Girl Scout Brownies – New York City, NY


Girl Scout Brownies is a level within the Girl Scouts organization that hosts girls aged seven years old to ten years (Grades 2-3).

According to the Girl Scout website, “Girl Scouts Brownies work together and explore their community. Friendship, fun, and age-appropriate activities begin at the Girl Scout Brownie
meeting and move out to the community and wider world. Brownies can complete Journeys, and use the Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting to earn badges and other awards.”

Currently, a cartoon character named Brownie Elf is the mascot for the Brownies.


Juliette Gordon Low, affectionately called “Daisy”, was the founder of Girl Scouts of the USA. She was born Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon on October 31, 1860, in Savannah, Georgia.

In 1914, The Brownies were organized by Lord Baden-Powell (the founder of the Boy Scouts).

His wife, Lady Olave Baden-Powell took over the responsibility for the Girl Guides (aka, Girl Scouts) and thus for Brownies in 1918.

Originally, called Rosebuds, the Brownies were renamed by Lord Baden-Powell after the girls had complained that they didn’t like their name. Reportedly, their name comes from the 1871 publication, “The Brownies and Other Tales” by Juliana Horatia Ewing.


One of the stories in the book, entitled “The Brownie Story” tells the tale of Tommy and Johnnie who learn that children can be either helpful Brownies or lazy Boggarts.

“The Brownies, or, as they are sometimes called, the Small Folk, the Little People, or the Good People, are a race of tiny beings who domesticate themselves in a house of which some grown-up human being pays the rent and taxes. They are like small editions of men and women, they are too small and fragile for heavy work; they have not the strength of a man, but are a thousand times more fresh and nimble. They can run and jump, and roll and tumble, with marvelous agility and endurance, and of many of the aches and pains which men and women groan under, they do not even know the names. They have no trade or profession, and as they live entirely upon other people, they know nothing of domestic cares; in fact, they know very little upon any subject,  though they are often intelligent and highly inquisitive. They love dainties, play, and mischief. They are apt to be greatly beloved, and are themselves capriciously affectionate. They are little people, and can only do little things. When they are idle and mischievous, they are called Boggarts, and are a curse to the house they live in. When they are useful and considerate, they are Brownies, and are a much-coveted blessing. Sometimes the Blessed Brownies will take up their abode with some worthy couple, cheer them with their romps ad merry laughter, tidy the house, find things that have been lost, and take little troubles out of hands full of great anxieties. Then in time these Little People are Brownies no longer. They grow up into men and women. They do not care so much for dainties, play, or mischief. They cease to jump and tumble, and roll about the house. They know more, and laugh less. Then, when their heads begin to ache with anxiety, and they have to labor for their own living, and the great cares of life come on, other Brownies come and live with them, and take up their little “Tares, and supply their little comforts, and make the house merry once more.” — As described to Tommy and Johnnie by the Wise Old Owl in “The Brownie Story.”

Over the years, the names of the children (Tommy and Johnnie) have been switched to names like Mary and Betty to reflect the nature of the “girls” who belong to the Brownies around the world.

Troops within the Brownies were named after other enchanted fairy creatures.

The original troop emblems consist of: Bwbachod (fawn); Elf (blue), Fairy (yellow); Ghillie Dhu (green with red hat), Gnome (white with black broom); Imp (yellow); Kelpie (red with yellow hat); Leprechaun (red); Little People (yellow/green diagonal stripes); Pixie (green); Sprite (green); and Tylwyth Teg (red with white hat).


Each group emblem had a rhyming chant:

  • Bwbachod: We’re the Bwbachod from Wales, filling farmers’ milking pails.
  • Elf: This is what we do as Elves, think of others not ourselves.
  • Fairy: We’re the fairies glad and gay, helping others every day.
  • Ghillie Dhu: Ghillie Dhu it is our name. We guard the bairns and lead them hame.
  • Gnome: Here you see the laughing Gnomes, helping mother in our homes.
  • Imp: We’re the ever-helpful Imps, quick and quiet as any shrimps.
  • Kelpie: We’re the little Scottish Kelpies, smart and quick and ready helpers.
  • Leprechaun: We’re the Irish Leprechaun, guiding strangers when forlorn.
  • Little People: We, though known as ‘Little People’, aim as high as any steeple.
  • Pixie: Look out! We’re the jolly Pixies, helping people when in fixes.
  • Sprite: Here we come, the sprightly Sprites, brave and helpful like the knights.
  • Tylwyth Teg: We’re from Wales the Tylwyth Teg, dance and work and never beg.
Vintage 1963 Brownie Handbook

Vintage Brownie Handbook

When a Girl Scout Brownie troop/group meet to discuss troop business and planning activities, they form a circle called a Brownie Ring, reminiscent of fairy circles found in the woodlands.

NOTE: The Girl Scouts were also known as Girl Guides. The name “Guides” was taken from a famous frontier regiment in the British Indian army, the Corps of Guides, which was noted for its skills in tracking and survival.

The grade-levels within Girl Scouting are:

  • Girl Scout Daisy, grades K-1
  • Girl Scout Brownie, grades 2-3
  • Girl Scout Junior, grades 4-5
  • Girl Scout Cadette, grades 6-8
  • Girl Scout Senior, grades 9-10
  • Girl Scout Ambassador, grades 11-12

The U.S. Girl Scouts organization grants membership to any girl who has: 1) ; Made the Girl Scout Promise; 2) Accepted the Girl Scout Law; 3) Paid the annual dues: and 4) Met applicable grade-level requirements.

The Girl Scout Promise: “On my honor, I will try: To serve God and my country, To help people at all times, And to live by the Girl Scout Law.”

The Girl Scout Law: “I will do my best to be honest and fair, friendly and helpful, considerate and caring, courageous and strong, and responsible for what I say and do, and to respect myself and others, respect authority, use resources wisely, make the world a better place, and be a sister to every Girl Scout.”

The Girl Scout motto is “Be prepared.” (the same motto as The Boy Scouts of America)

Girl Scouts of the USA
420 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10018-2798

Girl Scouts of America (Official Website)
The Brownie Story (Online Book Depository)
Brownie Elf – Badges (You Tube Video)
The Brownie Story – 1 (You Tube Video)
The Brownie Story – 2 (You Tube Video)


Born in Philadelphia, Jerome Alphonse Holst worked 30 years as a librarian. He has since retired and lives in Thomasville, North Carolina. Mr. Holst is also the author of the children’s books “Norman the Troll,” "Norman the Troll and the Haunted House," and "Gretchen and the Gremlins." In addition, he penned the fantasy novel “The Adventures of Glinda Gale,” a retelling of “The Wizard of Oz" and the reference text “The Encyclopedia of Movie and TV Insults.” .

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Posted in Organizations and Clubs

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