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Weekly Discussion: A badge for everything?

Do you think that Guiding has developed a badge heavy culture

  • Yes

  • No

  • Other

  • Yes- Too many from CHQ

  • Yes- But only at unit level

  • No- There are nice optional markers for special occasions

  • No-Badges are a part of Guiding culture

  • Yes- But its what the girls want

  • No- But we are at risk of doing so

Results are only viewable after voting.


Veteran (100+ posts)
A big one? This is slightly different from discussing the merits of challenge badges for which the discussion is here: Weekly Discussion: “Challenge” Badges

Have we started to develop a culture of a badge for everything?

If you look across any Guiding platform there are leaders looking for badges that might cover an activity, a reward for a girl who has achieved something outside of Guiding...an increasing school of thought seems to be that we are too keen to award badges or too lenient in criteria.

For example interest/proficiency badges along with yearly challenge badges used to require independent testing and be very independent. Now they are often completed as a unit, with some Brownie and Guide leaders not requiring girls to have completed each clause to be awarded the badge. Arguably the programmes for each section require simple regular attendance to have completed them. But this may be considered as a moot point with the new programme coming in and changing this.

And just as much as we can say that leaders are keen to produce challenge badges for near anything ,CHQ are seemingly increasing the amount of officially nationally produced badges with no challenge or criteria attached. Recent examples might include markers of milestones for the Queen, Beatrix Potters birthday and 100 years of votes for women. These are separate to fun badges like the " I heart" range or celebration ones that compliment challenge (the generic centenary and adventure 100 for example). This sits in contrast to slighly older badges, for example the 2011 Royal Wedding one. Does this allow for leaders to adapt their own activities or does it encourage "this is a thing thats happening, here is a badge"...

Are we:
  • Producing too many badges that don't require long term effort
  • Producing badges that do not require anything beyond attendance or simple membership of the unit
  • Does CHQ add to this by producing many "fun" and "mile stone" badges that aren't to be worn on uniform or have no specific criteria


Veteran (100+ posts)
Personally I think that CHQ sets the example. We don’t have that much guidance on any sort of badges anymore other than that fun badges shouldn’t be on uniform, cloth “Promise badges” shouldn’t be used in the place of metal ones, and certain awards are moderated. Rather than allowing for flexibility this has led to confusion or leaders creating their own rules and customs.

Changes occurred because of how society has changed (more leaders work, girls now have many other activities competing with Guiding for their time etc) leaders look for guidance and assistance to form their programme and unit operation. In some ways it’s nice to be able to use a badge as a springboard/prompt but in others we need a bit more of a nudge/help.

Badges are also a costly exercise, even if only buying the official ones. Thinking day ones are £1 each as an example. I know of many units like ours that rely on leaders buying and reclaiming- can we be expected to be owed £60 odd pounds a term?


I think the biggest problem is that 'back in the day' there was clear guidance over badges for uniform. It was made clear that interest/proficiency badges were aimed at the individual and were to be independently tested. Anniversary badges were few and far between, such that most members only ever had a few during their Guiding career, for coronations/jubilees, and for section anniversaries. And there were set rules on which badges could, and could not, be worn in uniform.

Then, without any fanfare, the rules were dropped from the rulebook, and that caused muddying of the waters. Some continued to arrange testers for interest badges, and reserve them as being for the individual, as the old rule had required. Some started doing badges as a pack activity and dispensed with trying to arrange a tester to give a verdict on 20 or 30 girls' efforts at once, but continued to arrange testers otherwise. Others accepted a note from home, or stopped using testers altogether. Where new Leaders started, the lack of guidance meant they did what they thought best, not knowing what rules had been at whatever date in the past. And things have bumbled along in this way since.

So far as the HQ badges go, way back there was a selection of 'blanket patches' and it was made clear that these were for unofficial use only, and not to appear on uniform. But in time headquarters ceased to set written rules on which badges could and could not be sewn onto uniform, so again some units continued to apply the previous rule, some relaxed what they did, and where new Leaders started they did what they thought best, not knowing what rules had been at whatever date in the past. And things have bumbled along in this way since.

