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.

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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.

Phase Two || Independent Octant

For the second phase of the independence octant, I wanted to take advantage of the fact that I have moved house in 2015.  Moving to a new flat meant having walls completely white, a blank canvas. Being now in my early to mid-20s, I wanted to move my bedroom away from what felt very teenage (posters lining the walls, etc) to something that I felt more represented who I now am. I mean no offence to anyone’s choice of decoration in their room, this was just where I felt mine needed to go.

I did not particularly have a plan for what I wanted to do with my bedroom but I had the idea that I wanted it to be something to do with travel. I am someone who is itching to travel but is currently unable to for one reason or another. One morning, I woke up with an idea and instantly picked up a pencil and wrote ‘Take me away’ on the main wall in bubble writing. I knew that even if I decided against what I had written, I could simply paint over it, it didn’t need to be permanent.

The next stage in this decoration was buying the paints.  I knew I wouldn’t need an awful lot of paint for the words, so I just brought three ‘tester pots’ from Wilkinsons. After painting over the words, I wanted to do something more and found myself painting spirals around the outside of it.

Adding the postcards was a given. It showed how many places I have friends in and was able to show the world even if I was currently unable to get out there and explore it. However, I wanted to do something that showed what I had done as well. Inspired by the Taylor Swift album 1989, which came with polaroid style pictures of her life, I searched online to find a website where I could upload pictures and have them sent as polaroid printouts with captains on them. I used pictures of days out and holidays with friends and family added captains either of song lyrics or some funny comment on the day.

Then they finally arrived (the waiting did feel like rather a long time) I added them in and around the postcards finally getting the wall to a place where I was happy with it.

 

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The main wall of my bedroom

Elsewhere in my bedroom, I needed to get my books out of the boxes they had travelled in and organise them. My bedroom has a small closet in it, it didn’t have a shelf or rail so I wasn’t able to use it as a wardrobe, so instead I stuck all my bookshelves in is. It has become like my library. My books are organised in alphabetical order by author, classics and then everything else. I had to put some in front of others, and some under my bed as there was not enough shelf space for the amount of books I have.

As someone who is passionate about writing and blogging, I felt it important to have a desk area that I could work in. There was already a desk I could use, but I had to buy a desk chair to go with it, I also took advantage of it being ‘back to school’ time and brought a desk lamp and some new stationary cheap in Wilkinsons.

I also created a ‘Bronte Sister’ corner in my room, where I put up the print out of a quote that a friend got me for my birthday as well as the Bronte Family tree and some postcards of their books. My corkboard has an important place in my room and has some photos on it permanently while also every so often being added to with leaflets or information for activities I have on.

All in all, it was great to take on the project of making my bedroom my own. It appealled to the creative side of me and was a new experience. I like the way it turned out and feel more connected to my room than I did to the room just before we moved.

 

Phase Three || Leadership Octant

Complete My ALQ.

Working on my Adult Leadership Qualification was an almost four-year journey full of false starts, a lack of understanding and stressing out about what things meant. However, as time went on my confidence in myself as a leader grew, making it easier for me to work through the qualification and eventually actually finish it.

I first started my LQ while with my first Brownie pack in my university city. However, with them, I felt rather rushed and some things that were ticked off I did not feel as though I had done or done well enough to have ticked off. Because of this when I moved home after uni and started with my current pack, I requested to start my leadership again. This was by far the best decision I could’ve made. The pack, when I joined only had three girls and the Brown Owl was also new. Between us we grew the pack into what it now is, gaining new girls and seeing them move on to guides. Although I did not take the name, I was acting in the position of a Tawny Owl. This meant that I was and am extremely hands-on in the running of the pack, I take on a number of activities, attend all the planning meetings, and get involved with the parents when it is necessary.

Due to this hands on approach I had and have with the pack, I was able to get work through my LQ in a way that I was confident and happy with. The fact that this Brown Owl gave me a lot more support was also helpful. The LQ is split into four modules and the fact that I have done all four of them means that technically I could be Brown Owl of my own pack, although I do not feel close to ready for that. One day though.

