New Girlguiding Programme Initial Views

It has been two weeks since the big reveal of the new Girlguiding programme, I’m surprised it hasn’t been longer! There has been so much discussion online about the changes and I’d like to share my views too.

At this stage, I have only seen the new books, read some of the skills builders and browsed through the new books. I’ve also done all the e-learning modules to get my head around it all, but none of this has been put into practice yet!

I’m quite excited to get started on the new programme. I want to try it out and see how the Brownies get along with it.

Unit Activity Cards – Pros & Cons

Last year we were given a set of Unit Activity Cards, the new in unit activity instructions that we need to plan time for to allow the Brownies opportunity to earn their Theme Awards. So far our Brownies have run three of these activities and they’ve been a major success. My favourite thing about these cards is that the Brownies can lead themselves. There is little need to prep, aside from sourcing resources. Just go into the unit, give the card to a couple of girls ready to lead and let them loose.

The downside, in terms of the activities going toward Theme Awards, is that they have a preconceived amount of time allocated, and that is all the time the Brownie will get toward their four hours. We did Soapy Solutions last year and I’m sure we spent a lot longer than 15 minutes on it! It also means there actually isn’t that much by way of girl-led guiding, at some point we will need to do all the Unit Activity Cards, whether the Brownies like the idea of not, to fit in their four hours. As more cards come out we may have more than the four hours per theme.

Skills Builders – Pros & Cons

I like that the badges are set up like the Unit Activity Cards, that the Brownies will be able to lead themselves. For our unit and the number of leaders we have I cannot imagine us running more than two skill builders at a time though. I’m looking forward to giving this a try in January, and it is a good excuse to mix the Brownies up into different small groups. (It can be difficult having disruptive Brownies, their six members can get tired of their antics!)

I unfortunately have a lot more cons for skill builders at the moment, firstly the design seems rather boring in comparison to the interested badges. There is so much colour in everything else! It may have been too many different choices, but I picture young women with blankets filled with Skill Builders unable to remember if they earned their First Aid Stage 3 in Brownies or Guides, separate colour edging per section would be nice.

More importantly, my major concern is the five compulsory activities. When we ran badges in the past we would offer more clauses than required to ensure girls who missed one week could still earn the badge. Or a clause is sent home to be completed. The Skill Builders are not set up for either scenario. Having a catch up night will only work if only a handful of Brownies miss a week, and preferably the same week so they can work together in a small group! Five activities, possibly over five nights in the case of Innovate, with two groups, that is potential for ten activities to be repeated. I cannot see us keeping up with that. I also wish the five activities totalled to the same amount of time in each topic and stage, it would make planning a lot simpler.

Interest Badges – Pros and Cons

I like the design of the new badges, the fact that they’re smaller is a bonus too. It is good to see some progression with the sections. I really hope units stick to the new rules and do not run these as programmes within the unit, that’ll take away from the work of those Brownies who do make the effort to achieve something for themselves. I completed my Look Wider a few years ago, my own choice and it gave me the freedom to try new things and build my self motivation. It is exactly what I wanted to see Girlguiding implement. I wish the topics were wider ranged, so the young members could govern themselves more, it’d fit a lot better with being girl-led.

At Rainbow and Brownie age it can be difficult for some to take part in these without their parents’ support. I envision having a district badge event, where girls can use a local meeting place and resources to work on their badges on their own, with local leaders to help support with reading the syllabus and answering queries and questions. The Brownies could also then work in small groups to earnt he badge together, as mentioned in the badge book.

How will we introduce this?

Our Autumn term is taken up by a project that will fill around half the term, with the other half not being long enough to introduce the programme and run a skills builder we will probably save our first one of those for January.

Instead, we will start by talking through the new themes. I’m thinking of using the dice to get the Brownies shouting out about the topics within each theme. Then running some games around which badges & skill builders fit into which theme, like the one in the Guiding magazine. Plus an evening looking at the interest badges, explaining how they are earned and giving them a deadline for ‘badge night’, should they want to bring work in. Then doing some small activities based on the new badges to get them interested. I’m sure we will fit in some unit activity cards, led by our older girls, and then choosing which skills builder each group would like to work on in January!


