Adventure On Bingo


As you probably already know, the Brownie Adventure book and badges have been redesigned recently.

We have, however, a few older girls who wanted to finish the old version so that their badges made a set. So yesterday we played Adventure On bingo.


I put together a number of similar but slightly different bingo cards. Each had 16 statements on, four each from themes of “keeping the Promise”, “being a buddy”, “trips and events” and “community action”.

Then, I called out things from the list at random. If the girls had the item and could think of an example they’d done in the past year, they could tick it off. First person to get a complete row or column won.

It was a fun way to update our records, and get the girls thinking about what they’ve achieved over the last year.

What does the Promise mean to you?


That was the question which I asked five older Brownies to answer for me last week.  And then I asked them to plan some activities which would help the younger girls understand the Promise better.

They spent a week planning – once we’d discussed basic principles of how to plan activities, they told me to go away.  So I did.

I went and took pictures of the other girls and what they were doing instead.  I know when I’m not wanted!

The Go For It! group were playing a board game, eight girls were working on Becoming a Brownie, and the rest were making bird feeders.

IMG_6531.JPGOnce they let me back in the room, the older girls explained their ideas.

There are four lines to the Promise, they said, so we’ll have four activities and take turns to do them all.

The first one will be about doing your best.  We’ll get them to make a card for the adult of their choice, which says “I will do my best to… because…”.  And the best one will get a prize.

Next, they’ll have to be true to themselves.  They have to think of three facts about themselves, and one of them has to be a lie.  Then they have to guess which one of each others is a lie.

Serving the Queen was a little bit of a stretch.  One of the girls dressed up as the Queen, and the others had to serve her tea.  While telling her about what they’d done to help the community.  I’m pretty certain they only put that last bit in because I pointed out that the Queen doesn’t drink that much tea!

Toilet Roll MummyAnd finally, helping other people.  At first they thought they should make fake wounds and teach people to bandage them.  Then they remembered how long making fake wounds takes, and decided to simplify (for which I was very glad!).  Instead, they gave each group a toilet roll, and asked them to make a mummy.  The group that had the neatest mummy was going to win a prize.

I was very impressed with how well they’d worked together, with no supervision, to come up with some pretty good ideas.  Some of them are a little bit of a stretch, it’s true, but they all sounded fun, and feasible, and as long as they explained them well enough…

So the next week they did just that.

We had a chat about one person talking at a time and how it made people easier to understand, and I reminded them that they would need to tell them the time limit otherwise they wouldn’t fit everything in, but then I set them loose and pretty much left them to it.

It wasn’t as chaotic as I’d feared.

Loud, yes, but they got all the activities done, and they even remembered to explain that they were supposed to be about the Promise.




September Goal Report


It occurs to me that I never quite got around to doing my end of September Goal Update post.

Round TuitNow that the bad puns are out of the way, how did September go?

Work – I took my exam at the end of September.  So most of September was taken up with frantic studying.  It paid off (at least in terms of how stressful I found the exam), because it was by far the easiest of the sittings I’ve attempted for that subject.  Whether that’s just because it was an easier paper or whether I was actually better prepared remains to be seen.  Results in December.

Family – Dave and the Kitties were, clearly, a little neglected because of the studying.  After my exam, we (Dave and I, not the kitties!) went out for dinner to celebrate, which was very relaxing – just what I needed.

Guiding – When I said I spent all my time studying, that wasn’t quite true.  I did take a weekend off to go to YOYO, which was awesome.

I did also go to Brownies, although we did easy things with very little prep needed – a pow wow to find out what they wanted, some games, and some things involving the phases of the moon (which, alas, was declared “boring, too like school”).

Kempo – I didn’t really go to Kempo in September.  It was one of the things that fell by the wayside in favour of studying.  To the extent that when I turned up again, my Sensei said that he was just about to phone me to find out if I was ok because he hadn’t seen me for so long.  It’s nice to be missed!

