New To Guiding: How to Get a Brownie Name

This series of posts explains the things that nobody thinks to tell you about starting to volunteer with Girlguiding. Got a question you want answered?  Let me know in the comments or using the contact form.

This week, we’re going to talk about names.

If you’ve been to a couple of meetings, you’ll have noticed by now that the children don’t call the leaders by their (real life) names.  No “Lucy” or “Sally”, and no “Miss Rogers” or “Mrs Smith”.  It’s all “Brown Owl” and “Snowflake” and “Koala” and “Tawny Owl”.  What’s that all about then?

Traditional Brownie Names

Traditionally, Brownie Leaders have been called by the names of Owls.  Why?  It’s all to do with the Brownie Story.  If you haven’t heard the story yet, I won’t spoil the ending for you.  Suffice it to say that Tommy and Betty (two naughty, messy children) are trying to find a Brownie.  They’re searching in the woods, because Mum has told them that the Wise Old Owl might know where to find one.  The Owl turns out to be very helpful, and that’s why the Leaders are Owls.

In the most traditional packs, there is an unspoken heirarchy – Brown Owl is in charge, and Tawny Owl, Snowy Owl and Barn Owl follow her (usually in that order).  If there are more leaders, other Owls might make an appearance.  When I was a Young Leader, I was Little Owl (for obvious reasons).

The Modern World

These days, some units stick to the Owls – although the variety of owls has increased a lot, and there is less of a regimented order to them.  But some units have other names.  I, for example, am Snowflake.  I know people called Sunrise, Koala, Fluffy Owl, Lightning, Polar Bear, Seahorse, Brown Owl, Eagle Owl, Granny Owl, Tigger, Moonshine, and many more.

I want a Brownie Name!  How do I get one?

Each unit will have it’s own traditions, and for the most part all you’ll have to do is tell the unit leader that you’re enjoying Brownies and want to stay, and you think you’re ready to have a Proper Name.  She’ll take it from there.

In my unit, this is how it works:

1) All of the children suggest names.  This can be done during a Pow Wow, with everyone sitting in a circle, or you can leave a list out for the girls to add to during the evening.  If your unit has a theme for the names (Owls, or Animals, or Weather, for example) then ask the girls to think of suggestions on that theme.

2) The new leader (who we jokingly refer to as Nameless during this exercise) takes the list and narrows it down to her favourite three.  This is important, because otherwise (a) voting takes too long, and (b) she ends up with a name that she hates.  Remember, you might have this name shouted at you from across the supermarket, or in the street, so make sure you’re happy with it!  When we were chosing my name, one of the suggestions was Teabag!

3) The girls vote on which of the three they want.

And that’s it!  You now have your very own Brownie Name.  All you have to do now is try to remember to answer to it!

Got a good one?  Let me know in the comments below.

Do you want your very own Brownie name, but aren’t currently a member of Girlguiding?  Join Us!

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9 thoughts on “New To Guiding: How to Get a Brownie Name

Add yours

  1. Great article! I had a brown owl and tawny owl. I just became a coleader of my daughters troop and the leader has never heard of this tradition. I was born and raised in Canada. Is this also a tradition in the USA where I live now?

  2. I feel very sad as I have been Brown owl for twenty years I handed over to another leader last night Friday 13 th I am still doing everything I always did but the other leader is also doing a good job I can’t get my head around my change of name and have Bern upset all day I don’t want to upset her but can I be now called little brown owl or should I just get over it and say nothing thankyou

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