I’ve been asked to talk about Bridging Meetings – these are ones where the units below get to see what happens in the next branch up. They come in lots of forms (Thinking Day, moving up preparation, Enrollments, Advancements, etc.), but this post is about Moving up prep.

In our neighbourhood we coordinate this so that the second year Brownies can go to Guides (their space can’t handle our whole unit), and then the whole Sparks unit comes to visit the first year Brownies (which also elevates the firsts to the hostesses… and that’s cool for them).

This year the meeting kind of snuck up on us so for the Sparks go to Brownies meeting, we did an intro game of tag, then we split Sparks up in the Circle Groups (where Brownies taught Sparks the circle songs). Then we did our Brownie Circle, we played Brown Owl’s Rules, did a friendship craft, taught the closing songs, and we were done. Because there’s an element of teaching new stuff, things took longer than usual and that’s ok. Just be prepared for it.

Goals of a Bridging Meeting:

  1. Make your unit appealing for the girls who are likely to join in future.
    • Don’t go overboard – your meetings aren’t a perpetual birthday party, but, give them a taste of what they might see when they join you.
    • But try not to schedule it on a really talky meeting day either.
  2. Show them what happens in your unit – the unit could teach the unit opening and closing. This is the time to be flashy with flags. =)
  3. Show what the older girls get to do. What is expected of you as an older girl? Compare branches:
    • Sparks stay in one big group, but in Brownies we have Circle Groups, Guides have Patrols…
    • Sparks have Keepers, Brownies have Keys and Interest badges…
    • In Sparks and Brownies you likely sleep in cabins at camp, but in Guides and above you will probably sleep in tents and are expected to learn how to put them up.
    • Our unit loves camping, singing, crafts,…
    • Brownie badges usually have three or four parts to complete. But Guide badges are more complicated.
    • And so on for older units.
  4. Pay attention to ratio. Mixing units and putting girls in different spaces requires a glance at Safe Guide.

Some things that have worked for us:

  • Sparks visiting Brownies – this is a two-part meeting where Brownies choose what they’re going to present and puts them in the teacher role. Very cool.
  • Your Day with Spark Guests
  • Brownies Visiting Guides ideas:
    • Camp Skills demos – this was one of the best examples of Brownies go to Guides is one where I found out that most of the Brownies had NEVER lit a match.
    • Games night – The Guides prepared a number of games – one of them was a variation on the hungry hippo human game (or this one) –  but in this unit, they had to crab walk around with a tissue box on tied to their stomach and filling it up with ping pong balls. (super fun)
    • Badge night – they worked on a badge together for the meeting – the unit recorded the work and girls who joined were given credit in September.

Prep for moving up to the next unit is important. It needs to be special to entice girls to stay in Guiding, but not so over the top that they are disappointed when they arrive in September.

Farkle was one of the games we had available during the evening program of our sleepover last week and it was a hit with the group that played. The commercial game in the orange jar is available inexpensively in stores, but, really, all you need is six dice, knowledge of how to play and a paper and pencil to score. I also gave dice throwers a Frisbee so that the dice don’t go everywhere when the kids throw.

I lucked into an official game jar at a second hand store and loaded it up with dollar store dice so that a number of different games could go at the same time – or a bunch of throwers could go at the same time on the score sheet to keep things moving.

2016-04-22 20.09.28-2

Brownie Games Night

We’re having a sleepover this week and the evening program is all about games (with a few crafts thrown in just in case).

We’ve got:


Yarn Butterflies

The folks behind the Idea Room (as the name implies) always present great lists of ideas from around the internet on different topics. The Yarn Craft Ideas List included  Yarn Butterflies from Craft Train … I bet they’d be great for Brownies.


A few weeks ago our Brownie unit was treated to an amazing meeting led by a team of phenomenal volunteers from the Parasport community (see Parasport at Brownies). Conspicuously absent from my blog post about it was a call to action to tell units nearby how they could also enjoy such an event. Unfortunately, it was a one-off meeting that was available just for us. It came about because one of our new Guiders had contacts who were willing and able to make it happen. It won’t be repeated. 2016-02-23 19.20.34 - Copy

But all is not lost…

The lesson is to reach out to your families and Guiders and ask if they’ve got ideas, contacts or resources that could help you out with an equally interesting meeting (or a component of one).

