A blanket, and nostalgia

Hello from darkest Yorkshire! By the time this post goes up, I will – all being well – be ensconced in a Girlguiding bunkhouse for the weekend, gamely attempting to keep 14 under-10s fed, washed and diverted for a whole two days. In other words, it’s time for Brownie Pack Holiday.

I don’t tend to talk about my Brownies much online, but they’re important to me. I’ve been with my current unit since 2011, first as a non-uniformed helper, then from autumn 2013 (when they changed the wording of the Guiding Promise) in uniform. I qualified as a full Leader this winter just gone, and am now doing my Pack Holiday license, the assessment for which is approximately “run a Pack Holiday, pass a spot check by a senior Guider, and bring them all back alive.” So I’ve spent the last month or so panicking about that. I’m sure it’ll be fine.


One of the great traditions of Guiding is The Camp Blanket. All sections earn badges: Rainbows put theirs on a tabard or jacket, Brownies put them on their sashes, and Guides and adults put them on their camp blanket. Long-serving members’ blankets end up as a sort of visual record of years or decades in the association, with badges accumulating alongside mysterious stains and occasional repairs. Compared to some I’ve seen, my blanket is a poor thing; but it is mine own.


It’s fleece on the back and quilting cotton on the front – a map print in the middle, with sashing in a print my mum brought back from Australia based on Indigenous Australian designs. (The map print baffles me on two counts: I know neither why it is in Italian nor why Brazil has merged uncomfortably with West Africa.)


I actually didn’t make it: mum did, and my contribution has just been to attach the badges. It’s perhaps appropriate – Guiding is inherently an intergenerational endeavour, both in terms of Leaders supporting girls, and within the volunteer organisation as older leaders mentor and support younger ones.

(We have a lot of Brownies whose mothers were once members; one time when we brought in some old uniforms to show the girls, several of the parents stopped and pointed out which had been the uniform in their day.)


My blanket is a bit short on badges as I’ve only been accumulating them since 2013, and as an adult you mostly only get them for special events and one-off challenge schemes. I’ve also, though, sewn on my Brownie sash – lovingly preserved by my mum since I left Brownies 16 years ago. I suspect, though can’t remember for certain, that the wonky stitching on some of those badges was the first sewing I ever did.


The badge designs have changed since then, and the Pixie Six I was once in is no longer one of the standard set. Some things are very much the same, though.


Were you ever a Brownie? I’d love to hear from other sewing people who are or were in Guiding.


About Craft (Alchemy)

I make things and make things up.
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3 Responses to A blanket, and nostalgia

  1. gilliancrafts says:

    I was a Brownie as a kid, then I spent a year as an adult working at Girl Guides of Canada headquarters, writing training materials for leaders! I volunteered with a Guide troop that year, but it really wasn’t my thing. It is a great organization though!
    Have you ever read any of the original writings of Lady Baden Powell? They are pretty batshit-crazy in parts, but entertaining! We tried out one of her activities during lunch hour at the office – leaving a trail of peas for other people to follow! We left a trail of tinned peas all through downtown Toronto that day! 😉 Other advice from her (like give depressed people useful work like carrying wood, or wave a hankie at a rabid dog if it tries to attack) we didn’t try!!!

  2. I haven’t read any of Lady Baden-Powell’s original work, but if she was anything like her husband I’m not surprised they’ve got some odd bits. I wonder what happens if/when birds eat all the peas?

  3. Pingback: Top 5s of 2015 | Craft (Alchemy)

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