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mrkstvns

Girls who want to camp don't NEED to start a girl's Scout BSA troop...

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I think a lot of us believe in our hearts that BSA troops camp and GSUSA troops don't.  That's the reason why girls bail on the Girl Scout program --- they just want to be outdoors where the fun is.

I was completely unaware of this SIG concept where girls can stay in the GSUSA program but still focus on what they most want to do (sounds to me a lot like venturing...)

Here's the story that piques my interest...
https://www.houstonchronicle.com/life/article/Girls-Scouts-are-crushing-some-old-stereotypes-14298266.php 

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Paywall. If you have a short quote from the article, please cut-and-paste (like we did before Al Gore and I invented the internet).

From one GS/USA council about SIGs ...

https://www.gssjc.org/en/about-girl-scouts/join/special-interest-groups.html

But, here's the deal (by way of example): backpacking is not a "special interest." Humans have been hauling essential rations and gear since before they could tame horses and dogs. GS/USA misses the point by saying, "Here's an interesting side show." Instead of "Here's where you can have a pinnacle scouting experience of hiking and camping with your mates." (Insert original footage of girls doing actually that a century ago.)

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16 minutes ago, qwazse said:

Paywall. If you have a short quote from the article, please cut-and-paste (like we did before Al Gore and I invented the internet).

Darn those pesky paywalls!

Here's a quote for you and Al...

 

This summer, almost a dozen Houston-area Girl Scouts spent three nights on the trail in Colorado, backpacking 18 miles through rough terrain and demonstrating that the Girl Scouting experience can be pretty intense — more so than the familiar door-to-door cookie sales.

The 11 girls are members of the Girl Scout Backpacking special interest group. The young women are in junior high and high school but have outdoor skills that most adults lack. They know how to assemble their packs, prepare and cook meals on the trail, and aren’t afraid to sleep out in the open. They’re also crushing Girl Scout stereotypes.

“When I talk to people who don’t know anything about Girl Scouts, they think it’s all about cookies and crafts,” said Heather Solomon, backpacking coordinator. “One thing about San Jacinto Council is we have a huge outdoor department.”

Solomon said a lot of people don’t know about the Girl Scouts Outdoor special interest groups, called SIGs, which exemplify one way the organization tries to keep junior high and high school girls engaged in Scouting."

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I have a son who is about to have his Eagle CoH and a 17-year-old daughter who is trying to squeeze in her Gold Award before she ages out of GSA.  I'm a committee member in my son's troop and my wife is a troop leader in the Girl Scouts troop.  When the Boy Scouts announced they were letting girls join, my son and I kind of rolled our eyes a bit, but shrugged it off.  My daughter and wife, meanwhile, were furious.  I mentioned that some girls want to do "Boy Scouts stuff" like camping and backpacking.  My wife said that Girl Scouts can do that too.  While that's absolutely true, I think my daughter has camped out maybe three or four times in her entire scouting career, and all of them were closer to backyard campouts than high adventure.  

All of that aside, what it comes down to is that Girl Scouts and their troops have a LOT more leeway to do things "their own way" than Boy Scout Troops.  What has happened, though, is that very few of them seem to do the kind of hiking and camping that is typical of Boy Scouting.  While I'm not sure I 100% believe Scouts BSA when it said there was a groundswell of support for girls to join up, I do think there were a fairly decent number who wanted to, as we've seen from female Scouts BSA troops forming all over the country.  

I guess what I'm saying is that the Girl Scouts *could* have filled the needs of girls who want to do high adventure stuff ... it just appears they didn't.

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1 hour ago, SteveMM said:

I guess what I'm saying is that the Girl Scouts *could* have filled the needs of girls who want to do high adventure stuff ... it just appears they didn't.

Within the bounds of safety guidelines, Girl Scout troops can do pretty much anything they want to.   There are no rank advancement requirments requiring specific activities. 

The big problem is how to find that group of like-minded girls.  

The special interest "high-adventure" type groups are better than nothing,  but when the girls are scattered over half a state, and the meetings are by conference call, its just not the same as a troop that meets regularly.   (Maybe other groups do it differently, but that is what I am aware of in my state.)

 

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18 hours ago, Treflienne said:

Within the bounds of safety guidelines, Girl Scout troops can do pretty much anything they want to.   There are no rank advancement requirments requiring specific activities. 

