World Thinking Day and an Indian-themed sleepover

The end of February was very busy Guiding-wise.  Half term saw a trip to the cinema with the Rainbows and Brownies to see Paddington (which was very good, and I only had to do one trip to the toilets with the very small Rainbows) and Sunday 22nd February was our World Thinking Day celebration (you can read about what my district did last year here).

There is always a badge.  Or three.
This year we joined together with another local district. Meeting in the city centre (I got the meeting point wrong, had no idea where I was supposed to be and was clearly late, when I saw a Guide in uniform and followed her to the right place (on time), this is why we wear uniform!) we had a group photo (quite a few people) before splitting into smaller groups to do various challenges around the city.  We had to build a mountain in Switzerland, create a mural in Mexico and complete challenges as a team.  It was bitterly cold so we kept moving as much as we could and I was holding quite a few Brownies' hands on rotation to try and keep them warm!  When we had finished we headed back to our Guide hall for a bacon roll and a slice of cake.

Organised chaos is how I shall describe the hall - it was very cold outside, but very warm inside! We had a team of volunteers in the kitchen cooking tray after tray of bacon and one of our leaders had made two lovely cakes using this year's official WTD badge design.

Once we'd eaten we sang 'This Little Guiding Light' and put our Thinking Day pennies in a trefoil on the floor - everyone donated a copper or silver coin per year they've been in Guiding.  So for the littlest Rainbows, that's only one year, for some of the adults, that's quite a lot more!  The money is donated to the World Thinking Day Fund.  Then we reunited all the children with their parents (a lot of children and a lot of parents!) before the leaders did a bit of cleaning up.  We were handsomely rewarded with more cake.  Once I was home (and had shared my cake with Ben) I was in bed with a hot water bottle within half an hour. 

Last weekend we 'visited' India for a sleepover.  The World Assocation of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) has four permanent World Centres, which are in Switzerland, Mexico, India and the UK.  We're doing a series of sleepovers, each based on activities from one World Centre.  This time our theme was Sangam, in Pune, India.  I went there with a friend of mine a few years ago and it was great to be able to talk to my Brownies about what we'd done when we were out there!

We had a smallish number of girls, many of whom were on their first Guiding sleepover, so everything was new and exciting!  In the morning we learned a bit about Sangam and India, peering out the windows occasionally in the hope that the weather was brightening up.  After our packed lunches (I'd forgotten all about the politics involved when children are swapping and bartering food from their packed lunches!) we had some free time.  Whilst we had plenty of activities planned, the girls often just like sitting and chatting and being with their friends, so we ensure they have the time to do this (and time for the adults to sit down and drink a cup of tea!).  We had a selection of games, playing cards and colouring for the Brownies to do, and some had brought their own things.

In the adults' room, we'd found a box of stuff belonging to an old Brownie unit which has been closed for quite some time, and we appear to have inherited some of their things.  Inside the box were some jigsaws from about the 1970s:

Snowy Owl and I sat down at the table with a cup of tea each and started to do them.  The one above was complete, the others had comments on such as 'One piece missing, 1987' which indicates when they were last checked!  A few Brownies came over to see what we were doing, and we had a lovely chat about the different uniforms and badges.  By the time we'd completed them (100 pieces) the weather had just about cleared up so we headed off to the park to run off some energy.  Brown Owl did bring a tea towel to dry off any play equipment, but the Brownies were far too impatient to wait, which meant we had very little sympathy when they complained about wet bottoms!  When it began to rain again we headed back to the Guide hall, singing 'The Crazy Moose' as we walked back.  It's a classic Guiding song and I had a cute chat with two of the younger girls about why the plural of 'goose' is 'geese' but the plural of 'moose' isn't 'meese' and so then we sang the song with 'meese' in which doesn't rhyme with 'juice' in the following line and that is probably the reason why three teenagers gave us odd looks and made way for us on the pavement as we went past them!

Back at the hall, we all changed into dry clothes ("Fluffy Owl, can I put my pyjamas on?" "No, it's not bedtime" "But Fluffy Owl, I don't have any other trousers" "Okay, put your pyjamas on and your wet trousers by the radiator" "Fluffy Owl! If she's wearing her pyjamas now, can I wear mine too?") and the girls made mango lassi in the kitchen with me and then some beautiful paper peacocks (the national bird of India).

The peacocks were rather fiddly (we knew we didn't have many children coming on the sleepover, so we could choose to do crafts that required a bit more adult help as we'd have a lovely adult:child ratio) but they all looked incredibly beautiful and the girls were really pleased with them too.

