Guidance notes
for leaders
Running a Girlguiding unit
December 2019
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
2
Guidance notes for leaders
Running a Girlguiding unit
December 2019
Introduction
These guidance notes are designed to help you to enable girls and young women to get the most that they
can from Girlguiding. This resource is for anybody in, or embarking on, a unit leadership role in guiding.
Whether you’re a helper or running the group, it will help you to understand a little more about delivering
a great guiding experience for girls.
This is just one of several resources which will help you to run your unit meetings - see ‘key resources’
on page 19 for more information.
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
3
Contents
The foundations of Girlguiding ..................................................................................... 4
The Promise ......................................................................................................... 4
The Law ............................................................................................................... 4
The Five Essentials ................................................................................................. 4
Doing Our Best ...................................................................................................... 5
Our Policies .......................................................................................................... 5
Volunteer Code of Conduct ....................................................................................... 5
Staying updated ..................................................................................................... 5
Programme .............................................................................................................. 6
Skills builders ....................................................................................................... 6
Unit meeting activities ............................................................................................ 7
Interest badges ...................................................................................................... 7
Theme awards ....................................................................................................... 7
Top section awards ................................................................................................. 7
Other opportunities ................................................................................................ 8
Understanding the different ages .................................................................................. 9
Rainbows ............................................................................................................. 9
Brownies ............................................................................................................. 9
Guides ................................................................................................................10
Rangers ..............................................................................................................10
Running your meetings ..............................................................................................11
Guiding for all ......................................................................................................11
Adapting activities ................................................................................................11
Communicating and decision making ..........................................................................12
Getting out and about ............................................................................................... 13
Trips and adventures .............................................................................................13
Girlguiding’s Outdoor and Adventure qualications ........................................................14
A young member’s journey through guiding ....................................................................15
The unit team .........................................................................................................17
Leader names ...................................................................................................... 17
What the unit team does .........................................................................................17
Other support available ..........................................................................................17
Key resources .........................................................................................................18
For leaders ..........................................................................................................18
For Rainbows .......................................................................................................18
For Brownies ........................................................................................................ 18
For Guides ...........................................................................................................19
For Rangers .........................................................................................................19
Useful terminology ...................................................................................................20
Appendix: Encouraging leadership - qualities and responsibilities of group leaders ................... 21
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
4
The foundations of Girlguiding
The Promise
Our Promise is a shared commitment that all girls and women in Girlguiding are invited to make. It links us not only
to one another, but to 10 million people involved in guiding around the world!
When a member makes her Promise, she is promising:
to be an active citizen of her community and the wider world
to help others – from a kind word to a neighbour, to huge international campaigns
to develop her spiritual side, exploring whatever she believes or cares about, and to respect
the beliefs of others
All Girlguiding members are invited to make the same Promise when they are ready, although some girls may choose
not to. The Promise is optional for volunteers; but to complete your Leadership qualication, you will need to make
the Promise. Most girls make their Promise after being in the unit for around one school term, by this point, they
will have experienced a range of activities and should feel settled. The Promise is part of the section Gold award
criteria, meaning anyone who wishes to achieve their section Gold award must make their Promise (see page 7).
This is the Promise that Brownies, Guides, Rangers and leaders make, with a small addition for Brownies:
I promise that I will do my best, to be true to myself and develop my beliefs, to serve the Queen and my community,
to help other people and to keep the (Brownie) Guide Law.
Rainbows have a shorter version of the Promise:
I promise that I will do my best to think about my beliefs and to be kind and helpful.
The Law
The Law is a set of afrmations and expectations of girls involved in guiding. It helps members to live by a moral
code, and is an important part of building the Girlguiding community. There is a standard Law for Guides, Rangers and
leaders, whilst Brownies have a shorter version that is easier to understand. Rainbows do not have a Law as it would
be difcult for them to comprehend.
The Guide Law (for Guides, Rangers, and leaders):
1
A Guide is honest, reliable and can be trusted.
2
A Guide is helpful and uses her time and abilities wisely.
3
A Guide faces challenge and learns from her experiences.
4
A Guide is a good friend and a sister to all Guides.
5
A Guide is polite and considerate.
6
A Guide respects all living things and takes care of the world around her.
The Brownie Law
A Brownie Guide thinks of others before herself and does a good turn every day.
Did you know?
Promise celebrations don’t have to be formal – although they can be! Wherever a girl/leader makes her promise,
it should be a special occasion for her to celebrate her commitment to guiding. Girls and leaders can choose
where they want to make their Promise, from the beach to their rst camp, or in the meeting place!
Fun fact!
