Tales from the unit

O – is for Olden Times

O – is for Olden Times

A journey to find out a little of how Brownies have changed over the years was the plan for tonight, with members of the Trefoil Guild invited (as part of the Trefoil Guild Challenge) to talk to the Brownies about their times as a Brownie and Leader.

As our guests arrived, any attempt at decorum failed when the cry went up “Urgh, M has dog poo on her shoes”, followed by C wailing “and now I have it all over my hands!”

The Owls scattered – to clean the floor, to clean the hands, to clean the shoes whilst Brownies demonstrated their ability to utter sounds of revulsion; each more loudly than the other!

Meanwhile (having taken along the old uniforms), the TG members decided the pre-68 ties needed doing more neatly……… then discovered they had actually forgotten how to do them.  With a bit of panic, the situation was resolved.

The Unit sang the opening song beautifully and played a game, then we sat down to listen to our guests – interspersed by L stating that M’s shoes still stank!

As the talk progressed, photographs were shared and Brownies were firstly dressed in the uniforms that our visitors would have worn themselves as Brownies and Guides.

As, slowly, every Brownie got to try on some sort of uniform for a period to cover roughly post WW2 to the uniform which preceded the current ones, our TG leaders even bravely volunteered to play a game from their Brownie days and the Brownies really enjoyed it. Rainbow parents seemed somewhat entertained as a crowd gathered to watch The Unit prancing around in the selection of Brownie wear.

Brownies were extracted from uniforms and a closing circle was held. It was astonishing to hear the TG members happily declare they would visit again (brave ladies indeed!).

And so, with a final chorus about smelly shoes, the Unit dispersed for another week.

Leaders are not stored in cupboards!

The unit is on holiday this week and, contrary to the belief of many a Brownie, Leaders are not stored in cupboards but are real people – who have lives, families, jobs and other demands outside of Guiding.

It was just over a year ago when this Eagle Owl decided to try to the Duke of Edinburgh Diamond Challenge – aware that full time caring duties were taking up pretty much every other bit of her life when she was not Guiding, a simple challenge was undertaken – to set aside the time each day to get outside and do a walk of a mile for 60 days.

Does not sound a lot, but during that 60 days, her mum was taken into Blackburn Hospital 3 times very ill and fitting in the time was certainly very challenging – cue the midnight walk around the hospital perimeter to get the daily walk in!

So walking was done, money was raised and task was accomplished. Winter set in and the cold dark nights put Eagle Owl back to hiding away and being a rather lazy owl to be honest.

January came and mum once more was very ill, not expected to live more than a week or two and Eagle Owl was pre-occupied when she made a blase agreement to support her cousin in a 50km walk for MIND in September.  The distance and challenge involved was not really considered and life revolved around care for mum, The Unit and church activities.  A week or two later, mum was still hanging on when an equally blase agreement was made to walk 45km with Granny Owl in October to help raise funds to replace the Mother’s Union Caravan.

February came, mum rallied (and is still very much with us) and Eagle Owl had forgotten about the walks!

March 18! The pack hit the doormat and the reality hit home hard!  A step on the scales told an accusing truth – fat and unfit!  A Fitbit was purchased that evening on the way to Lancashire East Singing Circle as surely that would tell a different story – but no, the next few days it accusingly said “couch potato”.

Eagle Owl utilised the help of The Unit with them doing the Agility Badge to help her on her way to getting fit and grimly the walking commenced – slowly and surely improving fitness.

By May, confidence was increasing when letter 2 arrived – the Ascent – 370 ft climbs (and Eagle Owl had been doing flat walks!).  A look showed the 1km walk to her house from the bottom was the same and grimly the hill, which became known as the hill of attrition, was tackled until Eagle Owl could get up in one continuous walk without feeling a sense of death.  Pack 3 arrived and showed that, unlike her 1km walk, the ascent involved in the big walk was spread over the entire 50km.

September arrived and with the team (who have raised over £8,000 for MIND) the walk along the Thames Pathway was completed. It was great! A challenge completed in 9 hours 47 mins walking time (and energy to spare at the end).  October saw the walk along the Leeds Liverpool – complete with the thickest mud ever seen, also completed in 9 hrs 30 mins.

