Re: GSUSA or Girls in BSA?
Sleezer, Jim (JHS8@OSUVM1.BITNET)
Fri, 4 Dec 1992 09:28:46 CST
There seems to be considerable support for co-ed Scouting at all program
levels and I appreciate the comments of Steve Myers, some of which are
retained below. However, some BSA units fall into the same situation he
describes for GSUSA--the paper program is great but the implementation is
Having advised several co-ed Explorer posts including a number of trips to
high adventure bases, I certainly favor a co-ed program at that level. I
also believe that a co-ed program should be an option at the Cub and Scout
program levels. But, if it is an option, it will be a requirement and some
leaders are not capable of supervising a co-ed program--not that they can't
learn to, just that at present they don't have the necessary skills. IMHO
a co-ed program requires an additional level of organization that doesn't
fit all leaders. Perhaps we should invest in some training that would help
with this issue.
>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.
True. Problem here is just like BSA, requirements get modified for counselor/
leader convenience (or summer camp constraints).
>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.
> --comments deleted--
>(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.
Modify this one to say *SOME* BS troops and *FEW* GSUSA troops. Given
most any collection of BSA troops, some will have strong outdoor programs,
others will have little or none. The former usually are stronger units
and the latter are weaker (just like some GSUSA troops).
>(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.
Regulations run rampant in BSA, too!
Tie the regulatory issue with items 4 and 5 and I think you have a major
source of the weakness of some GSUSA troops.
>(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.
Having spent a summer on GS camp staff (one of two handymen), I can say it
was an experience! There was virtually no unit awareness--campers related
to a single counselor rather than to a their unit. And, the program was a
collection of activities which--to me--did not seem to be related to the
advancement program. Everyone in the tenting group did the same thing at
the same time. Program was built around the counselor's specialties.
>(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).
At Oak Hills, the staff wore uniforms all the time (just like some BSA camps).
Campers were encouraged to wear uniforms for the flag lowering and evening
meal (just like many BSA camps).
And, while we are on meals. The other handyman and I ate six meals a day
--BLD in the dining hall, each followed immediately by a meal in the kitchen.
The cook was marvelous, the food was great, but second helpings in the dining
hall just didn't seem to fit the diet of most of the campers. The cooks
always needed something "looked at" after the meal. An extra pancake or
sandwich helped us "see" it better, --or so Wilma said.
>(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.
The patrol method works in almost every group I have worked with--from
Scouts to church to neighborhood activities. Teams are natural (for almost
everyone but a GS troop!) They organized around a counselor in camp but
when they got back home they only thought at a troop level!
>(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?
BSA has the recognition. I suspect that this is related to tradition and
to visibility. Men have traditionally gotten more recognition than women.
Maybe if this changed, there would be more interest in the GSUSA program!
How many of you even know where your local GSUSA Council office is located
or what the council name is?
>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.
Steve, I think you are in the center ring if not in the bull's eye. The
programs don't match up. Camp Fire Girls woke up and changed to co-ed
--called simply Camp Fire. (I also spent some time at a Camp Fire camp
before they went co-ed--how many people know their advancement program?)
I think the other issue re merger is "Who's the Boss?" Since the 'stock'
is not perceived as having the same value, it's almost like a takeover.
To many, it would be a hostile takeover and they are ready to do battle,
regardless of whether they are BSA or GSUSA.
I ramble too much but having worked with 3 programs I wanted to add my $.03.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City