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Evaluating Scouts BSA for Girls Part 2 -- Unit Quality

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Question Two:  Do girl members of Scouts BSA experience quality programming?  Share specific facts from what you have observed about local all-girl troops.

I encourage everyone to approach this by putting yourselves in the shoes of these scouts and sharing what you see working or not working for them in your nearby all-girl Scouts BSA troops.

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A few thoughts on my second question:

Outdoor Program.  The Scouts BSA troops for girls in our district offer good outdoor program for girls.  All three troops do monthly campouts and summer camp.  All three have good representation of strong outdoorswomen among their scoutmasters, which I believe makes a huge difference (and is required by YPT).  All have participated in district camporees at a credible level.  What is good about this is how unremarkable and mainstream the outdoor program is in these all-girl troops.  The early speculation that all-girl units would go “glamping” and engage in other watered-down outdoor experiences never materialized.

High Adventure.   Two of our units have sent scouts to our high adventure bases.  It took a couple of years to ramp-up the skills of the scouts involved, but our Troop will now send a group somewhere every summer.

Unit Size.  Except for a few, the all-girls troops are generally smaller, meaning under 15 youth members.  This means the more-advanced scouts may have less program opportunity and belong to units where there a fewer fully-engaged adults.  Unless resolved over time, this means the troop program will ultimately be of lesser quality than what we can offer.  It also makes these units more fragile.  In the linked-troop units, this has led to some “small girl patrol in the big boy troop” situation, which generally leads to poor membership experiences for the girls.

Having Fun.  Girls in our troops tell us that they appreciate the open welcome our program offers, especially in comparison to school groups and other girl-focused activities where group social dynamics can become upsetting.  Girls work out their personal differences within patrols in a manner I have come to understand does not happen as easily in school.  As a result, the program of the troop is especially attractive to them.  We have very good meeting attendance, which I partially attribute to this.

Adult Leadership.  This has been tough in the smaller girl units.  We do not yet have a long history of female participation, so I find myself needing to work longer and harder to recruit female committee members and scoutmasters.  Overall, this seems to be a program challenge for all-girl troops.


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Hit or miss. Same with boys.

For those in stand-alone troops with a quality Scouter who understand the program, then yes. However what I have witnessed is these rare cases are the SM is a successful scouter and created the troop for his daughter. Now that the daughter is out, he is as well and the troop is suffering from a leadership and experience vacuum. This happens in boy troops too.

The more common girls experience is a "linked on paper only" and typically joined a dysfunctional boys troop with a poor quality program and the introduction of a girls patrol made the bad situation worse.

I think there is a difficulty in recruiting and more importantly training ALL adult leaders. Moms and dads are asked by the unit b/c they are there, but there is zero recruitment at a national, council, or district level to recruit Scouters who would be beneficial as SM, ASM, or TC for individual units. If the BSA was serious about Quality this is where they would start. A nationwide campaign focused at the council/district level to attract, and train unit leaders to  facilitate a quality program at the unit level. 

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I like Ducktape’s idea of engaging in an effort to recruit adult unit leaders not necessarily related to one of the youth members.  3 of our 11 ASMs are such people and are among our strongest participants.  They all have previous Scouting experience and have significantly upgraded the quality of the member experience.

This reminds me of something our committee did when I was a council VP for the old Exploring program (which previously combined the current Venturing and Exploring programs into one program unit).  We visited Chartered Organizations and asked them to identify adults to be unit leaders and commissioners (the old Exploring program referred to their specialized commissioners as Service Team members).  Surprisingly, the effort worked.  We had special group training for these people at a nice location and served meals and refreshments.  That was 30 years ago and some of those people are still involved.  

People out there are interested in helping our young members.  We are past the horrible disputes over social issues and nearing the fresh breath we will have when the bankruptcy appeal has concluded.  Ducktape is correct — we need to invite adults back into Scouting.  

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On 12/23/2022 at 8:52 PM, mrjohns2 said:

So, so true. Our girl troop's bones started in September of 2018. We had committee meetings and had about 6 girls recruited by February 2019.  

The key to our early success wasn't the great scoutmaster (me), it was the fact that a very very experienced Scouter "came out of retirement" to be our committee chair. He was grounded in the program and being Scout led. I was an experienced Scout, but out of the program for 25 years or so. He mentored me to be a great SM. Communicated in advance that he would serve 2 years and step down. I took on the CC and an ASM took on SM. 

This meeting after meeting mentoring was so key. 

We have 18 Scouts, on the way to 20 in March. We are loosely linked with a boy troop. We share the same building and night and chartering org. We do some schedule coordination. We want to have common policies, but it is taking longer than planned (refunds, scout accounts, etc.). 

Mr. John's2:  What have been the key determinants of the good quality of your girl troop's program?  What in your view causes your girl members to stay active with your troop?  Do the girls have the same level and frequency of opportunities that the boys do?

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