I’ve gone on holiday. 

Yes, in term time. I’m missing Brownies for it. 

I’m fortunate enough to have friends who will step in and be there if I ask nicely. My YL and new assistant leader (I have a new assistant!) are running things, but I’ve lined up some extra help for crowd control. 

It’s important that leaders feel they can take a holiday if they need to, I think. We are all volunteers and if we start feeling that it’s a chore we may all just give up entirely!

Anyway, the point of this post is actually to say that I’m not here, and I might go silent for a bit, depending on internet and time availability in Japan. Don’t worry, I’m coming back!

A Puzzle in a Wood


Or, more accurately, a Puzzlewood. 

Yesterday I went with my husband and mother-in-law to Puzzlewood in the Forest of Dean. 

Dave described it as “looks like the complex nobbly bits from Merlin, probably because it is the complex nobbly bits from Merlin.”

It would make a fun day out for Brownies and Guides too. 

Brownies would enjoy hunting for the magic door, dinosaur footprints, and the secret cave (among other things).

Guides would enjoy the fact that there are no maps available. If you get lost, then you get lost. A good challenge there!

(Leaders should note that it’s quite easy to pretend you’re lost, but actually quite hard to get completely lost if you have even a basic sense of direction.)

Both age groups would enjoy the small selection of animals and the indoor maze. It’s got tunnels and bridges and all sorts of secret doors. 


Special Design


Yesterday at Brownies we tried out “Special Design”, the activity on page 49 of the Brownie Adventure. 

Essentially, the activity involves sticking string to a piece of card and using it as a stamp to create a repeating pattern. 

You’re supposed to use it as wrapping paper to give a gift, which is why it’s in the “Community” section. We found that unless you were happy with your gift being slightly damp and painty, it wasn’t a great plan!

We had a lot of fun, and I even took the opportunity to tidy the paint box and throw out some of the junk that had accumulated. 

Things to remember when doing this again:

  • Big thick string. Not thin string. 
  • Thick card. 
  • Glue that works. 
  • If you use your stamp in the traditional stampy way you end up with a splodge, because they get paint on the backing cardboard. Instead, use a paintbrush to load up the string directly. Also that means you can use multiple colours on one stamp, which is pretty. 

Not a quick five minute activity, but well worth doing.

Learning from other professions


I’ve been reading a book recently about learning to teach in primary schools. 

Not because I have any desire to be a teacher (primary or otherwise), but for tips on managing large numbers of children. 

I was originally focused on the chapters on classroom management, planning and keeping children interested. But I have trouble only reading part of a book, so I read the rest too. 

I found parallels to my Guiding life in the most unexpected places. 

There is a chapter on educational theories, including some historical examples. The one that caught my eye was Plato’s theories. 

Plato believed that people at different stages of life need different types of education, in order to develop correctly. In this book, it is described like this:

Young children of quality who are not yet ready for the strains of philosophical training need to develop their senses of love of beauty, order and harmony. 

That’s Rainbows. 

As children get older, they need to be inspired by tales of heroes and great leaders. 

That’s Brownies. 

They need to ensure that their bodies are strong enough to house their souls, so the young need a period of rigorous physical training. 

Guides – not quite as obvious until you start thinking about camping and other outdoor skills. 

Only once the few have shown themselves to be fit will they be taught the secrets necessary for leadership. 

And there is the Senior Section. I’m mildly entertained that leadership is a secret. 

Unit 4.2 is on “The Curriculum”. A chapter specifically about the government-mandated UK primary curriculum can’t have anything to do with a volunteer-led organisation for the development of girls, right?


Once this thinking has been translated from the National Curriculum into teaching plans, the official documents are not really needed so much. This can make it difficult for student teachers to appreciate the links between the National Curriculum and school planning. 

When was the last time you sat down and thought about the WAGGGS values, and how they relate to the program you run at Brownies or Guides?

If you have a new leader, how much of their training is about what activities to run, and how much is about what Guiding is for?

Do you ever find inspiration for Guiding in unexpected places? Share your stories in the comments. 

Adventures, Chocolates, and Smoothies


This week’s Brownies saw us divided into Adventure groups for most of the evening.

I was with the Adventure group, some of the youngest girls. We picked out some activities to do this term, and then we started doing one – Special Design, from page 49 of the Brownie Adventure book. We didn’t really get very far, but we’ve got a lot of half-finished bits to finish off next time!

At the end of the meeting we all came back together to play the chocolate game – a perennial favourite!


The Guides are on their second week of Go For It! activities. One group went down the road to the co-op to look at the prices of things, one group were making smoothies, there was something going on in the kitchen that I didn’t investigate too closely, and one group were attempting to make ice-cream.