What to say/ask/look out for:

  • I try to avoid things that the girls would see on the typical birthday party circuit – but not always (the commercially available things can often be modified to suit a Brownie badge if you ask).
  • Ask at grocery, fabric, craft and hardware stores as well as outfitters, post secondary schools (college and university programs sometimes have outreach program requirements that you may be able to get in on), and any other service providers that might have a kids program in place (or something new that they want to test out). You’re unlikely to get it for free but these programs are worth checking out.
  • Ask if a company might be piloting a program for kids that they’d like someone to test out.
  • We lucked out with a pretty amazing meeting, but these asks don’t have to be huge requests …  you need helpers too. Share your meeting topics with your contact lists (including parents) and you’ll likely find quilters, artists, knitters, singers, athletes, sport enthusiasts, tradespeople, medical folks, cooks, swimmers, etc.
  • You might have a career night and finding out what your Brownie parents do is very helpful. My preference is to show strong women at work but don’t leave the dads out.
  • Reassure your facilitator/helper contacts that their role can vary based on their abilities. I say this because leading can be intimidating for some people… the Guider may be the one who should lead the meeting that was built with the cooperation of the helper who will attend in a support role. Or your contact might be completely comfortable with presenting and you just sit back and watch it happen.

The worst your contacts can say is no. But they might say yes, or it will prompt them to keep their eye open for opportunities. And you might end up with an amazing experience for your unit.

There are lots of different names for this thing … ditty bag, dippy bag, dish bag, mess kit, dilly bag … it goes on and on. For us it is called a ditty bag and it is for dishes at camp.

  • The bag should be a cloth or net bag (or small reusable fabric grocery bag) with a drawstring or handle to hang it up with. Not too big – about the size of a folded tea towel like mine in the photo (any bigger and it drags on the floor). No plastic grocery bags – they keep the water in.
  • Inside you’ll put MARKED dishes and cutlery. Put the camper’s name on everything with labels, nail polish, sharpie markers, tape, or whatever you can do to make your stuff identifiable.
  • Dishes and cutlery should be plastic or metal. No glass please.
  • At camp, your camper will loop the drawstring over her arm, wash her dishes, then put the wet dishes in the bag to drip dry. We use a bit of bleach in the dishwater… the bag might fade or get some bleach blotches.



Our unit is going camping soon and as part of the communications home to parents I found myself creating this illustrated explanation of how WE (the 119th Ottawa Brownies) would like bags to be waterproofed. I emphasize the WE part… other units may (almost certainly) have other instructions and ways of doing things.

Setting the stage: This is a residential camp (in a heated building) with bunks and mattresses provided. We want bags to be waterproofed so that they make it from the parking lot to the building (500 meters) on the way in, and so that they can be placed outside in whatever the weather to wait for parents on the way out of camp while we close the building on Sunday.


  • All items must be marked with the Camper’s name.
  • Make sure your camper packs her own stuff. One of the first things we do at camp is to say “please find your flashlight”. Girls who packed their own bags will know where to find it. Also, girls should be able to identify their own stuff too.
  • We allow clear recycling bags for waterproofing. Anything we can’t see through might be mistaken for garbage and you don’t want that.
  • Soft sided bags are important – we need things to be able to fit (squish) underneath a bunk. No hard sided suitcases or laundry baskets please.
  • In Girl Guides (and older years) girls may be asked to prepare a tarped rolled bedroll. This is a complicated procedure and is too much for a residential Brownie camp. Brownies can’t re-pack it on Sunday so please don’t attempt it.

Option One – Big Zip Bags.  I like this for my bedroll. 

BrownOwlWPBedroll BrownOwlWPBedroll2

Option Two – Line a Duffle Bag with a clear plastic bag. Put the clothes in the clear bag and make sure it is sealed tight. Zip the duffle bag over top. The outer bag may get a little wet, but the stuff inside will be nice and dry.


Option Three – Dry Bag – only if you have one. They’re about $20-$40 per bag – Available at Canadian tire and other camping stores.

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Wishing you a dry camp.  =)




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