A Rainbow sleepover
I've said it before, I say it a lot, I'll say it again - residential events are my absolute favourite bit about Girlguiding - and this year I'm managing to fit in events with all four sections!
My first Rainbow sleepover this year was last weekend - we went as a Division, so we had over twenty girls from about six local units. We had over ten adults, so a lovely ratio - this meant that some leaders could get on with the activity with the girls, some could prep for the next one, whilst some could tidy up from the last one/drink a hot drink!
We had a fantasy/princess theme which had a lot of scope for doing all sorts of activities. We were staying in a Scout centre in Hampshire, a lovely building with lots of outdoor space. The weather was glorious, I spent the whole weekend in shorts and a tshirt!
Just two of my Rainbows were there, and it was great to watch all the Rainbows chat and get to know each other - some started off quite shy, but friendships were soon being made (it's so easy when you're 5!). The girls were split between two large dormitories, with leaders at the other end of the corridor. Whilst waiting for everyone to arrive and settle in (and for parents to leave!) we moved round different activities, although I can't remember what the others were as I was measuring girls for mermaid tails (pieces of fleece just a bit longer than the child's legs, cut to resemble a tail and then decorated). During the day, leaders sewed elastic to the waist and ankles of the tails so girls could wear them. They looked amazing!
Whilst the girls were getting ready for lunch another leader and I roamed around outside hiding 60 laminated cartoons for the girls to find later - some of our hiding places were actually quite well hidden, although we did have to move a few when we remembered how short some of the girls are and that it wasn't really fair if we put them out of their reach!
After lunch we had a bit of quiet time (ha!) before we ran outside to find the hidden cartoons - they represented different countries and we had two giant maps to try and match them up. It was a test of a lot of people's geographical knowledge! We then went back outside and played some games (giant Connect 4, tossing bean bags, croquet) before going inside and getting ready for our Tea Party.
The girls had been asked to bring fancy dress should they wish, we had a pirate and a lot of princesses. We played some games and had a party tea (Party Rings! all the good stuff!). One Rainbow was wearing a dress slightly too long for her, so she kept hitching it up to avoid tripping on it. At one point she was in a queue for food with the dress held over her waist. At which point I insisted that 'knickers must be covered at all times' - essential tea party etiquette, I think! The mermaid tails were finished off and then the girls headed to bed.
Which took ages. It's the excitement of sharing a room with lots of other girls, and being in an unfamiliar place, and doing things for yourself - obviously the leaders are happy to help with things like hair brushing and finding pyjama bottoms, but we don't do things the way they're done at home, so it's all a bit different, and funnily enough no we don't know which pyjamas mummy packed for you!
When the girls were in bed (although most definitely not asleep) the leaders had a supper of bread and pate and cheese and Maltesers. Evenings are a great opportunity to sit and chat with other leaders, without small children asking lots of questions, or needing to get up to clean up another spilled drink! I hadn't met many of the leaders before, and hadn't seen others for a year or so, and it was a really nice few hours. One leader left about 9pm to head home, and we realised she needed someone to come with her to sort out the security gate. It was pitch dark outside so two of us drove down to the main gate to let her out. When we parked the car back at the building, we held tightly on to each other as we walked to the door - all quite eerie!
The girls were eventually all asleep by 11pm, which isn't that bad. Could have been worse! Leaders all pootled off to bed, grumbling about the clocks going forward in the morning.
The first girls were awake at 5.15. So really it was 4.15. No no no! They were hushed, told to go back to bed and thankfully they did.
I was up about 7.00 to help get breakfast started (eggy bread! sausages!) and stayed in the kitchen whilst other leaders dealt with the mayhem that was packing up the girls' things. After breakfast we did a couple more activities, including making small jars of fairy dust using glitter (a bad word) and sugar.
The parents arrived, Rainbows were claimed, and there were lots of thank yous. I know how much the parents appreciate the work that we put into running the weekend, and their smiley and tired daughters showed how much they had enjoyed our efforts!
The leaders were onsite for maybe another 45 mins or so, finishing up the cleaning and loading cars. Then I drove home, emptying my car in two trips before collapsing on the sofa to admire my badge.
During the weekend I was chatting to a leader, J, who just happens to be the Guide leader of one of the girls coming to Iceland. J is heavily involved in Guiding, and loves it as much as I do. She said that one of her friends once told her that if she (J) were cut in half, there would be a Guiding trefoil inside her like you would find in a stick of rock. J looked at me, and said she thinks that I have a Guiding trefoil inside of me too. I thought that was a lovely thing to say - from someone who has only met me a few times to comment on my visible passion for this organisation.
So that's the Rainbow sleepover done - I've got Guides and TSS in May, Rainbows and Brownies in June, then Guide camp (maybe) in July, before Iceland in August. Better get sewing more badges on to my camp blanket!