Going on residentials
How to plan and run your own residential events and use our residential event notification (REN) form
Going away with your unit is a great adventure for you and the girls.
There are loads of organised residential activities that your unit can go on without you needing a going away with licence – but if you want to give your girls a unique experience, why not run your own?
How to run your own residential
First, decide with your girls where and when you will do your residential. This could be indoors or outdoors, on a boat, in a yurt, close or far from home.
To run your own residential event, someone in your event leadership team must hold, or be working towards, the relevant modules of the going away with scheme. Speak to your commissioner about completing the scheme as early as possible.
You need to ensure you have a licence holder in a ratio of at least 1:50. Events with 100 or more participants in total are defined as large-scale events.
Residential event notification form
At the start of planning your residential event you should speak to your commissioner and send them the first part of the Residential event notification (REN) form. Include the relevant supporting documents including a risk assessment. You can do this through the events area on GO or by submitting either a Home REN form or an International REN form.
Your commissioner will consult with the relevant advisers and confirm approval for the next stage of planning your residential.
What is the difference between a Home REN form and an International REN form?
You should use a Home REN form for any residential taking place in the UK. If you are part of British Girlguiding Overseas (BGO), a home residential is one that takes place within your BGO home county.
The International REN form should be used for any event where you are staying in, or travelling through, any country outside the UK (or your home country), including Ireland.
When should I submit each stage of the form?
This depends on the type of residential you are planning:
- 9-18 months before the event: International permission to plan and Part one, if agreed with your commissioner.
- 4 months before the event: Updated risk assessment and itinerary
- 4 weeks before the event: Part two
Check our guidance on running a large-scale event. You only need to complete an International permission to plan form if the event is overseas.
- 12-18 months before the event: Part one
- 4 months before the event: Updated risk assessment and itinerary
- 4 weeks before the event: Part two
All other home residentials
- 12 weeks before the event: Part one
- 4 weeks before the event: Part two, along with the updated risk assessment and itinerary
If there are any changes to your plans after your REN form has been approved by your commissioner, you must update and resubmit Part two of the REN form.
You can submit the permission to plan section earlier. And in certain circumstances we recommend this, for example: the event is high cost, you are relying on fundraising, you are travelling outside Europe or the trip will last more than one week.
What to do if you can't get the REN form to your commissioner within the required time
The guidance recognises that there may be times when you are not able to meet the timescales. Perhaps because an opportunity arises that does not give quite enough notice. If your commissioner is satisfied that you can get all your planning in place and safely do the residential, you might be able to go ahead. This is called exceptional circumstances and is at the discretion of your commissioner.
What should you include in the draft risk assessment and activity plan for part one of the form?
A draft risk assessment must include any immediate risks you're aware of from experience or that you noticed when visiting the location. It doesn't need to include any member- or girl-specific items. The draft risk assessment is a working document and doesn't need to be completed in full for this stage.
You might be able to use the risk assessment from the venue or site, or have a risk assessment you used for a previous event that you can use as a starting point.
The draft activity plan should be an outline that shows the activities you are considering doing on your residential, or what is available as part of the programme. It can be used to look at what else you may need in order to deliver your planned programme. For example, if you're planning a walk, do you need a walking qualification? More information about the qualifications or safety requirements of any planned activities can be found on the activity finder.
This is a fluid document and can change up to submitting the final REN form.
What happens if your REN form is returned due to queries?
Before you submit the form make sure you've read the guidance notes and you've included all the attachments that the form asks for at the right stage.
If your REN form is returned, your commissioner or adviser will explain the reasons why and help you make the steps needed to move forward with your planning.
The most common reason for REN forms being returned by commissioners is because the risk assessment isn't satisfactory. Be sure to read our guidance on how to complete risk assessments. Level 3 A Safe Space training covers risk assessments, and there might be local risk assessment training or webinar you can attend to support you.
What if I need to make changed to the REN form after part two has been approved?
If there are any changes after part two is signed off by the authorising commissioner, for example there's been a change of venue or a leader has had to withdraw and a replacement has stepped in, the form must be edited and resubmitted for approval.
If you are using the REN form on GO, you should ask the authorising commissioner to move your form back to the finalising stage. You can then make the changes and resubmit your form.
You must not hold an event unless you have received this reapproval.
Requirements for licence holders at Girlguiding Activity Centres
If you're attending an event at a Girlguiding Activity Centre where it's clear that a licence isn’t required, you can list the venue as the licence holder. The role of licence holder will be completed by a nominated member of staff from the activity centre if needed.
Can I book a venue before submitting my form?
You'll need authorisation from your commissioner before you start to formalise plans for a residential or large-scale event. You should submit your permission to plan form (for international events) or part one of your REN form to your commissioner and get authorisation before you pay a deposit for your venue.
