Tales from the unit

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?

Wrong!

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!

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/carol-pike2

Kusafiri Arts For Change Event In Madagascar

Kusafiri Arts For Change Event In Madagascar

Leader Lyndsey from Hapton Guides visits Madagascar’s Kusafiri, the 5th World Centre in Guiding, For Arts4Change!

My name is Lyndsey and I am a Rainbow, Brownie and Guide Leader from Lancashire North West/ Lancashire East. On 11th-17th April I took part in Kusafiri’s Arts for Change event in Madagascar. Established in 2010, Kusafiri is the 5th World Centre, and is unique in that it changes location frequently, moving around Africa to allow more girls to have a World Centre experience. The event took place in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo with 69 participants from 13 different countries.

The theme tune for the event was the song “When We Shine” which was created by another Arts
for Change in Sangam. We even got to sing along and share a Malagasy version!
In Madagascar, Girlguiding is split up into three associations Mpanazava Eto Madagasikara
(Protestant Girl Guides), Faniloni Madagaskara (Catholic Girl Guides)and Kiadini Madagasikara (non
denominational).

During the event we got to have a real taste of Malagasy
culture, discovering the city as well as participating in community
action. The whole event focussed on enjoying a real exploration of
the arts, its impact upon us, and how it can help to change the
world. An activity I really enjoyed was choosing an art form to gain
a new experience and learn how to create something unique.

We met representatives from each federation and split off into groups for day trips
to see the kind of activities that the Girl Guides do within that association.

"Being a part of Girlguiding can take you to some amazing places and give you some amazing adventures and memories. I am lucky enough to have been able to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience."

I chose to go to the metalwork factory, built from a large community with lots of families employed and a school on site.
The factory focuses upon training people the skills of being able to create lots of different items from metal in order to make a living.  This factory also strives to be extremely inclusive of all parts of society, giving chances to those previously overlooked including those with disabilities. The factory also has a massive shop with lots of lovely items, and receives many visitors who are offered the chance to buy unique handmade goods.

Arriving at the metalwork factory it was apparent it was a hive of activity, with lots of people, sounds of banging and tapping of the metal, and an almost electric atmosphere. Each of us selected an item that we wanted to make and were then assigned an employee to help us. I chose to make an incense/candle holder which really wasn’t very easy to make and took a lot of patience! The employee teaching us how to make our holder was also deaf and didn’t speak, but he also had great patience with us showing us how to do each step and helping us constantly along the way! The design involved cutting out stencils from the metal, lots of banging of the metal into shape/ tapping out the designs as well as soldering the metal together.   Once our product was all put together it went in a fire to be heat treated, producing a durable, incredibly hard finish. However because the base of the holder didn’t quite fit the top the ladies manning the fire insisted on sourcing correctly sizes bases! We had to plead to keep our bottoms as we didn’t care if it wasn’t perfect – we had made them! We were so proud of our finished products as it had taken around 5 hours to make. This was very slow compared to how fast the workers could produce them!

Another activity was choosing an art form in order to perform some community action within the city. I chose to join the drama group, which meant returning to the metal factory the next day to carry out some activities with the community’s children. Our sessions focused upon comedy and planning ideas the night before, we all got to see the effect on our behaviour of merely wearing a clown’s nose! We definitely got the children laughing and were able to do lots of silly games and activities in which we hope truly gave the children a day to remember!

The next part of the event was experiencing a day with one of the three associations. I chose the Mpanazava Eto Madagasikara Association and we got to visit a Guide Camp on their very own campsite. The association is going to be developing the campsite to include their own buildings and offices as well as a basketball court. When we arrived it was time for the raising of the flag, we then got to help make a change within the community by planting some trees on their land. The guides helped us pick our own spot and plant them in the ground.

We were then split off into smaller groups with a Malgasy Girl Guide who was able to explain to us about all the different activities which were happening around the campsite. This included looking at the different regions within the association and equipment used for outdoor cooking. We also engaged in a special project teaching girls how to make their own reusable kit for their periods. Unfortunately this is required as there is still stigma around this topic in the area, and often the products needed are unobtainable for a lot of women, mainly due to cost. The association then hosted lots of entertainment and dancing for Kusafiri participants, and I even got up on stage to share a camp fire song to reciprocate the sharing of cultures. Anyone who knows me will know I was in my element as I love a good sing-song!

