Enrolment Ceremony Night

We did our Enrolment Ceremony this week. As I have mentioned in some of the other posts, we wanted to include the second year Brownies by having them perform a skit of the Brownie Story. We had a couple extra girls who read The ToadStool, in order to make up enough parts.

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I feel like this was a great idea! This helped to explain some of the practices and ceremonial bits and pieces to our new Brownies and their families.

The girls were all so excited about it and their parents seemed receptive as well. We practised in two meetings but had the girls read out their lines from scripts. Hence, skit is deliberately used rather than “play”.

It was way too much to expect them to memorize that many lines, especially on short notice, and we also didn’t want to have to deal with creating costumes or a set.

We usually meet from 6:45-8:15.

We asked family members to return for 7:30 this night to watch the ceremony. Before they returned, we did a quick rehearsal, discussed etiquette and tried to impart some meaning behind the whole night. The girls did a wonderful job hosting their parents and helped us to set up the gym. They were SUPER enthusiastic about decorating for the space theme they chose and bringing up chairs for guests.

Almost too enthusiastic … we were literally tripping over girls like they were puppies.

shrug

For the actual ceremony part, we followed the tradition from last year of hiding all our Brownies in a small room off our main meeting room. They huddle inside while guests arrive and then I welcomed everyone as unofficial and impromptu MC. The girls came out and lined up in two rows facing each other, first years on one side and second years on the other.

One girl from each line walked to the centre space as a pair, and the second years supported our new Brownies as she said her lines and looked into the water / mirror. Then we gave our 1st year her pins and badge in a little gift bag and her welcome certificate and both girls sat down on the floor in front of the chairs, assembly style. And the next pair went, and so on.

At this point in the evening, the skit commenced.

After each girl had had her moment in the spotlight, we formed our Brownie Circle around the looking glass and toadstool to recite the Brownie Promise and Law. I explained the meaning of the Grand Howl, which we enthusiastically performed to honour our guests.

I’m pretty sure this was the girls’ favourite part of the night. It certainly was the loudest!

This flowed into our dessert and drink buffet – all space themed of course – and families celebrated and mingled while myself and another leader hustled to the door.

Most of our decor and tableware was purchased from the dollar store, Walmart or Party City. We forgot to take pictures at the event. ‘Cause we were, you know, busy. But I have some from store websites or pinterest of product we either used or were inspired by. See below!

Lucky, lucky us, this was also cookie night. It helped that the parents were all there, but it is also so much work to do both things on the same night. I will talk about that aspect in another post, so this one doesn’t turn into a novel.

If you are curious about the details of how to create an enrolment ceremony, let me know!

xx

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Dues – First Meeting

Girl Guides of Canada units usually charge a due of $1.00 per girl per meeting. To make it easier, we usually count up the weeks we are meeting in a year and ask parents to pay all at once at the beginning of the year, by cash or cheque.

Our due this year is going to be $30.00 This helps leaders to plan programming and gives you some cash to get the year started. It funds activities and Enrolment night and can also form all or part of the downpayment for a Autumn overnight trip.

My advice is to print out a copy of the roster and bring a large bag or envelope that can be sealed, and mark off the money as soon as each parent pays. This keeps an accurate record of who has paid what. Money should exchange hands between parent and leader, not through a girl.

I use this same technique for cookie money, and trip money.

In fact, I already have a roster printed and an envelope ready for each thing, because inevitably, there will be overlap between this cash intake. It also makes life worlds easier for your Treasurer and Cookie Purchaser! the

Make sure it is clear to parents on the first night what the dues are for the year, who cheques are payable to, and when cookies are available for pickup. Bring extra pens with you!

xx

Enrolment Ceremony Play

Something that we are planning to do this year at our Enrolment Ceremony is have our second year Brownies do a quick skit of the Brownie Story. One other second year will recite the Brownie Toadstool bit as well. This helps give the night a purpose for the second years, rather than them feeling like a meeting or two is wasted at the beginning of the year. It contributes to the girls earning their Key to the Arts Brownie Key.

We are hoping that this adds some meaning to the ceremony and helps the first years and their parents to understand some of the routines we have and the deeper meanings behind Brownies.

