Happy Birthday Brownies!

2014 is a big year for the Brownies, as it marks 100 years since the Rosebuds were started for younger Girl Guides. The name ‘Rosebuds’ didn’t last for long though – very quickly the name changed to ‘Brownies’.

I became a Brownie in 1991, with a lady called Isabel Downie as my Brown Owl. I remember being so excited when I turned 7 and going to Brownies as soon as I had my birthday. To be honest, I remember already being a bit bored of Rainbows the same as I was bored at school. I wanted more of a challenge and could not wait to join Brownies, have a uniform to wear and to earn as many badges as I could!

I have such fond memories of being a Brownie. I was a proud member of the Pixies. I got to meet girls from other primary schools in the area and made new friends. A couple I met again in later years when I ended up in the same dance school as them. I remember us all tramping out to a furniture store car park after it had closed to do our athlete and agility badges. I remember us learning how to make pots of tea and frying bacon, sausage and egg for our cooks badge. I remember serving tea and biscuits to my Nana for my Hostess badge when we invited parents to Brownies for an evening. I remember reading books (no problem) for my Booklover badge. Visiting the Fire station. Learning First Aid. Having to get my Mum to show me how to clean the bathroom as part of my House Orderly badge. I remember going to Thinking Day parties with Brownies from all over Edinburgh. I remembering singing and dancing around toadstools, and the excitement of being the person who collected subs and put all the 20 pences into the shape of an owl or trefoil next to the Toadstool.

I’m sure some of that sounds very ‘un feminist’ but actually, I would likely have never learned those skills until much later in life. Having gone to university since then and meeting 18 year olds who didn’t know how to cook, clean or do their own laundry, I’m so thankful for my time as a Brownie and Guide – because I did learn skills for life! As a child of a single parent, I’m pretty sure my Mum wouldn’t have taken the time to teach me some of these things had she not ‘had to’ for my Brownie badges!

I wish I had pictures from my time as a Brownie, but it was usually my grandparents that took me there as my Mum would be at work. There are no pictures of me in my yellow and fawn uniform or of me making my promise as a Rainbow, Brownie or Guide. 😦

I have fond memories of being a Young Leader with the 64th City of Edinburgh Brownies with my friend Fi. I think we were bigger kids than the Brownies were and we love them, and they loved us. In fact, the Brownies organised a surprise party for me when I turned 16. I still have a little cuddly toy dragon from Mulan one of them gave me as a present (they knew how much Fi and I loved Disney!). It was really sad that Pack eventually folded (and the reason why makes me so thankful our current Division Commissioner I volunteer under is so fantastic). The Brown Owl always included Fi and I with the planning of the programme, and gave us the chance to try out our leadership skills by leading games and activities from the first few weeks.

My friend’s daughter became a Brownie two years ago now. I got to be there to see her make her promise which was a real privilege, and a couple of months ago watched her perform in the Edinburgh Gang Show as part of the Junior Gang.

I almost wish I was a Brownie leader this year as I know that there are lots of fun celebrations for the Big Brownie Birthday planned!

Meanwhile, there is a great video on the BBC website with a lady called Ann Phillips remembering her involvement with the Brownies! Check it out here.


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