The Girlguiding salute is three
ngers held together on your
right hand. The three ngers
symbolise the three different
parts of the Promise (see
above). This sign can be made
while making the Promise.
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
5
The Five Essentials
We use ve principles that provide a foundation for good quality guiding - we call these the Five Essentials. You should
keep these in mind when deciding how your unit meetings and wider activities will work.
The Five Essentials are:
Working together in small groups
Encouraging self-government and decision making
A balanced and varied programme which is girl-led
Caring for the individual
Sharing a commitment to a common standard
Doing Our Best
The Doing Our Best standards are a set of three checklists to help leaders know they’re providing good quality unit
guiding. The checklists cover:
• The Five Essentials
• Safety and safeguarding
• Making guiding happen
The Doing Our Best standards are there to support you to run an amazing unit. Use the checklists to help you and your
unit members reect and celebrate your achievements, plan for the future and decide how you’ll support each other.
You can nd Doing Our Best checklists on the Girlguiding website – take a look to see how they can help you.
Our policies
Our policies and procedures help ensure guiding is a safe space for everyone. They set universal standards for
all members and volunteers to follow, covering areas such as equality and diversity, safeguarding, learning and
development, social media, complaints and managing information. It’s essential that all volunteers observe
Girlguiding policies and the guidance that supports them. Our policies and additional resources are reviewed
regularly and published on the Girlguiding website.
Volunteer Code of Conduct
As a leader, you have a responsibility to help girls and young women reach their full potential through great guiding
experiences. Our Code of Conduct clearly maps out what is expected of you and how you should behave at all times
to help give girls the best possible experience. You can nd the Code of Conduct on the Girlguiding website.
Staying updated
During your time in guiding, we’ll keep you updated on new developments and changes to policies and procedures.
Here’s what you can expect:
Make Guiding Happen – a monthly newsletter to all volunteers with essential information
Discover, Grow – an opt-in fortnightly newsletter with further updates
guiding magazine - a printed magazine posted out termly with in-depth articles on guiding
Make sure you opt in to all our communications to benet from the latest news.
You will also receive information and updates that are local to you.
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
6
Programme
The Girlguiding programme is the suite of core resources, activities and badges on offer centrally which girls and
leaders use to plan activities in and out of the unit meeting space. All programme resources have been designed to
benet the girl and enhance her guiding experience. They have been designed to challenge, inspire and empower
our girls and young women. Each girl’s experience of the programme is unique. It is shaped by her, her peer group
and her unit leadership team. By understanding the girls you’re working with, you’ll be able to help them get the
most out of guiding.
The programme is based around six core themes, seen in the diagram below, which run through all sections. As well
as providing consistency, this gives girls a path on which they can gradually build their learning as they journey
between sections in guiding, while making it easier for those leaders who volunteer with more than one section and
helping leaders with their planning. Below, you can nd a summary of the programme and the core elements.
You can also read more about the programme structure, and complete programme training, on our website.
Skills builders
Skills builders are staged badges that help girls develop core skills as they journey through guiding. These are
designed to stretch and challenge girls of all abilities. Skills builders are structured as follows:
• Two skills builder topics per theme
• Six stages in each skills builder, as illustrated in the diagram below
• Five activities in each stage
• Designed to be done in small groups in the unit meeting space
• Supplied as A4 laminated cards, available from the Girlguiding shop
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
7
Unit meeting activities
Unit meeting activities (UMAs) are designed to be ‘pick up and go’ – which means the card contains all the information
a leader needs to organise the activity successfully within the unit. Unit meeting activities are supplied as A4 activity
cards, available in packs of 12 from the Girlguiding shop. Each pack contains section-specic activities covering a wide
range of topics. New packs of activity cards are released each term.
Interest badges
Interest badges should be completed by girls away from the meeting place to help develop their independence.
They offer girls a range of individual choices for activities which are fun, active and challenging alongside the
experiences girls have in their unit. Interest badges are structured as follows:
• Three compulsory challenges in each badge
• The challenges require a minimal amount of support and resources to complete
Note: Interest badges aren’t compulsory, and not every girl will want to complete them. As a leader, you shouldn’t
force girls to choose badges but support, encourage and inspire them.
Theme awards
There’s an award for each programme theme in every section, which means that a girl who starts in Rainbows and
goes right through to Rangers could end up with 24 Theme awards!
To achieve her Theme award, a girl needs to complete the following combination of activities within the same
theme for that section:
• One interest badge
• One skills builder stage
A set number of hours of unit meeting activities (UMAs): three hours for Rainbows, four hours for Brownies
and ve hours for Guides and Rangers
Top section awards
Girls can achieve a section Bronze award once they have completed any two Theme awards in their section, and
their section Silver award, when they have earned any four Theme awards.
