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69RoadRunner

Girl Scouts Suing the Boy Scouts

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I share the experience as a single father. My daughter wanted , at first, to join GS, so I found the local GSTroop was led by the PTA president.  I was not welcomed and it was just as well, because daughter then told me she didn't want to join the "cookies and fashion" troop.

Later, when I was a Cub master for my Scoutson's Pack, we thought, let's do a joint recruiting, rent out the school gym with the local GSTroop. Brownies and Cubs, natural.   The local GSTroop leader was the PTA president (!) and when we asked, she said (quote) "oh no, we have enough Girl Scouts, we don't want any more."   I thought that was bizarre,  but found out it was not so strange to hear that the GS LIMITED their membership ! 

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On 12/8/2018 at 10:12 PM, hiker67 said:

GSUSA seems to have officially distanced itself from outdoorsmanship.

Quote: “Instead of focusing on past notions of ‘outdoorsmanship,’ ” the organization tries to help girls develop leadership skills in a way that suits them — for example learning to advocate for environmental protection, Girl Scouts Vice President Jennifer Allebach said in an email to The Washington Post. 

That is a very telling quote.  And from a Girl Scouts Vice President.

It matches what I have seen in the types of program materials that the GS national office has been putting out during the years my daughter has been in scouts.

12 hours ago, dkurtenbach said:

Interesting article.  It does sound like the national level leadership has given up on "past notions of 'outdoorsmanship,'" but that the question of outdoorsmanship in Girl Scouts is still a matter of internal hand-wringing at the local level. 

Girl Scouts is a very broad organization.   It has lots of long-term members, more or less active as volunteers,  who have strong opinions, not all the same.   Some have been tugging hard in an outdoor direction (not necessarily successfully).   Others volunteers are perfectly happy with the more modern approach the GSUSA has been taking.    

In particular the summer camp programs,  which are run by councils (not by national), and which are completely separate from the troop program,  are a bright light within Girl Scouting for those girls who want to do things outdoors.    And girls can attend these even if they are the only girls in the troops who want to go to camp (or even if they are not a member of a troop at all.)

Will the outdoor focussed Girl Scouts gain more traction in their attempts to influence the direction of the national organization, now that Boy Scouting is a competitor?  Or will the modernizers be happy if those old-fashioned Girl Scouts leave and join The Other Scouting Organization and stop badgering the modernizers? (It might not even affect GS adult membership numbers too much, because many of the most opinionated are likely lifetime members.)

 

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3 hours ago, SSScout said:

The local GSTroop leader was the PTA president (!) and when we asked, she said (quote) "oh no, we have enough Girl Scouts, we don't want any more."   I thought that was bizarre,  but found out it was not so strange to hear that the GS LIMITED their membership ! 

There are (sadly) some circumstances when that is a quite rational response, actually.  Let's say you have a Brownie troop with exactly 12 girls.  You only need two adults  for going on a field trip.  (Two adults can supervise up to 12 Brownies on an outing,  and you can fit 12 girls into two minivans.)   Add one more girl, and you will need a third adult any time you leave your regular meeting place.   If the troop leaders have been having trouble finding additional volunteers, I could certainly see troop leaders in that situation not wanting a 13th girl unless her mom (or dad) volunteered to come on every single field trip.

 

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7 hours ago, Treflienne said:

There are (sadly) some circumstances when that is a quite rational response, actually.  Let's say you have a Brownie troop with exactly 12 girls.  You only need two adults  for going on a field trip.  (Two adults can supervise up to 12 Brownies on an outing,  and you can fit 12 girls into two minivans.)   Add one more girl, and you will need a third adult any time you leave your regular meeting place.   If the troop leaders have been having trouble finding additional volunteers, I could certainly see troop leaders in that situation not wanting a 13th girl unless her mom (or dad) volunteered to come on every single field trip.

 

My wife is a GS leader. This is understandable when you look at how they organize troops.  Each troop is usually 1 or 2 age groups, unlike BSA where we're 11-18 in the same troop.

The troops are smaller and can only handle so many girls at a time. There have been times when my wife could not find an available troop for a girl who was not in my wife's troop's age group.

Like most groups, finding enough volunteers is a struggle.

