Archive for the ‘Ceremonies’ Category

Last night was our “Celebrations” meeting.  It is a nice way to include Christmas in the program, but visit other celebrations as well.

6:30 – Arrival – We had “Chinese New Year game” written in the notes, but nobody actually wrote one down, so the girls chose tag instead.

6:40 – Circle Inspections

6:45 – Brownie Ring


6:55 – Program  Celebrations – why is it important to respect different faiths and cultures?  What kinds of special days to you celebrate?  What is the difference between a Holiday/Celebration and an Observance?

Celebrations calendar – Every time we do this, Snowy Owl Christine prints a calendar with lots of different celebrations from around the world.  She does this manually – and it is a lot of work.   I looked it up and you can get a 2013 Calendar with US Holidays here(I couldn’t find one for Canada).  She goes through the calendar in the meeting (that’s the photo to the right) and asks the girls to help fill in birthdays and any holidays they celebrate that are missing as she goes.

7:05 Craft 1 – Chinese New Year Craft – Make a Lantern.  Don’t forget your stapler!  The calendar activity took a lot longer than we thought so we dropped this craft (it wasn’t a good day for China at Brownies last night… I just noticed).


7:10 Craft 2 Valentine’s for Vets – We introduced this activity by saying that there are Canadian Veterans that may not get visited by their children – they may be lonesome.  And we want them to feel appreciated, so lets make them a nice card.  We had pink, purple, and red construction paper, lots of glue, crayons, and doilies… plus some pre-printed Valentine’s Day poems from CanTeach and a “Made especially for you by __________ Brownie Unit Name and Number”.

One little girl took my intro a little too seriously but we caught it…

  • Brownie to Starry Owl “How do you spell Sorry”
  • Brown Owl to Starry Owl Huh??v4vcards2
  • Starry Owl “Why do you want to spell Sorry on
    Valentine’s Day card?”
  • Brownie: “I want to write ‘I’m sorry you’re alone’.” <Heart breaks>
  • Starry Owl “Let’s think of a happier thought instead” (she already had “I am” written out, so we suggested “Thankful”.  All good.  phew.  Disaster averted.  =)

7:30 Craft 3 – Beaded Snowflakes.  This was very cool. I got pictures of the process, but I don’t have any of the final product.  The link has good photos though with good instructions.  Update: found this snowflake ornament instruction from whatever that looks pretty cool and has good instructions too.

snowflake2 snowflake1

Some of the girls finished the Snowflake before the rest, and I took those girls with me to practice learning “On My Honour” that we started learning a couple of weeks ago.  It is one of my favourite songs and we haven’t been able to work it into the program for a couple of years and I really hated that.  So I’m determined to fix it.

And then we were out of time.  Next week is our Neighbourhood Walk and then we’re done for 2012.

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Remembrance Day Readings

I’m looking for a suitable reading for our Remembrance Day/Canada Flag meeting tonight and wanted to share what I found.  These are not the usual readings and poems that we hear and I think they mix the gravity of Remembrance with the hope of peace on earth. 

Do you have a favourite?  I think we’ll do There will be peace tonight

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Flag Ceremony – Thinking Day 2010

This is an updated version of my original post about Flag Ceremonies. The GirlGuidesCanBlog.ca asked if they could repost it for Remembrance Day and it appears there with a slightly different intro.  But both posts have the same instructions.

Two years ago our Brownie Unit decided to incorporate flag ceremonies into the Key to My Community program and we needed to know how to teach a basic one.

Thankfully, my former District Commissioner Margaret Bradford was able to fill in the gaps.  When she was a Brown Owl they had frequent flag ceremonies (so Brownies CAN do it) and she had lots of advice to offer (practice!).  She also loaned me a book called The Guider Handbook by the late Dorothy Crocker (1988 edition).  It is out of print, but is a very helpful resource (not just for flag ceremonies!) if you can get your hands on a copy.

Here’s how we introduce Flag Ceremonies in our unit

First, talk about what a colour party is and what the responsibility of each role is.

