Badges of Honour?

Last week I found a little, crackly plastic bag full to the brim with Brownie and Girl Guide badges. It was just under the box I was looking for which contained some sewing cottons. Although I knew that I still had the badges that I’d earned in the pack and patrol from the 1980s, I was delighted to find that the little bag also contained those from my Mum’s time in the Brownies in the late 1950s.

The only thing is, that I really don’t remember what they were all for. I don’t even know definitively which were mine and which were my Mum’s (although I’m fairly sure that the woggle is my Dad’s from Scouts). I really feel rather ashamed of this. I know that I put a lot of hard work into earning each of my little fabric badges of honour; that they meant so much to me at the time.

Part of me wants to make up new names for them: to give them new life and meaning from my childhood and my mother’s. How about the Spidergirl Badge for Climbing Trees, or the Bear Grylls Badge for Crossing Ravines on a Rope Bridge? Although perhaps Bear Grylls wouldn’t go in for the safety ropes, actually.

Both myself and my Mum were in the Brownies at the time of a big anniversary: she in 1960 at the 50th Jubilee, and myself in 1985 at the 65th. The badges we recieved to commemorate this are very much of their times, I think. I remember going on a coach with my Brownie pack to the local Girl Guide camping ground on a hot Saturday that summer. There were many, many other Brownie packs and Guide units there: more than I ever thought possible.  It seemed so grown up at the time, toasting marshmallows on sticks at a campfire with the big girls.

Mum says that for the 50th anniversary they held a special service at her local church and she was one of the girls selected to carry a flag in the parade through the town to celebrate. I wish I had a photo of her to show you in her Brownie uniform, but it seems that she doesn’t have any. She didn’t allow me to get away so lightly though!

I have put the badges away again, in the little crackly bag which seems so much their home. I wonder if they will be added to by my future children, and whether in time they will remember what all of their badges were for? Things that seem so important at the time, important enough to keep for now 50 years fade into the background of memory with a sense of nostalgia. But I will be keeping them. I believe it is important to pass these things on, even if it is somewhat with a case of Chinese Whispers as to their original meaning. Isn’t that all part of family history and storytelling?


9 responses

  1. After your tweet about these lovely wee things, I asked an 82 year old friend and Brown Owl for many years about the cobweb, and apparently it’s a housekeeping badge. 🙂

    11/07/2010 at 4:33 pm

    • ingridnation

      Aha! Thanks, Brenda. Lots of people thought it was a craft badge on twitter.

      11/07/2010 at 4:36 pm

  2. Amy

    Have just remembered having to make a certain number of cups of tea and coffee for my Mum and Dad over a certain period of time. Something to do with the cup and saucer badge perhaps?

    11/07/2010 at 4:39 pm

    • ingridnation

      I seem to think it might be a Hostess badge. I definitely remember having to make a cup of tea and serve some cake and sandwiches on a tray to my friend’s Mum who was also Tawny Owl. I wonder if they still have a similar badge now…

      11/07/2010 at 4:43 pm

  3. Yes, it’s a hostess badge.

    I bumped into a large troupe of brownies sheltering from a shower at the seaside & asked them about the cobweb, and what other badges they have now. Everything’s completely different. Some of them were wearing pink for an anniversary, 100 years (I think?). Far more relaxed. We wouldn’t have been taken to an ice cream parlour back in the 50s. Lucky things, heh.

    11/07/2010 at 4:51 pm

  4. These are really amazing Inny. Makes me want to get home and find my old badges. Think they are all on my uniform. I used to be a ‘blue jay’ (Swazi version of Brownies). I remember that we had the brownie books and badges but why we were ‘blue jays’ I have no idea.
    Then back in Denmark I was a scout (I think we only have mixed gender in Denmark). We call it a ‘spejder’ – pronounced ‘spider’. So imagine my 4 year old baby brother in Danish kindergarten (his Danish was not that good yet) yelling that there is a spider in the bushed. The teachers were quite perplex as they couldn’t see any scouts hiding anywhere.

    12/07/2010 at 9:01 am

    • ingridnation

      That is brilliant about the spejders! Did you have similar scout badges to our Girl Guide ones, I wonder?

      12/07/2010 at 10:14 am

  5. Karen

    How wonderful that you still have them. I’ve got mine in an old margarine tub. I have the 75th anniversary patch too, but we were told we couldn’t put them on our uniforms, so mine went straight into the tub.

    The Brownie badges that I recognise are ‘Safety in the Home’ (fireguard), Musician (treble clef), Agility (girl standing on one leg), Hostess (cup & saucer), Jester, First Aid (cross). The horizontal oval badges were called the ‘Footpath’, ‘Road’ and ‘Highway’ and were related to challenges you did each year, but I can’t remember what order the colours were; I think there was a yellow one too. The Yellow ‘V’ is the ‘Venture’ badge. The yellow stripes are for Sixer (2 stripes) and Six Second (2 Stripes).

    The Guide badges are Hostess (cup & saucer), Chef (chef’s hat) and Agility (girl on a rope bridge). The others are a bit hard to see from the pic, but if one of them is four points of a compass, then that’s the Orienteering or Map Reading badge, and if the bottom right one is a mask, that’s the Entertainer badge (I think). The small square coloured trefoil badges show how many years you’ve been a Guide, and the blue triangular ones are, I think the Patrol Interest Pennants, where the whole patrol had to carry out challenges in order to get them. The small blue enamel badge is the ‘World Badge’ and I’m pretty certain we just bought those. The white stripes are for Patrol Leader (2 stripes) and Patrol Second (1 stripe).

    I think the two Girl Guide Patrol Badges are Bullfinch and Chaffinch, but I’m not sure about the Brownie ones. I was an Imp.

    Thanks for bringing back some good memories!

    12/08/2010 at 9:05 am

    • ingridnation

      Oh how wonderful that you remember them all. You’ve made my day, Karen! It’s really good to hear that I’m not the only hoarder too 🙂

      12/08/2010 at 12:15 pm

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