Will boys be joining Brownies then?

The Scouts were in the news today for appointing their first female chair in its 108 year history. You can read one of the articles about this topic here:

Scouts’ first female leader vows to get more girls round the campfire

Queue the comments. There are few positive ones, but many negative and usually from those who do not understand either organisation. Some ignoring the fact that girls have been able to join scouting for 20 years and telling them to go back to Guides. Others dismissing the values guiding has to offer and suggests it should close down. Very frustrating read following an awesome fun day with a group of Brownies just yesterday.

My view may be controversial, and having not been a part of Scouting may be biased, but I do feel there should be an option for all boy Scout groups. Not to take opportunities away from girls but to give extra opportunities to boys. There may be many boys from very female oriented homes who would prefer the all male space, that is the opinion of my boyfriend who went to an all boy scout group. But the obvious difficulty here is the lack of volunteers to run so many different charity groups. I worry with Guiding already being the larger organisation, and with so many girls also join the Scouts, the number of places for boys is decreasing.

However, my main topic for this post is as the heading says, will boys join Brownies? No. Not right not, no. For those who flippantly ask this, please consider the history of girls getting Girlguiding to begin with.

When Robert Baden-Powell starting the Scouts it was boys only. Many girls showed interested in the groups but were turned away. Some girls even formed their own Scout groups themselves, they completed all the work required to earn Scout badges and they wrote to the powers that be to receive their badges. And they did receive them, but only by omitting their first name and using their first initial instead. They were only allowed to achieve these badges if they were boys. The powers that be became aware of this ‘fraud’ and demanded the girls return the badges they earned – they were not even allowed to keep them!

In present day Britain I am not aware of boys desperately taking part in their own Guide groups, sneakily working at badges not designed for them and pretending to be girls to own their badges. They don’t really need to, the Scouts have what they need. If I heard there were boys doing this I would be outraged and willing to see what we are offering the the Scouts don’t.

I looked into both programmes of Cubs and Brownies to see the difference. Both have three main themes.

Cubs: Outdoor and adventure, World and Skills.

Brownies: You, Community, World.

So both groups have a theme of ‘world’, so that should be quite equal. In Brownies this would encompass the ‘World Traveller Badge Day’ we attended yesterday and the ‘Space Adventure Night’ we’re having next week.

I imagine ‘Skills’ and ‘You’ to be of a similar thread. In Brownies ‘You’ also includes friendship, confidence and learning about yourself – your interests, skills and beliefs. Cubs focuses more on building skills, which depending on the leader could incorporate some of the things I listed above for Brownies.

So the main difference is the third theme, ‘Community’ Vs ‘Outdoor and Adventure’. Firstly, in Brownies we often go on walks around our local community so I would group these activities together. In our community actions we are often outside helping with the Church garden, or visiting the local police station. There isn’t too much by adventure we can fit into our weekly meetings so am interested to see what Scouts offer that covers this. I also believe many Cub groups would also take part in community action and visiting their local community too.

A reason Girlguiding is girl oriented is because it is led by the girls. They choose their activities and choose what sort of organisation they want to be a part of. The surveys show that girls would rather keep their all girl environment for now. And while we still live in a world will all boy schools and all girls schools I cannot see how it is sexist to have a club that functions just the same.

From my perspective, both organisations offer similar activities but to a slightly different audience. Both are relevant, both are beneficial, and both require to hard work of volunteers to allow it to be offered. Those who like to post negative comments about either should really experience either of them before the cast judgement. I hope both organisations continue to go from strength to strength and work together to give children even more opportunities to develop into well rounded citizens, rather than the ones who enjoy leaving nasty comments about people bettering themselves.

Boys won’t be choosing to join Brownies right now, when the boys start demanding something of their own the same way the girls did 100 years ago perhaps perceptions will change.

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Creativity Octant – Phase 3

Phase 3 of an octant is a long-term commitment and should take at least 30 hours, can include gaining a qualification or teaching something to others. My Phase 3 is something I completed a few years ago, but still within my time in Senior Section…

Phase 3: Create and maintain a Brownie unit website

Inspired by an article in ‘Guiding’ magazine I set up a Brownie unit website. Before I started I researched what other Brownie units included on their website. I decided we would have a latest news section, information on badges, a page for each six and a section where we could be contacted.

The initial set up of the website took over 6 hours, from designing each webpage, choosing colours and fonts, and writing blurbs about our group, the leaders, the promise and badges. I checked the Brownies forms to ensure they all had permission for photos to be published and included some of these to advertise the type of activities we offer.

I update the website each week after Brownies to add the latest news, a relevant photo and update the ‘Next week…’ comment. After a Brownie holiday or special project or event I will spend longer writing a more in-depth report.

My hope for the website is that it will show the parents what their daughters are doing; will introduce and advertise Brownie groups to prospective new parents and will show those not involved in Guiding the range of activities Brownies can do.

After the new brand was launched in February 2013 I read up on the new guidelines and tried to implement this into the unit website. I set all fonts to Trebuchet MS and changed the colours to match the Brownie brand colours.

In Spring 2014 I completed the Girlguiding e-learning on our branding and therefore I did a redesign of the entire site. Much of the content remained the same but I edited the design to be clearer and brighter by using blocks of text surrounded by branding colour blocks. I updated the badges page to include a wider range of interest badges the Brownies could complete at home. I included the new Brownie section logo with our localised unit name and added a Girlguiding bubble photo of a couple of our girls to the top bar.

