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Having a foot in both camps (without crashing)

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Having three children of scouting age spread over three units is keeping me spread a little thinner than I'd like. My youngest and oldest are now in related Pack/Troop. Lots of leadership overlap, minimal calender conflicts. I'm the den leader for my Tiger, and active adult in my oldest's troop.


So now we're adding in a Junior Troop, and I'm not even sure there's one in the local area to join -- the council office won't take calls until September. Well, ok that's today, but sheesh we've been in school for 3 weeks by now.

Sarah still enjoys the pack meetings, but wishes that her GS toop would do "fun" things like the cub scouts (family camp, archery ranges, camping) or the things she's been able to do with her brothers (Scout-O-Rama etc.).


Since there's been a bit of a "flurry" of activity in this forum, thought I might start a new discussion. I hope it helps to build a Girl Scout presence here at Scouter Network.

I imagine most of the forum members here have connections with both scouting organizations. Does anyone have survival hints or things that worked/did't worked, wished they did work? Advice, anecdotes etc?



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Have the proverbial foot in both camps but I sometimes think the G.S. would be glad to see the last of me. The leaders seem to want no help except with transportation. Parents are not even welcome at meetings even if registered as leaders. As opposed to boy scouts where I am a rifle rangemaster, was range director for cub scout day camp, asm of the troop and attend roundtable and various other trainings regularly. I'd go to training if G.S. told me where any was. Had my daughter up at the range the last week of summer camp and we had bb gun range open as it was another group using the boy scout facility which had youth too young to shoot 22's. My daughter was shooting the bb's and very accurately i might add and I was told that she should try out in a couple of years for the jr shooting team which shoots air rifles (fancy bb's) in competition. Never a word of any of this from G.S. maybe it is not P.C..

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Girl Scouts are not generally into shooting sports. I have never heard of a shooting range on any GSUSA camp facility. Horses, swimming, boat, maybe sometimes archery, but never BB's or rifles.


For training, GSUSA councils (like BSA councils) will usually list the info on their website.


What you have to understand is that GSUSA is NOT BSA in any way shape or form. To expect the same activites and the same sort of program is setting yourself & your daughter up for a fall. Also, even more so than in Cubs, what the Girl Scout Troop does, even in a older, more girl run Troop, depends on what their adult leaders are comfortable with. If the leaders are not campers, they are not going to take the girls out in a tent, much less down a river in a canoe. If their local GSUSA council does not provide some kind of outdoor stuff many of the leaders will not do it on their own.


Most councils do NOT provide programing for their members. Or, if they do it is usually VERY expensive. Programing is left up to the area groups to do on their own, usually with the older girls running it.


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I am active on both sides of the fence, and I have a tendency to compare and contrast too much. I see good and room for improvement in both organizations.


I do think that GSUSA is less open to family participation (though I hear that this policy is officially changing), but I've believed that that was intentional in order to provide girls an opportunity to develop independence. Too many parents tend to be especially protective of their little girls--unwilling to let them use knives (even paring knives!), or to camp out in the woods, or even to do a craft project less than perfectly. I fight off more overprotective moms in GS troops than in C/BS units. And I have to work hard to encourage some of the girls to try new or dirty or outdoors activities.


Also, there is the issue of the boys getting to do more exciting things than the girls. As others have stated, the girls tend to be limited by what their one or two leaders feel comfortable offering (versus a BS troop with a whole committee of adults offering skills and ideas). I don't have the experience or knowledge to take my girls on some of the great outings that my son's troop does (though I'm learning!). None of the dads or moms in my troop have accepted the invitation to help us do those sort of activities.


I don't know why so many dads who support their sons won't also support their daughters. I know that some GS councils aren't welcoming of fathers, but my council is pretty open. (In fact, one Seattle troop has existed for decades as a father/daughter troop.) So why do I see only 2 dads (out of 80 volunteers total) volunteering at GS day camp, but I see a pretty even split between male and female adult volunteers at CS day camp?