It did not go well.

I’m not sure what they did, but let’s just say it’s a very good job that our hall doesn’t have a carpet.


The smoothie, on the other hand, was very tasty.

Snowball fights and unit charters


Our first Brownie meeting of term was quite fun.

We did a little planning – the girls gave us some suggestions for activities, and they want to do the Toymaker badge this term. That should be interesting.

One of their suggestions was a snowball fight, so we did that right then and there.

The Brownies love snowball fights. We do it with newspaper and cotton wool balls. The hall is divided into four, and each team has to try and keep their area clear of “snow” by throwing it at the other teams. It will go on for basically as long as you want it to!


My other Brownies began with a game of “squashed Brownie”. Everyone sits in a circle on a chair. Then you just follow the instructions – for example, “if you have a brother, move one chair to the left”, or “if you’re wearing a necker, move three chairs to the right”.

If someone’s in that seat, just sit on them!

If you’re being sat on, you can’t move. You need to keep an eye on the size of the piles, and it’s best if you can keep track of who has been sat on for ages so you can twist the game in their favour for a while, but it causes an insane amount of giggling. And it’s good for getting to know people too.

Those Brownies also chose an interest badge. They’ve chosen to do First Aid, which is lovely. I like it when they choose something useful like that! I wonder if it’s possible to arrange visits to or by ambulance crews?

The Guides got going with some Go For It! planning, and we had a few badges to sign off that were done over the holidays.

We also started on revising the unit charter to make sure everyone still agreed, but got bogged down in a debate about whether “always be positive” was a fair request – what if you have a really good reason for being grumpy? Plus, some of them objected to the word “positive”.

What’s in your unit charter? Share your best ones in the comments!

Sixer training


I set up the first Brownie meeting of this term as Sixers and Seconds only. The plan was to do some leadership activities.

In retrospect, it may have been sensible to rearrange this meeting for another time. But to be fair, I didn’t know until pretty late on just how many of the girls were coming straight from a birthday party to Brownies. To make it worse, it was the birthday party of one of the Sixers.

They were, shall we say, a little high spirited.

Although they did all manage to come in uniform, I’m impressed at that!

I had so many last-minute apologies for being late/not coming at all that in the end I only had one girl turn up on time. Which was actually quite nice, because I never get time to sit and chat to the girls one-on-one.

We went through her current Adventure badge and talked about all the things she’s done in the last year. She couldn’t believe how much she had done! She started off the conversation with “I don’t think I’ve done anything”, and ended it with only one “World” activity left to do. With ten minutes before the late Brownies had predicted their arrival, we just went ahead and finished her badge. She was very pleased!

When the other girls arrived we launched into the leadership things.

We had a quick discussion about what a Leader is. A Leader, apparently, is

“someone who tells people what to do and gets their way all the time, except when they don’t”

Also, “someone who tells people off and gives out amber lights”, and “someone who helps people”.

They were slightly startled by the concept that they were Leaders – I think they thought it was only possible to have one Leader in the unit, and they had to be the adult.

Then we did some role plays.

I’ve loaded the role play cards we used into the Downloads section. We had three scenes.

In scene one, one girl was given the role of “new girl” – her instruction was to stand in the corner and look nervous unless someone spoke directly to her. One girl was the Sixer, and the rest were Brownies playing a game.

To their credit, the Sixer did get the new girl to join in the game, although she did it by physically dragging her over, which may not be the best solution ever!

In scene two, the girls were being inspected – in my unit the Sixer does the inspecting. Some of the girls were told they had really dirty fingernails, some were new and didn’t know what was going on, and some were perfect.

This one didn’t go so well. The Sixer didn’t try to explain to the new girls what the point of inspection was, or even what was being inspected. We had a little chat after that one about not assuming that people understand!

In scene three, the Leader had asked for attention, and two girls were still talking. The Sixer had to try and get them to be quiet.

There was lots of “shhhhhh!”, and some glaring, and some poking in the ribs. I think they decided that the glaring worked best.

To round off the instructional part of the evening, we had a little chat about needing to set a good example so that the younger girls learnt good habits. If you listen to instructions, you know what’s going on, and you spend more time having fun doing the activity and less time wandering around confused. And you get to feel smug when you can explain the task to your friend who wasn’t listening.

We finished another girl’s Adventure On badge by doing an activity from the Adventure Book about aliens crash landing outside our Brownie meeting.

They tried speaking slowly to the alien, and they tried sign language (the pre-school whose rooms we use have a poster up). Unfortunately they did all this while crowding really close to the alien and shouting loudly. I think the poor alien was terrified!

It was a fun evening. I quite like having a smaller group occasionally, you get to spend more time with each girl.