Friday, 26 December 2014

Candles

Last post, I mentioned I had made Christmas presents for my fellow Guiders. As I'm assuming they have all opened them by now, I can reveal they were beeswax candles from Crafty Creatives.

I've been squirrelling them away for some time, turns out this kit was from last May! I'd liked it so much I had ordered from the supplier to make sure I'd have enough to make Christmas presents.

They were very easy to make, just rolling up a sheet round a wick and tying them. I made the tall ones behind the cup for the Guiders and finished each with a ribbon and a little bee pin. My son's teachers and the school office staff also received these, in their case I made the centre ones, as these needed half the wax and I was running low!

I really like Crafty Creatives kits, I've found them quite inspiring to encourage me to try different crafts. I've had to stop getting them for now as I can't justify the cost, though I did get their recent Paperhaul one filled with lovely stationery and that was gorgeous. The inspiration is useful for thinking of new quirky things for the Brownies to try, I definitely think they could make these candles with a little help, and when you order the beeswax sheets in bulk, they are quite cost effective.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

New home

Brownies is over for the year, we squeezed in a Christmas party where they made mints and decorated gingerbread with snowflakes, a trip to have breakfast with Santa and a Girlguiding Carol service where I (along with two fellow leaders from our Brownie and Guide unit who have been in it from the start of the two units) received a 10 year service award. 

Us leaders have a Christmas meal together this week - I've made the other leaders a wee present using a Crafty Creatives kit, can't say what yet - and then that's it for the year.

When we come back in January, we have a new home. The school where we meet is undergoing building work and we've found a meeting place nearby for the length of the work with the added advantage of some storage and access to a kitchen. It's not a long term home, as it is out of our district so it can only be a temporary solution but it should be a good home for us for a couple of terms. 

All change, and the unit's (and Guide unit's) tenth birthday to celebrate in 2015. Should be a good year!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Once a Guide, always a Guide

I'm at a conference, with my stand opposite the poster boards. One lady's poster kept falling down because the velcro wouldn't stick, and after I tried to restick it, I told her when she reappeared. 

She disappeared, came back with a stapler, stapled the velcro to the poster and now it sticks perfectly.

And yes, she was a Guide when she was younger.
I could tell!

Friday, 28 November 2014

Brownie adventure: major success

You might remember earlier this term I said we were going to start holding Brownie Adventure nights when we could have 5 leaders available to split the girls into 5 groups: Becoming a Brownie, Adventure, Adventure On, More Adventures and Go For It. (If not, here's the link: http://strictlyguiding.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/brownie-adventure-book.html)

Well I'm here to report it was a big success. Massive. So much so, we've scheduled three nights for it in the January term. The girls responded really well to running their own programme and us leaders responded well to getting to know the girls a little better in smaller groups.

The Becoming a Brownie girls really got to grips with the promise and were able to do it in the same room as everyone else instead of being separated out while everyone else did something else and staring longingly through the glass doors. 

The Adventure girls were just amazing. As well as actively discussing the promise and how they keep it, they chose to make bird feeders and didn't just make them for themselves, they made them for every Brownie!

I didn't see a lot of the Adventure On girls but they were also busy and the leader with them reported back that she was really pleased with them.

I was with the More Adventures girls who had chosen to make paper mâché beads and play old fashioned games. That day, I'd had a water issue at home with a shower that wouldn't turn off and we had to turn off our water at the stopcock so I hadn't had time to make what was needed. They were really good about it, and didn't mind at all that we concentrated on just the games instead. I played Whot with two girls while three played battleships (yes I know only two can play but they made it work) then a fish puzzle game with three girls while battleships continued then I taught two girls to play Yahtzee while two more played another game. They were really good about making sure everyone got to play a game they wanted at least once, and not leaving anyone out.

The Go For It girls had a great time too, especially when they realised there were sweets involved in what they were doing! 

All in all there were some very happy girls, very low stress for us because anything that needed to be brought had been arranged weeks before (apart from my water issue) and we really felt we had implemented the programme well, using recommendations within the books.

Lots of inspiration for next time too. Big hit. 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Children in Need

This week we held a Children in Need week at Brownies. We don't do it every year, and we didn't ask the girls to fundraise because we were conscious that the local primaries were all fundraising during the actual Children in Need day and we didn't want parents to feel hit twice.
Instead we talked about why there was a need for Children in Need and who it helps, and I also bought the Pudsey baking kit and chocolate mould to use so there was a donation by me.

So for our evening, we decorated the gluten-free cupcakes I had made and frozen a couple of weeks ago. The girls piped their own icing on and chose a chocolate Pudsey for the top. Although many of them had baked with their families and many of them had added decoration to the top, very few had ever used an icing bag so that was a fun experience for them and a good skill - once you realise why you need to twist or hold the top of the bag shut you won't forget it!

I also had a very intricate box template for them to cut out and decorate, the bottom of the box falls open when the lid is lifted and the whole box is made with no glue or tape. It was a good challenge to see how careful they can be as it is all in the cutting, and some of the older girls made some quite beautiful versions. The younger ones needed more support but I only saw one where someone had gone completely wrong and even that could be fixed with one piece of sticky tape.