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1 hour ago, 69RoadRunner said:

My wife is a GS leader. This is understandable when you look at how they organize troops.  Each troop is usually 1 or 2 age groups, unlike BSA where we're 11-18 in the same troop.

The troops are smaller and can only handle so many girls at a time. There have been times when my wife could not find an available troop for a girl who was not in my wife's troop's age group.

Like most groups, finding enough volunteers is a struggle.

A large part of this stems from the charter partner concept.  It gives the BSA packs and troops more permanace.  In the BSA, units stay around a lot longer too.  In the GSUSA, units tend to form around a group of girls.  When they are done, so too are the troops.  

It may just be a local thing - but around here we see what they call multi-level GSUSA troops.  These function much more like a BSA unit and have girls of all ages.  Most tend to be large too as they pick up more membership from all the small troops that are at max capacity.

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I belong to a number of outdoor focused organizations. Some of which have been asked for volunteers to help local GSUSA troops do more outdoor based activities. 

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22 minutes ago, DuctTape said:

I belong to a number of outdoor focused organizations. Some of which have been asked for volunteers to help local GSUSA troops do more outdoor based activities. 

I belong to this thing called Venturing, BSA which actually provides volunteers (including boy scouts) to help local GS/USA troops do more activities, period.

There is water for the horse, and the trough is deep.

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1 hour ago, ParkMan said:

A large part of this stems from the charter partner concept.  It gives the BSA packs and troops more permanace.  In the BSA, units stay around a lot longer too.  In the GSUSA, units tend to form around a group of girls.  When they are done, so too are the troops.  

 

Yeah, it is limiting from a gear/financial standpoint, too. They seem to operate hand to mouth and the troop really doesn't own any gear.

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Just now, 69RoadRunner said:

Yeah, it is limiting from a gear/financial standpoint, too. They seem to operate hand to mouth and the troop really doesn't own any gear.

Growing up, our troop would loan its gear to Girl Scouts and Youth Groups. Same for our current troop. Even for most of us scouters, our personal collection of gear is stacked and the garage/barn is unlocked.

There is water for the horse, and the trough is deep.

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The other big thing I see is the loss of mentors to encourage new leaders.  

Imagine if every  Cub Scout pack & Boy Scout troop had to figure out it's program from scratch.  In the chartered organization system, we have programs that build on each other year after year.  Imagine if a den leader had to figure it all out on their own and do it by themselves.  Imagine if new Troop parents had to figure out how to do things from scratch constantly.  To me, this is one of the biggest consequences of that approach.

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A frequently-heard comment when BSA first announced that it would be admitting girls into the Cub Scout and (what is currently) the Boy Scout program was that it was unnecessary, because there was already a Scouting program for girls -- GSUSA.  Given the variety of programmatic and organizational differences between BSA and GSUSA we've been talking about, it is clear that there is not a single generic "Scouting" program that is delivered by both BSA and GSUSA with only minor stylistic differences.  Added up, the differences between the two Scouting programs are significant -- reason enough for BSA to open up its last two single-gender programs and give girls another choice.   

Tying this back to the larger subject of this thread:  All the more reason, it seems to me, for BSA to have made a real effort to brand the age 11-17 program in a way that would distance it from GSUSA and clearly show girls that this is definitely not Girl Scouts.  Even if they really, really don't want to keep "Boy Scouts" as the name of that program, "Scouts BSA" does nothing to clearly distinguish the Boy Scouts of America program from the Girl Scouts of the USA program.  On the contrary, it hamstrings the competitiveness of the BSA program by promoting the generic "Scouting" program myth that one Scouting program is pretty much the same as the other.

Edited by dkurtenbach
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6 minutes ago, dkurtenbach said:

A frequently-heard comment when BSA first announced that it would be admitting girls into the Cub Scout and (what is currently) the Boy Scout program was that it was unnecessary, because there was already a Scouting program for girls -- GSUSA.  Given the variety of programmatic and organizational differences between BSA and GSUSA we've been talking about, it is clear that there is not a single generic "Scouting" program that is delivered by both BSA and GSUSA with only minor stylistic differences.  Added up, the differences between the two Scouting programs are significant -- reason enough for BSA to open up its last two single-gender programs and give girls another choice.   

Yes - agreed.

