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Brownie Leaders Can I pick your brains?

(39 Posts)
Skramble Wed 22-Oct-08 23:34:47

Just wondering how your weekly brownie nights are structured, and how much you actually achieve in one night.

What sort of activities do you manage with them and if you could give me some examples that would be great along with how long they take.

Trying to help out a bit with my local group and finding it difficult to see how and what actvities to fit in.

Skramble Thu 23-Oct-08 00:22:43

bump I suppose all good guiding types are in bed though grin.

SqueakyPop Thu 23-Oct-08 05:04:53

I don't think our meetings are great.

We tend to have register/badgework/games/brownie ring.

pelvicflawed Thu 23-Oct-08 06:59:48

Sorry only a guide leader here - I did Brownies many years ago when I was a YL. I'd go register/subs/game - to let off steam/Brownie ring/then main activity for the evening (either badgework/craft/aother project)/then game-if time/Brownie Bells. Just recently we've used the Right Hear/Right Now pack with the Guides (its for all sections) a lot and we've enjoyed (and there are badges to be won!). Also have you looked at the centenary projects thingy - can't remember the name exactly - but there are a number of fund raising projects that units can register for and you get a resouce pack and ideas (again its for all sections)- our Guides have chosen the Sing for Change one for Water Aid (hope they've got better voices then their leaders). Some nights we just do games and the Guides are quite happy with that - after a long day at school they sometimes just want to let off steam and chat with friends. Good luck with it all.

Indith Thu 23-Oct-08 08:09:32

I was in bed yes....after doing Rainbows followed by Guides grin. I run out of the Hall and escape during the bit with the half crazed brown and yellow people though.

Rainbows-first girls there put out a circle of carpet mats, all sit and chat about their week while we wait for everyone. Give them a rundown of the meeting and get going. Mix of games, crafts, cooking etc. This term we are working on the Get Healthy Roundabout or whatever it is called and finishing off challenges from the North East Birthday Challenge. So far we've made autumn collages from things we found on the field, done promise activities involving making elephants to help you keep your promise and made pizzas and smoothies.

Stuff like cooking tends to take the whole hour so we get right into it after the circle. Stuff like the collages takes less time so you can start with a game, or we chatted about Autumn and the changes it brings to weather and trees etc. On the Promise evening they had 2 different activities to do and some thinking/talking time so it was split up to avoid them getting bored of sitting and talking- circle, game, activity 1, chat, activity 2.

Guides is very different as they have far more control over their meetings. At the moment they are doing Go For Its so the patrols have planned their own actvities. We open with the horseshoe, they get told what is happening that week and go off and do it while we go round between groups and suggest things, step in when they are messing around etc.

With Brownies I would expect a good mixture of work as a pack and work in sixes. Activities that involve bases are great, so youmight have 4 15 min activities spread around the room for the sixes to work their way around. You can them come together at the end to talk about them (for example at Rainbows we did teamwork like this with 4 short challenges, after we asked them what they all had in common and what you needed to be able to do them) I second the rec for the Right Here Right Now resource, it is wonderful, we've done the Right to be Happy and the Right to Work Together with the Rainbows. The centenary one is called Changing the World and has loads of projects that can form a focus for a term at least, not all of them are fund raising which is great, some are about raising awareness.

I find each term needs a specific focus- a badge, a theme such as the five senses etc. I write out all the meeting dates for the term, see if there are any special dates to celebrate (bonfire night, St George etc) and pencil them in, work out when I'll be enrolling new girls and put a promise activity night in for just before that. The last meeting is usually a party of some sort. The rest of the meetings are then filled up with activities hanging off the chosen theme or focus. Then check to make sure there is a good range of activity types and that we've included the 5 essentials and the section specific stuff in there (for Rainbows look, learn, laugh, love).

Hope that helps

SqueakyPop Thu 23-Oct-08 09:35:04


I really recommend going on a district training event. There are quite a few courses aimed at new guiders (including unit helpers). There is a good one called, "A year of ideas".

If your unit is anything like mine, you will not want to just take their word for how things should be done. There is a whole support network from your local district up, and a lot of best practices to follow, such as the Five Essentials of Guiding.

Skramble Thu 23-Oct-08 17:58:08

Not going to be an actual leader, but I suppose it might come to that, just helping out.

It just seems to be a lot of screaming each night and not a lot gets done. Just wondering if I was expecting too much. But I am used to working with 4 and 5yr olds and expect to get through a few activities.

I thought about doing 4 actvities at bases but I would need at least 3 other people to supervise them, the leaders tend to chat sort out admin in the corner and leave the guide who helps to do games. All gets a bit out of hand and an older lady who also helps out and only wants a backseat role has to step in and regain control. I don't want to just end up the referee.

