Saturday, 29 October 2011

Easyfundraising boost again

Seriously, I know I bang on about easyfundraising every three months, but if the parents in your youth group shop online, it is absolutely money for nothing. We just heard how much we are getting for the July to September period, and it is £70!

If you want to know more, here's what I wrote in October 2010.

If you want to sign up your group, do it here, and my group'll get a thank you from easyfundraising for referring you, without affecting the amount you earn.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

What is a Brownie Pow Wow?

This week at Brownies, we had a Brownie Pow Wow - a chance for the girls to have their say about what they do. In this instance, we were looking for their ideas about what they would like to do next term, there was no voting at this point, but once we have taken their ideas and come up with rough ideas for the meetings, we can take some of them back and get the girls to vote.

The most successful bit of girl decision making we have had in recent years was when we were running the Adventure 100 programme to celebrate 100 years of guiding, and the girls narrowed down the 100 ideas in the challenge to the 11 weeks that we ran the programme.

After discarding the wholly impossible (a sleepover in Australia - not Australia themed, she actually wanted to go there for a night), or modifying them into something vaguely possible (the girl who said she just wanted to watch tv all night did think a cinema trip might be fun), we will be mulling over the following suggestions:
  • Things to do: Cinema, Sleepover, Pyjama party, Midnight feast, Panto with costumes – cluedo?, Park, Climbing wall, Riding, Sports, Olympics, Art and craft, Ice Skating, London
  • People to help: Cystic fibrosis, child charity, comic relief, soft toys for the school, stroke society, teenage cancer, walking for a charity, boy in the chip shop
  • Places to learn about: Ireland, Africa, China, Italy, Scotland, New Zealand, India, Spain
The boy in the chip shop - this related to a poster two of the girls had seen in a nearby chip shop about fundraising in the name of a little boy who had been very ill. So the girls were very well-intentioned when they said "boy in the chip shop" but I did want to say: "There's a guy works down the chip shop swears he's Elvis, he's a liar and I'm not sure about you."

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Could they BE any noisier!

The Brownies were soooooooo noisy tonight! A combination of thinking up play-lets about famous scientists (for Science Investigator badge) and parent-teacher meetings running tonight so several girls going in and out during the evening.

We also had a pow-wow, and had them suggesting what they would like to do next term - as ever there were crazy ideas like visiting New Zealand for a sleepover, but there were some great ideas that will help shape the next two terms once we work through them all!

Half term next week, so no Brownies, then when we get back there will be lots of Toymaker fun!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Blog Action Day 2011

I am proud to take part in Blog Action Day Oct 16, 2011
It's Blog Action day 2011 today. I took part in this last year: Blog Action day 2010: Water and am happy to do so again.
I'm simply going to gather together posts I've made mentioning food over the years of this blog. I hope you might feel inspired to join the global conversation on your blog!

Saturday, 15 October 2011

What should parents expect for their Brownies?

This post was prompted by Working Mum's post No Brownie points for Brownies. While she's going to ring her daughter's Brown Owl and hopefully get the lines of communications going, it did get me thinking about what parents can reasonably expect of us as Brownie leaders and volunteers. (And that's not getting at you WM, as you know from my comments I do think you're not asking too much!)
  • The dates that Brownies will meet that term, and, before you break up at the end of term, the date of the first week back next term. You might not know what the girls will be doing each week, but you should know if they are meeting.
  • How much subs is for the term, and how payment is taken (eg, is it £2 a week, and do you pay weekly, half-termly or termly. Are cheques ok or does it have to be cash)
  • That your daughter will be supported towards making her promise, and, when she is ready to do so, that she will be able to (technically, Brownies don't ever have to make it if they don't want to). That may involve the Becoming a Brownie booklet, or a unit's own version.
  • That your daughter will be safe when she's with us (we do risk assessments, check venues for fire safety, give girls a chance to talk to us about anything that is worrying them, etc)
  • That we will offer your daughter a range of experiences as best we can given our own circumstances, because we are (generally) parents too who have to juggle family, work, other commitments with Guiding
  • That when it comes time to move on to Guides, we will help your daughter learn about the new section and move when she feels ready.
Anything else I should add, other Brownie Guiders?

And in return, here's what Guiders would love in return from their Brownie parents:
  • That you come in with your daughter, make sure we are there and are happy to take her - dropping your daughter off without checking first is sadly more common than you'd think and every now and then will result in a girl being left on her own because a parent didn't check if the unit was somewhere else that night. (This hasn't happened to me, but I know of other leaders where it has happened and we do have a couple of parents who try to drop and run without coming in, we soon set them straight)
  • That you pay subs promptly, ideally on the first night back so that we don't have to chase and chase and chase till we get them
  • That you send your daughter in uniform and sensible shoes, not her favourite clothes - and if you do send her in her favourite clothes, don't be surprised if they come back dirty and/or ripped
  • That you return forms on time, again so we don't have to chase them. And don't be surprised if your daughter can't attend because you ignored the deadline.
  • That when we need an extra adult occasionally, someone will step forward and help. Actually, my set of parents are brilliant for this, they know that two of us Guiders have younger children, and four of us Guiders have older children and that if we need a night off, there's a good reason. Also that "I have a younger child" doesn't wash as an excuse - so do some of us yet we are there every week, we're only asking you to help once in a blue moon.
  • That you have patience with us when we mess up: forget to give your daughter a badge, forget supplies for a specific craft etc. Just gently remind us, we're human too!
Again, other Guiders, anything else I should add to that list?
And parents - anything you think we should be doing as a minimum?

