Practical tips for planning your residential

Everything you need to know

Going on a residential is an exciting experience for girls, and volunteers too. But there are things to think about to keep everyone safe.

Here’s a reminder of what to consider when you’re planning.

1. Individual needs

Involve all young members and their parents or carers when you plan residentials. This will give each young person the chance to explore their individual needs and suitable accommodation can be chosen. Explain to parents and carers early on that the leadership team is available for conversations around anything sensitive. This could be something personal, medical or developmental. And it might be something you’ve not been aware of before, so it’s important to make time to talk.

Take a case-by-case approach when assessing the needs of all young members in the unit. Girlguiding can support volunteers to do this, balancing the needs of the group and making sure everyone feels comfortable. This may include organising separate facilities for anyone who wants or needs them too.

2. Keeping everyone safe

Remember, where possible as a volunteer you shouldn’t be in a situation where you’re alone with girls or young members.  

If you need to treat or speak to a child away from other people,  make sure that more than one volunteer is there or aware of the situation. For example, if a child is feeling homesick you might want to talk to them in a quiet corner of the main room. But if a child is vomiting take them to the first aid room and let other volunteers know, and keep the door open. 

There may be non-emergency situations where volunteers will be alone with a group, like if you split up to complete a woodland wide game. Think about the risks involved and plan for how they’ll be managed. For example, each group could have a whistle they can use to get help. 

And make sure you keep yourself safe and don’t put yourself in a position of unnecessary risk or danger. 

3. Working together

At the start and when planning a residential, agree ground rules with the girls so they’re involved too.  

For example, respecting each other’s privacy when sharing a room or getting changed. Or not spending so long in the shower that volunteers need to hurry them up to make sure the group aren’t late for planned activities. Everyone’s working together to make sure the residential is as fun as it can be and safe for all, so explain that volunteers will be following these rules too. This should minimise the amount of supervision you need to do, and maximise the fun.   

Girlguiding expects all young members and volunteers to behave in a mutually respectful and appropriate way when using facilities to everyone can enjoy their trip. And as always, volunteers must follow all our safeguarding guidelines and volunteer code of conduct. 

4. Think about the practicalities 

Sleeping accommodation:  

  • All adult volunteers must complete the recruitment and vetting procedure if you’re staying overnight with girls under 18. This includes references and a disclosure check being carried out.  
  • Wherever possible, volunteers should sleep in a separate room. For example, if you’re hiring a church hall and there’s a smaller meeting room available this could be for the volunteers. This is better for many reasons, from giving everyone more privacy, to increasing the chance of volunteers getting more than an hour’s sleep! 
  • If volunteers and young members have to sleep in the same space there must be at least two volunteers present, and volunteers should have a separate area within the room. Like sleeping at the opposite end of the room to the girls.   
  • When planning the sleeping arrangements, whether in bedrooms or tents, consider the difference in age, how well girls know each other and friendship groups. You may want to talk to girls about who they share with. Final say belongs to the leader in charge.
  • Everyone needs privacy, so getting dressed or undressed should be done separately, with neither volunteers or girls changing in the same space. 
  • If any men are unit helpers, or a son of a volunteer is going on the residential, they must sleep in a separate room.  

Showers and changing rooms:  

  • Rainbows are the only section that may need support with showers. Other than that, volunteers shouldn’t be present while young members are showering.   
  • As with accommodation, volunteers and young members should have separate shower and changing rooms, or not use them at the same time. Many pack holiday homes include separate showers for volunteers. Where shower blocks are shared, for example on campsites, separate times should be allocated for volunteers. 
  • Volunteers might need to go into the changing rooms, for example if the girls are spending too long chatting or if there’s a behaviour issue. If you do need to enter, remember to announce clearly that you’re coming in and why. And think about whether another volunteer can join you. 
  • If any men are unit helpers, or a son of a volunteer is going on the residential, they must have a separate shower and changing facility. 

5. Personal care 

What’s personal care? 

Personal care is physically helping someone look after themselves. This could be in connection with eating or drinking, using the bathroom, washing or bathing and dressing. 

Planned personal care of a young member:  

  • Make sure you’ve already completed an adjustment plan with the parents or carers, and young member. 
  • Planned personal care must only be carried out by a dedicated individual support unit helper or an external carer. This person must have been approved by the parent or carer. 

Unexpected personal care of a young member:

  • If unexpected personal care is needed, you must contact the parent or carer of the young member first. In an emergency, contact the parent or carer as soon as practically possible.  
  • As far as possible ask the young person to clean themselves up. 
  • Avoid physical contact where possible, and have a second volunteer present when with the young member.  
  • Make sure you listen to the young person and explain what’s happening. 
  • Scenarios where unexpected personal care might be needed include: 
  • Illness. For example, a Brownie comes down with diarrhoea and vomiting and needs help cleaning herself up while you wait for her parent or carer to collect her.  
  • Accident. For example, a Guide injures herself and needs medical care in an area that would normally be covered. 
  • Mishap. For example, a Rainbow finds the deepest, muddiest puddle while out on a walk and needs cleaning off. 

6. Have fun and keep safe 

Residentials are here to help young members expand their horizons, have fun, and enjoy their Girlguiding experience. And by keeping these tips in mind we can all make sure residentials are a safe space for everyone. 

If you have any questions about running residentials, speak to your commissioner, or contact [email protected]. 

Useful resources   

Safeguarding Policy 

Safeguarding Procedure 

Giving and Managing Medication 

Risk Management for activities and events 

Unit Safeguarding Guidelines 

Including all 

Making adjustments 

Supporting trans young members