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Weekly Discussion: No awakeovers on our watch


Veteran (100+ posts)
Part of the fun of things like residentials with Guiding as a young member is that everything is a bit different to being at home and it’s all novel. Girls who are normally not allowed in the kitchen can have a go at chopping and peeling for the first time. Some excite in having a “bird bath”, being allowed to try different foods, going on a muddy walk, being able to talk at the dinner table, spend lots of time with their friends…and of course the idea of staying up past their bedtime.

Now most leaders don’t object to the obvious excitement and giggling and whispering for an hour or two. But when it’s silly o clock in the morning, other girls are grumbling because they just want to sleep but one or two are still determined to chat/insist that they are wide awake and couldn’t possibly sleep it becomes a problem. When some girls have gotten only a few hours of sleep after a couple of days and it’s starting to show during the day it’s a problem. When the day after the last day everyone’s back to school and work it’s a problem.

What are your tips for allowing for some fun, but making sure that some sleep is actually achieved. Please make a note of which section/s you are referring to to help.


Veteran (100+ posts)
With my Guides for County Camp last year we drew up our Camp Guidelines before we set off. There were only about 3 things on the list as the last thing you want at camp is to be bogged down by rules, but the key rule - decided by the girls - was that between 11pm & 6 am there would be silence in their tent. The main reason for this was it was a 4 day camp at an outward bound centre and after we chatted they could all see that it would be quite hard to enjoy the days activities if you (or your friends ) were too tired.

I have to say they were very good and stuck with this rule. Maybe it because it was self driven and not imposed on them or may be because we took some time to think about how it feels to have to get through a day on no sleep ! OR perhaps they were all so genuinely exhausted after a days activities they were asleep when their heads hit the pillow!:D


Veteran (100+ posts)
It really depends on your girls and situation -
On a uk international last year, we had 2 girls in one tent, and 4 in another - they were so busy all the time I think they forgot about chatting half the night- I don't remember telling them to be quiet at all. They all slept well all week and had a great time.
on in indoor camp a few weeks ago, with 13 girls all in one room, we had to play the sit in the room until they are quiet game - we were very aware we had just 10 year olds up to 14-15 yr olds - but you have to go with what is best for the one who needs the most sleep - first night we had a film on and they drifted off to bed in dribs and drabs, which helped.

I much prefer when the girls are in smaller groups - 1 noisy girl doesn't keep 15 up, only 4-5, and if those 4-5 ignore her, she goes to sleep as well!!!

NB the funniest 'i can't sleep' was when I told a girl she needed to lie down to go to sleep, she replied 'but they sleep standing up on the space station' to which I replied 'yes, but they don't have gravity' to which she replied 'well neither to do I'!!! we did some basic science over breakfast the next day!!!


Veteran (100+ posts)
Brownies: have a wind down period before bedtime, such as all listening to a story.

Send a YL or a “softer” leader first before sending in the “big guns” angry leader to ask if everything if alright rather than going straight into warning them that they need to be quiet and go to sleep and that this is the Very Last Time.

Brownies and Guides: Be open/ flexible for changing sleeping arrangements if it’s not working out and it’s the same offenders. Some girls can be surprisingly mature about not being with friends after one night of bad sleep!

All sections, a nice long walk in the late afternoon on the first night can wear everyone out and make them ready for bed by the time they’ve had dinner.

And for your own sanity, accept that there will be some girls that won’t just fall asleep and that it might be for a variety of reasons. One normally very well behaved Brownie once wanted to keep friends up chatting so that she wouldn’t be left “alone in the dark”…


SGP Enthusiast
Brownies. We give an hour for silliness when we've sent them to bed. Then a leader goes and sits in the middle of the room and reads a book (Not out loud, Brown Owl read War and Peace last year!) until they're all quiet


Veteran (100+ posts)
Guides - We do the "softer" leader first, then me! My last resort is "I can move you into a different tent if you like", never had to actually do it thank goodness as I'm not sure how I'd manage it to be fair but I would if they pushed me to it. I think I'm really lucky as mine are usually good at being quiet but I've been brought in as the "big guns" to other units when we go away as a division. I think it helps a bit that I never ask them to actually go to sleep - I just ask them to be quiet so that anyone who wants to go to sleep can - A Guide is polite and considerate after all.

