Surviving Brownie Holiday 2013 – Saturday

I awoke early Saturday morning, as I always do, and managed to turn off the alarm before it rang. I was up first, took a shower and was dressed ready for the day. Once all three of us leaders were up we got the girls up to get themselves ready.

The girls got to their first proper duties of the weekend. The cooks helped wash the fruit and butter the toast and the waitresses set up the tables. Breakfast was a selection of fruit, toast and cereal. The girls ate quietly and washed up their plates. The first Six to finish their washing let us know they were done.

“Is it all done?” I asked.

“Yes.” They chirped.

“Are you sure?…” I drew out the question.

“Yes.” They were certain.

I started to pick up the leaders plates and a light bulb went of in one of the girl’s heads. She had been on Brownie Holiday before and knew that helping the leaders meant extra points! They took our plates, cleaned the up and were given a point for their helpfulness.

After a quiet 30 minutes working on their holiday diaries we got the girls back into the activity room to work on their second toy, the next part of the Toymaker badge they were working on. We bought sewing kits from Baker Ross. The owls looked very cute on the website but didn’t look like much when we saw all the pieces. The felt had pre-cut holes to make sewing easier, and the giant plastic needles were good too. It was hard going getting them all started on their blanket stitch. Even those who had done a little before struggled to start. Many got going but one girl’s owl just wouldn’t work. Somehow the long piece of wool used for sewing got cut in half and it was difficult to thread it through the holes. I spent a long time sorting that piece of wool. Luckily one girl really took to the blanket stitch and finished the sewing part of the owl and came over to help. I left her to it and the two girls got the owl sorted. We stopped for a biscuit and fruit break before taking on the next stage. It got easier from here though as all they needed to do was poke the stuffing into the felt shapes, sew it up and stick on the eyes, beak and wings. They were very effective and we were pleased they all came out well.

We finished early, in fact I think we were 30 minutes a head all morning, so we sat around and made Alien Drinks. The jelly a couple of the girls helped make last night had been put in to ice cube moulds and us leaders popped one out into a tumbler in the kitchen. It was great! It stuck to the bottom and wiggled about. We showed the girls and they all laughed. They each took a piece of jelly and plopped it into their tumbler. Then they took lemonade, squash and fruit to make their drinks. Cocktail umbrellas and straws glammed them up. The girls said they were the best drinks ever! Very fun activity.

This lead into lunch where we had sandwiches and crisps. The sun wasn’t out so we sat indoors. Again the girls washed up and the war for the leader’s plates began.

After lunch we headed to the Pedal Karts, a fellow leader stayed behind to do ‘paperwork’ and caught up with us later. The girls enjoyed themselves on the karts, learning to give way to others before turning! The karts were a little hard going and the track was small but they said it was one of the best things of the weekend. We had a time trial giving every girl a chance to do their fastest lap. Some did it in 20 seconds! Well done girls.

We stopped off at the site shop to buy some badges and treats and then returned to the hut.

On entering the hut the girls found a note. Someone had stolen Mr and Mrs Potato Head! Mr Potato Head’s pieces were hidden around the site and each piece had a riddle to a letter. On working out all the letters there was an anagram to the hiding place of Mrs Potato Head. One girl was very clever at working out the hiding place and her team won the prize! The girls had fun searching for the pieces, and we even found one piece the next day still hidden beneath the loo rolls!

The girls had some free time to relax and work on their holiday diaries before dinner. The girls helped set up the tables and clean the sinks while the fish fingers and mash cooked. By this point in the weekend the Cup Game had become a highlight at the dinner table (more so for the girls!). We had become aware that the girls were drinking up quickly so they could use their cups for the song.

After washing up we made the final toy for the Toymaker badge which was made out of recycled items. Sticking a sports bottle cap onto a CD and blowing up a balloon to go onto the girls made Alien Hovercrafts. They worked well, but the girls quickly discovered that these balloons blew up big. Very big. These balloons were ridiculous! The girls wouldn’t stop blowing them up which freaked out a fellow leader who ran off with a bundle of girls with balloons following her! We ended up having a little balloon party as the girls enjoyed blowing them up as big as possible and letting them go, a couple banging in the process.