When a girl has achieved all six Theme awards in her section, she can decide to take on the section Gold award
challenge to achieve the relevant award for her section. The challenge changes depending on a girl’s section and
her interests.
It’s a great achievement and a big commitment, so it must be the girl’s decision as to whether she chooses to
complete a section Gold award.
Take a look at the programme guidance notes for leaders, on the Girlguiding website, for more detail on how
to support the girls in gaining these awards.
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
8
Other opportunities
A girl’s journey in Girlguiding should include a variety of experiences, and it’s important that girls have the
opportunity to experience all parts of the programme. Although UMAs, skills builders and interest badges are the
foundation of a girl’s experience in guiding, there is still lots of room for girls to choose the other activities they
love, too!
Other activities can be anything appropriate to the unit, and may involve adventurous outdoor activities, games and
visits. The ‘activity nder’ on the Girlguiding website has lots of great ideas to help you think of things to do with your
group. You can read more about running outdoor activities in ‘Getting out and about’ on page 13 of this resource.
Remember!
For safety reasons, there are a few activities you can’t do as part of guiding, so it’s
important that you check the ‘Prohibited activities page on the Girlguiding website
There are also a number of other opportunities available to girls when they reach different ages, and you should
make sure that your unit members are aware of what they can get up to.
Guides:
Guide camp permit – girls from the age of 12 can lead a camping trip with other Guides.
The Commonwealth award – a great opportunity for girls aged 13+ to learn about other countries’ history
and culture!
Duke of Edinburgh’s AwardThere are three levels of the award: Bronze, Silver and Gold. Guides aged 13,
who are in the school year in which they turn 14, can begin a Bronze DofE programme.
Rangers:
Peer education – girls aged 14+ can help Brownies, Guides and Rangers explore topics such as wellbeing and
healthy relationships.
Lead Away permit – girls aged 14+ can plan and lead indoor and outdoor residentials for one night, for four to
eight Guides or Rangers.
Queen’s Guide award – this is the highest award in guiding. Young women challenge themselves and develop
their skills, while contributing to guiding and their local community. It is open to members aged 16 to 25.
Duke of Edinburgh’s Award – this is open to anyone aged 14 to 24 (or aged 13 and in the school year that they
turn 14). There are three levels of the award - Bronze, Silver and Gold - that vary in length and commitment,
but each level should be treated as a personal challenge to the girl undertaking it.
Girlguiding advocate – the advocate panel is a national group of 18 Girlguiding members aged 14-25, who lead
the direction of Girlguiding’s advocacy and research. The panel gives girls a platform to use their voices and
seek change at the highest levels.
British Youth Council – we have a British Youth Council delegation of 10 members aged 14 to 25, from across
the UK. Delegates learn how power and politics work and how they can use their voices and connect their views
with other young people to create positive change.
International opportunities – we’re part of a global movement, so there are lots of opportunities for
international adventures in Girlguiding. Look at the Girlguiding website, or have a chat with your county or
country/region international adviser for more information.
You can nd out more about these in the handbook for your section, available to purchase from Girlguiding shops.
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
9
Understanding the different ages
It is helpful to understand the inuences on girls at different stages of their life, so we have touched on these below.
However, every girl is different and will develop at different speeds, so make sure you take the time to get to know
your girls as individuals as well as considering the external factors below.
Rainbows are the youngest section in guiding, aged ve to seven (from four in Northern
Ireland). Children of this age will have only recently started school, but they are often
inquisitive about everything and love the opportunity to learn.
At this age, most children are still developing their basic vocabulary so repetitive songs
and rhymes can be very valuable to help them adopt new words. Girlguiding has the ‘Rainbow Song’, which can be
sung by Rainbows on any occasion.
The ‘Rainbow Song’
Look at the world around.
Learn everything you can.
Laugh as you go along.
Love this world of ours.
Look, Learn, Laugh, Love.
Rainbows have begun.
We’re all here now.
Come and join the fun.
(To say goodbye, the end of the song changes)
Look, Learn, Laugh, Love.
We’ve had lots of fun.
Bye bye Rainbows.
Sleep well everyone.
As Rainbows are constantly looking to learn about the world around them, you may nd that they are more energetic
than other sections and are unable to concentrate for long periods of time. Short activities often work best for
Rainbows, to keep them engaged.
As our second youngest group in
guiding, Brownies are aged between
7 and 10 years old.
A Brownie unit is divided into small
groups called Sixes (although you don’t need to have six in a
group!). Each Six is led by a sixer and a second, and the unit
can agree how these individuals are selected. Often, girls are
chosen by age so that those who are oldest are empowered to take responsibility, but ultimately the role should be
given to someone who you feel would be suitable for the role in line with the expectations on page 21. Getting to
know your girls’ personalities will help you to make this decision.
