Opening the Vaults: World Thinking Day and the World Flag

World Thinking Day reminds us of our connections to global Guiding. Last year, we opened the vaults to look at the many ways that we have celebrated World Thinking Day in the past. This year, we’re showcasing the origins of the World Flag.

While the Trefoil itself was used as a symbol of Guiding right from its beginnings in 1909, it wasn’t until the Sixth World Conference held at Foxlease in the United Kingdom in July 1930 that the World Flag was adopted.


Delegates to the World Conference in 1930. Lord and Lady Baden-Powell at centre; our Chief Commissioner Sarah Warren in second row, 3rd from right (APH 678).

WAGGGS Second Biennial Report from 1932 notes that, “it was decided that the World Flag could be used by any country as an international flag, or as company or troop colours, or in any other way desired.” The report also provides a description of the symbols of the World Flag.

  1. The stars in the two leaves of the Trefoil mean the leading stars which we will always keep before us – The Promise and the Girl Guide and Girl Scout Law.
  2. The vein or line is the compass needle which will always give us the right course or way in Guiding.
  3. The base of the stalk is the flame of the love of mankind. It will always burn high, brightly and intensively in the heart of all Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.


The design was prepared by Miss Kari Aas of Norway and sent out in December 1930.  The letter accompanying this sketch noted that, “When making the flag the proportion of the Trefoil to the background might have to be modified.”

Here are a few images of the World Flag in use in Canada:


Circa 1980s (APH 341).


1978 photo by Dave Freedman (APH 922).


Guides raise the World Flag in Victoria, B.C., circa 1970s (APH 104).

See some of the previous posts in our Opening the Vaults series: 1920s and 1930s Campfires and Cookbooks; Warning! Cute Animal Alert!; Our Chief Commissioners; The Maple Leaf Forever.

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