The morning after the weekend before. The Big Brownie Birthday Party Stay Away Holiday Weekend is over. I have very mixed feelings over how it went. Some good activities, some not so well planned. But the girls say they had fun so that is the point, right? I’ll recap the weekend and its highs and lows.
The building was what we remembered. We gave ourselves one hour before the girls arrived to get set up. There was a lot of food to store, posters to put up, activity equipment to set up and our own belongings to dump on beds. We asked our three Brownie Helpers to arrive at 5:30pm, if they could, to help set up. One did manage this but this also took time off us as we settled her in first, but she did then help with getting posters up. Parents started to arrive at 5:40pm, one parent didn’t look too happy when I asked them to wait outside while we set up. I don’t think they realise that once to girls are in we need to focus on them and not all the prep we have.
We opened doors at 6:00pm and the girls and their parents flooded in. This procedure needs changing for next year. We ask all parents to bring health forms, medicine, fruit, and pocket money to us to be stored, plus to get out their tea towel and bath towel to be hung up. (Last year only a handful of towels were used as some left them in their bag all weekend). Many parents left after handing in the form but some had left medicine, pocket money and fruit with their girls, telling us they would go get it and then leaving through the front door! This calls for a tick list next year.
So when we did get started we had our intro talk and went over the house rules, which the girls agreed with, had a tour of the house and a fire drill. All standard Holiday procedure. Then we started with the party preparations by making party invites, party poppers and party prizes. I had hoped the three activities would take 20 minutes each so they could rotate together – the invites took a lot longer but it wasn’t a disaster. Plus the girls were getting to know their new Sixes.
We all sat down for a hot dog supper, chatting about what we were looking forward to over the weekend.
Next up was a disaster of a wide game. The idea was that the sixes would have pictures of some current Brownie badges, and had to search the house for the related badge from the 90s, then find the leader running an activity based on that badge. The first Six to complete all 6 activities would be the winners. I couldn’t have explained it like that though as girls were finding all sorts of badges but not asking the leaders for the related activity. There were girls just running around everywhere! The Brownie Holiday activity – putting away a sleeping bag – proved to be the most difficult but the first Six to tackle it completed this as a team, and ultimately won the game. The old style badges ended up everywhere and with no time to count them in we hoped we had them all returned. However one girl appeared with one on the last day, asking if she could sew an old style badge onto her sash! We will be looking out for anything a little strange on uniforms after the Easter holidays!
Many of the girls had been asking the Guides when they were going to sleep, so we sent the girls to brush their teeth, get their pyjamas on and go to bed, feeling slightly too positive about how tired many of them were. This was the worst first night I had experienced. My Mum and I had to take shifts standing at the door of one room to stop the girls’ chatter. We had already had two 7 year olds in tears at being kept awake – which leads to ‘I don’t feel well’ and ‘I miss my Mum’. Two hours later I headed to bed at my Mum’s request – one of us had to be prepared for tomorrow’s activities. (Yes, there was a third leader on this trip – but she had settled in for sleep long before all the girls had brushed their teeth!). Eventually my Mum got some rest too, with the knowledge that we would be waking these girls at 7:30am no matter what.
All the girls were up and about by 6:30am. No waking up tired Brownies for us! The Brownies had their first taste of duties. Preparing breakfast, setting up the tables and cleaning up in the bedrooms.
First activity was baking our Big Brownie Birthday cake. It was the same as the recipe I tried out in an earlier blog – but with three layers. This activity took less time that I expected and there were no problems here. We had time for a run around outside before heading to the Pond Dipping.
The girls listened as the instructor explained what they would be looking for, before getting into pairs and threes to explore what was under the water’s surface. Many found pond skaters, a few tadpoles, there were some newts and even one fish! The instructor said this was a first for him leading this activity.
Next up – LUNCH We had sandwiches, crisps and salad. Followed by a yoghurt. Yummy stuff. And a very simple Brownie Holiday meal.
We then had two back to back on site activities. First was the assault course. As we approached this we past a Cub Scout group looking awfully muddy. The girls screamed as they realised they were heading toward this fate too! Well, we kept it as dry was we could but some Brownies couldn’t help getting this hands – and this trousers – dirty. This kept a lot of them busy for a while – running up and down the obstacles for an hour in muddy helmets left behind by the Cubs.