If you need insurance, it will only cover payments made after you've taken out the policy, so you should make insurance arrangements at the same time as, or before, making a booking.
Why might I need insurance for a residential in the UK?
Girlguiding has arranged some insurance that covers members, or anyone acting on behalf of Girlguiding, when they are involved in a recognised guiding activity. However, our insurance does not cover cancellation or curtailment, travel issues, hiring a vehicle or using your own, or damage to personal belongings.
There is further guidance to help you to see if, or what, insurance you may need for your trip on the travel and trips insurance page.
Why we've updated the REN forms
Members have told us that you want to have the option of completing your REN form on GO. So we've been working on adding this to the system and it's now ready for you to use. We've also taken the opportunity to review the contents of the form based on your feedback and things we've learnt during Covid-19.
A number of areas were identified as needing improvement to help you and your commissioners with the REN form process. We also took into account best practice and some known issues that can arise during a residential when we reviewed the forms.
There are some elements to the form that have not changed, such as the timings of each stage in the process, so the changes we have made should not mean you need more paperwork.
As well as adding the form to GO, we've updated the downloadable versions of the form so they're the same. You can choose whether to use the downloadable forms or the new GO process.
Changes to the form were developed with a working group of lead and specialist volunteers, then reviewed and tested by a pool of unit leaders, commissioners and advisers.
When should I start using the updated form?
The updated forms should be used now. All new trips should use the new forms, either through GO or by downloading the.
If you're in the middle of planning a trip that was postponed due to Covid-19, and you've already had part one of the REN form approved, you'll need to resubmit your part one, along with all the supporting documents, to your commissioner.
If you've already received permission to plan for an international trip, you'll need to resubmit your permission to plan form to your commissioner using the updated International REN form.
Why can't I submit my additional documents through GO?
We will keep working on improving the REN form process on GO with the goal that all REN documents can be completed and submitted in the system. However, for the time being, you'll still need to send these to your commissioner separately.
What if I don't have a role at the same level as the trip I'm planning?
We understand that many trip leaders run trips at district, division, county or country/region level, so we have a new role on GO called ‘event administrator’.
If you've been selected to run a trip and you don’t already hold a role at that level your commissioner will give you the role of ‘event administrator’ for the event. This gives you access to complete a REN form on GO for the district, division, county or country/region but won’t give you access to any of the other records for that level.
Can I use the downloadable form on the website instead of the GO form?
Yes. We know some members feel more comfortable completing the downloadable form, so this option remains for anyone who would prefer to use it.
As we keep developing the process on GO, residentials using the Lead Away permit will need to use the downloadable form from the website.
What if I have a volunteer that cannot log into GO to accept their place on the trip?
All volunteers, enquirers and Rangers have the ability to set up a GO login. If a volunteer isn’t able to accept their place on the trip using the links provided in the event’s ‘volunteers and home contact’ tab, and they are volunteering in the same level as the trip is organised (for example, they're a volunteer in your unit team) then you can assign them to the residential. See the GO help file for more information.
If they are an enquirer or someone not volunteering at the same level as the residential and are having issues with the link or with logging into GO then they should contact the membership systems team on [email protected]. This is because they need to give their permission for the authorising commissioner to see their details on GO.
If a 13 year old young external volunteer, such as a DofE volunteer, is attending, you'll need to assign them to the residential using this process. This is because only people over 14 years old can log into GO. Guide helpers age 13 should be listed as Guides on the ‘participant details’ tab.
Informing parents and carers
- You must gain permission from parents using the information and consent form (PDF).
- Parents of under 16s and participants over 16 must complete a health information form (PDF). You can also download a Word version of the health information form. If you need it, you also download the additional information sheet as a PDF or download the additional information sheet as a Word document.
- Parents must have the opportunity to meet the leaders prior to the event and have all plans explained to them.
- An emergency contact must be available to collect young members if necessary.
- A home contact must be in place for the event.
Event leadership team
It is important you have a supportive team of volunteers to help you run a residential event. You will need the following people:
- License holder – responsible for planning the event, including appointing teams for catering, health and first aid.
- First aider – must have attended a suitable and valid first aid course such as 1st Response or a professional similar or higher level course. There must be at least one other adult present with first aid knowledge. If the first aider is a man, a woman must be present when a member is being treated. A woman should deal with girls’ personal hygiene queries and needs.
- Caterer – responsible for supplying food and equipment, and all food hygiene. Anyone over 18 who is familiar with food hygiene requirements can be a caterer. A qualification is not required for this role but those wishing to increase their knowledge can complete the Girlguiding catering scheme.
You must also make sure:
- You have set up a home contact system.
- You have enough adults in your team to maintain section ratios as outlined below.
- All volunteers aged 18 or over who are staying overnight have completed the recruitment and vetting procedure.