Getting together a few ideas and I might take an emergency actvity in my bag to break out when it all gets out of hand. Argh there is toomuch chatting to the girls and talking about whats coming up rather than getting on with it, I wondered if that was coming from the Disrict, all a bit touchy feely rather than a more traditional "right girls be quiet or no games approach".

I might be named evil shouting ogre owl grin.

SqueakyPop Thu 23-Oct-08 18:32:50

Sounds very familiar, skramble - right down to leaders chatting and leaving a YL, DofE student to run the games.

I started as a unit helper but couldn't just sit back, so I got fully involved, and should be starting my warrant soon.

Indith Thu 23-Oct-08 18:52:16

That sounds pants, it really does. It isn't school but there needs to be enough respect there on both sides for the girls to be quiet, listen to instructions and get going on activities. We lost the plot a bit last term because we were student run (I'm no longer a student grin) so with all of us doing exams things got out of hand and the discipline totally went. The circle of mats at the start has been the beginning of a total revolution for us! The key really is structure. We now have the circle at one end of the hall, tables for activities at the other end and the middle for playing games. When we want to give more instructions/chat about something we return to the circle. It is amazing how different the girls are.

Of course that is hard to do when you are "just" helping out, it depends how involved you want to get. The other leaders may well not take it too well if you barge in and try to change things othernight (not that I'm suggesting you are) but if it is as bad as that then asking to come to planning meetings for next term, saying things like "oh I'll run that night" etc could get you started. They shouldn't be doing admin etc on the night, they sound like they've given up. Perhaps a new perspective and help getting structure back may help them. Either that or they'll leave you to it should you show too uch interest!

The thing is, when you care about it, which you seem to do since you posted here, it is impossible not to get more involved.

Oh and girls being afraid of you is ok, my friend who runs the Brownies after my Rainbows is adored by her girls but they also have a healthy amount of fear grin

Skramble Thu 23-Oct-08 19:08:38

I like the idea of doing things in a set place. I was going to suggest setting up the table at one end instead of at the four corners of the hall (small hall). The girls get bored while we set stuff out as they can't play while we move tables.

I wanted to set up tables at one end so it is all ready once they finsih circle or inspection. There is just so much faffing and it takes ages so girls get bored. I think it all needs to be a bit more snappy, brownowl gets too involved with bitty things and loses track of the big picture, hard I know but she seems to find it very hard to deligate, so that she can oversee.

There are a couple of more challenging girls who need extra attention during games and powwow, but no one seems to have twigged that staying close to them and telling them off quetly while things still continue is better than letting them get out of hand and distract everyone. One has genuine learning difficulties and needs one to one, older helper usually left to do this but no one else seems to spot this need.

I can see me getting more involved, but I often work that night so can't do every week, thats why I havn't been involved up ntil now.

Skramble Thu 23-Oct-08 19:09:31

Agre structure structure structure, they need to know whats happening and ehat is expected.

HolidaysQueen Thu 23-Oct-08 19:54:12

Skramble - that sounds bad Brownies can be so much more fun, and educational, than that. It's great that you are getting involved and want to change it

We have a similar structure for each meeting, and we also plan the term in advance (in a couple of hours over pizza, wine and chocolate ) so there is a structure to the term as well. This ensures that we have a good balance of games, crafts, Brownie work and other projects.

Our 90 min meetings run roughly as follows:

Brownies arrive and sit in their sixes, getting on with six things (they each have a board which they can put pictures on, have an attendance register for their six etc.)

When they have all arrived, we have about 15 mins of register and news plus brief discussion of what we are going to do for the evening. That can vary though - we had a 40 min chat (and lots of cooing) on Monday when I took my 6mo DS in for show and tell

We then do about an hour of activities.

We usually do a quick game if we have time and then the final 5 mins is getting into a circle, sing Brownie bells, handing out letters etc.

For say a 10 week term, we might do 1 night on the Adventure/Adventure On stuff near the start of term then tailor some of our activities over the term to meet those objectives. We probably do 1 night of games, 2 nights of crafts or cooking, 1 night at our local guide centre doing outdoor stuff (e.g. campfire and songs), 2 nights on an interest badge that the whole unit does (something like Brownie Traditions or First Aid which they couldn't do so easily on their own) and 2 nights on some other challenge then an end of term party.

Challenges are a great way or organising different, interesting activities for the girls. They can also get badges for these which they love. Somebody mentioned Right Here, Right Now which we have done, and we are now doing Changing the World, having picked a local hospice as our charity.

One thing that we think is great is doing challenges from other guiding regions. These are special badges/challenges set up by a county/region but they will usually let you do them wherever you are in the country. They are great for activities for the girls - in the last year we have done an Africa Challenge, an India Challenge, a Muddy Boots challenge and an Olympics challenge. The girls love these, and they love the badges, and we love them because the challenges come with ready made activities so we don't even have to think and can get 2-3 nights worth of activities out of them. Info on these local challenges usually filters down through County/Division/District communications so it pays to be on as many email lists and receive as many meeting minutes as possible!