For the LQ, I had to work on a number of different things, including planning activities, attending district and planning meetings, arranging an activity outside of the meeting place, participating in Powwows, discussing subjects with individual girls and working with the Brownie Finances. In truth, I felt confident as a leader long before my LQ was officially all signed off, but due to struggling to find a Safeguarding training that I could get to officially finishing it was delayed.

However, in October last year, I finished it and the District Commissioner signed everything off for me. At the Thinking Day event this year, I was present with my Leader’s badge which was a wonderful moment and it now proudly resides on my badge tab.

 

Phase Three || International Octant

Begin Learning Danish

Learning Danish for me begun as a bit of a joke. I was working in Tiger at the time, which originates in Denmark, so I thought it would be fun to learn some Danish so I could show off to some of the customers. One thing and another happened and I am not longer working in said shop but what surprised me to the most is that I fell in love with the Danish language. When I began on Duolingo I was sure that I would not last long, many times I’ve tried learning other languages and not been able to stick with it, so I didn’t put much hope in myself for this.

I was wrong.

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The orange flame in the above picture signifies the number of days in a row I have been on duolingo and done a certain amount of language learning. At the time of marking this picture I was beaming with pride at having got a streak of 50 days, a few more days have passed since then and I am still continuing the streak with no plans of letting it end. My thoughts on learning Danish are pretty simple “Jeg Elsker Dig” – I love it.

Duolingo splits the learning of a language into sections beginning with ‘Basics’ and moving and increasing in complication. The site itself tries to motivate you with an owl by the name of Duo who gets upset if you don’t do your learnings.

 

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Duo who cries if you don’t work

In the time that I have been working on Duolingo at Danish, according to the website I have gotten to 48% fluency. I am not sure that I would feel confident in calling myself that level of fluent in Danish, but it is great to see how far I have come since my shaky beginning.

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As well as Duolingo, I have been doing some further studying in order to try and make what I learn stick better in my mind. I have a hardback notebook which is now dedicated to the Danish language and every time I learn something new, I make a note of it so I am able to come back to it. Like Duo itself, my notebook is split into sections. Examples of sections are animals, dates/time, people and pronouns, etc.

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As a way of bringing my own interest into the meeting place, I am going to be teaching my Brownies some basic Danish in a few weeks. We are working on the Communicators badge and one of the clauses we have decided to do is Language. For this, they have to learn to count to ten, introduce themselves and order food. I can’t wait to share my love for this language with them.

Here are two particularly interesting Danish words.

Somerfugle – Butterfly (Direct translation of Summer Bird)

Isbjørne – Polar Bear (Ice Bear)

 

 

St George’s Day 2017

Due to our small total number of girls and other factors, we only have three girls at the St George’s Day parade this year. One was holding the flag, the other two marching in lines with some girls from another pack in our district. St George’s Day parades always fill me with pride. Not for the country, in the current state of political mess, I’m not in a place where I can say I am proud of England. But St George’s Day makes me proud to be a part of the Guide/Scout family. Seeing the sheer number of people who turn out not only to be a part of the parade but to watch it makes me realise how special this thing is that I am a part of.

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Our Flag Bearer

After the march itself came the Church Service. Despite that being some questionable song choices the service was lovely. There was a theme of Aims and Ambitions which was somewhat emotional for me as someone who is returning to uni this September. We sang the Climb by Miley Cyrus, which I was okay with but some people had issues and Firework by Katy Perry. Now I like Katy Perry but St George’s Day and a song that specifically mentions the date America got free of us? Interesting choices as I said.

All in all, I loved the St George’s Day event for the feeling of being a part of something huge and important.

 

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Me and Eagle Owl

 

Summer Term

Returning to Brownies after the Easter Holiday brought with it something I never wanted to happen: The Brownies finding out that I am going to be leaving the pack. In September I am starting a Masters in English Literature at a University five hours away, meaning, of course, having to leave the girls. I left it to Brown Owl to decide when was the best time to tell them this and it came earlier than I thought it would.

