Last Meeting

Surprisingly, to myself, I managed to get through my final meeting with this Brownie pack without crying. For the most part, I just felt strange, like I couldn’t quick believe it was real that I wouldn’t be coming back. There were a few moments that were tough when Girl N commented that I shouldn’t have drawn a smiley face, I should’ve drawn a sad face because I’m leaving was one. Another was when I said I would visit at Christmas and Girl Z said: “Everyone says that and no one ever does.” I definitely intend to if I am back before they break for Christmas, which I should be.

The night was a good one. At the beginning of the evening, we did the present giving. This included me giving the girls the Owl plushies I had made them and the other presents I had got for the leaders. We also gave the Six prizes to the Gnomes who got the most points this term. And I was given some presents from Brown Owl to say thank you and goodbye. I was somewhat overwhelmed by how thoughtful the presents were. There was a book giftcard to help towards my reading list; a small Brownies notebook; a keyring with pictures of my city on them and a BeanieBoos Owl. There was also a card with owls on it that everyone signed. I really will treasure them.

With Eagle Owl’s assistance, we make concertina butterflies. The girls seemed to love this activity, even if they did spend some time insisting they look like JoJo Bows rather than butterflies. They were a really cute activity and I have to admit I had fun making one myself.

The minister from the church was with us for the evening, joining in with activities. He brought with him a giant parachute that we played games with. As we’re only a small pack and this parachute was huge, we did have some issues making it go up and down, but we got there and it was certainly a lot of fun. Once we were done playing with the parachute, we made a den using chairs and the parachute.

With the den made, the girls were given cookies and milk which they took into the den to eat. There were a few complaints about the roof hitting their heads but for the most part, they really seemed to enjoy the novelty of it and they did help to make it so that it pretty awesome. At the end of the meeting, the minister took some pictures from me, of all the girls and the leaders. There was one girl away which was a shame but I’m glad to have a few pictures with most of the girls and all of the leaders.

I’m definitely going to miss this pack and really hope I am able to visit it. I’m so excited to see what my pack in my uni city will be like. It’ll be my first time going into a pack already having my ALQ and I can’t wait to get stuck in with new ideas and new girls. For now, it’ll be a summer of working on finishing my Look Wider.

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Leaving…

Now that I have my blog up to date with the most interesting activities we have done this term – or at least the most interesting activities I was there for – I can talk about the sad thing that is occurring this week. Due to me returning to Uni in September a good 250 miles away from where I currently live, I am having to leave this Brownie Pack.

This is a really emotional time for me. I have been with this pack since just before I graduated from University the first time around. I joined in September of 2014 when the Brown Owl was also completely new and the pack was at risk of closure due to only having three girls. It’s been a long and wonderful journey being a leader at this pack. While it was not the pack that begun my guiding journey, I thoroughly believe it is the pack that turned me into a Brownie Guider.

My first pack was wonderful but there was somewhat of a rush to get my ALQ completed and I had at least one argument with the Brown Owl of the pack, which added to Uni stress did not make for a confident leader in me. Joining the pack I am currently at changed everything. Although the pack is old, it felt brand new because the Brown Owl and I had to build it up. Rather than being in a pack that had 20-odd girls and 5 leaders and didn’t really need me, I was now a part of a desperate pack that needed all the help it can get.

The Brown Owl at this pack has been wonderfully supportive. We may not necessarily have agreed on every single issue but we always found a way to compromise to find the best thing for the girls involved. We saw the pack grow from three girls up to twelve and drop back to nine. We’ve seen the pack gain a better connection with the church we meet in and we’ve seen girl after girl grow in confidence and as a person through the activities they do and the friends they made. The Brown Owl here helped me to better understand the Adult Leadership Qualification and work through it at my own pace rather than just trying to get everything signed off. Although this meant it took over two years, I was able to say within myself that I was a competent and confident leader by the time I had finished it. This Brown Owl also encouraged me to do all four modules, rather than just 1-3 which is definitely what I wanted to do.

