So, it has been a funny couple of weeks and the blog slipped a bit because “real” life was getting in the way of time for Eagle Owl to sit down after a meeting with the Unit and reflect on events – but that did not mean that life was not going on at meetings in the usual manic, high speed and slightly chaotic fashion – given that any plans made can be so deftly derailed by Brownies on a mission of their own.
Brownies continued to hone their first aid skills – with sights firmly set on getting both Stages 2 and 3 Skillsbuilders for their talents
– and the Owls can only confirm that somehow, bewildering even them, the Brownies pulled it off!
There was plenty of time for other fun too and glow sticks providing an evening of dark entertainment!
And week on week, Brownie badge books accompanied by files bristling with evidence, bags full of home crafted items, trophies and medals appeared as the competition has been fierce to earn the new badges (this new programme is costing a fortune) and, in particular, 2 members carefully focused on their end target – GOLD (under the changeover guidance).
Visits to Guide units, interviews with Guides, arranging activities for other Brownies in the meeting place and sharing news of their visits, trundling in with piles of evidence to gain their sought after badges; with one Brownie stating “it gives me something to do when I am on my own in my bedroom on Sunday afternoons” – the path to Gold was firmly trodden and all targets met, indeed exceeded.
To see how these Brownies have grown in their time and to see what they achieved has made the Owls so proud – so, as well as decorating Christmas Ornaments, a party game of pass the parcel and party food was organised for the grand presentation.
With this being the last meeting in our hall (before the Owls foolishly take everybody trampolining next week), Christmas presents were also shared and it was great to have so many things to celebrate on one night.
Unfortunately, one of our Gold recipients cannot appear in photographs, but as the badges were presented (into grubby hands still bearing much evidence, despite purportedly having been washed, of the earlier activity), the smiles of pride were so huge on both faces.
This is what Guiding is about and we wish both the girls many more adventures.
The shock of arriving to a vastly shrunk space; occupied by Rainbows, an afterschool club, many fidgety Brownies (who were 20 mins early) and a section of the school boarded off for major works triggered one of those sinking feelings.
The shock continued as a perfect circle (not a squirgle) was formed!!!!! The owls wondered if they had landed on a different planet!
It was clear that it was going to be challenging but, for once, The Unit behaved admirably.
They loved first aid!!!! They loved slings, bandages, they loved mummifying a Rainbow or two but most of all, they loved the Resucci Annies!
What joy can be gained from snogging a model person. What glee is to be gained from pushing up and down on their heart between their “boobies” (cue much giggling) and if you don’t like the casualty – well, you can always resort to sitting on them!
So an overcrowded and chaotic evening was managed and skills learned! We might make a lifesaver or two out of them yet!
As well as fun and adventure, Brownies have always had an opportunity to learn some skills for life and tonight it was time to look at life saving again, with a recap on fire safety followed by introducing first aid.
So The Unit started by looking back to Fire Safety from just before summer and with the question posed of “What would you do if there was a fire at your house?” proceed to offer their recollections.
“Block the door” – carried out with gusto apart from the one who stood primly and declared “my mother has washed my jacket after pack holiday and I am not getting it dirty…….”
“But what else would you do?”
“Hang out of a window.”
“But what else would you do?”
“Save my family.”
“But what else would you do?”
“Stay near the floor so I don’t breath smoke.”
“But what else would you do?” (tone now becoming slightly frantic and miming use of a telephone becoming evident)
“Err, get out.”
“BUT WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU DO?” (extra large hint now offered by naming Brownie who has a father in the Fire Brigade)
A few moments of pondering, a few moments of shuffling, a few little coughs and finally
“Well we could call the Fire Brigade”
Happily, their recollection of what to do for someone with clothing on fire was far clearer – but probably because it involves the joy of rolling on a dirty floor………. unless you are the one who has decided your jacket must remain clean.
So on to First Aid and a session where we looked at danger, response, airway and calling the ambulance, with some little plays put together and performed by the Brownies…….. probably the most “entertaining” (from a leader perspective) one being where everybody who arrived on the scene electrocuted themselves………….
