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Guiding Brownies. Cobden of Cambridge. 165 pp. Cambridge. 1988.


General books about Brownies are noticeable by their absence. This one is intended to fill a gap, to tell new Guiders, parents and teachers, what it is all about, and to remind ex-Brownies of what they did and what, from the adult viewpoint, it meant.

There are thousands of Brownie Packs in Britain, and each of their Brownie Guiders (Brown Owls) has a different experience, expertise and set of children. We, therefore, all do rather different things, and have rather different views, though the central core of Brownie-ing and the 'feel' of a good Brownie Pack are the same from one end of the country to the other. This book, therefore, belongs in part to one Brown Owl, and in part, to all.

My three packs have been very different yet, in all essentials, just the same. The first was on the outskirts of a town in Wales, with girls from villages and a semi-suburb. The second was a British Armed Services Pack in the Island of Malta, and the third, in one of the smaller English cities. I have not worked with Scottish, nor English village or inner city girls.

This is a book about the learning and lore I have acquired from Baden-Powell and other authors, from E. A. Macleod and other Guiders, and from the some 300 Brownies who have been in my packs.

If Brownies' mothers were Brownies themselves, they usually have hazy memories of a happy time with games and badges. If they were not, they do not know what to expect at all. Their daughters come home babbling incomprehensibly of Revels and Brownie Bells and dancing round a toadstool, giving no clear idea of Brownie-ing. Few adults have any idea of what goes on in this largely unknown world, and what they do understand, or remember, is apt to sound silly.

I have frequently heard men on the media speaking disparagingly about Cub values, as being quite unsuitable for adults. These, I assume, are men who have had no later contact with the Movement, since Scout values are ridiculed but rarely. It is true that the Cub and Brownie values are intended for life, but the way they are developed varies greatly between Brownies, Guides, Rangers and adults. Turning oneself into an elephant or banana, demonstrating how to light a match, and remembering to go to bed cheerfully when mother says are for Brownies. When teaching undergraduates to develop their maximum ability, I use a different approach!

In this book I try to explain the reasons underlying the 'silly' things we do. Many things which appeal to 8-year olds seem daft to adults - but the reverse is equally true. The 8's like to have something separate belonging just to them, and not to babies or grown-ups, and the very incomprehensibility of Brownies is part of this attraction.

Brownies is a way of life, not the occupation of an hour. It is training children to grow up to have the wish and ability to help others, to create happiness for themselves and those around to be resourceful, creative and to have the satisfaction that comes from knowing their work (whether outside or inside the home) is done to the best of their ability.

Although the dedication is to the writer's ex-Brownies, no book on this subject can begin without a tribute to Lord Baden Powell of Gilwell, 1857-1941.

B-P founded the Scouts first (Scouting for Boys being published in 1908), and the Brownies in 1914. His knowledge of child development, child guidance and of what children enjoy was outstanding, perhaps unique. He prepared the system whose principles, and many of whose details, are still in use. As and when we neglect any part of his total design, we do so at our peril, since our Packs will then not achieve their aim. It is the mixture of activities on Keep Fit, Be Wide Awake, Make Things, etc. which produces the Brownie training. Concentrating on one part alone loses the whole. (Some recent work, for instance, indicates that training in co-ordination of mind and body enhances the development of intelligence. Each part of the Brownie training enhances the effect of the others.)

This book represents one Brown Owl's experience and views, and is not an officially-approved policy statement of the Girl Guides Association.

Chapter One I Want to be a Brownie
Chapter Two Hooray! We're Brownies
Chapter Three It's Brownies Tonight
Chapter Four Now We Are Big
Chapter Five Brown Owl is Exhausted, or Why Do We Keep on Doing it
Chapter Six Oh Dear! I Said I'd Help Brown Owl
Chapter Seven Brownies Then and Brownies Now
Chapter Eight Tales of the Handicapped and Deprived
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