We encouraged them to make the cake and box as a gift for someone else and most did - there were a few teachers and teaching assistants destined to receive a sticky gift the next day!

It was a good evening and we also welcomed five girls who will start with us in January on their taster session and they all seemed to do fine and all five are desperately waiting for the New Year now!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Poppies

Straight after our day out at Drayton Manor for Girlguiding Midlands Megaday, we had to drag our weary bones out of bed, put on our barely dried uniforms, pin on a poppy and head out for Remembrance Sunday.
I have to confess I wasn't terribly sympathetic to the parents who texted me to let me know their daughter wouldn't make it due to being tired. We were all tired but I feel Remembrance is a duty, part of serving your community by demonstrating that young people are learning about what happened and are grateful for the sacrifices made in their name.
Our ceremony isn't terribly long and I was then able to get to the other nearby one where my son was marching with Scouts.
It's been a big thing this year, Remembrance, what with the 100 years since the Great War. Normally I take part in one ceremony, and collect a child from another.
This year, that happened, but also:
I saw the poppies in London (very moving). I took part in a two minute silence at work on Armistice Day. And I saw the three top years from our community primary (including many of our Brownies) take part in planting 11 trees on 11/11 to commemorate 11 soldiers from the Great War who had links to our town, including poet Rupert Brooke.
Definitely a time to reflect.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Midlands Mega Day

On Saturday, Girlguiding Midlands held their Megaday - 12,000 members of Girlguiding took over Drayton Manor Park. We went by coach with the Guide unit that meets in the same place as us, and another Brownie pack from nearby.

We were the first coach to arrive. (I confess that is because I booked it for the same time as the coach I booked for last year's Legoland trip. Drayton Manor is considerably nearer.) Still, that meant we were first in the loos for a toilet stop and then first in the queue for the Ben10 ride where one of our girls made her promise.

We took 17 girls (should have been 18 but we had a last minute unwell one) and we had a blast - lots of rides and even a special performance by one of our Brownies in the Guiding's Got Takent competition where she blew us all away singing a song from Matilda on the stage.

It rained a lot and was quite cold - we had to send one girl to First Aid with blue lips where she was warmed up and dried off. So we've learned a few things:

If we go to a theme park in November we will insist on waterproof trousers because those who chose to wear them might not have looked stylish but they had dry bottoms at the end of the day.

We also need to insist on a spare set of clothes inside a plastic bag for when backpacks leak.

And finally, we will add in the cost of a few pokes of chips - warming everyone up with some chips helped a lot!

The girls had a great time, behaved brilliantly and loved being part of such a big event. 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Inclusion, via cupcakes

At next week's meeting we will be marking Children in Need at Brownies and I'll be encouraging the girls to come dressed as superheroes if they want to as that is the theme of this year's appeal. I know most if not all of them will be fundraising at school the next day (the actual Children in Need day) so we won't be fundraising but that doesn't mean we can't mark it. I've also bought a baking kit, badges, a chocolate mould and Pudsey ears all of which include a donation to the appeal.

So our evening will be more about understanding why Children in Need is necessary and then having some fun!
One of the things we will do is decorate a cupcake to take home: although many of the girls have baked at home, and they have decorated cupcakes by adding to the top of cakes, they have never actually iced a cake. So, I will be taking lots of buttercream and they will be icing these (gluten-free) cupcakes which are currently stored in my freezer and topping them with a (also gluten-free) chocolate Pudsey. 
The inclusion is the fact that we do have a Brownie who can't have gluten, so I wanted to make sure she was able to eat her cupcake afterwards. I was busy this weekend baking trays of cupcakes so that everyone has the same type. In the past, we have been sure to buy her a cupcake when we know there will be cake somewhere, but on this occasion, I had the time this weekend and wanted her to have the same as everyone else. 

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Scary mummy sausages

I made these for my kids, but definitely one to consider for our next pack holiday!
They are Lorraine Pascale's Scary Mummy Sausages: http://www.lovefood.com/guide/recipes/45452/lorraine-pascales-scary-mummy-sausage-rolls

Monday, 27 October 2014

Badge stash

The consequence of working on Midlands Art Explosion badge all term?
Quite a lot of badges to give out at Christmas! We've ordered them now, and indeed the Go Global ones are for next February but we know how many girls are going to that event already so we ordered them at the same time.

Everyone gets the middle badge, and depending on what they take part in, one or more of the four badges around it. Here's how they will look for the girls who get all five. 

Friday, 17 October 2014

No elephant left behind

Despite the drizzly weather last night, our Brownies did their elephant trail and managed to reclaim every elephant - though one was very hard to find and took several search parties on a recon mission to track it down.

At the end we were left with just one elephant, pictured, which was happily reunited with its Brownie this morning as that Brownie had missed the meeting.

We continue with Midlands Art Explosion after half term with some poems and edible campfires. We'll have a busy few weeks in the run up to Christmas with that, Children in Need, no cook cooking, another Brownie Adventures night and the reindeer challenge. Not to mention Midlands Mega Day, Remembrance Sunday and Breakfast with Santa!