Mine also know that I can be really grumpy the next day if I've not had any sleep, which is a great incentive :)


Veteran (100+ posts)
Guides: normally chat to girls beforehand come up with 3 or 4 Guidelines, generally about food, chores and bed/sleep. We usually do an Indoor as well as at least one camp per year (all weekend).
We always organise a Wide Game for first night of Indoor or camp and find that most are ready for sleep by 11pm. Before anyone goes to be bed we remind them that some girls will want to sleep and that we don't expect anyone to be screaming/shouting and preventing anyone else from sleeping.We allow girls to take themselves off to bed when they are ready, generally leaders are on their own by 10.45pm and more often than not there is total silence within an hour, only occasionally do we have to go and ask girls to quieten down. It hasn't always been like this and there have been times where at at 4'10" I've been the 'big gun' like partygirl, I've sat outside tents and dorms on many occasions. For the 4 last years or so we've just been really lucky...long may it continue.


Veteran (100+ posts)
Yes a few guidelines set beforehand really helps, no one likes surprise rules so you can see why they might rebel.

I have a very bouncy 10 year old who announced on the train to our weekend away that she doesn’t sleep! I just gave her a calm we will see. Needless to say keeping up with the big girls wore her out and I actually had to move her from the middle of the floor where she had practically passed out at 10pm!

I agree: check if there are problems, give an element of sympathy and accept quiet over sleep. This applies to adult too ;-)


Agree with others - build up towards bedtime. Have an active daytime programme if you can, then . . .

Phase 1 - regardless of whether it is daylight outside or not, pull the curtains and turn on the lights by somewhere around 7-8pm - basically implying that it is now evening, and it will soon be night.
Phase 2 - evening wind-down activity, followed by getting ready for bed.
Phase 3 - supper drinks, teeth cleaned, getting into bed to read or chat quietly.
Phase 4 - lights out, any loud chat is shushed.
Phase 5 - no talking in the rooms/sleeping area, but other sounds ignored. (They are free to get up to the bathroom, I don't care about fake snores/coughs, they are free to get up and rearrange their beds, or to come and have a word with me or another Leader - just not talk in the dorm. Often, it's quiet enough that those who want to sleep can, and those who'd want to chat become bored and drop off for themselves.


Veteran (100+ posts)
Brownies, quieten things down at bedtime, make sure everyone has been to the loo at least twice, allow 5 minutes of fun with torches in the dark and no adults visible -why else do they bring them.

Tell 1st timers that those more experienced will know that silence means just that, and that nothing else is going to happen apart from a leader sitting outside the door till everyone is asleep.
The day has finished and tomorrow will come much quicker if they go to sleep, cos it is boring staying awake plus grumpy brownies are no fun and grumpy leaders even less so.
At this point, ask the old timers to confirm what you have said is true.
Acknowledge it may be hard to sleep in a strange place, and if so, they should get warm, comfy, cuddle teddy and just let their body relax.

THEN add in the midnight feast factor on the last night! They all seem to drop off really quickly!!!! Loud adult comments the following morning about stray sweet wrappers and scuffles, their faces are a picture ;)

For early starts I usually end up back on the chair, in my sleeping bag until a more sensible hour comes round
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Veteran (100+ posts)

Like some earlier posts ...

On a typical 2 night holiday, we keep them up later the first night than they would be at home. We tell them honestly that it's because there is no point putting wide awake Brownies in bed and we talk through the routine. Most places we use, they are all in one dorm together. We have a busy day and do lots of crafts all evening and only put out supper when they start yawning.

Then we go into a loooooong slooooow bedtime to give them chance to really wind down. We have supper and they can bring teddies, books, quiet puzzles etc downstairs. It takes ages to get everyone changed, and everyone washed, etc, and we let it. Eventually, they're all in bed, when they can chat quietly or read. Then we read a story and being well-behaved girls they listen quietly. At that point we say good night, turn off the lights and sit on a chair in the doorway. We expect silence from then on and we generally get it.

The second night is similar but not as late.

BTW, a simple way to improve the mornings is to state very clearly, with a smile but firmly, "It may be light when you wake up in the morning. That does not mean it is time to get up. You will know when it is time to get up. Brown Owl will be standing in the doorway saying get up. If Brown Owl is not standing in your doorway saying get up, it is not time to get up."

Someone on here or BOGUK told me you only need 2 rules when you are away:
"1. Keep the promise.
2. Keep the law.
That about covers it."
I've printed that and it goes on every residential with us.

I must say that my Brownies are genuinely fantastic the year round, and that is down to clear expectations and lots of praise for doing the right thing. My team is consistent and we have high expectations. Everything is explained to the girls and we give them reasons too, e.g. if you are tired you will feel poorly and not enjoy tomorrow. Even if you cannot sleep straight away, your friends want to.

