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BSA -vs- Girl Scouts

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I have no problem with a PL strongly emphasizing a point with a scout providing it meets certain criteria; no name calling, no vulgarity, no physical contact, focus on the action or inaction not on the boy AND it is done out of sight and sound of the other scouts.


I agree you can catch more flies with honey but somtimes the goal isn't to catch the most flies but one particular fly, in which case a more focused action works better :)


If we are going to take a scout to task for being irresponsible (and I agree we should), then we better take the leader who was more irresponsible (one who turns his back to physical violence) to task as well. If you think a boy who returns a wet tent is better off out of scouting, then you have to want the adult leader that allows physical violence out as well.


Bob White

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My, my! Where have these moms been? I do recall when I was a Girl Scout occasionally hearing firm discussions among the troop membership. When I led my troop, I gave one as well. Why, their GS troop must be utopian! Yes, indeed, we girls can make our point when another scout lets down the troop. These moms need to know that whatever the program, it's all about youth leadership and teamwork! Their boys are letting down the team, and their mothers are supporting them in this endeavor.

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I grew up in GSUSA - and the program is very different now, than it was when I was a GS. BSA has a very different set up from either the old GS I knew and the new one.


But none of them would condone irresponsible behavior with equipment - especially equipment that did not belong to you personally. "Return it in as good or better shape than you found it" was what I was brought up on.


That being said, I hope the boys in question truly KNOW what is expected of them to clean and return the equipment. It may sound funny - but many of our boys were never actually TAUGHT how to care for a tent in our troop! (we have remedied that! LOL!)


We also have boys take home equipment - tents, coolers, etc to clean and dry. One thing we make sure of, though, is that the boy is ABLE to do it - some of our boys live in condos and apts - they have no yard to put up a tent to dry it. So those boys get the coolers to clean, or the job of re-stocking patrol boxes, the bus, etc. But they STILL have a responsibility to the troop.


I would have an adult sit down with Mom and explain to her that GS has NOTHING to do with BSA - in OUR troop - this is what is expected of the boys, and it is reasonable for him to carry his share - unless they live in a condo - then he can get a cooler to clean! Ask Ms. particular how she would feel if her "baby" had to sleep in a mildewed tent that could set off allergies or leak because the wet fabric lost it's waterproofing? Of course, Jr. is welcome to bring his OWN tent - and sleep in it ALONE, and if they want to buy a new tent every year, they are welcome to do so, they only cost about $200 - $300....


If someone has an old mildewed tent - SHOW them what mildew and rot can do to the tent fabric - Many people really don't know! they never think about it! In fact - it's a good thing to show the whole troop!


have another boy - or the PL, if he can do it without rubbing it in - show the boys how to erect the tent, clean it out, check the zippers, tabs, poles, stakes, etc., take it down and properly roll it. Show them (if your tents are like this) that many tents can be set up in the garage or basement - they don't HAVE to be staked on the ground - or they can be hung on clotheslines to dry - esp if the floor of the tent is wet! -


then give these two boys the job of teaching the next "new" boys about the tents (under the watchful eye of a PL) There's nothing like teaching something to cement it in the brain of a kid!



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Thanks to all! A couple more points to be made:

1) Bob - I get the impression you read into the situation that someone hit someone else. This is not the case. The PL yelled at the boys who did not clean the tents. All of your prerequisites were met except that it was not done in private. This one of the parts of the incident that the ASM felt the method could have been improved. One of the moms allegedly was heard to say that she was going to tell her son it would be OK to hit anyone who yelled at him again. No actual contact happened.

2)The very first thing our new scouts are taught is how to set up, take down, and clean tents. We do this because the only things we expect the new guys to take care of for themselves on their first campout is packing for themselves (which we also teach right away), and senting up and taking down tents. On the first campout, the new scouts are each given a tent to clean. They are expected to clean the older guys' tent the first time so that they all get practice. We also do this because we expect our older scouts to participate actively in our "New Scout Campout" without anything designed to make it fun for them. They are the service patrol, and each is responsible for a training or patrol team building activity. The need to give new guys experience cleaning tents and the desire to "reward" the older guys by not having to care for gear for one campout a year works well for us. After that, tents are assigned for cleaning based first on who didn't do a good enough job last time, then on a rotating basis. We are fortunate that no one in our troop has to overcome the obstacle that cleaning a tent in an apartment would cause.

