A Brief History of Girlguiding UK’s Senior Section (UK)

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Rainbow Guides | Brownie Guides | Girl Guides | The Senior Sections | The Adult Sections | BGIFC (British Guides in Foreign Countries) | * *

Girlguiding UK has been active for nearly a century, and is enjoyed by girls across the globe. It's hard to believe that all of this came from an idea that one man had...to keep boys occupied.

The Senior Section is for girls ages between 14 and 25, and has gone through very many changes over the years, from when it was first started.

How It All Began

  • 1916:
    The formation of senior patrols for girls over 16 began. During this time girls who had been some of the first to join Lord Baden Powell’s Girl Guides, were now getting too old for their Guide Companies. Although they still wished to be Guides, room had to be made for younger girls who also wished to join Guides. So this is how the senior patrols came about, for girls aged 16 and over. A lot of the older girls who joined at this point were also working in munitions factories during World War I. Also in this year, Cadet Companies were started in schools; this was to enable older girls to train as Guide Leaders.

  • 1917:
    Mrs Mark Kerr took on the responsibility for the Senior Guides. She was asked to do this by Lord Baden Powell (Girlguiding UK’s founder) and to work to a scheme that he had set out for the Senior Guides. The girls wore the same uniform as the Guides, the only difference being that their Trefoil badge was set upon a red felt background.

  • 1918:
    Girl Guides Gazette published a series of issues containing The Scheme for Senior Guides.

  • Mrs Mark Kerr wrote:

    The need for Senior Guides has been felt for a long time..... Any Guide over 16 is eligible for promotion to Senior Guides. It must be remembered that nearly all Senior Guides will have been working hard during the day and will want recreation in the evening. They should not therefore be encouraged to do badge work in the evenings; their time should be spent principally in games, singing, country dancing, and other occupation affording a complete change from their daytime employments

    Following the publication of the Senior Guides Scheme a pamphlet stating aims and objectives was published for Senior Guides, called 'Senior Guides'.

  • 1920:
    The County Commissioners' Conference approved the Senior Guides to be referred to as 'Rangers'. In the same year, Sea Guides was started for girls over the age of 16 who were interested in sea-faring activities.

  • 1922:

    Ranger Guides from all over England and Wales were able to attend the first conference held for them, in Hindhead.

  • 1923:

    A new enrolment is introduced for Rangers, Sea Guides have the choice of becoming Ranger Companies and are able to take the names of ships or sea birds.

  • 1926:

    Rangers are allowed to camp with a Guider (An adult leader) if they have taken the Camp Craft Badge.

  • 1936:

    A handbook for Ranger Guiders was published called 'The Ranger Guiders Handbook'. It was decided that Rangers could wear triangular neck ties, like the ones worn by Guides and Guiders.

  • 1938:

    Rangers answered a call for service, during the September international crisis by helping out at air raid posts, handing out gas masks and working with the British Red Cross.

  • Cadets were separated from Rangers and came under the Training Department. This was decided at the Guiding World Conference.

  • 1939:

    Rangers helped out when war broke out by helping with the evacuation of children, food production, volunteering their help in hospitals and at air raid posts.

  • 1940:

    The Home Emergency Service (HES) was set up. The course aimed to prepare Rangers for war service by giving them quick and intensive training. It was open to Rangers who were not already engaged in war service. Girls had to be aged 15 or over and willing to sacrifice the time and energy needed for such work.

  • 1941:
    As the war dragged on, demand for service resulted in the entrance age for Rangers being lowered to 14.

  • 1942:

    The Rangers celebrated their 25th birthday, whilst continuing to help with the war effort by, among other things, running messenger services and fire watching.

  • 1943:

    Special entry into Women’s Services, such as the WRNS, was given to any girl who was a Ranger.

  • 1945:

    Air Rangers were officially accepted and were able to name their units after flights.

  • 1946:

    Sea Rangers enrol HRH Princess Margaret, into their section. The Queen’s Guide Award begins.

  • 1947:

    A magazine for Rangers is published called 'The Ranger'.

  • 1951:

    For the Festival of Britain, London, Rangers make displays. London Holds a Cadet Rally.

  • 1957:

    The Windsor World Camp is held and Rangers from all over the UK act as orderlies. The Camp was visited by the Chief Guide (At the time this position was held by Lady Baden Powell) and also by the Queen and Princess Mary.

  • 1959:

    The Senior Branch is formed when Rangers and Cadets are merged.

  • 1967:
    A new uniform was introduced to coincide with the renaming of the Senior Branch to The Ranger Guide Service Section. The uniform consisted of an aquamarine blouse, navy blue skirt and cap, piped in aquamarine.

  • 1969:

    Girlguiding UK recognise mixed units of Ranger Guides and Venture Scouts. This is a group of Rangers and Venture Scouts that meet at the same time and at the same place. The group would still need a female leader for the young women and a male leader for the young men.

  • 1973:

    The Ranger Guide Service Section changes its name and becomes known as Ranger Guide Units. A scheme for Young Leaders was introduced called The Young Leader Scheme.

  • 1983:

    The Queens Guide Award was made part of the Ranger programme. The Queens Guide Award is a highly prized Award to Guiding UK's members. This is because the Award takes a lot of dedication and is not easily achieveable.

  • 1986:

    At Kensington Palace, the first royal presentation of the Queens Guide Brooch was made by HRH Princess Margaret to 50 Rangers and Young Leaders.

  • 1991:

    Rangers celebrate their 75th Anniversary.

  • 1994:

    Look Wider (a new programme) was launched for the Senior Section. It was given it's name from a phrase Lord Baden-Powell was fond of says which was: 'Look Wide! And when you are looking wider, look wider still'

  • The programme consists of eight Octants, each Octants has 3 phases. The first phase is to give you the motovation to start something new. The second phase allows you to build on what you learnt in phase one, and the third phase encourages you to take things further, mabe even gaining a qualification in your chosen activity. When you have completed all three phases of an Octant you will be awarded with an Octant certificate which can be put into your Record of Achievement. If you complete phase one and two from all eight Octants you will recieve the Chief Guide's Challenge Certificate, this can also go into your Record of Achievement

How The Senior Section Stands Today

Young Leaders

Young Leaders can be aged from 14 to 26. They help out at Rainbow, Brownie and Guide meetings, often becoming like a big sister to the younger girls. At 16 they can start training towards a leadership certificate, and at 18 they can run their own unit if they have gained their warrant. This is a uniformed section and they wear a white Promise badge.


Rangers can be aged from 14 to 26. The emphasis here tends to be towards outdoor pursuits. Ranger groups can meet and team up with Venture Scout groups (now known as Explorer Scouts). This is a uniformed section that wears an aquamarine Promise badge.


Link is a mixed-sex group aged 18 to 30, affiliated to both Girlguiding UK and The Scout Association. It is a non-uniformed group that combines outdoor activities and training with social events and service. About one third of the membership is made up of Scout and Guide leaders, but it is not necessary to have been in the uniformed organisations to join.


SSAGO (Student Scout and Guide Organisation) is a non-uniformed organisation for students at UK colleges and universities. Students can join as individuals if no club exists at their location. In common with most students, SSAGO clubs tend to meet in pubs.

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