From this pack, I have seen a number of great leaders and young leaders; Brown Owl, Snowy Owl, Ladybird, Squirrel, Fluffy Owl, Rainbow Owl, Cutie Owl,  Eagle Owl and Curly Owl. Many have come and gone due to university, work or school but Fluffy Owl, Curly Owl and Eagle Owl will be remaining with Brown Owl.

Fluffy Owl is 16 now, she was 14 when she joined us and has been working on her DofE and is now working on her Young Leadership Qualification. I’m sad that I’m not going to be there to see her complete it but I have all the confidence that she will do so. In her two years with us,  I think she has become more confident working with the girls and coming up with the activities and she is bound to go so far with her Guiding journey.

Eagle Owl is a PhD student who somehow finds time in all of that to also be a Brownie Guider. She came to us already having her qualification and like me is firmly set into her Guiding journey. Her time with us has been short, she joined not long after Thinking  Day, but she has slotted into the pack perfectly, having some wonderful and fun ideas for activities. She is no doubt going to continue to be a brilliant leader.

Curly Owl has only been with us a couple weeks and I’ve not really had the chance to get to know her, but she is new to guiding from what I do know and she seems very enthusiastic and is definitely really good with the girls and that’s what is important. It’ll be a shame not to see where her guiding journey takes her and I really hope she starts her ALQ soon because she is bound to be a wonderful leader.

The girls we have seen come and go have varied from the incredibly shy to the type that makes you wonder if the teenage gene came a bit early but there is not one of them that has not left an impression on me. Girl R who hit her head hard on the floor when she dropped dramatically. Girl P who did not like me shortening her name. Girl M who got very attached to me and tried to teach me some Polish word. Girl T who started very shy but slowly came out of her shell. Girl M2 who’s Mum had the same illness as me. Girl R2 who’s sister was Squirrel. Girl A who was clearly bored of Brownies by the time she was 9. Girl C who could be a nightmare or the sweetest girl you meet. Girl N who’s currently very attached to me. Girl Z who wouldn’t stop talking about her first communion. And so on and so on. I would be here all day if I were to mention them all. They have helped me grow and I like to think that I have helped them grow in return.

Since joining this pack, though, it’s been so much more than this pack. I have become a part of a proper Guiding community. While the district is a bit of a mess, with changing boundaries and irregular meetings and packs that are difficult to get hold of, I can honestly say I have made some firm guiding connections and there are a number of people I am sincerely grateful to have shared this experience with. It is other packs as well, packs I have helped out on holidays with, girls who I maybe only saw for a couple of days but remember me and still call out their silly nickname for me if they see me even though they are in guides now.

It’s also the place where I learnt about Senior Section and Rangers. The place where I was able to do badges once again and study within myself what it meant to be a young woman and a member of girlguiding. I have made a lot of progress on my Look Wider and I desperately hope to finish it before I leave in September. Wish me luck.

Joining this pack, joining this community has made be who I am as a guider and while three years may not seem long for many people, it’s the majority of my guiding journey so far and it is something I will always be grateful for and will remain sad to have to step away from.

That being said I am excited to be able to move on. While I wish I could take the pack with me, I am glad to be moving away from my home city, my home county and taking myself on the next step of my life’s journey. I’m going to study a Master’s in English Literature and no I don’t have a clue what I want to do after it. Who knows where I’ll be in a year or what I’ll be doing. But I know for sure I will still be a Brownie Guider.

~Barn Owl~

 

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Me at a Minion Themed Pack Holiday I helped with

 

Quay Trip

When it came to taking the girls to the quay this summer term, I knew I wanted to organise the trip. The quay in my city is a really beautiful area that I love to spend time at. I created three pages of activity sheets for the girls to complete as we went for our walk around. I ended up spending quite a lot of time on this, involving me going to the

I ended up spending quite a lot of time on this, involving me going to the quay a couple of times. Page one was what needed the most work, at the quay I took some pictures from obscure angles for them to work out what was, and answer questions relating to. Page two was a checklist to tick off if they have seen things such as a paddleboat, a black dog, a person with a buggy, etc and tagged onto the bottom of that was random questions such as ‘name three types of birds you have seen’. Page three was a free for all, it was split into four sections titled “three different shape leaves”, “ice cream”, “a bird”, and “a bridge” which they had to draw.

