First night 2016

The toadstool has been retrieved out of summer storage.


Name tags are made (thanks Snowy Owl!). We like to have fixed name tags that get picked up at the beginning of the meeting and turned in at the end. It helps with attendance especially in the first few days. A name still in the pile means that we know who is missing.


The girls are registered. I love online registration. Unit Finder and Register links here.

The first newsletter has been sent to families with info about our unit and the next couple of weeks.

  • Brownie Program
  • Uniform – HINT … I’m not a fan of the reef knot pin (it is sold as a method for keeping the badge sash closed but the problem is that it isn’t strong enough to do that). Sew it in place and I’ll be happy.
  • Enrollment – usually after 4 weeks (ours is going to be after five because of Hallowe’en).
  • Girl Guide Cookies
  • Dress-Up Book Character party (instead of Hallowe’en). We’re really bad at traditional spooky parties, but we LOVE theme meetings with a purpose. And what’s better than a room that includes Anne, Hermione, Professor McGonnigal (me!), Luna Lovegood, a Paper Bag Princess, Beezus, Susan Pevensie, Heidi… I could go on and on…
  •  A note about safe guide forms… “Brownie activity risk levels are described as Green, Yellow and Red (we don’t do red events, but we do lots of green and yellows);
    Green = low risk activity (library visit, walk). You’ll get an information form with no need to hand back a permission form.
    Yellow = medium risk (overnight camp, meeting in unusual spot). You’ll need to sign and return a permission form.

And the Guiders have a plan (We’re in the year 2 cycle) and this is essentially the plan we’ll follow tonight.

  • 6:00 Guider Arrival
  • 6:20 Girls start arriving
    • Girls and Parents meet the Owls – Girls get a name tag and head into gym to play games
    • Parents stay in the hall to complete health forms
  • 6:45 Gathering Call – Brownies Brownies Where are you, Opening Song,
  • 6:50 Name Game (My name is Cara and I like Cucumbers and this is my friend Marlene who likes Mangoes – such a long game, but it is helpful. Girls only introduce the one beside them, but Brown Owl has to repeat em all – gah!).
  • 7:10 Talk about Rules – (we usually play this up with me being the boring old paperwork guider and Snowy popping up… this should be a game). And we have Brown Owl’s Rules to the rescue for that. And there’s running which the girls will need by then
  • 7:15 – Game – Octopus?
  • 7:30 Beaded Friendship Bracelet Craft – really great craft but needs a good evening to prep in advance. Don’t decide now to do it tonight.
  • 7:45 Campfire and talk about our plans for the year.

Happy new Guiding Year!






Have you tried the new Girl Guides of Canada app? I saw a few things about it on Facebook yesterday and had to try it myself when I got home. All reviews (mine and others) have been resoundingly positive. I have downloaded it on my iPhone and I’m told that there’s an Android version too.

  • For iPhone, go to the App Store – search Girl Guides of Canada.
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  • From there, you sign in with your iMIS number and password (good security!).
  • You can access your unit rosters.
  • If you go to Badge and Award Tracker and create a meeting, the app cross checks your roster and you can take attendance. (Is there an easier way to get to the meeting spot?)
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  • I’m wondering if there’s a way to download the info later? Is there a desktop app?
  • And am I the only one that sees this information? Does GGC? I’m good with that, but I wonder?
  • Edited with more thoughts…
    • Parents can get it too and track progress
    • It is showing the old rosters from last year – those should update at the end of August.
    • Love that we’ll have Safe Guide and Code of Conduct at our fingertips.

Great innovation. Love it.

Recruitment tools

In a recent Ask Me Anything on the Facebook page, one reader asked about recruitment. Oh heavens, that’s tough. I’m having the same troubles here too. Here are some things I have found. If you have suggestions, I’m happy to add yours to this list (brownowlcara at gmail dot com).35

