Sunday, 30 January 2011

Swift change of plans

At our last Brownie meeting, we were supposed to be out and about in the neighbourhood where our Brownies live, looking at the local community and deciding what aspects of it we wanted to capture for a local challenge.

The Brownies were very excited, particularly because of course at this time of year it is dark by the time we meet, so they were all told to wrap up warm and bring a torch or lantern.

But when I went to collect my son from school, the school most of our Brownies attend, several mums came up to me and asked if we were still planning to go out, because it was bitterly cold, and with girls either coming down with colds or getting over them, they were thinking they might not send their daughter. Once the third mum asked, I realised we were going to be way down on numbers, so we moved to plan B.

In the summer term we were going to do the Healthy Heart badge. It's one of the newer Brownie badges, although we did it as a unit as soon as it came out back in 2007, so we had done it as leaders before even though none of the current Brownies had done it. I already had everything we needed, as I had run a 5K to raise money for Heart Research UK and they had been kind enough to send me some resources specifically for the badge: balloons, stickers and a worksheet to work through.

So we swapped to Healthy Heart for the night, and it went well, the girls were amazed by some of the facts, like the distance your blood travels round your body every day (over 11,000km!) and were very inventive coming up with their own games. They didn't complete the badge on the night, they still have some work to do at home if they want to finish it.

Incidentally, any other Brownie leaders thinking of doing the badge, it is worth contacting the charity to see if they can spare some worksheets, they were originally brought out in 2008 and they don't advertise them on their site any more so I don't know how many they have left but even if you only get a few you could copy them for the meeting. They didn't say I had to raise money for them in return, though they are of course a charity so everything helps, I raised £143. Often when people think heart they think British Heart Foundation, these guys are much smaller but no less worth supporting.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Love where I live

Yesterday, daughter and I went to the O2 Arena to watch a show. Train takes about an hour, then half an hour across London.

Today, while Londoners were crammed in like sardines on the Underground heading to work, my drive to work took me past a grouse (walking across the road just like in the Famous Grouse adverts, google them to see the ads, I like the rugby ball one best) and two emus - they live next to some stables, no idea why!

I love where I live - easy access to the big smoke, but a commute with rare birds of a morning.

And we won't mention that on the way home, about 500m up the road, I am pretty sure I saw a dead grouse and it's likely the same one.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

Japan, China and the rest of the world

All done with Japan, the girls made some amazing origami and tasted some Japanese food to finish off. We're moving onto the first of two weeks on a local challenge next week, then Chinese New Year.

After that, it's my turn, two weeks on the WAGGGS Thinking Day Challenge, should be good.

We had two more new starts this week, one was a Brownie in another pack before and she slipped in seamlessly, the other will work with the other new Brownies towards her promise.

We have a horrendous waiting list right now, we have lots of seven and eight year olds and hardly any nine years olds so I actually only have three girls due to leave during the whole of 2011, but 11 girls on the waiting list old enough to start in 2011. Every time someone joins the list, I give them details of other units and suggest they try there, but my waiting list never seems to get any smaller! Someone needs to start a 2nd X Brownies - but if you suggest that there's always 100 reasons why parents don't want to step up and be leaders...where do they think we magically came from? Our daughters couldn't get into the local Brownie packs so we started a unit, that's how it has to be sometimes!

Friday, 14 January 2011


Back to Brownies last night, and we are doing the Japan Challenge, created by a Senior Section girl who went on a trip to Japan with Guiding and needed to fundraise to get there.

The girls loved it, they all came out chattering away, and this morning I saw several carrying their fans to show off at Show and Tell. Even better, this evening was led by Robin, who has shared leading a meeting before but has never run one entirely by herself (with other Guiders to do as she says, of course). She was a bundle of nerves beforehand but she clearly pitched it very well as the girls were very enthusiastic about what they had learned. I am very proud of her.

While she led the meeting, supported by Otter and Puffin (back from maternity leave, yay!), Parrot and I were in the hallway, taking in subs, census and more. We have a 12 week term this term, and we also have to pay the annual subscription per girl and leader in the next few weeks, so there was quite a lot of money (mostly cheques fortunately) coming in.

On top of that we have an adventure weekend planned in June and we needed to get numbers and send off the deposit for that, so there were parents paying either £10 and the next two £10s over the next two months, or paying the full £30. Coupled with two new girls who paid a neckerchief deposit as well (our Brownies wear neckerchiefs with a massive unit badge on the back, we've had trouble getting them back in the past so now we take a £5 deposit when they start and give it back when they return the neckerchief when they leave), there were five different possible permutations of money coming in depending on what the girl was paying for.

We managed all that, sorted out the admin for the adventure weekend, worked out which girls had completed their Seasons badge and even managed 10 minutes as part of the meeting! Just one set of subs to chase next week, plus Thinking Day consent forms, and then we are all set for the term.
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