Saturday, 26 September 2009

We lost a Brownie!

Ok, we didn't lose her in a crowded place or anything...but one of our Brownies is leaving, not to move home or go to another pack or to Guides, just because she wants to.

Rationally, it shouldn't bother me. In the 5 years our pack has been running, we've had 4 girls leave before now for reasons other than moving, changing nights or going to Guides:
one whose family was going through a terrible time and while we tried to make Brownies an escape she just wanted to be at home, within reach of a parent;
one who had special needs and we worked hard with but she just didn't click and feel happy (she did return as a Guide though);
one who was one of those much too cool for school girls and we just didn't fit her image...
...and then there was the big sister of the girl who has left us.

Something about that family, we just don't manage to keep them all the way through, though this one did last longer with us than her sister.

Over 5 years, we've had approximately 60 girls in the unit. So we're doing ok.

But I hate it when they leave because they feel they've just outgrown us. It makes me second guess what we are doing, are we doing enough for the older ones (though this girl wasn't even one of the older ones, she was about 9th oldest out of the 24)? I think we are, or we'd lose more I suppose. If 90% of your girls continue in Guiding to at least the end of Brownies if not beyond, then that's pretty successful, right?

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Newest Beaver

The newest Beaver is loving it. As you can see, he now has the uniform, there's also a neckerchief but you don't wear that till you take your promise.

So cute. I put camouflage on his eyes using Paint to protect his identity.

This week, they strung conkers and played with them, practiced making the promise salute and started a little leaflet about Beavers that will help them learn their promise.

Conkers? I love it. Exactly what six and seven year old boys should be doing of an autumn evening.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Patch them up!

This week our Brownies started their First Aid badge. We have St John Ambulance volunteers in to run it for us and by the end of four weeks they will be able to:

1. Discuss with the tester:

**why first aid is important
**why you should get medical help as soon as possible and how you would do this
**why you should get adult help as soon as possible
**why you must think of your own safety before rushing to help a casualty
**how you think someone might feel if they have had an accident.

2. Do each of the following.

**Know how to check whether a casualty is unconscious or not.
**Show how to open an airway.
**Show how to check someone for normal breathing.
**Show how to put a casualty into the recovery position. Explain when and why you would do this.

3. Do each of the following.

**Know why your blood is important to you. Show how you would deal with the following types of bleeding:
– small graze or cut
– nosebleed
– serious deep cut with a lot of bleeding
– cut that has a piece of glass in it.

**Explain how and why you would protect yourself when dealing with a casualty who is bleeding.

4. Know what causes burns and scalds. Show how you would treat them.

5. Do each of the following.

**Describe what would make you suspect that someone had a broken bone.
**Show what you would do if you thought a bone was broken.

The volunteers have a long night of it: after working with the Brownies, they are staying on to work with the Guide unit afterwards on the Guide level First Aid badge!

We are paying the St John Ambulance for running this for us, though I doubt the volunteers have anything more than their travel reimbursed, so we are very grateful that they are coming in to ensure the Brownies learn properly.

Saturday, 12 September 2009


I made this cake, at 6 year old's request.
That's it spaced out at home.
That's it on a tray at his party, had to squish it up.
The party kids recognised it as the Very Hungry Caterpillar so that was good, and Son really liked it.

But it didn't look as good as the model I was trying to emulate!

Friday, 11 September 2009

What a week!

I've had a busy week:

  • Kids went back to school. Daughter to Year 6 (last year of primary) and Son to Year 1. They've settled in again just fine, seem to like their teachers, not too worn out.

  • On Wednesday, son started Beavers. He loved it. They played football, then made fortune-tellers and he's been put in "white" - he doesn't know white what, because they are not sixes, but they do seem to be smaller groups within the colony. Just before he went, he said: "If I hate it, I can leave can't I?" I said: "Yes, when you are 8." (In other words, when he is old enough for Cubs!) He was just nervous because he's second oldest in his class, so was the only one from his class starting this term. But a friend who is only 2 weeks older who went to pre-school with him also started - this friend is actually in the year above at school because they were born on either side of the cut off date!

  • Daughter also had Tae Kwon Do as usual on Wednesday. We'll be fine the weeks my friend can take her with her own kids, it will be a struggle managing both activities other weeks, but I'll worry about that when it happens.

  • Thursday my brother, wife and their son stayed over on their way back to Scotland from Cornwall. It was great to see them again, although we'd all been at a family wedding the week before as those who know me on Facebook will already know!

  • Brownies also started back, a full house once again with 20 returning Brownies and 4 new ones. All settled well, we played Ladders then the meeting was on the theme of Girlguiding's Centenary Year. They took a sheet of card, designed their own 100 logo, cut out key bits and glued crepe paper on the back so that when you put the card in the window, the sun shines through. They were great and so varied. And it took 45 mins...I thought it would take 20-30 max! So a nice easy meeting and a chance to break in our two new leaders, Assistant Guider Puffin and Unit Helper Robin.

  • I also had to pop over to the next village to pay for the hall for my son's birthday party. Funnily enough the Brownies there were just finishing up, when I walked in, in uniform, I think the leaders thought I was volunteering!

  • Son's birthday today - he is in possession of a lot of Lego, a Star Wars lightsaber and some Science kits...he went to bed a happy boy. Party still to come.
So that's my week - are you surprised I am sitting on the sofa chilling now?

