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to ask what parents would like from Brownies/Guides?

(76 Posts)
Twistmeandturnme Mon 13-Feb-17 11:39:52

I'm a Brownie leader.
Every so often on MN there's a bit of a rant/complaint about GG and although someone always steps in to point out that we're all volunteers it makes me wonder what people really want.
I see Brownies as a rare non-competitive extracurricular activity. All girls (aged 7-100), where they get to set the programme (with some guidance). We aim to offer a mixed range of activities which together fulfil our requirements to look at the individual, the community and the world, and for the girls to work in individually, in small groups and in larger groups. The programme isn't necessarily rooted in outdoor pursuits like scouting, but can include whatever the girls like (with a very few exceptions) including outdoor pursuits if that is what the girls choose.
So: here's my question: what would you want your daughter's to experience as part of being a Brownie? Is there anything you wouldn't want them to do that you have heard of Brownies doing?

Twistmeandturnme Mon 13-Feb-17 11:42:24

<sigh> that should be girls (aged 7-10) not 100!

ProfYaffle Mon 13-Feb-17 11:42:55

Centenarian Brownies, that's some achievement! wink

When my dds were in Brownies my main motivation was to expand their social circle plus I liked the emphasis on friendship, helpfulness etc. The actual activities were almost second to that.

leccybill Mon 13-Feb-17 11:46:11

My DD is a Rainbow but due to move up to Brownies shortly. She's getting a little tired of art and craft but she loves the games, just simple things like Wink Murder, Duck Duck Goose, Corners.
She also loved learning songs in sign language, taught by a deaf visitor. I've offered to go in and do a bit of Spanish with them too.
Another local group had a visit from.a guide dog, which was wonderful.

Basically, anything where the pressure is off, the girls can be themselves, and there's maybe a bit of community focus I'm well up for.

golfbuggy Mon 13-Feb-17 11:53:56

A variety.
I want my daughter to do a mixture of arts/crafts/community related activities/practical skills (both home skills and other skills such as DIY and looking after a bike)/outdoor activities/adventurous activities.

I want her to have the opportunity to go away on residentials (both inside and camping) and to try things she wouldn't otherwise get the chance to do.

And I want her to have the chance to do stuff that is just fun and silly and doesn't necessarily have any point to it .. just because.

Sadly the brownies/guides infrastructure is set up so you are very reliant on the individual leaders/their friends and their skills and they are not very good at cross sharing skills, so inevitably any individual unit is unlikely to offer all of that.

(Brownie leader for 20 years and I did my best!)

SansComic Mon 13-Feb-17 12:05:24

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Twistmeandturnme Mon 13-Feb-17 12:10:14

Thanks for these. My girls always say they love craft but we actually do relatively little each term; may be that's why they say that they like it!

Sadly the brownies/guides infrastructure is set up so you are very reliant on the individual leaders/their friends and their skills and they are not very good at cross sharing skills, so inevitably any individual unit is unlikely to offer all of that. I agree it is difficult. We're a rural Division so probably have more awareness of each other's skills for a little cross-sharing, but as volunteers it is hard to find the extra time to support another unit if you are doing your own.

Twistmeandturnme Mon 13-Feb-17 12:12:48

Out of interest, why do you say 'non-competitive'? There was plenty of friendly competition when I was there. Friendly though: the focus of GG isn't the competition; it's doing your best. Many other activities are about attaining a certain level of competency or playing a competitive sport.

averylongtimeago Mon 13-Feb-17 12:16:38
In case anyone who is reading this doesn't know what we do....

As a guider (former Brown owl, guide and ranger leader) I know what I think gguk should do, but it would be very interesting to hear what parents would like or expect.

Should guiding include more "school" type stuff? Adventurous activities? Residentials, camping, lighting fires......
What don't you want them to do?

Sunnie1984 Mon 13-Feb-17 12:17:18

Definitely building a sense of community/charity work and outdoors activities.

I'm not very out doorsy but I did a lot of camping with brownies and guides which I loved. I want my kids to have the opportunity to experience that, even if not through me.

Charity/community aspect so important. Recently saw our local groups doing the remembrance service, its great that they can get involved like that.

ImtheSantaAnaWinds Mon 13-Feb-17 12:21:04

I have nothing but positive things to say about my daughter's Brownie unit. They have boosted her confidence so much through various activities and I only wish I'd started her earlier. She does all the "extra" activities too and has got so much out of them. (Remembrance Parade, Sponsored sing etc.). We have a couple of fun days coming up too, which will be fantastic for her.