I have copied and pasted my script below. You might want to divide it into more or fewer parts depending on how many second years are in your Unit. This is based off of 8 girls. I created the following parts: Grandma, Owl, Brooke, Cindy, 3 narrators, and 1 girl reading the Brownie Toadstool.

Note: I do NOT own this story. It is property of GGC. I just copied it out into play format and divided it by girl.

 The Brownie Story Play 

Narrator 1: Brooke and her cousin Cindy were on their way to visit Grandma Ella in the country. Grandma Ella lived with her dog Scooter, her turtle Leo and her fish Goldilocks in a small brick house, surrounded by thick woods. 

Brooke loved visiting Grandma Ella. In the fall, they collected leaves and dried them between the pages of heavy books. In the winter, they snowshoed and skated on the frozen pond. In the spring, they ate pancakes with maple syrup they bought from a farmer down the road. And in the summer, they swam in the pond and had picnics on the grass. 

Brooke loved to do all these things, but most of all, she loved to hear Grandma Ella’s stories about Brownies. Grandma Ella said Brownies were little people who helped with chores when no one was watching.  

Brooke: “I wish a Brownie would help me with my chores”. 

Cindy: “So do I.” 

Brooke (facing Grandma): “Have you ever seen a Brownie?” 

Grandma: “No one ever sees Brownies. They lend a hand when no one is around, and they always know exactly when help is needed.” 

Brooke: “Do you think there are any Brownies in the woods behind your house?” 

Grandma: “Brownies could be anywhere. The only one who knows where they are is the wise old owl who lives in the great pine tree near the pond.” 

Cindy: “I’ve never seen an owl near the pine tree.” 

Brooke: “Neither have I.” 

Grandma: “People say she only appears when the moon is blue.” 

Cindy (giggles): “The moon is never blue!” 

Grandma: “Oh sometimes it is …. but not very often.” 

Narrator 2: That night in bed, Brooke and Cindy talked about how much fun it would be to meet the wise old owl and learn more about Brownies. 

Cindy: “If I met a Brownie, I’d ask that Brownie to clean up my room. That would make my mom very happy.” 

Brooke: “If I met a Brownie, I’d ask that Brownie to dry the dishes, take out the garbage and pull up the weeds. That would make my mom very happy. And you know what else Cindy?” 

Narrator 2: But Cindy didn’t answer. She was fast asleep. Brooke stretched. She was feeling sleepy herself. (“Brooke” should do this action) 

Brooke: “If only I could meet that wise old owl.” 

Owl: “Whoooo. Whooooo. I was waiting for you.” 

Brooke: “Cindy?” (peering around). 

Narrator 2: But it wasn’t Cindy. Cindy was gone. The bedroom was gone. Brook was standing outside, near the pond.  

Owl: “Whoooo Whoooo, I see you”. 

Narrator 2: Brooke looked up. (“Brooke” should do this action) 

Brooke: “Yikes!” 

Narrator 2: She saw an owl sitting on a branch of the pine tree. 

Brooke: “Are you the wise old owl?” 

Owl: “Whooo. Whoooo. That is true.” 

Brooke: “But you’re only supposed to appear when the moon is blue.” 

Owl: “Whoooo. Whoooo. The moon is blue”. 

Narrator 3: Brooke looked up at the sky. The moon was blue. It was as blue as a blueberry. 

Brooke: “Do you know where I can find a Brownie? I want to ask the Brownie something important.” 

Owl: “Whoooo. Whoooo. Don’t roam. Look in Grandma’s home.” 

Brooke: “I’ve never seen a Brownie at my Grandma’s. Where is it hiding?” 

Owl: “Whooooo Whoooo. A Brownie is there. Now listen with care. This is the rule. At the toad stool. Look in the pond. Don’t use a wand. Turn ‘round three times. And finish what rhymes.” 

Brooke: “What rhyme do I have to finish?” 

Owl: “Twist me and turn me and show me an elf. I look in the water and I see …” 

Narrator 3: Brooke ran to the toadstool beside the pond. She turned three times, repeated the rhyme and looked in the pond. But all she could see was her own reflection. Brooke ran back to the owl. 

Brooke: “All I see is myself.” 