How to make slime with Brownies (UK!)

I don’t think you can spend time around a Junior school aged child and not hear about slime at the moment. It seems to be everywhere!

At Brownies we have a tradition that the girls moving up the Guides attend one final evening at the start of term and stay on for Guides straight after, a double session. We also use this as an opportunity to let the leaving girls decide the meeting’s activity, whether it be something new or repeating an old favourite.

Last summer I asked two girls due to leave at Christmas what they wanted to do, and they were excited to make slime! I was nervous as I’d tried a recipe the previous year and it did not work at all, but I wanted to be able to give them a special last session.

I did some research and found an awesome UK recipe (For lack of a better word!) using items easily found in a local supermarket.

How to make slime at Brownies!

Per four Brownies you’ll need:

The links will take you to the exact products I used, you’ll probably find similar in other shops. We gave the choice of green or pink food colouring.

  1. Split the Brownies into groups based on what colour slime they’d like to make, then group the Brownies into threes or fours depending how many bottles of glue & eye solution you have.
  2. Give each group one food container box to create their mix. Start by giving each group the 150ml of PVA glue to pour into the food container.
  3. Supervise each group as they drip a couple drops of food colour into the mix (less is more! Most of our pink slime turned out brown!) and instruct the Brownies to use the plastic spoons / wooden lolly sticks to mix the colouring into the glue.
  4. Give each group a spoon and let them put the headed teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda into the mix and continue mixing.
  5. Finally, a few drops at a time, add the eye lens solution / eye drops. Mix and then add more as needed. As the Brownies mix it’ll become thicker to the point they can pick it up and squish it. Keep going until it looses stickiness and becomes a solid mixture you can stretch and mould.
  6. Split the mixture between the Brownies and give each a food container to take it home in.
  7. Warn the Brownies that the mixture will become watery in a day or so unless regularly moulded, so keep it in the container!

This was such a brilliant evening, much better than I’d imagined. Many of the older Brownies had made slime at home, and were surprised at the amount of bicarbonate of soda they needed to add. But they were very pleased with how it turned out, saying it was the best slime they’d made, and were thanking me for introducing this version to them!

I wish I could show you images but they all have the Brownies very shocked and excited faces in them!

At our Brownies we split it between groups of three or four due to the cost of the eye drops, you might find cheaper so that the girls can have more slime, but I also felt working in groups helped the Brownies learn about team work.

My 1000 adventure list

Yeah, 1000 adventures. I’ve not thought of them all yet but that’s my impossible goal! I’m so inspired by reading other people’s bucket lists, and I get a sense of achievement when I look over the experiences I’ve had in my life so I’m combining the two into this ultimate life list. This has been a piece of work over the last few months, and I’ll continue adding to it as I think of new ideas and achieve new things.

Some of the completed experiences have links to my corresponding blog post, perhaps a new goal will be to write about each one too!

The list below includes future goals and past achievements, the ones I’ve completed are in bold.