Reading – Yeah, well.  According to Goodreads, I didn’t read any books in September.  I started The Story of the Girl Guides, but didn’t finish it until October.  Mostly I was reading Life Insurance Subject SA2 Course Notes 2014, which is about as exciting as it sounds.

October is going well so far – I’ve finished The Story of the Girl Guides and I’ve also read Greenstar, which I believe to be one of the better books I’ve read this year.*  Anyone with even a vague interest in sci-fi humour should definitely look into it.  The link goes to the intro pack, which won’t even cost you anything!

Blogging – I could use studying as an excuse for not writing so much, but it would be a lie.  I just didn’t have a lot to say.  I’ll try to do better.

* I may be slightly biased, being married to half of the authors.  But I did enjoy it immensely.

The Story of the Girl Guides, by Rose Kerr


This book was originally published in 1932, but I read the revised and updated 1964 edition.


The book tracks the movement from its very beginnings to the formation of the World Association, ending in 1963, when there were 5.25 million girls in 68 countries involved.

It contains, all through, anecdotes and quotes from magazines, letters, and minutes of meetings, some of which would not be out of place today.

Take this, for example, from 1911. In a letter from a Guide, she writes:

You asked me what I liked best in camping out. I think it is the cooking; we took it in turn, one patrol one day and another the next. … I don’t think there were any things we disliked. I don’t dislike anything very much, except earwigs at night.

I dislike one thing though, and that is that camping is not long enough.

At the same camp, they took photos of everyone, including one of the leaders while she was asleep, and took part in a joint exercise with the Scouts – the boys were having a sham war, and the girls tracked down the injured and treated them.

The other comment from the first few chapters that particularly amused me was this one:

In February 1913 we meet for the first time our hardy perennial grievance, when Miss Taylor, of Liverpool, writes to complain of the bad quality of the Ternderfoot pins (and in those days they cost only 1d.!).

The reason for my amusement is left as an exercise for the reader.

Safeguarding, which I thought was a current buzzword, makes its first appearance in 1914, when a notice was sent out to captains who are considering how to help with the war effort.

Captains are asked to exercise special caution in the selection of girls for any public work.  Every safeguard must be given to the girls … Only those who bring a written permission from their parents should be employed.  Every girl selected for work must have a card with her name and address, stating the work for which she is sent, and each card must be signed by the captain.

It’s not all serious though.  A fun game is mentioned, originally played by Lady BP – collecting commissioners. Take a map of England to a conference and fill in whenever you meet the commissioner for that area.  I might try that at the next County Day (on a smaller scale, of course).

I know many people will understand this event:

One evening in September 1923, when Olivia Burges was staying with the Baden-Powells, were they walking home through the corn fields at the back of Pax Hill, and started to discuss this subject [of an international camp]. … They then and there sat down on a corn-stook to talk it all out, and got so excited they almost forgot to go home to supper.

Some things never change!

Another thing that never changes – or rather which comes around again and again – is new uniforms.  It being particularly topical at the moment, I thought I’d quote this section from 1945:

We want a uniform which people will LIKE and which will be suitable.  All the Movement has to do is vote for a uniform which will be just the thing for:

a) Those who have always liked the present uniform and want to keep it;

b) Those who have never liked the present uniform and won’t keep to it!

c) Those who wouldn’t like to be seen in any uniform that was not of the well-known blue;

d) Those who don’t want to be seen in any uniform, and must have a blend of grass green and earth brown wherewith to melt into the landscape!

e) Those who always seem neat and smart whatever they wear;

f) Those who always seem content whatever they wear (and however they wear it!);

g) Those who mostly wear their uniforms to go to meetings and impress the local pundits;

h) Those who mostly wear their uniforms to go to the local woods and stalk the local rabbits;

i) Those who wear uniform to sit in every day;

j) Those who wear uniform to bicycle now and then a long way;

k) Those with a bad circulation who live on the North Sea coast;

l) Those with a good circulation who live on the Cornish Riviera;

m) Those who want a uniform which can’t be mistaken for anything but a uniform;

n) Those who want a uniform which can easily be mistaken for their favourite dress designer’s latest dream.

