Highest Awards for Guides

This article focuses on awards for the Guide Branch only. Some awards changed branches or were not the highest award for the entire time they existed. We do not try to present every variation of the requirements for these awards, only provide a glimpse of what Guides would have had to do to earn awards at various points in our history. For more award histories, please see:

For most of our history, Guiding has offered a penultimate award for high-achieving Guides to strive towards. Here’s a brief look at how these awards have evolved over the years:

Silver Fish - Girl AwardSilver Fish – 1910 to 1918

When Guiding began, the ultimate award for Guides was the Silver Fish. In 1918 the Silver Fish was redesigned as an adult award and replaced by the Gold Cord for Guides.

Order of the Silver Fish for passing all…

  • 1st Class Guide
  • Efficiency Badges: Ambulance, Naturalist, Hospital Nurse, Cook, Cyclist, Matron, Nurse, Musician, Farmer, Gymnast, Needlewoman, Clerk, Florist, Laundress, Swimmer, Interpreter, Pioneer.

(The Scheme for Girl Guides, Robert & Agnes Baden-Powell, November 1909)

Gold Cord – 1918 to 1971GoldCordGirlGuidesofCan34627T118_f

The Gold Cord was introduced in 1918 as a replacement for the Silver Fish, which was now an adult award. The Gold Cord was discontinued in 1971 and replaced by the Canada Cord.

Early requirements from the September 1921 Edition of Girl Guiding included specific badges, teaching, and a report from one’s Captain!

A Gold Cord Guide must have had at least two years’ service and must have earned the following badges:

  • First Class or Ranger Star
  • Sick Nurse or Probationer
  • Handywoman
  • Signaller or Swimmer
  • Athlete or Gymnast
  • Child Nurse or Nurse
  • Laundress or Finisher
  • Clerk
  • Domestic Service
  • Also six others chosen by herself.

She must also have trained a Guide for the First Class Badge (with the exception of the Ambulance, Child Nurse, and Swimming Tests, which should be taught by qualified people). In applying for the Gold Cord, the Captain must send a report of the work during the past year of the Patrol to which the Guide belongs, of which all Guides of six months’ standing must be Second Class. This application should first be sanctioned by the Court of Honour.

The badges required varied over the years, but the recommendation of one’s Captain remained.

To qualify for Gold Cord a Guide must:

  1. Have passed the First Class Test and Little House and Woodcraft Emblems.
  2. Be recommended by her Captain and the Court of Honour in consultation with her Commissioner, or her Company and camping record during her membership in the Movement.
  3. Hold Pioneer, Handywoman, Swimmer, Empire or World Knowledge and any other two badges of her own choice.
  4. Have read Scouting for Boys (Boy’s Edition).
  5. Have completed all tests before her seventeenth birthday.

(Policy, Organization and Rules 1953, Girl Guides of Canada, 1953)

In the 1960s, the requirements stated that Guides had to be between 14 and 16, have letters of recommendation, earn specific badges, give service, complete three unknown assignments!

A Guide wishing to try for the Gold Cord will discuss it with her Guider and, with the approval of the Court of Honour, seek an interview with her Commissioner.

  1. To qualify for the Gold Cord, a Guide must be at least fourteen years of age, and must complete all requirements by her sixteenth birthday.
  2. Letters of recommendation from the Captain, and from one other interested person not related to the Guide, will accompany the application form.
  3. Be a First Class Guide, hold the Little House and Woodlore Emblems, the Camper, Citizen and First Aid Badges, and a Craft Badge.
  4. Choose a country other than her own and demonstrate to some group, approved by her Commissioner, her knowledge of and interest in it.
  5. Prove herself capable of service to a group or individual in home, school, church or local community. This service is to be chosen by the Guide herself, and any project undertaken must be maintained for at least four months.
  6. Carry out three assignments arranged by the Commissioner and/or local Association to prove her reliability, cheerfulness and ability to work with and under others.
  7. A letter of recommendation from the Guider-in-charge of the Guide camp which she has attended during the previous eighteen months will accompany the application.