The evening ended up being a lot of fun. There were some disputes from the girls, such as “But I’ve seen a dog surely it counts,” / “it says a black dog, that dog is white” and “Why would there be an umbrella in the sun?” / “Look over the tables” but they seemed to enjoy the scavenger hunt of different activities.

 

Anxious Promise Celebration

I want to take a moment to talk about how proud I am of one of my Brownies. Earlier this term she was due to do her Promise but she suffers from anxiety pretty badly. Now, I can relate to this and it breaks my heart to think of a child only 7 or 8 going through that sort of hell. She was scared about doing her promise in front of everyone and a lot of discussion went on between her parents and Brown Owl to try and find what was best for her. We even suggested that she could do her promise once all the Brownies had gone just in front of Brown Owl.

In the end she came to the meeting, albeit scared and upset, and her Dad spent some time in the meeting with her, and some time waiting outside of the meeting room while she joined in with the activities. In the end, she agreed to do her promise in front of everyone as long as she could whisper it. She did so, with us all there and her Dad watching from the doorway.

Once she had finished the promise and the law, without any prompting from the leaders, the girls started clapping. They were clearly so happy for her that she had been able to overcome that fear and do it anyway, and I was just so proud of all of them for supporting her in such a way.

This is what GirlGuiding is all about.

Phase Three ||Personal Values

Surprisingly finding things for the Personal Values section, especially the phase three section. However, it hit me that I am already doing something that relates to my personal values. This blog. I have been keeping this blog for a couple of years now and updating it with the important things I have been doing along my guiding journey.

This blog has been used for organising my notes for Look Wider, meaning that I can share with other people what I am doing for each octant and how I have found it. The blog has always helped me to find other guiding blogs and have helped me with finding and sharing ideas for activities and logging.

I have written on this blog talk of activities at Brownies, my personal thoughts relating to Girl Guiding topics, of the time I tried out as a Rainbow leader, of the camps and holidays, everything I have done as a ranger and my ALQ journey.

This blog is an opportunity to get my thoughts towards, share my excitement and in years to come look back and see where my journey have come from and how I got wherever I am.

Fire Station Trip

This week, rather than meeting at the church hall, we took our girls to the local fire station. The Dad of girl R is a fireman so it had been relatively easy for Brown Owl to organise this trip to make finishing the Fire Safety badge more interesting. I figured the girls would enjoy the trip but I was surprised by just how much they seemed to love it. There was a point were girls J and C were bouncing up and down and telling us that this was the best trip ever.

During the evening, the girls were shown the firefighters uniform and the man leading the evening explained why they were so heavy and hot to wear. During this part of the evening, Brown Owl and I had the opportunity to try out the uniform. Putting them on in the middle of a heatwave was not ideal as everything is so large and heavy. Of course, this is completely necessary as it is to protect them from the smoke and fire. I found it almost impossible to even take a step with the boots on and they walk as though they are just normal boots. I already respected firefighters but I definitely gained a new level of respect seeing and learning everything up close.

20170706_185757 The girls were given the opportunity to see the different parts of a Fire Engine and were taught all about why they are there and what they are used for. They even got the opportunity to get up into the Fire Engine and learn about how the firefighters act when they have to go to a call out.

Towards the end of the evening, we all got the opportunity to have a go with the hoses on the fire engine. This was great fun for Brownies and leaders alike. We were shown how to make the water faster or slower and we were aiming for a turned over rubbish bin and saw how the force of the water made it move.