Friday, 10 October 2014

A packed fortnight

It's been a busy fortnight:

Last week's Brownies was badge-testing night, we encourage the girls to bring in their work once a term because we were finding it too hard to fit in alongside other meetings. While we test most badges, we also accept signatures from instructors for badges such as Dancer, Swimmer or Musician so between the badges two leaders and one young leader tested and the pre-signed off badges, the girls had passed more than 30 among them!

While we tested, pulling girls out as it was their turn, the other leaders ran a line dance lottery - you haven't lived till you've seen 25 girls line dance to Dolly Parton!

This week's meeting was customising old clothes then having a fashion show in front of the parents. It was a lot of fun, every girl enjoyed herself in a different way as there was much stitching, knotting, cutting and sticking plus plenty of fabric pens! We had to leave time for clearing up and for the fashion show, we could easily have spent two hours just working on the clothes, so one to remember for another time!

In between there was a sleepover for the girls who have joined in the last year, and the sixers. They had a lot of fun, with blue and pink mashed potato, crafts and games. All the girls did really well so they will all be able to join the camp we are planning for the summer months.

It's always busy here!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Cute elephant

Remember last week I shared our milk bottle elephants? http://strictlyguiding.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/art-explosion-elephant-trail.html

There are also larger elephants made to represent each county in the region that have been visiting a range of places across their county recently: ours went to Arden International Camp and is now at Warwick Museum (only till this Tuesday).

I popped over to see her (very cute) and then shared the pics with some of my fellow leaders only to find out that our Brownie Helper was one of the Guides who helped create her on her Baden Powell Award weekend! Small Guiding world :-)

If you want to know more about Midlands Art Explosion badge, visit their website:  http://www.explosion.girlguiding-midlands.org.uk/index.html

Friday, 26 September 2014

Brownie Adventure book

Girlguiding realised many units weren't using the Brownie Adventure and Adventure On books properly so they combined the books and gave us a programme update so we could use them properly.

This kicked in earlier this year but we had so much going on with Big Brownie Birthday that we planned to incorporate from this term, and we started that last night!

First up we found two nights this term that all five of us adults could attend. Most nights we are missing at least one of us due to other commitments, and many we just have three of us, so as we wanted to divide the girls into five groups, it was important to find two nights we could all be there.

The groups are:
*Becoming a Brownie - the three new girls
*Adventure - five girls in their first year with us
*Adventure On - six girls in their second year with us
*More Adventures - five girls in their last year with us
*Go For It - five girls in their last term (or in one case second last term) with us

The Becoming a Brownie girls worked on their Becoming a Brownie booklets as usual but this time they didn't have to watch while the rest of the pack did something else.

The Go For It girls started learning about Guides and how that worked, and planning for leaving Brownies. All that info is at the end of the Brownie Adventure book.

And the three other groups each worked through their section in the book, choosing activities to do that night and planned ahead activities for the second night later this term.

I had the More Adventures group, who did a teamwork quiz that really helped with decision making, then planned for their next night to play a game they invented, bring in old school board games and make beads from paper for a necklace.

Over the next couple of terms they will continue to plan and do like that, then they will move on to the Go For It to finish off their time with us, and their More Adventures badge.

And once they've gone, my next group will be the Becoming a Brownie girls, and I will move through the stages with them, as will my fellow leaders so we all have a core group we have to look after.

It was interesting, because Brownies usually splits the girls into sixes, which include girls from across the 7-10 range, to be working with 5 girls who were all just turned or turning 9. 

I think it worked well, but it's just the first night and we shall see!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Art Explosion: Elephant trail

We started the Girlguiding Midlands Art Explosion challenge tonight, with a recycling activity: elephants from milk bottles!
Here's the link for the challenge, we have a series of meetings planned through the term, thanks to the girls voting for this challenge, and it went down a storm: http://www.explosion.girlguiding-midlands.org.uk/index.html
Two of our leaders are now going to work to distribute the elephants near where we meet and we will go out on an elephant trail next month.
Our next activity from this challenge will be Line Dance Lottery in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Ice cubes

So the plan was to do a Frozen Challenge with our Brownies, activities themed around the Disney film (though the challenge is called Do You Want to Build a Snowman if you want to search for it.)

It was all planned by our YL, including a food activity, a couple of running around games and building an igloo using ice cubes.

She started the Frozen music playing (bear in mind they voted to do this challenge!) and they started complaining they were bored of it. It quickly became clear they were having lots of fun with the ice building igloos so we took the bags outside and they had several ice cube egg and spoon races, then enjoyed stomping on the cubes till they were smashed into tiny bits.

All in all we really could have just given every six a bag of ice and left them to it! They were so happy playing with ice!

I'm most impressed by our YL thinking on her feet and adapting when the girls rebelled a little. One of her Senior Section leaders was there so I'm glad she saw her coping well.

Top tip: want to entertain 24 Brownies? 4 bags of ice and a playground!

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Fundraising

Our Rainbow, Brownie, Guide and Senior Section leaders (eight between us, including two who run more than one section) came together to run a fundraising night this week just gone.

One leader is going to the World Scout Jamboree in Japan next year, one is going to Our Cabana in Mexico, another to Poacher Camp and seven out of eight of us are going to Pax Lodge for a county weekend.

