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Our enrollment celebration is October 16. Other years (pre-Girls First), the leaders planned the ceremony, told the girls what to do, and they did it. It required one meeting to prepare and it usually was a pretty nice ceremony. But what did the girls learn?

This year we’ve jumped into Girls First by setting up points where the girls get to make decisions, plan what they’re doing, and figure out what it takes to get what they want to happen done. Enrollment prep is being done over three meetings this year (we’re covering the same content – promise, law, motto, ties, circles, get to know you), but it is better organized.

6:30 Freeze Tag as opening game (girls chose it the previous week)

6:40 Circle time – take attendance.

6:50 Brownie Ring

7:00 Program

  • Last week we talked about the Promise, Law and Motto. Around the ring… how did you keep your promise or help out this week? (we did not warn them that we’d do this, so there were a lot of “Pass” responses). Abby adaptation – The question was shared with her family in advance so the iPad was programmed with a few answers.
  • I reminded them about Enrollment – we decided on Batch of Brownies as the Enrollment theme. We talked about how this year we will be seeking their input more often.
  • Would you rather moment – the Guiders are considering a sleepover and asked Would you rather (1) do a sleepover at a museum? We would likely be put into a group with other Brownies; OR (2) do a sleepover at a community center where we’d figure out the program; OR (3) both sound like fun – I would be happy with either one. (I suppose we should have added – I don’t like this idea). Result: there was a pretty even split between community centre and both sound like fun. Only two really want to do a museum. Community centre wins.

7:15 – Split the group.

  • First year girls
    Brownie Promise review. I had pieces of the Brownie Promise on small slips of paper. Once we went through the promise out loud a couple of times, girls then took the pieces of the promise and then tried to unscramble it. Adaptation for all – I really need to remember that Grade 2 kids have a variety of different reading levels – and some who are in full French immersion, can only read French)
    Reef knot practice with their ties and my bag of spare ties.
    Brownie Law game 
    – play a game of four corners with the four main words taped to the wall. Kind, Honest, World, and Helps.
  • Second year girls – plan Enrollment – Bake some Brownies
    Original source is A New Batch of Brownies from Becky’s Site
    Snowy Owl adapted it on a worksheet for the girls. Printable worksheet: New Batch of Brownies
    Page one organizes the cast, props and setup. Following that, are potential things that could go in the recipe. Action for the girls – figure out what goes into the recipe on page 2.
    Adaptation for Abby – The original plan calls for a box that stands in for the oven. Kids are meant to crawl through the box. Abby can’t do that so we have chosen to fashion a “stove” by drawing one on a sheet. We’ll need two older girls (the Guides will be there) to hold it up, and when it comes time to open the oven, the stove front will be dropped to the floor and she’ll be able to roll right over it. 

7:40 Rehearsal number 1. It went pretty well.

7:50 Pick a game for next week. Result: Option 1 is Lagoon and Option 2 is Chocolate tag.

7:55 Cleanup and Close.


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It is the 22nd of August and we’re about a month from meetings starting here in Ottawa. As usual at this time of year, I’m clinging to the summer break and Brownie Free Tuesdays… but I know that the new year is looming and that I will need to get my feet out of the lake and my head back in the game.

If you’re reading this from Canada, you are likely aware that the new Girls First program is launching shortly. I’m a Girls First Champion – someone who Guiding has trained to help my group of units get into the Girls First Groove.

Here’s my truth about Girls First.

  • I like it. It fills in a lot of gaps in the program that I don’t think I realized were missing (the old Brownie program was pretty weak on mental health and STEM). But the favourites are still there – Guiding history, tradition, crafts, camping, games and fun are all there.
  • It makes sense to me. I like that we’ll have an online platform to access the program. I already access most of my notes online. That’s where my notes live. I know there is a group that is struggling with the move to 100% online, but Guiding has assured the Champions that there will be some sort of resource. Give them time. That will come too.
  • I like that we have a year to implement this and that Guiding has thought this out. Guiders can still rely on their notes and previous program – I’ll bet that what you did before will find a place in the new program – it just may earn a badge differently. I suspect that units will start with what they know, and as their Girls First knowledge increases, they will find themselves fully embracing Girls First through the year.
  • And I like that there is a lot that isn’t changing. Brownie Circles, the Brownie story, Brownie Magic, and Brown Owl are all sticking around. We’re just moving from Keys and Interest badges towards Program Areas and Themes.