Just out of curiosity, how restrictive ARE the safety guidelines used in Girl Scouts?

Some of the BSA guidelines seem downright stupid to me (like no power tool use by anyone under age 18, or not letting young adults age 18-20 satisfy requirements for "adult supervision").

Anybody have experience using both sets of guidelines?

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In many areas, their safety guidelines are similar to what we in the BSA have.  But there are some notable differences.

One of those areas--and in talking to some GS leaders, this seems to trip them up a lot--is the minimum number of volunteers needed for activities.

The ratio varies depending on program level, but it requires a minimum of two unrelated volunteers (note not "adults", but registered volunteers) up to a certain number of Scouts. For Daisies, it's up to 12 Daisies for Troop meetings, and up to 6 Daisies for outings, activities, travel and camping. For Ambassadors, the ratio is higher--up to 30 Ambassadors for Troop Meetings and 24 for outings.  Then you need additional volunteers when you have more girls than the minimum.

So, for example, if you were doing an outing with, let's say a troop with 27 Juniors, their minimum volunteer levels would require at least 4 volunteers on the outing.

As far as prohibited activities, I will say that they do not go to the level that we in the BSA do, but most of the obvious things that you might expect an organization to prohibit, they do, like bungee jumping, hang gliding, parasailing, skydiving, hunting, and outdoor trampolines. The GSUSA, like the BSA, prohibits paintball activities where you are shooting at other people.

The GSUSA requires a registered first-aider on all outings. This must be a person who has taken the Red Cross First Aid course. They also require what they call an advanced first-aider, meaning they've taken WFA, if you're further than 30 minutes away from EMS care reaching you.

As for specific activities, the GSUSA has a chart like the BSA does listing which program levels can do what. For the most part, girls in all program levels can do all activities but there are exceptions, mostly with Daisies and Brownies.

Daisies and Brownies cannot do backpacking (different from just general hiking).

Daisies cannot do ziplining, except for playground ziplines. Daisies and Brownies cannot do canopy tours.

Daisies and Brownies cannot do recreational tree climbing (using ropes, harnesses and saddles to climb trees).

Daisies and Brownies cannot do go-karts. Juniors can't operate self-driving go-karts, but they could be a passenger in a 2-person kart driven by an older person.

Daisies can only do horseback riding on ponies or hand-led horseback walks.

Daisies cannot do kayaking and can only do rowboats if they're in the boat with an adult.

Daisies and Brownies cannot do stand up paddleboarding or whitewater rafting (Brownies and Juniors technically can do rafting, but only on lower-rated rapids)

Girls must be at least 12 to participate in gun shooting sports, 14 for pistols.

Contrary to popular belief, Girl Scouts in all levels can camp (there are many people who erroneously say that Daisies cannot camp. They can, although there are some limitations). The GSUSA requires that any troop that camps has at least one person at the campout who has taken a council-level training course on camping, similar to the BSA's BALOO training requirement for Pack campouts.

 

For many activities, council approval is required before the troop or individuals can participate. One major difference with Girl Scout Troops from how we do it in the BSA, is that unlike in the BSA, where troops are chartered to a Chartered Organization, and that CO "owns" the unit, all Girl Scout Troops are owned by the local council. They have direct control over the troops, and it is not unheard of for unit leaders to be dismissed, and troops disbanded, for breaking their rules.

The GSUSA's version of the Guide to Safe Scouting, what they call "Safety Activity Checkpoints", is nearly twice as long as our Guide to Safe Scouting.

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40 minutes ago, Cleveland Rocks said:

The GSUSA's version of the Guide to Safe Scouting, what they call "Safety Activity Checkpoints", is nearly twice as long as our Guide to Safe Scouting.

Thanks, Cleveland!  I learned a lot from your post,. Never having been a GSUSA leader, I never really knew what kind of rules they followed.

"...twice as long as our Guide to Safe Scouting."...

Hmmm.  I was about to post some snide comment about all the rules BSA scouters have to follow, but for now, I will just be quiet and thank my lucky stars that I don't have to read TWICE as many rules!

