GSUSA or Girls in BSA?
Dr. Steven C. Myers (R1SCM@AKRONVM.BITNET)
Thu, 3 Dec 1992 23:40:54 EST
My $.02 (and once again it is late)
I have read the program materials that my cadet/soon to be senior girl scout
has and in my opinion the outdoor requirement for the GSUSA project interest
patches (nea Merit Badges) are as hard or harder than for boy scouts.
Without offering any more evidence I make the following claim: The GSUSA
has (on paper) an outstanding outdoor program.
Without additional evidence I also offer the claim that most GSUSA troops
at the junior, cadet, and senior level do not take advantage of the outdoor
program. Why? Let me conjecture:
(1) Boy scout troops are not owned by the local council, but by their
chartered organization. Girl Scout troops are owned by the local council.
When I as SM of a BS Troop purchase a tent it becomes the property of the
chartered organization who in turn (should,usually, always) will give us
exclusive use as if it is our own. If we fold the tent remains the property of
the CO. In the case of my wife's GS troop(s) if they were to purchase
a tent the property right (who owns the tent) is in question. If it is the
local councils why could they not let others use it? Or restrict our use?
If purchased by joint funds, who keeps the tent when the troop folds?
Thus, BS Troop 1 can accumulate much camping equipment and the GS troop
finds it very difficult to acquire equipment. This limits them to renting
from council, borrowing, or camping only where there are cabins. If my troop,
which camps every month (approx. 28 to 34 nights a year), was limited to
renting, borrowing and renting "expensive" cabins we would camp much less.
Also, cabin camping can quickly get old as well. We can pitch a tent in
just about anywhere.
(2) For whatever reason you wish to put forward, the BS troops attract
adults who will hold extensive outings and the GSUSA seem not to.
(3) Since the GSUSA troop is "Owned" by council, they are much more regulated
than the BS troop. I can't give you specifics, but my wife is constantly
sending "required" reports to council while I almost never do. When I do it
is advancement, tour permit, popcorn payment, etc. My wife has to file
financial reports with her GSUSA council. They are encourage to have NO
carryover balance from year to year.
(4) The GSUSA troops are run on a school year and all seem to fold for the
summer and require reorganization every fall (much like many cub packs).
The BSA troop is set up to run full year.
(5) The GSUSA troops never go to summer camp as a unit. Each girl chooses
to go to the "theme" camp of their choice. Summer camp is then made up
of girls from many different troops who's common bond is that they all
want to ride horses or spend the week in the water. This is not a "bad" idea
on the part of the Girl Scouts, but summer camp is what helps most/all
BSA troops "bond" as an active outdoor unit.
(6) I can't yet understand when my wife and both daughters explain to me
that Girl Scouts NEVER wear their uniform at camp! And in my dozens of trips
out there, only the professionals are ever in uniform consistently. How do
we get to know what troop each is from? How to build the sense of belonging
that the uniform allows? .... (picture me shaking my head).
(7) While the patrol system is discussed in the GSUSA books, it is often
just one option and in many of the troops I have had oh but so little
contact with, the patrol method is rarely used. My wife started using the
patrol method this year with her 2nd graders and her troop is running more
smoothly than ever. She is even thinking of using some kind of adult/girl
patrol leader council. Guess her BSA training is helping here.
(8) Advancement in BSA is rudiments until first class and merit badges
there after (an admitedly crude description). GSUSA advancement is
TO ME much stranger, less logically organized and confusing. There is no
wide spread knowledge of the GSUSA advancement "ladder," but I think almost
everyone knows the ranks of Tenderfoot, First CLass and Eagle, if no other.
Eagle scouts are known to be special, but how many know that the GOLD AWARD
recipent in GSUSA is at the top of her scouting as well?
Time to stop. I don't know exactly how I feel about girls in boy scouts,
although I know of a couple of cadet or senior girl scouts that would make
outstanding (even scary) Senior Patrol Leaders. My concern is the IMHO
misuse and misapplication of a great girl scout program. Those GSUSA leaders
who are the exception, who get their girls out into the wilderness, who
try to run the outdoor program well, have fantistic troops often rivialing
or exceeding many BSA troops. BUT THE DECK FOR SOME REASON IS STACKED AGAINST
I was told the reason why the oft discussed merger between BSA and GSUSA
[Scouting USA] didn't occur was mostly centered on whether the council
would own their own troops. IT took me a few years to figure out why
this was important. If my conjectures are close to being right, I think
I finally figured that one out.
Brownie and Cadet Dad, GSUSA
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City