  • Familiarize yourself with the process. In Canada, potential members can go to www.girlguides.ca, click on Volunteers at the top, then the Interested in Volunteering link. Click on Apply Now. They’ll fill out the form and GGC takes it from there. If you know the drill, you can speak confidently about it to someone you want to recruit.
  • Take a look at the GGC site. They’re updating their volunteer campaigns all the time.
  • Communicate with your Guiding parents to let them know you’re looking for volunteers. Sometimes you have to use the “If you want your child in Guiding, we need [this many] people to step up.” The process isn’t hard to do. And as a backup plan, they could do the non-member volunteer process.
  • Let your Guiding reps know that you’re looking for leaders (in Ontario it is the ACL, but other areas have Commissioners). They have access to the potential member lists.
  • Put it out to your friends on social media – but be warned, if you often complain about Guiding, they’re going to think you’re nuts. As always, think carefully about what you put out on social media. The complaint you posted in February will get you skepticism in August.
  • Be very vocal with everyone that you’re looking for Guiders. I’m always surprised at who actually responds. The people I least think are going to accept are the ones who jump in and are extremely successful.
  • My very best recruitment successes have been in the grocery store line after a meeting (while in uniform).These conversations often start with “Do you still have Owls and a Toadstool?” Reminisce a bit and go from there but it helps if you have something to hand them.
  • If you get someone who is interested, you need to walk the line of not pestering them, but also making sure they feel communicated to. 

What works for you? I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Personal card

I am writing a post about recruitment tools and in that I mention that I have a personal card. While not entirely about Guiding, I wanted to explain this further.

IMPORTANT NOTE – This is not paid for by Guiding. We’re all volunteers with different abilities, means and tolerances to pay for things. This is something that works for me in my personal life and it happens to be a good recruitment tool for Guiding that I don’t mind using for that purpose. It is by no means a requirement of Guiding that you do this.

I really like having a personal card in my wallet. Like the old fashioned business card, but about you. When I strike up a conversation with someone in the library or the knitting/grocery store I don’t have to scramble to give them a note on a napkin that will be lost almost before I’m back in my car.

  1. I ordered my personal card from Vista Print. Prices start around $16 for a basic card (hey! there’s a 50% of sale on right now so $7.99 – August 17, 2016). I’m not paid by Vista Print – but I liked the service and the price was right for what I needed.
  2. My personal card says:personal card idea
    • Name – My name
    • Tag line – “Knitter, Blogger, Brown Owl, Reader” Make up your own tagline that reflects the themes that come up in your life.
    • Address – my City and Country only. This is very vague for safety.
    • Website – http://www.browniesmeet.ca
    • Secondary e-mail – I’ve set up a Junk Mail email account so that I don’t have to share my main family e-mail address. I don’t like spammers and even though the nice person in the grocery store probably isn’t going to be a weirdo, they might be.
  3. It is blank on the back – this is a cheaper option, and it gives you a spot to write notes. Provide more personal details if you feel safe to do so. Write out the web address you talked about. The front is a starting point. The back is for detail.

That’s it. Do you have a personal card? It may be a little old fashioned in this age of iPhones, but I like it.


And it begins…

Brownie Free Summer has been really awesome around here — I hope you’re enjoying a break too. It is coming to an end though… sigh.

Yesterday, I found myself sending emails about our upcoming Brownie year and realized that it is starting again. Enjoy time off. But I hope you’re looking forward to a really great Guiding year, as I am.

Do you have any questions for me? What worries you about next year? What are you excited about? I’m starting my 12th or 13th year of being Brown Owl and could use some ideas from you (and I’ll share them).


Have you read Dad Goes Round? The author is also a parent of one of our Brownies and today he wrote a great post called “Girl Guide Badges for Parents.”  Meant as a joke, but #3 does serve as a warning. We’ve sucked in our best leaders that way. Happy Friday.

My Dad is a retired Fisheries Biologist and when my nephew was born, his dad gave my dad Trout, Trout, Trout – a Fish Chant by April Pulley Sayre. Nephew is almost 11 now … he loves his Grampy and is obsessed with fish. And we have wonderful memories of the two of them reading the “Fish” book (the littler kids are enjoying it with Grampy now). But we can all recite it by memory. 9781559719797_p0_v1_s192x300

Brownies had a sleepover at a local conservation area this spring and in the morning we enjoyed a fantastic pond ecology program. We read a random book at bedtime, but I wish I had had Trout, Trout, Trout in my kit.

There’s also a neat resource for teachers here that looks like a meeting in a box that I would like to try for Key to the Living World (it mentions wetlands, plants and animals that live near you)

Also try our Key to the Living World: Water all around meeting.