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?