I would like to say first of all a huge thank you to people who volunteer to help with guiding at all ages. I am absolutely going to volunteer when my youngest dc is old enough to be left at the near bedtime that seems standards time for the units round here. Given that, I would really like some advice on what to do about an issue that's arisen at dd1's brownie pack. She's only just joined and after the first session, the leaders sent home a letter about how unsatisfactory the majority of the girls' behaviour is/was. It was really very strongly worded and although it acknowledged that it wasn't all of the girls, it had quite an unpleasant feel to it. Some of the parents who've had girls there longer said it was the first they'd heard of any problem. Roll forward to last night which was dd's enrolment ceremony. The last one I went to was my own a few years ago (!). We were invited to arrive at six fifteen, a bit after the start of the meeting. When we did, there was no acknowledgement that we had arrived apart from being casually waved towards some chairs. For the next half an hour, the brownies and leaders were organising who would do what, whilst all of the girls sat on the floor. When, after a while, some of the girls chatted a bit they were shushed and the shushing carried on from there. The ceremony itself was chaotic. There was no introduction or welcome to families. I could see from dd's face that she was confused about what was happening. They did the questions, but you couldn't hear either the questions or the answers and most of the girls had their backs to us. Then there was the bit with the toadstool and the mirror lake. Dd and the others didn't say "myself" very confidently because I don't think they really knew what to do and were brusquely and a little sarcastically reminded. The promises were said in the middle of the ring and we couldn't see or hear. Then there was fifteen minutes of trying to organise badges and books for the new brownies and others. After that, a few of the established brownies brought round cakes for the adults while the other brownies sat still in their horseshoe. Lots of shushing. No one told us they were doing their hostess badge. After that they did the farewell song, Brown Owl really briefly thanked us for coming and all the girls had a cake on the way out. All in all it was a shambles and I'm concerned that if the usual meetings are like that then it's hardly surprising that behaviour is poor. I thought they sat beautifully under the circumstance. What should I do? It's the local group and dd is keen to go there because lots from her school go, but I don't want her to go to a group that is so poorly organised. I am kind of feeling its up to me to volunteer to help. We really appreciate them giving up their time, but it seems its no fun for anyone at the moment, girls or leaders.
It's important to remember that Brownie leaders are volunteers with no particular training in managing a group of as many as 30+ girls. Don't compare how a Brownie meeting is run with how you'd manage a class at school. The leaders could be a couple of women who have been persuaded into running the unit to prevent it from closing (Guiding is desperately short of Leaders in most areas), and are probably doing the best they can. I bet they'd be really grateful of an offer to help from a primary teacher, who would have all the right skills to offer. Just remember that Brownies isn't school, and Leaders aren't teachers.