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onetallmama

Are local Girl Scout Councils allowed to add girls to a troop without leader consent?

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I'm having an issue with my local GS Council. They have told me they are adding a girl to my troop and we are at our max of 14 girls. (Our council recommends 12 to a troop.) This girl they are trying to add has several other options to be a Girl Scout. I'm sympathetic to this girl, however I feel I am maxed out at 14 for the troop. Is there any recourse for leaders when Council is overstepping their bounds?

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Well, you're not gonna get much sympathy here. On average, BSA units number in the 20s and some exceed 100. There's always room for one more, limited only by the fire codes of your meeting place.

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@@onetallmama, welcome to the forums.

 

I find it very hard to turn kids away.

 

The boy scouts would handle this by splitting the group in two but still be in the same troop (each group is called a patrol). Maybe these scouts have differences of opinion on what they should do so two groups of 7 might be easier to work with. More scouts means more parents so maybe you can get some help. This could be a good thing.

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@onetallmama,I may have come off a little shallow, in my initial reply.

 

It is likely a testament to your troop that this girl esteems yours so highly. Either you are willing to plan activities other moms are not, or your girls are especially friendly and welcoming. Either way, that is something on which you should capitalize and grow. And, unless you really do have physical space issues, see this as an opportunity for you and your girls (and the moms who are most willing to be your sidekicks).

 

The one thing this forum as to offer for your situation is boatloads of advice on how to make a big group validate the growth and leadership of each member via the patrol method (see the sub-forum for a plethora of topics on this). We take it seriously because our task usually starts with at least a dozen boys and very few adults. But, the concept is certainly not foreign to girl scouts. Search "girl scouts patrol system" for several pointers by GS/USA leaders on how they make it work for their troops.

 

So, sure you could give the organization some "push back". But, you might rather consider if you and the girls will reap better rewards if you "push forward" with the hand you've been dealt.

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I guess I'm from a different era and definitely a different ilk than most.  I don't think I have ever maxed out on anything I've done,  I was taught that one can always add more water to the soup, FHB was announced when the food was put on the table (family hold back) and if Mom ate dinner standing at the kitchen counter it was no big deal.

 

No one gets turned away and nothing is ever said of it for fear that it might get back to that person and make them feel like they are intruding.  The last person that shows up gets the same warm welcome that the first one got.

 

I was in charge of an evacuation shelter during the Hurricane Matthew storm.  My first experience with the Red Cross in the area of sheltering.  I had taken the online course on helping with the shelter, but nothing on being the overall manager.  Two days before the storm I had 5 people.  I can handle that.  Then the day before the storm it jumped to 37 people.  By then I was getting nervous........ at the height of the storm, the power went out, the medical people on oxygen were suddenly without, all hell broke loose and I was responsible for the safety and welfare of 150 people.  That's a lot of water in the soup, but we all survived and have a great story to tell our grandchildren.

 

As long as people are looking for a spot at the table, I will always find the room.

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@@onetallmama, welcome to the forums.

 

I find it very hard to turn kids away.

 

The boy scouts would handle this by splitting the group in two but still be in the same troop (each group is called a patrol). Maybe these scouts have differences of opinion on what they should do so two groups of 7 might be easier to work with. More scouts means more parents so maybe you can get some help. This could be a good thing.

 

My mother ran a larger girl scout troop with the patrol method.  They were middle school aged girls and it worked out pretty well.  I think she defaulted to what she knew based on the BSA training she had been through.  They planned some things as a troop, and each patrol planned some things just for their patrol. 

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I am a BSA leader and a GSUSA leader. I've been in BSA units that average 70 scouts per year with 45-50 active and ones that average 10 scouts, 5-8 active. My GSUSA unit has averaged 36 girls each year. Our biggest year we were 55, smallest 28 girls. We are a Cadette/Senior/Ambassador troop. We have NEVER turned a girl away. We have limited some activities to first come, first served due to rides/event space/ticket availability. We tell our parents Moms and Dads that they are expected to help out. If they don't help we don't go anywhere and won't do much. We are a week to week core leadership team of 4.