You could also introduce ‘Brownie elections’ and ask girls to put themselves forward for the unit to vote for.
Younger Brownies (seven- and eight-year-olds) can be very imaginative and value the space to play and be creative,
whereas older Brownies (nine- and ten-year-olds) are likely to be facing more pressures in their education. They might
have SATS or other exams, which means that they can be energetic and are likely to use Brownies to ‘let off steam’.
Brownie-aged children are still developing their self-condence and will sometimes be sensitive to what others think
about them. As a result, recognition from adults is very important, and can come in many forms, including praise and
enabling girls to take the lead in running activities.
Give it a go!
Not all Brownies will have the opportunity
to become a sixer or second, so try to
provide the experience in a different
way – for example being a sixer at a
residential event.
Top tip:
You might like to sing the ‘Rainbow song’
at a Promise ceremony or Pot of Gold party
(when Rainbows move up to Brownies),
at the start or end of a session, or when
meeting with other Rainbows.
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
10
A girl can join Guides any time after
her tenth birthday, and most move
on shortly after their fourteenth
birthday. Guides can be organised
into Patrols, which are small groups
of four to eight girls, working together with the support of
their Patrol leader and Patrol second. Girls can be elected as
Patrol leaders and seconds based on their leadership qualities,
and these individuals can then represent their Patrol at
planning meetings (sometimes called Patrol Leaders’ Council).
Friendships tend to play a large part in the life of girls at this age, and self-esteem is closely linked to how others
see them. Peer pressure can be tougher as girls head towards their teens. Lots of social media platforms have an age
restriction to prevent 13-year-olds from registering, although many girls will have accounts on these websites
much earlier.
For some girls, being at Guides may give them an opportunity to discuss these pressures, and your girls should feel
comfortable doing this if they need to. Peer educators can be hugely valuable for Guides, as they will deliver age-
appropriate sessions based on issues that are relevant to girls. You can book a session through the Girlguiding website.
A girl can become a Ranger
from the age of 14 to 18.
This stage in a girl’s life can
be particularly challenging,
as 14- to 16-year-olds face
GCSEs before typically starting college or sixth form.
Leaving school age depends on where you live, which
means that the paths members of your unit take could
vary considerably from girl to girl; while some may be
planning to move to university, others could be looking
at getting a new job.
Rangers can be vulnerable to social inuences such as their friends, celebrities and online networks. These external
pressures can increase the need for Rangers to have their own space and develop new skills in a fun and varied way.
Did you know?
As a Guide, girls can become a Rainbow
or Brownie helper. This means helping
leaders to plan and run meetings. Read
more about this on our website.
Did you know?
Girls aged 14 can also become peer educators.
Peer educators deliver training sessions on
topics that are important to girls, such as body
condence and mental wellbeing. Find out
more on our website.
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
11
Running your meetings
Guiding for all
At Girlguiding we pride ourselves on providing a modern and inclusive environment for all of our members - no matter
their identity or background.
Every girl is different and it’s important to keep this in mind when you meet any new member of your unit.
Our starting forms allow parents to give you most of the important information about their child, but nothing is more
valuable than getting to know them and their parent/carer – so make sure you do both. Some young people may need
reasonable adjustments, such as extra support, to ensure that they can enjoy the same great guiding experience as
their peers. Make yourself familiar with the Girlguiding health care and personal care plans and the Including all
pages on the Girlguiding website, so that you’re prepared to have those conversations if needed.
As part of a movement with such a strong history, many units like to channel some of our guiding traditions, but it’s
important that you remember how this may change the inclusivity of your group. For example, Girlguiding does not
have any afliation to a specic religion or faith, so it is important to let people know that we are open to all girls and
we have members from many different faith groups as well as those who hold non-religious beliefs.
Adapting activities
There may be times when you’ll need to adapt your
programme so that all girls can take part. You can adapt
a programme activity from the UMA or skills builder cards
to make it more accessible to your group, so long as the
aim and objectives remain the same. For instance, if you
are doing a cooking activity, but your unit space doesn’t
have a kitchen, you might adapt the activity to cook over
a re or disposable barbecue, or tweak the recipe to
include foods that don’t need cooking over heat and can
be eaten by all the girls in the unit.
It is also worth noting that the skills builders are staged, with a few recommended stages for each age group. This means
that girls can start on a lower stage due to their skill or condence level in the topic of the skills builder, if needed.
For more information about adapting activities, take a look at ‘RECIPES’ for successful adaptation, on the
Girlguiding website.
Remember!