This was a wonderful night and it was so great to see the girls really enjoying themselves as they learnt about it all and completed their Fire Safety badge. Honestly something I would recommend to all Brownie packs.

Phase One || Fit for Life

One: Buy Roller Skates and Use Them Regularly

In the summer of 2013, after joking with a friend that ‘walking is too slow’, I brought myself a pair of Roller Skates and regularly skating for a couple of miles along the canal in my city. This resulted in a lot of bruises but a lot more fun.

Two: Begin Couch to 5K.

Couch to Five K is a fitness programme, designed to take people who do little or no exercise and over a period of 9 weeks get them to a place where they are able to run 5K. This was something I really enjoyed working towards. While  I managed to finish several weeks, I was unable to continue it or finish it due to my M.E/CFS.

Three: Walk to work regularly

While  I was doing agency work towards the end of 2014, I was working 2 miles from my home and due to the placing, it would’ve taken two buses in order to get myself there. For simplicity purposes, I walked to and from word most days while I was there.

Phase Three || Outdoor Octant

As someone who seems to flit between being very much a city girl to very much a country girl, the idea of camping with the Brownies was both terrified and exciting for me. No one in my current pack has a going away with licence so when we were invited by another pack to join then on a summer camp, it was important to me that our girls be offered the opportunity. My Brown Owl is of the belief that camping should be saved for guides, however, was willing to let our girls go if I was willing to go with them. I was.

Preparing for this Brownie Camp was worrisome, having never done a Brownie Camp before I was worried about leaving something important behind. I must have checked my kit list 5 times before I accepted that I had everything I needed. Important things that were packed included Dill, my small teddy Armadillo and Haribo. Despite all the fuss, I managed to get myself packed completely with four hours to go before I needed to leave, giving me time to do the boring, non-Guiding things I had to do that day.

Once I arrived at the pickup point, I was picked up and we drove to the campsite. The plan was for the leaders to get there early and get the tents up before the girls arrived. I had been camping only once before this trip and knew little to nothing about the process of putting up tents. It was not an easy feat but we got there in the end, with the help of the pack leader’s three-year-old daughter and a couple of Brownies who arrived early.

 

The camp was greatly enjoyable and I remain completely pro-camp for Brownies. I believe there is a difference between camp for Guides and camp for Brownies and both should have the option to do so. This was only my second time sleeping in a tent and I got considerably less sleep than I would’ve liked [although, more than another pack holiday I’ve been on]. I shared with Izzy (now Snowy Owl) and Rabbit who were young leaders for the pack we were going with. I was glad to be able to make friends with people around my age who were also in Guiding because it seems such a rarity for me.

 

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The badges I bought at the camp ‘shop’

 

 

During the camp, the girls were working on the Circus Skills badge, which meant they got to do a number of fun activities like walking on skills, making juggling balls out of balloons and rice and learning to juggle with them and making balloon animals and flowers. This, of course, lead to a lot of popped balloons and leaders uncomfortable about the sounds.

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One of the three girls from my pack, unfortunately, took ill and didn’t make it through all of the camp. It was worrying and sad to see her go from bubbly and excited to quiet and ill. I sat with her as we waited for her Mum and Nan to come get her though, and we spent the time talking about Youtube and  Chronic Fatigue Syndrome which I suffer from and her Mum had just been diagnosed with.

I had a lot of new experience at this camp, most of which were quintessentially camp experiences. I saw my first campfire and the difficulty that comes with trying to light one. Izzy and the other pack’s Barn Owl [yes that was confusing for the weekend] spend rather a long while trying to get it to light at all, but eventually, Barn Owl found a large branch and when that caught alight the fire continued for hours. Another new experience was camp fire songs which of course is a direct corrolation from the campfire itself.

The final quintessentially camp experience was rain. We were lucky that the rain didn’t come until the last night. But it came overnight and it poured and poured. The grass we were pitched on became saturated and the tent me, Izzy and Rabbit was not the only one to had leaked quick dramatically. Tired and grumpy girls, tired and grumpy leaders and pouring rain certainly is an interesting combination.