  • Colour: Flags are called Colours.
  • Colour Party: One colour bearer and two colour guards make up this colour party.  You can add guards in multiples of two.  Additional guards will follow the main party.
  • Colour Bearer (1 girl) –  The bearer stands in between the guards and carries the flag.  It is a privilege to carry the colours.  Since the bearer has the flag in front of her face, she depends on the caller to guide her.
  • Colour Guards (2 girls) –  Guards will march shoulder to shoulder with the flag bearer – one on her left, and one on her right.  Guards officially “guard the flag” but they also guide the bearer so she doesn’t walk into anything.
  • Caller – One of the Colour Guards will also be the Caller.  Her commands direct where the colour party will go.  (Pick an outgoing girl who can think on her feet for this position).
  • Leader – The leader (typically a Guider) will stay put in circle or horseshoe.  She will give commands to the colour party to get them started and to release them from their duties.
  • In addition: Flag respect is important – don’t let it touch the ground.  Don’t turn your back on the flag until final “Fall Out”

Next, practice… (without a flag).  

In colour party groups, have the girls march around (and around, and around!) the gym following the Simple Flag Ceremony Script below to get into a rhythm.  We want groups to walk together in formation.  They should be moving as one unit.   Once groups can demonstrate that they can work as one unit (and don’t be afraid to put them through their paces to make sure they get it right), they can try it with a real flag.


Simple Flag Ceremony Script  (print the one-pager here)


  • Flags should be placed or held “off stage”.  We use the meeting flags that are already on flag poles.
  • Flag stands should be placed in the front of the room (where you want the colour party to end up).
  • Colour party will start from wherever they are in the circle or horseshoe.


  • Leader: “Colour party fall out”
    Colour Party leaves the circle/horseshoe – one step forward, two steps back, then walk smartly to flag (around the outside).
  • Leader “Colour party fall in”
     Colour Bearer takes the flag, turns so she is facing the way she wants to start.
    Colour Guards position themselves, one on each side of the bearer (just touching, shoulder to shoulder with her).
    Colour PartyStand in position.  (Wait for Leader command).
  • Leader: “March on the Colours”
    Colour Party
    begins marching in place.

    This is the hardest part and they are tempted to march a couple of times and then jump forward.  Require that they get it right.  The goal is to get all three marching in step.  When they are in sync, one of the colour guards becomes the Caller.
  • Caller Commands move the colour party around the room.  The caller should be outgoing and prepared to say her lines loudly and in public.  Use whatever command suits your situation  – “Colour Party March”, “Colour Party Forward”, “Colour Party Stop”, “Colour Party Right Turn”, “Colour Party Left Turn”, etc.
     Colour Party makes their way to the flag stands.  When they arrive…
  • Caller: “Colour Party Stop (Halt)”
    Colour Bearer put flag in the stand.

    Colour Party step back.  Stand facing the flag.  Remain in this position until Leader gives “Fall Out” command.
    If the National Anthem is sung, colour party stays in position during anthem, facing the flag.  They should NOT  sing the anthem.
  • Leader: “Colour party fall out”.
    Colour party takes one step forward, two steps back, then they walk back to their place in circle/horseshoe.
  • Flag Ceremony Complete.

Here’s a link to our original Flag Ceremony meeting – Key to my Community: Proud to Be Canadian; Our Flag and Our National Anthem.

Sources: Notes from Margaret Bradford (Nov 2010) and The Guider Handbook by Dorothy Crocker (1988 edition) .

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The pins and insignia just arrived (phew – there was a real possibility that we’d have had to give IOUs.  My fault for leaving it to the last minute).

Tonight we enroll 12 new girls.   To keep everything straight, I printed the Badge Sash instructions badge sash instructions 2 on card stock, wrote a name on each card, and stapled/pinned the insignia for each girl.  We always make a card, but this is the first year, I’m including the instructions.  Here’s hoping it’ll prevent the mishmash of badge sash sewing.  The title tape needs to go on – and we’ll pin their Brownie Pin to their sash during the ceremony.

Next week is Halloween!

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We’re one week away from Enrollment and are repeating the Enrollment Prep meeting from last year.  Not exciting, but necessary.  The only thing is we’re (1) adding a super active game for arrival (I don’t know what we’ll do), and (2) we’ll do our enrollment invitations during the circles.

I’ve also got a better plan for the sewing meeting.  I’ll update that after the Guide Guiders have had a look at my plan.

Have a great week.

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Snowy Owl Christine is responsible for badges in our unit, and, let me tell you, I’m so glad to have her.  She manages our badge stock, does most of the badge testing, and is always on the lookout for “if we did this one thing more, the girls would get this badge” opportunities.