So Leaders do have life outside of Guiding, but sometimes their challenges still have a Guiding link because it would be true to say there is a golden thread which runs from the point of starting the Duke of Edinburgh Diamond Challenge (only known about because of Guiding) to a far healthier Eagle Owl who can now outrun quite a lot of The Unit.

F is for Firework Collages and Fun

F is for Firework Collages and Fun

The Unit were quite lively tonight as the lure of a half-term holiday beckoned, but never ones to shy away from a badge, the Trefoil (tree-foil 3 leaf clover thingy according to the Brownies) Challenge continued to provide entertainment.

Using another section of the challenge and cunningly looking forward to Parliament week as well, the challenge was to create collages to “Remember, Remember the 5th of November”.

Asking the Brownies what bonfire night is about, we were confidently told it was when chap tried to blow summat up in London years and years and years ago. One pointed out the chap was called Guy Fawkes and after a little more effort, another volunteered it was the Houses of Parliament!  Having laboured history enough for one evening, the collage material was produced and away the groups went.

With more feathers flying around the hall than could be imagined, the girls got to work on their pictures and some nice efforts were produced then time to clean up so R swept the floor lovingly ……….. then the rest shook the table coverings off ………. all over the floor (which was swept again and again and again).

Time for a game and the promise jigsaw relay was used.
One group sat in a tight huddle and controlled their dice, continuing shaking when a 6 was rolled and gathered their jigsaw quite speedily BUT never thought to try assembling until all the pieces were acquired.
The other group stood up, wandered around, threw the dice everywhere, brought it with them when they threw a 6 BUT had the gumption to assemble the jigsaw as they went along and by some miracle, actually won.

Our LiT then tried her hand at running her first game single handedly and survived ……. but strangely has now requested a whistle of her own.  She is learning quickly the quirks and challenges of The Unit but can charm them into a near circle!

So a half term to recover now lies ahead.

E – is for Eat It (if you are brave enough)

E – is for Eat It (if you are brave enough)

Never a group to let the lack of a kitchen get in the way of a good food evening, the Unit ploughed on with their challenge and tonight was the Ready Steady Great British Pudding Off.

The Owls carefully divided the girls into teams, remembering to separate M, C and N in the hope that progress would be made and, led by the intrepid Sixers/Seconders, each team was issued with identical ingredients with which to create the dessert from heaven.

With a great deal of noise, the Sixes set to work. It quickly became apparent that one Six had, by stealth, liberated the blueberry supply from another Six without their knowledge and following remonstrations, the Owls redistributed again!

As this was completed, a disturbance was heard in the back corner and it became apparent that I and M (usually the best of friends) had decided that a Brownie punch up was in order – and it was not even as if we were trying the new boxing activity card out!  It was settled and they continued work in an uneasy truce.

Ensuring the supply of sprinkles and cream were shared fairly, the desserts were eventually completed and it was time for a game whilst we waited for our Judge to arrive.

Chinese Whispers, to a backdrop of Granny Owl refereeing I and M round two, filled a gap and soon the Wellfield equivalent of Mary Berry, our very own Mrs Rainbow Leader, attended and the Brownies gathered round to await the verdict.

Questions were asked, sampling carried out and explanations (usually quite incomprehensible) of what the dessert was, were provided and a worthy winner was announced.

And so it was time to plate up the puds and pack the girls home (it felt safer as we had managed to tidy the hall by this time to let them spread the crumbs round their houses). This had to be accomplished round I and M round three – who were duly handed to a mum who looked vexed and stated ominously “they will be dealt with” and, after ensuring each Brownie apologised, carted them off home.

Another week of the challenge survived and awaiting next week’s Challenge adventure.

R is for Remember to smile in the face of adversity

Ok – we may have wandered slightly off the theme of the challenge during the course of this evening but that happens!

The Unit were continuing with the Trefoil Guild Challenge and remembering older people who may be housebound, so the planting of hyacinths had been decided as a way of spreading cheer.

