had to do, Chinese New Year badges for everyone,  and a Build a Buddy badge for the girls who went to Build a Bear.

Great success, they all bounced in and they all bounced out again!

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Del Amitri

With the departure of daughter and her classmate, plus another Brownie who finished at Christmas, we have three places at Brownies to take us back up to 24.

So I've offered the three places (never a problem to fill them from our waiting list!) starting after Easter. And all three have been taken up.

So we're full.

Now I'll just emphasis how much I enjoy running Brownies, and how it is different every week and with every batch of girls.

But every time I offer more places? This song from my late 80s/early 90s  past gets stuck in my head again. "Nothing ever happens, nothing happens at all, the needle returns to the start of the song and we all sing along like before."

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Brownie bear

What do you get if you put together these items?
The bear my Brownies made at Build a Bear workshop today, taking part in their Scout party.
The gilet waistcoat unzips and has a yellow t-shirt underneath, which one of the Brownies' dads is going to take to his screen-printing business and add the word Brownies across, like on their uniforms.
The girls also added a voice, recorded by them, saying: "A Brownie thinks of others before herself and does a good turn every day" - that's the Brownie Guide law, as there wasn't time on the chip to record the promise!
We also added these since she will be joining us on holidays:
And later, my daughter made these:

Just in case you didn't realise, that's a Tae Kwon Do panda NOT a Kung Fu one.

Friday, 23 January 2009

Small events

We did Chinese New Year with the Brownies last night, making lanterns, tasting egg fried rice and prawn crackers (plus noodles for the no-egg, no meat Brownie), writing Chinese characters, playing Chinese Whispers and singing a silly version of My Ship sailed from China. Had great fun. Daughter and classmate left Brownies and are now officially Guides. Daughter cried at home because she loved Brownies so much. I pointed out that in September she can come back as a pack leader (a Guide who helps at Brownies) so she will get double the fun: more grown-up stuff at Guides, and Brownie stuff too. This helped, mostly.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Going nowhere

Alison and Jen asked if I will be staying on as a Brownie leader now that daughter has joined Guides.

Simple answer: yes. I know in Canada and the US, a leader typically moves up with her girls through the sections.

In the UK, you tend to pick a section to lead and if it works, you stick with it. I picked Brownies when we set up, we had 5 of us and our daughters ranged from 6 to 12 so it made sense to set up a Brownie (7-10) and Guide (10-14) unit, since my daughter was the 6 year old I had a vested interest in ensuring the Brownie unit was successful so that she would at least get three years of Brownies.

I think Brownies is my natural level: Rainbows (=Sparks/Daisies) seem very small and need to be taken to the toilet all the time, Guides are full of attitude. Brownies can both go to the loo on their own and do what you ask much of the time.

Fortunately there are plenty of Rainbow leaders who revel in helping their girls have a fun, happy time and plenty of Guide leaders who love the independence of Guides and their growth into well-reasoned young women - well not plenty, if anyone wants to become a Guider then go for it, there are 50,000 girls wanting to join who don't have a unit to go to.

So I'm going to stick with Brownies, for now. Two things would/will make me stop:
  1. If daughter's Guide unit was struggling and needed another leader. I couldn't see my own daughter lose out in Guiding, so I'd have to step up, and that would mean at the very least stepping back to be an assistant at Brownies but more likely stopping doing Brownies.
  2. Moving house. If we move, I will probably get involved in Guiding again as I find it very fulfilling personally to offer this activity, but whether I went into Brownies or Guides would depend again on whether daughter needed me as a leader or not.

Friday, 16 January 2009


Brownies was great though, following on from last week when they planned a healthy lunch and learned to address envelopes, last night they packed a weekend bag (surprising how many of them didn't put knickers in!), drew a map from their house to school and best of all, learned how to sew on a button - this took a long time and much concentrating but we had all 23 doing it by the end of the night.

A slightly sad week for me next week. Daughter will be leaving Brownies to go to Guides. She's visiting a Guide unit tonight and as long as she likes it, her next week at Brownies will be her last. It's come as a bit of a surprise, she didn't want to go to Guides in the summer and had planned to stay on at Brownies until next June.

But just before Christmas she changed her mind and, along with 2 or 3 other girls from her class (one from our Brownie unit, one definitely from another and one possible from the other unit) she is visiting a Guide unit in town - it appears her objection was more going to the Guide unit that follows ours than Guides itself. I can't work out why, unless she wants to get away from being a leader's daughter?

Which is fine, but it does mean that instead of being able to walk round and collect her at 8.30 on a Thursday, I will have to drive into town at 9.15 on a Friday...there goes a relaxing beer on a Friday night! Actually, with 3 or 4 of them going together, we're going to organise a carshare so I should be able to have a drink 2 weeks out of 3 at least!

She won't be giving up on Brownies completely, she's going to Build a Bear later this month and pack holiday at Easter, as these are already booked. I'm thrilled she wants to continue in Guiding, just sad it's been so sudden, I thought I'd have time to adjust to going to Brownies without her.

Now out of the 5 people that regularly help at our Brownies, only one will have a Brownie daughter. Quite a change from all 5 having daughters in the pack, as was the situation initially.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Smiley Happy People

If I ever doubted Brownies were worthwhile, last night proved they are.

Sometimes I wonder what's so great about it in comparison to any other club the girls could do. Then I remember it's a place for girls to learn new skills without the distraction of boys (though I concede that is more of an issue as they get older), acquire knowledge in a fun setting, work in different teams sometimes not of their own choosing (now there's a life skill we all need!) and take on early leadership roles to develop compassion and understanding. All wrapped up in giggling, badges, creativity and running about.

So what made it so worthwhile last night?

We've started the Brownie Skills badge with them. They each planned a healthy lunch, and in 3 weeks time they will bring their planned lunch with them for a teddy bears' picnic. And they also learned to address an envelope, complete with return address. It's possibly surprising how few of them knew how to do this - but then again, why would a 7-10 year old have done this? Still, that's another practical skill learned for the future.

And then the icing on the cake, I appointed the 3 new Sixers and 3 new Seconds. The beaming grins on their faces showed just how much they valued this, and the other girls gave them a round of applause so they did too.

Made me feel warm all over!

Next week, more Brownie Skills - including sewing on a button and tying knots!

Wednesday, 7 January 2009


Yesterday I came up with the new sixers and seconds for the new term. (We split the 24 girls into four sixes.Then each six has a sixer - in charge of the six. And a second, who is her second in command.) Three of our sixers are 10 now and ready to go to Guides, they will hopefully be going at Easter but in the meantime to give other girls a chance to be sixers, they are going to step aside. So 3 new sixers to replace them, that was easy, I just upgraded all the girls who were the seconds in those sixes.

Three new seconds to replace them was harder. One was easy, but involved moving sixes so I had to move someone back to replace her. One was quite pleasing, a girl who transferred in and won't be expecting it, so it will be good to see her face. The third was the hardest, there are about 5 girls who have been Brownie about the same length of time and are roughly the same age. I picked the oldest as I had no other grounds to determine the choice.

I also made up an attendance chart for the term and a chart with all names on to tick off when they've paid their subs tomorrow night. Haven't printed them off though, the downside of always working on my laptop is that I have to email documents to myself to open them up on the main PC to print.
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