The Brownie Promise
I promise to do my best:
To do my duty to God, the Queen and my country.
To help other people every day, especially those at home.
Recently I was doing my hour on the gyms elliptical and listening to Brenda Dayne's guest essayist talk about being a Brownie in Canada in the '60's. I instantly perked up and listened intently. She was speaking to me.
"This is the trail to Brownie land
At the end you'll find a magic band.
Before you'll be allowed to go,
Here are the magic things to know!"
Being a Brownie shaped my childhood in more ways that I could I have ever imagined. I grew up in 1960's Canada joining the local Brownie pack was a right of passage. Our pack was large, consisting of 25 girls. We were divided into Sixes, smaller groups within the large pack. Brown Owl, our leader, was a lovely red head named Mrs. Wren. She was our fearless leader and with the help of Tawnie Owl, whose name I can't remember, kept us on task earning badges, teaching us the social graces, and how to play well with others.
The Brownie Law
A Brownie is cheerful and obedient.
A Brownie thinks of other people before herself.
I remember my uniform well. A special brown dress, perky beret with a crest. orange and white maple leaf kerchief tied in a reef knot, brown panties, socks and shoes. Our Six was docked points if we appeared without our uniform neat, pressed and complete.
We learned about Lord and Lady Baden Powell, our great Commonwealth, and Brownies around the world. We were taught to be cheerful, obedient, after all a Brownie thinks of other people before herself.
The Brownie Motto - Lend a Hand
Meetings were filled with activities ranging from Semaphore, learning how to wrap a package for mailing, use a compass, make simple meals. We we schooled in the Brownie handshake, the brownie sign, the Brownie smile and Good Turn. We sat in the Brownie Ring and ended meetings with the Grand Howl. We also learned how to knit.
I already had the basics down. My mother was German and taught me all the necessary steps to accomplish my goal of knitting a potholder.
The Brownie Handbook directed that in order to earn the knitting badge one had to cast on, cast off, do the garter stitch, and follow a printed pattern. We were to start knitting easily and do a little every day, keep our work neat and tidy in a plastic bag or tissue paper. Oddly, I never earned the knitting badge and I can't remember why.
I did knit a potholder during those halcyon days. It was a small cable owl that my mother sewed a silk lining into. I found it many years later among my mothers possessions.
I look back fondly on those unpretentious times. Life skills were clearly written out and simply illustrated in our Brownie Handbooks. All the secrets of the universe to a seven year old.
"Did you find a helpful Brownie hidden in your treasure chest?
A little girl with eyes like yours, who's really done her best,
Who's learned to work for others, to think and make and do?
You can take her through life with you. Know who it is?