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Evaluating Girls Joining Scouts BSA -- Part One


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Just a note regarding longer attention spans: try not to take advantage of that in meetings. One of the challenges facing women in the workforce is to manage discussion and keep everyone succinct. (Truth be told, I have this problem.)

The young women in my crew were often quite surprised at how soon they could act and how quickly people would respond to their requests for action. The young men generally needed to learn to think, while he young women generally needed to learn not to overthink.

Scouting, historically, involved non-verbal communication. Be it boys or girls, we should work to build those skills. So, if you have a group who is more attentive than usual, fill meetings and activities with wide games that leverage that.

Regarding my at-a-distance opinion of Scouts BSA girls. They have smiles on their faces. That’s my measure of success.

Regarding how BSA could do better for the nation’s young women: make peace with GS/USA, openly invite them to jamborees, and get beyond this family scouting doublespeak.

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The concept of linked troops was good on surface and if managed well, likely quite successful at the sharing of resources. In my experience, the implementation of linked troops was not even close

In all candor I have to admit our Linked Troop resembles several of the flaws @Cburkhardt has enumerated (undersized, resembles a 'patrol' more than 'troop').  And I wholeheartedly agree with @DuctTap

Co-mingling the two big Scout programs in America?   Is that possible or desirable.?   .... What a concept.... http://www.tournamenttroop.org/ https://www.smugmug.com/gallery/n-wHKK2n/

3 hours ago, qwazse said:

Regarding how BSA could do better for the nation’s young women: make peace with GS/USA, openly invite them to jamborees, and get beyond this family scouting doublespeak.

 

Didn't the BSA try that once in the 1970s, and the GSUSA opposed it?

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5 hours ago, Eagle94-A1 said:

 

Didn't the BSA try that once in the 1970s, and the GSUSA opposed it?

I think, after Gustaf’s insistence that Sweden’s youth organizations work more closely, BSA tried to promote Scouting/USA with the idea of doing something similar. There were people in both organizations who didn’t take kindly to it.

But, there is a big difference between proposing an ultimate merger and inviting your lead youth to collaborate on a national level.

Rebuffed once? Invite four years later. Repeat.

Unlike @Cburkhardt, I don’t see the current approach to membership as irreversible. Market forces could could drive the next few classes of boys to gain interest in BSA and girls to lose interest. Or, my worse fear: sexual assault on female youth occurring at a higher rate than among males  — no matter how much lower than general population and no matter how significant the retailored YP policies — will generate enough of a media firestorm to dissuade parents from enrolling youth of either sex. Narratives of promiscuity among co-Ed youth (be they actual or fabricated) have potential to be equally damming. I do not believe BSA National will have the fortitude to continue this policy in the face of such an onslaught.

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MattR:

Our all-girl troop meets twice a month on Saturday mornings from 10 to Noon.  The PLC meets immediately before every other meeting.  The attention span of girls this age allows us to cover the program, in addition to our monthly campouts.  The remaining “free” Saturday each month is often when optional service projects, hikes and other activities take place.

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Qwaze:

I agree that one horrible incident of sexual assault on a female scout might have a significant impact on female youth enrollment.  So, I am an especially strong supporter of YPT.  I used to think of myself as unusual in that regard.  Today, my practical experience in my units informs me that  almost everyone involved in Scouting is strict on YPT matters.  How could we not be, given the detailed examination of our organization failings in this regard?  I am for soldiering-on with highest vigilance on these issues and continuing to offer our program in gender segregated units.

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Qwaze:

Regarding GSUSA, I do not know the details of their program, but have regular exposure to deeply-involved adult leaders.  The GSUSA relationship and how to evolve it is a worthy subject for a significant discussion in a special thread by someone well-informed.  My summary view is that the organizational cultures, unit operations practices and internal governance/policy approaches are so fundamentally different that broad cooperation at levels above the unit are unachievable.  GSUSA rules also prohibit cooperation with BSA at the unit level.  It is difficult to start something productive under such circumstances.

