Unicorn challenge virtual sleepover

Written by Jenny Sutherland, 3rd Three Bridges Brownies leader

We were, like many, slightly daunted by the prospect of virtual meetings but a catch-up call in mid-May proved that we could do it. Having been encouraged by accounts of other events we also decided to try a virtual sleepover at the start of the school holidays when 3rd Three Bridges Brownies had originally hoped to be away. We extended the invite to 1st Three Bridges Rainbows.

A unicorn challenge badge was popular with the Brownies and fine weather enabled garden planning meetings for leaders. Rather than purchasing and delivering supplies, we opted for plenty of choice and activities which required simple resources that should be readily available to all. We were mindful that some of our girls don’t have gardens and that parents would have varying amounts of time to provide support. An email set out the suggested activities and call timings and parents were encouraged to discuss with their Rainbow/Brownie in advance to help them choose appropriate activities. We planned 5 calls with most being just 30 minutes; the leaders had a basic plan for each to help ensure we knew who was doing what.

Girls were asked to pack their bags in the morning as they would for any residential, they then needed to build their “end of the rainbow” space where they would sleep. Most created indoor dens but there was one who camped in the garden. They were all asked to help with the preparation (and clearing up) for meals during the event, just as they would on a real residential.

As the morning progressed it was exciting to start receiving emails with pictures, along with posts on our Facebook page, as parents shared progress in advance of the first call. At 2pm we met and the girls told each other about their dens, we then introduced the food challenge and sent them away to get cooking.

We gathered again at 4pm to see the results (lesson learned – we should have allowed more time as some creations were still too hot to decorate!) and discuss the craft challenge. Our young leader and Brownie helper had prepared examples of some of the crafts and some of the girls had already been busy, there were unicorn plates, sewn unicorns, masks, headbands, bead creations…..

The highlight of the event was the campfire call, during which we were pleased to welcome our Division Commissioner. Girls were asked to come dressed for the theme and with their hot chocolate. Rainbows started with a story read by our young leader and at 7pm the Brownies joined for a selection of actions songs to enable participation on mute. It was hilarious to watch and worked surprisingly well. At 7.30 the Rainbows left and we held a very special Promise celebration for three Brownies who had been due to make their promises during the very first cancelled meeting back in March. Their promise badges were delivered in advance so their parents could pin them on at the appropriate moment. We finished with a unicorn story led by our unit helper.

At 9am the following morning we gathered again to find out how people slept (surprisingly well it seemed!) and find out about breakfast – it seems some leaders couldn’t resist holiday favourites of bacon butties and eggy bread. We also had a birthday girl who joined the call from her birthday treat at a theme park.

At our 2pm call the girls shared what they had been up to in the morning. There were unicorn stories, penny walks (with sightings of deer, llamas, black swans, goats, horses, butterflies and fish), more craft creations and not forgetting theme park rides for the birthday girl. We also reviewed what they had enjoyed most - making dens and cooking/eating their creations came up top.

We were delighted to have 14 Brownies and 5 Rainbows join in (along with a few siblings) and on each of the calls we were able to share the pictures that had been submitted to help create a shared experience. Feedback suggested the parents and girls really appreciated what we had prepared, but it really wouldn’t have been possible without the support of the parents.

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