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Would you switch membership to the Girl Scouts?

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  • Would you switch membership to the Girl Scouts?

    With all the comments from people on the thread about various concerns and changes they would like to see in BSA policy, I was thinking about something...

    Let's say the GSA decides that they want to expand and step up to do the things the BSA won't. They make some changes - some big, some small:
    • They announce they will not exclude any youth on the basis of gender. Any boy can join the GSA. Perhaps to make it more attractive to boys, they rename themselves the "Scouts of America" or the GBSA (Girl and Boy Scouts of America). Or like the FFA, who no longer generally refer to themselves as the Future Farmers of America, they just use the acronym GSA and don't commonly spell it out.
    • Scouts transferring over from the BSA can retain an equivalent rank in the GSA, and continue to wear any merit badges or other awards they earned in the BSA, and adult leaders can wear their knots and Wood Badge beads. Boys can also earn the Gold Medal within the GSA if they have not yet earned the Eagle rank.
    • There is a version of the "local option" that many desire - units can set their own standards for membership and leadership, but girls would be allowed in every unit/
    • There are no restrictions on LGBT or atheists, either as youths or adult leaders.
    • Male adult leaders are allowed to participate in all GSA activities, with appropriate youth safety precautions.
    • There is no need to profess faith in God, only a requirement to treat other people's religious beliefs with courtesy and respect.
    • Flush with donations from cookie sales and the donations that begin to flood in from corporate and celebrity sponsors, the GSA begins buying up camp property and hiring professional outdoor educators to enhance their outdoor program. Former BSA leaders become an integral part of a revitalized outdoors program.
    Many of these changes (possibly not all) would be seen as desirable to some who regularly post on this board.

    It's just a thought experiment, but I'd be interested in hearing your opinions:
    • How many of you would be interested in transferring over from the BSA?
    • I tried to cover some responses to many of the concerns and issues that are frequently raised on this site. Obviously, not all of these would be equally agreeable to everyone - some may want a co-ed environment or allow LGBT leaders, but not want atheists, or vice versa. Would you be willing to cross over if a majority of your concerns were addressed, even if all of them could not be?
    • Which organization do you think would be less institutionally resistant to the kinds of changes outlined above - the GSA or the BSA? If the GSA, do you think it would be easier to change the GSA to address your concerns rather than trying to change the BSA? If not, why? If so, are you trying to make such changes within the GSA?
    • Is it more important to you to change the BSA to fit your image of how the organization should be, or to find a more congenial home for your scouts and/or yourself?

  • #2
    If I were a teenager again going to an all boys high school, you bet I would! For all the wrong reasons,of course.

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    • #3
      Even less vision of independent hiking and camping. I'm not exchanging my current den of vipers for one that insists on outlets for their curling irons.

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      • #4
        Even with gridlock, I haven't switched citizenship to another country without our problems,

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        • #5
          I've a collection of hardback Merit Badge booklets from the 1950's liberally stamped on the insides with "**** County Negro Library". They serve for me as a reminder of how far we've come, but still how far we've yet to go to be more open and inclusive ....so no,as I've been with the program starting as a Bobcat in 57, and plan to stay the course as a provocateur, and burr under BSA's saddle to drag them out of the 19th century.
          Last edited by le Voyageur; 05-29-2014, 05:33 AM.

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          • #6
            Out of the fry pan into the fire. Not a option for me.

            Stosh

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            • #7
              I'd consider it for about 30 seconds and then realize my wife would veto it.

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              • #8
                Although Eagle means different things to different people, it means something to everyone. "Gold" means little to anyone I am aware of. The GSUSA red tape "GTSS" issues were also not addressed in your setup, THAT could be a game changer. I have no first hand knowledge, but I understand it is far worse than in the BSA. Lastly I suppose I would support a "local option" allowing girls in the BS and Cub programs, but I would not want one for my sons. Developmentally the two sexes are just different especially at the younger ages. Scouts is a refuge where we can let boys be boys and do stupid boy things. Scouts is not school.

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                • #9
                  I'd consider it if they embraced the outdoors the way I wish BSA would.

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                  • #10
                    As the mother of a boy (9) and a girl (7), this would not be right for our family for several reasons.

                    We've examined Girl Scouts for our daughter and decided it is not right for us. I don't like the strong national-led push for a form of feminism that I don't want my daughter involved with. I don't like the fact that national GSA pursues an adult led agenda and involves the girls, instead of providing a place where girls can follow their own values and concience in their own lives.