  1. Visit Disney World, Florida
  2. Ride underwater in a submarine
  3. Visit the Louvre
  4. Have a caricature drawn of me (twice!)
  5. Complete a life journal
  6. Ride in a dune buddy
  7. Make a YouTube video
  8. Make pastry from scratch
  9. Get a tattoo
  10. Complete a scrapbook
  11. Eat pizza in Naples
  12. Ride in a helicopter
  13. Keep a line-a-day journal for one year
  14. Complete all coding lessons on Khan Academy
  15. Try stand up paddling
  16. Play human table football
  17. Take a Bookkeeping course
  18. Feed a giraffe
  19. Get a promotion
  20. Earn my Girlguiding leadership qualification
  21. See sunset and sunrise in the same night
  22. Attend Comic Con
  23. Go on safari
  24. See Hamilton
  25. Ride the vomit comit
  26. Attend a cooking class
  27. Attend a baking class
  28. Visit Reykjavik
  29. Shoot paintballs with a slingshot
  30. Try a VR escape room
  31. Camp at a music festival
  32. Tour the Houses of Parliament
  33. Win a big game of Monopoly
  34. Visit the Colosseum
  35. Ride a Segway
  36. Take an indoor skydiving lesson
  37. Be able to recite all the Commonwealth countries
  38. Take a creative writing course
  39. Try archery
  40. Workout every day for 3 months
  41. Donate blood
  42. Tour a police station
  43. Try caving
  44. See the northern lights
  45. See the Hollywood sign
  46. Watch all the Disney classic films
  47. Do yoga
  48. Take a fencing class
  49. Swim with dolphins
  50. Ride a jet ski
  51. Take a bushcraft lesson
  52. Publish a novel
  53. See a caravan banger race
  54. Hold a plank for 5 minutes
  55. Get the high score on an arcade machine
  56. Visit a castle
  57. Take a French Patisserie course
  58. Play Basketball
  59. Attend a Formula One race
  60. Eat a croissant in Paris
  61. Go white water rafting
  62. Witness a wedding proposal
  63. Learn to use chopsticks
  64. Visit Pax Lodge
  65. Read one novel every month for a year
  66. Attend a secret cinema event
  67. Attend a Brazilian carnival
  68. Complete the Girlguiding ‘Going Away’ qualification
  69. Go up a volcano
  70. Visit Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
  71. Run 5k
  72. Visit Universal Studios, Florida
  73. Take a skiing lesson
  74. Be able to tread water
  75. Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge
  76. Visit another Scandinavian city
  77. Drink beer at Oktoberfest
  78. Buy a house
  79. Go to a driving range (golf)
  80. Go zorbing
  81. Be fluent in another language
  82. Visit New York
  83. Complete the Golden Circle, Iceland
  84. Visit the Tower of London
  85. Go on a ghost hunt
  86. Eat chocolate at Cadbury World, Birmingham
  87. Organise a tombola fundraiser
  88. See a tennis match at Wimbledon
  89. Learn the periodic table
  90. Gut a fish
  91. Go camping
  92. Try clay pigeon shooting
  93. Visit and escape Alkatraz
  94. Lead an activity from scratch at Brownie Day
  95. Design and paint a games room mural in my home
  96. Be able to recite all the European countries & their capitals
  97. Have a palm reading
  98. Attend a wine tasting
  99. Walk the Hollywood walk of fame
  100. Have Afternoon Tea
  101. Mosh in a mosh pit
  102. Contact someone with the same name
  103. Have a dolphin perform a trick
  104. Visit the Vatican
  105. Learn ballroom dancing
  106. Make soap
  107. Watch all Studio Ghibli films
  108. Tour the Churchill Cabinet War Rooms
  109. Attend a murder mystery
  110. Ride Kingda Ka at Six Flags, New Jersey
  111. Travel first class
  112. Play laser tag
  113. Ride The Smiler at Alton Towers
  114. Go on a cruise
  115. Take a life drawing course
  116. Put on a bet at Newmarket
  117. Tour the Globe Theatre
  118. Attend a concert
  119. Complete all statistics lessons on Khan Academy
  120. Bury a time capsule
  121. Be a Girlguiding Peer Educator
  122. Act on stage
  123. Go zip lining
  124. Walk along the Great Wall of China
  125. Go paintballing
  126. Complete my web comic
  127. Learn to crochet
  128. Visit the Blue Lagoon, Iceland
  129. Go rock climbing
  130. Ride The Ultimate at Lightwater Valley
  131. Explore a cave
  132. Do a high ropes course
  133. See Mount Rushmore
  134. Read all of ‘A Song of Ice & Fire’
  135. Make a wish at the Trevi Fountain
  136. Visit Porta Ventura theme park in Spain… three times!
  137. Escape an escape room
  138. Race a Go Kart
  139. Collect and donate school equipment to Malawi
  140. Stand at the top of Mount Vesuvius
  141. Learn to start a campfire
  142. Send flowers
  143. Visit Australia
  144. Hold a Tarantula
  145. Learn basic origami
  146. See Blue Man Group live
  147. Be a Post Pals Fortnightly Writer for a year
  148. See the red arrows
  149. Visit ICANDO
