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Treflienne

Elementary age GS troops disbanding by 3rd, 4rth, or 5th grade? How common is it?

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I know that Eagledad and Malraux just commented in another thread about local elementary-age GS troops in their towns falling apart.

I've seen it in my town, too.  Way too often. 

I went to our service unit meeting last night.  (For you BSA people, that is a meeting of any and all interested girl scout leaders and girl scout parents in the school district.  Mostly leaders but a couple of parents.)   There was a kindergarten parent there asking about formation of a kindergarten Daisy troop.  And it was explained how we do it.  One of the service unit volunteers (a leader of an older-grade troop who is taking on an extra job) collects the names of the parents of the would-be Daisies.  Once she gets about a dozen names from the same school she puts all the moms in contact with each other, and tells them that they can have a troop as soon as two of those moms step up to be leaders.  If there are not enough girls from a single elementary school, she pools the groups from two schools.

There are big problems with this

1) Often times the people who do step up have no prior Girl Scout experience themselves, except perhaps a couple of years being a Brownie or Junior girl scout when they were children.  So they have very little idea what a girl scout troop should be like.

2) The most visible resources they have to learn about Girl Scout are the current books (Girl's Guide and Journeys) which are lame, and also the council-provided program-level training which is (or was when I took it) useless.

3) So the Daisy troop meetings end up being a lot like organized play-dates once a month, rather than scout meetings.

4) And in many cases the kids and families lose interest by the end of Brownies, and the troops fall apart. (A few troops hang together longer.  Typically they have leaders who believe more strongly in scouting and had spent longer in Girl Scouts when they were kids.)

Why do we not run larger multi-grade troops so that leaders with some experience can mentor the new volunteers?  This is not clear to me. It is not forbidden by GSUSA policy.  But I think that it may be that parents are intimidated by trying to corral more than a dozen wiggly little kids at once.  (And they are not learning at school how to behave well in groups as they did in previous generations.)

For you girl scout parents out there: do things look any better in your service units?

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I'll take Venturing advisors for 300. This thought went through their mind when their daughters were daisies.

4 minutes ago, Treflienne said:

... Why do we not run larger multi-grade troops so that leaders with some experience can mentor the new volunteers?  This is not clear to me. It is not forbidden by GSUSA policy.  But I think that it may be that parents are intimidated by trying to corral more than a dozen wiggly little kids at once.  (And they are not learning at school how to behave well in groups as they did in previous generations.)

I've only seen this happen with women (often, but not necessarily moms) who've 1) had several girls spaced apart in age and 2) had boys in packs and troops and 3) had the endorsement of a community organization or business wanting a program for a wide range of girls.

The truth is GS/USA believes that girls are better empowered by troops of no more than 15 girls, and will direct inquiring girls to troops matching their age but lacking in numbers.

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I also find it to be a weird choice that GSUSA makes it difficult to find a girl scout troop to join. You have to send an inquiry to find local troops that are currently accepting girls and hope there's an opening. For all the tech issues with the BSA, the beascout pin system does work.

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I’ll talk to two experiences I have had with GSUSA.

My daughters Troop is massive 40 Scouts in 1st grade.  They meet monthly with 1 or 2 activities a year outside those meetings. The meetings are right after school and primary involve crafts or cookie sales.  She found the meetings to be ok.  She did love the GSUSA summer camps ... they exceeded the quality of the BSA summer camps.

The fourth grade girls that disbanded.  The leaders were burnt out and overall they felt the program was boring. During our JSN we did water rockets with the kids.  One of the girls shouted out to a quiet room “this is SOOO much more fun than Girl Scouts”.  I know that isn’t fair but it was based on her own experience.

I am also aware of an area GSUSA Troop that went to Europe and camped in the Alps.  Based on my limited experience and have seen...when the Troop is good, it is really good, but when it is bad it dies.  I’m not sure which direction my daughter’s Troop is headed.  

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1 hour ago, Treflienne said:

For you girl scout parents out there: do things look any better in your service units?

No.

Exactly the same - which is why my daughter's troop failed three different times (1st year Daisy fail, 2nd year Daisy fail, 1st year Brownie fail) and why she spent a year as a Juliette (2nd year Brownie), and the local council tried to trick me and a few other parents into being the leaders so we spent that year as a Juliette (no other troop would accept her), and eventually begged and pleaded (*cough* demanded *cough*) to join an existing troop and not join another brand new one.