For discipline we have a points system - Brownies get points for helping out without being asked, for shutting up promptly when we want to speak, for doing interest badges, for wearing all of their uniform, for having trainers on and hair tied back etc. They can lose points for not doing any of those too. We're tough on them I guess that sounds old school, but actually I'm the oldest (yet most junior!) guider at 32! We find that this sort of discipline really works. The six with the most points at the end of term wins a prize - usually some chocolates and Brownie pencils or socks or mug. They love it!

HolidaysQueen Thu 23-Oct-08 19:56:45

Would anyone here be interested in a general Rainbow/Brownie/Guide thread - that way we could share ideas or informations?

Skramble Thu 23-Oct-08 20:05:08

They do plan for the term but things are talked about and don't happen, I think she sees things going out of contrl and panics so doesn't do her planned more complicated stuff just goes back to games.

I like the idea of giving the six something to do while they all arrive, like doing their own register.

I think they could make a lot more of the points system, they gets points at inspection but the points aren't really put accross to the girls and if deducted they would notice.

I think a prizegiving on the last night would be great, best six, best brownies, prizes for trying hard and all that. They need the encouragemnt and the threat.

Not been to a meeting yet, missing the next one due to work, I pass on my tips and advice through the older lady who is on the same wavelength as me, ( I used to help at her cub camps before she retired). Next meeting I will go and if they feed me wine I might get tough and let rip pass on my wisdom grin.

Skramble Thu 23-Oct-08 20:06:50

Sorry meant they wouldn't notice if points deducted, I watched the whole of inspection and no idea if they got points or anything.

Skramble Thu 23-Oct-08 20:07:50

I should clarify it is a fairly new pack and Brown Owl has never done any stuff like this before.

Skramble Thu 23-Oct-08 20:09:20

Where would be the best place for Brownie threads? Perhaps we could have a whole topic to ourselves or perhaps a leaders and volunteer topic, covering youth clubs sports clubs and other groups.

mascarpone Thu 23-Oct-08 20:21:36


I'm a Rainbow leader, but previously was a Brownie leader. I'd love to join a thread! Having read the comments above, my suggestion Skramble would be - don't try to fit too much into one session. You just end up getting stressed out. I have learnt that it's far better to plan something which the girls will complete and enjoy and have a few mini games/fillers up your sleeve than to be saying hurry up all the time!

At our Rainbows, we have impromptu games/discussions at the beginning while everyone is arriving. We have a little routing to start - sing Good Evening Friend Rainbow, go under the Rainbow, then sing the Rainbow song. We have one activity per evening and then if time, have a game or song at the end. We always finish with a Rainbow shout.

If anyone wants to share games or activities that have worked well, I'd be grateful!

SqueakyPop Thu 23-Oct-08 20:59:22

We don't do anything in sixes at our Brownies which I found shock. The closest we get is that they sing their six song before going into Brownie Ring.

When I was a Brownie in the 1970s, I remember starting off the evening in our sixes and doing adminny things, such as pocket inspection and uniform inspection. I also remember book that we filled in for each year of being a Brownie.

I wish our unit would pay more attention to uniform. They are a bedraggled lot, and some just don't care. I personally put a stop to Ugg boots and Crocs, so it's now either trainers or school shoes.

I would love a support thread here. I am hungry for ideas, empowerment and encouragement.

Skramble Thu 23-Oct-08 21:52:02

I agree one actvity a night is plenty, but I think inspection, pow wow and a game or 2 is possible as well.

Looking for ideas on how you deal with them leaving, atm parents crowd in to the foyer we say good night and half of them rush the door while a leader trys to make sure their is someone there for them the other half run riot whooping and singing songs. Any nice orderly ideas that will give parents we are actually in control?

SqueakyPop Thu 23-Oct-08 21:54:05

I stand at the door and release them one by one to their parents. I have to the parent first before I let them go.

Skramble Thu 23-Oct-08 21:59:58

We manage that bit, but they are like a buch of baying hounds at the door.

SqueakyPop Thu 23-Oct-08 22:11:13

The parents or the brownies? grin

I think you have to say safety first and not give into pressure.

Skramble Thu 23-Oct-08 22:16:24

The brownies grin, just wondered if anyone manages to line them up and let them go one at a time if someone ther and kepp them to the side if noone there for them yet, they do this a drama. Or is it justa case of hell lets just rid of them, (but still make sure someone there)

SqueakyPop Thu 23-Oct-08 22:25:39

Ours are too ditzy to form any kind of line.

Usually what I do is see a parent's face in the crowd and call the girl out. I do it all really fast.

Meanwhile, the Brownies push against the door trying to look for their parents, and it is always the ones who have late parents that are pushing the hardest. I just tell them to move to the side or to go and sit down.

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