So this evening was a fundraiser to help all of us, and we asked parents who had asked how they can thank us for the time we give up to bring their girls and take part.
We deliberately scheduled it first week back so only those who wanted to take part would come, if we had started back and then run it, we felt they would feel obliged to participate.

We ran the following:
*badgemaking
*guess the name of the cuddly reindeer and win it
*make a Christmas decoration
*raffle for a Disney princess room decoration
*guess the weight of the cake
*make windmills and keyrings
*make loomband bracelets or buy a ready made one
*buy craft kits
*buy dressing up clothes
*make peace doves
*some Japanese stuff (that table was opposite side of room from me and I didn't see what they were doing!)
*drinks and lollies
*guess the weight of the cake

Most of the items were very easy to put together, or we already had them so very little cost. It was also a fun and chilled way to hang out and talk to parents when not stressed or in a rush.

Friday, 1 August 2014

On holiday

On holiday and not thinking about Guiding for a while. I'd like to share one thing, this is the gorgeous cake I won in an auction and fed to our Brownies at our last meeting before the school hols started:
See you in September. The Big Brownie Birthday will be over but we have plenty of fun plans!

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Wales, Cubs, loombands, chips and the Chief Guide

I've been quiet for a while, but not because all activity stopped after our Wales/Switzerland holiday, more because we've been so busy! Each of these nights/events deserves a post each but in summary:
*Wales night - the girls who went on the holiday talked to the others about what they did and showed some of their crafts and badges, then did some Welsh activies led by our WelshGuider 
*Second Commonwealth Games night - our local Cub pack visited and we had a presentation on fencing by one of our mums who is also a Commonwealth Games medallist, then half the Brownies and half the Cubs played team games outside and the other half learned their promise in sign language, then we swapped over to the other activity. Great fun involving another organisation!
*Loomband night - they were meant to make a bracelet then draw a dragon on shrinkie paper to add as a charm but the loombands took over and they all had a blast
*Playpark and chips night - I missed this due to a local school open evening I had to attend, but I hear they had fun.
*Starquest Brownie Revels, lots of activies and games alongside 1300 other Brownies from our county - very very wet but lots of fun again, plus our two newest Brownies got to make their promise to the Chief Guide and she not only pinned on their badges, she gave them the special badge above after - massive envy from the leaders!
We have just one more night left, at our local campsite for cooking and singing, plus our Big Brownie Birthday Finale the week after.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Big Brownie Birthday: Our Chalet at Broneirion Part 4

We had to wake the girls on Sunday, tiredness had definitely set in! After breakfast we packed and brought out bags downstairs, we had to be sure we were ready to leave at 2pm because we had a train to catch home!

The girls had to strip their beds, clearly something not many of them had done before! And of course, some started doing that while packing, so we had to call halt, get them to pack and then do the beds or there would have been teddy bears and trousers heading to the laundry!

Before lunch we also fitted in our final activity session, service, a key part of a world centres experience. Then there was a lot of clearing up - amazing how many different materials and art products we used over two days - and uniting girls with everything they had made. This was when we really saw how tired they were getting, one of our most sensible Brownies was in tears because everything she had made had disappeared and she was sure another unit's girl with the same name, who had had to leave early, must have taken them (in error of course, she did have to leave in a rush and the mum driving was having all kinds of bags thrust at her!). But actually, everything was still there, in the corner, clearly marked so she got it all back.

Together with some of the other girls who were all packed, our girls helped create a page in the Broneirion scrapbook about the weekend so that if they ever come back, they will be able to find themselves.

Lunch was a very filling roast dinner, the most food we had all weekend, and very tasty.

One tradition from Our Chalet is to have a group picture taken on the back steps. To recreate this, we used the beautiful sweeping Broneirion staircase to have a pic of everyone attending, then of each unit, a lovely memento.

All done and time to head home. Since our passports were stamped on the way there then of course they had to be stamped on the way back. So we queued up for passport control, returned our name and duty tags and signed the scrapbook.

Then it was outside to wait for our two minibuses to appear, dead on time, and off to the station, waving goodbye to the others.

We had no problem getting seated on the train and were thrilled to hear it actually went all the way to the airport again not the stop before as we had been told. As that got us one stop nearer to home, we decided we would stay on.

A relatively quiet journey back, the girls did sing a bit but they were definitely more tired. As were we!

Turned out though, it was a mistake to stay on our train for that extra stop. The trains were running a little late and then were held at the station at the stop before. We saw the train we had planned to take appear on the board and as the minutes ticked by, started to worry we wouldn't be able to catch it at the next station. It was only a 25 min wait for the next one but of course the parents would be waiting for us, and we all just wanted to get home.

By the time we pulled into the airport station we were 15 minutes later than expected and had two minutes to get 11 of us up the stairs, across the bridge and down to the platform. I led the group and we legged it as best we could! We could see our train on the platform and as we ran down, a strung out line of girls, the conductor put his whistle in his mouth to release the train. I shouted "no, please!" in my best begging voice and he said I needed to shove the girls into the corridor fast. I did, counting as I went, I knew we had nine girls but I couldn't swear they were our nine (joke!) and as I got on with the other leader he was whistling and slamming the door onto us. As the train was a few mins late already, and they don't normally hold a train, I know we were lucky to have been allowed to get on, and I know it had a lot to do with the power of a Girlguiding uniform! Big thanks to that Virgin Trains conductor.