A recap was clearly needed and the Owls had decided Eagle Owl should collapse…………..
this was done and poor Eagle Owl was subjected to a stampede where she was shaken, prodded and her feet kicked whilst one child yelled enthusiastically in her ear “IS YER IN THERE?” .
Barn Owl and Granny Owl had a major crowd control session and gradually we were able to continue!
Although their first aid skills were, thus far, traumatising, the Owls moved on to introduction of the recovery position. At this point, my jacket must remain clean forgot her earlier feelings about the floor and proceeded to roll around!
All Brownies did actually understand and do the recovery position fairly well.
The Owls were glad to see the end of the meeting approach as it was quite a challenging evening and the meeting ended with the tradition squirgle and some more badges handed out.
Next week – a well earned half-term holiday!!!!!!
And so it arrived, there was no escaping the fact that the weekend of the pack holiday had finally arrived.
Brownies and luggage descended from a variety of directions upon a bemused coach driver and were loaded, the adventure had begun!
“Are we nearly there yet?”, echoing before we were even out of sight of school, meant the need of a new measurement tool for distance and 1000 lorries did provide that! The back row summoned Eagle Owl for various issues and discussions so many times, that Granny Owl decided they may enjoy her company. Eagle Owl was glad as she had been unsure whether it was safe to remain in an area where a child was gaining great pleasure from sniffing the inside of her shoes…………….
And so we arrived at Hazel House, Ripon; a lovely holiday home at the rear of the Workhouse Museum, got them in and beds prepared quickly before getting on with our first activity which was, dependant on which Brownie you looked at, t-shirt painting, or t-shirt cementing (on some the paint is so thick it is still drying).
Sweeties were “rehomed” on arrival in the largest cooking pot in the kitchen……. the sort that can be used to make stew for 25 people with seconds available… anything smaller would not have contained the sugar fest which had arrived from home. Over the weekend, these were brought out at sensible intervals; not necessarily those which matched a Brownie’s idea of sensible as they did try a riot chanting “we want sweets” just prior to Saturday lunch.
With some, not-so-quiet games to keep them amused,
And off to bed……… followed by leader after leader visiting until past 1am for the noise and the dancing. The gentle word, the hard word, the riot act, the bedtime story, the leader sitting in there with them (which some failed to see) were all insufficient to quiet them. When not in the room with them, the Brownies were confused as to how we knew they were out of bed, it was strange that we could work this out from their stampede! Finally to sleep before, at 6.29.32am (yes we know the second) a large herd of elephants broke in to the buiding and invaded the toilets ……… it had to be the elephants because no Brownie was out of bed…………
A wet and windy day but they needed to be out……… so an exploration with crazy golf and an adventure playground filled the morning well. Give them the space and they do the rest (with the bonus that a nice leader friendly cafe is located at the crazy golf).
An afternoon of baking and crafting kept everyone busy (and every leader just a tiny bit fraught).
With beeswax candles, candle plunging, decorations to make and lots and lots baking.
With kite building, an exploration of the workhouse grounds – where the piggery, deadhouse and hospital fought closely for recognition as being the “best place ever”, plenty of energy was used. Other visitors to the Workhouse appeared to think the urchin brigade running around were part of a living exhibit!
By Saturday Night at the Movies and the nearly birthday party the leaders were feeling quiet tired from the never ending energy (and bickering) of The Unit.
It was time for bed and Eagle Owl just knew we could not have a second night of totally hyper children?
So how to silence them?????? Some would say it was bribery, the leadership team prefer to describe this as negotiation and reaching a deal between 2 parties! Eagle Owl hates slime with a passion, she has manage to avoid doing slime with The Unit for several years but had relented for the holiday…….. thus the no sleep/no clean up of bedroom in the morning = no slime agreement was negotiated between both parties. Amazingly, the deal was honoured!!!!
Sunday and time to think about home, so packing was first order of the day! What a nightmare – the lack of requested labelling, the lack of care on where clothes had been put, meant that everything went home, just not necessarily with the right child (parents were told the issue and will be given a corner to sort the clothing out between them at the next meeting). But the high spot came as a child advised she could not find her pyjamas……………. the fact she was still wearing them appeared to have completely passed her by, causing a leader to nearly choke with laughing (that is an upgrade required to incorporate in the next Risk Assessment).
