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'll 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. 

You’ll also need to complete a residential event notification (REN) form.

Residential event notification form

The residential event notification (REN) form is what leaders in charge of residential events must use when planning a residential event with young members. This includes sleepovers, camps, large-scale events and international residentials.

At the start of planning your residential event you should speak to your commissioner and send them the first part of the 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.

REN help files

For step-by-step instructions on completing the REN form on GO, you can use our REN help files for advisers, commissioners and leaders in charge. 

What's 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.

The international REN form should be used for any event where you're 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:

International trip

  • 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.

Large-scale events

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're relying on fundraising, you're travelling outside Europe or the trip will last more than 1 week.

What to do if you can't get the REN form to your commissioner within the required time

We recognise that there may be times when you're not able to meet the timescales. For example, because an opportunity arises that doesn't 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're considering doing on your residential, or what's 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 adventure for girls pages.

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 a change 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're 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.

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're 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.

Event leadership

Informing parents and carers

Event leadership team

It's important you have a supportive team of volunteers to help you run a residential event. You'll 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's familiar with food hygiene requirements can be a caterer. A qualification isn't 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 adults aged 18 and over attending this event have completed Girlguiding recruitment checks (including relevant disclosure checks).
  • All volunteers have at least a safe space level 1 and 2 and the leader in charge has a safe space level 3, excluding any supported volunteers.
  • 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're not included in ratios.
  • You take any families and children of volunteers at residential events into account.

There's 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 hasn't 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's 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's 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 aren't 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 isn't 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 on hosted hospitality you must follow our guidance.
  • If you're using a caravan for a residential on a site that's 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're 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 doesn't 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'd 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 3 adults present at all times.
  • Rainbow overnight events must not exceed 1 night and 2 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 6 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 3 adults present, or 2 at the commissioner's discretion.
  • If going away without their own leader, each Brownie must have met at least 1 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 2 leaders, helpers or young leaders present in each building.
  • A maximum of 4 Brownies aged 9 or over may visit a Guide residential, as long as 4 adults are present.

Maintain an adult to child ratio of 1:12, with at least 3 adults present, or 2 at the commissioner's discretion.

  • There's no required adult-to-child ratio for a Rangers residential, but there must be at least 2 adults present, or 1 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.