 

Towards the end of the events we had our very own Madagascar Cultural evening and we had the opportunity to buy our own traditional Malagasy dress. We had to ask for help to tie our head wraps so they looked fancy, and some Malagasy guides also put some traditional make up on us! The evening included lots of entertainment with dancing, a fashion show, learning how to play traditional games and a traditional Malagasy meal in the evening.

On Easter Sunday we attended a catholic church service which was a an awe-inspiring experience just by the sheer amount of people that were able to fit into one room! I had never experienced anything like it, and I could only liken it to being in a packed stadium! It was a lovely way to gain another cultural experience within Madagascar, and one I would fully recommend if you have the chance.

 

The event as a whole was an amazing experience which developed my own knowledge about Guiding in a wider context, as well as learning about Madagascar culture and tradition and making lots of new Girlguiding friends!  The event was unique as it helped to develop my own understanding of arts and how it can make a change within our world and communities.

 

Being a part of Girlguiding can take you to some amazing places and give you some amazing adventures and memories. I am lucky enough to have been able to enjoy this once in a lifetime experience. Kusafiri is definitely a place in which you should support and help to develop, it helps girls all over Africa discover their potential, hosting international events and offering cultural exchanges like the ones we experienced.

Visit the WAGGGS facebook page to find more opportunities like Lyndsey had!

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

And so, it arrived! The last night of the term and it finally wound up at the hall as usual because of wet weather which, of course, cleared up and mocked us………. we could have done the park, but it will keep.

With the help of 2 grandparents, a b-b-q was organised just outside the school hall and we made smoke, so much smoke, the signals were visible for a good distance – verified by at least 2 other parents.
Grandson, and brother of Brownie, was there too and strangely hid in their camper van the entire night – 9 years old and appeared scared, very scared of the horde of swarming Brownies.

Everybody was keen to have a go and we were happy to introduce burger flipping as an activity – every Brownie is now prepared for a Saturday job in McD’s. Of course, being our unit, something unusual had to happen, and it did!  For no apparent reason, worms started appearing everywhere, so whilst a couple squealed, other delightedly collected them and gave them names!

Whilst cooking completed, random games were organised – no names, no rules that anyone over the age of 18 could understand, enjoyment levels high.

And after burgers were eaten, drinks enjoyed and clearing up done, the meeting had passed in the flash of an eye.

At this point we, of course, blame the smoke entirely, as a few tears appeared in the eyes of Ellie and leaders as she prepares to leave us and move to Guides.  Ellie has been a particular character, full of energy and thrown everything she has into Brownies plus being a member of the town Pantomime Society.


Thank you and we will miss you too, but hope you have lots more adventures to look forward to.

So, with lots of hugs, gifts and thanks. The Unit year has come to an end, BUT September will be here in no time at all and it seems there is little fear that any of this gang will change their mind about Brownies.

Oh We Do Like To Be Beside The Sea – The Sunday!

Oh We Do Like To Be Beside The Sea – The Sunday!

After the usual quality of sleep which accompanies a sleepover – the whispering, visits to the toilet and, for Eagle Owl, the hourly squawk of the radio to check we were ok. Coffee o’clock before wake them up arrived all too soon.  A quick raid of the local McDonalds produced the necessary and after going through revival, it was time for lights up.

N brought a very serious complaint to Eagle Owl to start the day – yes, it is true, the leader team were accused of having moved the circus toilets to different corners during the night.  We were duly chastised for our naughtiness.

A circus ring is a great place to watch the Brownies develop their life and team building skills as a great view can be had of all, but by providing gentle advice and support where required but not jumping in, the Brownies did manage to do their own packing and clearing up – and now understand why we call things stuff sacks.

Breakfast in the ballroom with a little waltzing and posing was a fancy experience for all. A request for afternoon tea had to be politely declined as it was not felt at £25 a head, we had the budget for this experience for Brownies.

The 4d experience should provide earplugs for leadership teams as the screaming was extreme then the Tower was conquered.  With more screaming and shouting, glass floors were danced on, many stairs ascended and we even spotted Pendle Hill and waved home.  And, as all great trips have a mountaintop moment, a birthday girl made it to the very top deck, let go of my hand and did a victory wave – conquering a long held fear of heights.

