What girls do in our programme

Girls will get involved in unit meeting activities, skills builders activities and earn badges

Our programme activities and badges are a great way for girls to try new things and develop their skills.

Find out what they do by clicking on the links below:

Unit meeting activities (UMAs)

There’s a huge range of things to try in our growing suite of fun, ready-to-go unit meeting activities.

Girls can explore topics as diverse as DIY, self-defence, friendship, exploring nature, animals and 3D craft and design – and many, many more!

We’ve worked with our members to develop lots of new activities, on topics that girls and young women told us they wanted to explore with their friends at their regular meetings.

These activities are about taking part, trying new things and having fun as a group. There’s a variety of lengths and styles, so they can work for 10 minutes of fun at the end of a unit meeting or a longer exploration on a new topic. And they all sit within our programme themes and count towards earning a Theme award.

These unit meeting activities come on specially designed activity cards. They’re bright, colourful and simple to follow, to encourage all girls to get involved or to take the lead.

‘Our Rainbows all participated and enjoyed the activities, building confidence in even the shyest girl.’ – Rainbow leader who tested activities

The format of the cards themselves was designed with input from 538 girls. We tested the activities with more than 11,000 girls, from Rainbows to Rangers, to make sure they’re girl-led, meet the needs of our young members and can be easily delivered in unit meetings.

‘Love my Rainbow pack. The cards are sturdy, clear and the activities are fun.’ – Rainbow leader who tested the activities

There are lots of different activities now available for units, and new packs of activities will be developed and released regularly each year, so there’ll always be something fresh for girls to try. 

As girls focus on a range of themes they’ll build up the activity hours they need to get their hands on their Theme awards. Leaders can record the activities from each meeting in the recording section of GO.

There's also plenty of room for leaders and girls to do other activities too. These can be anything you want, including adventurous outdoor activities, games, trips and visits that don't connect to a theme.

Get activity packs for your unit

Leaders and volunteers can pick up or download packs of activities for their units through our online shop.

Skills builders

Skills builders are specially designed to help girls develop core skills as they travel from Rainbows to Brownies and on to Guides and Rangers.

We see our skills builders as an evolution of the staged badges, like cyclist and survival, that were available for all sections from the late 80s. These badges gave girls the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of a subject over time, something which was missing from guiding since the staged badges were discontinued.

Our members told us that they missed the growth and progression that came from this structure, so we launched skills builders in 2018 to help girls tackle new topics, reach their potential and grow their abilities in ways that are relevant to their experiences in Girlguiding and beyond!

A variety of skills, from traditional to bang up to date

There are 12 skills builder topics. They all link with our programme themes and cover everything girls love about guiding from outdoor adventures to learning leadership skills.

There's 6 stages to complete in each topic and girls earn a badge for every stage they complete. Each stage is a bit more challenging than the one before – so if a girl starts stage 1 in Rainbows, by the time she reaches stage 5 as a Guide she’ll have gained some very valuable skills, got a great set of badges and had a lot of fun!

For example, as they progress through the stages of the innovate skills builder, girls learn about design, construction, experimenting and a whole range of skills. It introduces them to science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in a fun and relatable way.

We really enjoyed this and would do more fun things that we don't get a chance to do at school – Brownie unit who tested activities for the Innovate skills builder.

Skills builders by numbers

  • 5 activities to do at each stage.
  • 6 stages in a skills builder.
  • 12 different skills builder topics to try.
  • 2 skills builder topics for each of the 6 programme themes.

Girls completing any stage from 1-5 can complete 4 out of the 5 activities to achieve a skills builder badge. For stage 6 all five activities need to be completed. Some skills builder stages have linked activities – where it clearly says they must be done in order. With these stages, linked activities should be prioritised and make up part of the four completed activities.

Skills builder stages are great for girls to work on in their regular unit meetings. There are 5 activities to complete at each stage, each one developed to work brilliantly as a small group activity. This means that several groups can be working on a different stage, or different topics, in the same meeting.

At each stage girls will also have an opportunity to develop their skills independently. Whether through preparing something for a group activity, creating something unique to them or by reflecting on what they’ve learnt during the activities they’ve done.

Interesting to see younger Rainbows become involved in teamwork which is sometimes not visible during meetings where other activities are chosen by the girls. – Rainbow leader who tested skill builder activities

Girls in all sections will work with their leaders to decide which stage they’re ready to start, by looking at their experiences in and out of guiding. This means that all girls have the chance to challenge themselves, whichever stage they’re at.

There’s no restriction on the lowest stage a girl can start on. So if your Brownie feels nervous about stage 2 but ready for stage 1, she can start there. There's an upper limit for each section to encourage girls to develop a breadth as well as depth of skills. So Rainbows can’t go higher than stage 2, Brownies stage 3, Guides stage 5 and the Rangers section can reach stage 6.