We were lucky enough to find a relatively empty carriage where we could slump down and recover, then we were off just two stops later and handing back the girls, after filling in parents on the bumps and bruises!

An exhausting weekend - when I got home my husband actually followed me upstairs, took my bag away, ran me a bath and made me chill out for half an hour, so my tiredness was apparent! But a great weekend: the girls bonded with each other and girls from other packs, they learned new skills, they learned about Switzerland and WAGGGS and Girlguiding and just had lots and lots of fun.

15 months in the planning for us, from discussion about signing up to going for it, and it was worth it. 

Friday, 6 June 2014

Big Brownie Birthday: Our Chalet at Broneirion Part 3

Saturday was a busy day, as well as the set chores, we:
Bouldered (climbing wall that goes round rather than up)
Zorbed (giant see through hamster balls, yes I had a go and there is photographic evidence, no I won't be sharing)
Bouncy castled
Had marshmallows and chocolate fondue
Had Swiss cheese and chocolate
Made cable cars to race
Made boxes out of lolly sticks
Made pyrography key rings (burning a design onto wood)
Played crab football
Spelled out WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) with our bodies
Had a campfire where we each taught at least one song, we chose Supercaliforniasurfer and left behind card surfboards and words with the other units in case they wanted to try it with their girls back home.
This was also the day my girls got ridiculously accident prone. There was a skinned knee, cuts, slammed fingers...they were definitely getting tired as the weekend went on.

Dinner was Swiss meatballs and chocolate mousse and settling down for bed was much much quicker! I slept better too, though still less than at home, and we had to wake then on Sunday as there was so much left to do before heading home...


Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Big Brownie Birthday: Our Chalet at Broneirion Part 2

We arrived and were able to take our bags up to our rooms as we were a little early for the planned check-in. With the train only running every two hours that did restrict when we could arrive!

Then we were 'checked in' - we had to produce the passports we were asked to create and they were stamped and carefully put away. The girls learned about their duties, they each had three duties over the course of the weekend from serving food, clearing up, making tea for trainers.

We had dinner - sausages, which went down well, then our first scheduled activity, an ice breaker so we could get to know the other two packs who were there.

Settling down for bed wasn't easy - I found myself the only adult up with the girls for a long time while the others had a leaders meeting and I was not only dealing with our excited girls but girls from other packs telling me soandso had thrown a flip flop or showing me their wobbly tooth (that girl came back and found me in the middle of the night to show me it had come out!). I did eventually give up and ask for others to deal with their girls when I started getting tearful ones from the floor below coming up to tell me they were homesick!

Friday night was not a good nights sleep, it was well after midnight when I fell asleep and as well as the tooth visit, I also woke up around 4.30 and never really got back to sleep. But I never sleep brilliantly when I'm away with them, you're always a little on alert! No-one's fault, but I was very tired on Saturday morning.

Here's a little taster of one of the Saturday activities...

Monday, 2 June 2014

Big Brownie Birthday: Our Chalet at Broneirion Part 1

This weekend just gone, we took nine Brownies to Broneirion, a Girlguiding activity centre in mid-Wales, for a World Centre holiday.

There are four World Centres in Guiding: one in London (Pax Lodge that we visited last year), one in India, one in Mexico and one in Switzerland - Our Chalet.


And as part of the Big Brownie Birthday, a number of Girlguiding centres across the UK transformed themselves for a couple of weekends into a World Centre.

We signed up for going to Our Chalet at Bronerion. It's been 15 months in the planning for us; from first tentative email among the Guiders, to polling the girls who were interested to decide which venue to attend.

And so it was we ended up at our local train station on Friday lunchtime to head off to Wales. We bought the tickets three months ahead of time so our train travel cost just over £100 for the 11 of us!

We headed to our connecting station, and were very early because we knew we had to make the next train or arrive two hours late since the trains to where we needed to go are only every two hours.

So since we had a big wait, we headed on the monorail from that station to the adjacent airport (actually the airport our Young Leader will fly from when she goes to the real Our Chalet this summer) and had our lunches/a snack there.

It added to the fun, I was really surprised that none of the girls had been on the monorail before. When my kids were smaller we'd get the bus into town, then the train, then the monorail if we were flying to see my parents in Scotland so they've been on it a lot but this was a real novelty for our girls.

We returned, caught the train for the next lengthy stage and even managed to meet the Brownie pack that's local to Broneirion - they had been in London on pack holiday because of course to them there is nothing special about going to Broneirion! They were very sweet, even giving us a badge for each girl, which they loved. We gave them our unit badge.

Finally at the tiny train station near the venue, we were met by the two minibuses we had booked to collect us - funnily enough one of the drivers was married to one of the local Brownie leaders who had been on the train!

They dropped us off outside Broneirion and it was time for our trip to Switzerland to begin... (Part 2 to follow)

Monday, 26 May 2014

The one where Charlotte is epic

I don't know this Brownie: http://www.extraaardvark.com/post/the-one-where-charlotte-is-epic

But I am very impressed! Well done Charlotte, you can tell you have worked hard for your badges!

