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