Slime passes started to be distributed to those Brownies who were honouring part 2 of the agreement and this gradually encouraged those, who had thought they would get away without helping, that actually joining in might be a good idea. The team that had initially thought they would get away with it, had a change of heart and leaders were called back to check the room to find this.
It was quite amazing and so leaders issued the highly sought after slime passes so they could make theirs too.
Pizza making and more outdoor play meant that the rest of the holiday quickly rushed away (to the relief of several exhausted leaders) and the coach appeared to take them home!
Back to parents and their comments are perhaps the best final word to this adventure:
“Thank you to all the Owls, P has had a brilliant time, she can’t wait for the next one xx”
“S has had an amazing weekend. She can’t wait for the next adventure. Thank you so much 😁 xx”
“Thank you so much to all the owls for everything g you have done this weekend and for putting up with my demon child! She’s had an absolute ball xx”
“Thank you to everyone involved. N has had a fantastic weekend xx”
“thank you Owls sounds like they’ve had a brilliant time!! 😃”
“Thanks to everyone for this weekend- J loved it 😁 xx”
“Thank you to all the owls for this weekend. C had a brilliant time xx”
“Thank you so much to all the owls 🦉P has had an amazing weekend I am exhausted just hearing about how much you all did 💜”
“She’s had the best time! Thanks so much. Xx”
“Thanks so much! She’s had a blast! X”
“Thankyou ladies for a lovely weekend r has had a fabulous time xxx”
The first Brownie kind of flew through the door and yelled “I’m excited” which kind of set the tone for the evening with the pack holiday rabble firmly looking towards their weekend adventure with anticipation and looks on faces that were fit to strike fear into the hearts of leaders.
However, in a chaotic kind of way, we still managed to continue on our new programme adventure, this week taking on 2 UMAs; Invisible Bubble and Doggy Language!
After a quick recap on what we had done already, where a meaningful question of “what would Jesus do?” appeared from nowhere meaning leaders had to give a good response on their feet, it was time to try out 2 more new activities.
Both were received well and caused lots of fun and laughter, especially when they were extended to include games.
Invisible Bubble has a serious message about personal space but also worked well extended to a game of tag, where the person being chased could defend themselves by shouting “POP” at the right moment.
Equally, we considered the rights of all animals and incorporated a game of “Can I Cross Your River, Mr Crocodile” which raised the roof in noise levels.
On to Doggy Language, the Brownies had fun learning about dogs wanting a safe space and how to approach/ask about making a fuss of them; equally how to be calm and make it clear they did not want the dog to come to them, if they did not like dogs. A suitable game of Dead Dogs (well which Brownie does not love a gruesome name?) was a great way to finish that activity off.
We then tried for the circle as we had 3 promises to make and somehow, fielding random questions such as “can I bring my wellies” and “my cress is growing”, we managed to achieve those – welcome to our newest members.
L was very proud to receive 2 of the brand new interest badges which she has worked on hard at home and many books had to be updated with progress.
One piece of work for a badge is shared here as it shows how Brownies can give a safe space for a young person to express their views and feelings. The author has had a lot to contend with in her life and her greatest love is the stability she gets from Brownies. She now sees Sunday afternoon as her time to work on her new Brownie badge book and is determined that her Gold Award will be well and truly complete before Christmas and a move to Guides in new year.
So onwards to a weekend that promises to be fun, challenging, tiring and an adventure in equal measure.
How much quieter The Unit are when parents are in for the pre pack holiday parents meeting!
Well, as long as you ignore the cartoonlike stampedes too and from the toilets to use the tap!
You see, we Owls had little faith in anything ever growing in the tubs. We know the RHS had said the seeds were sturdy and good growers but having watched the planting methods deployed a few weeks ago, we assumed any seeds had been bludgeoned to death and come up with plan B – the ever reliable cress growing.
So cotton wool and seeds were shared around and planted – with a journey to the toilet to wet the cotton wool, a return trip because they forgot to wet the cotton wool, a return trip because they had brought the cup back without the cotton wool, a return trip becasue they had retrieved the cotton wool but left the cup………………… finally seeds were sown in cups on damp cotton wool!
