Re: Girl Scout program vs Boy Scout program
Scott Drown (scottdd@HALCYON.COM)
Sun, 27 Aug 1995 10:57:35 -0800
I would like to echo what Mike Bowman said in his post. My daughter has
been active in Girl Scouts as a Daisy, Brownie and now a Junior. And she
is thinking about dropping out because of the lack of camping experiences
and other attractions. My wife has been the leader for some years and is
also dropping out as she is disgusted with the overwhelming rules involved
in Girl Scouts that Mike Bowman so eloquently cites. BTW this is her
second stint as a GS leader as she had a Brownie Troop before we had kids
because she believed in the program. I will add some comments as to what
she has seen.
>>Are there institutional barriers within GSUSA that make it more difficult?
>>Or is it the fault of the girls' parents?
>1. GSUSA doesn't have much infrastructure in terms of long-term
>leadership with outdoor experience. From what we could tell there was a
>Council Office, but no real organization between there and the unit. Yes
>there were "Service Units" but their focus was on a few small events with
>only a very few units three times during the year. No one was looking at
>the quality of the program. It was left up to whomever decided to be a
>leader. When there were severe unit problems committed and willing
>parents were at the mercy of the #1 and #2 with nobody to turn to and the
>service unit didn't want to be involved. Not much like commissioners
>trying to give advice to a wayward leader at all.
Right on Target. In fact the leaders seemed do make up the rules as they
went along. Almost no follow-up from the Council level. In fact no leader
even seemed to be aware of what the Council level wanted or did for support
except badges. And even then it was a real problem to get cooperation.
The Council office is located in Seattle, a bit of a drive, and not easy
to deal with. This I see as a danger for Boy Scouts as the mergers of
Councils continues. Local may not be as efficient but you sure have a
>2. GSUSA training is stifling and not focused on program delivery
My wife, a classroom teacher of over 15 years, was told that she had to
take the leadership classes so she would know how to deal with the girls
and build a successful program. I pointed out to her that I thought the
Boy Scout Basic Leader courses were good and that more than just these
topics were taught so she went to the first in the series. And won't
attend another. Unlike Basic Leader there really was not a whole lot of
planning and she was not given new ideas. No program development. Their
response was to threaten to fire her as a leader.
>3. GSUSA seems to have gone overboard, at least here, on "safety"
>requirements. On one of the rare occassions when they went camping
>(actually slept in a cabin, but one where they were not permited to have
>a fire or cook despite fireplaces - on GSUSA property) they had to reel
>out colored tape from each bedding area through the door and down half a
>mile of road to the camp gate or leave. This was to mark fire exits.
>And some folks thought BSA was overboard.
My wife tried to organize 2 outings of several days. She foundered on the
lack of participation of parents and also on the requirements re safety for
certain types of equipment, sign offs, waivers, and also the requirement to
have a Registered Nurse on site at all times. I volunteered but a Red
Cross First Aid Instructor and police officer was not acceptable.
>4. The summer camp program seems more like YMCA/YWCA than Scouting in
>GSUSA. In this area it is really REALLY rare for a troop to go together
>and as in our case, the girl ends up going to camp and staying with
>strangers which does a lot to make the first experience more difficult.
Isn't this the truth.
>5. Try to find supporting program literature.
Yup. There is nothing like the support Boy Scouts have.
>6. Youth leadership
Non-Existent and not encouraged by the program.
>7. The local Council's idea of volunteer input into decision making was
>an annual meeting where decisions were announced not discussed.
Recently the Seattle Council tried to sell two of it's Girl Scout Camps.
The Units discovered this mostly throigh word of mouth since it was not put
out in any newsletter. I found out myself thru and Internet posting and
passed it on to my wife. These are two fabulous facilties which girls can
never get into because they are always full - yet the Council wanted to
sell them. Replacement would have been difficult if not impossible. The
move was defeated by a grass roots response.
I recall reading a few years ago where the Girl Scouts National Exec had
done such a wonder job of turning a failing organization around. Seems to
me that much has yet to be done. But I also think that the parents need to
do more coupled with the Service Units and the Councils. The overbearing
rules need to be relaxed (fire the lawyers and risk managers who dictated
them), but the parents need to take those girls who are interested on the
outings, the heart of Scouting. This does not seem to happen as much as in
I am not against girls in Boy Scouts but I have to agree that at the entry
age they have a tendency to segregate themselves. Before we get there
though GSUSA really needs to look at changing and making a program that
How Much of Your reality is imagination?
ASM Troop 39, Maltby
Mt. Baker Council, Everett Wa.
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City