I was very shy as a child and was always extremely nervous when trying anything new. So when it came to joining Brownies when I was seven, I wasn’t sure if I could do it. After all, I’d stood outside the school playground, holding on to my mum’s hand for dear life on my first day at school. But my best friend, Jackie, was joining Brownies at the same time, so I was sure I’d be okay.
Every week, the Brownie meetings took place in an old hall. I can still remember the slightly musty smell which hit my nostrils every time I walked inside. But I didn’t mind it and actually came to look forward to that smell each week – because I loved Brownies. It was such fun – we’d play games, make things, learn about all sorts of weird and wonderful phenomena and I felt part of something. The Brownie leaders were so kind and supportive too.
To become a Brownie, there was an enrolment ceremony. You had to learn your Brownie Promise and recite it in front of all the other Brownies and Brownie leaders. Brown Owl was in charge of the Brownies and once you’d successfully made your promise, she pinned your Brownie badge onto your uniform (I still have my badge). I recall feeling very nervous before the ceremony and I kept going over and over the promise. I managed to do it without even a stutter and I was so proud to become enrolled in the 1st Washcommon Brownies. I was placed in the Gnomes Six (we were all placed into different groups of six, with names like Elves, Pixies and so on). I’d wanted to be put in Gnomes as I thought their badge was the cutest!
The uniform for Brownies has changed greatly over the years and today’s is far more practical, with comfy T-shirts and trousers. There’s still brown in the uniform, but it’s a little more colourful. Mine consisted of a brown dress and brown bobble hat. But I was very proud to be wearing it.
My favourite game was one called ‘Fruit Salad’. We didn’t play it very often, but I just loved it and I can feel the excitement bubbling up just as I think about it! It was a physical game and involved lots of running about, but everyone had a smile on their face as they took part.
Many people think about Brownies and have an image of them all sitting around a camp fire in the dark. I only did that once. It was a large event, with many different Brownie packs taking part. We had to travel about an hour away to another town. If I close my eyes, I can see the huge orange flames dancing as they reached higher and higher. And, of course, we sang camp fire songs. My favourite song was Ging Gang Goolie, which is really just gibberish!
So, although I loved being a Brownie, I’m not sure I made a very good one. I did try to be and I earned several badges – a collecting one, reading one and homemaker one, amongst others. Though, I’m not sure how I managed to earn the latter. I had to keep a record of all the helpful things I’d done around the house to help my mum. She often likes to remind me that one of the things I’d written down was ‘I help my mummy every day by opening my curtains’. And I like to point out that it may not be as helpful as ironing a pile of clothes or washing up, but it’s still helpful!
I went on to join the Girl Guides when I left Brownies, but I really didn’t want to leave and, sadly, Girl Guides wasn’t anywhere near as much fun as Brownies. Perhaps that’s down to age and growing up, or maybe it was the leaders at Brownies. They packed so much into every meeting and they seemed to have as much fun as us. It’s something I’ll never forget.