Where to get badges, emblems, crests and pins:

  • Budgeting: Badges, emblems, crests and pins are not cheap.  It is important to browse through the online catalogue at the beginning of the year, take note of what you’ll need, and budget accordingly.  Think about keys, year pins, enrollment pins, and circle emblems.  All are available from the Online Guide Store.  There are also title tapes, and crests to consider.
  • Crests: On the subject of crests, have you been to e-patches & crests?  (this is an unpaid endorsement from a happy customer).  They’ve got a great selection of imaginative crests that you can make your own challenge around.  They have fast delivery and, if you sign up as a member (click the green shopping icon at the top of their page) you receive one free crest and 15% off your first order.  Crests go on the Camp Blanket – not on the badge sash.
  • Challenges: There are lots of neat challenges around – Guides Ontario has some good ones.  I’m sorry to say that we didn’t do the Queen’s Jubilee one.  We love Brownies Splash (no crest), Sing Ontario Sing, and Emergency Preparedness.  Are there others you like?

Earning badges and crests and how to arrange a badge sash:

  • Snowy Owl Christine’s Badge Testing Tips:
    • Introducing Badges at Meetings: I like to give a general overview of badges to the full group during our second or third meeting of the year, but I also make a huge effort to meet with each girl individually within the first six weeks.  This gives me a chance to determine each girl’s interest level, explain things and make sure she understands what is required to actually earn a badge.  I try to point out some specific badges she might be interested in working on.  Some girls are VERY keen and will have badge testing at every opportunity; others only earn the badges that we do as a group.  Either option is fine, as long as they’re having fun.
    • Earning Badges:
      • On badge testing days (it isn’t really a test – just a conversation with the girl where she talks about the badge one-on-one with the tester) we ask who has badge testing at the beginning of the meeting  and do our best to take five minutes out of an activity to cover it.  Some units do badge testing once a month – we do it during any meeting in our own space.
      • Write it down: Each girl is expected to show up with a record of how she earned the badge.  I ask them to keep a special Brownie notebook to write down the page number, key and badge that she’s working on, as well as notes about what she did for each of the badge’s requirements.  Having the details written down (even if the requirement says “Think about…”) means that the girl more easily remembers what she did to earn the badge, makes it easier for her to talk about it, and saves us from spending five minutes searching the Brownie book for “that badge that has a hammer on it…”
      • I’m pretty lenient, but if a girl hasn’t completed all the components of a badge, I’ll help her figure out ways to complete it and redo the badge testing after she’s finished.
    • Showing the group: If there is time at the end of the meeting, we try to let the girls who have earned badges show and tell to the rest of the group.
    • How parents can help: I encourage parents to email me ahead of time with the badges that their girls are working on so that I can make sure I have the badges in stock.  Sometimes this happens, sometimes it doesn’t.  I’ve never had a girl complain about having to wait a few weeks before she gets her badge, and I’m pretty good at following up to make sure everyone has all their badges at the end of the year.
  • Once the girls get their badges, many will ask where to put them on the badge sash.
    • Handout: Since I’m kind of particular about where things go, I’ve created a printable handout explaining (suggesting) how to lay out the badges (badge sash instructions 2 – file updated Aug 24 after some problems uploading)  (PDF from Dropbox).  Honestly, I’m fine as long as the sash is worn on the correct side (right shoulder) and the tape, pin and circle emblems are in the right spot.  But parents of badge crazy girls want to know what to save room for.
    • What to put on the badge sash: We say, if it is not in the book, it does not belong on the badge sash. But if you must put crests on, put them on the bottom of the sash.  Make sure you save room for your keys and interest badges.

Do you have a Badge Guider in your Unit?  (Ours is Awesome)

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Our district advancement is tomorrow night (technically, we don’t have districts anymore in Ontario, but what do you call them?  Communities, I guess?).  Anyway, you know what I mean.  Sparks, Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers will be gathering for a big advancement ceremony… this is where 2nd year Sparks become new Brownies, 2nd year Brownies become new Guides, and so on.  It is meant to be a nice and simple send off for our girls.  (Sad and Happy at the same time).

Here’s the plan:

We’re doing a Campfire (without fire – so a ceremonial one).

6:15 – Guiders arrive – set up chairs in the Gym.  Arrange certificates, gifts, pins, etc.

6:30 – Arrival Game – I’m hoping Rangers can lead this (tag?)

6:45 – Campfire Advancement Ceremony – based on a really great ceremony idea from on Becky’s site called “Building a Campfire” that we simplified – it also draws on some of the Edible Campfire concept.