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Trying something new

This term we are trying something new with the Brownie badges, waiting till the end of term to give them out. In the past, we have always given them out the week after a girl completes a badge (or as soon as we can order them if we don't have them in) and we have sometimes felt it just seems a bit routine, the badge goes in a pocket and rarely gets sewn on.

We're hoping that by waiting and doing a whole term of badges in one go, it will get them all excited, and if they come home with two or three badges in one go, we might actually see them sewn on next term!

It's going to be up to the girls though, they will decide in January if they want to do it that way again or if they want to try another way. Right now I have acquired 25 bags, I've named them and drawn a trefoil on each, then written on the back what needs to go in each one. Just need to think of how we will hand them out now, what we can do to make it all special.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Going Away with Brownies

Quite excitingly, one of our Assistant Guiders has decided she would like to do her holiday licence. I only have an overnight licence (I honestly wish I had just done the holiday licence at the time but I just don't have time now to do those extra modules) so currently our girls can only go away for one night, or we have to piggyback on someone else's licence as we did when we went to Hautbois (apologies for missing images, my old ones got deleted) and Wales.

I did go on a training for the holiday licence and I flip flopped for ages on whether I could fit in the work to upgrade my overnight licence, then eventually decided against it.

So I am thrilled that this Guider is going to go for it, and have promised to support her. Which for a start means digging out Going Away with guiding and our list of local approved places. Oh joy, digging through the stores of too much stuff!

Friday, 7 October 2011

Guiding in Kenya

One of the leaders with our Guides and Senior Section is going on a Girlguiding trip to Kenya next year. Last night she came and talked to the Brownies about Kenya and what it is like, along with one of the Brownie's dads who has been there too.

The girls were really interested and I think it gave them a lot to think about. They were each sent home with a tube of Smarties and asked to eat them then bring the tube back full of coins, as the Guider is fundraising to go on her trip. Our district has donated £50 to her fundraising, as has the division, and we donated last night's subs in "payment" for her running the night - we have to be very careful not to just donate subs to other charitable causes as the parents pay these for their daughter's time in Brownies not for someone else. But as she ran the whole night with no cost to us, other than rent, it is the same as when we pay St John Ambulance to run the First Aid badge for us.

We did stay away from the current tourism issues in Kenya, kept it at the girls' level so it was more about animals, and standard of living. The biggest hit? You know the game where the first person says "I went on holiday and took my suitcase" then the next person says "I went on holiday and took my suitcase and..." - well, we had 23 Brownies, 2 adults, a Guide and a YL take part in that game and the very last Brownie, one of our youngest, managed the whole list of 26 items when it was her turn! I think the Brownie dad enjoyed himself too, as he stayed on to help X run a Kenya night for the Guides as well!

Here's what the Guider will be up to:
My name is X, I have been selected to go to Kenya with Midlands Guiding.,This is a fantastic opportunity for me and am due to go in March next year for two weeks. We are teaming up with a charity called Akamba Children's Education Fund (ACEF) for the project. This charity aims to advance the education and health of over 940+ vulnerable children who attend the Brainhouse Academy situated in Mathare, North Kenya-which is one of the worlds largest slums.
The children are schooled and all receive one meal a day of porridge. The facilities are basic with just two non-flush toilets, no electricity, no running water and no school books. 170+ of the children are orphaned and live within the school. This is a high standard of living for these children and often the only meal a day they get is the one provided by the academy. All these tasks are done whilst dealing with and considering that 90% of the children have HIV or AIDS, which is a taboo subject and not discussed openly. Brainhouse academy receives no government funding or development support. Based in a slum, it is simply not recognised by the government. We are going there with the aim to generally support the school with lessons, cooking, cleaning, lessons and we would like to introduce a Netball team. The charity had already established football and cricket for the boys, now its time for the girls!
In return for our work, we are undergoing training in leadership and mentoring, prior to and after the event. Giving us advancement on our skills in leadership to then better the relationship with have with our units and to spread though Guiding. This is not a 'jolly holiday' but a long term commitment to bettering ourselves to benefit the charity and upon our return, using the skills within our units. We were due to go next August, but due to this being election time in Kenya, and the political unrest this causes, it has been bought forward considerably. I have to raise £2000 for the trip to which I am finding a challenge in itself. I am currently selling a quiz though work, to friends, family etc and am doing fundraising with my unit.

*If anyone feels the urge to donate to X's fundraising, please do get in touch, however this isn't a begging blog post, more letting you know what we have been involved in.
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