My only slight worry for the future (and its probably not what you meant when you asked the question!) is the age ranges. My friends with slightly older girls than my daughter have found that their young 10 yr olds have heard things mixing with older Guides that have worried them and they've stopped going. (sex, teen pregnancy etc.). I'm not quite sure how this issue could be got around this as it is obviously a part of life, but a young primary child is going to have very different experiences to an almost 16yr old secondary student. So, I guess I would like her be able to stay until she started Secondary, when she'd mix with them all anyway?

BlueFolly Mon 13-Feb-17 12:24:01

Making friends in a positive environment.

Particularly like to 'girls only' aspect.

harderandharder2breathe Mon 13-Feb-17 12:28:33

Brownie and Guide leader here.

I camp with my Guides at least once a year, but wouldn't take Brownies camping because I'm not confident in my own skills and none of the other Brownie leaders are fans of camping. We do an indoors holiday annually as well as regular sleepovers and PGL every couple of years as well, so I really don't feel girls are missing out on opportunities to go away. But camping is something special for Guides, in my pack anyway.

My Brownies love working for badges, we do at least one every half term often more, with unofficial challenge badges as well as the official interest badges.

I agree that things do very much depend on the skill set of unit leadership teams. Hence why my Brownies don't camp, because none of the leaders have that skill set (i camp with my Guides but my fellow guide leader is the one in charge with the camping skills). I know some units struggle to go away because leaders don't have overnight license, because they don't regularly go away it's hard for them to get the skills required to get the license.

noramum Mon 13-Feb-17 12:56:30

DD is a Brownie for over 2 years now, she will move to Scouts in September, not to Girl Guides.

The main reason - the activities offered. I know each pack is different but hers mainly offers arts/crafts and games with a bit of backing thrown into it.

They may do a good badge once a term like Season, Communication etc but there is no encouragement to do them outside or do more during the meetings. Lots of badges are also very girl-focused and able to be done without getting out and learning new skills, it feels very low-level easy stuff. I hoped for outdoor skills, practical skills like simple DIY (even if it is just painting a wall/fence) or caring for a bike.

She only once did a overnight stay, most outings are - unfortunately - badly planned and then cancelled as the Brown Owl (sorry to say) can't organise anything enough in advance to get things going. I know it is a pack-thing but it doesn't feel like she spent 2.5 years doing anything worthwhile.

Our cubs/Scout group is overbooked and after a year on the waiting list she still didn't get a space for cubs. You can ask yourself why this happens.

I come from a different country, so being a Brownie wasn't part of my childhood and I hoped so much more from it.

givemushypeasachance Mon 13-Feb-17 13:14:59

Thinking back to my own brownie days I also remember fondly just the games - again like wink murder and duck duck goose, ladders, and so on. I remember doing an Easter crafts thing at my future secondary school with some other packs. I remember toasting marshmallows on a bonfire on the beach. I remember watching chicks hatch in an incubator for an animal care badge. Being a sixer and in charge of the little ones in a nativity play.

I didn't go on to guides, I joined the Army Cadets a few years later and did shooting and camming up drill and such. But I think brownies stood me in good stead for that!

WhirlwindHugs Mon 13-Feb-17 13:24:36

My DD is loving Brownies, really pleased we opted for it over Scouts.

My only complaint: DDs particular pack seems to do quite a lot of activities which cost extra. She started last summer and there's been about £100 extra cash asked for to cover this or that trip. Financially this can be awkward, especially with not much notice. They also seem to have a very specific idea of what children 'have' to have for sleepovers and I don't think they really consider the extra cost of having to have a single air bed in the winter then a roll mat in the spring.

It is very well run, they do a lot of badges and different activities so I won't be complaining but it's frustrating. Most of the pack (and leaders) live in a much wealthier area than we do so I don't think they realise that people like us choose brownies partly because it's very reasonably priced and would rather they did less trips to save money.

GrapesAreMyJam Mon 13-Feb-17 13:27:28

I went to Brownies. I would have preferred more outdoorsy and hands-on activities and learning useful skills rather than hosting and repairing clothes. I wish I had the option to go to scouts.