But, now that a fair number of horses have left the stable, headquarters have decided to try and put some sort of barrier near the stable door. Not one with a fastening, and not one which will enforce any containment on the stable, but just a hint that the door is no longer 100% wide open. Which is so vague that it doesn't really clarify anything.

It seems to me that we could split the badges into sorts rather than try to lump them all together.
  1. Official, 'uniform' badges - so Promise badges, interest badges, programme badges (roundabout, adventure, Guide challenge, Octant), official anniversary badges.
  2. Official challenge pack badges - so WAGGGS, CHQ, Country/Region or County challenge pack badges which are earned.
  3. Headquarters-produced 'fun' badges - cloth replica Promise badges, fun badges, blanket patches, etc.
  4. Unofficial unit/group badges - so those produced by units or other Guiding groups as a fundraiser, unit's own anniversary badges, badges produced for Guide campsites/holiday houses, etc.
  5. Privately produced fun badges - so things like remembrance badges, royal wedding badges, flag bearer badges, etc. Produced by businesses or other charities without any specific Guiding connection).

Personally, I would say that groups 1 and 2 could be worn on uniform. And groups 3 and 4 on camp blankets, bags, or other unofficial uses. Group 5 - I'd be inclined to discourage.


Veteran (100+ posts)
I don't think that it's a case of too many badges per se, more that the line between "earned badges" and "fun badges" has blurred to the point that some people make no distinction between them and some kids don't know the difference. As a kid I collected plenty of badges from events/ campsites/ guide shops etc, but there was a very definite distinction between the official badges that went on my uniform and the fun badges and souvenirs that went on my camp blanket, whereas post 2000 kids were able to keep their badge collection in any form they chose so the distinction wasn't always made. The increase in availability of unofficial/ local challenge badges (and the comparative cheapness of their production compared to when I first became a leader) that none-the-less come with criteria so must be "earned" has further blurred that line, especially as they're largely unregulated standard-wise and many allow leaders free reign to make up their own activities, and sadly kids in some units will never have never used official resources or seen an official interest badge to know the difference.

Also the greater range of badges now available has increased expectation that whatever badge you're looking for will exist somewhere, especially as people creating fundraising badges have been keen to identify and fulfil any potential gaps and demands, whereas 30 years ago you knew that if it wasn't in the official badge book then it was tough luck, with the expectation being that if you wanted a badge you had to earn it by following a very precise set of clauses. In the early days of this forum, people often complained about the lack of different badges available from CHQ and in part this is how challenge badges became so popular so quickly, so I wouldn't say CHQ set the example, more that they lost control of badge production because they didn't respond to grass-roots demand quickly enough.


Regular (50+ posts)
I think that badges are a part of guiding and always have been. One of my prized possessions is my camp blanket - I started collecting badges for it as a Brownie and 30+ years later its nearly full and I'm restricting what I add to it. The front displays my guiding badges - the interest badges I earned, my six and patrol emblems, pack name tapes etc. and badges I collected on guide camps from places we visited. The back is badges I have bought while visiting museums etc. or have been given from people visiting other countries. It is like a huge memory bank for me and I always take it with me to guiding overnight events where it inevitably starts conversations and is something I will always associate with Guiding. Sadly over the years I have found it much harder to buy badges from places I visit, museums don't seem to make and sell badges the way they used to so the only time I get badges now is for a guiding event.

I think as long as I try to make it clear to my girls why they have been given a badge or what they have done to earn the badge it doesn't really matter if they get "a badge for everything". I view them as a memory store and I hope that the girls will still get pleasure from them when they are older. As none of my girls sew anything on their uniform I don't really come across the problem of whether badges should be allowed on uniform or not and until there are clear rules from CHQ on where badges should be displayed on uniform and what can or can't be allowed there isn't much to be done about it.


Regular (50+ posts)
"I think as long as I try to make it clear to my girls why they have been given a badge or what they have done to earn the badge it doesn't really matter if they get "a badge for everything". I view them as a memory store and I hope that the girls will still get pleasure from them when they are older."

