Leslie's Guiding History Site


Brownie Indoor Holidays

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In 1920, the Girl Guide Gazette contained advise on running both camps and indoor holidays for Brownies, and yes, then as now, camping automatically did mean using tents.  However, only a year later, in 1921, a ruling was introduced, banning Brownies from going camping.  As rapidly as the following month, it was confirmed that where Brownie camps had already been booked, they could go ahead.  But from that point onwards, Brownies were no longer permitted to camp in tents, but were restricted to going on Pack Holiday, to stay in a permanent building.  The view was taken that camping in tents was too strenuous for the children, and that an indoor holiday would be a far better option, providing a stepping stone between home life and the rigours of camping, where so much more of the setting was unfamiliar and improvised, with no normal toilets or furniture as well as a more strenuous lifestyle.

It was standard for a Pack Holiday to have a minimum duration of five nights from it's invention right through the 1970s and 1980s, with weekend pack holidays being rare.  As the 1970 edition of 'Pack Holidays' stated: "Although under certain circumstances the C.C.A. may give permission for a holiday of shorter duration to take place it must be emphasised that the advantages gained by the Brownies are infinitely greater when the holiday lasts for the full five nights or longer, and they are able to become accustomed to the duties and to living together as a family over a period of time.  Short week-end stays in fully equipped accommodation should be regarded as supplementary to full Pack Holidays and not as a replacement for them."  By 1980 the change had started, with the minimum duration of a test holiday having dropped from five nights to two, and it was only a matter of time before the weekend-long Brownie Holiday became the norm, and the holiday of 5 nights or more a definite rarity.

In terms of accommodation, in the 1930s and 1940s it was advised that: 

"A building for a Pack Holiday should have airy bedrooms and, whenever possible, a bed for each Brownie - in any case, not more than one Brownie should sleep in a single bed or two in a double bed.  If palliasses on camp beds are to be used as extras, avoid overcrowding.  Paillasses on the floor should not be used.  Windows must open and shut easily.  There should be a good room in which the Brownies may play in wet weather, other than the room in which they sleep.  A good water supply is essential, and accommodation for washing, also lavatories in good working order.  There should be adequate provision for food storage.  It must be possible to arrange for a room for isolation purposes."

By the 1960s, there were more options for Pack Holiday venues (although purpose-built premises were few) so it took more work to find suitable premises.  As the reference book "Pack Holidays" stated, "The Pack Holiday building may be a cottage, house, bungalow or hut.  A school will often do or even a boarding house, but in the latter the landlady usually prefers to do the catering, cooking and much of the work, and this makes a different kind of Pack Holiday.  A small residential school may be available during the holidays and will probably be well equipped, but the rent is often high."  "The ideal building has rooms for sleeping, a large airy playroom which can be used for meals and wet or cold days, a kitchen with cooking facilities, a larder, and adequate sanitation; and if it has hot water and a bath it is the Brownie Guiders' dream house!  Quite often the building has some of these amenities and the rest have to be improvised and that is where the Guiders' camp training is useful."

In the 1930s and 1940s, catering was a major consideration.  Suggested menus for a Pack Holiday in August for breakfast, mid-morning lunch, dinner and supper were:

"A: 1) Cornflakes; boiled eggs.  2) Bananas.  3) Haricot mutton with potatoes and tomatoes, and a green vegetable; baked apples and marsh mallows (one on top of each apple and baked for a moment).  4) Junket and rhubarb.

B: 1) Porridge; bacon and fried bread.  2) Oranges.  3) Minced beef and macaroni; carrots and broad beans; castle pudding and jam.  4) Tinned peaches in jelly and custard.

C: 1) Cornflakes; boiled eggs.  2) Bananas.  3) Kedgeree; lettuce and tomato salad; fresh fruit pudding.  4) Pink shape with a fruit syrup.

D: Porridge; bacon and fried bread. 2) Oranges.  3) Cheese pudding; potato chips; green vegetable; Swiss roll and custard.  4) Fruit salad.

E: Cornflakes; scrambled eggs.  2) Prunes.  3) Liver and bacon; baked potatoes; peas; rice meringue (rice pudding with egg yolk, jam on top and stiffly beaten white of egg piled up).  4) Fruit in jelly.

In addition there will always be: For breakfast, bread and butter and marmalade or jam; milk to drink or weak tea.

For lunch: water or lemonade to drink.  For tea: tea for the Owls; milk for the Brownies, and biscuits or cake.  For Supper for the Owls: a) Fried sausages and apple rings; potatoes.  b) Fish.  c) Savoury omelet.  d) Creamed corned beef on toast.  e) Stuffed egg and lettuce.  Tea or cocoa and biscuits for the Owls at bedtime."