If your girls are working towards their Theme
or top section awards, they must complete
the required number of programme activities
from the core programme resources; other
activities or experiences are not recognised
to meet these criteria.
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
12
Communicating and decision making
Each section has its own way of communicating and taking the lead on decision making. This is a fundamental part of
guiding, and as a leader this is something that you should encourage with your group. The formal discussion-making
forums are outlined below:
Rainbow chat – some units will hold a Rainbow chat weekly, whereas others are less frequent. This is an
opportunity for your unit to make key decisions about the programme, or share what they’ve been up to during
the week. Normally the group will sit in a circle to do this.
Brownie pow wow – These can take place whenever there is something important to discuss, decide or share, and
should involve everyone in the unit including volunteers. A pow wow should be seen as a safe place for the group
to raise their thoughts in a non-judgemental environment, so everybody’s opinions and ideas should be respected.
Guide Patrol Leaders’ Council (PLC) – This is an informal space for the Patrol leaders, leaders and young leaders
to come together and make decisions about matters that concern more than one Patrol. It’s an advisory space
where the group can discuss what happens during Patrol time. Decisions about camps, local events and spending
funds can all take place here.
Rangersby the time a girl is in Rangers, the space for making decisions may be less structured as you should nd
the girls delivering more of the programme themselves. They may need your help facilitating this, and you should
still ensure that all girls have the opportunity to input. If you have a large unit, it may be helpful to introduce a
group like Patrol Leaders’ Council that can represent the girls at planning meetings.
Group chats aren’t the only way to encourage input from your group. The unit meeting activity cards and
skills builders are a fantastic way to foster girl-led guiding and decision making, as they are written to be suitable
for girls to read and facilitate!
For top tips and ideas for decision making in your unit, see Participation on a plate’ on the Girlguiding website.
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
13
Getting out and about
Trips and adventures
As soon as the girls are involved in planning your unit’s programme of activities, you’ll discover that adventure means
different things to different people. For some this could be as simple as taking a walk to a local park; for others this
could be going for a day hike or visiting an activity centre.
There are lots of different ways to have adventures inside and outside the meeting place, but often young people
spend a lot of their time indoors, so we would encourage you to explore the outdoors as much as possible. Lots of our
skills builders and unit meeting activities can be adapted to be carried out in an outdoors environment, or to include
a trip. Take a look at some of our unit meeting activity tasters to get you started: Secrets of survival (Rainbows),
First aid in the eld (Brownies), Help (Guides), Can cooker (Rangers).
It’s easy to organise trips and adventures
away from your normal venue, and there
are a few things you need to know to make
sure you’re providing safe and supported
activities for your unit:
Ratios – these adult-to-child ratios are
recommended when you’re in your
normal meeting place, but become
mandatory when you’re not (Rainbows
1:5, Brownies 1:8, Guides 1:12).
Some activities may have specic
ratios, so it’s worth checking the
activity nder’ on the Girlguiding
website to be sure.
Risk assessments – all activities should be risk assessed, but you may need to think about different risks if you’re
outside your meeting place. For example, make sure that the girls are wearing clothing appropriate for the
weather – and do they need sun cream?
Home contact – you’ll need a home contact who has agreed to act as a rst point of contact if plans change, or if
an accident or emergency occurs. Forms are available on the Girlguiding website; search ‘Home contact’.
Commissioner – your commissioner should be made aware if you’ll be away from your meeting place, or meeting
at a different time to normal.
First aid – make sure you have your rst aid kit available, and at least one of the adults attending has a rst aid
qualication recognised by Girlguiding.
Parental permission – whenever you’re doing a meeting somewhere different with members under the age of 18,
you should gain permission from parents or carers by using the ‘Information and Consent for Event/Activity form’.
Search ‘gaining permission on the Girlguiding website.
For more information about planning activities safely, search ‘Risk management for activities and events on the
Girlguiding website.
Remember!
Exploring doesn’t have to be costly, and many
activities can be adapted no matter the age of the girls
in your unit. How about planning a scavenger hunt,
a nature trail, or star gazing? You could explore the
world through activities like pond dipping or museum
visits. Or why not contact your local re, police or
ambulance station? They often have a liaison ofcer
who works with young people.
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
14
Girlguiding’s Outdoor and Adventure qualications
When you’ve been leading for a little while, or if you have a passion for the outdoors and adventure, you might like to
look at our own bespoke Girlguiding qualications. By completing a qualication, you can take your girls further aeld
on adventures, get to know the girls better, encourage their independence and have lots of fun - all while developing
your leadership skills too! Have a chat with your commissioner or local outdoor activity adviser to nd out more.