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2 hours ago, Cleveland Rocks said:

Contrary to popular belief, Girl Scouts in all levels can camp (there are many people who erroneously say that Daisies cannot camp. They can, although there are some limitations). The GSUSA requires that any troop that camps has at least one person at the campout who has taken a council-level training course on camping, similar to the BSA's BALOO training requirement for Pack campouts.

 

2 hours ago, Cleveland Rocks said:

The GSUSA requires a registered first-aider on all outings. This must be a person who has taken the Red Cross First Aid course. They also require what they call an advanced first-aider, meaning they've taken WFA, if you're further than 30 minutes away from EMS care reaching you.

Is this all that GS leaders are complaining about when they say that GSUSA makes it really hard to go camping?

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1 hour ago, Saltface said:

 

Is this all that GS leaders are complaining about when they say that GSUSA makes it really hard to go camping?

Well, I think there that there's more to it when they talk about "making it hard to go camping". Some leaders just don't want to go camping, period, and it's an easy thing for them to just say, "we don't camp because national makes it too hard for us to camp."

I've spoken to many GSUSA troop leaders who do find the rules and regs regarding camping to be onerous, but I don't see them as much different than what we in the BSA have set forth. The minimum number of volunteers rule tends to be a sticky wicket with a lot of troop leaders, and they tell me it's why they keep their troop membership numbers low, so they don't have to worry about having enough registered volunteers with them on activities.  If you read their Safety Activity Checkpoints document regarding camping (really, regarding any activity), their safety rules and bullet points are not the much different than the Guide to Safe Scouting. The leaders I've spoken to don't often like the rule that camping for Daisies and Brownies, whom they feel are the ones who are the most excited about the program, is restricted to resident camp only, and that "Travel Camping", which is what they call camping where a campsite is your means of accommodations, is not recommended. The "you must have a trained volunteer who has taken our camping training" rule seems to rub some leaders the wrong way because many of them just don't want to take training. The phrase "Every Scout deserves a trained leader" isn't emphasized in Girl Scouts like it is in the BSA. It's not totally dismissed, just not pushed as hard as we do in the BSA. And I have spoken to leaders who don't want to camp because they are afraid of rules like the trained first-aider rule. And they worry about rules like the "you need council's permission before camping outside of a council-owned camp" or "if you're swimming you need someone with basic lifeguarding skills with you" and the potential consequences that could come with them.

From what I have observed, at least in my area, is that Girl Scouts do camp, and their council-owned camps are often full on weekends. The big difference I see, at least in this area, is that the majority of their camping is cabin camping, and cabins are the primary accommodations at the council-owned Girl Scout camps in my area. Troops do tent camp, and camps are trying to accommodate that more and more. One Girl Scout camp near us recently opened a new campsite dedicated exclusively to hammock camping. Tent camping is still, however, the minority. For example, at the "main" Girl Scout camp in our council, of the 21 campsites they have, only 6 are tent, covered wagon, or platform tent sites, none of which are open from October through April. The others are all cabins, or troop houses.

Like a lot of things in the Girl Scouts, the level of participation in activities is largely at the whim of your troop leader. If you have a troop leader who doesn't like to camp, well, you're probably not going to camp. That's why you have so many troops that are referred to as "snack and craft troops", because that's all they ever do. Some of that is just because the troop leader doesn't want to camp, and some of it is that they don't want to take the training or be beholden to the rules put forth. My daughter's troop is fortunate in that her troop leader loves to camp and takes them on outdoor activities all the time.

Edited by Cleveland Rocks
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14 hours ago, mrkstvns said:

Just out of curiosity, how restrictive ARE the safety guidelines used in Girl Scouts?

The "Volunteer Essentials" document seems to be customized by council -- so that different councils have slightly different rules.

GSUSA does not seem to be either uniformly more restrictive or uniformly less restrictive than BSA.

Based on my memory from a couple of years ago, I few differences that I have noted are:

GSUSA is more persnickety about the two-deep rule.  They require two UNRELATED registered adults.  Cannot be mom and grandma, or mom and aunt, supervising a troop.   BSA, on the other hand, does not seem to require the two-deep adults to be unrelated --- this makes things much simpler.  One can press one's spouse into serving as a second adult, rather than needing to round up someone else.  (assuming said spouse is registered.)

GSUSA does not have a no-one-on-one contact rule. (or at least my council did not a couple of years ago.)

