GSUSA vs BSA (long)
Bill Spofford (bspofford@MAIL.HQ.FAA.GOV)
Mon, 30 Oct 1995 16:35:21 EST
Because of some of the recent posting concern how GSUSA and BSA are
organized for providing their program, I thought I would give my $0.02
I organized a Boy Scout troop 8 years ago along with 3 other adults
and still serve as the Chartered Organization Representative (COR). I
also organized a Cadette/Senior (ages 11 - 18) Girl Scout troop 2
years ago and still serve as the 01 Leader. Thus, when it comes to
the differences in setting up a troop and the requirements, I have
been there! In many ways, the only common item between Boy Scouts and
Girl Scouts is that both organization's name includes the word
BSA establishes Councils as part of the BSA organization. GSUSA
licenses a Council (which incorporates) to provide the program. GSUSA
Councils then develop many of the rules for their troop level
organizations and support functions on a council by council level.
BSA requires a Chartered Partner (CP) to start a troop. GSUSA has no
such requirement, although a Leader is encouraged to get a Sponsor
(who has no standing with Council!).
BSA Troops belong to the CP. GSUSA Troops belong to the Council.
The BSA CP recruits the leadership for the Troop and must have at
least 3 (and maybe more now) adults to get the charter - Scoutmaster
(or Packmaster, Explorer Advisor), COR, and Committee Chairperson.
GSUSA recruits the Leader for the Troop (normally through the Service
Unit Manager), (or in my case, I pushed to start the troop, so they
appointed, i.e.. let me, be the leader). The only GSUSA requirement
for more than one Adult leader is when a MALE is the Leader, a FEMALE
must also be a co-leader.
In GSUSA, the Leader has virtually absolute authority, only subject to
Council. The leader is supported through a Service Unit Manager
(volunteer - SUM) and a Field Executive (paid professional), although
these seem mostly used to get permissions for trips, events, etc.
Some SUMs try to set up "resources" to help new leaders, but there
usually does not seem to be a lot of coordination. If the leader does
not perform according to GSUSA or Council guidelines, they can be
removed (or not re-appointed the following year) by Council. I have
heard that some SUMs have threatened leaders with this due to
personality conflicts, but I'm not sure they can make it happen if the
Leader is actually following the rules.
In BSA, the CP establishes a troop committee and usually deals with
management issues through the committee. The CP can replace the
leadership for any reason and Council can force the issue in certain
cases (i.e. YPP). Council also provides a more extensive support
function through Commissioners, Round Table Staff, District President
& VPs (all volunteers) and District Executives (paid professionals).
In GSUSA, multiple Service Units make up "Associations," which are
somewhat equivalent to BSA Districts. However, the monthly
inter-troop information and coordination is normally at the SU level,
not the Association. As the SU deals with troops of all ages (daisys
though seniors), it usually concentrates the program in the Brownie
and Junior levels (ages 6-11) where the majority of troops are. I'm
not sure how the Councils determine the optimum size of a SU (I do
know they look at area and total number of troops), but it rarely has
more than one or two older girl troops. There is rarely any
coordination for Association-wide events or any standing meetings for
BSA provides its monthly leaders meetings at District level
Roundtables, and breaks these down by Cubs and Scouts (and possibly
Explorers). This allows the program to be more age-specific.
The BSA program depends on youth earning ranks in order to learn the
skills it is trying to impart. The GSUSA does not have ranks, but
does have awards at the higher levels. Both have various skill
patches (merit badges vs. interest patches).
The two organizations have evolved differently. BSA has depended more
on the Troop to provide stability through the CP and committee, while
GSUSA has concentrated on the SU or higher level. BSA summer camp
program is mainly troop oriented, while GSUSA mainly forms provisional
troops (requiring less from the troop adults).
I hope that this helps in some understanding about the two different
programs. GSUSA is smaller and does not provide the same level of
support to a troop as BSA. However, there is NO REASON that BSA
trained adults can't become GS Leaders and establish a troop that
mimics the organization of a BS Troop (you WILL have to take their
training and abide by there safety rules). If you have tried to offer
your services and no one has called, find a troop (call the Council
and get the name and number of the SUM or Registrar for your area) and
register as an adult member. Go to the Service Unit meetings and let
them know you are serious. Remember, the SUM and others are
volunteers and sometimes don't follow through. Talk some of your
daughter's friend's parents into coming in with you to start a troop!
Believe me, if you offer a quality program, you will get some girls to
join you! You might even get to take over an older troop that needs
Bill Spofford, Leader, C/S Troop 822, Commonwealth Girl Scout Council
COR, Troop 845, Rappahannock District, National Capital Area Council
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City