To be true to myself

We discussed the new Brownie Promise with the girls tonight. Or rather, with half of them. We have better luck with serious discussions when there are fewer girls, so we split them in two. Today, I had the seven and eight year olds.

We had the discussion in the park (the others were doing craft in the hall), so we couldn’t do the Promise bunting that I’ve seen so much of on twitter recently, or any of the other more crafty things.

First we had a bit of a spot the difference/were you paying attention game. I read the new Promise out (once, in a normal speaking voice) and then we asked them questions about which bits had changed. You could very quickly tell who had been listening!

We split them into groups and gave them a line of the Promise each. They had to come up with a way of explaining their line without using the words in it – a play, or a mime, or just some spoken words. Needless to say, the group that had “be true to myself” had a hard job!

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A serious discussion or the start of a play?

Afterwards we had a group discussion about what we thought of the explanations. I was very impressed with how seriously they were taking it – apart from the inevitable distractions of recently mown grass and passing dogs, they were very engaged in the topic.

So what did they say?

Be true to yourself means…

you should not let people bully you.

Yes, absolutely!

you should not lie.

Well, I suppose if you are the sort of person who is truthful (which of course as Brownies you all are) then being true to yourself would involve not telling lies. So yes.

you should do what you think is right.

Yes! And how do you know what is right?

Being nice to people is right, and not being naughty, and maybe you could ask a teacher, or your mum. Or Sunrise, or Lightning?

I don’t know whether to be offended I wasn’t listed, or relieved that some of the other leaders were.

So what about developing your beliefs?

Developing your beliefs was a harder discussion. We all agreed that we weren’t talking about belief in the tooth fairy or santa, which was a good start.

We don’t have an enormous ethical/cultural mix in our area so the girls aren’t really used to thinking about different ways that people see the world. Eventually, we decided that it might be about keeping an open mind. They’re promising not to be so obsessively sure that they already know everything that they refuse to learn more.

What they’re not promising to do is make a decision right now this very instant. There is no need to decide in the next ten minutes that you are a Christian, or an Atheist, or a Buddhist. They’re seven years old. They have time to think about it properly and make an informed decision – and that’s all they’re promising.

It’ll be interesting to see what the older girls come up with when we switch groups.

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