Going Away With scheme - The Going Away
With scheme allows you to run your own
residentials with your unit. These could be
indoors or outdoors, on a boat, at an activity
centre, close by or far from home. Going away
with your unit is a great adventure for you and
the girls and is often a highlight of their time
with Girlguiding.
Walking scheme - The Walking scheme is
designed to give you the skills, knowledge,
safety and experience to take girls and
young women walking in a variety of locations and terrains. Going walking provides an opportunity to discover the
natural world, exercise and spend time together and is a great adventure for our members. There are three levels to
Girlguiding’s Walking scheme, and which one you take depends on your existing skills and experience. Each level trains
you so that you can walk in new, more challenging locations.
Narrowboating scheme - The Narrowboating scheme covers all the theory, knowledge and practical skills you need to
take girls and young women on a narrowboat. Whether for a day or a residential trip, narrowboating provides a great
opportunity to experience something new, challenging and fun. Some Girlguiding countries, regions and counties either
own narrowboats or have access to community boats that Girlguiding groups can use.
Climbing scheme - The Climbing scheme is our own climbing qualication which allows you to instruct and supervise
up to 12 Girlguiding members while they’re climbing and abseiling. The scheme consists of two levels: Level 1 is for
purpose-built climbing walls and abseiling towers and Level 2 is for climbing in the natural environment on simple
and safe crags.
Remember!
You don’t need to be a specialist in the outdoors
and adventure to include these activities in your
planning – using an external provider is also a great
way to do this. The Girlguiding ‘activity nder gives
you all the information you need to know about
the type of provider you can use, or ask your local
outdoor activity adviser for advice.
Did you know?
All sections can go on residential events, but
Rainbows can’t be away from home for more than
24 hours. Some Rainbow units run back-to-back
residentials, so half the group can stay over for
one night and the other half can stay for the
second night!
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
15
A young member’s journey through guiding
Whichever section you volunteer with, a girl should have the same positive experiences throughout her time in guiding.
From a girl’s rst contact to her last, Girlguiding should be seen as a safe and welcoming place
for girls and young women to be. Parents should sign girls up through the Girlguiding website
but, even if they don’t, remember that rst impressions count!
Reach out and contact: whether it’s at the start of your normal meeting, or over the phone or email, it’s important
to make time to meet with a new girl’s parent. Put their minds at ease, and encourage them to share any
information that you need about their daughter.
• Give parents the following information, and anything else specic to your unit:
- a copy of the ‘Starting [Rainbows/Brownies/Guides/Rangers]…’ form (with your details and the unit details
lled in)
- a copy of the relevant care plan form, if the young person needs any adjustments in order to attend and take
part easily (this shouldn’t be rushed, so make time to sit down with their parent and discuss this)
- a brief outline of how Girlguiding works and our policies (check out the Girlguiding website for some tips)
- details of the ratio of adults to children
- details of how unit meetings, events and resources are nanced (in addition to subscription fees, some units
charge a ‘joining fee’ which covers the cost of a badge book and handbook)
- an easy way to contact you, for example popping in at the start or end of unit meetings, by telephone, by email
and so on
- your expectations of them as the parents of a young member
- Girlguiding’s website address (girlguiding.org.uk)
- details of how to obtain uniform and other resources from your Girlguiding volunteer shop, by mail order or
online from girlguidingshop.co.uk (highlight how buying from Girlguiding supports guiding locally)
Make sure your new member is registered on GO. For more information on how to do this, take a look at
Using GO – our membership system on the website.
Pair your new young member up with a ‘buddy’ from your unit, who can help her settle in. This may be a girl who
has been in the unit for a while, and can introduce her to everybody properly.
Make sure she has a copy of the handbook and badge/record book for her section, and help her to understand
Girlguiding. If there are several new girls starting at the same time, you may nd it valuable to form a small
group and support them all together.
As she starts her guiding journey in your unit, she’ll be exposed to a range of
exciting new opportunities.
• Introduce the Girlguiding programme, and encourage her to work on interest badges at home.
Once she’s been coming for a few weeks, your new young member may wish to make her Promise.
Discuss this with her and work out what she would like to do as her Promise celebration.
During her time at your unit, try to offer opportunities to meet girls from other units and sections.
This could be in the form of trips or joint meetings, or even district events!
1. A warm
welcome
2. Getting
stuck in
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
16
Before you know it, it’ll be time for your ‘new’ young member to move up to the next section.
Take a look at our guidance, Moving up a section - support document for leaders, for advice on
providing the best experience for a girl who is moving to the next stage in guiding.
Involve parents in the discussion and make sure they know what’s available to their child. Remember – the unit
that your girls normally go to might not necessarily be the most convenient, so be sure to let them know about
all the options.