My daughter (now 2nd year Junior) has never participated in a bridging ceremony because all of her troops failed prior to the event.

The failure rate of such troops has to be SOOOO high that one would think GSUSA would consider a different methodology.

Edited by Hawkwin

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A GSUSA  Troop that lasts longer than the school terms of the girls (first thru twelveth grade ?) is a rare beast. Such a thing depends on the Troop leaders and is , as has been noted,  discouraged STRONGLY by the GSUSA.  In my experience, such Troops exist longer than 12 years because of two things:  one, the lady leaders (again, men are discouraged from helping, but the Dads do  in these GSTroops)  really believe in Scouting and take the girls OUTSIDE often.  They have seen the benefit, have had the experience themselves.  There is an effort to hike, climb, backpack etc.  and two, the lady leaders have some Boy Scout experience and model their organization after the Troop/Patrol idea. They insist , give their girls leadership positions. 

There is protest from GS leaders that , yes, we do outdoorsy things, but it is incumbent on the Troop leaders, more than on any official trained, encouraged program.  

My "aha" moment came when, on offering to share a recruiting opportunity with the Brownie Troop in my Scoutson's school, the GS leader told me "oh no, we have enough girls, we do not want any more."

And, of course, we have heard of the Senior GS 's that double register as a Venture Crew.  NOW, they can earn the Eagle AND the Gold award...  Double dipping, indeed.  

 

Edited by SSScout
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I have mentioned our experience with GSUSA several times when my daughter was young. No one would accept her into a Daisy or Brownie troop in our area. Wrong school, wrong grade, not in the right clique of girls, wrong hair (not really but you get the idea). I was willing to be an adult leader and help so ratios weren't an issue. No go, no troop, but a heart broken 6 year old. One year the local council even took my membership fees for the girl and myself and kept it until the next fall then finally refunded it because we hadn't been able to join a troop. I had a kid that wanted to be a scout so bad she could taste it.

Luckily we live on the border with Canada. A short 20 mile drive and a border crossing, let her be a Canadian Girl Guide. She went through their Brownie, Guide and Pathfinder programs. Some years she was a Lone Guide (a Juliette) other years we made the cross border trek every week. When she was in 6th grade and BSA friend of mine got us into a GSUSA troop for Cadettes/Seniors/Ambassadors. The troop was fantastic. The head leader never turned girls away, girls came from all around to be part of the troop. We drove 30 miles 1 way every other week to attend. The leadership asked each family to help in some way to help the troop go - front line leader, treasurer, cookie mom, drivers, snack parent, etc. The troop is on its 20th year of existence this year. The head leader hasn't had a girl in the troop in over 10 years (she had 3 daughters), but she believes in the movement and wants as many girls as possible to experience the program. The troop is very outdoor oriented, they go to England for a jamboree every 4 years, backpack every spring break, etc. These girls are more active than any BSA troop that my son was ever involved with. Some years there are 20 girls other years there are upwards of 50 girls.

My experience with GSUSA for the most part, is it is a clique of girls that have a couple of moms that feed and support the clique. It is very rare to find a troop like my daughter's. Once the clique of girls break up, change members, change tastes the GSUSA troop falls apart. Not a good service delivery model.

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A Girl Scout troop is only as good as its leaders make it.

There is one book that every new Girl Scout leader should read, it covers things that GSUSA training does a poor job covering:

Starting a Troop: A Guide for New Girl Scout Leaders
by Rae Brewer 

If you know any new Girl Scout troop leader, get them this book. There are things in there they need to know to have a successful troop. It was a real help to our troop.

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In our area they are called multi-level troops.  We've got several around here.  It's not unusual to see them at 50+ members.

So, if our area is any indication, this is allowed within the GS structure.  Most of the ones I know of run the full program range - Daisies through Ambassadors.  There is one I know of that is split in half - similar to the Pack/Troop breakdown.

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Don't know much about the GS groups.  There are some that meet at / are attached to the CO.  We see them at Scout Sunday.  It's hard to figure out who is a Girl Scout, then they put on the sash (maybe vest) and bam...Girl Scout.  

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