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GSUSA sensibilities could have been handled better during the roll-out.  For example, better guidance on how to refer to our all-girl program during promotions would have helped.  Further, socially conservative persons acquired an inaccurate structural understanding of how Scouts BSA operates.  I still read conservative writers and converse with uninvolved conservative adults who vigorously claim we are a fully co-ed program.  

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9 hours ago, Cburkhardt said:

organizational cultures, unit operations practices and internal governance/policy approaches are so fundamentally different that broad cooperation at levels above the unit are unachievable.  GSUSA rules also prohibit cooperation with BSA at the unit level.  It is difficult to start something productive under such circumstances.

A lot of words to say that the national leadership of both organizations  is intransigent. An article by Rothschild covered the sewing of I’ll will in the early years. My link to it is buried somewhere on these forums. I’d like to see another academic piece that would bring us into the 21st century. Bottom line, the national leaderships have done their calculus,  and it would literally require a POTUS or Congress to move them toward meaningful collaboration.

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15 minutes ago, qwazse said:

A lot of words to say that the national leadership of both organizations  is intransigent. An article by Rothschild covered the sewing of I’ll will in he early years. My link to it is buried somewhere on these forums. I’d like to see another academic piece that would bring us into the 21st century. Bottom line, the national leaderships have done their calculus,  and it would literally require a POTUS or Congress to move them toward meaningful collaboration.

Say like Congress requiring delivery of both organizations respective, charter required Report to the Nation to Congress at the same time and location? 

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10 hours ago, Cburkhardt said:

MattR:

Our all-girl troop meets twice a month on Saturday mornings from 10 to Noon.  The PLC meets immediately before every other meeting.  The attention span of girls this age allows us to cover the program, in addition to our monthly campouts.  The remaining “free” Saturday each month is often when optional service projects, hikes and other activities take place.

You keep say “the attention span of girls” as if girls are different. What are you comparing against. I’m not confronting you, I’m just curious how you came to that conclusion.

Barry

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13 hours ago, Cburkhardt said:

GSUSA sensibilities could have been handled better during the roll-out.  For example, better guidance on how to refer to our all-girl program during promotions would have helped.  Further, socially conservative persons acquired an inaccurate structural understanding of how Scouts BSA operates.  I still read conservative writers and converse with uninvolved conservative adults who vigorously claim we are a fully co-ed program.  

This is not helped at all by the "linked unit" option. As others have stated, there are far too many (and really, only 1 is more than enough) units that on paper claim to be separate units, but just have the girls as  a patrol within the single troop. Our council has 28 girl troops, and as of mid-November, about 1/3 were slated to not be able to re-charter because they had less than the five active youth.. Of those girl troops that I have some level of interaction beyond just knowing what town they are from- most of my interaction is from within those also involved in Venturing or OA, either from the youth, or adult leaders/parents- 3 are run entirely just a patrol, and all 3 hold unit elections with the girls right there with the boys for SPL election (that is, 1 SPL for the "2" units, 1 QM for the "2" units, etc.). For some of those who you interact with that have a negative view very well could look at your unit and think you are the one doing something against what the BSA envisions, and that is exceptionally awful. The BSA went from finding a path to inclusivity, IMO, to just opening a floodgate to make anything/everything work. And, I fully believe that they overestimated just how much membership they would gain. I read your posts, and do believe that your unit has been able to grow in a natural fashion, and that  your community is embracing the option. In my neck of the woods, it has been a slog. I know of our 28 girl troops, only 3 have membership over 15 scouts. Our AoL numbers are not fantastic either, and it looks like only a handful of packs will have more than 3 girls advance through AoL this year. Those are not good trends, especially with the "newness" factor waning. I envision from this point forward, attracting age 11+ girls with no prior Scouting experience into troops will be as difficult as it is to attract age 11+ boys, and the reliance on Cubs will be as real for girl troops as boy troops. That concerns me greatly that the trend of those 3 troops I mentioned earlier is going to be far more prevalent, and the fully co-ed option is going to have to happen (I suspect that my Council is not greatly different than others, in that Council rarely ever will step in when they fully know a unit is not operating by BSA guidelines and policy, other than for YP). Unfortunately, that leaves a lot of us that were in the "is this change necessary/it's happening, give them a chance" camp are not exactly impressed with where we are currently at overall, and it isn't the fault of those (girl) Scouts.