WhirlwindHugs Mon 13-Feb-17 13:32:01

I suppose I imagined they would do more low cost things - so when they did a craft at a sleepover they'd be using sticks and cutting up wool, rather then a photo frame and sticker set which costs a lot more and cost gets passed on to parents... I know it seems small, but I know from running craft events myself just how expensive those kits are!

Obviously I expect to pay a reasonable something for a sleepover that covers insurance, food etc

DontCallMeBaby Mon 13-Feb-17 13:59:28

DD is currently a Guide, and has come through Rainbows and Brownies, in an area where they're all so over-subscribed the girls get kicked out at the end of the term when they turn 7/10 respectively (on the other hand tho, her Guide troop has struggled with low numbers). I would love to see more cooperation between packs etc, e.g. DD went to the Big Brownie Bash only because I'd been tipped off about it and her friend's mum and I managed to get something kicked off with a nearby pack. DD's Brown Owl had completely ignored it as she didn't like going away with the Brownies.

Less falling back on crafts. It seems to be what happens when no one's thought of anything else, and DD gets so bored with it.

For Guides, a bit of coaching in coming up with activities. DD accidentally (um, we forgot to pick her up) sat in on Guides when she was a v young Brownie and was THRILLED that they got to decide their own activities. When she became a Guide, in a younger and less successful troop, they were all a bit at a loss what to do with this freedom.

Outdoor stuff. The Guide troop is okay with this, they do stuff in the neighbourhood, in the small grounds of the church hall, and up the road at the Guiding HQ. Brownies were not so good - no grounds, less appropriate to just go out cos of their age, and they barely used the HQ. I was rather jealous of the nice outdoor space the 'rival' pack down the road had, but it turned out they never used it! Maybe take inspiration from Scouting - just cos girls choose not to join Scouts instead of Guides doesn't mean they don't want to do some of the same stuff.

Badges. Not because badges are amazing in their own right (I hate sewing the little sods) but because they're a jumping-off point for all sorts of activities and learning. I never understood why DD's Brown Owl seemed so determined to make life hard for herself by never doing badges with them.

Games, and a chance to let off steam. DD's not a massively physical child, but still seems to have a better time at Guides when there's been at least one ridiculous game (is this something they give you when you volunteer - a book of daft indoor running-around games with totally mad rules?!)

I love the idea of practical skills - the sort of stuff I either can't do or DD won't learn from me.

brasty Mon 13-Feb-17 14:00:13

Main thing is to have fun. But it is great when leaders do weekends away with the girls.

harderandharder2breathe Mon 13-Feb-17 14:03:21

The costs can add up but you don't have to do all the extras! I'd say we get about half the brownies for most trips/sleepovers and I'm in a well off area. We have a lot coming up including a PGL weekend which is £150 (three times more expensive than pack holiday we do ourselves but the kids love it) we have about 1/4 doing PGL.

If you're struggling, do speak to the leaders who should offer to let you spread the cost (e.g. Paying weekly for subs instead of termly or instalments for trips). i know we often have uniform in the cupboard that we can give away if required, many units will have the same or will sell it to you for reduced cost.

averylongtimeago Mon 13-Feb-17 14:09:12

Yes, Dontcallmebaby, there are books of games, we also share daft games at trainings and on various guide leader FB groups....
One of the funniest things I have ever done was at a leader training event...We did the "indoor winter Olympics" . If you can picture a group of women, age 20-late 50's, every size and shape, doing indoor sledging and skiing....

Twistmeandturnme Mon 13-Feb-17 14:17:35

you don't have to do all the extras
I worry about building this expectation in the girls. I offer several residential opportunities in the year, with differing prices, and do try and impress upon the girls and parents that it is not expected that everyone will attend them all (in fact some won't accommodate everyone so we assign the places according to set criteria (different for each trip) if we are oversubscribed).

WhirlwindHugs Mon 13-Feb-17 14:48:59

Yes, I can see that with sleepovers, at sone point we may have to say no. But we also seem to get a lot of paying £12 extra to do y activity during the session, which I think is off.

Thankfully her uniform was given by her great grandma who was a leader way back!

Twistmeandturnme Mon 13-Feb-17 14:53:06

I'd agree with minimising additional costs within meeting times and think this is completely reasonable feedback. Thanks.
One of our local packs operates on a very cheap subs basis but then charges for annual census, outside trips, cooking ingredients etc. Could it be that the Brown Owl has cut subs right down and then the girls all request expensive trips, or is it just that they aren't balancing the trips out with cheap/free activities so that the subs would cover them?

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