GSUSA does not prohibit Brownies from using two-wheel or four-wheeled wagons.  Indeed the local summer camp provides such carts for the little kids to use to haul their gear to their summer camp units.

GSUSA requires a lifeguard for all swimming.  (We had to hire a lifeguard for an end-of-year backyard pool party.  Fortunately my favorite baby-sitter was also a lifeguard.)

And adult driving scouts somewhere on a GSUSA outing or field trip must be registered and CORI'd.

Which brings me to:

5 hours ago, Cleveland Rocks said:

The minimum number of volunteers rule tends to be a sticky wicket with a lot of troop leaders, and they tell me it's why they keep their troop membership numbers low, so they don't have to worry about having enough registered volunteers with them on activities.

Going from twelve Brownies to thirteen Brownies was very tough as far as getting adult volunteers for field trips -- and we met after school on the half day and liked to go places.   With 12 Brownies, two registered CORI'd adults were enough for an outing, and the Brownies could walk from the school to the conservation land, the firestation, the police station, or the library.   As long as the second registered CORI'd adult also had a minivan, two adults could drive them to the scout camp,  the museum, or wherever else.  Once we reached 13 Brownies we needed a third registered CORI'd adult,  even for the walk to the conservation land -- hard to round one up for 1pm on a weekday.

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7 hours ago, Treflienne said:

... GSUSA is more persnickety about the two-deep rule.  They require two UNRELATED registered adults.  ....

... Which brings me to:

Going from twelve Brownies to thirteen Brownies was very tough as far as getting adult volunteers for field trips -- and we met after school on the half day and liked to go places.   With 12 Brownies, two registered CORI'd adults were enough for an outing, ... Once we reached 13 Brownies we needed a third registered CORI'd adult,  even for the walk to the conservation land -- hard to round one up for 1pm on a weekday.

Those challenges make it hard for a troop to grow beyond its maximum, which makes it harder for a girl in a troop that's shunned an outdoor program to join the troop that's embraced one.

Of course BSA YPT is now also regulating along the same trajectory.

Both organization have youth marching off arm in arm having a great time on their own.

Edited by qwazse

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I keep hearing these great examples of GSUSA groups on great adventures.  However, nearly every GSUSA parent that talks to me in my area claims GSUSA troops begin to collapse after elementary school.  

Examples of a Troop of 19 5th grade girls disappeared in 6th grade when the leaders left and no alt Troop was provided.  Juniors in high school who’s Troops died while they were looking to close out on their Gold rank (one gave up the other is working on it without a Troop).  

  GSUSA summer camps for elementary school members are much better than BSA’s in my area, but it seems like those huge membership numbers and energy fades after youth turn 11.  How common is it for GSUSA troops to last into High School?

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2 hours ago, Eagle1993 said:

 Juniors in high school who’s Troops died while they were looking to close out on their Gold rank (one gave up the other is working on it without a Troop).  

In my county,we currently have a GSUSA troop of 2 members. The group started out with a much larger number when they were brownies, and slowly dropped. The 2 girls are both legacies, and both moms are leaders. Sole purpose is to  get Gold now.

As others commented, it appears the majority of GSUSA units do not camp. Even a national GSUSA leader commented how 10-15% of their members will go on a weekend camp out once a year. I know the girls only troop consists of former GSUSA members. All left because they didn't camp. In fact all the girls have brothers in Scouting, and camped with their families while the brothers were in Cub Scouts.

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We have 25 girls in our Scouts BSA Troop and are adding 10 more due to a successful recruiting event last Saturday.  Probably 1/3 of our girls used to be in GSUSA, and a few still are (being registered in both programs).  I am not familiar with GSUSA, I believe the principal difference is that we in the BSA use the outdoors as our principal classroom to teach our ethical decision making and Scoutcraft skills.  A Scout in our Troop who does not camp and hike would not be much of a participant.  It is clear to me that he other program does not have this same degree of emphasis.  I am sure there are exceptions, but our girls who have joined us share that there is minimal actual outdoor activities like in Scouts BSA.  I offer this not as criticism, but as an observation.  While some of the YPT and safety practices have some parallels, it is hard to imagine a combination of the organizations.  Their approach to organizing, financing and program is very different, but apparently works for their participants.

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