                    I would not have allowed my son to join the BSA if I had known at the time that they would allow gay Scouts eventually, or possibly gay leaders. In our faith and reading of the Bible, we believe that homosexuality is strictly forbidden. The rest of the world is entitled to their own opinion and to run their own lives just like I am, and I would never take another person to task for their life choices of any kind.

                    My children are different. I have a duty to them to raise them as I believe God would want me to. Whenever I hear gay advocates talk about their "right" to teach my kids in any venue, I have to say that no one has any entitlement to my children.

                    The BSA and the GSA both have values and lifestyle as a major part of their programs. I only entrust my kids to faith and values teachers compatible with our own family's faith. I wouldn't entrust my child to a gay scoutmaster any more than I would entrust him to a Muslim Sunday School teacher. Teachers in other subjects (science, music, art, etc) are not as worrisome to me, as long as they keep their personal values and beliefs to themselves and focus on the subjects in which I hired them to teach my children.

                    The pack in which our son is involved is led by men I know well, and who are also Christians in God honoring marriages. I continue to trust them with son because I trust his den leader and Scoutmaster. If that ever changes, and if a leader is put in place who does not set a God honoring example for my son (gay, angry, living openly unmarried with a girlfriend, drugs, alcohol issues, whatever), I would withdraw my son from Scouting.

                    And, yes, I do worry about my child off in the woods tenting with older gay boys. I see no difference between a 15 year old openly gay boy sleeping next to my 12 year old son, and a 15 year old heterosexual boy sleeping next to my 12 year old daughter. Teenage boys are not known for self-control or common sense, especially where sex is concerned, and it is just stupid to put them in a tent alone with a younger teen to whom they are sexually attracted. I would not put either of my children in that kind of vulnerable position.

                    I wish the BSA would back off of faith. I think the new push for more "interfaith" requirements on the kids in 2015 is a mistake. I'd like to see them less involved in my son's faith, since they handle it so badly. Nobody can make a broadbrush faith and lifestyle program that will please everyone, so they should quit trying to cram it down our throats. Focus on camping, and let us all pursue our own faith at our own churches.

                    I also don't like the fact that both the BSA and the GSA are huge corporations with very highly paid executives whose salaries depend on the work of volunteers and children. Our Council exec here in Atlanta makes $300,000 a year and works in a $40 miliion office building. The "Volunteer Service Center" here at the Atlanta Council is repulsive. Granite on every horizontal and vertical surface. Very plush. Ridiculous. Almost as disgusting as the bronze statue the former BSA president erected to himself at the new national campground.

                    I paid for a $100 uniform two years ago, and now I have to go buy a new one for Webelos. We pay through the nose to camp at BSA properties, buy BSA insignia, buys BSA uniforms, etc. The uniforms are more expensive than comparable clothing purchased outside the BSA. The camping fees are higher at BSA properties than at comparable state campgrounds near us. So, why do we do this? Our hard earned fees do not come back to the kids, nor do they offset the cost of participation. In my view, I'm paying to support the executives and their grand offices. And the GSA is just the same. So, why do it?

                    I have grown to hate the Blue & Gold banquet. Every year, we have to endure the pitch from the Council for "Friends of Scouting". A man I have never seen before and will never see until the next banquet shows up wanting money. This year, he wanted us to all donate $1,000 each. He helpfully offered that we could spread it out into four payments. He seemed surprised when he had no takers. Instead of letting our kids and the parents enjoy their one pack dinner of the year together visiting with their friends, I had to tell them to be quiet and listen to the man up front go on eternally. It should be a social event, not a PBS telethon. The only high point is my son getting his award at the end. I'm tempted to show up after the food next year so we can miss the FOS speaker and just see our son get his award for the year.

                    This man is nuts. $1000 is my entire budget for the year for my own childrens' activities. I'm trying to figure out how to pay for yet another uniform and other activity fees, and he thinks I'm going to whip out my checkbook for a grand, knowing at least half or more is going to support the adult employees and their plush offices instead of directly to kids. No thanks.

                    We never see the Council in Atlanta unless they want money or want to criticize how we run the pack. They are no help whatsoever, just leeches in overpriced uniforms. Tired of the South American general cruising in occasionally to demand money and tell us what we're doing wrong. We're volunteers, dammit. Help us. Earn your fat salary, or go home.

                    The only thing that keeps my son in BSA right now is that he has fallen in love with it. He's proud to be a Scout. I won't take that from him.

