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
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