Owl: “Whooo. Whoooo. That is true. A brownie is you.” 

Brooke: “I’m a Brownie? No I’m not.” 

Owl: “Whooo. Whoooo. You’re a Brownie at heart. Now hurry and start.” 

Narrator 3: And with that, the owl flapped her wings and flew away. (“Owl” should do this action) 

Narrator 3: As soon as she did, the blue moon vanished. Brooke looked up. The sun peeked through the window. She was back in her room. She was back in bed.  

Brooke: “Cindy! I can be a Brownie. All I have to do is …” 

Cindy: “You can be a what?” (Cindy rubs sleep from her eyes) 

Brooke: “A Brownie. And you can be one too.” 

Narrator 3: And she told Cindy everything that had happened with the owl. 

Brooke: “Why don’t we be Brownies together? It might be fun!” 

Cindy: “Why not? Wow, Grandma will be so surprised!” 

Narrator 3: So that day, Brooke and Cindy wiped all the dishes, weeded every bit of the garden and took out the garbage without being asked. They even baked cookies and took them over to some of Grandma’s friends at the seniors’ centre. Everyone was surprised and delighted, especially Grandma. 

Grandma: “There’s magic in this house. Two wonderful Brownies have somehow appeared to help me out, just when I needed it. Do you think those Brownies might like some warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream?” 

Brooke and Cindy together: “Yes, they would!”  

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The Brownie Toadstool 

Long ago, our Founder Lord Baden-Powell decided that Brownies should have something special in the centre of the Brownie Ring. He chose a toadstool. The toadstool stands on a carpet of grass, which represents the solid foundation that unites Brownies everywhere. Grass is strong and spreads out in all directions, just like Brownies do, who live in many countries around the world. 

The stem of the toadstool stands for the Brownie Promise and Law, and the cap stands for the crown of happiness. When a Brownies keeps her Promise, it makes her feel as if she’s wearing a crown of happiness. 

The wise old owl sits on top of the toadstool and teaches the Brownies how to “Lend a Hand” to help others. Nearby, there’s a magic pool. When a Brownies lends a hand and helps others, she can look into the magic pool and see herself and say: 

Look in the magic pool and you will see what a special person I can be! 

xx

Planning a Guiding Year (1)

I’m am going to try to write a series of posts that are geared towards planning your guiding year. I have already written a couple, such as a sample letter to parents that can be found here, and tips on setting up your Brownie/Spark circles which can be found here.

I try to plan my guiding year around the seven main themes that are in guiding and major holidays, plus the seasons. For example, the beginning and end of the year have most of our outdoor activities because it just isn’t that fun to take a group of little girls outside in -30C weather. We still do the odd outdoor activity like tobogganing, but mostly try to schedule indoor activities when its cold outside.

My first unit meeting this year is Tuesday, September 11th. I have roughly charted out our first 3-5 meetings…

Week One:

The first meeting can be a rough one on kids, especially first year Brownies. Many are shy, some didn’t do Sparks, and it has been a long time since their last meeting in the spring. We mostly play icebreakers and review the Brownie Law, Promise and Motto. I encourage the girls to practice this at home so that they know it before the enrolment ceremony.

We have a group discussion on how a Brownie conducts herself… the purpose of this is to set out expectations of behaviour from the outset by having the girls share the qualities that they expect of themselves and their fellow Brownies. We play up being a good friend and teammate, respecting personal boundaries and limitations, listening when the Owls are speaking or a guest is visiting, and lending a hand.

I also have an activity I found online that I love to do at the beginning of the year. I’ll insert a photo below, but it basically encourages the girls to share their hopes and expectations of the year. They can draw a picture or write down what they want to say.

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We are doing TWO crafts this week … something we may not do again this year!

The first craft is a canvas bag that they can decorate. At our location, there is no water fountain so we encourage water bottles and most of the year, they need a change of footwear as well. In addition, we usually send them home with a craft or something so making these in the first week is fun for children and a big help to leaders / parents.

The second craft is specifically for the first years. One of the leaders will do a game with the second years in another room while our littler ones make an invitation for their parents to their enrolment ceremony! Again, I want them to be able to guide the year so as leaders, we will come up with 3 or so themes that we like and feel are manageable and then let the girls vote on which one they would prefer.