By 1960 the menu suggestions had changed a bit:

"Breakfast.  Cereal or porridge.  Boiled egg, scrambled egg; bacon and fried bread, tomatoes on fried bread, bacon and tomatoes; beans on toast.

Dinner.  Roast meat, potatoes and cabbage.  Cold meat and salad.  Meat pie, carrots and onions.  Fish (baked), peas or beans (fresh), potatoes.  Roast meat, potatoes, cabbage or cauliflower.  Mince or Stew (Hot Pot).  Cheese pie and salad.  Soup.  Apple pie and custard.  Rice pudding and dried fruit.  Steamed ginger pudding and custard.  Iced fruit slice or jam tart or any variation of pastry with filling.  Sponge pudding and fruit.  Blancmange and fruit.  Steamed or milk pudding or chocolate sponge.

Tea or Suppers.  Picnic tea: orange squash, sandwiches and piece of cake.  Selections from green salad, fruit salad, jelly, blancmange, sandwiches with bread and cake; or a light supper dish and a dessert is preferable if the girls have been in the open air all afternoon.

Additionally children usually like: 

Elevenses - 'Squash' and biscuit, or fruit.  Supper Drink - Milk and biscuit."

Things progressed further in the 1970s, with the 1970 edition of "Pack Holidays" suggesting:

"The wise Guider will find out quite a lot about her Brownies' likes and dislikes through Pack games before the holiday."  Taking account of personal preferences was just starting to emerge in this era.

"Cereals: Corn Flakes, Rice Crispies, Sugar Puffs (popular and not too expensive).  It is no more expensive to offer a choice, though this will become more limited as the holiday nears it's end.  Cooked dishes: Boiled egg, scrambled egg, bacon and fried bread, sausage, tomato and fried bread, beans on toast, French toast.  Extras: Bread and butter or toast, marmalade, jam, honey or Marmite.

Dinner - First Course: Roast meat, potatoes and peas or other vegetable; carrots, beans, cabbage.  Corned beef or luncheon meat and salad.  Shepherd's pie with vegetables (it may be a good idea to cook one pie with and one without onion).  Cheese and egg salad.  Egg and bacon pie with salad, or peas, or baked beans, or tomatoes.  Sausages, mashed potatoes, and a green vegetable.  Meat pie with vegetables.

Second Course: Jelly, milk jelly and fruit.  Fruit pie and custard.  Lemon meringue pie.  Sponge flan with fruit and (whipped) evaporated milk.  Jam tart with custard.  Steamed (chocolate) pudding with sauce.  Milk puddings (rice, Instant Whips, etc).

High Tea: This meal will always include the accustomed bread, butter, and cakes.  There will usually be a choice of spreads such as jam, honey, Marmite, peanut butter, paste, spread cheese or chocolate spread, though not all of these need to appear at every meal!  Valuable additions are open sandwiches with lettuce, and cheese, or other high protein content covering; sausages; baked beans; cheese dreams; fruit salad; blancmange; or fresh fruit.  After a cold, wed day a bowl of hot soup is very welcome.

Elevenses: Drink of squash with biscuit, or fruit and biscuit.

Late Drink: Milk (flavoured if liked) and biscuit."

Health in the 1930s and 1940s was a significant consideration.  It was recommended that as First Aider, the holiday team should include either a V.A.D. or someone with experience of nursing.  They were in charge of the medicine chest and health arrangements.  

There were certain health considerations in particular at that time:

"Rest and Exercise.  Your programme will, of course, be carefully planned with times for exercise and rest, but see that the energetic Brownies do not exhaust those who are not strong.  A plucky child will wear herself out in her efforts to keep up with the rest.

Sunbathing.  This can be really dangerous.  The body should only be exposed by degrees and for short periods, (five or six minutes) to start with.  Bathing dresses for sunbathing should be used with discretion, and the head and the back of the neck must always be covered in hot sun.  Oil may be rubbed on at night, but should never be used before going out."

By the 1960s, the First Aider had to be someone with recognised first aid qualifications.  "A good night's sleep is the surest way of keeping the Brownies really happy during the day time.  They need warm light bed clothing, and a well-ventilated room.  As they love to talk and read after they are in bed, preparation should begin really early, so that a time can be fixed when silence will be insisted upon."  By this time there was also more recognition that "Homesickness may occur especially with the younger children.  It is catching.  One way to deal with it is to ask the child to help the cook or some adult who will keep her busy without paying too much attending to her; this will make her feel more like 'helping mother at home' and is much less strange and overwhelming than being with a crowd of children."

Programmes in the 1930s and 1940s were much simpler.  The suggested duties were:

"Cooks.  Prepare vegetables and help cook with any small jobs.  Wash up spoons, forks and mugs.

Waitresses.  Lay tables for meals.  Pass the plates.  Clear away.  Keep dining-room clean and tidy.  Arrange flowers.