- All non-member volunteers are assigned the role of district/division/county helper on GO and undertake a criminal records check. You can find out more about criminal records checks in our recruitment and vetting procedures.
- Young Leaders are supervised at all times by adult volunteers, as they are not included in ratios
- You take any families and children of volunteers at residential events into account.
There is no maximum number of adults at a residential, but make sure the number means girls have the opportunity to take responsibility and do some things for themselves.
The venue must be approved by the relevant host adviser. If the venue has not already been approved, notify the adviser in plenty of time for the venue to be inspected before you make firm plans. You should also follow these regulations:
- If Brownies or Rainbows are staying in a youth hostel or hotel, the sleeping, washing and toilet facilities must be self-contained, and girls must sleep in rooms close to those occupied by the leaders.
- If Brownies or Rainbows are camping, in case there's bad weather, the licence holder must make sure that there is solid shelter available or make prior arrangements with parents or guardians to take girls home.
- If Guides and Rangers are camping, in case there's bad weather, the licence holder must make sure that there is alternative shelter available (this could be a solid shelter or temporary structure, such as a mess tent or marquee) or make prior arrangements with parents or guardians to take girls home.
- If adults share a sleeping area with under 18s, there must be at least 2 adult volunteers present.
- Lilos, designed to be used on the water, and sun loungers are not to be used as beds.
- If boys, or volunteers who are men, are present there must be separate sleeping and bathroom facilities for them.
- If the venue is not normally used for overnight accommodation, for example a church or school hall, the local police and fire service need to be informed that the sleepover is taking place.
- If you're planning to use home hospitality you must follow Girlguiding guidance.
- If you are using a caravan for a residential on a site that is not Girlguiding or Scout run and doesn't have a caravan licence, please contact [email protected] at least 2 months in advance of the planned event.
- If you are planning to use a tented village, please see our guidance on tented villages (PDF).
For joint or multi-section residentials, at least 1 leader from all participating sections must be present, and the correct ratio for each section must be observed.
If you have 'spare' places from the younger section ratio, you can use girls from the older section to count in the ratio of volunteers to girls, but you must follow the youngest section ratio. For example, if you were taking 9 Rainbows and 8 Brownies away, you would need:
- 1 event coordinator who does not count in the ratio (as this is the policy for Rainbow residentials).
- 3 volunteers for the 9 Rainbows (1 of whom must be a Rainbow leader). The Rainbow residential ratio of 1:4 means you need 2 adults with 4 Rainbows each, and 1 leader with 1 Rainbow and 3 'spare' places.
- Then, you would need 1 Brownie leader to take 6 Brownies, as the Brownie residential ratio is 1:6. The remaining 3 Brownies would count under the adult with the ninth Rainbow, as children in older sections can count in younger sections' ratios (but younger sections cannot be counted in older sections' ratios).
- Maintain adult to child ratios of 1:4 (not including the event coordinator). There must be at least three adults present at all times.
- Rainbow overnight events must not exceed one night and two days, including travel, from when care of the girls is transferred to the leader.
- Rainbows must not travel abroad for overnight events.
- Rainbows may attend a sleepover with other sections.
- All Rainbows must be accompanied by a leader from their own unit, and the volunteers coming as part of the accompanying leadership team must be known to the unit leader.
- If the licence holder is not a Rainbow leader, a Rainbow leader should be involved in planning and be present at the event.
- The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents recommends that no child under the age of six sleeps in the top bunk. Seek parental permission if younger girls will need to sleep in top bunks.
- The venue should be close enough for a parent to collect their child should the need arise.
- Maintain an adult to child ratio of 1:6, with at least three adults present, or two at the commissioner's discretion.
- If going away without their own leader, each Brownie must have met at least one member of the leadership team prior to the event.
- If Brownies are staying in separate buildings (such as chalets or static caravans), there must be at least two leaders, helpers or young leaders present in each building.
- A maximum of four Brownies aged nine or over may visit a Guide residential, as long as four adults are present.
Maintain an adult to child ratio of 1:12, with at least three adults present, or two at the commissioner's discretion.
- There is no required adult to child ratio for a Rangers residential, but there must be at least 2 adults present, or one at the commissioner's discretion.
- 1 or more 18-year-old Rangers may share sleeping areas with other Rangers if they're all attending as young members. If attending in a leadership role, for example young leader or unit helper, those 18 and over should follow the sleeping arrangements for adult volunteers. If you need advice regarding Rangers over 18 years old, please contact [email protected].
- Where all members of a Rangers trip are over 18, please follow the all adult residential procedure. Volunteers should still carry out effective and detailed planning.
- If 18-year-old Rangers aren't in a leadership role, they don't need to complete disclosure checks (DBS/PVG/Access NI) as they're being supervised by adult volunteers.