Pot of Gold
Opening and Closing Songs
The traditional Brownie Motto was 'Lend a Hand' and it was felt that every Brownie, whilst wearing uniform, should be equipped and ready to do just that, hence it was custom that each Brownie would be asked to keep certain things in her uniform pockets which could be useful for doing Good Turns. The lists varied a little from Pack to Pack, so it is impossible to produce a definitive list, but the most common items were
Pencil and Paper - always useful for writing down messages and important notes
A Clean Fabric Hanky in a Sealed Envelope - to provide a clean dry dressing for first aid use
A Safety Pin - for fastening dressings, dealing with ripped clothes, etc.
A Hanked Length of String - useful for tying things.
A Coin For The Phone - in the days before mobile phones, callboxes needed coins for anything other than 999 calls, or you might find a house which was 'on the phone' when this was uncommon, and be able to pay back the cost of the call you made.
A Plastic Bag - for carrying things, keeping things dry, tearing into emergency string, etc.
Record Card/Pocket Book - Brownies had cards, or later small booklets, which were filled in to record their challenge progress.
What would be the equivalent things for the modern Brownie to carry in her pockets, and what (realistic!) uses could they be put to?
Prior to 1968, Brownies worked on the Golden Bar and Golden Hand (during the 1950s an intermediate test, Golden Ladder, was introduced as a sort of halfway-house to help bridge the gap in difficulty between the two, the ladder being formed by a second Golden Bar badge stitched above the original). The special thing about the Golden Hand badge was that though the skills could all be practiced constantly in the run-up until the Brownie was confident at them, and the handcraft items would all be prepared ready, but the whole badge was tested on one day, and the Brownie could only get her Golden Hand badge if she passed all the clauses on the same day, in front of the independent tester.
The majority managed it, and any Brownie who had earned her 'Golden Hand' badge during her time in the pack received a special badge when the time came to move up to Guides, called 'Brownie Wings'. It was the only Brownie Badge which could be worn on Guide uniform. Those who did not gain Golden Hand were still allowed to move on up to Guides with the others, but they did not get the 'Brownie Wings' badge, and so they did not get to fly up, they walked up.
When the time came for the Brownie to move up to Guides, units were encouraged to develop their own special joint ceremonies. Brownies who were flying up might jump over the toadstool, or be helped by their leaders to take a flying leap from the Brownie Ring up to the the Guide horseshoe. Any who were 'walking up' might use stilts, or follow a path of stepping stones . . .
Guide Traditions and Skills
There are certain traditional Guide skills - which are still commonly used nowadays - and which it is therefore assumed that Guide Leaders will know how to do. But - how? Many trainings don't teach them, and so they can become quite an insider thing.
For many of these, there is no one 'right' way of doing them, so what I have put below is the way that I do them!
Flag Ceremonial - Hoisted Flags
By 'hoisted flags' I mean the sort which are raised up onto flagpoles using ropes. Traditionally at camps the Guide World Flag, or a National Flag (or perhaps both) would be raised in the morning with due ceremony, and lowered at dusk (and at any time when everyone was going off-site) for safe keeping whilst not 'guarded', and a short ceremony is used - similar to the military tradition. Some units also opt to raise and lower flags as part of their unit meetings, to signal that they have formally occupied the building. It is a two-stage process.
Before the ceremony starts, you would fold up the flags, attach them to the flagpole ropes and raise the folded flag up to the top of the flagpole ready for unfurling. To do this, either hold the flag in the hands or lay it on a table - never on the ground! The flag usually has a wooden toggle at the top left corner - fold the bottom of the flag up towards the toggle, then repeat, to create a long narrow strip. Then roll this strip towards the toggle, wrap the rope on the flag tightly round the rolled bundle, and tuck a loop of the rope underneath the length you have just wound so the flag doesn't unroll, and the loop at the end of the rope will be accessible.