Next we got out the candles, matches and marshmallows! The girls made s’mores after learning how to light a match. They used chocolate buttons and biscuits to hold their marshmallows for a gooey chocolaty treat.

The final part of the evening was a team game challenge. First task was to stack 7 Oreos on a team members forehead. Unfortunately all the biscuits went on the floor so they didn’t get eaten! Then they had another go at blowing up balloons for a balloon juggle. The 2p tights game had the girls against each other trying to get the 2ps out the bottom of a pair of tights only using their arms. Some funny photos of that one. We had plenty of toilet roll as the site already provided this so the teams faced each other in making mummies out of a team member. One team even used the loo roll to make a Brownie sash to finish it off! The final game was a flop. The biscuit face challenge was to get a biscuit from the forehead to the mouth only using facial muscles. It is possible! I did it at home before we went away. But none of the girls achieved it. We ended by giving the sweetie prize to the winners, and a little sweetie treat to the losers as well. The girls had a mini pyjama party with the sweets before bedtime. As hoped the girls fell asleep a lot quicker on this evening.

Surviving Brownie Holiday 2013 – Friday

Last weekend we took a group of 8 Brownies on a weekend holiday. Eight Brownies is a small group but the girls, and I, had a lot of fun. We could only take eight this year as there was such a low response of interest when we enquired with parents 6 months ago. I was really down-hearted, and had I have known how many new girls we would take in over those 6 months and how enthusiastic they would be I would’ve gambled on a deposit on the bigger Holiday Home. You live and learn, I am already planning to put a deposit down on a large Holiday Home ready for next year!

I divulge from the point which is the Brownie Holiday I have recently returned from.

We arrived at the site a good 10 minutes later than expected with the heavy traffic. Panic already settling in as every minute of that first hours counts. That is the only time we have for set up before the girls arrive. Food gets put away, decorations and posters go up, activity equipment is stored and our own personal items are chucked aimlessly at the leader beds. Of course girls arrive early – parents are worried about being late, girls are eager to arrive, no one knows where they will be parking, so we managed to open doors 10 minutes early! Phew! After a lot of running up and down I will add.

Girls and parents go straight into the dorm so they can help make the beds. I assign beds to make sure the louder girls are separated for a quieter night. Sometimes parents don’t listen though. I know it is great for bessie mate daughters to share a bunk bed, but that leaves Loudmouth and Chuckles over there with beds right next door. Thanks for that!

After we collect in any medicines, pocket money and fruit the girls say their goodbyes and are assigned their weekend holiday diary. They share a table as they fill in their names and discover their weekend Sixes. I can feel the awkwardness. We have a group of 8, consisting of 3 sets of ready made best friends and two slightly more outsiders. I just want to squeeze them into a big ball and say ‘BE FRIENDS!’. Luckily our first task (after house rules and fire evacuation, of course) is making shadow puppets in their Sixes. Each Six (which is a small group that they work in over the weekend) consists of one half of each set of best friends. This allows all the girls to interact without being pushed out.

After a long while of this we get out in the fresh air to discover the adventure playground. The girls run as soon as they see it, and then we leave them to it. Naturally the group of eight start to gel together and they are sharing in the playground equipment and are playing group games like ‘Back to Base’. We then go for a walk around the campsite, and by this time all eight girls are huddled together as they walk. I was so happy how quickly they gelled!

We returned to the Holiday Home to watch their masterful Shadow Puppet Plays. I found the craft of Pinterest and it was very effective. We turned all the lights off and used just one torch behind the theatre and the outlines were very clear. They made their plays based on their Six names. One group were Toy Aliens who made a play about an Earth invasion, the other was Toy Soldiers who depicted a war over a Princess (as our theme was Toy Story).

They stayed up very late chatting and turning on the squeaky beds, getting them to calm down was difficult but that is to be expected on the first night. Us leaders had to get comfortable on the camp beds provided (there was only 2 proper beds for leaders in a tiny box room so we chose to stay together in the large activity room). There was a lot of excitement to come over the next 2 days, so a good night’s sleep was essential.