A tour of the gift shop, is best not mentioned – but suffice it to say every leader knows the trauma of shopping with small yellow people.  Then after more birthday cake for elevenses, we moved swiftly to our final highlights.

Terrorising many on the promenade and even causing a performer to quake a little, meeting other guiding friends (by surprise) along the way, our determined little party made their way to Central Pier and the family arcade.

Clutching a small bag of 2p’s each, syndicates were formed and steely stares adopted as the Brownies set out to beat the machines! The level of seriousness in the largest casino’s in the world, can never match that of a small Brownie, determined to win a few coins and prize tickets and the enterprising even took advantage of tourists leaving their unwanted tickets behind – determined to amass wealth to exchange for ……………. plastic tat.

Negotiations on exchange of tickets reached levels that make the Brexit brigade look like rank amateurs – never have such serious decisions as plastic wiggly bracelet, glow in the dark wotnot or handful of sweets had to be considered.  So serious were debates that, as Granny Owl, phoned to say she was outside the Lifeboat Station with a McDonalds lunch for all, the party had to be split with some being taken to eat whilst others continued to contemplate. It would appear that the decisions took so long that toilet breaks had to be taken, other tourists lost the will to live and departed and the Owls with party B were wondering if sleeping bags would be delivered but Granny Owl eventually stormed down the promenade and retrieved them all.

Meanwhile, our favourite friends – the Blackpool Seagulls – had realised we were back in town. Swiping a burger from a leader, another from a Brownie and scoring a direct hit on Eagle Owl – they made their presence known.

All too soon it was time for the fun to end. Back to the Tower, baggage collected and coach boarded – the parents were advised we were on our way back.

Burnley bus station saw the parents reunited with tired, happy, grubby little Brownies all clutching their treasures (or tat) and at last the leaders were free to go and seek showers, and a strong drink.

AND – FROM THE PARENTS

I want to go on Brownie camp!! X

Thank you so much to all involved. N had a fantastic first sleepover and also thank you for making the time to make sure she was ok and letting her cuddle the bear after leaving us upset. I’m glad I pushed her to go because she wouldn’t have wanted to miss it xxx

P had a wonderful time and for making her birthday extra special, thank you so much

E had a brilliant time on her last ever brownie trip thank you so much!!

Thanks so much. G had a fab time. Sorry but she can’t come on Tuesday. Hope you a have a lovely summer break. Thanks for the hard work that you put into running Brownies. Our girls are very lucky!

Thank you to all you wonderful leaders. U do an amazing job and deserve a medal! The kids really do appreciate what you do running these clubs for them without reward but it’s the memories they will keep and share for years to come that makes it all worth while. Thank you.

C absolutely loved the sleepover! Thank you so much xx

Fantastic time. Thank you.

M absolutely loved her 1st sleepover, thank you so much for all the organising and effort you have put in for what will be a fantastic memory

Thank you so much you deserve a medal! M had an amazing time!!

Same time next saturday for another sleep over lol only joking
What his trying to say is thank you, L-R has had a fabulous time.

Don’t bother with the refund. Knock it off next term. L had an amazing time and has not stopped telling us her stories yet.

Oh We Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside! – The Saturday!

Oh We Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside! – The Saturday!

There’s a famous seaside town called Blackpool,
That’s noted for fresh air and fun,
And one Saturday in early July,
By unit, and pals, it was overrun!

Any tears at parting from mum (from one Brownie) were forgotten in less than 5 mins and a coachful of noisy Brownies headed for a sleepover in the circus ring.  Frequent calls of “Are we nearly there yet?” echo’ed around and Eagle Owl generated vague answers which satisfied (even if they translated as – “how do I know in this heavy traffic?”).

It was strange how Joscelin Owl knew the names of quite a few before we reached the Tower!  It couldn’t possibly be that some fidgets had to be named repeatedly en route, could it?

And, on arrival, after the first of many ascents up many stairs immediately following, of course, the first of numerous toilet invasions by the horde, the adventure started in earnest with the circus.  The Brownies really enjoyed it, whilst grazing on sweets, popcorn and pop; whilst Leaders’ toes were curling – how on earth did that acrobat get away with a Risk Assessment allowing all kinds of terrifying dangling from the ceiling area – minus a belay rope or safety net?