  • Brown Owl (me) to welcome parents and guests.  Please be seated.
  • Each Branch do our openings in order.  Brownies and Sparks each finish their section with their Promise (Brownies may throw in a Grand Howl?). At the end, everyone say the Guiding Promise.
  • Introduce the Guiders
  • SET UP: Pre-arranged representatives from each unit to gather off-stage.  2 Guiders, 2 Sparks, 2 Brownies, 1-2 each of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd year Guides, and Pathfinder and Ranger.
  • Introduction: Through all the years of Guiding, campfires are a favourite experience and they truly represent the progression through Guiding.  I love campfires because you get to sing, dream and laugh (and roast marshmallows).  And tonight as we celebrate Guiding and as each level advances to the next, we’re going to symbolically build a campfire.

Building a Campfire Text:

  1. 2 Guiders with a Blanket
    One of the most important things to remember when building your campfire is the foundation.  The foundation keeps the fire safely in place and guards it so that it may be enjoyed by all.  The foundation of Guiding is its leadership.  Guiders, please find a good spot for our campfire.
  2. 2 Sparks (with two Rangers) with a few rolled up balls of paper
    We know that paper and dry grasses would be a good starter material for our campfire.  Just like tinder, our Sparks represent the beginning of Guiding.  Sparks, please bring the Tinder to the Rangers (who will stay in the circle and build the campfire)
  3. 2 Brownies with small twigs or sticks
    Next we need some small twigs and dry sticks for kindling to help with the fire.  Just as kindling needs tinder to start, so too have the Brownies built on the skills they learned before.
  4. 1-2 1st year Guides with some bigger sticks
    Now we need some bigger fuel to make sure that this campfire doesn’t go out.
  5. 1-2 2nd year Guides with some bigger logs
    And next we’ll need logs – the second year Guides have a solid foundation behind them.  Their contribution will make our campfire a roaring success.
  6. 3rd year Guide – with a bucket and shovel
    To make our campfire a safe success, we always make sure we have safety equipment on hand.  As girls grow, they take on more responsibility.
  7. Pathfinders and Rangers are putting the fire together…
    Let’s see what we have so far for our campfire… we have the foundation, the starter, the kindling and logs.  Is that everything we need?  NO!  We need a match!  Pathfinders and Rangers, it is up to you to keep the fire going!  UPDATE Idea – we’ll give the Pathfinders and Rangers some battery tea lights so there is light in our fire!

Sing Fire’s Burning (Start with Sparks and add a group as we start over).  Now, as our imaginary fire starts to catch and build to a roar, we’re going to help it along with Fire’s Burning (but don’t join in until you’re called).  Start with Sparks, then Brownies, Guides, Pathfinders, Rangers, Guiders and finally parents.  So seven rounds of it should make it really loud at the end!

Advancement Ceremonies:

  • Advance Sparks (Guiders to stand up and say who is advancing, give the girl your goodbye gift – shake hands, and then send them to the Owls who will be ready to welcome the girls – then they’ll go sit with Brownies)
  • Advance Brownies.  Owls will stand up, identify who is leaving, give them their goodbye gift and send them off to Guides for welcome).  And so on…
  • And so on, advancing Guides, Pathfinders and Rangers.

Finish with Make new Friends.

Brown Owl – Ladies and gentlemen, you have watched our girls build a campfire just as we have watched them develop over the years. But none of this is possible without the Guiders who lead, guide and mentor your girls.  These are volunteers who have taken an oath to give these girls, your girls, the most precious gift they have to offer – the gift of time.  (Big Clap!)

Now we’re going to do our closings  Then cake and fruit (water). – And Photos!

This is a fairly simple advancement ceremony that we did a few years ago and we were out of ideas so we will repeat it.  Are you finishing this week – or do you have some time to go?  Or are you in the Southern Hemisphere and just starting up?

Post event review – This was a stunning success.  Even if it rained and we had to go inside (Jen – you were right, erg!).  Thank you to all of the Guiders who baked, clapped, participated and contributed.

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This ceremony is one we’ve tweaked through the years – but it started from something I found on Becky’s Guiding Resource) and it is based on the Toadstool Story in the Brownie Book.