As we move through the transition year, I’ll let you know what our Brownie unit does. Our first meetings will look a lot like our usual ones so search “Getting Started” here and look at my Getting Started posts for ideas. I’ll update posts as we go through the year with Girls First in mind.

What you should be doing now:

  1. Reach out to your Brownie families. Let them know about what they can expect. They want to know meeting time and location, where do they get uniforms and what should they buy, and when do your meetings start.
  2. Start your planning – Take a look at the Getting Started posts and, when it is available, check out the Girls First Online Platform.
  3. Reach out to your Girls First Champion and check out the Official Girls First page. Each unit has its own Champion. If you don’t know who that is, ask the office, ask your Community Guider (ON), ask your Commissioner, or look on your roster (in Ontario and I think the other provinces). Ask for support, book a training, and go in with an open mind.
  4. Enjoy what is left of your break. It is going to be a busy year.

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Last Tuesday we had a pretty chill meeting covering the badge requirements for the Team Together badge (Canadian program badges are changing next year so we’re using up some stock).


6:30 – Arrival Activity – go directly to your circle corners and work together on a jigsaw puzzle that we’ve left for you. (Badge Requirement – Play two team building games 1/2). If you do this, go with puzzles of between 100-200 pieces.

A note on Time Management – We have had problems recently with over loading our meetings and not giving girls enough time to finish things. This is frustrating for us because we need them to rush (kids can’t be rushed), and it is frustrating for the girls because they want to have time to finish their project or activity. In this case we knew that the girls would not have time to finish their puzzle and we were very clear with them. “There is a puzzle in your corner for your circle group to work on – we know that you won’t finish it, and that’s totally OK. We will need you to work on what you can, and then, when we say clean up, we’ll need you to clean up”

Plan 6:50 (Actual 7:00 – we let them go with the puzzles, they were really into them) – begin Circle Inspections and clean up. Clean up and transition was easy peasy.

7:00 (actual – 7:10) – Brownie Ring

7:05 (actual 7:15) – Discussion – Name two camping activities that are better done in smaller groups (cooking, making a campfire); Name two camping activities that are better done in larger groups (games, cleanup). There was something else in there but I can’t remember.

7:10 (actual 7:25) – Play a second team building game (2/2). With Becky’s Giant Stick Figures activity as a starting point – we asked them to make a circle with their bodies while standing up (they were already standing in a circle), make a square, make a triangle, make a house shape (the house was a bit tougher but it got better after they took our advice and talked to each other). Then we moved to Giant Stick Figures – essentially, make a stick figure together, then have that figure do actions. They had fun. They did a pretty good job, but they needed to communicate more (and make a smaller head). It was fun for us to watch from the vantage point of the stage. Touch your belly button was the favourite!


7:35 – Chuck the Chicken  because girls just gotta run!

7:45 Key to the Arts: Art by Hand – the girls had been asked to try to knit or sew or do needlework or do a craft. I loved hearing about each girl’s project. They did a great job.

  • Backup plan we didn’t need (I was afraid we wouldn’t have enough crafters) Becky’s Make New Verses and a campfire – to present their new verses.

7:55 Close 


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I got a note from a parent last night asking about an item that didn’t come back from camp. She was trying to do something special… but it backfired, unfortunately. le_a13031911_brown_sad_dog_puppy_toys_220x220

Mom: I sent daughter’s stuffy as a surprise and she didn’t know it was hers when you asked. Do you still have it?

Me: I left it there because it didn’t have a name and nobody recognized it. We thought it was left from a previous camper. I’ll contact the camp and see if I can retrieve it.