We started with one full bag of potting compost, pots and bulbs.
Remembering to finish off teamwork from the previous week, the last of the blindfold butties were duly made and, after scraping 10 x the amount of filling which had been supplied to start with off the tables, the fun carried on with a demonstration of how to plant a bulb supplied by N!

Once everybody knew how to plant a bulb, everybody set eagerly about planting their bulbs.  Pots were filled with compost, much compost was swept off the floor and returned to the – full bag of compost.

Eventually every Brownie had a planted hyacinth – right way up – yes that did take some working out – pot duly labelled and we swept up much compost and returned it to – the full bag of compost.

We then played an old game of crossing the crocodile river, which had to be held up several times to sweep the soil covered floor and return it to – the full bag of compost.
After a lot of fun and another sweep up, a game of dodgeball was enjoyed by all.

The time had come to return the Brownies home and they all left clutching their bulbs.

Once they had left the leaders looked around, sighed deeply and swept again, returning more compost to that full bag of compost.

We may never know how 30 plant pots can be correctly filled and planted and for there to be what appeared to be more compost in the bag at the end than we first started!

But the only conclusion we can reach is – compost is as lethal in the hands of the unit as glitter!

T is for Teamwork

T is for Teamwork

With the anniversary of the Trefoil Guild, with several leaders also being members of Trefoil Guild, with some of the challenge activities tying in with activities Brownies have asked for, this week was the perfect time to start work on Trefoil Guild Anniversary Challenge.

So a logical start was with the letter T, looking at teamwork (and listening) and fun and also looking for those girls to become new sixers and seconders.

The unit were unusually calm, they knew what made a good sixer and seconder and all pledged they were going to be the one to show they could do it – then most promptly forgot, but never mind, enough remembered and all the Brownies could see at the end who they were and agreed!

But back to the beginning!
Danny Owl had come along to help as Crystal Owl was poorly in hospital and soon had them working out on a fast and furious game of Simon says. It was the perfect energy burner, and showed those who were concentrating and listening. Once most were puffing and panting, game 2 came into play.  Human knot!

It should have been simple to split into 4 equal teams; corners of the room were each given a team number and the girls all said they were listening and knew where to go as they were given a number……………………… corner 1 – 10 girls, corner 2 – 3 girls, corner 3 – 4 girls, corner 4 – 9 girls………… once/twice/three times more and we got there!!!!!!!
Then we made a start – the owls had to intervene with the tangling as a few tried to simplify but, with tangled human webs created, Brownies enjoyed unravelling, so much so, each group had 2 or 3 goes.

At last the meeting highlight was reached, the blindfold sandwich making contest.  We discovered how many different places spread can go, and just how much Brownies can laugh! It was also slightly traumatic to see the “creations” being eaten as many looked in a rather sorry state.

So a Triumphant Teamwork evening soon ended – and Brownies headed home with their responsible adults declaring that they had never thought the simple act of making a sandwich would necessitate the need for a full bath!!!!

Calm Oasis

Was it the fact parents were in the next room for the school parents meeting?
Was it the fact that we introduced a yellow and red card system for our small core of mischief makers?
Was it the fact that one of our little trouble makers was off on holiday?

Who knows!

But it was a night that was so much more pleasant!
As we headed off to Africa, the Pow Wow was a lively discussion where Brownies compared their individual lives and those of their community to those of some of the children in poorer parts of Africa.

And agreement was made to support a charity called Mary’s Meals with items to ensure that children (and hopefully some Brownies!) get the chance to have the things they need – for fun, for school, for life.

With gusto, everybody made and blinged some African necklaces; bet there would be a few ladies who would have been jealous of our creations (but a shame a naughty Eagle Owl clean forgot to take a single photo of the beautiful creations).

Our Go For It Brownies managed to organise a game – enjoyed by Brownies, not understood in the least by the leaders.

All too soon it was time to go home and, watched by cringing parents, the Brownies attempted to make a circle – we drew circles in the air, we tried holding hands, we tried everything but, as one Brownie observed, the nearest we got was a potato!
Never mind, the closing song was sung beautifully and creations taken home.