My meanderings....


--Kim near Seattle



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"I do think that GSUSA is less open to family participation (though I hear that this policy is officially changing)"


I have not heard that one. Unless this new go-round includes a significant change on family involvement, Girl Scouts has never been as "family friendly" as say, Cub Scouts. GS is focused on the girl gaining independence and usually limits parent involvement to drivers or needed extra adult bodies. My Troop was always pretty heavy on parent involvement. At least 1 parent (usually Mom) from each family was registered. Of course part of this was because we had a VERY overprotective mom who would do her DD's chore for her, who wanted to come on every camping trip. We squelched this for a while by telling parents you had to be a registered leader to go on trips. When she eventually registered her DD was old enough to tell he to back off (& we did too!).



"I have to work hard to encourage some of the girls to try new or dirty or outdoors activities."


OMG I hear you! The DD of the Mom above was Miss Fashion Plate! We had one other girl in our years that was almost as bad (although no one could match Miss Fashion Plate!) and others who were not real keen on the outdoors.



"I don't know why so many dads who support their sons won't also support their daughters."


THANK YOU!! They are NOT alien beings they are their daughters for goodness sakes! They refuse to register because they don't want to be known as a "Girl Scout". GET OVER IT!!!!


If your council gives you a hard time, do it anyway & give them (& all of the crazy ladies who think that an involved Dad will corrupt their poor little dear Princess) a hard time right back!




OK, Can you tell that is one of my hot buttons?


You make choices. Are you going to be involved in your daughters life, or aren't you. Pretty simple. And the various different brands of research tend to tell us that the more BOTH parents are involved, the better the child does.

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ScoutNut, thanks for the encouragement [Are you going to be involved in your daughters life, or aren't you.] That's a good swift kick in the pants I need when I start to feel overwhelmed or like David the night before facing Goliath.


So, given that GSUSA has some cultural biases that just grate on the nerves of a BSA scouter, I'm guessing I will end up starting a new troop. Well, I'll carefully check out the troops in our area; maybe I'll be pleasently surprised. But I will definitly hold out for aspectes of traditional scouting the I hold dear, and that my daughter wants to participate in, such as:


1. Emphasis on outdoor/pioneering skills and scoutcraft


2. Patrol method -- they're Webelos age, so we'll start slow, and I'll focus on training a small group leadership skills. But dear daughter really wants a patrol yell etc. Learning to actuate their dreams, from dream, to plan, to resourcing, to execution.


3. Conservation and Community Service large and small projects. joining others and small self-initated projects.


4. Uniforming head-to-toe for meetings and outings, and Courts of Honor where the scouts families are invited.


5. Parental involvement: 1 registered leader to 6 girl minimum ratio. Tap parents to teach skills they know. Expectation for extra adults along for outings -- GSUSA saftey guidelines read as MINIMUM numbers required, not max limit.


I don't think anyone from GSUSA could actually fault me for any of these, as long as I'm careful to couch them in the right terminology. I'm pretty good at "code switching".


In my wilder moments, I think, "maybe I'll start a new movement within GSUSA!" Usually, I look at this and think, "well, it's worth a try, but I wonder if I setting us up for four years of struggle and frustration."


What do you all think?





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I was speaking with my sister this weekend who is a GS leader. The two programs have very different goals.


I think it is great you want to be involved in your daughters life and bring new experiences to her.


The one nagging thought I have is "If they don't like the BSA program as it is, why don't they start their own instead of trying to change it." That comment or a variation of it is often seen around these forums. I am just wondering how many times it will be said about you and your ideas?


As a BSA member, I see real value in the program and the way it is delivered. When discussing scouting with my sister, her comments and the way she runs her troop are more BSA like than most. Wonder if that has anything to do with the fact our father was an ASM for years before becoming an Explorer Post Advisor for many more years. Or that she spent a summer as a camp counsler at BSA Florida Sea Base. Or that she felt cheated all the times that Dad and brother went on really cool BSA trips and her GS made craft projects.