But what was more surprising was a visit outside to look at the tubs and – miracle of miracles!!!!! There are definitely and unmistakably signs of life!
As The Unit had asked to do some artwork, autumn collages followed – with the usual chaos where they are let loose with both glue and felt tips in the same sitting……………
But fun was had.
Meanwhile, the parents meeting was another event which took those in attendance into the realms of the surreal.
Eagle Owl ran through the usual pre-trip info; itinerary and activities, menu, kit lists, required forms and threw the floor open to the questions from the parents.
Mum one opened her mouth and said
“I don’t know how to put this, but I need to ask a very serious question.”
Wondering where this was going, and was it going to be a real humdinger.
“Do you make them brush their teeth”
Covered the usual that is why it on the kit list and the responses that followed from every parent were truly hilarious.
To sum it up
– not one parent actually expects their child to wash all weekend
– they fully anticipate the soap and towel will remain untouched
– they are not expecting the leadership team to battle on this front particularly as they believe that goes above and beyond the call of duty and will clean their child upon their return (with permission given to apply a wet wipe if a child looks exceptionally bad)
HOWEVER, leaders were given carte blanche to use any means, both fair and foul, to get the kids to brush their teeth.
As long as teeth get brushed at least a couple of times whilst with us, anything else is fair game…………
Conclusion – it is not just the Owls who recognise these kids are wild, the parents know and accept it!!!!!!
Ok, we give you are permission – you may laugh!
We should have considered that full moon, but we forgot – and so closed ears, accompanied by loud volume, was hitting record levels.
Triple Boxer started off well! Led by 3 of our older members (under supervision!), even if they were apparently not listening, they could sure rock those moves!
The extended activities, however, were a little chaotic due to the “go for it BEFORE the instructions” mode deployed and instruction 7 now reads “Play as many rounds as you want, or until Granny Owl loses the will to live. If you can work out who won, rewards yourself with a large treat of your choice!”
Moving onward, Competitive Car Parks came out…………… the Brownies decided that for the 10 feelings part, it should be competitive on finding feelings which Eagle Owl could not spell. Ultimately they decided they were sad as they failed to come up with a word to defeat her.
The activity commenced after several false starts – to explain on a rolling basis what was happening ……. yes the reality dawned slowly on pair by pair it might be handy to understand………. and did work.
Brownies agreed that a good Brownie should act in a nice way to others, even if upset or disappointed and learn from failure and mistakes. They all then went to decorate their car template and write on it a reminder of one thing they were going to try to be a better Brownie (strangely listening to leaders was never suggested – worse luck!)
Meanwhile, a degree of looking at the next mountain of interest badge materials shipped in from home was taking place in one corner, with trophies, certificates, pictures and an impressive dream garden plan being produced for Grow Your Own
Competition notably increased amongst the squirgle as Brownies are all getting the idea they can earn badges!!!!!
At long last, the end of the meeting arrived, the Owls breathed a sigh of relief from a hard, demanding meeting (but one where Brownies did achieve) and departed to seek a rest and recovery period.
One thing is pretty clear, however, The Unit are perfectly happy with the new programme materials and have just taken to them like a duck takes to water!!!!!!
The Brownies wanted to grow “something”……. we were not sure what at the outset but ok, they had even suggested outside school as community, so although suggestions had come from old programme, it seemed a good idea to introduce the Badge Book (yes we know they are supposed to be done at home but, where it is girl led etc………) and having got some packets of pretty flowers etc from the RHS (not botanical but if they grow they looked nice and colourful), it was time to do as they wanted, particularly as it seemed bang on theme.
So the carpark was duly invaded with Granny Owl supervising as each Six filled their tub.
“Pat the soil down fairly firmly” translated to “all jump up and down and create concrete”.
“Give it a LITTLE drink” translated to “one teaspoonful should do it” or “let’s drown them” dependant on your Six.
And one member encouraged her group by repeatedly shouting instructions whilst using a bollard as a pogo stick.
Poor flowers!!!!!! They may manage to grow.