Celebrate! When a girl is due to move on, it’s nice to mark this with a special meeting (perhaps a party) to
celebrate her time in your unit. Some units give girls a small gift when they leave. If your unit funds allow, you
might like to buy them a handbook or badge/record book for the next section – be sure to discuss this with their
new leader, though, so that you don’t both get one!
If the girl has any reasonable adjustments or support needs in place, make sure you hand these over to the
next unit leader.
3. Moving
on up
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
17
The unit team
Whichever role you take within a team, remember the key
word – team. All of the volunteers in a unit have an important
role in delivering a quality programme to girls and, by planning
responsibilities between you, it means that nobody is left to
take on too much. Your unit team could include:
• Adult leaders
Young leaders
• Unit helpers
• Rainbow/Brownie helpers (Guides who help – only for the two youngest sections)
• Other adults who provide regular support
Everyone should be encouraged to take a full and active part in both planning the unit’s programme and supporting
girls to lead activities.
Leader names
When you start a unit, the girls should help decide what the leaders should be called. Rainbows, in particular, often
like to choose special names for each leader. There can be a common theme, or a complete mix of names chosen to
suit each individual. Let them be creative (although bear in mind you may end up being called the name in public!).
What the unit team does
The leaders are responsible for ensuring that guiding works safely and effectively in their unit. A team works best
when members trust and respect each other and when individuals feel needed and valued. The unit team should:
Plan and run meetings together – each leader takes responsibility for part of the meeting and all team members
are encouraged to contribute their ideas
Share responsibilities – tasks like organising activity equipment, record keeping, accounts and writing letters
can be shared to spread the workload, and occasionally to stretch an individual
• Combine their skills – each team member shares her talents and encourages others to learn new skills
Evaluate together – there should be an opportunity for discussion after a meeting or event. What went well?
What didn’t? Could it be improved next time?
Take a look at ‘Building a strong unit team’, our checklist for supporting teams to deliver great guiding, available on
the Girlguiding website.
Other support available
It’s always recommended to look outside your unit team for other support and advice on running your unit.
Here are some ideas:
• Speak to other leaders in the same section
• Chat at a district or division meeting
• Talk to your commissioner
• Contact your section adviser
• Read guiding magazine
• Check Girlguiding’s website (girlguiding.org.uk)
Attend a training event
Want to grow your unit team?
Take a look at the Girlguiding website
for tips for recruiting new volunteers.
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
18
Key resources
For leaders
girlguiding.org.uk – the Girlguiding website is full of information and resources, so use the search box if you
are looking for something in particular
guiding magazine – termly membership magazine with lots of activity ideas
Girlguiding policies – our policies set a universal standard for great guiding
• Volunteer Code of Conduct – this outlines expectations of how volunteers work with others in Girlguiding
Programme guidance notes for leaders – this resource will help you get your unit started on the new programme
Participation on a plate – use these activities to encourage girls to share their opinions - about big and small
things, in groups and individually
Moving up a section - support document for leaders – nd out how to support girls to move up to the next section
Unit forms – there are several forms to help you make sure you’re providing safe guiding for everyone in your
unit. Download the latest forms, including starting forms, consent forms and a risk assessment template,
from our website
Events and travel documents - our forms for events and residentials will help you plan your next adventure
Doing Our Best – our checklists for good unit guiding
Learning and development – our learning webpages will help give you the skills and knowledge you
need to give girls the best guiding experiences - including training on the programme
For Rainbows
Any resources for Rainbows mentioned below are available to buy from Girlguiding shops, volunteer shops and
girlguidingshop.co.uk
• Ready for Rainbows - Rainbow handbook (order code: 6220)
• My badge book – Rainbows (order code: 6221)
• Rainbows welcome bag (order code: 2545)
• Promise certicate (order code: 6158)
• Promise badge (order code: 1560
For Brownies
Any resources for Brownies mentioned below are available to buy from Girlguiding shops, volunteer shops, and
girlguidingshop.co.uk
• Bring on the Brownies - Brownie handbook (order code: 6240)
• My badge book – Brownies (order code: 6241)
• Brownies mesh sling bag (order code: 8265)
• Promise certicate (order code: 6811)
• Promise badge (order code: 1561)
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
19
For Guides
Any resources for Guides mentioned below are available to buy from Girlguiding shops, volunteer shops, and
girlguidingshop.co.uk
• Go Guide - handbook (order code: 6260)
• My Badge Book – Guides (order code: 6261)
• Promise certicate (order code: 6641)
• Promise badge (order code: 1562)
For Rangers
Any resources for Rangers mentioned below are available to buy from Girlguiding shops, volunteer shops, and
girlguidingshop.co.uk
You can achieve anything - handbook (order code: 6280)
• Record book - Rangers (order code: 6281)
• Promise certicate (order code: 6282)
• Promise badge (order code: 1563)
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
20
Useful terminology
There are a few guiding terms that come up often and are very useful to know as you get started.