  150. Be able to recite the 50 American States
  151. Attend the Edinburgh Festival
  152. See WWE live
  153. Eat a cannoli in Italy
  154. Take a Jack the Ripper tour around London
  155. Visit an Ice Bar
  156. Find way out of a corn maze at night
  157. See a Boxing match
  158. Go to a horror maze experience for Halloween
  159. Ride in a limo
  160. See Derren Brown live
  161. Visit Pompeii
  162. See the New Year fireworks in London
  163. Learn to spot constellations
  164. Eat at a dark restaurant
  165. Publish my web comic online
  166. Visit Niagara Falls
  167. Lead a campfire
  168. Organise an event for over 100 people
  169. Try kayaking
  170. Visit Platform 9 & 3/4
  171. Attend a demolition derby
  172. Build snowman twins
  173. See a show / musical from a private box
  174. Visit Stonehenge
  175. Try a reflexology treatment…reluctantly!
  176. Complete the Commonwealth Award
  177. See an event at the summer Olympics
  178. Ride the London Eye
  179. Go to a Japanese theme park
  180. Go to the top of the Eiffel Tower
  181. Go parasailing
  182. Visit the catacombs of Paris
  183. Walk over the o2
  184. Try a corn dog in America
  185. Climb Stealth at Thorpe Park
  186. Understand Macbeth
  187. Create a family tree going back at least three generations
  188. Make a hummingbird in origami
  189. Watch experiments at the Science Museum
  190. Run 10K
  191. Visit Disney Land, California
  192. Complete the Chief Guide’s Challenge
  193. See a Basketball match
  194. Watch Chelsea at Stamford Bridge
  195. Change a flat tyre on my own
  196. Write a children’s novel
  197. Organise a Girlguiding district event
  198. Eat a Macaron in Paris
  199. Carve a pumpkin
  200. Know how to solve a Rubik’s cube
  201. Be able to mix three cocktails
  202. Count the vote in an election
  203. Play Hockey
  204. Run a half marathon
  205. Visit all capital cities in the UK
  206. Learn five songs on the guitar
  207. Be able to comfortably touch my toes with straight legs
  208. Complete a 365 Day photo challenge
  209. Co-ordinate and produce a 40 page brochure
  210. Attend the live filming of a TV show
  211. Learn to juggle
  212. Meet a sloth
  213. Bake a creative cake I’m proud of
  214. Paint a Christmas bauble for our tree
  215. Eat churros in America
  216. Drink Limoncello in Sorrento
  217. Make beaded pattern bracelets on a loom
  218. Tour the Blackpool Tower
  219. Learn to knit (and complete all the knitting kits I’ve been given!!)
  220. Have an illustration published
  221. Attend a TED Talk
  222. Complete a NaNoWriMo
  223. Sit on a jury
  224. Understand chess strategies
  225. See a Cirque du Soleil show
  226. Attend an equestrian event
  227. Eat McDonalds three times in 24 hours!
  228. Try disc golf
  229. Make a piñata
  230. Go geocaching
  231. Figure out crosswords
  232. Buy art at an auction
  233. Spend 24 hours at an airport
  234. See the Trooping of the Colour
  235. Be able to complete a full car check
  236. Sponsor a child for 5 years
  237. Complete a Wasjig puzzle
  238. Publish a blog post every week for a year
  239. Eat chocolate and waffles in Brussels
  240. Walk the London Bridges
  241. Hold a snake
  242. Learn five Christmas songs on the piano
  243. Make slime
  244. Celebrate Christmas in Lapland
  245. Make some balloon animals
  246. Be interviewed for a magazine article
  247. Make an advent calendar
  248. Complete my camp blanket
  249. Go to an aquarium
  250. Eat a Grande Big Mac
  251. Bake Lebkuchens
  252. Become a Girlguiding trainer
  253. See The Little Mermaid statue in Denmark
  254. Be visited by the 13 Yule Lads of Christmas
  255. Learn to shuffle cards properly
  256. Build a website from scratch
  257. Organise an international Brownie pen pal exchange
  258. Build a bird table
  259. Volunteer at a national Girlguiding event
  260. Visit a planetarium … (almost! It broke the day we visited!)
  261. Design a charity Christmas card
  262. Go to a silent disco
  263. Take a photo at each Monopoly location in London
  264. Attend a self improvement class
  265. Complete a cryptic crossword
  266. Volunteer at a Peer Educator training weekend
  267. Beat James at table tennis
  268. Scare someone in Madame Tussards
  269. Learn Morse Code
  270. Complete a 30 day yoga challenge
  271. See a demolition derby
  272. Build a gingerbread house
  273. Bake a gingerbread house
  274. Watch a full season of LOST in 24 hours
  275. Attend Big Gig
  276. Volunteer at Wellies & Wristbands
  277. Attend a Girlguiding international trip
  278. Own a pet axolotl
  279. Ride in a hot air balloon
  280. Carry the Olympic torch
  281. Raise a child
  282. Go to space
  283. Add 1000 experiences to this list