6 minutes ago, dkurtenbach said:

Tying this back to the larger subject of this thread:  All the more reason, it seems to me, for BSA to have made a real effort to brand the age 11-17 program in a way that would distance it from GSUSA and clearly show girls that this is definitely not Girl Scouts.  Even if they really, really don't want to keep "Boy Scouts" as the name of that program, "Scouts BSA" does nothing to clearly distinguish the Boy Scouts of America program from the Girl Scouts of the USA program.  On the contrary, it hamstrings the competitiveness of the BSA program by promoting the generic "Scouting" program myth that one Scouting program is pretty much the same as the other.

Sure - but I've no idea what you'd call it.  Boy Scouts really wasn't a viable long term solution as they wanted to market the program on it's strengths to girls.  Continuing to call it "Boy Scouts" would have hamstrung making it a program for girls as well.  You could get rid of Scouts - but that would be a huge loss.  Once you get past that, what do you do?  Add some new prefix?

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1 hour ago, 69RoadRunner said:

Yeah, it is limiting from a gear/financial standpoint, too. They seem to operate hand to mouth and the troop really doesn't own any gear.

Typically troops start with no money,  no equipment, no meeting place, two adults who have never been scout leaders before, and a dozen kindergarten girls.  Moreover the council wants us to end the year having zeroed out the bank balance, unless the money is earmarked for a specific future need.   Leaders are supposed to find a meeting place that they can meet, for no fee, that is preferably in a public location (school, church, business, etc) and that is handicapped accessible.  (Though there is a loophole that allows troops to meet in private homes if certain conditions are met.  Some leaders meet in homes because it is much easier, but that also limits the troop size.)   As far as equipment, what I have often seen happen is that leaders buy, out of their own pocket,  stuff they need for the troop.   This is then the leader's personal equipment which she uses with any group of kids she is  involved with (church,  soccer, etc, etc,); it does not belong to the troop and the troop loses access to it if that leader leaves.

I have to say that the approach of having a multi-year pack or troop, supported by a CO, looks appealing from the outside looking in.   

 

 

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12 hours ago, Treflienne said:

There are (sadly) some circumstances when that is a quite rational response, actually.  Let's say you have a Brownie troop with exactly 12 girls.  You only need two adults  for going on a field trip.  (Two adults can supervise up to 12 Brownies on an outing,  and you can fit 12 girls into two minivans.)   Add one more girl, and you will need a third adult any time you leave your regular meeting place. 

 

Very easy solution. You ask the new parent to take on an active role in the troop so their daughter can be a member. My daughter was turned away more than once and not once did the rejecting troop even ask me  if I (or my wife) was willing to be a volunteer. I literally had to beg to find her a troop.

And really, how is this any different than BSA? Have too many scouts to fit into two cars, then someone else will have to volunteer to drive the third vehicle.

When my daughter wanted to join cub scouts, the CC asked me if I wanted to lead the den. I didn't really want to but I accepted the job so my daughter could have this experience. I don't see why GSUSA should approach growth in such a different and more exclusive manner.

Doesn't seem like a rational response.

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6 minutes ago, Hawkwin said:

Very easy solution. You ask the new parent to take on an active role in the troop so their daughter can be a member. My daughter was turned away more than once and not once did the rejecting troop even ask me  if I (or my wife) was willing to be a volunteer. I literally had to beg to find her a troop.

And really, how is this any different than BSA? Have too many scouts to fit into two cars, then someone else will have to volunteer to drive the third vehicle.

When my daughter wanted to join cub scouts, the CC asked me if I wanted to lead the den. I didn't really want to but I accepted the job so my daughter could have this experience. I don't see why GSUSA should approach growth in such a different and more exclusive manner.

Doesn't seem like a rational response.

But where it's different is imagine you're having this conversation with a den leader - not a Cubmaster.  In the GSUSA system, there's no Cubmaster, no Pack Committee, no treasurer.  You've got a den leader and assistant who has agreed to lead his/her kid's den.  The den has 12 scouts today.  You come along and say "I'd like to add my child and have it be 13".  You're probably the fifth or sixth person (if not more) who has asked.  The den leaders knows - if they don't say no, they are going to be leading a den of 20 kids.

I use the den leader analogy because that's really what it is.  These folks are generally not Cubmasters or CC's who are signing up build a bigger troop with multiple groups doing things.  They are the GSUSA equivalent of den leaders who want to lead their child's scout group.

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