When camping, I've only ever had one girl that I removed from her tent after the rest complained about her. We went for a walk round Waddow, uphill and down, for an hour until she said she was sleepy enough to go back to bed and fall asleep. That one made me appreciate how great the rest are.


Brown Owl (x2)
Talking about Brownie holidays;

I make it clear from the first parent meeting that bedtime is going to be strictly observed, and that we won't be impressed if we are forced to stay up because of misbehaviour. I also lay down the law about multiple toilet visits while trying to go to sleep.

I give them chatter time for a while, then I sit and read a story (out loud) to them. It was Paddington deciding to redecorate his room last time!

Then it's lights out, and a bit of hovering in the room making sure they are aware I am still there. Sometimes sitting reading my own book while they settle down, or standing where near the worst offenders - with occasional reminders that if I can hear them then they are not sleeping.

Because they can be horrible early and noisy risers, I also have a craft table set up in the hall that they can go and use in the morning, on the proviso that they do NOT speak in the dormitory or wake anyone else up. This worked really well - I was astonished to find a third of my Brownies awake and quietly colouring in when I got up the first morning!


Veteran (100+ posts)
Guides on camp:
We usually have fire with some calmer songs towards the end, with hot chocolate. I think they´re normally wiped out from the day too which helps. If they´re still giddy (especially Friday night of a camp when they´ve only been there since the evening), slightly later to bed and sightly later up works well (especially for me, I hate early mornings!). Once they´ve traipsed to the toilets, cleaned teeth, sorted out sleeping arrangements, etc, it´s usually quite late and we ask for just quiet chatter. The leaders usually stay up for a bit chatting, and will take it in turns to wander over to any tent where we can hear noise. We tend to get them to think about tent arrangements in terms of who needs more sleep too. I think if they think it´s come from them it works well. If there´s a more senior tent and they don´t look tired we dont send them to bed as quiet chatter by the fire is far less disruptive to the younger sleepers than a giddy tent of girls intent on not sleeping.

The line that always silences a whole tent of Guides is "I can hear everything you´re talking about" (whether that´s true or not)


Veteran (100+ posts)
Brownies and Guides ages- on the Friday night of a weekend camp, we’ve usually had a 1.5hr bus trip to camp, then the total chaos excitement of a new place.
So we have a big filling dinner (much later than they usually eat), followed by a long walk around the campsite by torchlight. The walk helps get the dinner down, and use up excess energy!
We then do quiet chatting in the rooms/tents, before giving a “ten minute warning”, and then enforcing quiet, usually by the leader sitting in the doorway or similar.
Second night they’re so worn out not much effort is needed!!


Veteran (100+ posts)
As well as the above, I like to give them half an hour earlier in the evening to spend time in their dorm or tent, so that when bedtime does come, the sleeping quarters aren't such a novelty for them.


Beginner (10+ posts)
Loving some of the ideas on here, particularly the quiet craft table for the mornings.
My rule for Brownies is, if it is dark outside, you should be asleep. If it is light outside, but others are still asleep, you may read quietly but no chatter, and if I'm in the doorway telling you to get up, you get up!


With Guides I said that they could agree for themselves what time bedtime was to be, and what time they would get up - provided they scheduled 8 hours' quiet time in bed. They soon realised that if they scheduled staying up past midnight, then they would be rushing all morning to catch up on themselves, so agreed for themselves that they would get ready for bed around 10pm, and be quiet from 11, in order to be allowed to get up from 7am.

With Brownies, if it's summer, around 7.30pm I go around the house drawing the curtains and lowering the blinds. Even if it is blazing sunshine outside. Indicating that it is now evening, and it will soon be night. We do very active stuff during the day to burn off the fidgets, and then in the evening quiet wind-down activities. After lights out we permit any activity except talking. So anyone who wishes to adjust their bed is free to, anyone can go to the bathroom as often as they wish, fake snores or giggles are ignored - soon, out of boredom, they want to sleep.
It’s been a tradition that started with the brownies but has also stuck with our guides due to a joint camp when we first started out that a mr men story is read and words are changed to make it funnier and get the girls to let out most of the silliness. Lights are then out and they are given 30 minutes in there room to calm down and go silent, if there is still chatter a leader will go in and tell them to quite down, if after another 30 minutes then a leader will be more strong in tone and they normal go to sleep after that


Guide and Ranger Leader
I've resorted to telling them that if they don't go to sleep then we can just stay in camp for the morning and do chores rather than going and doing fun activities because they'll all be too tired. Funnily enough they quieten down and go to sleep.