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.
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.
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.
The middle of March seems a bit late to be saying that but I realise that I haven’t posted on this poor blog at all in 2017, however, here I am to catch you all up on what is happening in my Guiding journey. Brownies returned in January and once again our numbers are fluctuating. We were at 12 and slowly growing but a girl has just left so we’re down to 11 with two other girls turning ten before the year is out, which runs the risk of going down to single figures if we don’t gain any, which is sad for our pack. However, let’s not focus on the negatives.
In the almost a term that has passed we have had a number of exciting activities, a couple of which will have their own posts but I just wanted to make a general post to say hello to any guiders or anyone at all who’s still following me on here.
One quick exciting bit of news is that I have finally got my leadership qualification badge, so now everyone can see I am a qualified leader.