All in all, it’s a wonder anything ever gets agreed!

The book as a whole is rather tedious, especially at the start when it contains so many references to people and events which were clearly important at the time that it gets bogged down a little.  It was originally written in 1932, so it’s very close to the events – to the point where it wasn’t considered necessary to explain some things in as much detail as modern readership would need.

It is, however, fascinating if read a little at a time.

Too many nine-year-olds


As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I have a lot of nine-year-olds.  Specifically, a lot of almost-ten-year-olds, who are on their last term at Brownies.

I have more of them than there are Sixes, meaning that if we leave things as they are, some of the girls won’t get to be a Sixer.  If some of them were immature, annoying, bad attenders, or otherwise unsuitable, that wouldn’t be a problem, but as it is all of them would make good leaders.

So what to do?

I talked to them about it tonight.  I gave them five choices:

1. Remain in your current arrangement.  Three girls won’t get to be Sixer.

2. Swap roles at half term.  Three Sixers would be demoted, to allow their friends a chance to try it out.

3. Job share.  In this option, each pair of Sixer/Seconder would have to agree between themselves how to share the role.  I would probably insist that they wrote it down, to prevent later arguments.

4. Two girls have been a Sixer for a term already, and are already ten.  I could promote them to General Assistant (for example, ask them to help the Adventure group complete tasks, or supervise the clearing up).  Their two Seconders would be promoted to Sixer, leaving one girl who would never be Sixer.  That girl would be Patrol Leader of the Go For It! group.

5. Come up with your own plan, that everyone is happy with.

The discussion, as you can imagine, was quite heated.

Option 1 was universally unpopular.  So was option 5.

Option 4 was the most debated, partially I think just to clarify what it meant.  The older girls seemed mildly interested in the concept, but only mildly.  The younger girls thought it would be confusing.  Particularly, the girl who would have to move Six said it would be

weird, like saying goodbye to a house that you’ve lived in all your life,

and nobody wanted to be a Patrol Leader.

Option 2, swapping roles at half term, wasn’t popular either.  Interestingly, it was the girls who would be Sixer second that thought it wouldn’t be fair, not those who would need to be demoted.

And so we have settled on Job Share.  Some of the girls wanted to switch each week, and some are going to work as a team to complete the role together.  But as of tonight, I have eight Sixers.

In the end, no matter what the outcome was, all of the girls were happy with the decision, because they made it.




I’m free.

Finally, blessedly, blissfully free.

My last exam was yesterday, and it was not a horrible experience.  Now all I have to do is wait until December to find out the results, finish my work based skills log and persuade my boss to read it and sign it off.  Which might actually be harder than doing the exam.

I’ll also be catching up on all those things I’ve been putting off in favour of studying, so if you know me in real life expect a flurry of emails, phone calls, discussions, and so on!

More Interesting Things

Life does not stand still while I ignore it, and the last couple of weeks have seen the start of a new term of Brownies.

We had eight new girls in one unit.  We lost a lot at the end of summer – mostly the older ones who had been hanging on, desperate to finish the Big Brownie Birthday year as a Brownie.   I don’t remember the last time we had eight spaces at the same time!

I think I was most impressed by the girl who turned up with about three hours notice – a child emailed on Wednesday morning to say she wasn’t coming back to Brownies, and by Wednesday afternoon we’d filled the space with an eager young girl.*

It’s quite fun having that many new ones together.  Fortunately we have a large unit, so there are plenty of older ones to show them the ropes.  I can’t imagine having a third or more of the unit not knowing what’s going on, it would be chaos!

The first meeting was mostly full of getting to know you games and choosing what to do.  We’ve picked some activities from the Adventure book, and the girls also picked an interest badge to do together.

They picked Stargazer, so we’ve been walking in circles around each other and shining torches at balls to understand the moon’s phases, finger painting planets, and there’s plans afoot for a trip to the planetarium.  We can’t go actual stargazing until later in the term, when it gets dark.

