Tales from the unit

Sunshine and Soggy Bottoms

Sunshine and Soggy Bottoms

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!!!!

The Gremlins

The Gremlins

After being so wild last week and, with it being ultra hot, the hooligans were coralled inside to do some quieter activity in the cool!

So Granny Owl had lots of calmer activity around whatever badge it is they have chosen to work on (purportedly this is Brownie Skills – a selection of essential life skills that every Brownie should know).

Meanwhile, Barn Owl had raided work to procure the UV light and special hand cream to find out if hands were being washed properly……….. this is where we were quick to discover what grubby gremlins we really have as the UV took on war paint properties.

The science is simple
1 apply cream to hands
2 wash and dry thoroughly
3 any missed will flouresce when viewed with a UV light in a dark room

Some achieved reasonably clean hands, other Brownies glowed on hands, faces, necks, uniforms etc in a sinister fashion.

It was such good fun, Rainbows joined in and glowed in same strange fashion.

We had planned a little more activity but many were lost, apart from a short game, as so much pleasure was being gained from sitting in the PE cupboard glowing.

At least the leaders kept cool and, when the main action was happening in the cupboard, the noise levels were muted.

Sometimes the simplest things do give the most pleasure and the Brownies have learnt how far and easily germs can be spread – so there was a positive from a ghostly evening!

A Sense of Direction

A Sense of Direction

Perhaps it was the windy weather, perhaps it was the fact we were several leaders down due to DofE volunteers being in the thick of exams and Barn Owl needing to stay at work at the last minute but, despite the fact we were at 20 out of a possible 27, they were wild enough and loud enough to make it seem as if we had 100 or more.

The Theory
Dividing them up, Brownies were going to try learning the most basic of compass skills and to do some more basic cooking.

The Outcome
Do not, repeat – DO NOT ever ask any of them to navigate for  you! Lined up, all facing North and told to walk North equals – one walks in a Westerly direction, on to the climbing equipment which has been banned from use and promptly falls!
4 walk end up walking through shrubbery (in a Southerly direction) and into the School wall.
Granny Owl battled on, but it was very obvious (from the sag of her shoulders) that she was losing both the battle and the will to live.
Sense of direction did not improve.

Meanwhile, over at the popcorn station, Eagle Owl had switched from Plan A of cooking on a small open fire to Plan B……. deploying her Trangia as she suspected it would be slightly less stressful!
The plan was good and, a six at a time, the Brownies came to cook popcorn.
With food being involved, it was apparent the learning was quicker.  After group one removed the lid, accusing Eagle Owl that nothing was actually cooking, to discover that was the point the corn was ready to pop and 30% or so popping straight out of the pan and onto the floor……….. trust was placed in Eagle Owl and the lid kept firmly on.  So, in due course, all Brownies partook of popcorn; some slightly more burnt but all declared tasty.

Whilst the Brownies would have carried on cooking, Granny Owl had had enough. If she had one, her white flag would have been waved and so the meeting ended inside with games; Captain’s Coming continuing to display a lack of direction.

So, to continue or not to continue to try to teach the basic compass points and direction? THAT is the question.

Take Over At Towneley

Take Over At Towneley

We couldn’t miss a meeting for 3 weeks in a row and, with the school unavailable, it was decided to invade Towneley Park instead.
If unleashing the Unit in acres of parkland were not enough, a rash decision to invite a neighbouring unit along was added to mix and so, a slightly duller than of recent, many Brownies (with several brave volunteer parents) descended for an evening of fun.

With a large adventure playground, games bag, trail laying and nest building to try things were busy but to round it off – the making of hot dogs was added to the mix.

The eyes of the eldest Brownie lit up as the portable cooker appeared and she took the role of chef for the evening, only flapping when she dropped the serving tongs in the pan at one point!

Nobody knows for sure what trails were finished or followed but nobody seemed worried.

A brilliant and very active night was had by all and the food declared “brilliant”.

The Guide helper exclaimed “it was brilliant running wild” and the visiting unit plan to invest in their own portable stove and cook much more.

Happy chaos which amused many passing walkers, runners and cyclists!

Fun In The Field

Fun In The Field

There was a plan, a plan involving fun and work indoors towards their latest badge but…………..
a blue sky and sunshine beckoned
a large field was tempting
so, given the offer, it was never in any doubt that fun outdoors would be the choice.

Grabbing the bag of equipment and issuing our usual set of rules (keep shoes on/don’t climb trees/ stay in sight etc) we headed on out and the instructions were remembered for at least, oh 5 seconds or so…….

But, of course, the explanation was good – this was NOT climbing a tree, but this was a serious animal based game to experience life as a monkey!