Messengers.  Go to the farm.  Post letters.  Any other messages.  Keep garden clear of paper.  Entertain visitors."

Suggested daily and weekly programmes were:

"7.45 - get up.  8.20 - prayers.  8.30 - breakfast.  9.00 - housework.  10.30 - inspection.  10.40 - fruit, free time.  12.15 - wash for dinner.  12.30 - dinner.  1.30 - canteen.  1.45 - rest hour.  3.00 - Walk, picnic etc.  4.30 - tea.  5.15 - games.  6.30 - milk and biscuits.  6.45 - stories, etc.  7.15 - bedtime.  8.30 - silence.

Wed Eve - Arrived.  Explored new surroundings with Brown Owl to see if it was necessary to have any out-of-bounds.

Thurs Morn - Games and toy boat races.  Thurs Aft - Made houses and played games in the wood.

Fri Morn (wet) - Doll-dressing competition.  Fri Aft (rather finer) - Quick wool trail.  Acting games.

Sat Morn - Planned concert for visitors' day.  Sat Aft - Picnic.

Sun Morn - Walk. Collected treasures.  Sun Aft - Children's service or games.

Mon Morn - Rehearsal and games.  Mon Aft - Story trail and advent.

Tues Morn - Last hunt for, and arrangement of, treasures.  Tues Aft - Visitor's Day.  Concert.

Wed Morn - Helped pack up."

By the 1960s, suggested duties were: 

"Cooks.  Prepare vegetables and help Cook with any small jobs.

Waitresses.  Lay tables for meals.  Pass the plates, clear away..  Help keep dining-room clean and tidy.  Arrange flowers.

Messengers.  Help to wash up.  Go to the farm.  Post letters.  Any other messages.  Keep garden clear of paper.  Entertain visitors.

The suggested programmes and duties were now:

"7.30 - Get up.  8.30 - Breakfast.  9.00 - Housework.  10.30 - Inspection.  11.00 - Elevenses, Free Time.  12.15 - Wash for dinner.  12.30 - Dinner.  1.15 - Wash up.  1.45 - Rest.  3.00 - Picnic, etc.  4.30 - Tea.  5.15 - Games.  6.30 - Supper.  7.00 - Stories.  7.15 - Bed.  8.30 - Silence."

"Friday - Arrival.  Explore surroundings.  See that all Brownies are sure where 'out of bounds' is.

Saturday AM - Explore country near.  Collect treasures.  PM - Group activities according to age.

Sunday AM - Church or Children's Service.  PM - Walk or Picnic.

Monday AM - Games.  PM - Story trail and picnic.

Tuesday AM - Prepare for visitors.  PM - Visitors' Day - parents.

Wednesday AM - Games and competitions.  PM - Visit to town for presents.

Thursday AM - Treasure hunt.  PM - Sports.

Friday AM - Help to pack.

If wet, such things as puppets, doll dressing, and rehearsing for a concert can be put in.  In any case, the Guider responsible for the Pack holiday will come with ideas and equipment to occupy the Brownies, and often the children enjoy wet days."

1970s duties were: 

"Cooks - Help cook the breakfast; wash up the plates; help in the kitchen with cooking, spreading bread and butter, etc.

Waitresses - Lay the tables; hand round plates; wash up cups and saucers or glasses; help to keep the house tidy by taking care of the playroom and living room; make table decorations.

Messengers - Hand out letters; help with shopping (under supervision); wash up the cutlery; keep the weather-chart; choose the hymn and prayer for morning prayers; help tidy the bedrooms; keep garden tidy."

It is also at this time that 'charts' first start to appear - a duty chart, daily programme, points chart, and weather chart.  It's also in 1970 that the possibility of having a theme is first suggested - " Today's special could refer to the day's highlight.  There is usually a longish time during the afternoon after rest hour when something of a special nature is planned.  If the Pack Holiday follows a theme, this is when it comes to life and assumes the 'magic' that unites those sharing in it."

The suggested programme was "7.30-7.45 - Time to get up.  Brownie Cooks first.  Wash.  8.30 - Breakfast.  9.00 - Everybody helps with washing up and housework.  10.30 - Inspection and morning prayers.  Pow-wow.  11.00 - Elevenses followed by free time or doing something that was discussed at Pow-wow.  12.30 - Lay table for dinner (and wash hands everybody!).  12.45 - Dinner.  1.30 - Washing up.  2-3.00 - Rest hour.  3-5.00 - 'Today's Special' time.  5.30 - High Tea.  6.15 - Washing up.  6.45-7.30 - Free time, sing song, etc.  Last drinks.  7.30 - wash for bed.  8.15 - Story and prayers.  8.30 - Goodnight and silence."

