Celebrations as Brownies celebrate their centenary

Big Brownie Birthday Galashiels District
Big Brownie Birthday Galashiels District

Many Borderers will happily recall being a Brownie, sitting round the ‘toadstool’ and hoping to be asked to look after the Brown Owl teddy that week.

And a great many other, equally fond, memories will be rekindled this weekend, when local Brownies gather in Galashiels to help celebrate the 100th birthday of the famous girls’ organisation.

It was in 1910 that Agnes Baden-Powell was asked to start up an organisation, the Girl Guides, based on the Boy Scouts which her older brother Robert had started.  Girls had already been joining Scouts and doing Scout activities for a few years, but it was felt the time was right to set things up properly with a separate organisation for the girls. 

These Girl Guides often went on long all-day hikes into the countryside, carrying all their kit in home-made daysacks, exploring, spotting wildlife, cooking lunch on wood fires, playing games and then marching all the way home in the evening when it was getting dark. 

The problem, however, was that their younger sisters wanted to go too, but they just weren’t able to walk as far or as fast.

But these younger girls were determined not to be left out of the fun, so by 1914, they persuaded Agnes to create a group just for them. 

Big Brownie Birthday Galashiels District

Big Brownie Birthday Galashiels District

The name ‘Rosebuds’ was chosen and almost as quickly ditched and in 1915, the girls were rechristened as ‘Brownies’.

Over the years many things have changed but the guiding principles behind Brownies still stand strong.

Through regular meetings, special events, day trips, sleepovers, camps and holidays, Brownies learn new hobbies, play music, explore other cultures and get adventurous outdoors.

The Brownies program is all about encouraging girls to develop their own identity and positive relationships with others.

Big Brownie Birthday Galashiels District

Big Brownie Birthday Galashiels District

Brownies gain confidence by learning skills that they can use in their daily lives and develop a commitment to their communities through service projects and special events.

Girls in the Brownies earn activity badges, challenge badges and other awards in recognition for the leadership skills they’ve developed, the new adventures they’ve tried and the service they’ve given to their community.

It means this year the Brownies are turning 100 and Saturday’s birthday event will see all the other sections - Rainbows, Guides and Senior Section - also coming along to the Volunteer Hall in Galashiels to help the Brownies celebrate.

For the first two hours there will be party games, some traditional songs and food.

The prizes for the annual Janet Mackie Shield will also be awarded.

After this, the Brownies have issued an invitation to everyone to join them from 2:30pm to 4pm to help celebrate their special birthday.

Visitors will be able learn about all branches of Guiding, including Brownies, and find out what youngsters can get out of the movement.

There will be displays showing the history of guiding and there will also be the opportunity to try out some of the crafts that each section takes part in.

Alison Henry, from Girlguiding Galashiels District, says Brownies are as popular as ever with girls - the joining age is seven - but the problem is a lack of adult volunteers.

“Brownies are very popular with girls, but we have a certain ratio of adults to youngsters and we need more adults to help out. This would let more girls join and be a part of something that is for girls only, where things are orientated towards what girls want to do.”