A few months ago one of my local guide leader friends Natalie sent an instant message asking if I fancied coming along on a Rainbows sleepover in March. I did!!…….. but as I hadn’t been on a guiding overnight since my own Brownie pack holiday at Spennymoor, County Durham in the late 1980’s, I was nervous about offering up the opportunity to my own Rainbows. Would I be able to answer all of the parents’ questions? Would the girls settle or keep me awake all night crying?
My reply went:
‘Is it ok if I bring just my own Rainbow Abigail and my Brownie Imogen… this time?’
Natalie said ‘Why Aye Man’ and she’d love to have me as a spare pair of hands to help with the activities.
It would be my first experience of a gaining an insight into organising an overnight holiday and would help tick off a few boxes on the ‘Overnight Licence’ qualification that I was keen to do. We met up at Natalie’s house one Saturday night with her Mam Evelyn (Head Chef) and Karen another experienced leader and guiding friend who was coming along. Pinterest was opened up on the computer and we all looked at the awesome crafting ideas. The theme of the holiday would be Easter and Natalie had sourced a very cute Easter camp badge to reward the girls with at the end of the weekend.
Cost and Location
The cost of the weekend had been priced up at £25 per girl which seemed fantastic considering all of the activities, accommodation and food was to be included. Accommodation would be at Pasture House and Campsite , which is owned by Girlguiding Northumberland and is on the border of Northumberland and County Durham in the village of Whittonstall.
Natalie, Karen and Evelyn have organised Rainbows sleepovers at this location many times before and said it was ideal and not too far so that parents could drop off, hence saving on the cost of transport – something which always hikes the price up! The accommodation sleeps around 25 girls and 5 leaders, the scenery surrounding it is stunning. There is also a camping field with a new shower block and a bunk house called Pax Haven, which guiding groups can use to store their gear and while they do some indoor crafts. I don’t think you get much more rural and picturesque setting within a short driving distance of Newcastle.
In total 17 Rainbows had signed up which was a fantastic number. We would have some keen Guide helpers too and Imogen would be roped in to help being a Brownie! The girls would be arriving at 3pm on the Saturday and as per the ’24 hour rule’ regarding Rainbows trips would be collected after Sunday lunch at 2pm.
So Saturday 12th March was here but first we had to go to Kenton School for the girls gymnastics classes. Our bags were all packed (using the helpful kit list) and all loaded into the car all ready to make a speedy get away at 12 noon. The postcode was put into my sat nav and my diesel topped up. I’m an urban city driver so running out of fuel off the beaten track worries me… it really wasn’t that far so no need to worry! We made Pasture house in good time and arrived around 1pm.
Pasture House is everything you would expect from a Girlguiding house. It is clean, with a large well equipped kitchen, a dining room and a fixed seating living room with a traditional coal fire. It could do with a little revamp in certain areas but overall it was comfortable and perfect size for the number of girls coming.
Imogen and Abigail ran straight out to the park in the grounds and had a ball playing around, while I helped the leaders to sort some last minute bits. Natalie, Karen and Evelyn had done a fantastic job decorating the house with bunting, Easter fairy lights and decorated the backboards using cute wrapping paper.
The Girls Arrive
As the time approached the excited girls were dropped off by their parents and they ran upstairs to bagsy their beds. They then trotted off to the park for a run around.
After a short time, Natalie called the girls for a quick meeting. The girls were put into groups the Lambs, Chicks, Piglets and Bunnies and they would stay in their teams for the activities. It was explained to the girls that stickers would be awarded to the girls who tried their food, tidied their bedrooms, were especially helpful etc. and nothing motivates a Rainbow more than a sticker.
The girls set about their first activity of the weekend – decorating white plates with sharpie pens. Once the plates were decorated they would be baked in the oven later on in the weekend for them to set.
After a little play around upstairs, (which did sound like a herd of elephants at times) it was time for tea, and the girls found their place mats. They quickly wolfed down their tea of hotdogs, fish fingers and smiley faces.
Great Rainbow Bake off
At 6.30pm we began our marathon bake off. The girls would each help with the baking of the following: easter nests, hot cross bun cupcakes, easter mallow bark, butterfly ginger biscuits and fudge. A sleepover really does give the opportunity to do activities you would struggle to fit in in an hour session. We have done a little baking in my unit but seeing how much they enjoyed it makes me want to do a bit more in future.
Easter egg hunt… In the dark!
The girls popped on their wellies and coats and found their torches. In their groups they were to look for plastic eggs which had glow sticks inside. They had a ball doing this and it was so exciting for them to be outdoors so late on.
After the excitement of the day it was time for the girls to get ready for bed and go into the lounge for smores and hot chocolate. It was my first ever smore and the guides told me exactly how to get it right…ie cremating them so they were very gooey inside and picking the black off! It looks gross but they were right it does taste great! It was then time for cleaning teeth and in bed. Abigail was asleep before I’d even left the room and it took a few of them a little while (Imogen included) to drop off. I slept till around 7am but Karen said some were up at 6am. Not too bad considering it was quite a few of the girls first sleepovers.
After Breakfast of croissants, rolls and cereal it was time for the girls to get dressed ready for the craft actvities. Like with the baking the girls stayed in their teams for the craft activities and rotated to the craft stations. On the bill this morning was decorating bags (which all the goodies would go inside), stained glass windows, wool butterflies and egg rabbits. This took us up to 11am when another egg hunt was completed. This time each team had to find a certain colour of egg and inside was a picture cut up into a jigsaw puzzle. Once the puzzle was complete the girls headed to their mystery location for their chocolate egg prize. I am stealing this idea for my own rainbows next week for our Easter night.
It was soon time for Sunday lunch which was skillfully cooked by Evelyn and tasted great. Clean plates all around and happy rainbows… especially when the cake and custard came out.
Certificates and Badges
The Rainbows assembled back in the living room for the presentation of badges and certificates. The team with the most stickers was announced. The girls were chuffed with all their lovely badges (Whittonstall is Great, my first Rainbows sleepover, and Easter Camp) and Abigail was delighted that her team the Chicks had the most stickers. She was rewarded with a cute pink bunny that she has slept with ever since.
Parents soon started to arrive and collect their girls and their belongings and they were soon on their way back home to Newcastle.
Massive thank you to Karen and Steph from 18th Newcastle and Evelyn and Natalie from 30th Newcastle Rainbows for giving me the opportunity to experience a Rainbows sleepover! I had a great laugh with fantastic company and awesome Rainbows… and I certainly struggled to stay awake till i conked out at 9.30pm!!