Monday, 8 February 2010


Did you know that girlguiding is 100 years old? I really like those traditional guiding activities, like knots, using a compass, semaphore, making triangular slings from your scarf, wearing a woggle, was all about duty, being independent, being useful, and I suppose, being good. Like living the life of an Enid Blyton character: adventure, with morals thrown in. Anyway all those things appeal to me.

Alas, a modern Brownie will probably only do those things if she does her 'brownie traditions' or 'brownie skills' badges. When I was doing prep for the 'traditions' badge, I found out what a 9/10 year-old little girl had to be able to do to get her First Class badge, the highest achievement before 'getting her wings' - going up to Guides;

* have one shilling in a the Savings bank (£2.15 in today's money)
* cook a simple dish
* know first aid bandaging
* know the history of a place and act as a guide to the place
* make a milk pudding
* carry a message of 12 words in her head and deliver it correctly
* knit a pair of socks
* fold clothes for mangling and clean boots

and if they get this far they will of course already be able to;

* lay and light a fire
* make a bed
* cut out and sew a union jack
* tie knots

I certainly can't do all of these! When I last saw her, my mum gave me all her old Guide badges, a significant gift.

I wish I could tell you what they are all for, especially the one with the anchor. I'll need to find a Guide Badge Handbook circa 1972. My own brownie badges are equally unintelligible, a mere symbol on dreary brown. Today's have undergone a radical makeover, and what they lose in gravity, they make up for in their ability to tell the world, unmistakably, what they are for.

My brownies are currently doing their Adventure 100 badge, to celebrate the centenary.

You basically choose from 100 assorted adventures to gain 100 points. We're having a Race Night for 10 points. Fun races; wind-up toy, three-legged, wheelbarrow, dress-up relay, potato and spoon, island hop, maze, word search and A-Z races. With 'brownie cocktails' - squash and lemonade mixed in a cocktail shaker with an umbrella and slice of lemon, and fancy hats, like Ladies Day at Ascot.

I've spent the weekend making the winners some medals, with fabric scraps, cardboard, an ink-jet printer, and a stapler. I'm quite proud of the results...


mooncalf said...

I recognise the firefighter and hostess badges because I had them too.

has a lot of clues to the others though :)

amy said...

NOW I know why you were so fond of the girl scouts paper doll!! I didn't know you were a brownie leader! I was a brownie for a year in 1st grade and a girl scout for a year in 5th grade. the troops around me weren't very good and we didn't do anything that exciting. Except learn hawaiian dancing, I liked that one. I wish the troops had been better. B was a boy scout for about 14 years. He did all kinds of fun stuff like learning knots and going on backpacks. You amaze me!

Thank you for the award too! I am very honored to receive it from you! i will post it soon. I am at a temporary job and kinda busier than usual!

Erin Wallace said...

This is fascinating, even though I was only a Girl Scout for a day. I love the merit badge requirements. Lovely post. Found your blog on Canary Knits. Will follow it! Happy to have Stumbled here. Happy Valentines Day.

CanarySanctuary said...

I was a brownie and girl guide over here in Canada - I loved it! and still have all my badges and the books to go along with them.
I suspect they'd differ, but I'd be happy to give my books a boo for you!

Anonymous said...

Hi anchor badge was Boatswain. you had to swim 50 metres and keep afloat 5 mins wearing clothes,use 2 knots, throw an unweighted line 12 metres and then pass a section on either rowing, sailing or canoeing. DOVE

sarasa1 said...

I can name your badges for you.. well most of them.. ignoring the patrol emblem badge (which is a bluetit) and the promise badge (bronze, and the red yellow and green trefoil badges (for years 1 2 and 3 in guides- you had to earn them though.. see the old syllabus), the middle blue one is the old Service collective emblem.

Then, looking at the interest badges (black circular ones), reading across the page L-R... you have..

swimmer (lifering)
Homemaker (two crossed keys)
Emergency Helper (red lantern)
Boatswain (anchor)
laundress (iron)
Firefighter (firemans helpmet)
Fitness (snake)
Accident prevention (red triangle)
handywoman (mallet and brush crossed)
home nurse (white cross)
toymaker (child's horse toy)
Advanced camper (white tent)
child nurse (green cross)
First Aid (red cross)
Hostess (teacup)

so all in all.. your mum was really accomplished!

Hope that helps!