At this camp, I also learnt that mass making hot chocolate is done using a giant jug and that waking up to a Brownie bringing you tea is a delightful wake-up call.

 

 

Other things, I relearnt include that sleeping in a tent is really uncomfortable and that my sleeping bag is particularly loud when you move around a lot in the night. All in all, I would really love the opportunity to attend another Brownie Camp if I was invited.

Phase Two || Community Action

A few summers back, when I was between years at university and didn’t have the energy both physically or mentally to hold down a job, I needed something to do with my free time, so I took up a voluntary job with Oxfam in my city centre. This allowed me to be a lot more flexible with my hours that a paid job would have done and turned out to be a wonderful experience for me.

During the summer, I worked two or three days a week, for between four and eight hours and I thoroughly enjoyed my time there. In my city, Oxfam is split into three stores, one generic, one music and one for books and while I spent the majority of my time in the generic one, every so often I was ‘stolen’ by the music shop.

While working there, I met some fascinating people including a Dutch lady who spoke fluent English but would swear in  Dutch when something went wrong and an older lady who had been to a David Bowie concert ‘back in the day’.

The work itself varied from work on the tills, sorting stock, redressing mannequins, cashing up and uploading information onto the online store. The most fun came in dressing the mannequins and being able to decide what they wore before they were placed back into the window for everyone to see, it certainly felt like I had a lot of power.

The charity itself was one that I knew only the basics about before I joined them. I knew they worked to help people in third world countries but I didn’t know a lot about what they did. During my summer there, I learnt a lot about specific projects of theirs, including the ‘Shwop’ deal they had with Marks and Spencer.

Phase Two || Out Of Doors

Visit Four Different Areas of Dartmoor.

In a continuation of one of the activities in phase one, I wanted to talk more about Dartmoor and the time I have spent there. Dartmoor is one of my favourite places, a place I feel as though I really come alive. I have visited Dartmoor a few times over the last few years, each time different from the others.

My trip to Fingle Bridge with my friend Shawn was the first time I used my ‘Short Ish Walks on Dartmoor’ book. We parked the car by a pub and the bridge itself and then took a walk that eventually circled back and ended again at the car park. The walk took up along the river, up some hills, past a building that looked a lot like Hagrid’s hut and passed the back of Castle Drogo. Once we returned to the car, we had some well earnt doughnuts.

Once again with Shawn, only this time we went to Haytor. Haytor is one of the first tors you get to when driving to Dartmoor from Newton Abbot or Bovey Tracey and at the weekend or school holidays is always crazy busy. However, we were lucky when we went that it wasn’t particularly busy. We went exploring around the tor, finding what I called a geocache but was, in fact, part of letterboxing, we also stumbled across Haytor’s Quarry which neither of us knew about beforehand.

With my friend Tasha this time, we went to Hound Tor. We explored up and around the tor itself before wandering down a hill towards an old medieval village. We continued after the village, making friends with dogs along the route, playing pooh sticks at a stream and wandering off the path. All in all we walked around 4 miles around Hound Tor and had such a wonderful time.

I don’t have a video of the final area of Dartmoor that I want to talk about. Again with Shawn and this time we took the Short Ish Walks book with us and went to Belstone. This was an absolutely beautiful village and an amazing walk that I am torn between wanting to do again and not because it was difficult with the valleys and hills. Along the walk, we passed a viaduct, streams and a naked man. We felt ridiculously accomplished when we finally made it to the stone circle, although the circle itself was smaller than we expected. Back at the car it took a long longer than you would expect to get out of the car park because there were ponies on the road that were not wanting to get out of our way.

Bonus:

This doesn’t count as visiting a different place as it’s a place I have been to before. Shawn and I took our friend Laughing Owl to Hound  Tor when she was down to visit a couple years ago. We actually climbed the tor this time which was a huge achievement for me as I had always been too scared to actually climb very far.