Friday, 16 May 2014

Our Chalet

There's not much that could make me want to go to Our Chalet more. But this post did.
I have two Guider friends who want to go too, and our youngest kids are all too young for us to have tried to join the trip above. But we either want to join the next one (if there is one) in 2018 or we are going to organise ourselves to go in 2017. We need time to save up but that's got to be do-able!

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Commonwealth Games badge

Last week's meeting was the first of our Commonwealth Games badge nights - ably run by our Young Leader, very ably in fact, we were quite impressed. She had researched facts about the Commonwealth, about the Commonwealth Games and also found games to play from three different commonwealth countries which she then proceeded to organise and run using our Brownie Helper who is nearly a YL and our soon to be Brownie Helper who left Brownies at the end of last year.
Us adult leaders felt virtually superfluous - just kidding, it was wonderful to see and we were able to sort things out for a pack holiday coming soon and tie up loose ends of subs and Gift Aid.

We have another session in a few weeks for this badge, run in tandem with our local Cub Scouts. If you want info on the badge, which can be done by Guiding, Scouting, Girls Brigade and Boys Brigade, have a look here: http://www.girlguidingscotland.org.uk/node/1980 - it does say the badge is out of stock but when I called and asked they did have enough to send the 63 I needed, so worth a call. The challenge requirements are there too.

Then this weekend saw the latest in the series of five county events to celebrate the Big Brownie Birthday. So far we've had the launch on Thinking Day, the Sleepover at the National Space Centre and now the Centenary Walk. 
Still to come, county Brownie Revels and the finale. Anyway, the walk was good, we had to amend our route as the original route was both saturated and muck had been spread along some of it it the day before by the farmer who owned some of the land. But we had 17/25 of our Brownies plus 13 of their families joined in too, and the weather didn't get really bad until just before we finished when we could easily head for shelter.
Badges will be presented at this week's meeting as we didn't want to give them on the day and upset any siblings who had also come.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Going Away With Scheme

I got presented with this tonight. It means I can take the Brownies away overnight, or for a few nights to somewhere that has the programme and catering laid on such as PGL.
I'm so pleased! It represents an upgrade to the overnight only licence I had before, and gives us more flexibility in what we do as a unit.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Easter's over

This Easter, at least one of us, and often more of us:
*Ate out for breakfast (twice)
*Went to a barn dance
*Hosted our German friends for a few days
*Had both sets of grandparents visit
*Went to Ironbridge twice
*Decorated tiles
*Ate out for dinner
*Went to a birthday party
*Worked (I took a few days off, husband saved his time off to cover May half term)
*Went on a school physics weekend
*Went on a Guiding sleepover
*Completed a Duke of Edinburgh walk
*Walked/played at local reservoir
*Had a haircut
*Went to the optician
*Ate raclette
*Met American friends in London
*Went to the British Museum
*Went to the Churchill War Rooms
*Had an Easter egg hunt
*Shopped in Milton Keynes and Leamington
*Excelled at archery
*Cycled over 50 miles in one go
*Cycled, swam, ran, taekwondoed
*Planned a Brownie holiday

Good job there's a long weekend ahead next weekend, that's a lot of holiday to recover from! 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

New resources

The Brownie programme has been overhauled, introducing a third Adventure badge so a girl will earn one badge roughly every year if she participates in a pack that runs a balanced plan including you, community and world and takes part in events with other sections.

We do take care to run a balanced programme but could definitely stick more closely to the Adventure book, so we plan to fully embrace the new resources.

We have a ridiculously short summer term of just 8 meetings due to where Easter falls, venue closure for European elections and school commitments. So we're planning to take the new resources on board during this term and fully implement from September.

I already have lots of ideas from looking at the new Adventure Book of how we can break the girls into different groups more closely modelled on age than their usual Sixes, give them more say in what we do and tick all the right boxes for earning their badges.

We're giving every girl a copy of the new book in September and we have one for each leader too. I may or may not have read mine and marked it with tabs!

Monday, 7 April 2014

Girlguiding Minifigs

Last week, Girlguiding HQ was taken over by minifigs - tiny little Lego versions of each section of Girlguiding (except, come to think of it, there are no Trefoil Guild ones, we need those too!)

I've loved Lego for a very long time, I started playing with it as a toddler and carried on into my teenage years because it was a good connection with my much younger brother (10 years younger).

When I had my kids, Duplo was definitely on the cards, followed by all kinds of Lego. And when I took them to Legoland, my little brother just about died of jealousy! He really needs to have kids of his own purely so he can take them there.

So when the Girlguiding ones came out, I had to snap them up. As they were a whopping £9.99 each, I didn't get the full set, but I just couldn't turn down the chance to have these.

So I bought a Brownie because I do Brownies, a leader for me and a YL for daughter. I also added a Scout for son, they've done those for a while but this was the time to buy as he is about to move up to Scouts. And just to make sure husband didn't miss out I bought a minion for him, since he likes those.