A sack race was organised by some;
But they forgot to set a direction and so they bounced off in opposite directions.
But there was laughter and flying hair.
And it should be remembered that whoever created rules for parachute games was probably being rather rigid………… left to their own devices, they had tons of fun (although we did need to remind C it did not need to visit the toilet with her) and the impersonation of the Wellfield field ghost was rather entertaining.
However the best of the night was saved for the great shoe chase.  So many had managed to become parted from feet that Eagle Owl was having great fun strolling round and dropping them all into a sack.
Finally some noticed and a chase ensued…….. but Eagle Owl is proud to say she stayed in the lead for an awful long time!!!!

and shoes were returned to feet with one explaining

that she had odd socks due to her others

being in the dishwasher…………………………….



It may only have been a few, but nevertheless 3 intrepid and energetic Brownies joined other Rainbows, Brownies and Guides from Burnley, Lancashire East and further afield at the Girlguiding North West England Energise event in Blackpool.

The packed schedule of lively activities should have left every kid exhausted but nope, in common with the rest, The Unit were full of energy from beginning to end.

With football and netball, and archery too, great fun was had all day.

The cycling kept everyone amused with Eagle Owl doing 30 mins cycling herself (and Granny Owl settling for a 5 min pedal whilst coffee cooled).  And there were certainly and interesting array of bikes to try and, let’s be honest, who cares how many squash on a trike made for one????

P asked if it would be ok to shoot the seagulls (as she has a history of them giving her a “present” in Blackpool) and there was a strange reticence to eat ice cream – until they realised the leaders were paying, when they quickly changed their minds and were not going to be persuaded that they did not like ice cream!

After a fun on the adventure playground and inflatables (where Eagle Owl was happy to have a go too), it was time to head home and, whilst many children have a sing or a game of I Spy on a journey, the little trio (not realising Eagle Owl could hear every word on the seat in front) discussed:
– the pros and cons of ownership of a Fire Brigade Hooligan tool versus an archery set
– who could trump the loudest and longest and, most delightfully of all, what colour sick they would make after all the sweets they had been sneaking – so lovely but mums just took it on their chin that their little cherubs are “delightful”. But perhaps it is nice to spot that they are having a happy childhood where, through Guiding, they can do what they want without feeling pressured.

Fire! Fire!

Fire! Fire!

Week 2 at Fire Station and a remarkable 100% of those Brownies who were there (sadly 4 were unable to join us tonight) remembered their homework! Families had endured a week of planning and evacuating their homes but confessed their homes were actually the safer for it.

A quick test in “silence” (if you ignore the giggling, whispering etc etc and ever increasing decibels – it was quiet for at least, oh, 5 seconds or so).  Following the interruption of a call out which led to an elepantine stampede to the window to watch a tender going out, The Unit manged to show they had actually remembered all the key information and so it was time for fun.

After admiring the fire station pole (and being prevented from sliding on it), the Unit had a riot trying out the hoses………. and being hosed down!!!!!!!!!

They admired the work of firefighter Lucy who had been training students on cutting casualties out of vehicles earlier in the day.

The fire house was explored and the heat sensing equipment was tested in the dark.

The Unit also showed they had remembered where the most interesting equipment (to them) was stored on a tender – ask the where the Hooligan tool, the axes and the cutting equipment are stored – they will give you information accurate to +/-5mm (but don’t bother with the “boring” stuff – after all what is there to get interested in when it comes down to a mere fan?)

And so the visit started to reach its end – with badges and certificates plus time for a last few photos.

We finished in the control room, where the alarm had to compete with the excited din and the job control printer was liberated of of souvenirs of a shout.

But one last bit of learning …. when it comes to career choices in the future, Girls Can Do Anything:

Thank you to Firefighters Lucy, Stewart and Rick for putting up with us for 2 weeks – you have been fantastic

Who You Gonna Call?

Who You Gonna Call?

Week 1 of 2 – at the Fire Station who have the Brownie Fire Safety badge covered!

The masses met and fire officers to accompany us were upgraded to 3  for control of The Unit.

We were amazed that they actually knew all 5 emergency services available from a 999 call.

We loved G’s random fact that more people are squashed to death every year by a horse than get eaten alive by a shark (please do read this in a Hannibal Lecter type voice to get the “feel” of the relish it was delivered with).

The whistle got waved like a pendulum at one point and one of our “minder” firefighters controlled a fit of the giggles at this.

He silently left the room and brought along the duty watch to peer through the door at the rabble who were, by now, experiencing much pleasure in activating fire alarms – a noise level of exceptional pain!

The audience departed when the Unit took to their feet in a rather enthusiastic demonstration of what to do to stop smoke entering the room……… in all fairness it would have looked like a battle charge heading their way.

Demonstrating Stop Drop and Roll took on new levels of fun when the bum on fire demonstration was done by the whole gang with a lot of squealing and giggling. It was just like being in a room with 27 Zeberdees.

After a great deal of fun learning about safety, it was time for the main event – a visit to to the engines.

The Brownies explored the equipment and took great pleasure at things such as hydraulic car splitters, axes and so on.

