Girlguiding UK

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Girlguiding UK
Girlguiding UK
Headquarters London
Country U.K.
Founded 1910
Founder Robert Baden-Powell; Agnes Baden-Powell
Membership 540000
Headed by Liz Burnley (Chief Guide); Sophie, The Countess of Wessex (President); Queen Elizabeth II (Patron)

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Girlguiding UK is the national Guiding organisation of the United Kingdom. Guiding began in the UK in 1910 after Robert Baden-Powell asked his sister Agnes to start a group especially for girls that would be run along similar lines to Scouting for Boys. The Guide Association was a founder member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) in 1928. Today the Association has more than 600,000 members and continues to be the largest female only youth organisation in the UK.

The Girl Guides in the UK are officially "The Guide Association" and go under the operating name of "Girlguiding UK". Although Scout units in the UK, formerly boys only, can now accept girls (new units must be open to both sexes; units established before being open to girls retain the right to choose whether or not to accept girls), this has not affected the numbers of girls joining Girlguiding UK. At present one out of every three eight-year-old girls in the UK are Brownies and 50% of UK women have been involved with Guiding at some point in their lives.

Girlguiding UK is a charitable organisation and adult leaders are not paid for their time.


The "classic" Guide Uniform, from the 1950s

Following the creation of Robert Baden-Powell's Boy Scout movement and their first rally, at the Crystal Palace, it became apparent that many girls wanted to join the movement. In response Baden-Powell formed the Girl Guides in 1910, and asked his sister Agnes to look after the new organisation. A few years later his new wife Olave became involved and, in 1918, was appointed Chief Guide.[1]

The name Guides was chosen from Baden-Powell's military background, "Guides" had operated in the north-west frontier in India, their main task was to go on hazardous expeditions. These men had particularly influenced Baden-Powell as they continued training minds and body even when off duty. As a result Baden Powell decided Girl Guides would be a suitable name for the pioneering young womens movement he wished to establish. [2]

In 1914 Rosebuds were established for girls aged 8-11, this name was later changed to Brownies. Two years later in 1916 the first Senior Guide groups were formed, in 1920 these groups became Rangers. 1943 saw the establishment of the Trefoil Guild for members over 21 who wished to remain a part of the movement but couldn't remain active with a unit. The section for the youngest members of the association, Rainbows, was introduced in 1987 for girls aged 5-7 (4-7 in Ulster).[3]


Girls are organised into sections by age. These are Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and the Senior Section.

Rainbow Guides

Rainbow Guides or Rainbows are aged from 5 to 7 year old, except in Northern Ireland where girls can join from age 4. Activities are organised around work the four areas of the Rainbow Jigsaw - Look, Learn, Love and Laugh.

Each girl makes a promise on joining a Rainbow Guide Unit and must be able to understand and want to make this promise. This Promise is a simpler version of the one all members make. The Rainbow Promise is: "I Promise to do my best, to love my God and to be kind and helpful."

The Rainbow Jigsaw is used in the unit via the Rainbow Roundabout. The Rainbows themselves choose an activity from one of each of the four Jigsaw areas. These activities are then carried out alongside the normal activities. When all four have been completed the Rainbow is awarded a badge showing the symbols of each of the Jigsaw areas. It is intended that each Rainbow completes 2 Roundabouts in their life as a Rainbow. Roundabouts have a theme, ones produced so far are Roundabout Festivals, Roundabout the World and Roundabout Rainbows. More Roundabouts will be released in the future and existing ones be discontinued.

Brownie Guides

Brownie Guides or Brownies are from 7 to 10 year old. Brownies work from the Brownie Adventure which is divided into three areas: You, Community and World. Brownies can also work towards interest badges covering a variety of subjects. Brownies units are are called Packs. Packs are divided into Sixes, small groups of girls who work together. Sixes are traditionally named after fairies; however many Packs have adopted naming the Sixes after woodland animals. The adult leader is often called Brown Owl. These two elements are taken from the Brownie Story, in which two children visit the Brown Owl in the wood to learn how they can avoid doing the housework.