When the seeds had finally endured every kind of torture imaginable, the pots were moved to their final position by the entrance door and many tons of spare soil was swept up………. now we watch and wait!!!!!
Back inside, the Brownies gave a little thought to how the plants should be looked after from here on in.
It was decided they may like sunshine and rain, they may like being talked to (or shouted at) and like lots of love……. this will be given every day (poor seeds). The basic concept was grasped but delivery methods are worrying.
R had brought along her badge book and a large folder. There were notes, many notes and much progress was noted on many badges………. an order form was commenced.
Others got curious and realised that they too, were involved in many other activities – with dancers, performers, charity fundraisers and others, a burning interest started again on the road to Gold………. and the order book filled as Eagle Owl recognised that badges were actually being done seriously and there were going to be a lot for handing out in the very near future…….. this could involve a lot of brass.
With pictures, notes, poems and research…… it is fair to say the badge bug on the new programme is catching.
It was then time for a change of activity and pace so a promise relay was organised……… once the promise had been remembered, teams vied to get their sheet filled in first when members threw a 6 came up.
It was not too much of a surprise that the six who insisted on going together and stopping throwing every time they threw a 6 were soon lagging! Despite being told to throw in a small area, the Rainbow Leader moved quickly to avoid a dice projectile travelling at high speed over a distance of 10 feet or more!
A writhing squirgle brought another meeting to an end – silence was for happening, nor was standing still as too many were poised to go and discuss matters of great importance with their parents; resources required to gain a precious badge and for one, at least, demands to come on pack holiday.
Another week survived!
A new year, a new programme, new badges and new Rainbows moving up to The Unit. With so much new, it was never going to be quiet.
After busy preparation for the new term, with some rather dubious assistance, it was ready to go.
So welcome back and straight into the new programme we launched with gusto.
The Brownies loved looking at the new books and materials. Eyes started to gleam at the new badges and on finding the new Gold Award, little hands started to stroke the picture lovingly – a scene that alarmingly bore similarities to Gollum and you could virtually hear the whisper of “my preciousssssssssss” echoing around the room.
We could have been lured into believing that anything Gold would bring peace but The Ladder To Gold programme introduction game was to rudely shatter that illusion; it was noisy, fast and furious.
Then a decamp to the grounds to blend the request for a water fight with a Be Well Unit Meeting Activity in the shape of The Water Run. Buckets, water and cups with holes led to much screaming and pleasure. Ever more inventive ways were explored to transport water at speed, although the group who decided to take the full bucket with them were disqualified!
As the Rainbows headed for home, an audience gathered to gape at the spectacle and the message of the activity was clearly understood. Both participants and spectators got quite wet but nobody seemed worried. Sadly, we only remembered the camera at clear up time!!!!!
As we distributed the new Anniversary badges, the Brownies were full of enthusiasm to do more about water for Africa and, having hoped this would happen (as we have a stash of Water Aid badges to tie in too), Smartie tubes were distributed to help raise some money for this charity.
So the holidays quickly became a distant memory as competition “gain a badge” commenced!
And so the end of the Summer term on a fine summer evening.
In the park, the birds were singing and the ducks quietly paddling around on the lake……………. until The Unit, siblings and parents descended en masse. Any semblance of peace was shattered for an hour or two!
At the boat house, the kayaking instructor demonstrated a skill of being able to deliver a safety talk where every other sentence seemed to be “and if you are quiet and listen, we can get on the water much faster”.
Somehow (we are not sure how), leaders and parents managed to get every small person present in a bouyancy aid…………. be that a Brownie or other, if they were small, they got lashed firmly in and duly wrapped, somehow a mass launch of kayaks (1 and 2 person) and Canadian canoes was completed.
2 hours of wet fun passed in a flash with water battles involving anybody and everybody and a mum sharing with the world news of her “soggy bottom” (she had only come to watch but the lure of having a go had just proved too much).
By some miracle, not one Brownie fell in or capsized!
The great event of the night was the adventure of how many fit in a portaloo! 2 managed and shared with the world news that they even had matching knickers! Leaders and parents could only pretend (for a moment or two) that these strange children were unknown to them.
And so, the year ended with much sunshine and a few soggy bottoms!!!!