 

We run a girl led troop, they decide everything and run it themselves. As adults we are there for permission, finances, transportation and technical support. I have never been involved with a BSA troop that is this boy led, and I'm on my fourth troop. I've been hoping to find what my daughter has had for my son. If the girls ideas aren't fulfilled it because they haven't followed through. No rescues. We have only said no to one activity that the girls picked out to do, an overnight at a theater after a Broadway style show on the other side of the state. It was going to be $150 per person for ticket and overnighter before transportation.

 

Our GSUSA troop runs more like a BSA troop as far as the adults are concerned. We have one head leader (Scoutmaster), several assistant leaders that head up finances (treasurer), advancement, communications/news letters, trip/outing planners. 3 of our adults don't even have girls left in the troop. The unit has been around for 20 years. Started when the Scoutmaster-like head leader's first daughter was becoming a Cadette. Her youngest is now 30.

 

With increased numbers comes the ability to more things and a greater variety of things. We backpack at spring break, travel to Canada each Mother's day for an international camporee, travel to England every 4 years for a different camporee. We cabin camp at least twice a year and tent 2-4 times more. Do 2-4 service projects, attend council events and plan 3-6 outings a year on our own. When we are on the small size we don't do nearly as much. Numbers at a blessing and a curse too. But it sure beats sitting around staring at each other because you can't get a minimum number of bodies to get a group discount or make an event feasible.

 

Ask your parents for help. You are not a low cost babysitter. If they won't step up in some fashion, each and every family each year dissolve the troop and move your daughter to a troop that'd like your help and form a leadership team. One of my pet peeves with GSUSA is troops come and go faster than I change my tennis shoes out in my area. And they are closed groups here too, only girls from this grade at this school that my daughter likes. IMHO that is not scouting it's a play group.

 

My reaction would be take the girl and all her friends that want to come too, but they have to bring willing and helping adults. No adults no girls same for current girls. All for one and on for all. Every family CAN help some how, some way. USE IT, EMBRACE IT (emphasis).

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I think the first paragraph of BP's chapter on troop size is a good thing to re-read as a refresh....

http://scoutmastercg.com/aids-scoutmastership/#One Reason Why a Troop Should not Exceed Thirty Two

 

Now, considering that a GS "Troop" is typically treated more of what BP and we BSA folks would call a patrol, this is an important follow-up.....

http://scoutmastercg.com/aids-scoutmastership/#The Patrol System

 

Based on my limited observations, it seems that most BSA units are much more open and inviting as compared with GS units.  GS units seem to tend leaning towards tight clicks of friends and are a bit more exclusive....like a pillar unto itself.

I don't mean any of that as a knock.....in fact it seems to be a good system, in terms of "Patrol Spirit" anyway.  It fits into what BP called the gang of boys..... described more or less as a group of tight friends that stick together....

 

Meanwhile, it seems like the typical BSA inclusiveness, while a great ideal to aspire to, is a culture that conflicts with practical limitations of group size sometimes....

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Girl scout troops are different also from how recruiting is done.  And GSA troops tend to have a smaller committee, aka the adult leader.  IMHO, that adult leader has great latitude in size and content and membership of the troop.  Otherwise they can find another adult volunteer.  :)  

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I like BSAGCMOM.   I wish all GSUSA units had that much faith and dedication. 

My intro to girl scouts was when my daughter came home from her first GS meeting and said she did not want to join , they were too crafty and artsy and fashiony.  When this old Eagle Scout offered to help , they said no thank you. 

My second time was when son became a Cub Scout and  I became a Cub Scout leader. Our Pack decided to have a recruiting event, rented the school gym, and then thought, hey, why not invite the GS to join us?  Brownies are Scouts, too....  So I looked up the local GS leader (she happened to be the PTA president) and asked.  Her answer was , no "We already have enough Girl Scouts and don't want any more".

They don't want any more????   And here we BSA folks are bemoaning the paucity of Boy Scouts and the inherent decline of civilization. 

 

Such is the difference in philosophies.

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I'm sympathetic to this girl, however I feel I am maxed out at 14 for the troop.

 

I gather from @@ShootingSports reply that you might not have a choice.