Now it is time to attach the rolled flag to the flagpole. At the flagpole there should be two ends of rope wrapped around the cleat at the bottom of the flagpole. Carefully unwind them until they are free (if it is a windy day, hang onto the ends or get your escorts to do it so they don't blow out of reach while you are working!). Tie one end around the rope just below the wooden toggle, using a 'clove hitch' knot. Tie the other end of the rope onto the loop of the flag's rope using a 'sheet bend'. The flag and ropes should now form one loop. Raise the flag, with the toggle upwards, until it arrives at the top of the flagpole, then gently grasp the two ends of the flagpole rope together and, without tugging, wrap these together round the cleat. The flag is now set up ready, and can sit in this position until the ceremony starts.
For a formal ceremony the Guides would gather or be marched into a horseshoe around the flagpole, the colour party would be in the middle of the closed end and directly opposite the flagpole, and would consist of 3 Guides (per flag if there is more than one flagpole) - a leader and 2 escorts. The Guiders would stand at the side of the horseshoe rather than at the open end as that would be occupied by the flagpole. The Guider in Charge would give the command 'Colour Party, Proceed'. Then the Colour Party Leader would give the command 'Colour Party, Forward March' and the three would walk forward in step towards the flagpole. When a couple of paces from it the Colour Party Leader would give the command 'Colour Party, Halt' and the three would stop. The two escorts would then stand still where they were, and the Colour Party Leader would step forward to the flagpole. She would grasp the ropes, pull one, and the flag should unfurl. She can then wrap the slack part of the rope round the cleat to stop it flapping. Once all is set, she takes two paces backwards to stand between the two escorts. She then gives the command 'Colour Party Salute the Colour' and all three give Guide Salutes, then the Guider gives the command 'Company, Salute the Colour' and the unit follows suit. Then the Colour Party Leader gives the commands 'Colour Party, About Turn' and all should turn to the right until facing back towards their places in the horseshoe, then 'Colour Party, Forward March', and when they arrive at their places 'Colour Party, Halt', and 'Colour Party, About Turn'. If you have more than one flag to unfurl, they would be done simultaneously, one Colour Party Leader would give the commands for all (usually the one with the National flag of the host country, as they take precedence over flags of visiting Countries or Unit flags), and it is important that at each stage, the Colour Party Leader waits for everyone to be ready before giving the next command. If there were a large number of flags to be unfurled at a cluster or tightly-packed row of flagpoles, you may opt to dispense with escorts to avoid the area becoming overcrowded.
The process for lowering flags is similar - the Colour Party appproaches the flagpole in the same way and the Colour Party Leader steps forward. This time, she unwinds the ropes from the cleat, and then slowly starts to lower the flag down. As soon as the corner of the flag is in reach, she drapes the flag over her shoulder to ensure it won't touch the ground. When the knots which attach the flag to the ropes are in reach, she undoes the knots, and once the flagpole's rope ends are free, wraps them around the cleat together. (If it is windy and there is a risk of the rope ends blowing about, the escorts can take closer order and keep hold of the first end to be untied while the leader concentrates on untying the other). The colour party then march back as before, the Leader still having the flag draped over her shoulder, she can use a hand to hold it there if need be. After the horseshoe is dismissed, the flag would be laid out on a table or other suitable surface to dry if damp, then folded and rolled up as above for storage and ready for hoisting next day.
At camp, especially, some people opt to use the gathering in horseshoe to give out any important notices, or to have a Guides' Own - if the latter option is being considered, do remember that it must be of a form suitable for all participants, and unless you are 100% certain of the religious beliefs and affiliations of all present, it must be religion neutral and multi-faith - if in doubt it is better to dismiss everyone after the flag ceremony, with the invitation to those who wish, to gather in a horseshoe for Guides' Own in a couple of minutes. Thought should also be given to how long the Guides are being asked to stand still if there is a full flag ceremony, and notices, followed by a Guides' Own - if it lasts for more than a few minutes then fidgets are inevitable in even the best behaved of units, and as the founder himself said "boredom is not reverence".
