The Girlguides have 4 sections: Rainbows (4-7yrs), Brownies (7-10yrs), Guides (10-14yrs), Senior Section (14-26yrs). The senior section has various branches, one of which is Rangers, the uniformed section. All can work towards the same awards.
There are 3 ways in which older Brownies can incorporate ringing:
- The general Hobbies interest badge, which requires that they undertake a hobby for 3 months.
- The ‘Go!’ Challenge for those who are 9 years old. One part of this is “having a go at a new activity, like roller-blading, horse riding or chess” and ringing would almost certainly qualify here.
- The former 4-stage Bellringer badge was retained for Brownies for some time being, but not for the other sections. It could be achieved either through change ringing on tower or hand bells, or through tune ringing on handbells. The tower bell route was far too hard for girls of 10 years and younger, but the tune ringing option was much more accessible, which was the reason for its retention. This badge has recently been discontinued, but it may still be possible for it to be obtained until stocks run out.
The 4-stage Bellringer badge (which replaced the original Guide badge) has now gone, along with many other ‘interest’ badges. The basic reason for this is that too few were taking the badges and the organisation felt it needed to respond and move forward. The range of 4-stage badges were available right across the Guiding movement. They aimed to provide a starting point and challenge to any member, whatever their existing skill level or age.
The most obvious choice, and often the only one suggested by Guide leaders, is the Hobbies Badge requiring just 6 weeks’ commitment. There is nothing to stop a girl obtaining multiple Hobbies badges for different interests. Other interest badges to which ringing could contribute are Faith Awareness and Team Player. The details of these can be found on the Guiding website. At this level, the young lady is really just having a brief taste of ringing, but that could of course sow a seed.
Secondly, girls do an annual “Guide Challenge” badge. This asks them to do a number of things over the year, including completing two “Go for It!” activities. They are allocated 4-5 sessions within their weekly meeting for teamwork within their patrols for each of these. A “Go For It!” is essentially a theme with numerous diverse activities based upon that theme. It is permitted for a patrol to write their own “Go for It!”.
An enterprising young ringer or two, perhaps with an adult’s help, could develop something quite imaginative here and it would be acceptable provided it involved the whole patrol. They do not necessarily all have to do the same thing at the same skill level. Diverse activities, for example could be: increasing personal ringing skills, learning to handle, producing an information pack for other Guides, researching and writing an article for the local press, investigating tune/change ringing on handbells, putting together a presentation for the rest of the Guides, finding out about bellfounding etc. Other requirements are to take part in a community activity doing something for somebody else and to complete two activities (as a patrol team) outside their meeting place.
Thirdly, there is the Baden Powell Challenge, which can only be done after two Challenge badges have been obtained. To achieve this a girl must personally complete ten “clauses” from a prescribed range of zones. These should represent personal challenges. The Zone where ringing clearly fits in is Discovery, where an option is to spend 3 months developing a new or existing hobby.
Finally, there is the Commonwealth Award, aimed at older Guides and the Senior Section (formerly Rangers). This has a number of compulsory and optional challenges. Sunday Service ringing (and practice towards it) could satisfy the “Community Action” challenge, which asks that 20 hours over a maximum of 6 months be devoted to a service within the community.
Within the optional challenges there is “Cultural Heritage” — whilst ringing is undoubtedly part of our cultural heritage, it doesn’t immediately fall into one of the listed categories. The Guiding organisation will however usually accept a reasoned argument as to how something can fit — eg that ringing is part of the musical cultural heritage of the UK.
The Queens Guide Award has recently been revived. One section of this is “Personal Skill Development”, which requires the applicant to:
“… over a minimum period of 60 hours over 12 months, take an existing skill to a new personal level or start a new skill and develop it”.
For further advice, or assistance to do with the ringing related awards for Girlguiding discussed here, please contact me and I will do what I can to help: