Crikey, I haven’t posted for two months. There’s a lot to say, just no time to say it. I’m not going anywhere any time soon, just slowing down with life because there’s too much to fit in.
I’ve renewed the Mum Friendly domain for another three years. Not going anywhere – okay?
I have things lined up to be reviewed – books, clothes and more.
I took out an Art Pass subscription this year to replace our Historic Houses Association one which lapsed, so we’ve already visited places I want to share.
We have books and clothes to review and we’re still working with the lovely Stamptastic. I’ll be doing a review on their blog; seven years in and I finally had to buy a new ink pad (but I made sure H’s school was signed up in their PTA deal).
Then there’s Brexit. We went to the Put it to the People march, I’ve written about it and posted it retrospectively today. That seems to be my pattern so far this year, writing but not posting.
There’s also all the extra activities we do every night. Brownies, obviously. As H heads into her last term at Brownies, she earned her Gold badge; the highest Brownie award you can get. She was the first girl in our Division to do so – she was really proud, as was I. She already attends a Guide unit locally (which I help at, of course) where she’s a mini-Guide until she moves up in September. Oh, and I gained my Brownie Leader Qualification too.
We’re still going to football on a Saturday at Whyteleafe FC. Crystal Palace pulled our local girls Wildcats group. They opened a new one but it was too far; navigating the A23 on a Saturday morning is never fun so we gave up. Whyteleafe is only ten minutes up the road, not far from where our old Caterham sessions were. It goes without saying we’ve bought tickets for the Women’s FA Cup Final for the fifth year running; this time in a group with parents from our football group.
So yes, still here. Still doing everything in the few hours we have to do stuff. Just checking in.
You’re eight. You’re standing at the foot of a tree, a very big tree. It might be as tall as a house, maybe even taller. At the top is a ledge, a small ledge with an instructor waiting for you. All you have to do is climb to the top using the ladder and the large staples. Once you get to the top you zipwire down. Can you do it?
That’s H’s PGL experience – or one of them – summed up.
PGL Adventure holidays are a whole new experience for us. We went to Marchants Hill for our Brownie camp, taking just ten girls. You let PGL know what sort of activities you want to do and they tailor them accordingly. We asked for confidence and team building, and on the second day we found ourselves on a foggy Sunday morning standing by the zipwire.
For the zipwire there were three different courses. Unfortunately we were moved from the two easily accessible ones to the scariest looking one which involved climbing a tree. I couldn’t have done it, and wondered if our girls would be able to. In the end only half managed – but the ones that did had the time of their life and we were all so proud of everyone for giving it a go.
Some girls surprised me because I didn’t think they’d do it, but they had the determination. H was one of them.
It was high – any zipwire expert knows you need to start high to get a good run. H said she got half way and felt terrified. She didn’t want to continue. But then she also thought about it rationally, she didn’t want to come down either as that looked pretty difficult. So she kept on going, looked down to me when she got to the top (for reassurance) and then dealt with the final hurdle, getting off the platform. The instructor had H shouting over to the other zipwire instructor (something along the lines of “Craig is a muppet”), and once the giggles took over she was ready to go, and that was that.
That to me is what the PGL experience is about. It’s what you make it. If you want to do something then only you can be the one who does it. Being part of a team and having a go is so important. If it’s an individual task then having a go can improve your confidence.
As a leader I could have joined in but chose not to, and to make it about the girls. I tried not to help as much as possible and let them work it out. Also – my back.
Other things we did include quad biking, raft building, buggy building and problem solving. Lots of different activities which involved water, knots, working together and laughter – very important.
Oh, and PGL has a songbook – you will learn many songs. They will probably involve Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups or various fizzy soft drinks. Or toilet water. Or cow poo. They will make your child feel included.
The quad bikes are limited to 10mph and each bike has a safety plug on it. Once we got there the course was pretty small as well, just the right size. This was H’s favourite activity by a mile.
With a hearty breakfast, lunch and evening meal included we always felt well-fed and ready to face the day. You need to eat well and feed yourself more than usual as you’ll use a lot of energy walking around the PGL site. Each activity has a different instructor, and as they finish you’re returned to your main instructor who gets you to where you need to be on time.