Lesson – Everything in the bag needs to have a name on it, and each girl needs to know what’s in their bag and where it is.

For more great Camp Packing Tips, check out this post from the 64th Guides


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Tonight we used Rebecca Sadler’s AMAZING Who Stole the Wise Old Owl meeting (she’s also known as Brown Owl’s Adventures in Guiding). It is clever. It is smart. It is cool. The girls couldn’t stop exclaiming at how much fun they were having.

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Here’s what we did to make this amazing meeting happen:

First, I read through the blog post a few times and downloaded the handy documents. After some modifications to suit our unit we printed documents, assembled case file folders, collected supplies and got ready to go.

6:20 – we put a sign on the outside door asking everyone to stay out – plus a bucket of pencils and a word search. As suggested, there was some whispery “concern” among the Guiders.

6:35 – We let them in, exclaiming that Wise Old Owl was missing and we needed their help to find her. We couldn’t possibly do our regular opening until she was located. They were split into the four circle groups, they got their case files and we went immediately into our stations.

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6:45 – Station 1 Finger Prints – learn about fingerprints… info from BC Girl Guides CSI Challenge.

6:55 – Station 2 Ciphers and Codes (Where is Wise old Owl? She is on the stage) We used Rebecca’s code to make up messages like Applause, Audience, Performer, Curtain… This was in addition to her coded messages which were both pasted into their case file.

7:05 – Station 3 Invisible Ink (How was she taken? She was lured away with Girl Guide Cookies). We had invisible messages (white paper and white crayon painted over with water paint) already in the folders with words like: Vanilla, Mint, Chocolate, Girl Guide, and $5. Then they had a chance to make their own message for one of their circle friends with paper and white crayon.

7:10 – Station 4 Kim’s Game – (Who took her? The Fairies). The items we selected, if you look at the first letter of each, spelled out “The Fairies”. They played a Kim’s game as usual, then were guided to figure out what the letters spelled.

7:25 – Putting it all together. We went over the puzzle in the big circle. Who got her, how she was taken, and where she was.

7:30 –  Discovery! We opened the door to the stage and all of the girls went through a laser maze (love love love) made of birthday party streamers. At the end, they found four boxes – each one had a sticker with a different Circle Emblem. They knew that the Fairies had her so that’s the box they chose. Owl, as it turned out, also had our Halloween treats! GREAT excitement.

7:45 – we finally were able to do our opening. Then we sang a few songs, and then we closed our meeting as usual at 8. Phew.

This was a super fun meeting. Rebecca had a fantastic idea and did a great job of laying it out for us. It was also really nice to have her original documents so we could make modifications to suit our unit’s needs.

My tips, plan early, print early, assemble with help. And just do this meeting!

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We struggle with going over the rules at camp… they’re really boring. So Snowy Owl made up a Camp Rules Mad Lib and she is willing to share. Customize it for your own rules or use ours. Write them out on big chart paper for presenting to the girls. And just call me Brown Cheetah. =) Mad Lib instructions.

For another rule option, look at our Brown Owl’s Rules game (played like Captain’s Coming).

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Have you ever done the cooking at camp?

When you’re first asked about being cook (or, if you’re like me, you’ve coveted the job for years) you think, “hey, I’m a good cook. I can do this!”

But then reality hits you… you don’t just have to cook it, you have to figure out how much to buy, what to make (you want good food that is both healthy and palatable for kids), how to prepare it safely, and how much time you’ll need to make it happen.

Here is the downloadable annotated menu, shopping list and recipe index from our recent Dr. Seuss Camp.   