Week Two:

I am hoping that we can go to one of the local baseball diamonds this week to play soccer baseball. I definitely feel that kids should be active, and there is limited opportunity for entertaining that many kids in a gymnasium when you don’t have a ton of equipment like schools do. Plus, I want to promote getting outside, being active, and using the resources in your community!

There are a few of these diamonds in my town that have playground equipment next door. So we will start our meeting with the traditional opening ceremony, playing up the Promise, Motto and Law to help the new Brownies practice it a bit, then do our main activity. Likely, it will be necessary to review being a good winner and a good loser.

After the game, snacks and water will be shared (provided by leaders) and then we can sing some songs, or go straight to the playground equipment for free play, depending on how much time is left. I will bring some of the (limited) play equipment we have with me to encourage them to be imaginative and play. We have a few balls and skipping ropes and hula hoops to share.

When we do a local activity like this, we have their parents pick up and drop off at our temporary location to keep it a green level activity. If you are concerned about it getting dark before the end of the meeting, pick up a few packages of glow stick bracelets and let the girls wear them.

Although the timing isn’t necessary perfect to do this on the second week, between weather restrictions, cookies, the enrolment ceremony, Thanksgiving and then Remembrance Day and the Santa Claus parade in November, it is one of the only chances we have to take the unit outside and play in the Autumn.

Week Three:

Week three is going to be CRAZY!!

This is enrolment ceremony week. Lots of extra work for leaders.

We will open as usual and practice saying the Promise, Motto and Law a bunch of times. Then we will review how we show respect to our guests (the parents) and our fellow Brownies by not talking during the ceremony, offering dessert to the parents first, etc.

We will do a dry-run of the enrolment ceremony as well (usually parents come 30 minutes early to pick up their kids to watch the ceremony but the first hour they are not there, as usual).

anticipate that cookies will be delivered by this time, so we will try to deal with parents and cookies at the same time, which is actually kinda convenient although chaotic. If we can find the time before the enrolment ceremony, the girls LOVED doing skits last year modelling good and bad behaviour when selling cookies (how to be polite, practising their spiel, memorizing the price, etc). This is sure to bring out lots of giggles but is also really useful and practical for them in learning these saleswoman’s skills.

Week Four:

This is our last meeting before Thanksgiving. I don’t know exactly what the plan is yet, but it will be related to the holiday. I would love to get the girls involved in something benefiting the food bank, whether we take 30 minutes to go door to door in groups surrounding the church we meet in, or just ask each family to bring a donation. Or both. I know our craft will be related to this as well, probably something that they can display on the Thanksgiving table.

This will be the first week that we give “homework” as well. IMHO, this meeting is a perfect time to bring up a badge that involves families a little bit, since most families gather together at this time. I am currently thinking of the women through the ages badge. I think it would be awesome to encourage our girls to talk to an older woman in their family or community and find out what her life was like growing up, and ask old family stories. It is also a great opportunity for girls to learn more about their ancestors.

Week Five (ish):

We live in Ontario and this year, October 22nd is municipal voting day. I have reached out to my local municipal offices to request an after-hours tour of the building, and have someone talk to us about what local government does, and how someone like a Mayor is elected. I have provided three dates leading up to and immediately after voting day and I am hoping they will accommodate us on one of those.

I want to tie this into empowering our kids in the local community and teaching them to recognize needs in the community and learning how they can address issues they feel are important. This can be tied into other badges throughout the year, such as encouraging them to write a letter to council on an issue that they identify, if our inquiries lead us in this direction.

Of course, it is entirely possible that nothing will come of it and our visit turns into a one-off, but I am hoping they will see something – for example, the fact that our local playgrounds don’t have any trees to provide shade – that they want to change and we can support them on their quest! We also have a grant next year to play trees in the spring, so this ties into my example well and would be something we have the finances to carry through if the township agrees to let us.

Whew! That was a lot … I kinda wonder if anyone even read this far. I will cover each week in a dedicated, more detailed post as we go, but hopefully this is helpful to some new leader to start the year strong with a framework in mind.

xx