We also played a North-South-East-West variant, with moon phases, and the girls created a quiz.  My favourite question: “What happens if you get sucked into a black hole?”.

My other unit only had one new girl.  She’s lovely, and very enthusiastic!  On the other hand, she is anaphylactic to eggs and dairy.  My Brownies love cooking things – does anyone have any bright ideas for recipes I can use which won’t kill my new recruit?

My major problem with that unit is the large number of older ones.  It’s going to be interesting at Christmas – I’ve got seven or eight all leaving together, which will absolutely decimate my Sixer and Seconder ranks.  In the meantime, I have more people leaving than I do Sixer positions, meaning some of them won’t get to be Sixer.  I plan on talking to them about it this week, see if they can come up with a solution which satisfies everyone.

I’m definitely happy to be getting back into the swing of Guiding, after all that study!

* When I say “we”, I mean “Lightning”, since she does all of the waiting list things and about 99% of the parent communication.

Back Woods Skills


One more post about YOYO, and then I might start talking about this term…

One of the sessions I attended at the YOYO weekend was Back Woods Skills.  Not Backwards Skills, as some people (I think deliberately) mis-heard it.

It was amazing.

The leader was very enthusiastic, and knowledgeable. The enthusiasm was contagious. I didn’t speak to a single person who didn’t enjoy that session.


Amazing what a power drill and some imagination can do, isn’t it?

The leader, Fiona, runs a forest school for 0-5 year olds, and works with all levels of Girlguiding.  She told stories about getting 2 year olds to use power drills!  She takes children out and teaches them about nature in a way that makes them want to learn.

What did we do?

First we had a little chat about how to get children risk assessing their own environment.  We talked about danger in the forest – the canopy, the shrub layer, field layer, and ground, and how each layer has it’s own problems and rewards.

We talked about tools that might be useful – power drills, saws, knives of various types, cooking equipment, cotton wool (yes, really), potato peelers, and so on.

We laid fires and lit them without using any matches at all.  That one-match trick is for cheaters, apparently.

Seriously, we used a flint and steel, and the cotton wool ball, which burns really well if you open it up a little. No matches needed.  I love steels – they work even if they get wet, and once you’ve got the knack it’s really easy.  And you’ll never get to the end of the box and realise you don’t have any more.

Of course, once we’d lit the fires we had to use them for something, so we made dampers and s’mores.



That’s where the potato peelers came in – to peel the sticks to cook the food.  Did you know, if you peel a stick, the inside is sterile?  And the potato peelers mean the girls can whittle their own stick in (relative) safety.

Here’s another thing – why have we never thought to add things to our damper mix?  My Brownies love making dampers.  It’s just bread mix, so it’s really easy.  In the past we’ve provided jam and chocolate spread to put on them.  But Fiona suggested wrapping the bread in cheese strings, or adding garlic or sun-dried tomatoes to the mix.  A revelation!

We also, and this was very exciting, made pencils.

First, we collected some soft wood – in this case willow.  Place it in a tin with some holes in, and put the whole thing on the fire.  The bigger the tin, the longer it takes.  The quality street tin in the picture took about 30-35 minutes.  You can tell it’s ready when the smoke changes colour.


A word of warning.  Don’t use a paint tin (for what I hope is obvious reasons).  And burn your tin before doing this with children, to get the chemicals used to make the pretty picture off the outside.

Once we’d made our charcoal, we needed another piece of wood.  This time a stick with a pithy middle, like elder.  Carve out the centre – if you do a large pencil you can use a tent peg to do the carving, but I did mine with a smaller stick.  Stick the charcoal down the centre of your other stick, and voila!  One pencil, ready for use.


I thoroughly enjoyed the session, and I would encourage everyone to try it at home!  Don’t be put off by not knowing much – just take the girls somewhere, give them a couple of ideas to get them going, and see what they come up with.