If you're keen too, you can get them here: http://minifigs.me/product-category/our-minifigs/girlguiding/ - I don't get commission and I know they are expensive, this was a real treat and I have even informed the kids that should they lose theirs, it will not be replaced!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Ten nights

Having made sure the two girls who earned their five nights away badge had received them, I wondered how many nights I had done since the Girlguiding Midlands nights away scheme had started.
The answer: after the space centre, 10! And since we leaders can earn them too, I will present myself with one. :-)
I have been away more than 10 nights with Guiding of course, since we started going away in 2006 I would say it's more like 25. I'm lucky enough to have gone to Hautbois, to Ty Clywd, to BP House, to Division Camp and lots more.
But the scheme started in Jan 2011 so I'm counting since then.
My qualifying ten nights are:
*Two nights at guide camp
*Two (separate) nights in a nearby village hall
*Two nights at Girlguiding Leicestershire's chalet
*One night at the Space Centre
*One night at Warwick Castle
*One night at Pax Lodge World Centre
*One night at Blackwell Court in the Stable Block
I'll be notching up nights 11 and 12 at the end of next month then I think it will be next year before I add to my total and get that 15 badge!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Stay Away in Space

As part of the Big Brownie Birthday, our county has organised a series of three sleepovers at the National Space Centre in Leicester for the county's Brownies.

We were lucky enough to go to the second, last weekend, and I think it's one of the best sleepovers we have ever done. Our girls have slept over in some unusual places: Science Museum in London, Warwick Castle and more.
But this definitely ranks up there: they got to make rockets and launch them, visit many of the exhibits, make a weather report, play a team game that was very hard to crack (the organiser said no-one had worked out how to do it easily yet, then one of our leaders cracked it by mistake but we were very proud of her whether it was mistake or not), attend three planetarium shows and sleep, under the exhibits!
And they actually did sleep, so worn out by the time they headed for bed that they were quiet within 15 mins of lights out and were only waking in the 15 mins or so before they had to get up the next morning.
I've emailed the organisers to say thank you for the event, I know they must have put a lot of work in to organise it, and for them this was just one of three!
If your kids get the chance to do this with Guides, Scouts or school, grab it, it's a really good night and one that you just wouldn't get by turning up there as normal, great though that is.
Here's our girls on the launch pad under the rocket they have there (you can make it out through the skin of the building in the pic above) - we have better pics but of course I can't share their faces on here.


Saturday, 15 March 2014

Roller coaster

I had a rollercoaster evening at Brownies this week.

One of our leaders was running a FairTrade night and the girls were being quite noisy and not listening, despite choosing the theme of the evening. After they ignored all our raised hands for silence, she used a whistle and it shocked them into silence - they were pretty repentant after that so I'm hoping they will pay more attention next week!

Then we sent them out to their parents with two sheets of paper: a letter about how we are changing the way we collect subs from next term (not raising them, just evening out the payments over a year to avoid big bills in January) and I stapled the term diary for summer to the back, to fill the parents in on what we are planning.

I was manning the gate where we let them out and two of the newer parents saw the letters and, despite being no more than a metre from me, were complaining about more paperwork and how we do too much. I took it massively to heart: we are an active pack anyway, which we tell parents at the start, and with the Big Brownie Birthday we are doing even more than usual. And yes, if you sign your girl up for an event, I do need a form back, and, where relevant, payment.

I had a bit of a vent in a Brownie Guiders group that evening and other leaders were very supportive, pointing out that parents complain if we don't do anything with our girls, that 22 out of 24 sets of parents were happy, and that 24 girls are happy with what we do. The best comment, from my fellow blogger Kelloggsville (http://www.aguidinglife.co.uk) was that the moaning almost certainly had more to do with what was happening in the parents' lives than what we were doing.

Then just to complete the roller coaster and send me back on an upward swing, a couple of parents let me know hey had read the paperwork: one said she liked our plans for evening out how subs are paid across the year (and also kindly pointed out I had a date wrong on the diary due to European elections closing our venue) and the other said she spotted we are doing Commonwealth Games next term and would we be interested in her two Commonwealth medals? Rest assured, her help has been secured, what a find, and one we wouldn't have found out about until too late if we hadn't sent out that paperwork!

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Lights in the dark

We've wound up our candle project now, with the final of three evenings.

First, we reached out to 400 houses surrounding our meeting place. http://strictlyguiding.blogspot.co.uk/2014/01/big-brownie-birthday-challenge-candles.html

We offered a decorated candle to any house with a Brownie or former Brownie in, to help the people around us join in our celebrations.

The second meeting was decorating the candleholders, one for each current Brownie and one each for the people who had replied. We were a little disappointed that we had very few people involved who had no connection to us, almost everyone taking part had a former Brownie from our pack in their home, or was a mother of a current Brownie. We did have a few with no connection and we really appreciated their involvement.

Each Brownie took home her own candle that night and the following week, having allocated addresses to deliver to, each girl took at least one to be delivered to someone and I heard back from a couple of people that the Brownie who turned up on their doorstep was smiley, informed and a credit to us. :-)

Then, the final evening. We had asked all the recipients to light their candles at a certain time during our nearest meeting to Thinking Day, and before going out, we marked on a map of the UK where all the recipients had been Brownies, which really helped the girls see how we are part of a national organisation.

Then we wrapped up warm and went to see them.


