Unit guiding and sections

When a girl or volunteer join us, they become part of a local unit - a group of girls lead by an adult volunteer

A unit is a group of girls of a similar age, who are part of a specific section of guiding, supported by volunteers.


‘Unit’ is the name given to a group of Rainbows, Brownies, Guides or Rangers, their leaders and leadership team. Each unit is registered with Girlguiding with a registration certificate in the name of the unit with their start date.

Our sections

'Section' is the term we use to describe the different age groups in guiding. Each section has its own programme of age-appropriate activities. Girls can move up to the next section when they reach the right age.


  • Joining age - any time from their fourth birthday.
  • Move up to Brownies - between their seventh birthday and seven years and six months.
  • Recommended time in Rainbows - three years.


  • Joining age - seventh birthday.
  • Move up to Guides - between their 10th and 11th birthdays.
  • Recommended time in Brownies - three years.


  • Joining age - 10th birthday.
  • Move up to Rangers - between their 14th and 15th birthdays.
  • Recommended time in Guides - four years.


This section includes young leaders and any other members aged between 14 and 18.

  • Joining age - 14th birthday.
  • No longer part of Rangers - 19th birthday.

Transferring between sections

The age girls transfer up to the next section is flexible. Girls can only be a member of one section at a time. A girl moves on to the next section when she:

  • has reached the minimum age for entry into the new section
  • has found out about the new section and the unit to which they're moving
  • feels ready and happy to make the transfer.

Find out more about moving sections.

Adults in guiding units

Units are led by a group of volunteers called the Leadership team. This team normally includes the unit leader and assistant leader(s). There may also be young leaders aged under 18, unit helpers, parents or Trefoil Guild members.

Find out what adults do in guiding.

Who can join a unit?

Most units are open to any girl who wishes to join. Some are sponsored, for example by a religious community, hospital or school, but they have no restrictions on membership. A very few ‘closed sponsored units’ restrict membership to a certain group, for example units in residential schools.

We try hard to make sure that there are enough open units in an area to enable all girls to become members, regardless of their faith or the school they attend. In places where there is only one unit, it should be open to all girls and young women who wish to join and who are willing to make the Promise.

If there aren't enough spaces in groups in an area, guiding can sometimes be offered in a flexible way, such as joint units or groups.