So, a Brownie said to me...

One of my favourite bits about Guiding is the people I meet and get to work with.  This year has been varied - I started being a Rainbow leader, carried on with Brownies, then got full time hours at work so had to finish with those two units as I couldn't get back from work in time to get to the meetings.  So I joined a new Rainbow unit just up the road from the office.  Brownies will always be my preferred age group, but the unit meetings time-wise meant Rainbows is more practical.  I've been welcomed with open arms by my new district, and I'm still able to do things at weekends with my home district.  The more involvement the better!  I also went camping with my friend's Guide unit this summer.  What I love about all the different people I meet is the conversations I have - from chatting with leaders about how much pasta we reckon the Rainbows will eat, to chatting to young leaders about their GCSEs, to chatting to Rainbows about unicorns, to chatting to Brownies about what jobs they want to do.  As always, though, there are some conversations that have stood out, and here are some of them.  As a reminder, Rainbows are aged 5-7, Brownies 7-10 and Guides 10-14.

It's the first week of a new term, and I'm chatting with two girls about what they did over the holidays.

Brownie 1: Fluffy Owl, did you know [name] now wears glasses?
Me: No, I didn't know that.
Brownie 2: And she looks REALLY good!
Brownie 1: Yes, her glasses really suit her!
Brownie 2: And they're real glasses, not pretend glasses.
Me: Do you think she will wear them to Brownies?
Brownie 1: Maybe.  If she does, please can you tell her she looks good in them? Two boys in our class said some bad things to her and we want to make her feel better, especially at Brownies.
Me: Of course.  I'm sorry that those boys said mean things to her at school.

The Brownie with new glasses walks in, wearing the new glasses, and her friends are right, they really do suit her.  

Brownie 1: See, Fluffy Owl? Didn't we tell you she looked good in her glasses?
Brownie 3 (with glasses): What do you think, Fluffy Owl?
Me: They do look really good!
Brownie 3: Are you just saying that?
Me: No, not at all.  They do look really good.  I can't describe why, but they suit you.
Brownie 3: Did [Brownie 1] and [Brownie 2] ask you to say that?
Me: Yes, they did, but I would have said something anyway, as they do really suit you, and I think it's important to compliment people.  Also, they were worried you were sad about something that was said to you at school, and they wanted you to feel better.
Brownie 3: I was a little bit sad because of the boys at school, but I told [teacher] and she told them off.  I know I have good friends so I will play with them instead, at Brownies and school.

I'm called away by another Brownie, and when I look back at these three, they're running round the hall with their arms linked.  I really hope they always have such strong friendships as this one.

We're having a sleepover and as I have my hands full, I ask one of the girls to get something out of my bag.  She accidentally knocks over my risk assessment for the event.

Brownie: Fluffy Owl, what's this?
Me:  Oh, that's the risk assessment for the sleepover.  Please can you put it back on the table?
Brownie: What's a risk assessment?
Me: It's a form leaders have to fill out before an event.  We have to think of all the risks, how we can reduce or stop them, and what we would do if someone was hurt.
Brownie: What do you mean?
Me: A risk is something that could end up with someone being hurt.  For example, sharp knives are dangerous in the kitchen.  So children must always be supervised by an adult in the kitchen and sharp knives will be put away properly after use.  Hopefully, this will mean that no one will hurt themselves on a knife.  But if they do, then we have a first aid kit so we can look after the person who is hurt.
Brownie (reading from the form): What does 'low risk' and 'high risk' mean?
Me: 'Low risk' is something which isn't very dangerous.  So playing in the park and grazing your knee is low risk, we will make sure the play equipment is safe but if a Brownie did hurt her knee she probably would be okay and could carry on with the sleepover.  'High risk' is something which could be more serious, such as food poisoning.  So all the food in the kitchen is stored properly to try and prevent food poisoning, as if we did have food poisoning we would have to send everyone home.  There's also low likelihood and high likelihood, depending on how common something is.
Brownie: So what are all the risks on this paper?
Me: You really don't want to read all nine double-sided pages.  But I like to think we've thought of everything.
Brownie:  Everything?
Me: I think so.  Kitchen safety, food safety, outside safety, fire safety, craft safety, emergency contacts...
Brownie (interrupting): Zombies?
Me: Zombies?
Brownie: Yes, zombies.  Dead people who come and attack people,
Me: In all honesty, we didn't think of zombies.
Brownie:  Can we add zombies?
Me: Erm, okay.  So are they low likelihood or high likelihood?
Brownie: Low.  Definitely low.  I've never seen a real zombie.
Me:  Agreed,  Definitely low.  So, are they low risk or high risk?
Brownie: I think high risk.  If they did come to the sleepover, I don't think the leaders have had training in how to deal with zombies [she's right, we haven't] so I think we'd all be attacked and end up being zombies too.
Me: Agreed.  High risk, but low likelihood.  I think we'll be okay.
Brownie: I think so too.  But before the next sleepover you probably should learn how to deal with zombies.

I'm in the kitchen washing up with three Rainbows.  I'm putting some of the items away but reject a bowl as it has icing on the bottom.

Me: Rainbows, please remember to wash off all the icing and dry off all the bubbles.  Clean and dry bowls are my favourite things!
Rainbow: Fluffy Owl, that's a lie! You said tea was your favourite thing!