 

I get the feeling that you are beginning to feel like you have more than you can handle because of the size of your troop. Some of the responses from the BSA perspective are glossing over something significant that is different between the two programs that @@bsaggcmom hits on.

 

That difference is the size of the group based on organizational dynamics. Management techniques and styles must change with the size of the organization. A small group can be managed quite well with techniques that will make a medium-sized organization dysfunctional and that will outright doom a larger organization to failure. A small group can just be managed as "the group", but as the organization grows it will have to be organized into subunits. Ever see a large corporation that wasn't divided into divisions, groups, and sections? No, because it wouldn't survive without being organized into subgroups.

 

Based on my observation and experience, there are certain numbers that mark a "critical mass" that inherently force the change in management styles. You are on the cusp of one. Depending on the organization's purpose, it's goals, and it's membership, the critical mass between small and medium is about 15-20 members. That is why you feel like you are starting to "max out"...you are approaching critical mass for which your leadership style will become insufficient. 

 

The boy scouting program contemplates this directly and deals with it using the "patrol method". The average boy scout troop is 25 boys. BSA recommends "patrols"--the subunits--be about 8 boys. So, the average boy scout troop has 16 -21 boys in divided into 2 or 3 patrols, each with a boy "patrol leader", and a handful of scouts in troop-wide leadership positions. Note the subtle way this increases to opportunity for teaching and learning leadership skills, too. Boys can learn rudimentary leadership skills as patrol leaders before moving onto more difficult and complicated leadership positions over larger numbers of boys.

 

It is my understanding, and I may be completely wrong, that Girl Scouts does not teach this kind of approach to the question of organizational dynamics. It sounds to me like they try to avoid the issue by capping the number of members in the troop. Your problem, then, is that they are starting to push you into a situation for which they have provided no or insufficient guidance and training.

 

However, as @@bsaggcmom so amply demonstrates, there is no reason why the patrol method cannot be successfully implemented into medium or large sized GS troop. And it has worked wonderfully for her, and I think many BSA volunteers could learn from her experience. The patrol method is not complicated in theory and there is a lot of material on it that you can access to learn more if you wish.

 

Your bigger problem is that you are not quite yet "medium-sized". There's always that awkward period where you are not really small and not really medium. So you either muddle along like a small troop or you muddle along like a medium sized troop. Since your national organization is apparently forcing you out of "small", if I were you I would focus on recruiting a couple more girls to make it to "medium".

 

Good luck.

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"Critical mass" is dependent on the structure of the organization.  With the patrol method there is never going to be critical mass of more than 6-8 in a "group" (patrol) and that becomes dependent on the leadership instruction of members themselves.  1 adult of average learning might be able to handle 14 people.  Professional adults (school teachers, for example) have been trained to handle maybe 20-25 at one time.  But young fledgling youth might be able to handle 6-8 if trained.  With the patrol method, the numbers don't make a difference because no one is responsible for more than 8 people, 7 plus oneself.

 

Once one gets to 8 patrols with 8 PL's, toss in an SPL to take care of the 8 PL's.  So now we get up to 16 patrols, add on an ASPL, and keep adding more and more ASPL's to handle each new group of 8 PL's.  No one in the organization is responsible for more than 8 people.

 

6 boys, 1 PL

36 boys, 6 PL's, 1 SPL

216 boys,  36 PL's, 1 SPL 6 ASPL's

 

Add in Instructors, Scribe, QM, Chap Aide, and a whole host of other Leadership Corps personnel and the workload drops even further yet.

 

And still no one is responsible for more than 6 people at one time.  That's the beauty of shared leadership in the Patrol Method.  As mentioned above, one is more limited by the size of the CO's meeting facility than by any membership restrictions.

 

Of course all of this is predicated on the idea that genuine leadership and creative management is taught and used throughout the program.  One is only limited by how well one does that.

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as a SUM (Service Unit Manager) in GS, if you have less than 12 girls, they can put girls in your troop. However, if you have a max of 14, and that is indicated that it is your max, they should not do that. Here in MD, they have started to use a Troop Catalog, and troops do not show up if they are at their max capacity... I would talk to your Membership Specialist.

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