Girl Scouting and BSA
Elizabeth Grimsley (e.grimsley@GENIE.GEIS.COM)
Sun, 27 Aug 1995 18:07:00 UTC
It sounds like some on this list would like to start a Boy Scouts is better
than Girl Scouts debate. For those that do, I suggest that you also include
in the comparison 4-H, Boys/Girls Clubs, Awana, Campfire Boys and Girls,
Little League, church youth groups, Exchange Clubs, Junior Achievement, etc.
Why? Because these other youth organizations have as much association with
BSA as does GSUSA. Each program is as strong or as weak as its volunteers -
their skills and the time/energy they are willing to commit. Each program
has something to offer to youth in the United States and there is not a
single organization that is right for all.
I would like to ask the men on this list - do you spend as much time
leading/supporting your daughters programs/activities as you do your sons??
Most only support the sports oriented activities. I had one set of parents
who would not spend any time helping because they were spending so much time
with their sons activities. What does that tell the daughter about her
And how many of those on this list that are married stay home to mind the
kids and do housework while their wives are volunteering in the community?
Usually women hold down a full-time job at work PLUS home and, if they
volunteer, have to make all the home arrangements while they're gone too. I
have known several leaders who would love to take their troops camping but
the husband would not take care of the other kids at home for that time.
Now for those who are not familiar with the GSUSA program, here are a few
facts (not comparing them to BSA, of course, but simply to inform):
1. Men can be Girl Scout leaders. GSUSA wants a woman as a co-leader/
asst leader also to show women in a leadership position and to prevent any
possible "he touched me" situations (false or otherwise). Many girls are
growing up in a single parent home and a male GS leader may be the only
positive male figure that they know.
2. Several studies have shown that a lot of girls learn in a single-sex
situation. The most recent comment about this is an "In My Opinion" article
in Woman's Day magazine (9/19/95, last page). Girl Scouts is chartered as a
educational organization for girls. GSUSA has no intenion of becomig a coed
3. Most of the badges that girls can earn in Girl Scouts ARE NOT
related to cooking, sewing or traditional homemaking skills. Here's some of
a. Brownies (usually grades 1-3) - Outdoor Adventurer, Plants, Animals,
Math Fun, Space Explorer, Science in Action, Safety, Building Art, Listening
to the Past, Careers, Citizen Near & Far.
b. Juniors (usually gr 4-6) - Health & Fitness, First Aid, Geography
Fun, Creative Solutions, Active Citizen, My Heritage, Aerospace, Math Whiz,
Sky Search, Weather Watch, Car Care, Geology, Science in the Worlds, Small
Craft, Business-wise, Computer Fun, Science in Action, Video Production,
Leadership, Architecture, Prints and Graphics, Troop Camper, Outdoor Cook,
Ecology, Hiker, Horseback Rider, Careers, Discovering Technology, Arts and
Media. Plus Junior Leadership pin.
c. Cadette/Seniors (usually gr 7-9 and 10-12) - Emergency Preparedness,
Skills for Living, Global Understanding, Leadership, American Indian Lore,
The Law, Auto Maintenance, Career Exploration, Money Management, High-Tech
Communications, Audiovisual Production Advanced, Computers, Geology, Space
Exploration, Entrenreneurship, Outdoor Survival, Backpacking, Cycling,
Orienteering. Plus Silver/Gold award, Program Aide, Challenge Pin, Counselor
in Training, etc etc.
4. The girls in each troop in Girl Scouts decides what what direction
the troop will go. There is no lockstep program that they must follow,
although there is a progression in the badges/skills at each level. This is
why you'll see some troops that go on long outdoor hiking/rapelling/canoing
trips or bicycling through Europe, others that do plays, and others who just
enjoy crafts or service projects in their community.
5. Troops do not buy craft supplies from the national organization nor
are the girls required to buy the uniform to be a Girl Scout. GSUSA does not
even sell craft items. The only money from them that has to go to the
national level is the $6 yearly dues for insurance. Money from annual cookie
sales stay in the council and go to support the troop and items like the
council camps, council-wide activities and "scholarships" for girls who
cannot afford the modest cost of Girl Scouts. In addition, GSUSA makes a
commitment that the items carried in the GS catalog are made in the United
6. Girls do service projects without compensation and learn the true
meaning of service without expecting something in return. (OK one BSA
comparison. I know in one area BSA was given a lot of publicity about doing
a service project by cleaning up at a basketball tournament when actually
the council was paid for it and each boy who worked got $5/hour credited in
his account. Hmm, a service project or a money maker? And what was the
lesson the boys learned?)
5. The highest award in Girl Scouts is the Gold Award. Girls cannot
START the award project until after they have completed a number of
prerequisites at the Senior level including Interest Patches relating to the
project. This means that they cannot even start their project until usually
the middle of their Junior year of High School. I have heard that quite a
few of the projects have been so successful that they became established
events in their community/GS Council. One I just heard of was about a group
that now goes to schools and nursing homes performing a play based on
the poems of Shel Silverstein. A project submission such as blacktopping a
church parking lot would not be approved.
Well, time to get off my soapbox. I have to help my oldest daughter
with her applications to the Girl Scout Wider Opportunities for aquatic
biology and primitive camping/canoeing. Since she doesn't turn 13 until Feb,
she won't be applying for the international travel until next year.
Council Executive Board, Jr & Ca/Sr leader
Shining Trail Council of Girl Scouts
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City