This picture was taken from inside a house while we were outside (you can't see us!), a house with a current Brownie, a Brownie who was in our pack a while ago, and a mum who was a Brownie.

It was lovely to go round and see the candles lit up - we had a few people wave to us, one house had a Brownie sash pinned up in the window too which was lovely. We sang Brownie Bells at a couple of houses as we went round, and the girls loved the evening, they were very bouncy and giggly!

I'm glad we did this project, I only wish we could have included more people (I know personally of lots of houses that we did leaflet that did have former Brownies so it wasn't just bad luck with who was in houses) but you can only reach out, you can't make people reach back!

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Thinking Day and the start of our star badge

14 of our Brownies, our Brownie Helper (a Guide), our Young Leader (a member of Senior Section), 3 Leaders and our District Commissioner celebrated Thinking Day with more than 600 Brownies from all over our county on Feb 22nd.

Thinking Day is an annual celebration across WAGGGS (World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts) on our founder Robert Baden Powell's birthday. This year, it was also the county launch of our Big Brownie Birthday celebrations.

It was a fun event, the girls danced, and sang, and coloured, and ate. And for attending, they earned their first triangle of (potentially) five.

Our county has given every Brownie this year this lovely pentagon-shaped badge and for each of the five county-wide events during the year, they can also get a triangle. Put them together and they make a star! Here's what we have earned so far:
The other four events are: a sleepover, a walk, a Brownie Revels (a fun day with lots of things to do with other Brownies), and a disco. We have signed up to all five though our numbers vary between 12 and 19 for each one, so most of our Brownies will not have a complete star but they won't be far off. Gorgeous badge and a great way to mark the 100th birthday. I'm thinking of sewing mine (because us leaders get them too) on my Big Brownie Birthday hoodie, I noticed one of the organisers on Thinking Day had done that and I liked it.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Happy Thinking Day 2014

I'll be at an event with my Brownies this afternoon, I know at least some local girls have already left for the big national event at Alexandra Palace, should be a great day for all.

Also, Happy Founders Day to any Scouts who read this blog, and a message to my old car, which was due its MOT today (not that I chose that as the date after forgetting to MOT it one time) - I hope you are living with a new family and aren't just tiny bits of scrap now.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

I made this!

Not Guiding but wanted to share anyway; I went to a macaroon workshop and made these beauties today:

Not easy to make, and I'm not sure I will even try at home because of that, but fun nonetheless!

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Fun in the dark

We had fun in the dark this week, a no electricity night that did use some electricity!

We started with a dolls house, blacking out the windows and putting a torch inside and talking about why people blacked out windows in WWII. Each time a few windows had been blacked out with card and tape, we turned out the lights again to see if it was all blocked.

It took a while, and we had a really good discussion about why and how, and a wide range of peripheral questions and street lights and rationing and reserved occupations.

Then we used glowsticks to play a game with each girl having a stick, a leader with bells hiding among them in the dark and a girl having to find the leader by sound alone. We did have one glowstick leak and some liquid go in that girls eye so we  had two leaders with her, rinsing her eyes over and over with water.

As a side note, we followed procedure: informed her parents who were happy with the action we were taking and that the girl was keen to stay. We then talked it through with mum at the end of Brownies, got her to sign the accident book and gave her packaging in case she felt she needed to go to A&E. I checked the next day and the mum said the girl was fine. If she had needed to visit hospital we would have filled in the Girlguiding accident form that gets filed with our HQ in case of further issues. I was glad she was ok, and mum was very kind about it, indeed she said she had bought some herself for a party this weekend so she did appreciate it was a common enough thing to do and accidents happen. It's horrible when one of your girls is in pain though I know we did everything right. Next time I think we'd ask them to break them as far from their faces as possible - add that to the risk assessment if we do that again!

The game went well and then they made glowsticks art in the dark. At the end we had candles to give out to be distributed for our Thinking Day project involving the community, and one of our leaders got her five years service badge - she literally jumped up and down, clapped and squealed!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Old Brownie badges

Brownie badges used to be brown triangles, I remember earning Hostess, House Orderly, Home Skills and Gardener, among others.
Another leader agreed to sell me a stash of old badges so I could give one to each of my Brownies in this centenary year.
My Young Leader daughter took it one step further, researching each one, printing a slip with it's name and original year and taping the badge to it. So much better... A leader in the making or an archivist in the making?

Thursday, 6 February 2014

What our Brownies love about being Brownies

We asked them for 5 words each, and then our Young Leader put them all together and made this:


Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Teaching Traditions


Last weekend, we had an event to celebrate the Big Brownie Birthday, a district event for around 100 Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Senior Section.

We themed the event around Brownie Traditions, the girls got to:
*learn the National Anthem
*play Kim's Game to learn what Brownies used to carry in their pocket
*learn to tie simple knots
*learn to light a match safely, a candle safely, and some got to melt a wax crayon to make colours on a tea light
*colour in a Union Jack
*add their ideas to a future Brownie outline
*learn exercises Brownies had to perform to pass their tests back in the day.

It was fun, we had things to learn from it, as ever, in terms of organisation, but it was safe, and fun, so we were pleased! We were also pleased to involve the other sections, Guides shared their centenary a few years ago so it's only right that we share our big birthday too.

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