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New brown owl tips

Hi all,
I've just taken over a brownie group, any tips on activities, running the group or anything I should keep in mind?!
All comments gratefully received!


Brownie Leader
Staff member
Hi, best of luck - don't panic :)

Can you give us more details about your experience? Are you new to guiding, new to the unit or just stepping up so know the girls and how things work?
New to everything!
I've been a brownie and a guide many years ago.
The unit was going to close as the leader was leaving. I've worked in secondary for years, so I'm not fazed by the running and organisational side, my daughter attends the group too. But that's about as far as my knowledge goes!


Brownie Leader
Staff member
Ok, I'm sure you'll be fine. Do you have any other adult help? Hopefully your Commissioner is on board as they can be invaluable :)
You'll need to get started on your Leadership Qualification, and you should get a mentor assigned to help you through.

Brownies currently have 3 main resources:
Becoming a Brownie (when they join)
Brownie Adventures (split into 3 badges designed to last roughly a year each)
Brownie Badge Book (also available online on the Brownie website).

They often work in small groups called sixes and each had a sixer and seconder to lead them - up to you what responsibilities you assign to those roles.

Got to get to work now, but sure someone will be along to continue this...if not I'll be back later!


Veteran (100+ posts)
Make life easy for yourself! Use resources wherever you can to reduce the amount of work you have to do - look on this site, girlguiding resources, borrow from other units...
Make sure subs will easily cover everything, including the annual subscription payment to Girlguiding in February (~£35? Per girl and adult).
Get the girls to lead. If you take a register, get the girls to do it. They can plan a meeting a term just from their Adventures book. They can choose and run games. Anything that takes the load off you!


Brownie Leader
Staff member
Definitely agree that budgeting is key - the annual subscription (census) is invoiced in the Spring Term, so to avoid asking parents for lots of extra cash after Christmas, it's better to spread it as far as possible. Find out how much it was last year in your area then add a couple of pounds. The amount varies hugely depending on what overheads your region, county, division or district has (I was in an area £22, then moved and it's £33 here). By budgeting, you should cover adult costs too - you shouldn't be out of pocket for volunteering.

Sixes: currently the choice is little people (elves/imps etc) or animals (badger/mole etc).

Get hold of the Adventures book asap - it has lots of activities based around the core themes: You, Community and World. You can also work on interest badges in the unit, there are over 50 to choose from. A well run programme enables the girls to achieve the adventure badges - you can find out what this involves in the book, it's really not very daunting :) We aim for an interest badge every term plus Adventures stuff.

Planning wise, ask the girls what they'd like to do, either as a brainstorm or by going "do you want to choose from A or B?". Brownies aim for 70:30 leader to girls input.

Look out for theme nights - this term we have choices including bonfire night, remembrance Sunday, Christmas, Diwali etc for extra inspiration.

If you have any specific questions, ask away, otherwise I'll keep wittering away. If you're on Facebook you can apply to join the Brownie Leader Support Group which has a lot of good resources.


Veteran (100+ posts)
I'm just taking over a Brownie unit too, so feel free to PM me :)

One of the jobs I've done which has been useful is to go through all of the current unit resources, equipment and paper work now in the summer. It means I've been able to familiarise myself with everything before the chaos of Brownies restarts! Some things need replacing, updating…but it turned out there were only a few things I actually needed to buy once I had shifted through all the old sheets of paper, left over craft bits and bobs- we even unearthed some long forgotten equipment that would have been costly to buy again and fitted perfectly into a planned evening. I've also been able to go through the hall and fill in the risk assessments and fire sheet without 100 and one other demands happening!

I've been a qualified leader for a couple of years now, but there is still things that are new with being the main unit leader. The people on here and several of the other Guiding forums are generally friendly and helpful if you need any questions answered. Your local district or division will also be helpful, see if you can get in touch with any of the other Brownie leaders and in the future you might be able to share resources and trips.


Veteran (100+ posts)
Welcome to Guiding! We're sometimes a bit crazy, but generally you'll find that we are a friendly bunch.

Brownies in my area tend to last for around 90 minutes. Judging how long an activity will take can be difficult, even for expereinced leaders, because sometimes girls are much quicker or slower than anticipated. It's useful to have a few free 'go to' activities planned for the times they finish quickly. If they finish much later than expected, don't worry about fitting everything in - there will always be another meeting to accommodate it!

Some 'go to' ideas are
* games such as Duck duck goose, Keys, or Over the river.
* dominoes - can be traditional, or print some themed ones from www.dltk.com
* bingo - very popular for some reason! You can buy an ordinary bingo game for around £5.99 in shops such as Home Bargains or B&M, or print themed cards from DLTK.
* alphabet games, such as finding something in the meeting place for every letter of the alphabet.
* wordsearches - a cheap book can last a while.
* doodle colouring. Again, a cheap book can last ages.
* act out a scene - how they have kept their Promise, a nursery rhyme, or a fable
* mind map - it could be for planning, or to see how much the girls know about something (maybe Guiding?)
* quiz - ours love it when they have to run to the correct answer
* parachute games, or skipping, bat and ball, etc, depending on what equipment you have

We start each term with Promise activities, for new girls and to remind existing members of their Promise. It might be a game, a craft, or some acting. We also make use of important dates, such as Bonfire night, Christmas, saint's days, or more unusual dates (I really must fit in Talk Like a Pirate Day this year!)

Food activites are popular, but can be pricey. Be aware of your budget and your facilities before deciding on this. In our current meeting place, we have a tiny kitchen and no cooking facilities. In our last venue, the kitchen was big, with two cookers - but neither worked properly!

Paperwork is important. Boring at times, but necessary. Before taking the girls out, make sure that you know what forms you need, how to use a Home Contact, etc. Once you're ok with that, there are loads of places to go - the library, Tesco Farm to Fork Trails, fire station, park, Pets At Home - all in meeting time, as well as extras outside meetings. Don't worry about not offering enough. When I started as a leader, I intended to arrange visits to the fire station at least every two years, but it just didn't work out like that.

There are loads of resources online. If you follow Kirsty Thorpe on Pinterest, she has boards for each of the Brownie interest badges, which is fab. She's also a poster on here.

Most of all, have fun - it's supposed to be enjoyable for you as well as for the girls!


Veteran (100+ posts)
My big thing is BUDGET. You need to work out how much the year is going to cost you and divide it by the number of Brownies, then divide it into months (if paying by standing order) or terms / half terms to work out subs. Then you have to set aside rent, census, badges etc and work out what you can spend each week. Don't be daunted when it works out at pennies! Get creative... some of my best meetings were run on a piece of string and 4 sheets of card.
I buy craft things in the sale eg after Xmas for following year. The Works has regularly 20 to 30% online but can be delivered free to local store.