12. See the bigger picture

Part 12 of my series on developing great leadership skills based on Girlguiding’s article here:

12 steps to becoming a great leader

“So, when you need inspiration, think of fellow members out there. We’re all different, but through challenge, friendship, fun and adventure, we can achieve great things.”

It can be difficult sometimes to remember we’re all a part of this giant movement, and to encourage the Brownies to look wider than even our own unit.

A few years ago we took part in an exciting project at World Centre Sangaam in India. The Centre was looking to raise money by selling friendship bracelets made by girlguiding members around the world so we spent an evening making bracelets, having spent a couple weeks learning about India, and in return we received a postcard from the centre thanking us for the donation.

I wish there were more projects like this we could get involved in.

We have run international pen pals and postcard exchanges a couple times over the years and this gets the Brownies thinking about those further afield. Plus we had a lovely district day learning all about Guiding in a different region, for us we looked at Asia and learned to wear Saris and henna painting.

And me? I’m yet to have an international adventure with Guiding. I think the two biggest factors against doing it is a) the cost (if there is fundraising to do I’d rather do it for the unit or the church), b) the time away from James – it doesn’t seem fair for me to use my annual leave to go on holiday without him. So I cannot see myself taking on an overseas trip for Girlguiding any time soon. But James and I have our own adventures abroad and I wouldn’t have it any other way 🙂

I do love seeing what goes on in Guiding around the world though, and Facebook is great for seeing this. I’m a member of a few international groups and like a few international pages, such as Free Being Me and Girlguiding South Africa, which gives me a glimpse into the life of memebrs and volunteers around the world.

11. Find the fun

Part 11 of my series on developing great leadership skills based on Girlguiding’s article here:

12 steps to becoming a great leader

“In tough times, a sense of humour gets us through, and it’s extremely useful for teaching those you lead new skills and tackling challenging issues.”

For this I want to reminisce over the times where I could relax being the authoritative figure and could just have a laugh with the Brownies.

Recently we had an evening making animal masks for the Friends to Animals badge. Rather than wandering the room and checking everyone was okay I found myself at a table where the newer Brownies had settled and started making a mask myself. This night was a brilliant way to get to know our new recruits. One especially is very quiet, but we spent the whole night working together and chatting about geckos like the one in Tangled. We all made up names for our alter egos while wearing our masks.

Another great time was on a Christmas sleepover. When we go to activity sites there isn’t usually time for us leaders to have a go at activities but one this day I had a go at a few things, such as caving. The Brownies had begged me to join them as some were scared and there I found myself crawling through a pitch black tunnel, but we all came out the other side sharing stories and some defeating their fears.

On the same sleepover, another lovely moment I won’t forget is the group of us, 6 Brownies and 2 leaders, having an impromptu singing of ‘Rocking Around the Christmas Tree’, it was just a lovely moment.

The look on the Brownies faces when they saw my fellow leader and I racing to slot all the giant four in a row coins back onto the board was a treat! We just started putting the game away ready for next use and turned it into a race and the Brownies couldn’t believe what they were seeing.