As more and more equipment was viewed, an odd child could be seen pondering what use they could put the item to……………….

And so with homework, the Unit were despatched with anticipation of week 2 and the hope of fire houses plus a go with the hoses…………….

A Vision Of A World To Come

A Vision Of A World To Come

A resource, all planned out – and a badge included equals a set of happy leaders who are always game for a challenge.

Thus an exploration of the resource, Future Girl, was bravely entered into by The Unit and Owls, this evening.

It may not have resembled anything like a sci-fi novel, or indeed Huxley’s Brave New World, but it is always a brave set of leaders who tackle anything prescribed with this little crew.

As ever, we made a bright and breezy start with the warm up activity providing considerable entertainment and a rapidly increasing volume.

The emoji activity, deciding on those issues important to them in the future were also quite enjoyed although a serious complaint has to be raised to Girlguiding at HQ at this point; “Don’t ya know emoji’s are yellow? You gotta get the colour right!” from B, aged 7 so GG please take note of a young member’s complaint.
A quick tot up showed that perhaps one or two of the more savvy members already understood the finer points of vote rigging, as quite clearly a few had exercised a double vote on matters of particular interest to them – healthy eating and vegetables (or a desire to see less vegetables around) strangely featured here and it did not take much to work out those members who may just have objected there!
Selecting 3 top ones with a heart took a considerable amount of time – how silly we were not to realise that the hearts needed to be works of art!

Having a chat about other issues which matter to them was entertaining – dog poo featured strongly, as did guns, racism (or to use their spelling raisisum) among many others. It was also a poignant moment for leaders when one young member spoke about neglect and abuse, from the position of having been a victim of the same.

Working as groups on an issue and preparing a drama on the same provided constant entertainment and we had a discovery!!!!! A Brownie wanted more paper due to a mistake and Barn Owl revealed the future – apparently in the future every sheet of paper is going to have 2 sides………… and yes, the other side can be used!

And so, following some fairly confusing dramas, a mountain of notes to type up, a large pile of felt tips which did not survive the evening and the discovery we own 2 sided paper, another meeting drew to a close; celebrating a birthday and sharing sweets, we parted amidst a noise level of incredible proportions to gather our senses.

We’re On Strike!!!

We’re On Strike!!!

It was definitely one of those nights!
A night where The Unit were restless, having missed out on playtime at school due to heavy rain.
A night where the energy levels affected their hearing; their ability to comprehend even the most basic request.
A mum stifled her laughter as she joined in trying to tame a circle from a broiling mass.
With grim determination, the newer Brownies were all linked with a Brownie Buddy, Sixers and Seconders sorted out with a little bit of Six shuffling, after a few more moved up to Guides – with one potential Seconder (see the main picture) doing her demonstration of angelic in a bid to gain a precious badge and sought after promotion. We leave you to decide from the face (but her mother laughed hysterically at hearing her daughter’s name and the word angelic in the same sentence………..)

Granny Owl bravely ploughed on with the next section of the Brownie Skills badge and healthy eating.  A game to search for a set of images descended into chaos as one Six cheerfully collected not only their own but those belonging to other Sixes too.  Most were found and the ones hidden in plain view were missed time and time again.  As Eagle Owl stood shouting loudly “are these some?”, the penny dropped with a few Brownies who came to collect, whilst others continued to wander declaring they could not find any.

It was a 2 whistle kind of night, the night where leaders sounded as if they were piping someone aboard, in their bid to get even 2 seconds of silence.

Granny Owl announced she needed paper for an activity and Eagle Owl ran to her car to collect some.  She was gone but a minute or two but returned to Sixes cheerfully seated at tables, oblivious to all but making enough noise to travel several miles and the Leaders sat on the stairs of the Hall.  As Eagle Owl looked across quizically, “We’re on strike”, they glumly said………..

Another blast of the whistle and sufficient peace was gained for a few precious seconds to tell at least a few Brownies what the activity would be and, by some miracle, those Brownies not only got it but managed to persuade the rest to join in………… and they enjoyed it. They enjoyed it so much, they decorated large posters and carried on for so long the game planned for outside (as the sun had appeared) was never reached!

Tidying up was a challenge with one Six suggesting they would carry on and were happy to be locked in school overnight – but we got some semblance of order back in the room (just not sure how).

So the end of the meeting was reached and the next round of chaos ensued as some letters for trips were handed out.  In the midst of the chaos, Eagle Owl presented L-R with a First Aid badge for giving up her Saturday and completing a junior First Aid Qualification, even learning how to use a defibrillator.  Somehow the Brownie closing song was sung (and even sounded reasonable), although the saying of goodnight to each other was disfunctional (and that is saying it kindly).

And finally peace entered the building as The Unit departed and left the last question to be asked, “Anyone for the pub?” because it sure felt like one of THOSE nights.

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