(Policy, Organization and Rules, Girl Guides of Canada, 1966)

Canada Cord – 1971 to 1979canadacord

The Canada Cord was introduced in 1971 as a replacement for the Gold Cord as the highest Guide award in Canadian Guiding. When Pathfinders began in September 1979, the Canada Cord became the highest award for Pathfinders and continues to be so to this day (2020). During the transitional period of 1979 to 1981, some older Guides may have continued to earn the Canada Cord.

To qualify:

  1. Hold the All Round Cord.
  2. Hold three emblems.
  3. Hold the Citizen badge and one of the following badges: Interpreter, World Trefoil, Heritage, Native Lore.
  4. Hold the Camp Leader or Wilderness Camper Badge.
  5. Choose and carry out within a four month period a minimum of 15 hours service to a group or an individual that will provide you with a challenging experience.

(Policy, Organization and Rules 1971-1972, Girl Guides of Canada, 1971)

All Round Cord – 1979 to 1993allaroundcordcanada

Interestingly, the All Round Cord dates back to 1910! As an award, it could be earned after the First Class Badge, but ranked lower than the Silver Fish, Gold Cord or Canada Cord until 1979, except for a brief period between c.1947 and 1959 when it was discontinued. With the introduction of Pathfinders in September 1979, the Canada Cord became a Pathfinder Award, and the All Round Cord finally became the highest award for Guides! The last group to earn the All Round Cord finished their third year of Guides in June 1993.

  1. I hold the complete Adventure Challenge and Voyageur Challenge.
  2. I hold one of the following badges: History, World Trefoil, or World Neighbour Badge.
  3. I hold the Camp Badge and four of the following: Astronomer,  Bird Watcher, Conservationist, Ecologist, Forestry, Explorer, Hiker, Naturalist, Outdoor Adventure, Stalker, Tracker, Wildflower.
  4. I hold one of the following badges: Cook, Handywoman, Homemaker, Seamstress.
  5. I hold one of the following badges: Fire Safety, First Aid, Rescuer.
  6. I hold the Citizen and Law Awareness Badges.
  7. I hold one of the following badges: Athlete, Health, or Keep-Fit.
  8. I have learned about three organizations or agencies which help others. I have told how I could work with or contribute to the work of one of these.
  9. I have chosen and carried out a project in which I gave service to others. This project was a challenge to me and was approved and evaluated by my Company and the person(s) to whom I gave the service.
  10. I have done a project which shows what the Promise and Law mean to me. I have presented this to my Company or a small group of Guides. The form of the presentation was: artwork, song, photography, poem, speech, story, drama, other.

When you have checked off each of the items in this record you will have earned the All Round Cord. Congratulations!

(The Guide Program, Girl Guides of Canada, 1990)

Fun & Challenge Pin/Guide Challenge Pin – 1992 to present (2020)FunandChallengePinGirlG34567_f

The new Guide Program: For Fun & Challenge was introduced in September 1992 and didn’t include a highest award. The idea was to encourage cooperation and focus on activities the Guides wanted to do, rather than focusing on Cord requirements. Instead, all Guides would 220327_Guide_Challengereceive the Fun & Challenge Pin regardless of how long they were in Guides or what program work they had completed. This pin continues to be awarded today, although it has been renamed the Guide Challenge Pin since 2005.


Lady Baden-Powell Award/Challenge – 1999 to present (2020)LadyBadenPowellAwardGirl35047_f

The 3rd year program was revised and the Lady Baden-Powell Award introduced in 1999 after numerous requests for an award for Guides.

The Lady Baden-Powell Award has several parts: Discovering level challenges, service project and Interest Badges, My Guiding Principles.

