SLEEP was never going to be on the agenda when 200 girls signed up for what would be their first night away from home for many at The Big Brownie Birthday.
Girlguiding Wiltshire North is organising four events in 2014 to celebrate 100 years of the Brownies, with an overnight stay at Heelis, the National Trust’s central office in Kemble Drive, the second on its calendar.
Titled B-Wise, the 24 hour-celebration began at 9am on Saturday, shortly after which the Brownies were sent out in teams around Swindon to complete a series of challenges, including taking photos of places and finding hidden items.
The sleepover with their friends and search of Swindon, using buses and walking, were designed to aid the Brownies’ independence and build their confidence.
Jackie Hanrahan, chairwoman of the birthday organisation, said: “They have been very excited. We asked them to arrive at Heelis for 9am, but we had parents with their children waiting outside at 8.15am.
“It shows the girls what it’s like to make their own decisions, gives them independence and confidence to be away from their parents or carers.
“Little decisions like make their minds up on which route to take around Swindon on the buses for the B-Wise challenge give them a taste.
“Their first decisions were made two years ago when we asked them all what they wanted to do to celebrate the centenary.”
Supervised throughout the day by leaders of the guiding section, the girls were broken up into teams and given a booklet with a series of questions and tasks inside it, which would steer them around the town for answers.
A series of crafts, agility challenges and DVDs were on the agenda for the afternoon and evening session, before settling down on their roll mats and in their sleeping bags at the main hall in Heelis.
On Sunday, the teams of Brownies took part in a scrap challenge, with the materials provided by Wiltshire Scrapstore of Lacock.
Despite 24 hours away from their families, Jackie said parents were fully supportive of the idea.
“The parents have been really excited too. The girls are away with people that they already know, people they trust,” she said.
“We have an excellent relationship with the parents and that’s vital when putting something like this on.
“They all want their daughters to sample that bit of independence.”