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The girls love sleepovers.  They get to go someplace neat and see it in an unusual way.  Suggestions: Church Hall (try setting up a tenting site!), Museums, Cosmic Adventures (Guider Sara from Ottawa tells me that the girls can sleep anywhere in the play structure except the ball pit and at the top or bottom of a slide… super cool!)

For Guiders, sleepovers are pretty neat too.  We get to see how the girls react to being away from their parents without being too far away from a pickup if necessary.  It is a nice safety net that can prep us for camp.  We also like to schedule the sleepover on Friday night.  Yes, you work all day on Friday, then have a restless sleep overnight, but by 8AM on Saturday morning, you’ve still got your entire weekend ahead of you.

My goal for these things is that it is fun for the girls, but that we’re not up all night in sleepless chaos.

Last night we slept over in the train room at the Canada Science and Technology Museum (Ottawa) and followed the Puzzle Hunt program.  There are other programs – we’ve done the Astronomy Night before, and Sparks did Scavenger Hunt.  We LOVED the Puzzle Hunt program.  The girls were active and busy the whole night.  In fact, they were so pooped by the end that they were mostly asleep by 10:15!  Huge Success!

Things to think about:

  • Cost – when you’re planning this sort of thing, don’t forget to account for cost of admission for the Guiders. You’re a volunteer.  You should not pay for admission.
  • It isn’t cheap.  Plan to figure on about $40 per girl for the night we just had.  Don’t forget tax in your calculations!  You can fundraise, use cookie proceeds, or get parents to pay for it.  Or some combination of all three.
  • Planning – It is usually a Yellow Level Safe Guide event, but pretty easy to get permission for if you’ve got enough supervision.
  • Sleeping in buildings that aren’t usually occupied – In Ottawa we’re required to advise the Ottawa Fire Service  of the fact that girls are sleeping in a building that isn’t usually occupied overnight.  The idea is that they will prioritize rescue differently for a building with nobody in it than they will if they know there are children inside.
  • Options – For younger groups, think about doing a Mom and Me.  But the cost of extra adults is pretty big (extra adults at Science and Tech is $15 each)so that might be better suited for a church hall.  The neat thing is that supervision is covered and younger girls get to try things with the security of a trusted adult on hand.
  • Bedtime strategies for putting big groups to bed.  You parents (I am not a parent) already know how important it is to handle bedtime properly.  I’m not saying  this is the only way, but here is an amalgamation of all the strategies I’ve learned to help the girls (who usually don’t share a room with lots of other people) to sleep.
    • The girls are going to giggle, whisper, and maybe worry.  Reassure them.  Have a Q&A so they can get things out.
    • The Museum offered us the option of a movie before bed.  We declined.  The girls were drooping anyway, and TV tends to energize some of them.
    • Let them know the rules… boundaries, how to handle bathroom trips in the night (the rules change from place to place), when and how they can use flashlights (no beaming people in the face), etc.
    • Start using quiet voices.  Require them to do the same.  Everyone into PJs, teeth brushed, and into bed.
    • Have a quiet song campfire.  (Make New Friends, Land of the Silver Birch, Barges).  Finish with Brownie Closing (Oh hear us now)
    • Read a couple of stories (NOT ones they’re familiar with – look for a legend or something that they wouldn’t have heard before – I have a copy of Campfire Activities (GGC 1993) that always comes with me to this sort of event and last night I read Lee Piddle Thrigs and Why we have day and night) .  Rules during stories… you may listen to my stories, you may read your own book with your flashlight, and you may fall asleep.  You may not talk to each other.  When my stories are done it is time for lights out.
    • Then you have to supervise the whispering.  A sharp but quiet PSST usually stops a whisperer … and if they need to ask you a question, they can do that too.  It usually works.  (Note, this only works until girls are about 8.  After that they can wait you out.)
    • Lastly…  pick the most no-nonesense of the Owls to make this happen.  The bedtime owl needs to be compassionate, but they also need to have the ability to be stern to shut down silliness.

Sleepovers are great ways to have a pre-camp preview of how your girls are going to handle being away from home.  They can be pretty expensive… but there are ways to do it on a budget.  Just make it fun.

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