I would say that many BSA ideas and program techniques can be incorporated into GS successfully. Coming from a male in a female program, you may get lots of resistance.


Best Luck!

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See, here's my "secret weapon": I'm a woman. Shhhhh don't tell the rest of the forum *evil grin*. just kidding


And I've got all my GSUSA training done for the Junior level , cept I need the camping training *sigh, under breath, a scout is cheerful, helpful, kind, considerate... I WILL have a good attitude*


And, really, as I read the materialsput out by GS, I don't think there's a philosophical or practicle conflict -- as many have said, it's mostly a matter of leadership.


I just feel that my daughter and I are kin to the girls who showed up unanticipated at the very first Jamboree. We want to play the game too.



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A few things to keep in mind.


While, as I said, what the leaders are comfortable with doing has a big impact on what a Troop does, always keep in mind that it is the GIRLS Troop. We should not be pushing our agenda on them, we should be letting them make their Troop into what THEY want it to be. At the Junior level they are still learning how to put things together on their own. So, go slow, give them input, give them options. Also, don't be disappointed if they don't go along with what you (& your daughter) want all of the time.


If you are planning on starting a brand new Troop, consider letting prospective girls know before they register with you, that the Troop will have a focus on the outdoors.


Try your darnedest not to look at the GSUSA program thru BSA eyes. The GSUSA program has a lot to offer the girls. Don't just dump it, or discount it.


Last & BIGGEST thing - The program is CHANGING in TWO years. We currently have no idea what the new level programing will look like. We don't know what will stay, what will go, or what will stay in a revised form.


I will assume that your daughter is in 4th grade. That means that you should work under the concept that they will only be in Juniors for 2 years & will bridge to the new Cadette program at 6th grade. There is a LOT to do in the Junior book. There are awards for them to earn like leadership & the GS Bronze Award. The Bronze is the first of the "big" awards they can earn. If any of your girls decide to go for the Bronze they should probably start fairly soon. Juniors is also a good time to work on Religious Emblems if they are so inclined.


BTW - Good luck on the head-to-toe uniforming 100% of the time! Although my girls were still pretty good with it as Juniors. When they went to Cadettes (7th grade) they voted to use only the vest. If they absolutely HAD to go formal, they voted on white top & black bottoms with their blue vest. Hmmm, maybe that's why National decided on their uniform change! I sure wish they would dump the sash though. It is REALLY irritating because it keeps falling off & it holds next to nothing in the way of patches!


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One of the things that I have noticed is that some GSUSA troops are much more outdoor oriented than others. My daughter was lucky because she had a leader who was a real outdoor person (in fact, she eventually became council outdoor trainer). When that leader moved up with an older group and I was leader, we didn't do as much adventurous outdoor activities. We cabin camped and did more organized, pre-planned activities. I found myself not confident enough to take 14 girls (4-6th graders) when only one or two had any experience, and my assistant leader was TERRIFIED of anything that moved outdoors. I tried to introduce the girls to the outdoors, but wasn't brave enough to take on too much responsibility. She was lucky enough to go back to her previous leader when she moved into Cadettes. Her last two years in Scouts as a Girl 10+ years), she moved into a troop that did crafts and a yearly beach trip in Condo. She and her best friend who had also moved into the troop, convinced them to take a different type trip and try some new things (cabin camping, white water rafting, and day hiking in mountains). She was like me, she wanted to do the cool things. Me, I didn't have access to an outdoor troop, so I just complained because I couldn't be a Boy Scout and was jealous of my brother and the things they did. A friend's daughter is currently looking for an outdoor GSUSA troop, at least until she is old enough to join Venturing.