The Brownies tried to dry off all the mud from their trainers as we wandered around the site for geocaching. This didn’t have the best start. The first instructor came along, gave the leaders and I a crash course in the GPSs and left us to it. The actual instructor would catch up with us. We were told that we could all go as one big group searching for the same caches on 4 GPSs. My fellow leaders decided this was best, but straight away the GPSs were sending the small groups off in different directions. Suddenly a second instructor appeared and, without knowing what the first had told us, confused us even more. We were all on the blue route, but some were now on a green route and everyone needed to hand the GPSs back to change something. It was a bit of a mess. The group I shadowed took to it quickly and managed 7 out of 9 letters for the anagram. Another group had one girl who really understood leading them. The others I’m not too sure, but I wish there had been more structure to the activity and more instruction at the start. They should probably raise the minimum age from 7 to 10 as well.
The Brownies prepared party decorations when we got back to the house. (Well, some showered first. Never had that before on Brownie Holiday!) The activity hall was filled with balloons, paper chains and spiral paper plate decorations. Unfortunately the blu tack didn’t hold out and by the party some of these looking a little sad.
Dinner was fish fingers, mash and peas. All very lovely. The Brownies then has a little outdoor play before we brought out the piñata. Every girl got 3 hits at it, including the three Guides, before it broke open. The girls had a lot of fun with this. A couple were a little annoyed at first. As we walked to the tree to play with it the girls automatically lined up. The obvious girls were at the front of the line – pushing and shoving at each other for who was first, second and third. We then asked all the girls to hold hands and rotate around. This brought the quiet and more thoughtful girls to the front – much to some girl’s annoyance but to us it was fair. I would definitely run this activity again – so long as I have the time to prepare a piñata.
The unit then headed inside for the party. We stood around the birthday cake they had made, sung happy birthday and pulled their party poppers. These were more effective than I believed they would be. Some didn’t explode as well, but some shot confetti out in a little puff just like a real party popper.
The Sixers then led games of Musical Chairs, Murder in the Dark and Splat. The Brownies had a little dance too, we added some Frozen hits to our Brownie Party playlist which the girls really loved. The birthday cake was great! And we just about managed 19 pieces! It was a brilliant way to finish the Saturday and I think a party is perfect for future holidays too. We calmed everyone down with a game of Chinese whispers before bed. I explained what I expected in their behaviour that night and we had everyone asleep within 20 minutes!
Everything was a lot calmer Sunday morning. The routine was in place and we sat eating breakfast a little shattered from the day before. The girls got their willies and raincoats on to brave the drizzly outdoors, but luckily our Sunday morning activity was indoors.
The mini-crossbows was great. All the girls enjoyed themselves and had fun knocking cans off the wall. These were loaded with little sucker darts and even the Guides enjoyed this. The girls had great banter with the instructor, who built castles out of cans for the girls to attempt to knock down. The girls nick-named the can at the top the ‘King Can’ and cheered as their fellow Brownies knocked it down. One Guide managed all 6 cans in her tower at once and was hailed a hero. The Brownies had goes at building castles and challenged each other to knock them down. The final round was up to us leaders. I played dumb with how to use it and asked Littlest Brownie to talk me through how to load the cross bow and how to shoot it. I was very pleased to knock a couple down too!
Back to the house the Brownies made their keep sake crafts to remember their holiday. This is a part of the Brownie Holiday badge. This year the girls made wooden cupcake bracelets and cupcake magnets, to remember the party theme. This is a good, quiet activity that keeps the girls busy as we prepare the final lunch and clear up our equipment.
We also ask the Brownies to sign a memory book as a way of remembering each year. This year the girls wrote how they enjoyed the mini cross bows, the assault course and the geocaching. One girl enjoyed finding a newt and another enjoyed spending time with the group. This is our third year of Brownie Holiday now so our book is slowly filling up.
After a lovely jacket potato lunch we headed to the camp shop. Lots of girls bought stretchy men toys, alien toys and sweets, but we also directed them to the badges and many bought the ‘I hit the target’ one to remember their cross bow experience. This then lead onto our final clear up time. We had a quick game of splat, leaders included, before our final circle. We gave out the prizes for the Six with the most points over the weekend. We gave out three certificates. One for being brave. One for being polite. And one for most helpful. The Brownies took away three badges from the event (hopefully not any 90s interest badges!) and were then met by parents. We all had a fantastic time.
What Brownie Holiday activities have become tradition in your units?