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Strictly Cookies

Today Strictly Guiding plays host to a guest blogger - Mike Harling of Postcards From Across The Pond, who is on a Kindness of Strangers tour.
Answers/ripostes to Mike's questions/merciless mick-taking of Guiding will be included at the end.


The Tour - Part II - is gaining momentum now. I left Lulu in London and am now in the west midlands with Jen and her Girl Guide troop. Is that what you call Girl Scouts over here?

I was a Boy Scout when growing up in America. I was recruited early, starting out at the Bobcat level and working my way up to Life Scout. In my ten-year career, I managed to fall just short of achieving the acclaimed Eagle Scout rank, thereby setting the “slacker” tone that has pretty much been the theme of my life ever since.

On the up side, I learned to throw a tomahawk and tie a proper hangman’s noose, so all in all, I’d say the experience leaned more toward the positive side.

I was 47 when I moved to England, and therefore have not tapped into the Scouting movement here. Since America’s Scouting movement was derived from Britain’s Scouting movement, I assume you have one but, like the school system, its nuances continue to elude me. Are Bluebirds involved? Do you have Brownies? And what are Girl Guides; are they the ladies I see in London holding up umbrellas and being followed by 273 Japanese tourists with Nikon cameras?

I don’t know for certain, but if I had to guess I’d say you don’t have any Girl Scouts over here, based solely on the fact that I have never been button-holed by a colleague trying to guilt-trip me into buying a load of overpriced cookies. In the States, Scouts and cookies (of the girl variety) go together like a McDonald’s Happy Meal and a McDonald’s drive thru—you can’t have one without the other. So if my friends and workmates aren’t pimping their daughter’s yearly cookie drives, then you can’t have Girl Scouts over here. Not real ones, anyway.

Be that as it may, Jen and her troop are taking me on a mini-tour of the West Midlands this afternoon. The young ladies are apparently keen to show me all the good things their area of England has to offer and are preparing pithy, historical speeches for a dozen or so places of interest; I think it’s a requirement for their Blue Badge Tourist Guide merit badge. At any rate, it should be fun, and if I am wrong about there not being Girl Scouts in Britain, I apologize.

And I’ll take a box of Peanut Butter Crunches and two packs of Thin Mints.


Visit the Tour Page to view the latest Tour updates.

Michael Harling is the author of

“Postcards From Across the Pond – dispatches from an accidental expat”

“Laugh out loud funny regardless of which side of the pond you call home. Bill Bryson move over, there’s a new American expat in town with a keen sense of humor.”

-- Jeff Yeager, author of “The Ultimate Cheapskate”


Buy the Book:

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Visit the Home Page:

For Mike, and anyone else:
We have Rainbow Guides (age 4 or 5-7), Brownie Guides (age 7-10), Guides (age 10-14) and Senior Section (age 14-25) plus adult leaders, unit helpers and Trefoil Guild.

The only Girl Scouts over here are on USAF bases, so no, we don't have Girl Scouts. But on the plus side, we also don't have cookies - we take subs (between £1 and £2.50 a week depending on area and particularly the rent for the venue you meet in) and we use those to pay for meetings, then we ask parents for money for extra trips when we can't cover it from subs - so parents can choose which trips their daughters go on and pay, rather than raise $200 through cookies then find their daughter can't attend whatever trip it was anyway. From hearing the grief cookies cause leaders and parents over in the US and Canada, I am very glad we don't do cookies here.

But if you want us to sell you a packet of Sainsbury's biscuits at a marked up price during our tour of the West Midlands, we'd be happy to. That'll be £5 as we pass Shakespeare's birthplace, another £5 as you marvel at the joys of Birmingham and £2.20 as we leave you on the side of the M6, thumbing a lift to your next destination.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

We are 100!

Girlguiding is 100!

This weekend is a really special weekend for Guiding here in the UK. It's exactly 100 years since some enterprising girls snuck into Lord Baden Powell's Boy Scout rally and demanded Scouting for girls.

With his sister Agnes, he went on to set up Girl Guides in October 1910. So from September 4 until next October, we are celebrating our centenary year.

As a unit, we are encouraged to "Brownies Take Over" so our Brownies will be taking over a local steam railway place and having rides and fun next May.

We will also be taking part in a special event next Thinking Day to mark the occasion, and finally we hope to do two other things: a special sleepover (venue not yet decided but probably either London or Oxford) and a fun march and party in Birmingham alongside all 9 counties in the Midlands Region.

Then at 20:10 on 20/10 (Oct 20) in the year 2010 every member of Girlguiding will take her promise again and get a special promise badge that she can wear throughout her time in Guiding, not changing it if she changes sections (eg from Brownies to Guides, Guides to Rangers) but only people who took part at that exact date will be allowed to wear it.

Party party party!

Guiding for teenage mums

Apart from the fact it will be a Senior Section Unit, not Guide unit, since the girls will be aged 14 and up, this is a really fair report - not sensationalised at all.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Strictly Scouting


Five year old is going to be a Beaver!

He turns 6 at the end of next week, and we just got the phone call, he starts Beavers the same week.

After all the fun daughter and I have had in Guiding over the last 5 years, can't wait for son to join the Scouts!

I guess there will be a lot to learn about the Scout way of doing things rather than the Guide way.
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