With my son's BS troop (and even with the CS), I find that the expectations from parents are that we will be camping. As Webelo DL, the SM and I took 5 parent/boy pairs who had no camping experience and the parents went along with the attitude of "We will try it and make it through. Our boys want to do this and are excited about it."


I think it is a real issue of expectations. We live in a basically rural area and so we see more girls that do outdoor things than some areas. You just "gotta shop around." and not just at the mall.


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I echo the sentiment in this thread...


I was a Cub leader from Tigers through Webe II's and when my son was done, I told him it was time to go to his Troop without me as a leader (and much to my chagrin, he agreed readily). It is now my turn to start with my daughters and their GSUSA involvement and give them as much of my time as I can as a leader.


I was also a bit disappointed about the firearm (bb gun included) exposure, but thought that we had enough local gun clubs that if I felt it was the right thing to do, my daughters could shoot competitively outside GSUSA. But much to my surprise, we (GSUSA council) also have a monthly program for ALL Troops for martial arts training....and the local camp has an archery range....so as I said, BSA nor GSUSA will dictate what my kids will be involved with, but it sure would be fun to do it as part of a Troop activity.


As for getting dirty...I told my Brownie parents to expect it. Not to stereotype young ladies, but I think if you get them exposed to outdoor fun, or getting dirty, their love of nature will soon follow. (I had just as many cubbies sleep with night lights on and get grossed out by bugs than any young girls I know).


Both camps are as much fun as we make them, and fortunately, I have strong councils on both sides that give us many training and activity opportunities.


The GSUSA male leader stigma is something that I still need to adjust to since I appear to be an extreme minority (as oppposed to the multitudes of female leaders in Cub Scouts). And as for parents, I also told them that this was not a drop and run program and that I want them to be involved and see what their girls are doing so that they understand the experience of GSUSA. I also told them that I would expect at least one parent per family to spend $10 and become registered (opportunity fund not withstanding) so that when it came time to do some field trips, there were no misconceptions on who was driving or covered under the GSUSA policy.


Our school girl scout troops also agreed to have a once a month meeting (similar to monthly cub scout pack meetings) so that the young girls can see what the older girls are doing and the older girls can strive to achieve more if they know that the younger ladies are emulating their involvement.


Let the fun begin!

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My first post as a long-time lurker, so bear with me. I'm glad to see more Dads involved with their daughters' in GS. I am a Boy Scout all the way: Eagle w/Bronze Palm; former camp staffer; former Asst. Scoutmaster (8 years); former Scoutmaster (8 years); current Committee Chairman (2 years). Did Woodbadge, Philmont three times, and OA Vigil Honor.


My daugher is my only living child; son passed away unexpectedly shortly after birth. Wife and I are starting our second year as Co-Leaders of her Brownie Troop. Many of you hit many salient points. There are not many valid comparisons between groups for different genders. Our local Service Unit doesn't necessarily 'frown' on father participation, but at SU meetings--out of roughly 50 attendees--I'm regularly the only thorn among the roses. I was told in no uncertain terms am I to discuss "how we've done it in Boy Scouts" at SU meetings. Eyes would roll as soon as I would try to discuss a topic or idea.


Yes, many parents are overprotective. How do we get around that? As we plan AND implement, we always try to anticipate the issues that the most problematic mother will bring up and have an answer/solution ready for her. That's a strategy I learned at work, and have used for 18 years in BS and two in GS. We also give attending parents a job so they don't have time to constantly hang over their daughter's shoulder. We want parents involved and try to get them whenever possible. Dads have no problem helping when cornered and asked directly. Sending general requests for help usually don't work.


I'm probably ranting by now, so I'll stop. Best piece of advice: Let the parents know up front that you have a lot to offer and WILL be involved(and would love to have them involved). I have a lot of contacts and ideas from 18 years of adult leadership. Our Brownie Troop did more in our first year of leadership than they did the prior 5 years combined. Parents have been ecstatic, and ALL of the girls are returning this year!


Stop me before I rant again!

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