‘Mummy, what happens in there?’ I said, pointing out the window whilst wearing my nightie.
I was six years and 10 months old and very nosey about what happened in the little hut over the road. Little girls wearing yellow and brown would gather there every week for big girl stuff. Secret stuff.
My mum said –
‘They’re Brownies, when you’re seven you can go’.
I watched them every week desperate to join in. One week my little brother beat me to the window and instead of just watching the Brownies gathering outside, he stood on the windowsill, pulled down his trousers and had his willy out. It was the ‘willy on cold things stage’. I ran into the kitchen in a big huff and said to my Mummy –
‘Well that’s it Mummy, I can never be a Brownie. They know we’re a strange family already!’
He was only five at the time so it was all very innocent.
Not your average problem.
Two months went by, I was finally seven, and the whole thing had been forgotten about. I was officially a Brownie. Turns out the things going on in the secret hut were not that exciting. I didn’t get many badges and within a couple of years they all hated me when I announced I was going to a drama club in town.
Soon after joining there was a Brownie camp, we were all off to sleep in tents and eat beans. I’d seen this in the films.
The first night of Brownie camp didn’t get off to a great start. I wasn’t allowed to attended the camp fire night with songs and marshmallows because I wasn’t eight. I was old enough to wash up everyone’s dinner plates and watch them having a lovely time out the window though.
A girl that I hated was stuffing her annoying little face with marshmallows. I scrubbed the plates harder. I hated her because she had a pony, a desk tidy and she pronounced spaghetti bolognese as ‘esketti bologs’. I’m sure she’s grown up to be great but she was very irritating. She would try and make friends by having lots of fancy mini rubbers. Mini rubbers that totally won everyone over. She’d have every single glittery gel pen and a biro that had a feather on the end. A total pain in the arse.
To ease us into camping, the first night was indoors on bunk beds. I was one of the youngest so I had to go on the top bunk. The bunk beds were metal and hadn’t seen an Allen key in decades. They were squeaky and I’m a wriggler. One of the older Brownies sighed repeatedly until Brown Owl , the Brownie Leader , asked her what was wrong. She was a posh kid, named something like Portia, spelt properly. Portia sighed again and said – ‘Oh Brown Owl, there is just so much squeaking coming from Ilaria’s bed’
Brown Owl quickly said ‘Ilaria, no more moving. Just stare at the ceiling and let Portia sleep’
I was fuming.
No marshmallows, having to do the washing up and now this! Sod you Portia. From now on you will be Porsche. For the purpose of this blog your poshness is revoked.
Night two was when the camping went up a notch. We were staying in tents. My mum was worried they wouldn’t feed me because every time I came home from a sleep over at a friends house I’d say –
‘Mummy I’m starving! Their mum made us share a tin of soup. Share!’
So she packed me lots of snacks that I immediately ate as soon as the tents went up. Within the first hours the tent was filled with ants because of my crumbs getting every where. I was made to share a tent with a little girl who had the snottiest nose I have ever witnessed. I was now officially a proper Brownie. I had regrets about joining.
This doesn’t happen in all the books. It’s songs, sausages and nature. Not washing up, ants and snotty noses.
When you’re a fully fledged Brownie you get to go to big national Brownie event. There’s Cubs, Beavers, other Brownies and the one after Girl Guides and Scouts for when you’re a proper grown up. By that point I just think they should get a shag and stop trying to get badges for knot tying.
On reflection grown up Ilaria has learnt many things from Brownie camp. One major thing being, a badge for sewing doesn’t define you. Yellow and brown is a terrible combination and always carry an Allen key. You know, for just in case.
2 thoughts on “Brownie Camp”
Love your writings Llaria , I have the same feelings towards my experience being a sea scout many moons ago and it’s put me off wearing uniforms for life , we learn skills yes , but I too was intelligent enough to realize that we were being socially conditioned as well. It’s through school and education, it’s who ever we find ourselves working for (eg , a Post office all in red and blues and basically our minds taken away as we sort mail out and taking a load of bollox from disgruntled night managers) It’s no wonder we’re artists,writers and we strive for individual freedom and hopefully for others around us
Thank you Ben. So pleased you like it and that it felt nostalgic for you! I loved writing it! So many memories x