Buddy:
Most often a role in Brownies, a buddy is another girl who supports a new young member by showing them around,
encourages them to take part in the unit’s activities, and generally helps her to settle into the unit. The individual in
this role shouldn’t be a sixer or second, and the role should last until the new girl has settled in.
Commissioner:
An adult volunteer who supports and leads other volunteers within the local guiding area. The commissioner for
your specic area will be the person who supports you most to set up your unit and will check that you have done
everything you need to do. She is on hand to help answer all your questions!
Doing Our Best:
The Doing Our Best checklists are a set of standards which were written with the help of volunteers, to give leaders
and their teams clarity and condence around what makes good unit guiding. The full checklists can be downloaded
from the website.
Leader:
A general term for an adult member who has made her Promise and has completed the Girlguiding Leadership
qualication. Every unit must have at least one leader within their leadership team, which can include volunteers
who haven’t done their Leadership qualication.
Member:
A girl or adult who has joined Girlguiding, pays a membership subscription and agrees to abide by the organisation’s
policies and values.
Occasional helper:
Adults who help in a unit on a temporary or rota basis.
Peer educator:
A girl or young woman aged 14-25 who is trained to deliver specic topics to young members
(Brownies, Guides, Rangers).
Programme:
The activities and resources offered to young members, based around six themes, including unit meeting activities
(UMAs), skills builders and interest badges.
Promise:
Adults and young members work towards making the Promise, which although optional, is a commitment to upholding
the values of Girlguiding. The wording is amended slightly for Brownies, and Rainbows have their own Promise with
simpler wording.
Section:
The term we use to describe the different age groups in guiding: Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Rangers.
Unit:
A group of young members (Rainbows, Brownies, Guides or Rangers) and an adult leadership team.
WAGGGS:
World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
21
Appendix: Encouraging leadership – qualities
and responsibilities of group leaders
Brownies: The sixer
Responsibilities of a sixer may include:
Skills and qualities that a potential sixer displays
or will develop include:
• Encouraging the Six to play and work together • Leadership
Helping all members to settle in and become part
of a team
• Encouraging others
• Some responsibility for the members within her Six • Helping out
Making sure the Six is ready to start games and
activities at a certain time
• Thinking ahead
• Helping plan a special adventure with other Sixers • Being prepared to have a go
Helping to plan a Promise Celebration for a new
Brownie in the Six
• Attending regularly
• Telling leaders if anyone in the Six needs extra help • Caring
Holding a Six pow wow (as necessary) and helping the
Six reach a decision
• Sensitivity to the needs of others
Helping prepare Brownies for their rst residential
event (if she has the experience)
• Being a good listener
• Willingly sharing her skills and knowledge with the Six • Organisation
Keeping a Six record of who comes to Brownies
each week
• Being a good communicator
• Friendliness
Responsibilities of a second may include:
Skills and qualities that a potential second displays
or will develop include:
• Helping her sixer set up an activity • Leadership
• Helping a Brownie who is nding an activity hard • Encouraging others
• Helping her Six get ready for a game • Helping out
Standing in for her sixer if she is busy doing
something else
• Thinking ahead
• Being prepared to have a go
• Attending regularly
• Caring
• Sensitivity to the needs of others
• Being a good listener
• Organisation
• Being a good communicator
• Friendliness
Brownies: The second
Guidance notes for leaders:
Running a Girlguiding unit
© Girlguiding 2019 www.girlguiding.org.uk
Registered charity number 306016
22
Responsibilities of a Patrol leader may include:
Skills and qualities that a potential Patrol leader
displays or will develop include:
Helping all members to settle in and become part of
a team
• Leadership
• Encouraging teamwork within the group • Encouraging others
• Some responsibility for the members within her Patrol • Helping out
Making sure the Patrol is ready to start games and
activities at the set time
• Thinking ahead
• Telling leaders if anyone in the Patrol needs extra help
• Being prepared to have a go
• Helping to plan the termly programme
• Attending regularly
Representing her group’s views and ideas at Patrol
Leaders’ Council
• Caring
Willingly sharing her skills and knowledge with
the Patrol
• Sensitivity to the needs of others
Helping prepare Guides for their rst residential event
(if she has the experience)
• Being a good listener
Keeping a Patrol record of who comes to Guides
each week
• Organisation
• Being a good communicator
• Friendliness
Guides: Patrol leaders
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