                    I will continue to offer better alternatives that are more educational, better value for money, and less invasive to our personal faith: 4-H, First Lego League, Science Olympiad, etc. The day he chooses to quit BSA because he wants to, I will quietly rejoice. I think it's a racket, and I'm sorry I ever got involved in it.

                    GA Mom

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                    • #11
                      Tell us how you feel GA Mom. The BSA has many faults. Mainly because it's a huge organization that spans our country. But for the most part they get it right. Boy Scouts is the cheapest activity I can put my sons in when you compare cost vs time. BSA allows units the freedom to conduct the program how they see fit. Some units focus on camping and outdoor skills, others have strong religious affiliations, and some are more indoor focused. But it's a program that let's boys be boys and practice leadership skills. I witnessed the change in my son and the other scouts as they have worked through the program. It teaches them independence, confidence, and life skills. I would never jump ship.

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                      • #12
                        @georgiamom, you have many valid criticisms and need to do hat is best your family. A few points I would like to offer. BSA does not require a new uniform for your Webelos, he may continue to wear his blue one until Boy Scouts. In fact BSA National does not require a uniform period. Any requirement for a uniform or changing uniforms is being imposed by your local Pack, not the BSA. Talk to your unit leadership about the issue don't blame National. Secondly I do not enjoy the yearly FOS campaign and enjoy the the weekly Sunday campaign even less, so I don't show up for them either. Third, In my opinion FLL is an even bigger racket. We have the retail EV3 and I see great value in the program, but the price Lego charges for the Educational set is obscene. The time constraints between releasing the challenge and competition is just to tight in my opinion especially at the beginning of the school year. For those if us in less temperate climates than you that is prime outdoor time.

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                        • #13
                          GAmom - Not sure what kind of "feminism" you WOULD want your daughter "involved" with.

                          However, while GSUSA (PLEASE folks - there is no such organization as GSA!) has it's faults - as does EVERY other organization out there, youth or adult - It is still the best youth organization for girls out there.

                          It did not corrupt my daughter's morals, or turn her into some kind of scary GSUSA National automaton.

                          My daughter is a Lifetime Girl Scout, who earned every religious medal available for her religion, and is now a wonderful young woman. She is confident in who she is and what she can do. She is not afraid to speak out, or step up. She gives back to her community and is proud to do so.

                          And, she is not alone in this. All of the girls in Scouts with her in elementary thru high school, are now moral, self-confident, young women, putting their own, individual, stamp on this world.

                          I am very proud of all of them, and proud to have had the privilege of being a part of their Scouting world, and watching them all grow into the fine adults they have become.

                          You, GAmom, are however, free to feel as you do.

                          As to the opening poster's premise -

                          If, when my kids were little, and either BSA, or GSUSA, were completely co-ed, I would probably have enrolled them both in the same organization.

                          At this point, there is little to no chance at all that GSUSA will make the changes the OP listed, or even consider them. However - if pigs could fly, dreams come true, and the impossible happen - first I would run out to buy the largest lottery ticket out there!. Then, I would enroll any grandkids I would have at the time in the program.

                          For now, it is what it is - warts and all.

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                          • #14
                            I suppose we kind of already knew the answer to the scenario suggested. What you describe AZMike seems a whole lot like the Baden-Powell Service Association- US to me. Their by-laws specifically state:

                            ~Section 4. Policy of Inclusion
                            (i) BPSA offers a choice for those with curiosity, energy and independence of
                            spirit. We are committed to providing an appropriate alternative and
                            community-oriented Scouting experience. BPSA welcomes everyone, regardless
                            of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion (or no-religion) or other
                            differentiating factors. Our mission is to provide a positive learning environment
                            within the context of democratic participation and social justice. We foster the
                            development of Scouts in an environment of mutual respect and cooperation.

                            They also claim to be using the policies and rules written by BP himself in 1938 for the UK scouting association. The requirements for advancement have things like trail signs for tenderfoot. They have Morse code and semaphore and even require cooking in a billy-can. The handbook is at http://bpsa-us.org/wp-content/upload...r-Handbook.pdf.

                            So, no, people wouldn't switch if the opportunity presented itself.
                            Last edited by dcsimmons; 05-29-2014, 12:14 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by GeorgiaMom View Post
                              As the mother of a boy (9) and a girl (7), this would not be right for our family for several reasons.
                              " Almost as disgusting as the bronze statue the former BSA president erected to himself at the new national campground."

                              GA Mom
                              Gee, I learn something new everyday. I had to Google that after reading GA Mom's comments. Had a little vomit in my mouth looking at the pictures. Must have missed the forum outrage at the time...

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