Naughty Eagle Owl had forgotten to tell the ringmaster of the 3 birthdays, but the girls rectified that themselves and got an announcement to say their naughty scout master had forgotten – sorry Scouts but we forgot to correct him.

Our next stop took us to Jungle Jim’s. With a glass roof on a warm day, the grown ups gently wilted in the heat whilst the mob ran around with great enthusiasm, appearing frequently with glowing red faces to drink more water.  They seemed unaffected, so we left them going in order to tire them out.

Tiring them out was a vain hope, so given the beautiful evening, it was time for a walk down to the beach where an hour and half passed in what seemed like seconds.  A sandcastle building contest demonstrated their womble like acquisition skills as, with no money, they acquired the buckets spades (and beer cans) that others had left behind to make their creations.  Leaders balked and confiscated the empty beer cans but felt the rest was fair game.  When castles were built, attention turned to digging the largest holes possible and running……………. and still there appeared to be no end to their boundless energy! It was great to be outside as their noise level was epic!

So back we went and headed down to the circus to prepare for our sleepover.  Eagle owl carefully explained the sleeping arrangements – all possessions in the middle, heads to the middle and feet pointing to the edge in a circle with the circus ring, being a perfect circle as guidance.  Naturally, this presented as wasted breath; we got a splat with heads aimed any which way!

Brownies ran round and round the circus, still with boundless energy. They got into sleeping bags/out of sleeping bags/lost their pyjamas/found their pyjamas and in one case, needed reminding 20 times or so that we were getting ready for bed as N chose to supervise everybody else “being helpful” whilst ignoring every instruction herself.

Supper was consumed and into sleeping bags they got!

Then, with 3 birthdays to celebrate, it was time for the great midnight feast – ok this may have been midnight in Paris, but it worked for us! C’est la vie!  Naturally, having gone a whole 20 minutes or so without food, the Brownies were ready for this.  Before we could light the candles (2 per girl) in a safe area, Eagle Owl had to radio for a member of staff from the Tower and the Leaders were somewhat amused when she turned up with six litres of water to extinguish the conflagration she thought we may cause!  But the candles were blown out, presents and food passed round and finally it was time to settle the Brownies for the night.  We guessed we might be doing something right when one of the birthday girls exclaimed, “This is the best birthday ever!”.

With a little bit of tweaking of sleeping arrangements and a conjuring trick, where the Brownie who had gone head first into a bag was extracated in entertaining fashion (think rabbit out of hat), peace finally fell upon the ring with just the odd bit of whispering here and there to be heard.

And so day 1 drew to a close!

We didn’t predict a riot!

We didn’t predict a riot!

Sometimes, no matter how hard you try, there comes the point when the Riot Act needs to be read – with a reminder about what Brownies is really about.  Perhaps we should have predicted it, after all a rainy old day had preceded the meeting, but still not what we want.

The evening started so well, a squirgle formed quite fast and the Brownies were engaged with finishing off their Disability Badge.

Never realised that the odd cartwheel assisted in the learning of the Brownie Promise in sign language, but as they did a very good job of it, clearly there has to be something in it!
They were so interested, we carried on with the alphabet and signed our names, and even learnt a few simple words!

So, surprising even ourselves, the badge was completed in an air of relative calm (if you ignore the 3 mins it took for them to come together to complete the task).

But that was never going to last……………..

The second half of the evening was games, organised by older Brownies as part of of their final Adventure Badge.  “Don’t like that game, it’s boring” uttered one before she even knew what was planned.  So duly the Brownies started to talk over the organisers etc and be awkward – gentle warning issued and calm ensued.

The leaders encouraged the Brownies organising and helped them identify a few little problems – signing a letter from the far side of the room is not visible even to one with good eyesight so shout the letter too and by and by a game of “Red Letter” was delivered fairly effectively.

Group 2 had decided to play Letters in the Dark – this quickly turned into Letters in the Light when they remembered it was daylight outside and, again, with a few warnings to the most riotous, the game was enjoyed.

Group 3 were invited to start their game, but at the same time, a riot broke out.  Not that they did not want to play the game, well they didn’t know what it was, but it was just one of those moments when, despite having been learning the promise again, manners flew out of the window.