The evening’s entertainment was organised for the girls, the first night we had a quiz night and the second a disco – this was the only time we were indoors too (apart from food breaks). This was a good excuse for us Brownie leaders to head to the bar on site and have a 30 minute break. The second night there was a free wine and cheese night – of course we went! The girls are looked after by their PGL leader and we’re always nearby thanks to it being a really well laid out area.
We visited PGL Marchants Hill for three days (two nights), at a cost of approximately £115 each. There are Girlguiding deals available.
When we asked each girl what they enjoyed the most about PGL everyone had something different – from learning knots and building something, to the zipwire. H’s favourite was the quad bikes!
A Brownie Lottie doll has just been launched, and we’re a part of it. We’re joining in with the launch of the Lottie Blogger Brownie Pack!
The Lottie Blogger Brownie Pack is a group of former Brownies from various eras, some of us have children who are also now Brownies. How brilliant is it to be working with someone who has launched something we’re doing in real life?
Lottie Dolls need no introduction in this household. H has five of them – and a Finn, her little boy-chum. The Lottie’s and Finn live in our little cardboard dolls house which lives in H’s bedroom.
Lottie Dolls are suitable for children aged 3-9. I like that they’re normal little dolls. They have simple clothes and do fun things that most children will also do. They’re very relatable – and I think that’s why H loves them so much.
Back in the seventies I had similar with Amanda Jane dolls. I loved them SO much! My favourite was my Brownie Amanda Jane – I was delighted to discover there is now a Brownie Lottie doll.
H has just finished her first year at Brownies and loves it! In the year she has done Brownies she has done SO MANY BADGES. Seriously. Even better, she’s doing quite a few on her own. I love the independence Brownies is giving her and hope that we’re encouraging the girls to find things out and do more for themselves.
What I like the most about Lottie dolls is how they’re normal girls like H. They wear normal clothes and do normal things that H and her friends would do.
Having a Brownie Lottie is wonderful! H plays with her Lottie collection a lot – so having a Brownie one is ideal. I love that there are activity sets alongside the launch, and even better, you can buy the Brownie clothes separately, so brilliant if you already have Lottie dolls and don’t want to buy a new one.
How would I sell Brownies to someone who didn’t know? As a Brownie in the seventies I learned life skills – I think everyone did the Hostess badge, learning to make someone a cup of tea. Or learn how to tie various knots that might come in useful (then promptly forget them)?
My favourite thing was learning about Brownies around the world. I think that’s what makes me the happiest about Brownies. It is a worldwide organisation designed to make young girls have better skills in life and allowing them to grow.
Having Lottie team up with the Brownies is in my eyes, a perfect match. Over the coming weeks if you keep an eye on my Instagram feed or follow the hashtags #LottieBrownieDoll you’ll see lots of people sharing their pictures.
Of course, there’s the obligatory #BrownieThrowbackPic – and happily I have just the one which I love! It would be around 1977-1978, though I didn’t seem to have many badges on my uniform. The first badge I did was the Brownie Friendship badge (which was really hard!) – apparently I was the first girl in York to do it.
Looking through a copy of the old Brownie handbook I can’t remember which other badges I did. I do remember having a brilliant time while making friends.
As the packaging says “The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts is the largest voluntary Movement dedicated to girls and young women in the world.Our diverse Movement represents ten million girls and young women from 146 countries. For more than 100 years Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting has transformed the lives of girls and young women worldwide, supporting and empowering them to achieve their fullest potential and become responsible citizens of the world.”
We are delighted we are in the Lottie Blogger Brownie Pack! Now if only there was a woven badge to add to our camp blankets….
I made the decision in September that I would start my training to be a leader in Girlguiding. It was a fairly easy one to make – I had helped out at H’s Rainbows for a couple of years and was a Brownie and a Guide when I was young, so I knew what it was all about.
So what exactly does the training involve?
Well… up to now we’ve really just hit the ground running. Our Brown Owl left before Christmas and we agreed to split things three ways. I’ve taken on the accounts which is quite interesting in itself. I had no idea that each member of Girlguiding has a census fee that must be paid each year. Fortunately I got into the system right before it was due.