3)Our troop's philosophy has always been that as great as scouting is for the kids that take to it quickly, it is vastly more valuable for the ones who struggle with it. Knowing how to care for a tent may never be usefull if a guy never camps after scouting. But knowing that he has to take care of assets, especially ones he down not own, is a vital life skill. As easy at it might be to push problems away, we tend to fight to keep these kind of boys, and their families, rather than push them away. But I believe that these moms' position is very unreasonable, and want to provide all involved - PL, SM, CC, me - with knowledge about the valid differences between the two programs, as this really seemed to be a major thrust her problem with our methods.

Again, thanks to all who have taken the time to comment. You guys and ladies are terrific!


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I would hazard to guess that these moms are a pain to the leaders of their girl's scout troop also! People with this kind of attitude tend to spread it around good!


If their girls are younger than the boys that could put them from Kindergarten to 5th grade. Big difference in responsibilites in that group. If the girls are Brownies (1-3rd grd) they are more adult led. The girls should be given a voice in their troop but the final decision is the leaders. When they get into Juniors (4-5th grd) they should be getting more independent, making more of their own decisions, and learning more leadership skills. The troops are still mainly adult led but the girls should be making more and more of the troop decisions.


If the girls are older than the boys that would put them from 7 th to 12 th grade. Cadettes (7-8th grade) are offically considered part of the "older girl" group. They should be working pretty much independently by now. At this point the leaders should be starting to hand over total control of the troop to the girls. By the time girls reach high school they should be running their own troop. They make all decisions about what they do and work on things both independently and as a group. Their leaders are there as advisors and to help make what the girls want happen.


That all said, a Girl Scout Troop is not set up like a Boy Scout Troop. As a rule a troop is only 1 level, grade or age. There are multi level/age groups, but I do not think they are the majority. You would probably be closer to the mark to think of a GS troop like a patrol. Most GS troops do not have troop equipment. They borrow from their council or use their own individual equipment. They also do not necessarialy use a patrol type of government. That is an option, but unless the troop is large enough to be split into at least 2 patrols it is usually easier to use some other form of government. The type my troop has always favored is the "town hall" type. Decisions are made as a group. With various different options and possibilites discussed. They then either come to a general agreement or they take a vote.


As you can see - Same but diffferent. Also girls yelling at one another is NOT condoned. There are better ways to get your point across, and part of our job as leaders is to teach them what those are. Girl Scouts are taught, amoung other things, to "be a sister to every scout", to "leave a place (thing) better than you found it", and to "be responsible for everything you say and do". This also means that a girl, if given a wet, muddy tent to clean, would be expected to bring back that tent dry and, if possible, cleaner than it was when it started the trip! And to those moms who gave their sons permission to hit anyone who yelled at them, that also would NOT be condoned in Girl Scouts!


Your mom's need to "get a life". Your Scouts need to shape up and start to act like scouts. And, finally, your Patrol Leader needs some more training!


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Thanks for the analysis. It is certainly helpful. What I get out of your explaination is that regardless of the age of any girls they have, there are many correlations but few exact similiarities to the two programs. That being true, I think it does become fair for us to tell the moms that we are different from GS, and to step back and allow the boys to dictate the essence of their own program, and to offer assistance for them to become trained if they feel a need to understand it better.

Your very last point makes me realize I need to clarify one more point. The PL who did the yelling is also 12, and in his 2nd year. He has gone through our troop's leader training, but his age and rank won't allow him to participate in council wide leader training until next summer. It is common in our troop for PLs of patrols in their 2nd year to be very raw, and we view it as on the job training. We expect mistakes, and watch for opportunities to use these mistakes as examples to contrast our "best practices" on - going training we do with these guys. His error is one almost all new youth leaders make in our troop. Most make it a couple of times before they realize there is a better way. And most of the guys who are the unfortunate victims of O-J-T learn not to use the same technique when they get their shot at leadership. It works for us 99.8% of the time.

Again, thanks for the help!

And thank you EVERYONE for what you do in your own troops and communities. YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE!


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Not al all mk, I was refering to the comment made by another poster that if the boy had gotten decked by the PL it might have corrected his attitude and although the poster said he realized that was not allowed in scouting, perhaps a leader might turn a blind I to it. I felyt that would be more irresponsible as the act of not caring for the tent.

bob White

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