Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich


May 8th, 2011 · No Comments

On 4th of February, I embarked on a remarkable journey- volunteering with the Norwich Brownies. If you do not know who the Brownies are, do not worry I didn’t either. The official title of the Brownies I volunteered with is Girl Guiding UK 38th Norwich Division Brownies. Essentially, the Brownies are the equivalent of the Girl Scouts in the States, ages 7 to 11.  The Girl Guiding organization was first initiated in 1910 by Robert Baden-Powell following the creation of the boy scouts at the crystal palace. In its centennial of existence Girl Guides and Brownies in particular has grown astronomically. Girl guides is currently the largest all girl organization in the UK. According to their website the mission of the organization is to teach young girls how to be honest, reliable, polite, considerate, respecting all living things caring for the environment, and to be helpful using their time and abilities wisely. They also want to teach girls to face challenges and learn from their experiences. Most importantly they want to teach guides to be good friends and sisters to all Guides. For more information on the origins of the guides and their mission feel free to visit their website. http://www.girlguiding.org.uk/about_us/centenary_2009_-_2010.aspx

Before I relay my first experience with the Brownies I want to establish my reasoning as to why I volunteered for the Brownies. First, as a child while in elementary school I always wanted to join an organization like the girl scouts; except I really wanted to join the boy scouts because they were allowed to go camping, however because of the lack of financial support this was never possible for me. Second, I have already decided in the past that a career in the field of children is not for me, but I wanted to give it one last go before I shut the door. Third, one of my flat mates is currently working with the Norwich Brownies, therefore making it easier for me to volunteer somewhere new. Which reason impelled me to volunteer with the Brownies more I can not say. The truth is they were all equal factors.

My first time volunteering with the Brownies was five hours. Now before you label me a horrible blogger by not providing any pictures I have to say in my defense that it is illegal (I really am unsure if there is a decree specifically saying this) for me to take pictures of minors in England. In any case of its legality I was asked not to do it by the leaders of the Brownie pack.  Now back to my experience, we (my flat mate Vicky and I) arrived at St. Thomas’ Church Hall around quarter past 5. Upon my arrival I was informed that the theme for the day was Chinese New Year’s.  By 5:45 pm the Brownies began to arrive. Most if not all were wearing their traditional uniform of yellow shirt with brown bottoms and a brown sash that contained all their badges. As they trickled in and ran around they reminded me of the Munchkins. From then on I referred to them collectively as the Brownie Munchkins.

I was caught off guard when the then leader Debbie “Brown Owl” asked me to form part of the circle to commence the session. Before I knew it the Brownie Munchkins began to line up form arches and skip around singing their Brownie pack song. Now if you know me, you would know that singing, skipping, and doing all sorts of girly stuff is not in my nature. However, I rolled with the event nonetheless as I was there to help.

Next came the theme stuff, otherwise known as celebration of the Chinese New Year. In order to celebrate the Chinese New Year the Brownies were to construct lanterns out of paper, write their name in Chinese characters, followed by egg fried rice. As you can guess the organization of the day was as stereotypical as you can get. There was no mention as to why the Chinese New Year occurs on a different day every year, or different from our new year for that matter.  The answer is that the Chinese mark the year in a lunar-solar system, and therefore the New Year happens on the 11th month or two new moons after the winter solstice. Besides, the girls not really learning anything about the Chinese culture on such an important day they had fun. It was definitely a success that none ended with their fingers stuck together.  By half 7 we were done and heading home. The other half of my volunteer work took place on Sunday morning mass in St. Thomas’ Church, to which only three Brownies made it.

Supervisor: Sam Hubbard

Volunteer hrs Completed on Feb 4th: 5hr

Volunteer Hrs to date: 5hrs

Tags: 2010 Jamie