  • Friday Leader Supper – Home made chicken noodle soup with crusty buns and butter. Served as soon as it is done (30-60 minutes before camp).
  • Friday evening mug up – Remaining chicken noodle soup from leader supper with cheese and crackers. (8PMish). Toast up any remaining crusty buns from Guider supper.
  • Saturday Breakfast
    • Pan-fried green eggs — 28 eggs with about a tablespoon of green food colouring, some milk and salt
    • Pan fried or oven warmed ham – 2-3 lb ham cut up into slices.
    • Oven toasted english muffins with butter
    • Fruit or berries – we had pineapple, strawberries and bananas
    • Girl Task – using crinkle cutters or small sharp knives, cut bananas in half, remove strawberry leaves and cut in half, and cut up pineapple chunks. Divide fruit onto four plates — one for each table. Wash apples for snack time. Crinkle cutters are easier for little hands to manage independently.
    • Milk to drink


  • Saturday Snack – packaged granola bars, apples and oranges
  • Saturday Lunch – Taco salad served family style on four tables. Needs a LOT of bowls, plates and containers. It is a lot of work, but the girls get healthy food and choice. Everyone is happy. Easily converted to walking tacos – put the whole thing in a zip bag.
    • Taco meat – 3 lbs ground beef, 2 cans pureed red kidney beans, 3 packets taco seasoning, 2 zucchini cut up small. Adult to cook.
    • Shredded iceberg lettuce – girl task to cut up – adult to pre-wash – mostly for time because the campers are out for a walk.
    • Grated cheese – if time, girls to grate cheese. divide into serving bowls – remember though that you need cheese for evening. Once served it must be thrown out so keep refilling serving bowls.
    • Sour cream – girls to divide into four bowls
    • Salsa – girls to divide into four bowls
    • Canned corn drained and rinsed – girls to divide into bowls
    • Tortilla chips – crushed and divided up into four bowls by girls
    • Guacamole – girls to divide into bowls
    • Chick peas – girls to divide into bowls
  • Afternoon snack  – Supper prep patrol to cut up vegetables and put out hummus to dip. Carrots, celery, cukes, mushrooms, beans… Suggest crinkle cutters.
  • Supper – Pasta bake with pureed tomato sauce (image is before it went through the blender) and sausage in three (9×12) pans. All components prepared separately and then combined in a pan for baking. Served with Garlic Bread and Caesar Salad. 2017-04-01 16.33.37
    • 1500g of fusili pasta. We used green spinach pasta.
    • 2-3 lbs sausage (roasted at lunch),
    • Sauce: Onion diced small, 3-4 garlic cloves, 3 cans pasta sauce (680 ml x 3), 1 can diced tomato, big bag of fresh spinach, leftover veg from afternoon snack all washed, zucchini, leftover unused chick peas from lunch, 1 can tomato paste. All run through the immersion blender so there are no fights about mushrooms, etc.
    • Grated cheese (leftover from lunch – keeping in mind that once served you have to throw it out – see note about cheese above)
    • Salad (girls prepare) — Romaine lettuce (cut up by girls), salad dressing, Parmesan cheese, croutons, and bacon.
    • Garlic bread – girls to butter baguettes and to sprinkle the garlic
    • Milk to drink
    • Leftover veg from lunch snack as alternative veg instead of salad.2017-04-002campsupper
  • Evening snack – Blue jello with jelly fish
  • Breakfast
    • Pumpkin Muffins (double batch) use muffin papers or lots of cooking spray. (recipe in file)
    • Yogurt
    • Grapes (girls to wash), and any leftover milk, fruit, cheese and ham.

Post-camp menu review... this went very well and we threw out very little food in the end. In fact, we ran out of salad! One recent revelation was to have girls serve themselves at camp. They are required to eat what they take and they’ve really taken that to heart. I was impressed.

  • Disposable Pans? As you can see from the image of the serving table, we used a bunch of disposable baking pans (we got a set of 10 9×12 pans for just under $10 from Walmart). These are great serving options for when you’re using an unfamiliar kitchen with unknown serving/baking options. They were also used a lot for food prep and girl tasks because you could give them all of the tools and whatever food they were preparing in one pan. And, while not entirely green – they are recyclable and 8/10 of them survived and will be used again.

The link to my camp menu is at the top of this page. Email me at brownowlcara at gmail dot com if you have any questions. Happy Camping!!!

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