Enrollment ceremony schedule:

  • 6:30 Arrival game for girls (something active to get the sillies out) – Romeo and Juliet?
  • 6:45 Welcoming Remarks by Brown Owl
  • 6:50 Sparkle Ceremony
    • Welcome, Intro Guiders
    • Spark Promise & Pin
    • Spark Opening
  • 7:05 Brownie Enrollment.
    • Welcome, Intro Guiders
    • Brownie Toadstool Story
    • Stepping Stones and Promises
    • Grand Howl
    • Brownie Opening
  • 7:20 Adult Enrollment
    • All Guiders say our promise together.  New Guider Pin ceremony.
  • 7:25 Campfire – ask parents to join circle
  • 7:30 Spark Closing, then Brownie Closing
  • Snack.

Brownie Enrolment Script:

Starting with an open circle facing chairs for parents, second year girls will be holding to toadstool, grass, mirror, owl, etc.

Brownie Toadstool Story

Starry Owl: Our Brownie law is to be kept at all times. Not only when we are at Brownies.
Brownie 1: As a Brownie I am honest and Kind; I help take care of the world around me.
Starry Owl: Our motto is like a secret code that only Brownies know.
Brownie 2: Lend a hand means helping others when we can.
Starry Owl: Brownies have a special sign and handshake that they must learn.
Brownie 3: Hold your right hand as high as your shoulder, then hold your first three fingers up like this.
Brownie 4: Don’t let your fingers flop. Hold them up straight. Now, using your left hand, shake my hand.
Starry Owl: Long ago, our founder Lord Baden Powell decided that Brownies should have something special in the centre of the Brownie Ring. He chose a Toadstool.
Brownie 5: (place grass) The toadstool stands on a carpet of grass, which represents the solid foundation that unites Brownies everywhere.
Brownie 6: (place stem of toadstool) The stem of the toadstoold stands for the Brownie Promise and Law.
Brownie 7: (pace cap) the cap stands for the crown of happiness. When a Brownie keeps her promise, it makes her feel as if she’s wearing a crown of happiness.
Brownie 8 (place owl) The wise old owl sits on top of the toadstool and teaches the Brownies how to lend a hand to others.
Brownie 9: (place mirror) Nearby there’s a magic pool. When a Brownie lends a hand and helps others, she can look into the magic pool and see a Brownie.

Enrollment Ceremony (Stepping Stones and Promises)

The Owls place fun foam stepping stones with the promise written on them around the grass.

Girls are called one by one – the Circle Leader (and Circle Second, if there are enough new girls) do the twisting and turning.  =)

Starry Owl: Mary (Circle leader), do you know of anyone who is ready be enroled as a Brownie?
Mary: Sandra (a first year in Mary’s circle) is ready to be a Brownie.
Mary will take Sandra by the hand, walk her over the stepping stones.
Sandra should say her promise as she steps on each stone.
At the end: Mary: Twist me and turn me and show me an elf, I look in the water and there see…
Sandra: Myself!
Brown Owl: Sandra – you are a Brownie!
Mary walks back to her place. Sandra walks to Brown Owl
Owls will pin, tie her tie on for the first time, and handshake, then send the new Brownie back to her place.
Once through, Brown Owl: “I would like to present the ###Brownies. Congratulations everyone” Big clap. then Brownie Circle, everyone says their promise, Grand Howl.

Does anyone else have a favourite enrollment ceremony?  I remember as a girl that I thought this was so special.  I loved that I got to step on the stones and say my promise in front of everyone.

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Sparks?  Huh?  Cara… what’s up?  Don’t worry… I’m sticking around as Brown Owl.  But I wanted to also write about the fact that our little group has finally got a feeder unit.  The Brownie Guider team is helping to launch a new Sparks unit in the same school on the same night.

Our first meeting was a joint meeting for Sparks and Brownies.  We’ve never done that before.  The new Guiders (Butterfly, Firefly, and Dragonfly) did a marvelous job.  We need to teach some songs and games, but they’ll get it.

Some things:

  • We’re relying heavily on Guidng with Jewels.  If you haven’t checked it out – both for Sparks and Brownies – give the site a look.  Jewels has a site that I hope this one will be like when it grows up.
  • We’re working out a joint enrollment ceremony.  I think we’ll do a variation of the Crowns and Wands thing for Sparks.  And our Brownie Story enrollment (I’ll post about it later). But I’m wondering what you do.  Are there any suggestions?
  • Also… I know that many of you combine your meetings.  I’d love to hear about your experiences – either in the comments or just e-mail me.  brownowlcara (at) gmail.com.

Brownie second week is coming up.  I’ll post more about that later.

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