I love any time that the Brownies suggest I have a go, one of the best times I took them up on it was at the ‘Spark’ nationwide event at the roller disco. Not only did I enjoy getting stuck in and having a go on roller skates for the first time in ten years I was also able to help a small Brownie skate for the first time too.

Finding the fun as leaders is essential, I have to remind myself sometimes I am a member of the unit too!

10. Take Some Me-Time

Part 10 of my series on developing great leadership skills based on Girlguiding’s article here:

12 steps to becoming a great leader

“When you’re leading a group, it can be all too easy to burn out – so it’s important to take care of yourself. Practise saying no, and being polite but firm.”

So this is my guilty post.

I’m glad this is on the list though, as it justifies the recent ‘No’ I handed out.

A couple months ago I was asked to consider becoming a Peer Educator Trainer, a local session was going to be run later this year and they were looked for people aged 19-30 to train to become trainers. I loved the idea of passing on my Peer Educator knowledge and a weekend away with similar aged guiding members would be fun so I said I was interested.

Then I received the email with the details of what would be expected and I was not prepared for the amount of time this commitment would take. One weekend to train in London, completing two qualifications, and then being committed to four weekends a year anywhere nationwide, for the next three years.

At first I was excited by the prospect of gaining a preparing to teach qualification. I was considering it, although it was A LOT more than I expected. I was thinking like a day or two to train and then one weekend away later in the year, and maybe one next year! I suppose I was rather naïve, and I do completely understand why Girlguiding would want that big commitment from the people it is putting their money into training.

So I discussed it with James, and talking it through really put it in perspective. One weekend away on top of the two weekends already with the Brownies, plus the occasional volunteering at a big event and many day trips through the year was already difficult for him to hear. And I hate seeing him like that. So another four was unthinkable. And he was right. One weekend every three months, plus my Brownie commitments, plus not knowing how far I would need to travel before being at work at 9am on the Monday after.

This was a time I had to put James, and my own wellbeing, first. I said No.

I have complete respect for any Girlguiding member that takes on this commitment, I had no idea how much goes into becoming a Girlguiding trainer! From what I had previously read online I thought it would be more laid back, it was a role I had thought I would progress into but it is indeed a huge commitment and that would be one thing too many for me right now.

So I’m going to focus on my Brownies, take a few steps towards helping the local Senior Section and make sure I include some me time during each week.

9. Jump right in

Part 9 of my series on developing great leadership skills based on Girlguiding’s article here:

12 steps to becoming a great leader

“To keep young members on their toes, try to give them at least one brand new experience to enjoy each term. It can be as small or as big as you like – whether it’s a fun sports event, a food–tasting session or an international trip – all activities are enriching in their own way.”

This is a thought provoking topic! Are we giving our girls new experiences?

It is a difficult one to judge, what we think may be a new experience for the girls could turn out to be a little run of the mill. When we invited in a yoga teacher for a session, one parent commented how much her daughters enjoy yoga. Plus kids have so many opportunities to try out archery, climbing and pedal karts that a day at an activity centre may nor be as exciting as I would’ve found it.

This won’t be for every girl, but here are some of the experiences we have offered which have been quite unique:

Watching the Paralympic athletics. I cannot say another group will ever have this opportunity with us! In 2012 we took a group of Brownies to watch the events in the stadium, while some may have seen other events that year I think this is the only activity we will never be able to repeat! (Although taking the Brownies to another sporting event could be a good idea.)

Spy night. There was a lot of buzz following this themed evening in our unit. The Brownies and leaders dressed up, everyone had code names (I was Alpha Snake) and the Brownies took on four tasks, including a laser room, to claim the four clues to the whereabouts of their Easter eggs. I think these are the rare activities the Brownies cannot experience elsewhere.

Kidzania. This summer we’re hoping to take the Brownies to this interactive indoor city for kids. I know for some they will have visited before but as Brownies we haven’t, and I know some parents want their girls to go but cannot personally take them. I hope this will be an exciting new activity.

Visiting the Police Station. I think this has been the best unit meeting trip we’ve had. The police officers were so accommodating. The Brownies were very excited to see the  vehicles, handcuffs, cells, and all aspects behind the scenes.