Now can we expect to return to chaos next week, or have the unit got the idea that listening a bit means more fun as we can pack more activity in????

Watch this space.

I Promise To……….

I Promise To……….

Every term features some promise activity after all, it helps the new ones to learn and (should) refresh the memories of those who have already made their promise.

The meeting started brightly; Brownies were attentive and participated in a Pow Wow with the majority showing they did know the words of the Promise and Law and could give lots of examples of how to keep their Promise.

So far so good……………

Granny Owl introduced the chosen activity for this term, one which was fresh to all of them – the making of a promise torch.  We checked they had listened (and knew we were fooling ourselves really) and sent them off to make their torches.

So far so good………….

The youngest and the oldest started to tackle theirs without problem.  Super dad helper and our new LiT were quickly into the action whilst Eagle Owl searched for sellotape ends …… repeatedly…….. and Granny Owl dealt with support for terrifying year 4 set who were finding it too technical!

Some fabulous Promise torches were created and varied greatly in design -whoever bothered following a template exactly????

And does it matter really whether you carry or wear your torch at the end of the day?

Now this is where it all started to go a bit wrong – the youngest Brownies enthusiastically cleared up. A few of the oldest Brownies did a thorough sort of six boxes whilst others, for their final Adventure planned a brilliant game.
Sad to say that year 4 were not up for playing nicely and the riot act got delivered in ever stronger terms until they got sat in a circle and parents listened too.

Perhaps a little more work on the Promise before we get there?

Once More Into The Breach?

So 6 short weeks, which felt even shorter due to the regularity with which we have been with many of the Brownies, meant it was finally time to return to the pattern of the weekly unit meeting.

As some Brownies had move onwards and upwards, Granny Owl had been pleased that we had finally reduced to her aspiration of 24 Brownies in the unit; soon the steely stare was to be felt as those 2 new ones that had been offered places from the waiting list and those 3 Rainbows moved on in – but 29 is one less than 30, so it could not be denied that the unit size has been reduced………..

With change, it had been decided that it might be a good time to look at mixing the sixes up and also considering how Brownies should behave at meetings.

Oh, the ideas on paper and in pow-wow were wonders to behold; being quiet and listening, following instructions and so on………… it may take a little work, make that a lot of work, make that a possible aspirational dream we will never hit, to make that happen as those trusty whistles were required several times.

But fun was had, stories were shared, plans were made and the new lot of “senior” Brownies started working cheerfully and with determination on their final Adventure and Go For It in readiness for an adventure they can decide to start after Christmas, or later.

Onwards we go and one thing is clear, Brownies come and Brownies go, old years and new years start – but The Unit can be relied upon never to change.

Happy Holidays?

So a long school summer holidays means no Brownies and nothing for a leader to do – right?


From sorting out the six boxes (deep clean to remove the dust and grime, dispose of the now dead glue sticks, felt tips and other strange items that small people have chosen for some obsure reason to store), reviewing your stocks of the basics and hitting the shops to get the best deal, there is also the looking ahead to next term.

Planning meeting booked, new resource file for the new programme reviewed (nice to get a taster of what is coming next year), ideas from the girls reviewed to see how it can be incorporated – one thing we already know……. it will be a busy year again.

Moving older Brownies on to the next stage of their journey – watch out Guides, here they come!
Getting ready to welcome new Brownies – from Rainbows or as first timers.

Looking at how to welcome a brand new leader and help her to achieve her leadership qualifications – we cannot wait for you to join us Crystal!

So a holiday may mean a break from the girls, but a good leader never seems to stop completely and all too soon it will be time for us to start again.

And, if planning for Brownies restarting is not enough, some crazy leaders take on an extra challenge – to walk 50km (31 miles) in a single day to raise much needed funding for the mental health charity, MIND.

So if you enjoy reading and want to spur this crazy leader on with her adventures – both with The Unit and in other ways, please do chuck a £ or two into the pot and encourage her onwards and upwards!

Happy holidays to one and all!


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