Where gathering everyone together for a full ceremony in horseshoe is not practical due to the camp schedule, (as can often be the case in the evening where dusk can clash with the end of the evening meal or start of the evening activity) it is custom that a colour party drawn from the duty Patrol will form up, then a leader will use her whistle to blow once (the 'freeze' signal) and everyone will stand still and in silence where they are, while the flag is raised or lowered. As soon as the short ceremony is completed, the leader will again blow her whistle once, which is the signal for everyone to resume whatever they were doing. This would commonly be used at larger international camps where gathering everyone into a horseshoe twice daily is impractical, so it is wise to ensure that the Guides are aware of this, know what the signal means and what to do, and that they respect the whistle signal.
There can be a tendency for some Guides to find formal flag ceremonial dull, especially if it is done at meetings every week - if the Guides are not of an age and maturity to treat it with appropriate respect , then it is better to give doing it a break for a while, rather than let it become either a boring chore, or an opportunity for messing about - and re-introduce it later. when the Guides are more ready for it - or to save it for camp, just doing at meetings for a few weeks in the run-up to camp so the Guides know what to do before they go to camp.
An improvised camp flagpole would generally consist of a long wooden pole, with a curtain ring tied on at the top, a small piece of wood square-lashed across halfway down, and 3 or more guy ropes attached on just under that. The guys could thus be pegged out to support the pole, leaving room at the front where the cross-piece is lashed for the person unfurling the flag to approach. To set it up, run a length of string or rope (which would depend on the proportions of the flagpole) through the curtain ring and wind the two ends round the cross-piece, to keep them secure. It does not matter what size the flag or flagpole is, but what is important is that the flag and flagpole sizes should be in reasonable proportion to each other - you neither want a giant flag at constant risk of dragging on the ground, nor a barely-visible handkerchief at the top of a vast pole!
A buddy burner is a simple form of homemade portable cooking stove. To make it you require a tin can, a length of corrugated cardboard, a quantity of candle wax, and a length of wick (bought or homemade). In use it can be useful to have 3 or 4 nails also.
To make it, cut a length of corrugated cardboard about the same height as the tin, and which will just fit into it when coiled. Placing the wick at the centre, roll the cardboard up round the wick and insert into the tin. Melt the wax in a double-saucepan, and pour onto the cardboard until the tin is filled, so it forms a kind of giant candle. To use, it is easiest if you insert some long nails around the edge so you can sit a saucepan above the flame for optimum use of the heat.
Tradition is for Guides to march into a horseshoe at the start and end of their meetings. There are several reasons. One is that in a horseshoe formation, in even the largest unit, everyone can see and hear what anyone in the group is saying (no being unable to see or hear because you're stuck behind a tall person!). Also, it signifies that everyone has a place, both in their Patrol and in the Unit. And, particularly at the start of the meeting, actually just stopping the chatter and games, and getting into formation - signals that the meeting proper has started. Finally, marching into a horseshoe is better than walking into a shape, because the movement of the marching is enough to shift initial fidgets!
There are many ways to get into horseshoe, after seeing many ways, the one we find works best for us is the one I learnt as a Guide:
The Guiders stand at the top of the hall in the middle, and facing down it's length. To their right the Patrols stand in rows, facing up the hall, the Patrol Leaders at the end nearest the Guiders and the Patrol Seconds at the far ends. The Guider gives the command 'Company, Attention', then 'Company, by the left Mark Time', then 'Company, Forward March'. The first Patrol Leader marches round behind the Guiders then down the side of the hall, across the bottom, and back up the far side with the other Patrols following in line. The first Patrol Leader then marches round and back down the middle of the hall, and once almost at the bottom, she marches up to the left towards the Guiders and on arrival continues marching on the spot, when she reaches the same point at the bottom the second Patrol Leader marches up to the right, and so on - as soon as the last Patrol has marched into place the Guider calls 'Company, Halt', and 'Company, Inward Face'. If you have a Colour Party, they should form up behind the last Patrol as an extra row and march after them - that way they will end up in the middle of the horseshoe ready to carry out the ceremony.