Dinner was a selection of Indian ready meals and rice, plus various side dishes and salad then fruit salad and different flavours of yoghurt for dessert.  I always underestimate how long it's going to take Brownies to chop vegetables and fruits, but we got there eventually!  My only rule for mealtimes is that the girls have to try everything - if you don't like it, that's fine, but at least you've tried it and if you like it you can have some more!  All the Brownies were excellent, trying everything and enthusiastically having seconds of most things.

On a longer Brownie residential I'd get the girls to be more involved with washing up and clearing away, but due to the relative smallness of the hall where we were staying, it just wasn't practical.  So I did quite a lot of washing up (I needed to change the water in the sink six times) with Snowy Owl drying and putting away.  The kitchen was soon looking tidy again, just in time for one Brownie to ask what time we were having hot chocolate! Not yet, not yet!

It was soon bedtime, so the girls all got ready for bed whilst I made hot chocolate and created yet more washing up in the kitchen.  I can make one mug of hot chocolate, for me, but I'm yet to master the skill of making it on residentials, the theory of just multiplying the amount of milk and hot chocolate powder just doesn't seem to work somehow! Anyway, the girls drank it so it can't have been too bad.

When they were all in bed, our naughty Young Leaders (YL) organised a 'midnight' feast for them without the Owls knowing.  How dare they! Us Owls clattered about in the kitchen, complaining loudly about the girls not being asleep and then occasionally opening the kitchen door to try and 'catch' the girls out of bed.  I am confident the Brownies (especially the older ones) know that we're all in on the secret, but everyone loves playing along so we won't be stopping any time soon!

We stayed in the kitchen chatting whilst the girls fell asleep (how many toilet trips do small children really need to make?!) and went to bed ourselves just after 11, when the hall had been quiet for a good half hour or so.  Marvellous!  The adults were sleeping in a room off the hall, with the bathrooms at the other end, so we had to walk past the sleeping Brownies to clean our teeth.  This always makes me giggle (as I know I must be quiet) and it didn't help when Snowy Owl dropped her toothbrush in its plastic container and it made a loud noise as it skittered across the floor!

I fell asleep quite quickly, waking at 3.45 when Snowy Owl came back into the room - she'd heard two Brownies talking and she'd gone to see if they were okay.  They were cold, so she turned on the heating and then I was asleep again until 6.20 when I heard lots of giggling.  I got up and two Brownies were still asleep.  They managed to stay asleep until just gone 7, when the other Brownies couldn't be quiet any more.  But that's a decent amount of sleep for a sleepover!

Packing up took ages (especially for those girls who are like gases and spread their stuff around the entire hall, then wonder why they can't find anything) but breakfast was soon ready and we had cereal, Scotch pancakes with lots of toppings and the fruit and yoghurt left over from dinner.  Mango with mango and passion fruit yoghurt? Don't mind if I do!

After breakfast (yet more washing up) we drew henna designs on our hands using brown eyeliner pencil ("Fluffy Owl, why aren't we using the real stuff?" "Because it lasts for 2-3 weeks and you can't go to school with it on your hands" "That's okay, I just won't go to school for 2-3 weeks") which the girls really concentrated on doing.  They worked in pairs and talked about what they wanted to draw and looked at pictures we'd provided of real henna designs.  It was a lovely way to end the sleepover, all sat on the floor in a circle calmly drawing on each other.  I don't have any photos of this suitable for sharing but everyone was pleased with their finished results.  

We finished with singing Brownie Bells and everyone got their 'I've been on a sleepover' badge.  Parents arrived, there were lots of thank yous from the Brownies and parents, and us leaders had about an hour of clearing up to do (how much lost property can a handful of children leave behind? Answer: quite a lot) before we headed home.

I was asleep on the sofa within an hour.

I hope through World Thinking Day and our Sangam sleepover that our Brownies learned a bit more about our global movement and the brilliant things we can do together. We had our Brownie meeting as usual on Monday, and all the sleepover girls said they'd really enjoyed it and asked when the next one was going to be.  Don't worry girls, it's already being planned, and this time we're off to Mexico!  But it's going to be a bit later in the year, the Owls need to recharge a bit first. Although seeing their smiles and excitement and sharing stories of what they got up to with the girls who weren't there really does make it all worthwhile!


  1. This sounds like everyone involved had a fantastic experience and something which the girls will remember forever. I always admire people who give up their own time for others.

    1. We did all have a fantastic time - all the girls went home smiling and that's the main thing! Dates for the next residential are already in the diary!


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