The look of the skills builder activities – available to buy or download in packs of activity cards – will be familiar to leaders and volunteers already. They follow the colourful, step-by-step approach used on our unit meeting activity cards. They feature extra information on safety advice, adaptations of the activity and ‘top tips’ for how to tackle it.

The card layout makes them perfect for handing out to small groups to work on together.

Some of our best feedback on activities came in the form of drawings.

The range of topics available means there’s something for every girl, and the stages mean they’re suited for every level of skill. Girls can go from being new to a subject to becoming a whizz as they journey through guiding. And being able to carry on doing things they have enjoyed as they transition to a new section will just make it even more exciting to be joining a new group. 

Volunteers and staff who worked on creating the new activities loved being a part of something that will help so many girls grow and develop. They could often be found moving around furniture to make space for a 'crime scene' or a relay race as they worked out how to respond to your activity testing feedback.

All to make sure that the skills builders are a fun and rewarding way for girls to develop skills like leadership, teamwork and communication, earning badges as they go!

Ahead of the pack

Leaders and volunteers - start exploring the skills builder stages with your units and get your hands on the activity packs in our online shop!

Interest badges

From blogging to dancing, our interest badges are based on what girls tell us they’d like to do.

Together with unit meeting activities and skills builder badges – which they fit alongside perfectly – interest badges offer girls a varied and challenging guiding experience.

They give girls the chance to personalise their experience and develop their independence and self-confidence. Girls choose which badges they do and how and when they do them and who with. The badges introduce them to a range of activities - who knows, a badge could introduce a girl to an interest she treasures for the rest of her life.

Completing interest badges has always been a much-loved part of guiding. And in 2018 we bought our badges right up to date (though we’ve kept some old favourites too). They focus on fun. And are designed to open girls’ eyes to activities they might not have tried before, or allow them to dig deeper into the things they love.

Girls complete interest badges outside of the unit

At home, on holiday, in the unit meeting, anywhere they like. This means they can choose whichever interest badges they like without having to go with the group decision. It gives them the space to develop their independence and self-confidence while having fun and trying something new.

Girls choose when they do them 

Many can be done in a few hours or over a weekend. They’re as time-intensive as a girl chooses to make them. They don’t have to be done all at once. Instead girls can plan them around their other commitments.

Pippi told me that the challenge helped her prove to herself that she could do things, and she felt proud – Parent of Pippi, who tested a new Rainbow badge

Girls decide how they complete challenges 

Each interest badge consists of three challenges, but we don’t tell girls exactly what to do. Instead they choose how they tackle each challenge and each girl will do something unique. There’s no 'right' way to do it and this encourages girls to be creative and challenge themselves.  

Girls share what they've done with their leader 

When they have done the challenges girls will share what they've achieved with their leader. And once she agrees that the badge is complete she will sign her badge book and present her with the badge.

If girls struggle to find the time or resource to complete interest badges at home, leaders can give them the space and inspiration to complete them in unit meetings, or on camps and trips.

Interest badges by section

Rainbows – 12 badges, 2 per theme

There are many exciting badges for Rainbows to choose from. While they may need a little support from an adult, the badges have been designed so they won’t need too much. It’s a great chance for parents to see just how much fun guiding is.

Brownies – 18 badges, 3 per theme

Brownies have plenty of badges to choose from. They’re just right for their age group and there are plenty of fresh topics to spark their interest, like the aviation badge in partnership with EasyJet. 

Guides – 24 badges, 4 per theme

With a broad mix of topics available, every Guide should find lots of interest badges to suit her, from fitness to photography.

Great activity: up to date, just what my daughter and her pals love doing -  Lynne, parent of a Guide who tested one of our new badges.

Rangers – 18 badges, 3 per theme

Rangers interest badges will offer a fun taste of topics ranging from the serious to the silly. Flexibility is key here to fit around Rangers’ busy lives and offer an alternative to the pressure of school. Why not give the digital design badge, supported by Google, a try?

We asked for your badge ideas

We made a call out for new badge ideas through our #BadgeGoals campaign and have turned some of your brilliant ideas into new badges. The campaign was also a way to test existing ideas and it was great to hear we were on the right track.  

You put badges to the test

Every single badge has been tested by girls in guiding. Over 1,000 girls – and parents – took part in focus groups, unit testing and in consultations at camps and events like Wellies and Wristbands.

Girls were asked to rate how much they enjoyed the badge. Any badge that didn’t pass the enjoyment test was redeveloped and retested.

Getting the design right

Our members also helped us design the badges. We weren’t sure if badges should only feature an illustration. But the feedback was clear - girls wanted the badge name to help them remember what the badge was when looking back over their guiding experience.

Every badge has been checked to make sure that the writing is legible, the colours and illustrations look right, and when it comes to Brownies that they fit on the sash!

Collect them all

Girls in guiding can explore everything from agility to zero waste with our huge range of badges. See them all in our badge finder.