If you have a unit which struggles with this (and the benefit of a large hall compared to your numbers) then if need be you can do a 'horseshoe in threes' for a while. Three Guides line up where you want the bottom of the horseshoe to be (if you have a colour party then they would be the three) and the Guiders stand at the opposite end, facing them. The remaining Guides form two straight queues, one queue behind each of the outer members of the trio (hence the hall has to be large enough!). When the command 'form horseshoe, forward march' is given, the first two Guides in the queue step outwards and then forwards, and those behind them follow, and the Guides continue with the sidestepping and stepping forward, until everyone is in place. This method is less satisfactory, both in the general 'messiness' (a lot of Guides shuffling around and fidgetting to try to get into place), the amount of standing around involved, and the fact that it needs a lot of space to fit in the long queues.
Where flags are to be carried by Guides, even for short distances, or held formally for more than a few seconds, a proper flag holster, correctly adjusted for the height of the bearer doing the carrying, must be used - Guide flags are far too big, heavy and awkward to carry in the hand, for even the shortest time. It is best for Guides to be given the chance to practice simply walking up and down with a flag, before ever they are asked to take part in a parade in public, as it takes a few minutes to get the holster adjusted to the ideal length for comfort, for the bearer to become accustomed to the technique of balancing the flag and carrying it comfortably, and also to be aware of the extra height clearance she suddenly has to consider, particularly in relation to doorways and light fittings (the escorts should help her by watching out for and subtly warning her of these, but they need practice at judging the height too!) - far better to master the basics behind closed doors, before you start adding the extra hurdles of weather, a critical audience, and other outdoor factors! When adjusting the holster, generally the bucket of the holster should be around mid-thigh (but if the bearers will have to deal with getting through low doorways, or the flag bearer is especially tall compared to others, it might be best to lengthen the holster a bit more, to make it easier to manage the height). The holster is worn over the left shoulder with the bucket at the right side, the right hand is kept at the side and available to support the holster bucket when manouvering the flag, the left arm being held across the body, and used to hold the bottom corner of the flag itself against the pole in front of her (for neatness, and so the flag bearer can see past the flag to see where she is going even if it is blowy!). Traditionally they would say that the left arm should be straight across the body with the elbow sticking out at a right angle and knuckles outwards - I say the elbow should be at whatever is a comfortable angle for the bearer, especially if the flag is to be held or carried for a long time, with the hand maintaining a comfortable, natural grip. Normally, a flag would have two escorts, one either side of the flag bearer, each ready to catch the flag if something should happen to the bearer - but if there is a procession of a lot of flags going down narrow aisles/passageways, it may be necessary to dispense with these (if you had two flags parading side-by-side you would have 5 escorts, with the middle one being shared). Some older flags have tassles on long cords - if your flag does, they should hang down by the sides of the pole when the flag is upright, if the flag is dipped for low doorways it is well to be careful that movements are smooth and steady, else swinging tassle ends may hit someone when it is raised back to upright!
For getting through low gates or doorways, swing the bucket right to the outside of the right leg, ready for it to be pushed back, and lower the flag pole down as far as is required to get under the door, using the right hand near the bucket to help support and balance it, and the left to keep hold of the fly (so it doesn't trail on the ground) and balance the weight (if there are dangling tassels it helps if these can be gripped in with the fly too, so they don't trail in the mud/become tripping hazards). Bear in mind how far ahead of time you need to start doing the lowering, in order to get the flagpole smoothly under the door lintel while marching towards it, especially if there are several flags in a procession and the risk of a log-jam being caused by any need to pause/reverse the parade - as well as rehearsing in the relevant building beforehand so the Guides can get an idea of timing, could you have someone primed to signal, or a mark on the floor (perhaps both), to give the bearers a clear cue to start lowering in good time? If you can arrange it, someone positioned beyond the door can signal to the bearers to remind them, and can indicate to them when they have got the flags low enough to get through, or if more adjustment is needed.
Ceremonial dipping of flags should only normally be done in the physical presence of royalty.