I totally agree with Dragnik. We currently do quite a few of the unofficial Challenge badges, both as the theme for a sleepover/Brownie Holiday, and as part of our term's programme - and when the latter, we often combine this with a few clauses from a Brownie Interest badge so they can start this in the unit, and finish it at home (if they wish - and quite a lot of them do). Some of the challenges give a great range of activities, including ones that I think will 'never work', but the girls continue to amaze me (we had some brilliant sessions since Christmas, eg with 'elections' and 'you have no say' activities as part of the Centenary of Women's Vote challenge). Most of the Brownies are so proud of the badges they've earned (which they do sew on their uniform, and where they like - we are 'girl led' after all!) and this often sparks a conversation when new girls join us on the lines of 'how did you get that badge' and 'could we do something like...'. They certainly don't get a 'badge for everything' though - it's either the theme for an event or a activities throughout a term! Their uniforms should give them a beautiful record of their time in Brownies - though I'm glad that I'm not the person who's then got to transfer these to a campfire blanket at some point...


Veteran (100+ posts)
Fundamentally, I am very lazy. I can't be bothered to sift through unofficial challenge badges for activities that sound good, or even to order the badges. So, although we'll celebrate Thinking Day this year, they won't get the badge for that. They didn't get the Queen's 90th badge either, despite having a tea party for it.

However, we have thrown ourselves into interest badges with gusto! So they won't get a badge for thinking day, but I will tick off that clause of the World Guiding badge. The Queen's tea party was 2 clauses of the Hostess badge. Most things we do in the unit are a clause for one interest badge or another (although it's fairly haphazard, so this term we've done bits from Seasons, Brownie Skills, Brownie Traditions, Workd Guiding, World Issues and Cooks). At the end of every meeting, I tell the girls if the activity was for a badge, and/or counts towards their Adventure wedges and a leader ticks and dates that clause. We very rarely complete a badge as a unit in one go (only once or twice a year), but through regular attendance most will achieve a couple of badges - for example, we might do things for the craft badge in November 2017, June 2018 and January 2019, so girls will earn that badge but not all in one go.

So my Brownies get badges for almost everything, because I link almost everything back to the core programme. But their badge books will show exactly what and when they did each clause, so is like a record of almost everything e do at Brownies. They're lovely to look back on, and complement the badges as a way of remembering the adventure.

But yeah, I hate the "is there a Roald Dahl/Winnie the Pooh/blah badge?" posts on Facebook. Search the files!


Brownie Guider
I think it depends on the unit. You hear of those who do an interest badge and a challenge badge every half term, and others who lean the other way to interest badges being for individuals only.

Certainly, when there has been a uniform day at the school where I work, I often look at the badges the children have, and ask them about them. Once, a girl had not been a Brownie long, but had a number of interest badges. When I asked her what she had done to get them, she couldn't give me a detailed answer. I do worry that some leaders just do their planning around badges. I do to some extent, but only one interest badge a term, so three in a year earned with the pack. I'll be interested to see how the new programme badges will work; it's sounding a bit like the Skill Builders will be badges for units to work on.

I like the challenge badges, but mainly as a theme for a Pack Holiday, as it serves as a nice souvenir for the girls. I have done a couple of challenges during meetings, but they are few and far between.

In regards the badges produced by HQ; I must admit getting badge fatigue over the ones to do with the Queen. I quick succession we got "Longest reigning monarch", "90th Birthday" and "Sapphire Jubilee". My Brownies wouldn't have got the last one if my Mum hadn't offered to pay for them. Together with all the centenaries lately, I'll be happy to have a bit of a quieter time with occasion badges.


SGP Enthusiast
Certainly, when there has been a uniform day at the school where I work, I often look at the badges the children have, and ask them about them. Once, a girl had not been a Brownie long, but had a number of interest badges. When I asked her what she had done to get them, she couldn't give me a detailed answer.
This. I'm so careful now that only girls who complete the badge are given it. It's not fair on those who have completed it all if they all get it without doing the work.

I had a grumpy Brownie on Monday as she didn't get her hostess badge when others did. The others all came and helped at the Coffee Morning and completed all sections, the girl in question made the table decoration at Brownies but no more. I have told her if she completes the rest at home, she can have it.... but let's see.