  • Discovering Level Challenges – You must complete your Discovering Level challenges for this award.
  • Service Project – You must do one or more service projects during your Discovering year. This could be a Thanks Badge.
  • Interest Badges – During your time as a Guide, you need to have earned two Interest Badges in each Pathway [My Community, My Outdoor Environment, My Horizons, My Future] plus two more Interest Badges of your choice.
  • My Guiding Principles – This challenge can be completed only during your Discovering year. It is part of the Lady Baden-Powell Award
  1. Find out about Lady Baden-Powell. using a skit, song, story or other activity, present what you have learned to some Brownies or other Guides.
  2. Find out about one interesting thing and the motto of five WAGGGS countries.
  3. What does the Guiding uniform mean to you? Why do we all wear uniforms rather than regular clothes at Guiding functions?
  4. When we are involved in Guiding activities, we participate in a way of life based on the Promise and Law. Think about your Guiding experience and the Promise and Law as you discuss the following:
    • a leadership activity that helped you learn about being a leader
    • a service that you have done recently and how it helped others and yourself
    • an outdoor event that you particularly enjoyed. Why was it special to you?
    • how Guiding has helped you to become a better citizen
    • how you have accepted each of the seven parts of the Guiding Law
  5. Record your camping and event experiences in your program book.
  6. Start a collection of mementos of your Guiding activities. It might include your program book, photographs, phone lists, examples of games with rules, songbook or sheets, examples of crafts you have done or would like to do.

(The Guide Program: For Fun & Challenge, Girl Guides of Canada, 1999)

With the introduction of the Guides on the Go program in 2005, the requirements were changed to include completing the entire program and the name was changed to the Lady Baden-Powell Challenge.

The Lady Baden-Powell challenge is the highest award in the Guide program. Completion of this challenge usually takes two years. This challenge requires your utmost effort, as well as your participation in patrol and unit activities. The Lady Baden-Powell challenge provides you with the opportunity to learn more about Girl Guides and gain a deeper understanding of the sisterhood of Guiding. The Lady Baden-Powell pin is awarded in your last year of Guiding.

To earn this challenge you must complete Numbers 1 and 2, as well as four more of the activities below.

  1. Complete all four of the program areas.
  2. Learn about Lady Baden-Powell and prepare a skit, song, story, poster or another activity to demonstrate what you have learned. Share it with your patrol, unit or a group of Guiding friends.
  3. Complete a project to help girls in your Guide unit enjoy their Guiding experience.
  4. Participate in a major community service project. This project is in addition to the service you completed in You in Guiding.
  5. Participate in three Pathfinder meetings.
  6. Take part in a community activity that involves doing something for someone else.
  7. Share your favourite Guiding experiences over the last year with a group of friends who are not in Guiding.

(Guides on the Go, Girl Guides of Canada, 2013)

The name reverted to Lady Baden-Powell Award with the introduction of the Girls First Program in 2018.

220326_Lady_Baden_PowellThe Lady Baden-Powell Award is the highest award you can earn in the Guides program. Completing this award usually takes two years and requires a dedicated effort to completing program work, as well as participating in your patrol and unit activities. This award provides you with the opportunity to learn more about Girl Guides and gain a deeper understanding of the sisterhood of Guiding. If you successfully complete the award requirements, you will earn the award in your final year of Guides.

Part A – Earn all eight Girls First Program Area Badges.

Part B – Participate in a major community service project. This cannot be the same project used to complete the Your Action Theme of the Take Action Program Area.

Part C – Take a leadership role in the delivery of a unit meeting, event, outing or special project (including a camp) for your own unit or a younger branch. You should be involved in all aspects of this from planning through delivery of the meeting/event/project and its evaluation.

Part D – Share your favourite experiences and memories of Guides with your unit, a younger branch, or a group of friends outside Guiding. Include what younger girls have to look forward to when they become a Guide, or what you are looking forward to as a Pathfinder.

Part E – Participate in at least three Pathfinder meetings.

Part F – Read Lady Baden-Powell’s last message before her death. Reflect on what Lady Baden-Powell’s words mean to you. … Find a creative way to express these thoughts – perhaps in song, or a story, maybe in a collage or skit. … Share what you have created or done with others, including your unit, as well as girls in other branches.

(“Guide Awards – The Lady Baden-Powell Award”, Girl Guides of Canada – Girls First Platform, 2019)