The Big Brownie Birthday Sleepover

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I didn’t get much sleep on Saturday.

To be fair, this was mostly self-inflicted, as I was too busy having fun to bother going to bed.

What was the reason for this, I hear you ask?

The Big Brownie Birthday Sleepover.  Or, as I prefer to call it, “Chat-over”.

Brownie Guides are 100 years old this year.  Not individually, obviously, they’re all between 7 and 11 years old.  But collectively, it’s 100 years since the first girls stood up to their big sisters and said “What about us?”.

Bristol and South Gloucestershire started off their celebrations with a huge sleepover in a variety of unusual locations around the county.

All in all, 1600 Brownies were involved, plus goodness knows how many Guide Helpers, Young Leaders, and Adult Leaders.  We slept in activity centres, shopping centres, football stadiums, city hall, and loads of other places too.

Brown Owl Sara organised the whole thing, and she did a fabulous job.  When I asked the girls whether they’d had fun, you could hear the cheer from the next street over!

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My Brownies, enjoying some of the activities at the sleepover.

I was one of the venue leaders, which was pretty scary.  I’ve never been in charge of 200 people before!  But fortunately my co-leader Wendy was very nice and we got on well.  It was very reassuring to know that someone else was also in charge.

My venue was Redpoint Climbing Centre, where the staff were very helpful and made us feel welcome.

For me, highlights of the event included watching the expressions on the girls’ faces as they walked in and realised where they would be sleeping.  It’s certainly an experience they will never forget.

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Who sleeps under the lava flow? Brownies, of course!

The other thing I really enjoyed was leading the campfire.

Campfire, you say?  Inside a climbing centre?  How did that work?

I’m glad you asked.

There is a campfire in this picture, see if you can spot it:

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Our campfire. Honest.

Hint: it’s upside down.  And red.

We sang lots of songs – old favourites for some of the girls, and new ones for others.  We got so carried away with it that we didn’t even try to go to bed until 11…

We also played the name game.  With a couple of hundred people, there were bound to be some duplicates, so I picked some names and asked them to give me a cheer.  Loudest cheer wins.

Oddly enough, the “Brown Owl”s won.

It was an amazing experience for all involved.  Lots of new friends were made – we’d been deliberately sent to a venue with nobody we knew, and some of the activities required talking to strangers.

I had to deal with a worried child at bedtime, because one of her group had gone missing.  She had decided to sleep with her new friend from another unit, and hadn’t thought to tell anyone!

If the rest of the Big Brownie Birthday celebrations live up to this start, we’re in for an excellent year!

What are you doing to celebrate this year?  Which event are you most looking forward to?

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