The 1970s also saw the first emergence of 'themes'.  As the 1970 edition of 'Pack Holidays' put it: "Here and there a Pack Holiday theme has been alluded to . . In the first place the significance of adopting a theme must be discussed.  A theme, if used well, can create a very strong bond.  Inasmauch as the people on Pack Holiday together want to become a family this reason alone might warrant the adoption of a central them.  To be really effective, however, it does need to be well used.  This means that it must be more than a means of giving the Brownie Sixes some kind of name with a common background.  It does mean that the theme should become so much part of the daily life that it assumes a living reality.  The custom of using a well-loved children's book as a theme has been widely practised.  Successful use has been made of such classics as Winnie the Pooh, Peter Pan, Robin Hood, The Wind in the Willows, and of more modern books; Mary Poppins, Babar, The Borrowers, Charlotte's Web.  Others have gained inspiration from the old fairy tales, from Hiawatha, the Just-So Stories or the Jungle Book"

Suggested Schedule:

Saturday - Arrival.  Explore the neighbourhood.  Make sure that all the children know how far they may go on their own.

Sunday - Set up Six Homes, collect special treasures.

Monday - Story trail and picnic.

Tuesday - Sports or agility activities.

Wednesday - Visitors' day perhaps.  Six competition.

Thursday - Outing or Treasure Hunt.

Friday - Concert (Brownies' own effort).  Helping to pack.

Kit lists in the 1930/40 era were much simpler:

"If the summer uniforms, as sold at Imperial Headquarters, are used, and a pinafore worn, there is no necessity for any other dress.

Kit List

Uniform, including brown knickers, shoes and socks.  One complete change of clothes, including shoes.  One coat or mackintosh.  One warm jersey or blazer.  One pair pyjamas or nightgown.  One pinafore.  Handkerchiefs.  Brush and comb in bag.  One sponge or flannel, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste.  Two towels.  One pillow case.  Three blankets (or whatever number the Brownie is used to at home).  

To these may be added if required: 

Sheets.  One knife, two forks, one desertspoon, one teaspoon.  Two plates, one mug.  Bathing suit.  Paddling towel.  Sandshoes."

By the 1960s, there were pads of printed kit lists available.  They stated: 

Kit List.  (Everything should be clearly marked with owner's name).

Complete Brownie uniform.  Summer uniform dress or brown shorts and yellow T-shirt.  Anorak or outdoor coat.  Jersey or cardigan (brown).  Mackintosh (plastic or nylon) and waterproof hood.  Walking shoes.  Sandals or gym shoes.  Spare socks.  Complete change of underclothes.  Nightdress or pyjamas.  Handkerchiefs.  Hair brush and come (in a bag).  Soap in box, face cloth, toothbrush and paste, beaker or mug (all in a bag).  Towel.  Two sheets for single bed (or cotton sleeping-bag).  Pillow case.  Two coat hangers.  Apron.  Mug, dinner plate, tea plate, fruit dish or pudding plate.  Knife, fork, two spoons.  Paddling shoes and towel.  Wellingtons.  

Optional: Books.  Doll or teddy.  Game or puzzle.  Nightdress case.  Notebook and pencils.  Writing materials, stamps, stamped postcard or envelope.  Hymn book."

"Pack Holiday uniform allows a choice of short-sleeved brown overall, worn without tie; or brown shorts or jeans and a yellow T-shirt.  It is recommended that the Pack should decide which of the alternatives they will wear."

"All hair ribbons and slides should be brown.  It is hoped that, as far as possible, the Brownies will have brown knickers too."

In the 1980s the pre-printed kit lists were in widespread use.  They read:

"Pack Holiday Kit List.  Everything should be clearly marked with owner's name.  Complete Brownie uniform.  Walking shoes.  Anorak or gaberdine.  Plastic mackintosh and waterproof hood.  Wellingtons.  Short-sleeved uniform dress or yellow T-shirt and brown shorts or brown slacks.  Jersey or cardigan (brown).  Sandals or gym shoes.  Spare pairs of socks.  Changes of underclothes.  Handkerchiefs.  Nightdress or pyjamas.  Dressing gown.  Slippers.  Two sheets for a single bed or cotton sleeping bag.  Three blankets or sleeping bag.  Pillow and pillow case.  Soap in a box, face cloth, toothbrush and paste, beaker or mug (all in a bag).  Towel (with loop).  Hair brush and comb (in a bag).  Two coat hangers.  Apron.  Mug, knife, fork, two spoons.  Dinner plate, tea plate, fruit dish or pudding plate.  Tea towel.  Writing materials, stamps, stamped postcard or envelope.  Swim suit, cap and towel (in a waterproof bag).  Optional: Books.  Doll or teddy.  Game or puzzle.  Notebook.  Pencils.  Small torch.  Paddling shoes and towel.  Note: All hair ribbons and slides should be brown.  It is advisable for the Brownie to have her pocket-money in a purse."