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15 hours ago, Cburkhardt said:

MattR:

Our all-girl troop meets twice a month on Saturday mornings from 10 to Noon.  The PLC meets immediately before every other meeting.  The attention span of girls this age allows us to cover the program, in addition to our monthly campouts.  The remaining “free” Saturday each month is often when optional service projects, hikes and other activities take place.

I suspect the increased attention has more to do with a good night's sleep and a 10am meeting then chromosomes. Our girls troop is just as distracted as the boys troop.

Anyway, I'd certainly like to have meetings on weekends but one issue with planning activities nearly every weekend is, well, that's a huge time commitment. How do scouts with other activities deal with it? How do parents with spouses juggle that?

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Girl Attention Spans.  Our stand-alone, all-girl Troop uses longer meeting times as a result of focus groups we conducted with parents during the roll-out four years ago.  Our practical experience is that our girl members will participate over lengthy periods of time.  Even after two hours they regret ending the meetings.  That was not my experience in all-boy troops.  I think the best course is to do what works for your unit and in our case these longer meetings are more satisfying to the girls and families.

 

Saturday Morning Meetings.  During the roll-out we surveyed the families and found in our area that girls had fewer programmatic conflicts on Saturday mornings and that transiting to and from meetings was thought to be much safer.  This is important for us because some of our members take public transit and do not want to be taking subways home at 9:30 PM on a weeknight.  While off-topic, we found the same preference on the part of my Sea Scout families (I am also a Skipper).  Our teenage Ship members prefer to avoid the neighborhood “toughs” that populate neighborhoods at night.  The bad guys sleep in late on Saturday mornings and are nowhere to be seen.  Our parents like the 2 hours of free time to run Saturday morning errands while their daughters are with us.

Working with GSUSA.   I dislike the hostility between the organizations but believe the conflict and dislocation that would result by forcing a solution would be outweighed by the good the separate organizations can achieve being left alone.  We have all survived a decade of severe upheaval and need to return to a sense of peaceful operations.  For the Scouts BSA age group, our unit operations business model works much better and I would not want to adopt their approach.

Is “Linked” Model Effective?  HashTagBSA raises many great issues about the disadvantages of the linked model.  In my view, the principal things good about the linked approach are that: (1)  it accommodates in one unit families that have a son and daughter, and  (2) it is easier to form a linked girl troop than start a stand-alone unit like our Troop.  The roll-out focused nearly exclusively on forming linked units, resulting in many of these “girls in one small patrol” situations.  I’ll repeat my preference:  stand-alone all-girl units are better in almost every way.  The practical result based on my unscientific observations is that stand-alone units a bigger, better run and offer the same program in organizational formats that simply work better.  When a Chartered Organization and Scouters make commitments to form and staff a stand-alone Scouts BSA Troop for Girls, they are making a very clear commitment to providing quality program for girls.    

Any Other Thoughts on the Roll-Out? 

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On 12/21/2022 at 5:37 PM, Cburkhardt said:

 

Any Other Thoughts on the Roll-Out? 

It failed.  BSA declined to barely 1M youth served after admitting girls in 2019 (when they were over 2M).  Outside small pockets of success, there was no mass groundswell of families or girls joining BSA.   It caused dissention in the ranks just before we needed everyone all in as we entered bankruptcy.  

All in all, 4 years in and if I had to give a grade, it would be an F. 

Now, can BSA recover? Perhaps.  Just not with the current national leadership.

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