The same Rainbow, just a few minutes later:

Rainbow: Fluffy Owl, do you have any children?
Me: No I don't.
Rainbow: You will have in a few years.
Me: Erm, I don't want to have any children.
Rainbow: That means you'll have lots more money!

It's the last night on Guide camp.  We often hear the girls talking in their tents (tents are not soundproof!) and we've heard all manner of gossip and nonsense over the past few days.  I'm just getting into my sleeping bag, when my tent mate N says she's going to the toilet before she gets into bed, and I decide that I probably ought to go to the toilet again too.

N: Are you coming?
Me: Urgh.  I am warm and comfy.  I really don't want to get up.
N: You'll only need to get up in the middle of the night if you don't go now.
Me: True. You're right. I'm coming.  But you know what? I don't care what anyone thinks, I cannot be bothered to put my bra back on.
Guide in adjacent tent: Haha, Amy, I know what you mean!

I'm in the kitchen making cakes with a small group of Rainbows:

Me: Okay, can someone please crack an egg into the bowl for me?
Rainbow: Me! I want to crack an egg!
Me: Great, take an egg out of the box, and then crack it into the bowl.  No shell, please!
Rainbow, sounding sad; I've never cracked an egg before.  How do you do it?
Me: Take an egg, and hit it on the edge of the bowl.  Then move it over the bowl, stick your thumbs in the crack and pull.  Easy! Hit, thumbs in, pull.
Another Rainbow: And remember no shell!

Rainbow cracks the egg absolutely perfectly.

Me: That was brilliant! Not a single piece of shell!  Well done.
Rainbow:  That was the best thing ever!

Later on, there is enough time to make some little cakes for the adults too.  I crack the final egg, getting precisely none of it in the bowl, and all of it, including bits of shell, on the counter.  That Rainbow could have done better!

I'm walking through town late on a Saturday afternoon with a friend.  I can hear two girls muttering behind me.

Girl 1: Fluffy Owl!

I turn round, seeing two former Brownies who are now Guides (in fact, they're my knitting and reading Brownies from last year).

Girl 1, to girl 2: See!  I'd told you it was her!
Me: Hello girls! How are you?
Girl 2: Fine thank you! Do you mind us calling you Fluffy Owl in public?
Me: No, not at all, I'm used to it and quite like it.
Girl 1: You'll always be Fluffy Owl to us!

I'm on a Minions-themed Rainbow sleepover and the hall has been decorated with Minion things, including a few inflatable bananas.  It's about half nine at night, and the last few stragglers are getting into bed.

Me: [Rainbow's name], it's definitely time to sleep.  Can you get back into bed please?

The hall is quite dim, I walk with the Rainbow to the other end of the room where her bed is, and she struggles to get into it.

Me: [Rainbow's name] is there something in your bed?
Rainbow: No.
Me: Yes there is, you can't fit in your sleeping bag.  What's in there?
Rainbow: Nothing.
Me: Hmm. Please may I have a look?

I lift open her sleeping bag and find an inflatable banana which is about as big as she is.

Me: You can't sleep with an inflatable banana.

I confiscate the banana, leave it on the table at the end of the hall and reassure the Rainbow she can play with the inflatable banana in the morning.  I then text this conversation to a Brownie leader friend of mine, and she apparently laughed so hard, she spat out her tea.  Good work, Rainbow!

Three girls are leaving Rainbows at the end of term, so they get to choose what they want to do at their leaving party.  

Me: So what would you like to do?  Do you want to give me lots of ideas to start with?
Rainbow 1:  Can we do some painting?
Me: That's a good idea.  What sort of painting?
Rainbow 1: Foot painting!
Me: Erm, okay, anything else?
Rainbow 2: Play a game!
Me: We can definitely play a game or two.
Rainbow 3:  Can we have cake? Can we cook cake?
Me: Parties have to have cake! We could make mug cakes in the microwave.
Rainbow 3: Can we have more party food?
Me: What do you have at a party?
Rainbow 1: Little sausages!
Rainbows 2:  Crisps!
Rainbow 3: Chickpeas!
Me: Chickpeas?
Rainbow 3: Yeah, chickpeas.
Rainbow 2: What are chickpeas?
Rainbow 3: Yummy.
Me: Erm, they're a sort of bean [think off top of head - are they?!] and you often have them in curries and vegetarian food.  I really like them.
Rainbow 1: I don't think they're party food.
Rainbow 3: They are! They're party food!
Me: We can have lots of different food, as people like different things.

When I get home, another leader has posted on Facebook a recipe for chickpeas roasted in cinnamon and sugar.  I try out the recipe and they're delicious.  If my Rainbows ask for chickpeas at their leaving party, then chickpeas they will get!

It's been a good year - here's to the next!


  1. I love these! The inflatable banana and the zombies are particularly brilliant. I used to work in a school and I miss the hilarious things I used to hear!

    Liz xx
    href="">Distract Me Now Please

  2. I always love these posts; I especially chuckled to myself about the zombie risk assessment. It's something I'd never thought to include on school trip forms either!

  3. Cripes, I've never considered zombies for a risk assessment. Do you think that would be the way to get my guides out of bed in the morning? Nothing else works, we've found.

    1. Zombies? Actual zombies, or just the threat of zombies? I think you need zombie training.


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