Recently, however, at some remembrance events they are choosing to do it even where members of the royal family are not present. Although it is irregular, if the parade master wishes flags to be dipped, then you would comply even though it goes against flag etiquette. In this case, the flag bearer would let go of the fly, then lift the flag out of the bucket, and letting the pole run along the length of their arm, slowly lower the flag, sweeping it across slightly so the flag lies almost flat on the ground, until the trefoil flag-top is just touching the ground. (In the case of wet weather it may be better for the flags to be held out in a horizontal position so the flag hangs down towards the ground but is not quite touching, rather than get the fabric wet and muddy - if in doubt consult the parademaster with the suggestion, in case you can be saved the problem of laundering damp or mud-stained flags afterwards.)
To 'present' (or hand over) a flag to someone, it's best if the bearer kneels on the right knee, sliding the bucket of the holster down the side of the right leg, and as the person receiving grasps the pole, the bearer uses her right hand to ease the bottom of the flagpole out of the bucket, whilst maintaining her grip on pole and fly with her left hand. The person receiving can then lift the flag out easily as the bearer gently eases it out. Once the flag is handed over, the bearer can stand up, and with her colour party move back, and then at the appropriate time file out/into their reserved seats. When the time comes for a colour party to receive a flag, the colour party resume their places, the bearer adopts the same half-kneeling position, and the procedure is reversed. Having received a flag, it is wise for the flag bearer to get up slowly and carefully, so she can control her balance and the weight. If the flag pole has sections which are apt to come apart, warn the person receiving, so they can be sure to grasp the pole above and below the joint, to save embarassments.
In a parade, Union Flags should always go before unit flags; other than that it is best for organisers to agree amongst themselves how flags will be used - often you have to balance what the textbook rules say with what can be managed in local circumstances (e.g. a building which has very narrow aisles might not have room for flag escorts as well as bearers, an especially low door may mean that flags are best to use a side entrance rather than lead the procession in the main door as would otherwise be custom, if several organisations own a Union Flag it may be wise choose which of them will supply a Union flag with bearers (perhaps by rota), or a ceremony may have been done in the same way for years and become a local tradition - in which case it could be best to follow the local custom this time to keep the peace, whether it follows proper flag etiquette or not, before suggesting amendments to be considered for next year . . .
One of the oldest traditions is campfire - dating in one sense right back to the experimental Scout Camp that Baden-Powell ran on Brownsea Island in Scouting and Guiding terms - but really, dating back thousands of years to the days before mass media, when the family would gather round the fire at the end of the day, to pass the evening by sharing stories, songs, dances and folklore - as can still be seen in many cultures across the world today. It is as ancient as is the discovery of fire itself.
So that's the origin, but good campfires don't just happen, they have to be planned, or constructed. No, really. Talk to any good campfire leader you know, the sort who seems to be able to lead a campfire at the drop of a hat, and they will admit to time spent learning songs and skits, writing song lists or cue cards, researching new material, and trying to hone their skills. For like any art, it needs endless practice.
The fire itself has to be carefully built or constructed to a plan or design - it is not a bonfire! The first thing is to choose the right location. On most campsites, there is an area set aside for lighting campfires, and where this is provided, this must be the only site used. If there is no designated site, then obtain the landowner's permission to either use a suitable clearing, or to turf an area of the field. No permission equals no fire. If weather has been dry, then it may be best to avoid having a real fire to avoid the risk of underground smouldering, especially in areas with peaty soil - in any case your fire should be situated on an area of cleared ground, away from trees, hedges or fences, and you should install several water or sand buckets before you start to build the fire. Thought should also be given to where and how the audience will gather round the fire - it can be worth using a stick to draw a line on the ground, or leaving the front row of log seats free, so people have a clear barrier or line which indicates exactly how close is too close - especially if people may be wearing flowing campfire blankets or other drapes, or you will be doing action songs or skits which involve people moving around near the fire. If possible you want to be facing a sheltered corner - not in the middle of an open field - so the sound you make will be reflected back at you, not dissipate immediately. Hedges, trees or the sides of a hollow can all provide the ideal shelter to help contain the sound and allow you to sing rather than shout.
