Improving leadership skills with a simple Brownie evening

There are few activities we repeat year after year. Recently we’ve been Bowling each year around Christmas, and the last week of the Summer term is always a joint barbeque with the Guides, but this activity is something that goes back to before I was a Brownie myself. This week we held our infamous chip walk!

The chip walk consists of a walk to our local park, feeding the ducks, playing in the playground and walking to the chip shop for a bag of chips each. Simple, but the girls always look forward to it.

As you can see, there isn’t a lot of prep needed. We call the chip shop the day before to inform them and they are always great. This year I had to get a quick email out to inform parents that we can no longer feed the ducks bread! Next year we will figure out an alternative earlier on. So I had a think about my role as a leader and came up with a couple of targets to achieve by the end of the evening:

1. Have a conversation with each Brownie.

2. Avoid constantly freaking out on the walks along the roads.

I recently came across a Girl Scouts campaign to ‘Ban Bossy’. The idea behind this campaign is that while a boy taking charge is called a leader, a girl taking charge is called bossy. This negative word used for girls can put them off taking leadership roles. I’ve read some criticism of the campaign, that banning words doesn’t work and this campaign itself is ‘bossy’ but these people miss the point. The website has some lovely resources for girls, their parents, teachers and unit leaders to help boost a girl’s confidence and encourage leadership.


The first point under the unit leader resource is ‘Develop Relationships With Your Girls’.

Relationships empower girls. When they feel connected to the adults in their life, they are more resilient and courageous. Younger girls in particular are likely to look up to their Girl Scout leaders, so make your interactions with them count!

Build personal connections with the girls in your troop. Ask them how school is going or what they’re
listening to, reading, or watching. Use girls’ names when acknowledging their ideas. When girls feel
comfortable and connected in a group, they are more likely to take healthy risks and try new things.

So inspired by this first tip I looked to ensure I held a conversation with each girl. Some girls run up to me on their arrival and start retelling the stories of their days, others are easy to talk to when I approach them, and a few (like I was as a child) generally respond to leaders in very short answers. So this task was a mixed bag, but on the whole I believe I had the opportunity to chat to each girl. I learned a couple of girls are participating in Race For Life, another really doesn’t like ducks, one is off to the Olympic Park soon and many are already looking forward to next year’s Brownie holiday.

My second task was to not freak out so much on the walks around town. It can be pretty overwhelming to have a large bunch of small girls walking around you along the pavement. And they don’t always listen. “Brownie A, keep up as we cross the road!”, “Brownie B, move over from the side of the road”, “Brownie C, SLOW DOWN!”. That is usually all the girls hear coming out of my mouth as we walk along the streets, but like my more experienced fellow leaders, I’ve come to realise it doesn’t have much affect! I gave the girls the rules before we left, I spoke directly to the girls who were not following those rules, and I just kept calm. A little bit of the Road Safety badge may be required though!

So, overall it was a lovely evening. We had plenty of time in the playground, and lots of chips! We weren’t even very late returning to the hall this year either!


2 thoughts on “Improving leadership skills with a simple Brownie evening

  1. I worry about that too – sometimes I feel like the only things coming out of my mouth are exasperated safety instructions. It’s our end of term party this week, so I’m going to follow your example and try to chat to each girl during the evening.

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