On the first meeting back, we discovered that a couple of girls hadn’t returned, one parent had let us know and the other was and still is MIA. We were discussing girls leaving and when you have to leave and when you don’t and one of the girls oh so innocently asked Brown Owl, “If you leave does that mean Barn Owl’s in charge?” with which Brown Owl replied “No because Barn Owl is leaving” and I think everyone in the room was shocked. Brown Owl,  I think, didn’t plan for it to come out that easily and I certainly was not prepared for it. The girls did not believe it at first, they claimed it was a late April’s Fools joke, etc. But then we explained that it was because I was going to University.  The girls were somewhat offended, claiming that they were more important than my uni city.

Honestly, I find myself wanting to take my Mum and my friends and my Brownies to my uni city with me. The Brownies are one of the hardest thing for me to be leaving. My friends and my Mum will be hard but it’s different because they have a better understanding of why I am going. For now, though we just had to get through the term and I’ll try and forget that we are nearing the time of me no longer being there.

The first week back was the week that ended with St George’s Day so we wanted to do something that would help the girls to understand who St George was and why we do a parade. For the activity, I printed out a figure of a knight with a cross on the shield for them to cut out and put together with split pins so each limb moved. It was a great fun activity, but I think more fun was had explaining how the parade works and having the girls practise marching.

The second week of the term, we spend the majority of the evening making posters. We’re a small pack and we need to try and get more girls here, so we made posters with information about what Brownies is and why more girls should join. Unfortunately the majority of girls didn’t finish in the meeting so had to take them home to finish. Hopefully they will be returned next week so we can start putting them out and about in schools and shops.

 

Gang Show (Or “Panic and Terror”)

In the Easter Holidays, we were planning to take our Brownies to see the Gang Show in our City. We have taken them every year but one thing or another stopped me from attending in 2016 and 2015, so this was to be my first time experiencing it. I was exciting about it, there was Guiders in it that I am friends with so it was bound to be awesome seeing them on stage.

The day came and I went about my usual morning routine, which is essentially getting up, coming on the computer and ignoring my phone. When I eventually look at my phone, I see a missed call from the Brown Owl of our pack. That is never good sign before an event, right? The voice message asked me to call back and I did so. Brown Owl was ill with food poisoning and wanted to know if I felt I would be able to cope with our 7 girls on my own with the young leader who was also going. Insert instant terror and excitement.

This was an amazing opportunity for me to grow as a leader and I wasn’t going to disappoint our Brownies who had already paid for the show, so of course I agreed that I would be fine. And I was. At least, I got through it and feel like I would be able to do it again. I stopped by Brown Owl’s house on the way to collect the paperwork telling me who to expect and who still needed to give me their forms and then I was on my way.

I arrived outside the theatre 20 minutes before our girls were due to arrive, which gave me some time to breathe and more time to panic. Anxiety disorder is wonderful in these scenarios, isn’t it? Slowly the girls begun to arrive and by five minutes after the time they were due 5 of the 7 were there. I took the girls up into their seats. Despite the small number of us, we were over two rows, so I did the sensible thing of having Fluffy Owl, our young leader at the end of one row and myself at the end of the other so we topped and tailed them so to speak.

It approached the time of the start of the show and I was informed that it would be started 15 minutes late in order to give people the chance to get into their seats properly, etc. This gave me time to once again go outside and check to see if the other two had arrived. They had not and when I was back in my seat one of the girls who was there said she had a text from one of them that morning to say they had only just got back from a holiday to Poland that morning. I started to assume they weren’t coming.

A few minutes before the start of the show, I see one of them appear and get an apology from her Dad as he slips back out. This girl confirms to me that the other isn’t coming because she’s too tired from the plane journey. I’m able to relax somewhat knowing that all of my girls that are coming are now here and in their seats and will not be moving until the interval.