Although the 'star' fire in the picture is good for longlasting use (as the logs can be gradually pushed into the middle as they burn through), the best type of fire for a Guide campfire is a 'cobhouse' fire - built with sticks organised in pairs by thickness, and laid in alternate directions to create a chimney which naturally channels the smoke upwards, so it doesn't blow in people's faces - a cobhouse fire which is built to around knee height with some suitable punk and kindling in the middle will burn for around an hour with no tending and no worries about collapse. Other types of fires you can use are star (shown in the picture) or hunter's - the latter being slightly better in terms of smoke direction than the former. Whichever of these forms you use, the fire should consist only of wood, paper/card if required for lighting only, and commercial firelighters or barbecue lighting fluid if weather is really adverse or the wood is damp (although natural tinder like birch bark is much the best option). PETROL, PARAFFIN, METHS OR OTHER FLAMMABLE LIQUID SHOULD NEVER APPROACH WITHIN 100 METRES OF A CAMPFIRE, FAR LESS BE PUT ON IT! If you have problems with lighting, or concerns about dry conditions and fire risk, far better to leave the fire unlit, or use a lantern torch or artificial fire as a centrepiece. For though a real fire adds greatly to the atmosphere, it isn't critical to it - it is the people and their enthusiasm which makes the great campfire . . .
The campfire programme should consist of a mixture of items - songs, certainly will feature, but also items such as skits, yells, rhythm, a yarn, possibly some dance or drama items and some games - not everyone loves singing! When constructing a programme (because yes, it'll only ever be a good campfire programme if there's a proper plan behind it) you should picture a journey over a hump-backed bridge, or climbing and then descending a traditional classic-shapee mountain peak. You start with a couple of familiar songs that everyone will know or can soon pick up and join in with, to bring the group together. Then you might teach a short new one, or do something more challenging - maybe something with lots of verses, or a second part. You can bring in the first skit, or do an action song which gets everyone standing up and moving on the spot (especially if the temperatures are a bit chilly), and gradually build up the fun towards doing a yell or two at the peak. Then, you want to gradually calm the mood back down - some folk songs, some songs with more meaningful lyrics, perhaps a yarn, before heading towards your closing songs.
At the end, at least one leader should stay behind to make sure the fire is fully out - ideally, the fire will have burnt through enough that the embers can be spread out to cool fairly quickly, as a last resort water can be poured on, but this can become messy. Once the embers and ashes are stone cold, unless it is a regularly-used campfire site, they should be disposed of or buried, and the site restored to leave no trace that a fire was ever there . . .
How to Tie a Brownie/Guide Tie
Before you start to tie the tie, make sure it is well ironed, and if possible starched - it makes it far easier. Lay the tie out flat on a table, underside up, with the long side towards you and the point facing away from you. Fold the point towards you once, so the point touches the hem, then fold that short side towards you to the hem again, then a third time - you will then have a long narrow strip of fabric around 2 inches wide, with pointed ends (this is known as a trifold bandage in first aid), which you are about to turn into a standard necktie just like your school tie. To tie it, fold the tie about a third of the way down, and hold it with the short end behind, and the long end in front, as shown below. Wrap the long end at a right angle across the front of the short end, round the back, and right round to the front again, then tuck the long end up you've been using up through the loop you have created at the front with that first turn you made. It should now look a bit like a necktie with a square end at the bottom and two longer ends sticking out of the top. Take a little time now to adjust the length of the tie, and neaten it up it's looks around the knot. Once it is neat, then tie the ends of the tie at the back of the neck, under the collar of the uniform dress, using a reef knot, and pin the (freshly polished front and back!) Promise Badge in the middle of the tie, halfway between the knot and the bottom. When worn, the bottom of the tie is meant to sit about three fingers above the belt . . . the pictures above will show how it should look when worn.
(It seems that either modern torsos are longer, or necks may be larger, as it's sometimes difficult to get the tie to regulation length at the front and still be able to tie it at the neck without discomfort - some archivists have resorted to adding strips of cotton tape to the ends of original ties in order to provide extra length for the tying . . .) I am no great shakes as an artist but have attached some diagrams below which will hopefully help - but practice until you are confident before trying to teach others!