We’ve had last minute changes of plan, suggestions of things, doing meetings ourselves as Tawny Owl was ill (there are two of us training), and just trying to make things fun.
It was just the other day I realised, every week we look after up to 30 girls. That’s the same as H’s teachers. I’ve always said I could never be a teacher and yet I’ve got the patience for Brownies! Maybe because I was one once. Then again, I went to school…
I’ve attended a training course to learn about planning meetings, and other than that I’ve just gone on what I know. The girls seem to get on the best when they’re writing postcards to Girl Scouts and Brownies around the world – so much so we shifted one badge to a different term and did the World Guiding badge as a lot of it fitted in with what we did on Thinking Day.
What do I get from it? I’m not entirely sure. I enjoy it, and as long as I’m enjoying it I’m content. I like being one of the cogs that makes things flow rather than a leader. I can step up if I need to, but more often than not I’d rather just go with the flow.
Obviously that doesn’t always work in a room full of 7-8-9 year old’s…
The main reason is I want to make a difference. I don’t remember my Brown Owl or any of the other helpers but I remember having a brilliant time at Brownies and Guides – so I want our girls to have fond memories of their time. If I can do that, it’s a result.
I’ve started a new blog which goes into more of the activities we might do or are working on. Girlguiding Activities is its name – nice and simple.
I have no idea how often it will be updated but there are so many ideas out there it’s somewhere to keep my brain calm when I’ve had too many ideas. Which is most of the time…
Every year on the 22nd February Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and onwards celebrate World Thinking Day. I’ve always found it a fun day and am so happy the tradition continues to this day. Here’s what we did for World Thinking Day 2017.
World Thinking Day 2017 was the 22nd February. All Guides of all ages celebrate it – from Rainbows to leaders. It’s a day to think about other Guides around the world. Besides this, you can wear your uniform to school if you get permission from the head teacher.
This year felt like a big deal – the majority of schools came on board and said children could wear their uniforms. I would say most of our group did – and they loved telling us about it as well.
Our meeting was the day after Thinking Day, and I thought it would be good to post about what we did.
I signed up to the forums at Guiders.co.uk. A lot of other groups from around the world were asking if anyone would like to swap cards or postcards. I’m also part of a Brownie leaders group on Facebook so found loads of other groups to swap with there.
I also messaged Facebook friends with children of a similar age to H to see if they knew anyone. I got a couple of troops in the US which when I told the girls, they were pretty excited about.
Once we’d had pow wow, the girls went into their sixes. I found a quiz on the internet for Thinking Day, each six got a copy of the Brownie Adventures book to find the answers. It made me happy to see them all work as a group and make sure everyone got a turn to answer a question. This gave us time to set up the next task – writing the postcards!
I bought some simple postcards from WH Smith – you can buy packs of 25. I printed out some World Guide Badges which the girls could stick onto their cards if they wanted, or they decorate the card. The content was their choice. The girls had read cards from other groups they knew what kind of things to write.
Our main leader picked up some girl shapes from Poundland (12 for £1). I found some pictures of uniforms from other countries and printed them out for each six, laminating them for future use. I made sure the pictures were on both sides.
Each girl could choose which uniform they wanted to copy and had a choice of eight different ones.
Some girls were quicker at this than others so we had a World Guiding Badge dot to dot for them to fill in. If they finished that then they help others in their six.
To finish off we had a World Thinking Day Candle Ceremony which is a nice way to finish the day. With us having 25 Brownies there it took a long time; In future we’ll send the girls through in twos!
I enjoyed celebrating World Thinking Day 2017. It was a good excuse to get my old Brownie and Guide Badges out as well!
The theme for World Thinking Day 2017 is GROW. I’d like to think that our meeting has helped our Brownies grow their knowledge of other girls in other parts of the world doing the same as them.
I’m hoping that next year we’ll get more Brownies from other countries! If you’re reading this and you’re a leader drop me a message as we would love to swap cards again.
I’m a leader in training at our local Brownies. Thank you to all the Guiding Resources linked above who have these fantastic ideas for Thinking Day!
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