History of WAGGGS

Gold cord recipients - CanadaAt the 5th International Conference in Hungary in 1928, delegates formed the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS). The Association replaced the International Council, an advisory body created in 1919.

The first International Conference was held in England in 1920. It was an historic occasion that gave representatives of the Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting world the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas and experiences. Following the Conference, more Girl Guide and Girl Scout organizations became known to the International Council and, for the first time, Girl Guide and Girl Scout groups began to plan trips abroad.

In 1924, the first World Camp took place combined with the 3rd International Conference, at Foxlease in the UK, The next year the World Bulletin was published. Later it was renamed The Council Fire, which was replaced by Our World News in the 1980s.

After the 4th International Conference, held in the USA in 1926, representatives from several countries approached Lord Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Scouts and the Guides, to ask whether an association should be formed with national Girl Guide and Girl Scout organizations as its members. They fully appreciated all that the International Council had done for Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting, and felt that it was time for something more solid and binding.

Before the 5th International Conference in Hungary in 1928, Baden-Powell sought the opinions of all known Girl Guide and Girl Scout organizations on the matter and asked them to consider the proposition seriously. Conference delegates from 26 countries finally decided that the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts should be established, with a World Bureau in London as its secretariat.

The founder Member countries of WAGGGS were:

Australia, Belgium, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Iceland, India, Japan, Latvia, Liberia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States of America and Yugoslavia.

It was decided that the World Association should elect a World Committee, and that Lord and Lady Baden-Powell, and the Director of the World Bureau, would be ex-officio members. A draft Constitution was agreed and the Girl Guides and Girl Scouts had a central association.

International Conferences became World Conferences and now take place once every three years in a different region of the world and continue to make policy decisions for Member Organizations for the world organization to implement.

From strength to strength

Meanwhile, the Movement proceeded to grow quickly. By 1931, membership was over one million and in 1932,the first World Centre, Our Chalet, was opened. In 1939, the first Girl Guide and Girl Scout World Camp took place in Hungary.

International activities were short-lived, however, with the outbreak of the Second World War. As a precaution, a Branch Office of the World Bureau was set up at the New York headquarters of the Girl Scouts of the USA, in case the World Bureau and its records were destroyed. World Committee meetings were suspended for the duration of the war, but in 1946 the World Conference was able to meet again in France.

Pax Lodge (1990-Present)Olave, despite being devastated by her husband’s death in 1941, continued to work tirelessly for the Movement and in 1957 witnessed the opening of Our Cabaña which was followed by Sangam in 1966.

Olave Baden Powell passed away in June 1977 and in her memory the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) undertook the Olave Centre Project, and located the World Bureau (the secretariat for WAGGGS) and the London World Centre (Pax Lodge) together again.

Premises were found in Hampstead, London and, thanks to the tremendous fundraising efforts of all National Organizations and friends of Girl Guiding and Girl Scouting, the World Bureau moved to its new home in 1984 and was officially opened the following year. The new World Centre, renamed Pax Lodge, opened in 1990.