I have spent on average 15-20 minutes a week updating the website, so over a school year of 39 weeks this would be about 10 hours. I have been maintaining the website for 3 years, totalling 30 hours. Plus I spent approximately 6 hours setting up the initial website, and at least 3 hours updating the website to meet the new branding guidelines.

Creativity Octant – Phase 2

Phase 2 of an octant should take at least 12 hours to complete, it can be a continuation of Phase 1 or something new. For my Phase 2 I tried something new that included aspects of Phase 1…

Phase 2: Make a range of ‘feltie’ characters including my own designs

After completing my first feltie, I took on a few more. Next I attempted the Lion. I realised that making felties with light coloured felt would be difficult as the material became dirtier the more I was touching it. This one also included a tail from thread which was more difficult than it looked. I was unhappy with the outcome of this one. The stitches were wonky and his face is also lopsided.

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I then tried another dog feltie as I hoped this would be simpler to practice my skills on. From the design in the book his face is supposed to be that shape! I was happier with this feltie.

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I chose different colours for the rabbit feltie, and adjusted the shape of the arms compared to the pattern. This wasn’t very successful, and I used a plastic button to try and mask my least favourite feltie. However, I do like the design of the eyes.

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Next I challenged myself with the alien feltie. The trickiest part of this one was lining up the beads above his eyes in a curve. This took a lot of time and patience.

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I enjoyed making the Panda feltie, though this one involved lots of small pieces. It also contained more stitched features.

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I then tried my own design, based on the Hello Kitty character. Using what I learnt I designed a bow with a stitched detail.

Choosing a completely different design, I created a penguin inspired by some felt Christmas decorations I had seen. This involving stitching different colour felt on top of each other on top of a white border.

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My next custom design was a human feltie. The problems I faced with this was that stitching the hair to the head meant having white thread on brown felt, which stands out quite a bit. I also realised that shoulders are not aesthetically pleasing.

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My final custom design brought together some techniques I’d learned from previous fealties. I liked the eyes from the rabbit, so chose these to make this human feltie look cute compared to the previous one. I also based the body type more on the animal characters by ignoring shoulders. Adding the sash was a last minute decision, but I think this helps distinguish her as a Brownie.

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Leadership Octant – Phase 3

Phase 3 of an octant is a long-term commitment and should take at least 30 hours, can include gaining a qualification or teaching something to others. My Phase 3 is something I completed a few years ago, but still within my time in Senior Section…

Phase 3: Adult Leadership Qualification

When I first started my ALQ it was difficult to find time to complete the clauses and therefore it took about a year and a half to complete.

This training gave me my first opportunities to try running activities, and eventually whole meetings with the Brownies. One of my first activities was a ’Smartie’ quiz night. I had planned for 4 of each colour Smartie to be in the tube, as each colour related to a different category, and only as we played the quiz did I realise I had been using the wrong tube. We worked through it and the evening was quite successful.

I found it interesting to work with the girls individually, and gave me the chance to see how I could assist on a one to one basis to help improve their confidence.

This training introduced me to the five essentials, which I still check our programme for.

I led a few planning sessions with the Brownies during this time and tried out different ways of getting the girls to decide on activities. While asking all the girls while sat in a circle is good if the entire group are confident, but I prefer to ask the Sixes to come up with lists that are brought together as it gives quieter girls the chance to contribute.

Part of my training was to attend a First Response course, which I completed in February 2011 and have since completed a refresher course too. First aid was an area I knew little on, but was important for me to learn and keep up to date with.

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I completed my Adult Leadership Qualification on 14th May 2011 with my final clause being the training for the age group I would be working with. At the end of the training I took my book to the appropriate guider, who then called for quiet in the room so everyone could congratulate me! I was so glad to finish and be an official leader.

Leadership Octant – Phase 2

Phase 2 of an octant should take at least 12 hours to complete, it can be a continuation of Phase 1 or something new. For my Phase 2 I tried something new that included aspects of Phase 1…

Phase 2: Organise a district Star Quest event for 4 local Brownie groups

With input from our District Commissioner I started planning an afternoon event to be enjoyed by the 4 Brownie groups in our district, a Big Brownie Birthday Star Quest. I spent a lot of time researching possible activities, finding out what other districts, divisions and counties were doing. I settled on one activity from each of the past, present and future zones, and created a forth zone ‘Challenge’. The 3rd and 4th Guides helped with the event by running Go For It activities for our Future zone. I prepared the other three zones, there was a range of carnival games, which included making a bean bag toss game, collecting and decorating glass bottles for the hoopla and making a target golf game. I spent time finding cheap headbands and pipe cleaners to make effective, glittery star bopper headbands, each Brownie and leader were wearing one by the end of the afternoon. I also sourced materials for the newspaper tower competition, which included making colourful flags so the Brownies could identity which was theirs and the winners could be decided.

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I also spent a lot of time checking the budget as each unit paid £25 for the event, and £60 of this went to the venue. I also wrote emails to keep other leaders informed and created decorations. It was a lot of hard work but was worth it to see so many girls enjoying themselves and trying new things together.