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MENAFN - Muscat Daily - 11/12/2013

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(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) ''Twist me and turn me and show me the elf, I looked in the water and there saw'' a group of young girls recite in poetic unison, stretching the last word in a premeditated effort, as they watch their fellow-mate take three turns in her place, before she peeps into a sheet of blue satin and ends the rhyme for them, saying, ''myself.''

The next moment she breaks into a smile. She has just relived an English lore of how two little girls in search of the Brownies - hardworking and helpful elves - are guided by an old wise owl towards a pond in a magical forest, where they see nothing but their own reflection. On noticing their surprise, the owl informs them that they too could be like the Brownies, if they were willing to change and act responsibly in the future. In the story, it is at the pond that the girls' quest for the Brownies ends.

So did it this week at the Royal Flight School in Seeb, when the third Muscat Brownie pack added three new seven year olds “ Neve Smith, Olivia Hurp and Katie Griffin - into its fold.


Helen Osborn

Thrilled on seeing their reflection in the make-believe pond, the three girls took small steps forward towards the head of the pack, the 'Brown Owl' Helen Osborn, lifted their right hands and promised to be true Brownies.

Helen, like the old owl in the Brownie story, tackles them wisely, asking one if ''she would make her own bed from now on,'' and the other ''if she will be kind and help the sick''. They all respond positively and are greeted in return with ''Welcome to the Brownie pack.''

Part of GirlGuiding UK, a leading charity for girls and young women, the Brownie pack, now in its 99th year, has been helping build self-esteem and confidence of young girls in the age group of seven to ten years across the globe, by teaching them new skills and encouraging them to become active citizens within their communities.

On the cusp of its 100th year, the institution recently changed the wording of the promise that the girls and volunteers take before joining, to make it more inclusive to different faiths and communities.

In the new promise, which took effect from September 1, the words to be true to myself and develop my beliefs' replaced to love my God', and the words to serve the Queen and my community' replaced to serve the Queen and my country'.

Neve, Olivia and Katie were the first set of girls from Muscat to take the newly-worded promise.


New members of the Brownie pack Neve, Katie and Olivia

Helen, who is part of the British Guides in Foreign Countries (BGIFC), took over the pack in February this year and has been going all out to engage the girls.

''There are around 74 different badges that the girls can earn. These include cooking, gardening, swimming, craft, home skills etc. I, along with my helpers Lyndsey Stanford and Kay Carroll meet with the girls for an hour and a half every Monday, and help them hone these skills.

''They earn the badges as and when they perfect a particular craft.''

The third Brownie pack started in Oman way back in October 1977. ''There are two other Brownie Packs in the Oman district, but ours is the liveliest,'' Helen adds in good humour.

At the promise ceremony, a whole range of craft work by the girls, which includes customised pads, bookmarks and badges, were on display.


The members are taught to be independent and help others

''The girls hope to sell these and raise money to fund future activities and outings,'' says Lyndsey, who describes herself as fluffy owl, and is a helper with the pack.

Lyndsey adds, ''The Brownie programme is not only about coming together and having fun, it also readies young girls to take on from their mothers, and do things by themselves as they get older. It prepares them to learn new hobbies, be independent and help serve those around them better.''

Parents, too had gathered to lend support to the newly-appointed Brownies.

Laura Griffin, who has been in Muscat for the last ten years and whose daughter Katie just joined the pack, says, ''I am really excited and appreciate what the pack is doing for the girls. I was a Brownie myself, and so was my elder daughter...so Katie's only t


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