The interval came and not too soon, despite the fact that they were enjoying the show, I could tell some of the girls were getting restless. Interval time meant being able to stretch their legs, buy some sweets and have some time to talk amongst themselves. It also meant I was able to have a quick chat with some other Guiders I knew about the fact that I was freaking out at being completely in charge, they were quick with reassurances that I was clearly dealing with it well and everyone freaks out especially the first time. I was also able to but a Gang Show 2017 badge for my camp blanket.

Back to the show and I believe the girls enjoyed the majority of it. In the second half, there was a part where they did a shout out to all of the Guiding and Scouting packs that were in attendance. When they got to us, there was very little response from our girls, despite me going “Guys that’s us” so the guy on the stage said he was going to go out and come back, he did so and shouted our pack name again and we were slightly louder from apparently a rather shy pack as I was the one making the most noise.

The show itself was wonderful. I loved pretty much all of it, but there were a couple of sketches that really stood out for me. As someone with an interest (read: obsession) with Paris and France generally, the French section was of particular love for me. The fact that they sang One Day More from Les Miserable was just perfect. The other part that really stood out for me was the remembrance of lost singers. They did a dedication to John Lennon, David Bowie and Freddie Mercury. As someone who is a big fan of the first two and a minor fan of the latter, this was an extremely emotional moment. Added to that I had watched Nowhere Boy a film about John Lennon only the day before and was still somewhat emotional about that.

However, the most emotional part of the show for me was the ending. They sang the ending songs with everyone on the stage in their Guiding and Scouting uniforms. It was at this point that it hit me how much I like being a part of Girl Guiding within my city, it hit me how many guiders I know and how much I am a part of the Guiding world here and how in just a few months I am going to be leaving it. It is something that is continuing to hit me over and over as I approach the time when I leave.

The end of the show, I’m sure you can imagine, was a nightmare of impatient children and me not wanting to get any of them lost to the crowds. Eventually we got down the stairs and the girls were automatically running off to parents they had seen and I hadn’t. Eventually I was reassured that five of my six girls were safely with the right adults. Fluffy Owl informed me that “Girl J is with adults” and disappeared to get her lift. Panic mode returned as I hadn’t seen the adults that Girl J was with and I knew I wouldn’t be able to relax until I saw her with the right adult. It was only a moment later when I saw her again and was able to confirm to myself that she was in fact with her own Dad.

Finally, I could breathe and I went to get myself a well earnt Subway.

Barn Owl~

Bowling

Taking the girls out of the meeting place is always great fun, and the wonderful thing about taking them bowling is that they are able to make that bit more noise. A Bowling Alley is an overly loud place as it is, so if the girls are shouting a bit more than usual no one is going to notice. It’s good to give the girls that bit more freedom.

We had booked for 12 girls but one didn’t come and another left Brownies altogether before the bowling night, so only 10 girls came. This meant the four adults split into two teams and took turns bowling. I worked with our newest leader Eagle Owl, while Brown Owl and Fluffy Owl worked together.

We had two games of Bowling and some food. There was a bit of a mix up with the food as we were told we would be able to get kids menu food but we weren’t. However, it wasn’t too much of a problem and all of the girls ate and enjoyed their food. All of the girls enjoyed the bowling as well. Some of the littler ones started off using the shoot but eventually went to just bowling free. It was terrifying seeing girl C2 lifting the bowling bowl and walking up to throw it. She is only 7 and barely looks big enough to be a Brownie so it was easy to believe that bowling bowl could send her toppling over.

Of course it wouldn’t be a trip to the Bowling Alley with the Brownies if some things didn’t go wrong. A couple of times the ball got stuck in the gutter. We had the sides up to prevent goings into the gutter, but somehow Girl N managed to get the ball to bounce and land in the gutter a couple of times anyway. And then there was the one time the ball was thrown down the aisle before the aisle was ready and so got stuck in front of the cage around the pins. All easily sorted and things the bowling staff are used to, just a little hilarious for us leaders.

All in all, Leaders not included Girl A got the most points. Next week at Brownies I’m going to tell everyone what their total scores over the two games were.