The leaders decided enough was enough and the Brownies were reminded what their promise stood for. We talked about kindness, support and respect ………. and one or two still found it funny UNTIL Eagle Owl suggested that if they couldn’t be nice, she would cancel the sleepover this coming weekend.
At that threat, shock ensued and a full inspection of tonsils could be carried out with ease because the trip is the highlight of this term, what with 3 birthdays to celebrate and so, calm returned to the unit, who then played nicely until the end of the meeting.

Badges were distributed, last minute reminders for Saturday and a letter for an end of term park visit next week and, wondering how rowdy the rabble are going to be this weekend, the leaders headed home for a glass of something stiff.

(and picture chosen this week to show their “livelier” side when, on a recent trip to Blackpool Zoo, they discovered that (a) this ride gave 3 goes for the price of 2 and (b) with a little careful planning, 17 Brownies can ride at the same time.

Teams and Trips

The meeting was a tale of 2 halves.

In the main room Granny Owl and a parent ran (very noisily) an evening of team building and, against a backdrop of laughter, screaming, shouting and what sounded suspiciously like a large herd of elephants on a stampede, I ploughed ahead with the parents meeting as we prepare for our adventure.

The parents periodically leapt out of their skins when there was a particular outburst of noise and listened (as attentively as they could) whilst the joys of their little loves heading off on a night away were explained.

As the proverbial bundle of forms were circulated, parents filled them in with joy – not saying they are looking forward to their night off but they had come armed with all the suggested information and could not get those forms done fast enough.

They accepted, in a relaxed fashion that their precious little bundle is likely to be fairly feral whilst liberated from home and the chances are they will need dunking in clean water on their return home.
They have agreed to label all clothing with names so we do not do the ritual of spare knicker identification outside the bus station.
They recognise there is only so much tat (err, souvenir shopping) they wish their offspring to do and will limit pocket money.
They understand packing light, very light, would be advisable as the owls do not intend to carry huge bundles of personal possessions for several little yellow people up numerous flights of stairs at the towers.
Easiest parents meeting ever!

So back to see what the racket was about – the squirrels appeared to be wearing copious amounts of marshmallow, the badgers appeared to be eating raw spaghetti, the foxes appeared bemused by it all and the rabbits actually had got the hang of working as a team and had a spaghetti tower built and in every activity they had done, this appeared to be a trend.

Parents had waited, as there was no time to go home, and watched with fascination the issues of getting their cherubs into a circle – they even started shouting encouragement! And a collective cringe as Bells was sung in 5 different keys – but at least they were agreed on the words!!!!

So another night survived (after some adult work on marshmallow removal from floor work – I mean, why work on the newspaper when there is a perfectly good floor next to it?) and a lot of prep to do in the next 10 days or so as we prepare to take The Unit on their sleepover.

Water Water Everywhere!

Water Water Everywhere!


WATER WATER EVERYWHERE!

It may have been a hot, hot night but we were on a mission!
A mission to get that Agility badge finished and, knowing we had plans for something cooling, we ploughed ahead with the aerobic dance session.

After some patient raising of the hand, a toot of the whistle and a slightly raised voice, the rabble gabbled in a squirgle and found out what was going on.

With a view from the rear, it was entertaining to see the total lack of co-ordination and dancing in the wrong direction – and that was just Granny Owl!  One reluctant dancer decided a bit of ballroom at the rear was the way to go with me, so we waltzed round the hall, dancing against the rhythm belting out.

After 10 mins or so of giving this our best, it was time to call time and move on to something else. Barn Owl had been busy quietly filling water balloons and as the playground/field were reached, they were despatched quicker than a camera could leave a pocket, so buckets and sponges become the new tools of choice.  E demonstrated an amazing skill to remain surprising dry, whilst emptying buckets over others. Our Young Leader learnt a vital lesson, never wear a black bra under a white blouse if you are going to join and get wet.

It quickly became a competition as to who could get the wettest and there was no calling time on this competition so all too soon, parents arrived and had to extract (whilst trying to stop laughing), their yellow one from the pack. It was noted that several parents quickly got rather wet as well.

However, one amazing fact had to be seen to be believed. Whilst the Owls walked up and down through the battle, they appeared to be wearing their invisibility cloaks as miraculously nobody chased them and they remained amazingly dry.

Just goes to show how a few £££’s can provide a lot of fun!

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