Guides are 10 to 14 year olds. Guides work from the 5 Zones: Healthy Lifestyles, Global Awareness, Skills and Relationships, Celebrating diversity, Discovery. Guides can choose to work on Challenge Badges, Go For Its, Interest badges and the Baden-Powell Challenge which is the highest award that a Guide can gain.

Senior Section

For girls between 14 and 26 years old, there are a variety of schemes and groups to chose from.

  • Young Leaders work with Rainbows, Brownies or Guides. They can work towards Making It Count or the Adult Leadership scheme as well as other Senior Section opportunities.
  • Guiders (18+) work with Rainbows, Brownies or Guides in a leadership role and are working on/have completed the Adult Leadership Scheme.
  • Rangers meet together to plan and carry out activities, they may work towards any opportunities available to Senior Section members.
  • Member of a Look Wider group: a Senior Section member who has chosen to focus on the Look Wider scheme.
  • Duke of Edinburgh's Award Participant: a Senior Section member who has chosen to focus on the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
  • Lone Senior Section member: a Senior Section member who is working on part of the Senior Section programme, but is not part of a unit.
  • In4mer: anyone who has undergone the 4ward, 4 self, 4 others peer education training
  • Guide member of SSAGO: For Senior Section members who are studying at university or college.
  • Female member of LINK
  • Appointment Holder
  • Trefoil Guild Member

Senior Section Awards and Qualifications


Girl guides wear practical clothing, originally designed by Baden-Powell and his sister. With an overall blue colour, this has developed over the years into a modern uniform designed by Ally Cappellino.


All members of the guide association make a promise upon joining, the current promises for each section are given below:


I promise that I will do my best
to love my god
and to be kind and helpful.


I promise that I will do my best
to love my god
to serve the queen and my country
to help other people
and to keep the brownie guide law.

Guides, Senior Section and leaders:

I promise that I will do my best
to love my god
to serve the queen and my country
to help other people
and to keep the guide law.

In addition members of the Senior Section promise

To be of service to the community

Administrative Structure in the UK

For effective administration of Girlguiding UK, the UK is split into smaller areas. At the top level there are ten Countries and Regions.

The Countries are:

The Regions are:

Countries and Regions are then split into Counties. These in turn comprise of Divisions. Divisions are split into Districts. In some areas with few members, County, Division or District level may be omitted because effective communication occurs without it. Each area is lead by a Commissioner.

Girlguiding UK outside of the United Kingdom

Girlguiding UK is also active outside the British Isles. In nine British overseas territories, there are branch associations with slightly different Guiding programmes adapted to the local conditions. Most of the branch associations use different uniforms or lighter textiles.

Branch Associations are active in

British Royal Family in Guiding

Guiding in the UK has had a long association with the British Royal Family, in 1920 Princess Mary, daughter of George V became President of the Association, 1937 saw Princess Elizabeth, who would go on to be Queen Elizabeth II become a Guide, and Princess Margaret become a Brownie. Princess Elizabeth joined the 1st Buckingham Palace Unit, whose first meeting was held on 9th June. She became the Second of Kingfisher Patrol, and was enrolled by her Aunt Princess Mary, Association President, on December 13th. At the start of World War II the company was closed, and the Queen and Princess Margaret were attached to a Balmoral Company. In 1942 the Buckingham Palace company reopened at Windsor, the Queen became Patrol Leader of Swallow Patrol. In 1943 the Queen became a Sea Ranger undertaking usual activities including gaining her boating permit and taking out the Queen Mother in a dinghy. She became Chief Ranger of the British Empire in 1946. When she married Lieutenant Mountbatten two of her bridesmaids were former members of the Buckingham Palace company. In 1952 when she ascended the throne she became the association patron.[4]
When Princess Mary died Princess Margaret became the new President in 1965. In turn on the death of Princess Margaret, HRH Sophie the Countess of Wessex, wife to Prince Edward became President in 2003. [1]The highest award in Guiding, the Queen's Guide award was created in 1946, this is now presented by the Association President.

See also


External links